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Alexander's Invasion of Egypt (Athenian Legacy)

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Alexander's Invasion of Egypt
Part of Alexander's Conquests
Date 333 BCE- 332 BCE
Location Egypt
Result Athenian-Egyptian Victory
Territorial
changes
Athens Annexes Upper Egypt;

Satrap of Egypt Annexes Lower Egypt

Alexander and Takelot declared Pharaohs

Belligerents
Kingdom of Athens Persian Empire
Satrap of Egypt


Commanders and leaders
Alexander I, King of Athens

Takelot

Artaxerxes V
Strength
20,000 Athenians

35,000 Egyptians

85,000 Persians
Alexander's Invasion of Egypt, also known as the Egyptian War, was a military conflict between the Persian King, Artaxerxes V, the King of Athens, Alexander I, and the satrap of Egypt, Takelot. The war began during the rapid succession and self-coronation of Artaxerxes, which upset the satraps in the Persian Empire, eventually resulting in open rebellion by the Egyptians, during which the Athenians intervened.

Background

Tensions between the Satrap of Egypt and the Persian Kings had been an ongoing affair since the removal of the Persian Pharaohs and the collapse of the 30th Dynasty. The Egyptian Satraps, all of local populace, envied the population, and during the mid-years of chaos within the Empire, attempted to rebel, though their advisors convinced them otherwise. Bagoas, the lead advisor and eunuch of the Persian Empire, who had fallen out of favor with the Persian King, assassinated the leader and all of his eldest heirs, placing the youngest son, Arses on the throne. Following the assassination, many of the local leaders identified Bagoas as the true leader of the Empire, a rumor (while true) that badly damaged his reputation and relation to the young king.

Arses, who began to see Bagoas in a different light, attempted to break away from the Eunuch, who promptly responded with an assassination. The rapid death of two Persian Kings at the hands of Bagoas began to turn the local Egyptian nobility, who were lead by the charismatic Takelot, to prepare for open rebellion. Only when Bagoas placed Darius III on the throne that tensions were briefly calmed, but like Arses, Darius attempted a similar action, and found himself dead before a three months of rule. With the throne vacant, Bagoas declared himself the King, as Artaxerxes V, a move which brought the Egyptians to open rebellion under Takelot, who desired to restore the Kingdom of Egypt, with himself as Pharaoh.

Battle of the Nile

Takelot's  army, under the join command of himself, and General Ra'as, moved to secure the Nile from Persian forces, which had arrived near the Sinai in February. Takelot commanded over 27,000 men towards the river, while the Persians commanded nearly 50,000, with the clear intention of stealing the delta and allowing the massive Persian navy to blockade the river.

General Aramseas, the commander of Persian forces, arrived near the delta on the 18th of February, where he planned to draw out the Egyptians to open ground, between two small streams stemming from the main Nile River. Aramseas positioned a long line of archers and missile troops near the shallowest crossing, having his light infantry cross the river under nightfall, and the cavalry in the morning. Takelot's scouts heard of the crossing, and stormed six miles north, almost as Arasmseas had planned. However, with his archers now moving over the river crossing, he found himself very vulnerable, allowing Takelot to unleash his chariots and cavalry towards the Persians, who were disorganized after their transport.

The battle quickly became a rout, as the light infantry fled from the field without the protection of the veteran Persian Archers. The cavalry however, was caught in the brunt of the fighting, and after Aramseas fled back over the river with his light infantry, the officers in the Persian cavalry followed suit. Takelot, attempted to pursue, but his infantry had yet arrived, and the Persian archers had gathered themselves together and had begun to pepper the Egyptians, who allowed the Persians to retreat in order.

Arrival of the Athenian Armies

Alexander arrived at the Nile Delta just two weeks after the Battle of the Nile, only two miles from the EgyptianThe Army. At first, Takelot and Alexander though each other as opposing forces, and prepared battle standards, with the Egyptian Navy preparing to launch a surprise attack on the transport fleet of the Athenians that would strand them in Egypt. Alexander, marched up his hoplites to launch an attack on the Egyptian Fleet, but at the same time, Takelot called up his River Ships that prepared to fire upon the Athenian Army. Alexander called the affair off, withdrew from the field, and called for negotiations.

The following morning, Takelot and Alexander began to initiate negotiations, though both of them held conflicting opinions. Takelot was willing to give a series of large sums and quantities of southern Egyptian grain in exchange for his coronation of Pharaoh of United Egypt. Alexander demanded that the Egyptians become a Client-State under the Athenian Influence, with Takelot given the right of Pharaohship. After hours of negotiating, Takelot and Alexander agreed on a five point plan:

  • The Kingdom of Athens is to annex the Delta Area of Egypt, and Alexander is to be crowned Pharaoh of the Delta.
  • The Kingdom of Athens is to pay 3,000,000 Drachma to Takelot.
  • Takelot of House Drakinis is to be crowned Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt.
  • Takelot is to provide Grain to the Kingdom of Athens.
  • Alexander is to marry Atramedes, the daughter of Takelot.

At this point, Takelot and Alexander solidified the new alliance, withdrew their troops from opposing sides and prepared to carry out the action.

Persian Invasion of Egypt

The Battle of the Nile and the five-point plan had convinced many Egyptians and Athenians that the Persians were finished with the Nile. Many Persian Generals advocated for the conclusion of the war, but Artaxerxes refused to accept defeat, and ordered the majority of the Persian Army into Egypt.

The surprise invasion came as the Athenian Army and Egyptian Army had marched away from the delta, towards Memphis,  where they intended to carry out the terms of the Five Point plan. This false security gave Artaxerxes the time needed, and hurried across North-Eastern Egypt without a single Egyptian soul's awareness. By the time Takelot had heard word from his Northern scouts, he cancelled the marriage between his daughter and Alexander, and called his Athenian counterpart to battle.

The Battle of the Delta

The Persian Army, commanded by the Armenian Satrap, Koneiras II, held almost 70,000 men in his invasion. After his crossing of the Sinai, he initiated a sack strategy, burning three cities and nearly all the towns North East of the Delta. With Alexander and Takelot still struggling behind, Koneiras took the advantage, and stormed south, taking the city of Giza, and burning one of the four great pyramids. The Persian Army then prepared for a final campaign, to lead an assault on Memphis, but due to unfavorable conditions in the hot desert, Konerias withdrew back to the southern Delta, and took control of the main irrigation centers in the most fertile areas.

Alexander recaptured Giza with Takelot's army at his wing, though Koneiras intended to divide the two armies by the river entrance.  
The Battle of the Delta
Part of The Egyptian Rebellion
Date August 9th, 332 BCE
Location Unknown, the Delta of the Nile
Result Egyptian Victory
Belligerents
Kingdom of Athens

Satrap of Egypt

Persian Empire


Little is known of the prior movements, but historians have commonly agreed that Konerias managed to divide the army of Alexander and Takelot, and intended to move against Alexander. The greatly more numerous Persians beat the Greeks three times, before Alexander was able to rally a stand in time for Takelot's army to return. Konerias, with his flanks opened after foolishly pursuing Alexander, was smashed by a massive horde of Egyptian Heavy Infantry, which cut through the lightly armored Persian spearmen with ease, catching the Persians in a chaotic mess between the armies. Konieras surrendered his army to Alexander, who desired to spare him for his military skills that had beaten him back thrice. Takelot had a different opinion however, and demanded his head, which Alexander was forced to deliver.

Conclusion

The surrender of Konerias's army, and the 45,000 Persian prisoners that the allied armies now grasped forced the Persian King to negotiate. As demanded, he acknowledged the independence of the Egyptian Nation, and then personally vowed peace with Athens and Egypt. The Persian Army was returned unscathed, which solidified the peace in Asia Minor. Therefore Alexander was able to marry the Egyptian Princess, receiving his cities and confirming a Greek-Egyptian Alliance that was to continue throughout his reign.

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