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Alexander the Great and Macedonian rule

After the death of Philip II of Macedon, Alexander III was crowned king and turned it into one of the greatest empires of antiquity by defeating the Persians.

Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia from 336 BC. and, during his reign, managed to form a great empire in a period of about twelve years. After his father’s assassination, Alexander set out to conquer Asia and faced the decaying Persian Empire, which was led by Darius III. The great legacy of the Macedonian empire was the spread of Greek culture to the East.

Alexander’s coronation

The Macedonians, a people who inhabited northern Greece, are considered the heirs of the last groups of Hellenes who settled in the region during the Pre-Homeric Period. They considered themselves a Hellenized people, that is, a people of Greek culture, but they were viewed with contempt by the Greeks themselves.

Macedonia abandoned the stage of seminomadism and consolidated a centralized power from the 7th century BC. With the weakening of Greece, after the successive conflicts fought during the Medical Wars and the Peloponnesian War, Macedonia rose as a local power.

The Macedonians dominated the entire region from the Battle of Chaeronea when the army led by Philip II of Macedon defeated the army formed by the League of Greek Cities in 338 BC. However, Philip II’s reign throughout Greece was short-lived, for in 336 BC he was assassinated by Pausanias, one of his bodyguards.

Historians do not know for sure the motivation of Pausanias, but there is a misunderstanding between the two for personal reasons, or even that Philip’s murder was part of a conspiracy that aimed to kill both Philip and his successor, Alexander. On Philip’s death, Alexander was crowned King of Macedonia in 336 BC.

Philip’s death triggered a crisis in Macedonia, with conspiracies to seize Alexander’s throne, foreign attacks, and rebellions by Greek cities erupting. Alexander acted energetically and bypassed all obstacles by executing the conspirators, containing foreign attacks, and defeating and punishing the Greek cities that rebelled.

This victory granted Alexander control over the Greek cities of Ionia (another term for Asia Minor), which were under Persian rule. As the historian Claude Mossé states, the Macedonian king transformed the Greek cities in the region into democratic polis and ended the collection of the tribute they paid to the Persians.

Then Alexander managed to dominate the region where the Phoenician cities were located, known as the Levant. The conquest of this territory was possible from the victory in the Battle of Issus, in 333 BC, which expelled the Persian troops from that place. The accounts tell that, in this battle, Darius III began a desperate flight, even leaving his family behind.

With the victory at Issus, all the cities in the region surrendered to Macedonian rule, except the city of Tyre, which put up resistance. Alexander was only able to defeat this city after an eight-month siege. Upon conquering it, the Macedonian king ordered thousands of local citizens to be sold into slavery.

With the conquest of the entire region corresponding to Lebanon, part of Syria, Israel and Palestine, Alexander left for Egypt, where he stayed for a year. The highlight of this stay was the foundation of the city of Alexandria, in 331 BC, which fulfilled an important military function and became one of the most important cities in the region.

Defeat of the Persian Empire

After this stay in Egypt, Alexander resumed his main objective and set out again to defeat Darius III and conquer the Persian Empire. The decisive fight against the Persian troops took place during the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. This victory marked the end of Darius III’s reign over the Persian Empire.

With this victory, Alexander consolidated his power over important cities in the region, such as Babylon, Susa and Persepolis, and gained access to a large amount of gold from the Persian royal coffers. Darius III fled, but was murdered by a traitorous satrap named Bessus. Alexander then defeated Bessus and another traitor, Epistámenes. With this, he consolidated his power over the regions of the Persian Empire.

Indian Campaign and Alexander’s Death

By securing control over the rebellious regions of the Persian Empire, Alexander organized the campaign of conquest of India. In this campaign, the Macedonian emperor faced strong resistance, with a great battle at Hydaspes against Poro, king of Paurava. The difficulties of this Indian campaign caused Alexander to retreat and return to Babylon.

During his stay in that city, Alexander fell ill after a feast and died eleven days later, as a result of a strong fever. Historians are not sure why he died, but three causes are raised: poisoning, malaria, and typhoid.

Alexander’s death interrupted plans to invade the Arabian Peninsula, and so the Macedonian Empire was divided among its main generals. The great legacy of this empire was the spread of Greek culture to the East.

Source: História do Mundo

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