Overview of the Wars of Alexander the Great
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Alexander the Great is a controversial figure, but one thing that most people agree on is that he was a great military commander. Through his leadership, Alexander elevated the small kingdom of Macedon to the height of political power in both Greece and much of Asia. Alexander is known for greatly expanding his kingdom by conquering his way east. Here’s an overview of some of his most memorable campaigns:
Making Preparations for War
Before understanding Alexander the Great’s military conquests, it is first necessary to analyze the situation in Greece prior to the start of his invasions. At the time, Greece had become unified by Alexander’s father, Philip II, in a federation know as the Hellenic League. When Philip died in 336 BC, Alexander faced several challenges to his rule in southern Greece. Quickly quashing these rebellions, Alexander turned his sights to the Persian Empire. The young king was motivated to destroy the Achaemenid Empire for their previous incursions into Greek territory, which Alexander perceived as unforgiveable slights.
Waging War Against the Persian Empire
Alexander began his campaign against the Persians and their king, Darius III, in 334 BC. At first, the Persian governors, who were known as satraps, could not adhere to a clear strategy to address Alexander’s invasion. In May of that year, many satraps pooled their resources together to challenge Alexander at the Battle of the Granicus River. The battle became Alexander’s first great victory, giving him control of much of Asia Minor. After the engagement, Alexander sought to win the loyalty of the Persian people by allowing self-rule in the newly conquered lands.
After the Battle of the Granicus River, Darius III saw how serious a threat Alexander was and took personal command of his armies. Seeking to end Alexander’s invasion once and for all, the King of Kings went after the Greek supply lines at the Battle of Issus. Although vastly outnumbering the Greeks, the Persians lost the battle and Darius’s rule began to slip away. After his victory, Alexander moved into Tyre and Egypt, where he was named the son of the god Amon-Ra.
Alexander secured his final victory against the Persian Empire at the Battle of Gaugamela, which resulted in Darius fleeing from the battlefield. His main rival gone, Alexander declared himself the new King of Kings and began taking on the trappings of Persian royalty. Although Darius was defeated, many Persian nobles still did not bend to Alexander’s authority, leading to many conflicts with local warlords.
Alexander Invades India
Intent on conquering the known world, Alexander began his invasion of the Indian subcontinent in 327 BC. Facing off against numerous tribes, Alexander’s last great battle was the Battle of the Hydaspes, which gave him control of the Punjab region. After reports began circulating that the army of the Nanda Empire outnumbered Alexander’s forces 5 to 1, Alexander canceled his plans to invade the kingdom. Having conquered thousands of miles of territory, Alexander and his exhausted warriors began their journey home.
As you can see, Alexander spend much of his time conquering his way East. He died at an early age, and after his death, this created upheaval within the kingdom and his conquered territories.
Categorized in: Ancient Greek History
This post was written by GreekBoston.com