The Hexamillion wall was created to fortify the only land route into the Peloponnese peninsula ~ but throughout it's history (450-1460 AD) it failed to prevent multiple invasions, acting only as a deterrent.

It has been noted that a fortification of the Isthmus was of no utility without control of the ocean.

Was it a lack of control of the surrounding ocean that prevented the wall from being successful during it's history? Or perhaps the construction of the wall itself that allowed it to be easily breached? Maybe a series of ill-led, under strength defenders?

  • 2
    I don't think that walls are intended to "prevent" invasion; they're intended to deter invasion and change the ground of the conflict (literally), shifting the advantage in favor of the defender. Walls may delay invasion, but if the fundamental causes for the invasion don't change, the wall won't prevent it. Also note that the answer is quite likely in the wikipedia page: "Military use appears to have fallen off after the 7th century AD, . . ." The page goes on to explain that domestic structures were built into the wall. Walls don't stop invasions, militaries do.
    – MCW
    May 27 '15 at 16:23
  • I'm curious when the wall was manned with the threat of imminent invasion ... it obviously served little advantage. Defending armies maintained it, and I assume expected it to provide some strategic advantage ~ even if it was to simply slow the enemy down. Are there specific references or explanations on it's usage in this way?
    – Courtny
    May 27 '15 at 16:52

Unlike a city wall, that has people always around it to man and guard it, a free standing border wall tends to get stripped of manpower whenever the attention of the state building it falters. An unmanned wall isn't hard to get around, or over.

I've even read that some believe the main task of these border fences is less to hold invaders out, than to keep raiders in. A raiding party can cross over easily enough alone, but when laden with loot and prisoners, the wall crossing back will take long enough that the mobile security force will catch them in the act and be able to capture the raiding force, or at least make them abandon their gains.

  • 1
    Interesting 2nd paragraph; I hadn't thought of that but it makes sense. May 27 '15 at 22:15

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