The Theban Hegemony was the third such instance of a single city-state extending its dominance across much of the Greek mainland, in this case the city of Thebes in Boeotia. Thebes inherited this position when it overthrew its Spartan puppet government and eventually defeated the famed Spartan military in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC. For the entire hegemonic period Thebes was led by its politician and military leader Epaminodas who orchestrated important geopolitical and military strategies that allowed Theban dominance.
Thebes followed much of the same policy that Sparta did in that it did not pursue any militaristic expeditions outside of Greece but instead sought to maintain the balance of power within Greece by preemptive martial and political actions. In particular, constant struggles over ownership of Thessaly and the throne of Macedonia occupied most of Thebe's military efforts, while Athens and Sparta both attempted to restore their previous power. While Thebes was successful in preserving the balance of its northern frontier for a time, it was less so in the south. Sparta and Athens allied themselves in order to defeat the Thebans.At the Battle of Mantinea, Thebes remained victorious but at the cost of Epaminodas. As a result of Mantinea, Thebes remained the dominant city-state in Greece but its period of hegemony was considered over and the different city-states continued to battle for prominence. Without its famed general, Thebes was unable to return to its undisputed status. Despite this, Theban military power remained effectively unchallenged by any other city-state until the invasion of Greece by Philip II of Macedonia, who destroyed any opposing military in mainland Greece with the exception of Sparta, which would later fall to his son Alexander the Great. For the rest of Alexander's reign the Greek cities would no longer squabble amongst themselves but instead channel their martial ability into a campaign of world conquest.