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Following the disintegration of Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire after his death in 323BCE, the city-states of southern Greece which managed to escape the attention of Alexader's "successors", the Diadochi, hastily reformed themselves into a new confederacy to replace the previous "Hellenic" (or Corinthian) League set up by Alexander's father Phillip II of Macedon almost two decades ago. Named after the historic region of Achaea in the northern Pelopennese, the League prospered during the struggles between Macedon and Rome for control of the Ionian sea, but was soon destroyed after the conclusion of the Third Macedonian War by the Romans as punishment for trying to collude with the Macedonians.
A Coalition of ConvenienceEdit
Following the destruction of Alexander the Great's Empire in 323BCE, Macedonian control of the Greek peninsula was weakened, which allowed many of the Greek city-states that had previously been dominated by Macedonia to break away. Around 280BCE, several cities in the south on the Pelopennese established a military confederacy (or league) called the Achaean League to preserve their independence in the wake of increased Macedonian activity in the Greek peninsula. With the induction of Corinth and the destruction of its rival, the kingdom of Sparta in the late 3rd century BCE, the Achaean League changed from a gaggle of backwater city-states to a regional power capable of resisting Macedonian rule.
The Macedonian menaceEdit
Although there were some military clashes, the Macedonians on their part had to content themselves mostly with influencing local politics. Despite initial acrimony (the Macedonians initially attempted a smear campaign against its leaders), the League eventually began to drift towards the Macedonian political sphere as it was still menaced by many hostile Greek city-states (most notably Sparta) as well as the Romans.
Like its many freedom-loving member-states, the Achaean League continued to rule and arm itself in the traditional Greek way: it chose to follow Greek-styled democracy and its army was mostly based on citizen levies, unlike the professional soldiery of Macedonia (or the crypto-feudal structure of the Spartans, for that matter). The League originally tried to rely on the use of medium infantry known as thorakitai who were armed with swords, but this proved to be of little tactical worth (because unlike the Romans, the Greeks still did not know how to use them). The Megapolitan strategos (or marshall), Philippoemon, while in the employ of the League, attempted to introduce some reforms to shore up the League's fighting strength, beginning with cavalry organisation reforms. With Macedonian influence prevalent, the League even began to experiment with Macedonian-style phalanxes and under Philipoemon's leadership, the League managed to secure Macedonian aid to crush its largest rival on the Pelopennese, the Spartans, in 223BCE.
Fall of the LeagueEdit
However, the subjugation of Sparta troubled the League, for even in defeat, the Spartans continued to resist the League, and revolts in the southern Pelopennese flared up again after the war. In one of these, the Messenes revolted and Philopoemon was sent to quell the uprising, only to be captured. He was forced to commit suicide and died in 183BCE.
After Philopoemon, the League suffered from a lack of proper leadership. It is not clear what happened, but it appears that by the mid-2nd century BCE, the Achaean League could no longer find sufficient manpower nor resources to continue sustaining its independence, and had to recruit mercenaries, most notably from Thessaly and Crete. Slaves even had to be released and armed, but it was to no avail. With Carthage at bay, the Romans then turned their attention back to the east and began for the conquest of Greece. With the battles of Cynoscephalae (197BCE) and Pydna (168BCE) , the Macedonians were overthrown.
Unwisely, the League had chosen to align itself to the Macedonians, and the Romans dealt with them summarily once Carthage was finished off. The League met the Romans near Corinth in 146BCE. Although the infantry of the League managed to hold their own, they were soon flanked, and the whole league was in disarray, leaving the victorious Romans to seize Corinth. Following the battle of Corinth, the victors put Corinth to the torch, the League was dissolved and its territory - the Greek Pelopennese — was re-organised as the Roman province of Achaea. Despite having lost autonomy, the Greeks of Achaea however were allowed to continue living as they had, with the Roman presence confined mostly to the city of Corinth. Like the rest of Greece, Achaea would remain mostly part of the Roman empire until the Fourth Crusade of 1204, when it was overrun by Frankish invaders.