Iranian History/Alexander's Campaign and the Macedonian Conquest of Persia

At the accession of Darius III, Persia was gripped by turmoil. Her empire might have been the largest in the whole world, however, Darius III appeared unequal to the task of governing it. As a rresult, the Empire crumbled rapidly, its downfall hastened by the invasion of a monarch from a small province of Greece called Macedonia called Alexander III, who became famous in history as Alexander the Great.

Origin of The Macedonian Empire


Macedonia was a small principality located in the northern part of modern-day Greece. The Macedonian kingdom had been in existence since the 9th century BC, its first king being Karanus who ruled upto 778 BC. However, the first king of any note was Philip II who, during the 23 years that he ruled (from 359 BC to 336 BC) conquered the whole of Greece and the Southern Balkans and converted the kingdom into an Empire. During the later years of his reign, he carried his arms into Thrace and was elected to lead an invasion of Persia. But a few months before the supposed invasion was to begin, Philip was assassinated and Greece was gripped by civil war.

Alexander III


On the death of Philip `II, a war of succession broke out amongst his sons. Alexander, a son of Philip emerged victorious and grabbed the throne crowning himself Alexander III. Soon after his accession, Alexander completed the conquest of Byzantium. He had also to deal with the widespread rebellion in Greece and the Southern Balkans which he put down with a firm hand. Having resolved internal problems and disputes in his Empire, Alexander started upon his career of conquests.

Alexander first conquered the Northern Balkans pushing back the Syths and other Northern barbarians and pushing back the frontier. Having secured his northern frontiers, Alexander crossed the Byzantium into Asia with an army of 42,000 and started upon his great Eastern campaign.

Battle of the Granicus


Alexander reached up to Lydia virtually unmolested. The Persians gave battle on the banks of the Granicus river. The Greek Light cavalry and infantry charged at the centre of the Persian line. The centre was made of Persian nobles all of whom were killed in the ensuing battle. The Persian cavalry rushed to the aid of the centre thereby allowing the Greeks to enact a breach. The Persians were massacred in large numbers. Total casualties for the Macedonians were between 300 and 400. The Persians had 2,000 infantry captured, which were of the Greek mercenaries who decided to fight on after the Persian retreat; roughly 1,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry were killed, mostly in the rout.