Macedonia (Greek: Μακεδονία,; transliterated: Makedonia) was an ancient kingdom from 800s BC to 146 BC)

Roman provinces at the Balkans

Map of Macedonia.

Ancient PeriodEdit

The region that today forms the northern Greece has been inhabited since Paleolithic times. Republic of Macedonia occupies most of the part of the ancient kingdom of Paionia and part of the territory of what was in antiquity Upper Macedonia (which coincides with some parts of todays southern Republic of Macedonia), the region which became part of the kingdom of Macedon in the early 4th century BC.[2] It was settled by the Paionians and Dardani, peoples of mixed Thraco-Illyrian origin. The Paionians founded several princedoms which coalesced into a kingdom centred in the central and upper reaches of the Vardar and Struma rivers until they were finally conquered by Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, in 358 BC

Philip of Macedon - King of Macedonia and conqueror of Illyria, Thrace, and Greece


Philip of Macedon - King of Macedonia and conqueror of Illyria, Thrace, and Greece.

King Philip II ruled Macedonia from 359 to 336 BC. He was born in Pella, the capital of the ancient Macedonian kingdom, as the youngest son of king Amyntas III.  After his fathers death, Macedonia slowly disintegrated as his elder brothers and future kings Alexander II and Perdiccas III, unsuccessfully fought against the continuous attacks of the neighboring Thracians, Illyrians, and Greeks. The Thracians were already in possession of eastern Macedonia, the strongest Greek military power of Thebes continuously intervened in the internal Macedonian politics, the Greeks colonies on the edge of Macedonia, particularly Olynthus, were obstacle to Macedonia's economy and presented a military danger, and the invasions of the Illyrians put north-western Macedonia under their occupation. Philip II was a hostage of the Greeks at Thebes, between 368 and 365 BC.  But while in captivity there, he observed the military techniques of then the greatest power in Greece. When he returned to Macedonia he immediately set forth in helping his brother Perdiccas III, who was then king of Macedonia, to strengthen and reorganize the Macedonian army.  But in 359, when king Perdiccas III set out to battle the Illyrians to free north-western Macedonia, the Macedonian army suffered a disastrous defeat. 4,000 Macedonian soldiers, including their king lay dead on the battlefield. The Illyrians enforced their occupation of north-western Macedonia and were now an even greater threat to the very existence of the Macedonian kingdom.

Suppression of the Illyrian, Thracian, Greek, and Epirote Rebellions

The Macedonian king spent most of 345 subduing the rebellions of the conquered nations. He led the Macedonian army against the Illyrians, Dardanians, and the Thracians. In 344 the Greeks in Thessaly rebelled, but their uprisings was also swiftly put down. The same year he marched into Epirus and pacified the country.

The Conquest of Thrace

Having secured the bordering regions of Macedonia, Philip assembled a large Macedonian army and marched deep into Thrace for a long conquering campaign. By 339 after defeating the Thracians in series of battles, most of Thrace was firmly in Macedonian hands save the most eastern Greek coastal cities of Byzantium and Perinthus who successfully withstand the long and difficult sieges. But both Byzantium and Perinthus would have surely fell had it not been for the help they received from the various Greek city-states, and the Persian king himself, who now viewed the rise of Macedonia and its eastern expansion with concern. Ironically, the Greeks invited and sided with the Persians against the Macedonians, although the Persians had been the most hated nation in Greece for more then a century. The memory of the Persian invasion of Greece some 150 years ago was still alive but the Greek hatred for the Macedonians had put it aside.

Victory over the Scythians

Ordering the Macedonian troops to lift the sieges of the two Greek cities, Philip led the army northward across Thrace. In the spring of 339 the Macedonians clashed with the Scythians near Danube, who had recently crossed the river with large army. Philip won a stunning victory in which the Scythian king Areas was killed and took 20,000 Scythian women and children as slaves. But on the return to Macedonia, the Thracian Triballians attacked the Macedonian convoy. The booty was lost, Philip suffered a severe injury which left him permanently lame, and the army returned home empty-handed.

The Conquest of Greece

Philip spent the following months in Macedonia recovering from the injury, but there was no time to relax. The Greeks were uniting and assembling a large army, and as historian Peter Green observed 'if Philip did not move fast it would be they who invaded his territory, not he theirs’. As soon as he recovered, Philip assembled the largest Macedonian army yet, gave his 18-year-old son Alexander a commanding post among the senior Macedonian generals, and marched into Greece. The Greeks likewise assembled their largest army since the Persian invasion to face the Macedonian invasion. At Chaeronea in central Greece where the two armies met, the whole of Greece put 35,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry on the field, while the Macedonians had 30,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. Although outnumbered, with suburb tactics and well coordination of the phalanx with the cavalry, the Macedonian ‘barbarian’ defeated the united Greek army. Among the Greeks, the Athenians, Thebans, and the Achaeans suffered the biggest losses. The ancient Roman and Greek historians, consider the battle of Chaeronea, on August 2nd, 338 BC as an end to Greek liberty.


The map of Countries.

Alexander of Macedon - Alexander the Great - King of Macedonia and Conqueror of the Persian EmpireAlexander III the Great, the King of Macedonia and conqueror of the Persian Empire is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. He was inspiration for later conquerors such as Hannibal the Carthaginian, the Romans Pompey and Caesar, and Napoleon.  Alexander was born in 356 BC in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia. He was son of Philip II, King of Macedonia, and Olympias, the princess of neighboring Epirus. He spent his childhood watching his father transforming Macedonia into a great military power, winning victory after victory on the battlefields throughout the Balkans.  When he was 13, Philip hired the Greek philosopher Aristotle to be Alexander’s personal tutor.  During the next three years Aristotle gave Alexander a training in rhetoric and literature and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy, all of which became of importance in Alexander’s later life.  In 340, when Philip assembled a large Macedonian army and invaded Thrace, he left his 16 years old son with the power to rule Macedonia in his absence as regent, which shows that even at such young age Alexander was recognized as quite capable.  But as the Macedonian army advanced deep into Thrace, the Thracian tribe of Maedi bordering north-eastern Macedonia rebelled and posed a danger to the country.  Alexander assembled an army, led it against the rebels, and with swift action defeated the Maedi, captured their stronghold, and renamed it after himself to Alexandropolis. 

Alexander the Great Bust

Alexander the Great Bust.

Two years later in 338 BC, Philip gave his son a commanding post among the senior generals as the Macedonian army invaded Greece. At the Battle of Chaeronea the Greeks were defeated and Alexander displayed his bravery by destroying the elite Greek force, the Theban Secret Band. Some ancient historians recorded that the Macedonians won the battle thanks to his bravery.In the autumn of 333 BC, the Macedonian army's encountered the Persian forces under the command of King Darius III himself at a mountain pass at Issus in northwestern Syria. 30,000 Greeks again formed a sizable addition to the Darius' army as elite fighters and were positioned directly against the Macedonian phalanx.Darius's army greatly outnumbered the Macedonians, but the Battle of Issus ended in a big victory for Alexander. Ten's of thousands of Persians, Greeks, and other Asiatic soldiers were killed and king Darius fled in panic before the Macedonian phalanx, abandoning his mother, wife, and children behind.  Alexander treated them with the respect out of consideration for their royalty.

The Sieges of Tyre and Gaza

The victory at Issus opened the road for Syria and Phoenicia.  In early 332, Alexander sent general Parmenio to occupy the Syrian cities and himself marched down the Phoenician coast where he received the surrender of all major cities except the island city of Tyre which refused to grant him access to sacrifice at the temple of the native Phoenician god Melcart.  A very difficult seven-month siege of the city followed.  In an enormous effort, the Macedonians begun building a mole that would connect the island-city with the coast.  Tons of rocks and wood were poured into the water strip separating the island from the coast but its construction and the attacks from the city walls cost Alexander many of his bravest Macedonians.  Although seriously tempted to lift the siege and continue marching on Egypt, Alexander did not abandon the project and continued the siege, surrounding the island with ships and blasting the city walls with catapults.  When the walls finally gave in, the Macedonians poured their anger over the city defenders - 7,000 people were killed, 30,000 were sold as slaves.  Alexander entered the temple of Melcart, and had his sacrifice.  

During the seven-month siege of Tyre, Alexander received a letter from Darius offering a truce with a gift of several western provinces of the Persian Empire, but he refused to make peace unless he could have the whole empire.  He continued marching south toward Egypt but was again held up by resistance at Gaza.  The Macedonians put the city under a siege which lasted two months, after which the scenario of Tyre was repeated.  With the fall of Gaza, the whole Eastern Mediterranean coast was now secured and firmly in the hands of the Macedonians. 

The mainland Greeks had hoped that the Persian navy and the Greek commander Memnon would land in Greece and help them launch a rebellion against Antipater's Macedonians, transfer the war into Macedonia itself, and cut off Alexander in Asia, but the sealing of the coast prevented this from happening.  Memnon fell sick and died while attempting to regain the lost Greek city of Miletus on the Asia Minor coast, and the Persian plan to transfer the war into Europe well apart.

Alexander in Egypt

thumb|left|link=File:Alex5.jpgAlexander entered Egypt in the beginning of 331 BC. The Persian satrap surrendered and the Macedonians were welcomed by the Egyptians as liberators for they had despised living under Persian rule for almost two centuries.  Here Alexander ordered that a city be designed and founded in his name at the mouth of river Nile, as trading and military Macedonian outpost, the first of many to come. He never lived to see it built, but Alexandria will become a major economic and cultural center in the Mediterranean world not only during the Macedonian rule in Egypt but centuries after.

In the spring of 331 Alexander made a pilgrimage to the great temple and oracle of Amon-Ra, the Egyptian god of the sun, whom the Greeks and Macedonians identified with Zeus Ammon. The earlier Egyptian pharaohs were believed to be sons of Amon-Ra and Alexander as new ruler of Egypt wanted the god to acknowledge him as his son. He decided to make the dangerous trip across the desert to visit the oracle at the temple of the god. According to the legend, on the way he was blessed with abundant rain, and guided across the desert by ravens. At the temple, he was welcomed by the priests and spoke to the oracle. The priest told him that he was a son of Zeus Ammon, destined to rule the world, and this must have confirmed in him his belief of divine origin.  Alexander remained in Egypt until the middle of 331, and then returned to Tyre before facing Darius. 

Suppression of the Greek Rebellion, Discharge of the Greeks, and the Death of Darius

Meanwhile in Greece, the Greeks under the leadership of Sparta rose to a rebellion against the Macedonian occupation. Antipater was in Thrace at the time and the Greeks took the opportunity to push back the Macedonian forces.  But their initial victory did not last for long as Antipater returned with a large army, defeated the rebels, and regained Greece.  5,300 Greeks, including the Spartan king Agis were killed, while the Macedonians lost 3,500 men.In Asia, the news of the beginning of the Greek rebellion had Alexander so deeply worried, that he immediately sent money to Antipater to counter it.  And when he learned that the Greeks were defeated, he proclaimed the end of the "Hellenic Crusade" and discharged all-Greek forces in his army. He no longer needed these hostages and potential troublemakers.Alexander continued his pursuit of Darius for hundreds of miles from Persepolis. When he finally caught up to him, he found the Persian king dead in his coach.  He was assassinated by Bessus, the satrap of Bactria which now proclaimed himself "King of the Kings", assuming the title of the Persian kings. Alexander gave Darius a royal funeral and set out for Bactria after his murderer.

The March on India

In the spring of 327 BC, Alexander and his army marched into India invading Punjab. The greatest of Alexander's battles in India was at the river Hydaspes, against king Porus, one of the most powerful Indian rulers. In the summer of 326 BC, Alexander's army crossed the heavily defended river during a violent thunderstorm to meet Porus' forces. The Indians were defeated in a fierce battle, even though they fought with elephants, which the Macedonians had never seen before. Porus was captured and like the other local rulers he had defeated, Alexander allowed him to continue to govern his territory.

In this battle Alexander's horse Bucephalus was wounded and died. Alexander had ridden Bucephalus into every one of his battles in Europe and Asia, so when it died he was grief-stricken.  He founded a city which he named Buckephalia, in his horse's name.

The army continued advancing as far as the river Hydaspes but at this point the Macedonians refused to go farther as reports were coming of far more larger and dangerous armies ahead equipped with many elephants and chariots. General Coenus spoke on army's behalf to the king.  Reluctantly, Alexander agreed to stop here.  Not too long afterwards Coenus died and the army buried him with the highest honors.

It was agreed that the army travel down south the rivers Hydaspes and Indus so that they might reach the Ocean on the southern edge of the world and from there head westward toward Persia. 1,000 ships were constructed and while the navy sailed the rivers, the army rode down along the rivers banks, stopping to attack and subdue the Indian villages along the way.

Alexander's Death

In the spring of 324, Alexander held a great victory celebration at Susa. He and 80 of his close associates married Persian noblewomen. In addition, he legitimized previous so-called marriages between soldiers and native women and gave them rich wedding gifts, no doubt to encourage such unions. Little later, at Opis he proclaimed the discharge of 10,000 Macedonian veterans to be sent home to Macedonia with general Craterus.  Craterus' orders were to replace Antipater and Antipater’s to bring new reinforcements in Asia. But the army mutinied hearing this. Enraged Alexander pointed the main ringleaders to his bodyguards to be punished and then gave his famous speech where he reminded the Macedonians that without him and his father Philip, they would have still been leaving in fear of the nations surrounding Macedonia, instead of ruling the world.  After this the Macedonians were reconciled with their king and 10,000 of them set out for Europe, leaving their children of Asian women with Alexander. In the same time 30,000 Persian youth already trained in Macedonian manner were recruited in the army.  Alexander prayed for unity between Macedonians and Persians and by breeding a new army of mixed blood he hoped to create a core of a new royal army which would be attached only to him. 

But Alexander will never see this happen.  Shortly before beginning of the planned Arabian campaign, he contracted a high fever after attending a private party at his friend's Medius of Larisa.  As soon as he drank from the cup he “shrieked aloud as if smitten by a violent blow”. The fever became stronger with each following day to the point that he was unable to move and speak.  The Macedonians were allowed to file past their leader for the last time before he finally succumbed to the illness on June 7, 323 BC in the Macedonian month of Daesius. Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king and the great conqueror of Persian Empire, died at the age of 33 without designating a successor to the Macedonian Empire.

Map Alexander

Roman-Macedonian WarsEdit

The three Roman-Macedonian Wars, fought between 215 and 168 B.C. resulted in the collapse of the Antigonid dynasty in Macedonia, and the effective annexation of the territories controlled by the Macedonian empire into the Roman sphere of influence. The difficulty in understanding the course of these wars, comes not from the military campaigns, which involved a few pitched battles, but few serious reversals, but rather, in trying to understand the complicated politics that underlay them.

The Macedonian Wars began during the Second Punic War, when Rome was still governed as a republic rather than an empire. Rome acquired a great deal of territory in Spain, Africa, and Greece over a short period of time, and was at first undecided as to how to govern the new provinces outside of Italy. Meanwhile, the city-states of Greece were under the influence of the Macedonians, but were governed somewhat independently. The Achaean League, a group of Greek city states pressing for Greek independence was sometimes allied, and sometimes opposed to both Rome and Macedonia. In Rome, a significant portion of the aristocracy were great admirers of Greek culture and learning, while other Roman leaders considered the Greeks intolerably corrupt, and still others were merely covetous of Greece's wealth and commercial enterprises. Some Greek cities were in favor of an alliance with Rome, while others were wholly suspicious. If the fate of Greece, under its new master appeared to waver at times between liberation and subjugation, it was due largely to these political factors, rather than mere military ones.

First and Second Macedonian Wars : 200 to 196 B.C.Edit

The first Macedonian war occurred when Philip V of Macedon allied himself with Hannibal during the second Punic War. The alliance did not amount to much, strategically, but resulted in a few skirmishes on the shore of the Adriatic between Roman forces and Macedonians. It was not until several years after the Second Punic War was brought to a close, that Rome launched a punitive expedition to Macedonia, in order to prevent Philip V from making further alliances unfriendly to Rome. The Consul in charge of the campaign to Rome was Flamininus, who fortunately for the Greeks, was a great admirer of Greek culture and tried to convince many of the Greek city states to join in an alliance with Rome against Macedonia. In this he was largely successful, and the battle of Cynoscephalae, fought in 197 B.C. was a decisive win for the Romans. At this point the Romans imposed severe restrictions on Philip V's foreign policy, and "freed" the Greek cities who had made alliances with them, from Macedonian control.


Third Macedonian War : 172 to 168Edit

The treaty with Macedonia after the second Macedonian war, limited its influence but did not destroy it. When Perseus, the son Philip V came to the throne in 179, he did what he could to help restore Macedonian influence and was aided by all forms of intrigue between the Greek city states, Rome, and various other forces in Asia Minor. Ten years before Perseus came to the throne, Antiochus the Great had attempted an invasion of Greece, with the help (of course) of some disaffected Greek city states, and Rome had met him in several battles in Thessaly and Asia Minor. This re-injected Rome into Greek affairs, and by the time Perseus came to the throne, Rome's promises of "freedom" to the Greek city states, had been revealed to mean "free to do as Rome wants".

Rome declared war on Macedon in 172 B.C., because many of the activities of Perseus, in the foreign policy arena, were unfriendly to Rome, but in early engagements, Rome did not do well against the Macedonian phalanx. It was not until the Romans recruited Aemilius Paulus, a retired general, that they began winning victories over Macedonia. Finally, in a great battle at Pydna, the Macedonian phalanx was entirely routed by superior Roman tactics and discipline. After this, the Macedonian Empire was divided into four provinces, independently governed, but under the influence of Rome.

Fourth Macedonian War (150 to 148 BC)Edit

The Fourth Macedonian War (150–148 BC) was the final war between Rome and Macedon. It came about as a result of the pretender Andriscus's usurpation of the Macedonian throne, pretending to be the son of Perseus, the last King of Macedon, deposed by the Romans after the Third Macedonian War in 168 BC. Andriscus, after some early successes, was eventually defeated by the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus at the Battle of Pydna in 148 BC. Two years later Macedonia became a Roman province.


Notable MacedoniansEdit