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Spartan territory and allies in 400 B.C.
|Historical Era||Classical Era|
|•||Victory of the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War.||404 B.C.|
|•||Defeat of Sparta in the Battle of Leuctra.||371 B.C.|
The Spartan Hegemony was the second period of dominance by a specific Greek city-state during the Classical era. For over thirty years Sparta enjoyed martial dominance over Greece as well as being the major political force. Sparta and its dependent Peloponnesian League controlled Greek affairs ever since it usurped the position from Athens following the Peloponnesian War.
For much of its history Sparta resisted the foreign adventurism that dominated Athenian politics and instead opted to maintain its pre-eminent position as the major Greek state. To that end Sparta engaged in punitive wars with other city-states that attempted to usurp Spartan authority or otherwise pose a significant threat to Spartan interests. States that were beaten would typically have a pro-Spartan oligarchy installed, as was the case of Athens with the Thirty Tyrants. Other states had their walls destroyed.
Eventually, however, such measures earned the ire of other Greek states, in particular Thebes. The ruling oligarchy was overthrown by the Theban citizens, who then proceeded to dismantle much of the Spartan order in Northern Greece. Understandably, Sparta resisted, and the two powers went to war. The war moved back and forth with no conclusion for several years, with the Spartans possessing the best military in Greece but the Thebans having innovative tactics. Eventually the Spartan military was broken in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, catapulting Thebes into the next period of hegemonic power. Conversely, Sparta entered into a period of decline, becoming largely seen as a backwater by the rest of Greece as its slave population was largely freed by the Theban military and its fragmented military posed little threat to the rest of Greece. Sparta would eventually be annexed by Macedonia with little resistance later the same century.