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The Chremonidean League comprised several city-states in Greece, most notably Athens and Lacedaemon, which sought to limit the expansion of Macedonian power in Greece after regaining independence with the fall of Alexander the Great's empire in the last few years of the 4th century BCE. Although it was backed by the Ptolemaic Egyptians as a means of limiting Macedonian expansion (and leaving the Pharaohs to deal with the more dangerous Seleucids), the League was not a success, as its major member-states were annexed by the Macedonians and the Achaeans, rendering it extinct with the Chremonidean War in 261BCE.
Prior to the rise of Rome and Macedon, Athens and Lacedaemon (or more commonly known as Sparta after its capital) had already distinguished themselves well for almost three centuries — if Homer's Iliad is true, they may well have existed as early as the Bronze Age. In their heyday at the close of the 6th century BCE, Athens was the largest and based their society on class levels based on wealth, while the Spartans based their society on a ruling military elite over serfs serving aristocratic land owners.
The Chremonidean League, inaugurated by the Athenian strategos Chremonides in the 3rd century BCE, was however not the first time Athens and Lacedaemon were in together on the same side. That however, was during the Graeco-Persian Wars. In the 5th centuryBCE the Greeks came to the attention of the Persian Empire. The Persians under Cyrus the Great invaded in 490BCE as a reprisal for Greek raids onto Asia Minor. The Greeks formed the Hellenic League, headed by Athens and Sparta, and despite overwhelming odds, managed to force the Persians out of Greece itself.
The Macedonian YokeEdit
In truth, the relations of Athens and Sparta were not as close as people generally think them to be, but they were more akin to distant cousins who were in competition with one another. After the Persian invasions, the Spartans withdrew from the alliance and Athens reformed the remaining city-states into the Delian League. The increased power and influence of Athens soon resulted in greater instability and violence broke out in the Pelopennesian Wars, which devastated Athens and saw Sparta even re-align itself with its old foe, the Persians, to gain hegemony over the Greek peninsula. This, however, was short-lived: following the battle of Leuctra of 371BCE, the city-state of Thebes at the head of the Amphictyonic League broke both Athens and Sparta as major powers, while setting up their ally, Macedonia, on the path to future supremacy. By the 5th century BC the Macedonians nevertheless had forged a unified kingdom, and emerged as a major power on the Helladic Peninsula. Fuelled by the rich mineral wealth of its mountains and taking advantage of the increasing chaos of the 5th century BCE in the Greek peninsula, Macedonia would see its greatest heights of power under the reigns of Phillip II and his son Alexander III following the battle of Chaeronea in 338BCE. Phillip II established the Corinthian League with Macedonia as the head, excluding the Epirotes of Molossia, the state of Thessaly (which was a client-state of Macedonia) and the Spartans.
Although Phillip would soon be murdered in 336BCE, there was no respite for Macedonia's enemies, as the assassination merely replaced the conservative and aged Phillip with his more energetic and forceful son, Alexander III. When the Greek city-states attempted to rebel, Alexander sent his troops into southern Greece and razed Thebes, cowing them into submission.
Although Alexander III would eventually be known as o Megas or "the Great" in Greek, founding an empire that stretched from the Balkans to the Hindu Kush, it would collapse soon after his death. This resulted in many Greek city-states openly seceding from the Macedonian empire and re-asserting their independence in the same year he died in 323BCE. When news of his demise and the infighting going on between the Diadochi arrived in Athens, it was decided that the time was right to engage the Macedonians.
Thus started the Lamian War. An army was sent, headed by the strategos Leosthenes and accompanied by allied contingents from various city-states, most notably Thessaly, to overthrow the Macedonians and their Boeotian allies, and were initially successfuly, driving the surivivors to take refuge in the city of Lamia (from which the war derived its name). Despite having superior forces, they could not break through, and the Macedonians, now freshly reinforced by Alexander's former generals Craterus and Antipater, chased them away from the city walls and pinned the allies down near the village of Crannonas in northern Greece.
With the fall of the allied armies, the Macedonians then marched on to annex more cities in Thessaly. In the wake of the victory, Athens was instantaneously let down and betrayed by her allies, who left her to fend against the Macedonians. The terms dictated against the Athenians were harsh - her democracy was suspended, and anyone who did not have a net worth of 2,000 talents or more was stripped of citizenship, while advocates of Athenian independence were persecuted and killed.
While Athens struggled and lost repeatedly in its quest to regain its former glory, the contemporary Lacedaemonians still remained where they were left following the loss of their hegemony and the destruction of their Theban foes. Earlier on, Phillip II tried to persuade the Spartans to join his Corinthian League, threatening them, "If I bring my army into your lands, I will raze your city." The Spartans' rebuttal to Phillip's threats, in archetypically laconic fashion, was simply, "If." The Spartans had even tried to seize Crete (now under Macedonian rule) in 333BCE, but Alexander's general Antipater managed to defeat them, and they were surprisingly given clemency by the Macedonian king. At home, however, things were not so rosy. The countless defeats inflicted upon the Lacedaemon armies had reduced the number of "citizens", so the ratio of helots (the serfs who laboured for the Spartans) to citizens began to rise, so that helot revolts soon became more and more common as well as destructive.
The Chremonidean WarEdit
Despite the massive loss of prestige and power after the debacle at Crannonas, the Athenians still burned for vengeance against the Macedonians and the restoration of their independence, and so, 39 years after the Lamian War, an Athenian strategos named Chremonides tried to broker a new alliance between Athens and her former rival, Sparta, against Macedonia in 268BCE. While this new alliance - called the "Chremonidean League" for simplicity - appeared to be another pan-Hellenic military pact, what was new about it was that it included a new partner - Ptolemaic Egypt.
The inclusion of Egypt, alongside Athens and Sparta, served the purposes of all parties. Egypt was an agricultural and commercial powerhouse which allowed it immense wealth and grain to help supply the armies of its partners in Greece. Additionally, having only been recently stabilised by the Ptolemaic rulers, it was worried by the threats posed by old Macedon itself, and so the Egyptians chose to sponsor the Chremonidean League as a means of limiting Macedonian power. The war however proved to be an ill-fated enterprise, and also led to the destruction of Athens. Once the Spartans were crushed and driven out of Central Greece in 266BCE, it was Athens' turn and the Macedonians invested Athens. Short of manpower, the Athenians tried to hold out until help could arrive from Egypt, but the destruction of the Ptolemaic expeditionary force off Cos soon meant that Athens was all alone. Weakened and starving, the Athenians had no choice but to surrender, and so were inducted into the greater sphere of Macedonian power in 261BCE.
Meanwhile, Sparta was also facing its own problems at home. 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. However, the League eventually began to drift towards the Macedonian political sphere. As neighbouring cities on the Pelopennese began flocking to the League, the Spartans began to feel threatened. Repeated attempts to destroy the League by the Spartan king Nabis and attempts at an alliance with Rome proved to be too little and too late: by 195BCE, even the Romans had deserted their Spartan allies, reducing Spartan possessions to their eponymous city and its environs. The Spartans appealed to the Aetolian League, another confederation of Greek city-states for help, and the Aetolians arrived in 192CE, but instead of fighting against the Achaeans, they instead seized the city and put Nabis to death, effectively putting an end to Sparta's 1,500 years of independence as it was subsequently inducted into the Achaean League.