Greek Rebellions Against Macedonia

B.C. 338 to 322
Macedonia — versus — Independent Greece Citystates

Conquest of Greece — 338-335     Rebellion in Greece — 331-322 B.C.     

While Ancient Greece was at the height of its glory and influence, between the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars, Macedonia was a backward, remote kingdom in Thrace. During the Persian War, the Macedonians had submitted to the Persians and the country produced no first rate scholars, generals or leaders. Then suddenly, under the reign of Philip II, Macedonia rose to great prominence and within a single generation was master of Greece. The Macedonian conquest of Greece, however, was not a purely military victory. Philip II won much more control through clever alliances, patronage, and bribery than in outright war. In almost every Greece city there was a pro-Macedonian party that worked on Philip II's behalf, long before the decisive battle of Chaeronea. It was just this corruption of Greek politics by Philip's interference that Demosthenes objected so strongly to.

Once Greece was under the control of Macedonia, Greeks who co-operated with the regime were rewarded. Philip II had respect for Greek culture and history and treated his Greek adherents well. At no time during the initial conquest of Greece, the rebellion following the Death of Philip II, or the rebellion following the death of Alexander, was all of Greece united against Macedonia. Macedonia's adherents, spies, and clients made it impossible for Greece to successfully regain its independence.

Conquest of Greece : 338-335

Battle of the Carts
The Wars of the Macedonian Conquest started soon after the accession of Philip II to the throne of Macedonia. Although Macedonia was a poor, half civilized country when Philip assumed control in 359 BC, under his brilliant leadership it became the best trained and equipped fighting force of the ancient world. As a youth, he had been a hostage in the court of Epaminondas during the Theban Hegemony, and there received the military and diplomatic training which enabled him, in a single generation to make Macedonia the leading power in the region.

Almost immediately after coming to power, Philip II started his campaign of conquests in Thrace. Between 357 and 355 BC Athens suffered a series of rebellions of its Aegean colonies, known as the Athenian Social War. During these conflicts Macedonia interfered on behalf of the rebellious colonies, and gained Amphipolis for himself. Shortly afterward, the Sacred War broke out in Phocis, and again, Philip used the opportunity to gain a foothold in Thessaly. For the next ten years, Philip continued to consolidate power in Macedonia and the Balkan Peninsula, while at the same time, interfering with Greek politics, and making alliances with various factions within Greek cities. In Athens, Demosthenes spoke against Philip's incursions so strenuously, that a speech in violent opposition to someone, is still called a philippic. But to no avail. By 338 BC Philip controlled so much territory in Northern Greece and the Aegean, that Thebes and Athens united to resist him at the Battle of Chaeronea. But alas, the Macedonian victory put an end to the independence of most of the Greek mainland outside of the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

Philip was slain only a few years after his victory at Chaeronea, and the crown passed to his son. Although only 21 at the time, Alexander had already proven extraordinary ability on the field of battle, and acted immediately to put down rebellions that broke out on the news of his fathers death. The city of Thebes revolted, and Alexander marched immediately to besiege the city. After storming the city, he put over 6000 men to the sword, sold the women and children into slavery, and razed the city to the ground. There were no further rebellions in mainland Greece during Alexander's life.

DateBattle Summary
338 BC  
Battle of Chaeronea (Revolt of Athens ) Macedonians victory
Fought August B.C. 338 between the Macedonians under Philip, and the Athenians and Thebans under Chares and Theagenes respectively. Philip had 30,000 foot and 2,000 horse, the latter led by Alexander, then a lad of eighteen; the allies were slightly fewer in number. Philip reinforced his right wing, which was opposed by the Athenians, and sent his heavy cavalry against the Thebans, on the allied right. Their charge broke the Theban ranks, and they then attacked the Athenians in flank and rear. A hopeless rout ensued, the Theban "Sacred Band" dying where they stood. The Athenians lost 6,000 killed and 2,000 prisoners. The Thebans were almost annihilated.
336 BC  
Battle of Carts (First ) Macedonians victory
Fought in 336 B.C., between a Thracian mountain tribe and Alexander's army. The Thracians had revolted at word of Alexander's accessions, and he deemed it critical to put down the revolt immediately. The Thracians where holed up in the defiles of the mountains and had dozens of carts loaded with heavy rocks ready to roll down the mountain and crush their enemies. The macedonians side-stepped the carts when possible or laid down and covered themselves with their shields. When the force of the wagons was spent they rushed at the Thracians and conquered them.
335 BC  
Siege of Thebes (Revolt of Thrace ) Macedonians victory
This city was captured by the Macedonians, under Alexander the Great, in September, 335 B.C. The Thebans were blockading the Macedonian garrison, which held the citadel, and the Cadmea; Perdiccas, one of Alexander's captains, without orders, broke through the earthworks outside the city. Before the Thebans could shut the gates, Perdiccas effected an entrance into the city, and being joined by the garrison of the Cadmea, soon overcame the resistance of the Thebans. Six thousand of the inhabitants were massacred, and the city was razed to the ground.

Short Biography
Philip of Macedonia Used statesmanship as well as military force to bring Greece under sway of Macedonia.
Alexander the Great Greatest general of ancient times. Conquered Persian Empire with 40,000 soldiers.
Chares Athenian General who was in charge of the fleet during the Athenian Social War, and also at Chaeronea.
Phocion Athenian statesmen who tried to avoid war between Athens and Macedonia. Sometimes opposed Demosthenes.

Story Links
Book Links
Alexander's Childhood and Youth  in  Alexander the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Reaction  in  Alexander the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Philip of Macedonia  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan

Book Links
Alexander the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Young Macedonian in the Army of Alexander the Great  by  Alfred J. Church

Rebellion in Greece : 331-322 B.C.

Death of Demosthenes
While Alexander was preoccupied in Eastern Persia, Sparta and her allies on the Peloponnese rebelled against Macedon, whom Alexander had left in the control of Antipater, his father's able minister. After some time, Antipater was able to raise an enormous army, and met the rebels outside of Megalopolis. After a hard fought battle, the Macedonians prevailed, the Spartan King died in battle, and the allies were driven back to their strongholds in the south. Although the Macedonians did not pursue, they did reestablish their control of the northern Peloponnese, leaving Sparta increasingly isolated.

Upon hearing of the death of Alexander, Greece made a final attempt to bolt from the Macedonian Yoke. The Lamian War involved a series of rebellions against Antipater, primarily lead by Athens. Although the war initially went well for the Greeks, Antipater was able to raise reinforcements from the large Macedonian armies stationed in Persia and beat the Greek allies decisively at Crannon. This was the final blow to Greek independence—the great orator Demosthenes committed suicide when he heard of the defeat and other Greek leaders of the rebellion were executed.

DateBattle Summary
331 BC  
Battle of Megalopolis (Revolt of Thebes ) Macedonians victory
Fought B.C. 331, in the attempt of the Spartans, aided by the Arcadians, Achaeans and Eleians, to shake off the Macedonian yoke, during Alexander's absence in Asia The allies, under Agis, King of Sparta, were besieging Megalopolis, which had declined to join the league, when they were attacked by the Macedonians, under Antipater, and completely routed, Agis falling in the battle.
322 BC  
Battle of Crannon (Revolt of Sparta ) Macedonians victory
Fought B.C. 322, between the Macedonian forces of Antipater and Craterus and rebellious Greek forces led by the Athenians, was the decisive battle of the Lamian war. A complete Macedonian victory, it marked the end of city-state freedom from Macedonian hegemony in Greece.

Short Biography
Antipater One of Philip's most trusted generals. Left in charge of Macedonia during Alexander's conquests.
Craterus Popular General of Alexander. Allied with Antipater after the death of Alexander.
Agis III Led a rebellion against the Macedonians in the Peloponeses. Killed at the Battle of Megalopolis.
Demosthenes One of Greece's greatest orators. Spoke against Philip and the Macedonians.
Phocion Athenian statesmen who tried to avoid war between Athens and Macedonia. Sometimes opposed Demosthenes.

Story Links
Book Links

Image Links

The Macedonian Phalanx—Battle of the Carts
 in Greatest Nations - Greece