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The kingdom of Macedonia was a Greek state located in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula. This city-state not only managed to become a regional power, but eventually unified the rest of the squabbling Greek city-states and even created an empire spanning the northern half of the Middle East, and helped disseminate Greek culture throughout the world before falling apart into several smaller kingdoms. Macedonia, however, would survive and continue to remain a major power in the Greek world until it was finally conquered by the Romans in 147BCE.
The history of the ancient Macedonian kingdom began with Caranus, who was the first known king (808-778BCE), of the Argeadae dynasts who originally hailed from Argos Orestikon, a city located in south-western Macedonia. Although the Argeadae claimed descent from Zeus' son Herakles, the rest of Greece often considered the Macedonians as cultural outsiders (because the politics and culture of Macedon were so different compared to the rest of Greece), and so they were often viewed with suspicion: Herodotus (who himself worked and died in Macedon itself) claims that Alexander I was barred from the Olympic games until he could prove to the authorities that he was a Greek.
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. 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.
The Sons of HeraklesEdit
The mainstay of Macedonian power lay in the use of long spears or pikes, called sarrisae. Unlike the normal dory spears of other Greek armies, sarrisae were almost thrice their length, On their own, however, sarrisae were an encumbrance on the march and were not meant to be used in single combat, so the infantry who bore these spears too were also different — unlike most Greek warriors who were mostly raised from citizen levies, the Macedonian hoplite was a professional soldier — and given the unwieldliness of his weapon he had to be in order to use it well. He would fight in close linear formations called phalanxes, where sarrisae in unison could form a nearly impenetrable wall of sharp stabbing spearheads which had to be bypassed before anyone could close in on their wielders themselves. Supported by elite cavalry squadrons (the Macedonians learnt to appreciate the value of cavalry while being one-time allies of the Persian Achaemenids), the disciplined manoeuvres of Macedonian phalanxes would certainly also have a morale effect on enemies not acquainted with them, and they certainly won many wars for Phillip II and his successors — the vast spread of Hellenic culture throughout Persia, Egypt and Southern Central Asia is certainly a testament to the awesome power of the phalanx which steamrolled Greek and Persian foes alike for Alexander the Great.
However, for phalanx formations to work they needed fairly level terrain where the hoplites could march in unison and in close order, so areas with broken terrain were often deadly as they could force units to shear apart easily to be flanked — given that most men were right-handed and the soldiers of a phalanx carried small shields on their left (because the sarrisa was a very heavy weapon), the phalanx was most vulnerable from its rear and sides. Bloody encounters with the Celts (who were increasingly forced by migrations of Germans from Scandinavia to move west, east and south) in the early 3rd century BCE soon made it clear that long spears were insufficient, and so new forms of medium infantry called thureophoroi were also introduced to the Macedonian armies and those of their Greek cousins overseas (where they may have been called thorakitai). Like the Roman legions (which were also reformed to follow Celtic methods) these were men kitted out in Celtic fashion — oval shields, body armour (for which the thorakitai were thought to gain their name) as well as spears which could be used as javelins and swords for wet work out of formation. However, for most of its lifetime, the Macedonian kingdom preferred to rely heavily on the phalanx as the mainstay of its military.
Alexander's death en route home in 323BCE brought the Macedonian leading generals into a terrible conflict over the rule of the Empire. But first, the rebellions of the Greeks were put down with the massacres of the 23,000 Greek mercenaries in Asia, and the bloody end of the Lamian (Hellenic) War in which the united Greeks failed to win freedom yet again. By 300 BC, the Macedonian Empire was carved up between the dynasties of Antigonus I "One-Eye" (Macedonia and Greece), Ptolemy I (Egypt), and Seleucus I (Asia). For the next four decades, Macedon itself would be enmeshed in the power struggles between the various Diadochi kingdoms and the smaller Greek city-states even as it was consumed by court intrigues. At home, the Macedonian crown changed hands between several ruling houses, most notably the Antipatrids (the sires of Antipater, another former general of Alexander's) and the Antigonids (those descended of Antigonus I. It was not until the reign of Antigonus II Gonatas that the Macedonian state managed to achieve any semblance of unity.
Under Antigonus II Gonatas (276-239), the grandson of Antigonus I, Macedonia achieved a (relatively) stable monarchy and attempted to expand its influence into the rest of the Greek peninsula — with mixed results — the Greek city-states, headed by the still dominant cities of Athens and Sparta, attempted to assert their independence, goaded on by Ptolemaic Egypt. The Pharaohs feared an alliance between the Macedonians and their new mortal enemies, the Seleucids, and so tried to weaken Macedon at any cost to preserve their freedom.
Thus, the new kings of Macedon were led to increase Macedonian hegemony on the Greek peninsula for both prestige and self-preservation, given the threats posed by various polities at home, especially given that the Greek city-states jealously guarded their freedoms and were unsurprisingly prejudiced against the larger kingdoms of Epirus and Macedon. For this malady, Antigonus II's preferred prescription was military force, but this forced many of the southern cities to form the Achaean League. Wiser monarchs used a combination of military police action and diplomacy to maintain peace and Macedon's borders, but for most of its lifetime, the expansionist ambitions of its rulers merely opened the door to two new powers: Rome and Carthage, who were already influencing the many Greeks who lived in Italy.
Clash of CivilisationsEdit
As the Greek city-states began to sink into irrelevance, two new powers had emerge on the far ends of the Mediterranean: Rome, which had survived the depredations of Celts and Etrurians; and Carthage, which originally started off as a Phoenician outpost and was now a trading and naval power in its own right.
In 229BCE, Demetrius of Pharos, the Greek king of Illyria, was driven from his lands by the Romans. Demetrius fled to Macedon and persuaded Phillip to be wary of the Romans. Phillip decided to ally with Carthage following the battle of Cannae, where the Roman army was slaughered wholesale.This, along with Rome's refusal to brook any rival, induced Phillip to fight the two "Macedonian Wars" against the Romans, and Macedon was drastically reduced in size. In the third "Macedonian War", Rome finally defeated the Macedonian army under the last king the Philip's son Perseus (179-168 BCE) and at the Battle of Pydna, 20,000 Macedonian soldiers died while defending their land, their king Perseus defeated and imprisoned. The fate of Macedonia was one which would be shared by the many other Diadochi kingdoms. By 65 BC Rome conquered the Seleucid Macedonian kingdom in Asia under its last king Antiochus VII. Finally, the defeat of Cleopatra VII in 30 BCE, brought an end to the last of the Macedonian descendants in Egypt and with it, the last remains of the Macedonian empire, once the mightiest in the world, disappeared from the face of the earth.