d. 522 BC

Cambyses was the eldest son of Cyrus, and ascended to the throne of Persia on his death. Even before the death of his father, he aspired to conquer Egypt and immediately upon assuming power, he starting planning for the invasion. His did not actually invade however, until Amasis II, who had reigned in Egypt for nearly 45 years died, and his son Psammenitus rose to the throne. Egypt was quickly defeated, and Cambyses proved himself a cruel despot. Many atrocious deeds are attributed the Cambyses, but it is thought that alcohol and drunkenness were behind much of his ill behavior, rather than insanity.

After conquering Egypt, Cambyses attempted the conquest of Ethiopia and Sudan. These countries however, were protected by a large desert, which the Persian army was unable to cross. There is a legend that Cambyses lost an entire army in a sand storm in the deserts south of Egypt. During this time, Cambyses also became jealous of his brother Smerdis, and had him secretly murdered. His murder was so secret however, that two Magians, residing in the palace of Persia, decided to usurp the throne by posing as Smerdis. Since there was considerable discontent with Cambyses rule, the palace coup succeeded, and Cambyses, who had then fallen ill in Syria, killed himself rather than oppose the usurpers.

Key events during the life of cambyses:

530 BC
Cyrus establishes Cambyses on the Persian throne, as a co-ruler before his invasion of Scythia.
529 BC
Cyrus perishes in Scythia.
  Cambyses begins preparations for invasion of Egypt.
526 BC
Amasis II, King of Egypt dies, and Cambyses invades shortly thereafter.
525 BC
Psammenitus, son of Amasis II is deposed, and Cambyses conquers Egypt.
524 BC
Cambyses sends gifts the king of Ethiopia, but is rebuffed. Sends Prexaspas to murder Smerdis.
  Cambyses attempts to attack Sudan, but is unable to cross the desert. Is said to have lost entire army in sandstorm.
522 BC
In Persia, the Magian brothers Guamata and Smerdis, seize the throne, pretending to be Smerdis.
521 BC
Cambyses, unable to resist the Magians, commits suicide.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Cambyses  in  Darius the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Persians Conquer Egypt  in  Stories of the East From Herodotus  by  Alfred J. Church

Image Links

The army of Cambyses overwhelmed in the desert.
 in Darius the Great

Destruction of Cambyses' Army by a Sandstorm
 in Greatest Nations - Persia

Cambyses at Pelusium
 in Greatest Nations - Greece

Short Biography
Cyrus the Great Prince of Persia who overran Medes, Lydia and Assyria to create the Persian Empire.
Amasis II Second to last king of Egypt, died before Egypt was overrun by Cambyses.
Psammenitus King of Egypt, enthroned on eave of Cambyses's invasion, and quickly overthrown.
Smerdis Brother of Cambyses. Murdered in order to assure he wouldn't assume the throne.
Smerdis the Magi Impersonated Smerdis, son of Cyrus and stole the throne of Persia.
Prexaspes Trusted minister of Cambyses who murdered his brother Smerdis.
Atossa Daughter of Cyrus the Great, wife of Darius, mother of Xerxes