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Alexander III (Great Empires)

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Alexander III the Great
Αλέξανδρος Γ 'ο Μέγας
Timeline: Great Empires

Alexander III the Great
Alexander with his horse Buchephalus

King of Macedon
336 BC – 286 BC

Predecessor: Philip II
Successor: Roxana

Emperor of Persia
330 BC – 286 BC

Predecessor: Darius III
Successor: Roxana

Pharaoh of Egypt
332 BC – 286 BC

Predecessor: Darius III
Successor: Roxana

King of Asia
331 BC – 286 BC

Predecessor: None
Successor: Roxana
Born: 356 BC
Pella
Died: 286 BC
Babylon
Wives: Roxana

Stateira II
Barsine
Song Qin
Trailokya

House: Argead Dynasty

Alexandrian Dynasty

Father: Philip II
Mother: Olympias
Issue: Alexander IV
Herakles
Sophia
Achilles
Religion: Ancient Greek Religion
“There is nothing impossible to him who will try”
~ Alexander the Great
 Alexander III the Great was a general and king of Macedon, which he expanded to an enormous empire that would become the largest and most powerful in the World.

Biography

Early life

Alexander was born on 21 July 356 BC, Pella, Kingdom of Macedon as the son of King Philip II and his wife Olympias. Several legends exist surrounding Alexander's birth including one where allegedly the god Zeus was his father. His father, Philip II was not home when he was born, preparing a siege on Potidea on the peninsula of Chalcidice. The same day, Philip II received news that his general Parmenion had defeated the Illyrian and Paeonian armies, and that his horses had won at the Olympic Games. In his early years Alexander was raised by a nurse, Lanike, sister of Alexander's future general Cleitus. Later in his childhood he was tutored by Leonidas, a relative of his mother. Alexander was raised in the manner of noble Macedonian youths, learning to read, play the lyre, ride, fight and hunt. When Alexander was ten years old, a trader from Thessaly brought Philip II a horse, which he offered to sell for thirteen talents. The horse refused to be mounted and Philip ordered it away. Alexander was smart and saw the the horse was afraid of it's own shadow, asking his father to tame it, which he eventually did. Philip was impressed and bought the horse for him. Alexander named it Bucephalus, meaning "Ox head". Alexander's met Hepheastion at the age of ten, while training to fight. They soon became friends and  trusted each other with their heart. Alexander was tutored by Aristotle, one of the most renowned philosopher's at that time. When Alexander was 16 , his education was complete and was considered suitable as Philip's heir apparent.

Adulthood and Ascent to the throne

In 340 BC, Philip waged war against Byzantion, leaving Alexander in charge as regent. During Philip's absence, Alexander proved to be a capable and quick thinking, suppressing all revolts and maintaining the stability in the kingdom. When Philip returned, he ordered Alexander to lead a campaign himself to capture the city of Perinthus, it was here were Alexander reportedly saved his father's life. Impressed, Philip announced to his son he would be very helpful in his grand campaign to conquer Greece. The many city-states of Greece, led by Athens bonded together to defeat the Macedonians and preserve their sovereignty. Despite their best efforts, most of Greece was ultimately conquered by Macedon, unifying Greece for the first time in history. The only city-state to escape conquest was Sparta, which even Macedon did't attempt to challenge.

Exile and return

When Philip and Alexander returned home, to Pella, Philip married Cleopatra Eurydice, the niece of his general Attalus, a full Macedonian. The marriage concerned Alexander, as any child of them would be a full Macedonian heir, while Alexander was only half-Macedonian (he was also half-Greek by his mother). During a wedding banquet, a drunken Attalus publicly prayed to the gods that the union would produce a true heir. Alexander was outraged by this and scolded Attalus for calling him a bastard. Philip attempted to attack his son, but slipped and fell on the ground, causing Alexander to mock him. Alexander fled with his mother, Olympias, to Ilyria, seeking refuge with their king, although he had defeated him in a battle years ago. However, Philip did not intend to disown his son. Alexander returned thanks to Demaratus, who mediated between the two men.

Accession

In 336 BC, while attending the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra to Olympias' brother, Alexander I of Epirus, Philip  was assassinated by the captain of his bodyguards, Pausanias. When he tried to escape, he tripped over a vine and was killed by his pursuers. Alexander was proclaimed king of Macedon and Greece by the nobles and army when he was just 20.

Consolidation of power and first campaigns

As soon as Alexander became king he set out to consolidate his claim on the throne by eliminating potential rivals to the throne. He had many of his relatives eliminated, including Amyntas IV, Cleopatra Eurydice and Europa, some were executed by brutal methods such as being burned alive. He brutally suppressed any attempt to revolt against his rule. Before advancing into Asian, he wanted to secure his position in Thrace. While he was successful in this, the city-states tried to rebel again, as soon as he was informed about this, he headed south and confronted the city of Thebes, razing it to the ground. This scared Athens and Greece was at peace, for now.

Conquest of the Persian Empire

Asia Minor

Alexander now turned his eyes on the great Persian Achaemenid Empire, which was the largest empire in the world, stretching from Anatolia to the Himalayas. Taking approximately 48,100 soldiers, 6,100 cavalry and a fleet of 20 ships with him, Alexander invaded Asia Minor. He intended to conquer the entire Persian Empire, which was considered an impossibility by many of his troops. But he was determined to conquer the empire and proved his talent in tactics by winning the Battles of Granicus, Halicarnassus and Miletus. At the ancient Phrygian capital of Gordium, Alexander "undid" the unsolvable Godrian Knot, a feat said to await the future "king of Asia". According to the story, Alexander proclaimed it did not matter how the knot was undone and hacked it apart with his sword.

Syria and the Levant

Alexander went south and was confronted at Issus by Darius III, the emperor of Persia. Although the Persian army was significantly larger, he won relatively easy by superior strategies, causing Darius to panic. Darius fled to battle, leaving his army alone and doomed, and his wife, his two daughters, his mother and a large treasure. He offered a peace treaty that included the lands he had already lost and a ransom of 10,000 talents for his family. Alexander declined, saying he was now the king of Asia. Darius came back and offered unconditional surrender, all the lands as far as the Euphrates and a colossal ransom for his family of 30, 000 talents and his daughter's hand. This new change in diplomatic relations induced panic among the leaders of the surrounding nations, as they feared a similar defeat.  At the Siege of Tyre, Alexander won again, capturing the Levant. 

Egypt

When Alexander destroyed Tyre, most of the towns and cities on the route to Egypt quickly surrendered, with the exception of Gaza. The stronghold at Gaza was heavily fortified and built on a hill, requiring a siege. Alexander believed a miracle would happen and attacked three times, capturing the city and massacring the population and selling them into slavery. Alexander advanced to Egypt, where he was hailed as a liberator. He was proclaimed the new Pharaoh and "ruler of the Universe". During his short stay in Egypt, Alexander founded the city of Alexandria which would later become his capital.

Assyria and Babylon

In 331 BC, Alexander left Egypt and marched eastward into Mesopotamia and again defeated Darius at the Battle of Gaugamela. Darius once more fled the field and Alexander chased him as far as Arbela, but he managed to escape to Ecbatana. Unfortunately for him, he was murdered by his generals who betrayed him. Alexander captured Babylon, where he was quite tolerant to the people, earning their support.

Persia

From Babylon, Alexander marched to Susa, one of the Persian capitals and captured its legendary treasury. He proceeded to Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire. He had to storm the pass of the Persian Gates, which had been blocked by a Persian army under Ariobarzanes. He defeated the forces and conquered Persepolis, where he allowed his men to plunder the city for several days. Alexander stayed in Persepolis for five months. During his stay wen he was drunk, he ordered the city to be burnt down, destroying one of the most illustrious cities in that time. When he advanced into Parthia, Alexander encountered a dying Darius, who named him his successor as his last deed. Although Alexander was now technically the Emperor of Persia, historians regard Darius as the last Achaemenid Emperor. Alexander continued his grand ascent to world domination and led a campaign into Central Asia, capturing many cities and founding many new cities, all named Alexandria. Now controlling the territory the the former Persian Empire, Alexander had achieved his primary goal, but it wasn't enough.

Attempt to conquer India

From Arachosia Alexander invaded the Indian subcontinent, offering the many kingdoms to join him, to which Omphis, ruler of Taxila agreed, but the others refused. Alexander led many bloody battles and conquered Pakistan, proceeding into India. He met Porus, the king of Punjab, who refused to join him. Alexander confronted Porus in the battle of the Hydaspes river in 326 BC. Alexander won, but was impressed by Porus's bravery and made him his ally. He appointed Porus as satrap, and even added territory to Porus' kingdom that he previously did not own. It was around this time 

Revolt of the Army

East of Porus' kingdom, near the Ganges Empire, was the Nanda Empire, controlling most of Northern India. Fearing the prospect of facing other large armies and exhausted by years of campaigning, Alexander's army mutinied at the Hyphasis River, refusing to march further east. Unable to continue, Alexander decided to return to Babylon and cease expanding the empire for some time.

Consolidation of the Empire

Unlike in reality, Alexander did not die at the age of 32 and managed to hold his empire together. Alexander began stabilizing and consolidating his empire when he returned to Babylon. He implemented a fixed system of taxation, mixed different cultures in an attempt to create a feeling of "unification", centralized his empire and made Alexandria the new capital. Alexandria was the capital of the empire, however Alexander intended to male Babylon his capital, but didn't for unknown reasons. Nevertheless, Alexandria was a large city and attracted many scientists, artisans and people from all places in the known world. Though Babylon was still the largest city in the empire, with an estimated population of 500,000, the largest city in the world at that time. Athens also had become a blooming city, with a population of nearly 400,000, second only in the world to Babylon and Chang'an. The fame of Alexander spread along the entire Old World, with Roman, Indian, Ethiopian and even Chinese people visiting the empire. 

War with the Maurya Empire

In 317 BC Chandragupta Maurya invaded the satrapies of Arachosia, Gedrosia, Paropamisadae and Aria. Chandragupta was confident that he could defeat Alexander, and unwisely attacked Alexander's army at Alexandria Arachosia with a frontal attack. Alexander's army set up in phalanx formation and withstood the first attack. Chandragupta then ordered his forces to attack at the flanks. This had more success and they managed to break through the barrier. Chandragupta confronted Alexander and they dueled, but Alexander was the better warrior and won, taking him prisoner and soon the enemy's army panicked and surrendered. In 315 BC Alexander released Chandragupta from prison and let him and his men return to India on the condition that he would never attack his empire again. Chandragupta sent Alexander his sister, Princess Trailokya to serve as one his consorts. Alexander also received envoys of the Kingdom of Qin, which would later unify China. They offered him Princess Song Qin, the daughter of Empress Xuan, regent of the Qin and ancestor of Qin Shi Huang.

Later life

Alexander wasn't quite satisfied with his enormous empire and so he invaded Cyrenaica and the Balkans, successfully incorporating them into his empire. Alexander's general strongly advised him to stop over expanding the empire as it was already at its limit. Alexander listened and spent the rest of his life solidifying his empire, however he dreamed of conquering Rome, as well as a legendary land known as China. But how great he ever became, he was never truly happy, as he failed in conquering the world.

Death

Alexander died in 286 BC and his empire died with him, splitting between his different generals. Alexander was entombed in his mausoleum, the Grand Alexandrion.

Legacy

Today, Alexander is regarded is one of history's greatest general, his military strategies and tactics are taught all over the world. By the Greeks he is regarded is one of their greatest. He established the largest empire the world had seen by his death. The Romans saw Alexander as their role model and many generals admired him. People all of the world are still taught and fascinated by his achievements. The current Roman Empire still bears some resemblance to the Alexandrian Empire, one of its official languages is Greek and Greek architecture is widespread in the entire empire.

Trivia

  • Alexander was both Greek (by his mother) and Macedonian (by his father). This should not be confused with modern Macedonians, who are not related at all to Ancient Macedonians, who were a Greek people
  • Alexander's son Alexander IV continued his lineage until the present, Prince Nikolaos of the Roman Empire is the only known living descendant of Alexander since his sister and father died in the 2013 Beijing Airport Disaster.
  • Alexander purportedly never lost a battle.
  • Alexander is viewed less positively in Persia, where he is sometimes portrayed as a cruel and ruthless, but mighty tyrant.

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