|CONFLICTS AND BATTLES OF THE HUMANITY|
The first attempt of Persia
Darius and the battle of Marathon
In - 499, the Greek cities of Ionie, dissatisfied with the preferential treatment of the phoenicians cities and because of the persian army's weaknesses versus Scythians, revolt against the persian empire, under the impulse of Aristagoras tyrant of Milet, who requires the Greek cities'assistance. Sparte refuses but Athens and Eretry support, only, revolted by sending twenty ships for the first and five for the second. The operations start well, revolted take Sardes by surprise and set fire to it, without being able to reduce the citadel, in - 498. Ionian fleet recaptures Byzance. Greek people of Cyprus revolt against Persians. But Darius answers quickly and strong, understanding that this conflict would be gained on sea, he decides to build a fleet in Phenicy and obtains some Ionian cities' neutrality. Persians, under the Artapherne's command, beat the insurrectionists under the Ephese's walls and the greek fleet is destroyed close to the small island of Lade, in - 494, in the vicinity of Milet. This city, after a seat by the sea, is destroyed, its inhabitants deported in Mesopotamy. The persian emperor wants to be avenged for the greek cities which supported the rebels. Themistocle, in - 493, persuades Athenians to build a battle-fleet of 200 triremes, with the money mines of Laurion's incomes.
In - 492, persian general Mardonios undertakes a terrestrial campaign through the Thrace which resists with eagerness. Persian expedition must pacify North of Greece before continuing towards Athens. Miltiades, leader of Chersonese's athenian colony, conscious of the persian army's superiority is folded up in Athens where it becomes one of the strategists. Mardonios penetrates in Macedonia when a storm destroys the fleet near the Athos Mount.
Before sending decisive expedition, Darius sends
messengers to the Greeks to require "the ground and water" as sign of
allegiance. Greek cities' majority accept that, among them Corinth,
Argos, Egine and Macedonia of king Amynthas, Alexander the Great's
ancestor. But, in Sparte, the persians envoys are thrown, from the
bottom of a well where there was "water and ground abundance" and in
Athens, from the Acropolis'top and interpreter is lapidated to have
soiled the Greek language by translating the orders of a Barbarian.
The battle of Marathon (September 13 - 490) Miltiades (death in - 489)
In - 490, a fleet of 600 ships, transporting 50 000 men, horses and war machines, ordered by generals Datis and Artapherne, crosses Aegean Sea and reaches Eubee. The town of Eretry is besieged one week then taken by surprise and burned as a reprisals for the fire of Sardes. Its inhabitants are massacred or taken prisoner. It is a warning for Athenians. Advised by Hippias traitor, Persians unship in the Marathon's plain, to forty kilometers of Athens. Sparte refuses to fight because of the Karneia's religious fest and will be available only after full moon, only Platees sends a thousand of soldiers. With ten thousands of men for Athens, Persians are at least to 3 against 1.
A first battle, political, opposes Miltiades to half of the Athenian strategists who consider Persians too many and preferable to support the seat. Miltiades knows persian army well, indeed, he took part, by way of vassal, in the campaign against Scythes. To carry it, the polemarque's support is necessary, and is granted to him. Nox, it is necessary to await, in addition to the Spartans, the Miltiade's turn to order the army. The Greeks, on the heights, wait patiently and Persians do not engage on this difficult ground. After ten days, the strategist Miltiades, tired to await the Spartans, extends the line of the Greeks on a face as broad as the persian army as 1600 meters. To arrive there, the center is dismantled and reinforced wings. To 1 500 meters of the enemy, the hoplites, without cavalry nor archers, go towards the enemy, then, as soon as they are with range of arrows, attack with the step of load. Persians, believe them insane.
Armed with long pikes and broad shields, these hoplites, protected by their armours, in formation of phalange , underwent only few losses by the flights of arrows and already they approach the first persians ranks. The combat lasts a long time, Persians go deep into the center of the Greek army as waited but the wings opposed to the liftings of the tribes and to the little motivated Ionian conscripts take the advantage. Instead of continuing them, it are folded back on the center in an operation of clipper. Persians soldiers are taken with the trap. Panic seizes their rows. The army of invasion flees and a part is drowned or massacred in the marshes, majority however re-embarks. Persians lost 7 triremes and more than 6 000 combatants, the Greeks "only" 192. Miltiades leaves a detachment of guard and the Greeks join Athens with forced march. A legend tells that a messenger, Philippides preceded while running on all the way, to announce the victory and died just after the arrival. The Greek hoplites arrive before the persians ships which turn back and return at home.
Xerxes 1st, the new Large King is more intractable and prepares a new campaign as of - 483. It decides to attack by the road of North and makes dig a channel of the Athos Mount during three years to facilitate the passage of its fleet. Bridges and warehouses are installed along the roads of invasion.
The Greeks take again their quarrels, Athens is in war against Egine, Sparte replaces its king Cleomene by Leonidas. But Themistocle persuades Athens to quickly build a fleet of 200 triremes. This weapon is quickly used to drive out the pirates what involves the crews. Joined together in Corinthe, the Greeks determined to fight decide to cease their internal conflicts. The command is entrusted to Sparte, most powerful militarily.
In - 481, an army of 200 000 men, including Greeks, ordered again by Mardonios, crosses Hellespont on a double bridge of boats. A storm destroys this bridge and Xerxes made whip the sea to punish it tells us Herodote. The persian army crosses Macedonia and Thessalie and occupies the north of Greece. In response to this threat, part of the Greeks melt the Hellenic league.
300 Spartans ordered by Leonidas, Thespiens, Beotians and Thebans post themselves at the Thermopyles's pass to delay the irresistible advance of the enemy. They are nearly 8 000 greek hoplites who fight without mercy against a outnumbered persian army, who, by a treason, skirts the Greek positions. Leonidas keeps a thousand of hoplites (Spartans, Thebains and Plateans). Xerxes is surprised by these combatants who fight until the last and many losses (approximately 20 000) inflict to him. Their sacrifice provides to the Greek army time, three days, to prepare.
The persian armada (nearly 1200 triremes),
follows the coast and is hung by the Greeks with the course
Artemission. The battle is undecided, it is a Greek half victory who
use kyklos tactic or circle formation. Persian fleet undergoes losses
because storms and strong gales.
Salamine battle (19 october - 480)
Athenians cannot resist in the Attic and Themistocle evacuate them to take refuge in the Peloponnese where the cities are more justified to fight against Persians. The line of defence is centered on the isthmus which makes it possible to enter in the Peloponnese. Xerxes finds Athens almost empty and the persian army plunders it, massacre the Greeks who refused to leave the city then fire the temples of the Acropolis in - 480, for Sardes sake. Then, persian fleet present off Salamine.
Majority of Athenian strategists are ready with
the retirement towards the Peloponnese. Themistocle which orders the
Greek fleet, is supported by Megare and Egine and proposes the battle.
Thinking that he will not be listened, he sends a messenger to Xerxes
to make him believe that the Greeks are about to flee and incites him
to attack. Xerxes has closed the two master keys by his fleet and he is
installed on a throne at the place of the battle which it regards as
gained. Half of the Persian fleet begins in the strait of Salamine and
the Greek triremes turn over to attack the enemy fleet. Space is very
restricted and the lighter Greek triremes are very mobile and encircle
the Persian ships. Then the bronze stems bore the enemy hulls. It is a
disaster for the Persian fleet which loses half of its ships, sunk or
captured against 40 for the Greeks. A Persian task force is massacred
on the very close island of Astypalia. Xerxes returns to Persia and
leaves in Thessalie his general Mardonios and a part of the fleet and
The battle of Plataea ( - 479)
In - 479, Mardonios installs himself in Beotia, close to Thebes, seeking a favourable place to face the Greek phalanges decided to fight in an arranged battle. The Spartans are here and their king Pausanias directs the Greek army. More than 40 000 hoplites, including 10 000 Spartans, support the shock of the powerful army of the Large King and its allies whose Athens' foe, Thebans, including 200 000 infantrymen and 20 000 riders, at Plataea. Battle lasts 13 days. Greeks counter-attack and put them in escape. The destruction of the persian fleet and army by the Greeks, near the Cape Mycale, close to Samos, completes the check of the persian campaign. The remains of the persian army ordered by Artabaze which replaces killed Mardonios at Plataea, cross over the straits again. It is the last attempt at invasion of Greece by Persians achemenides.
The populations of the islands and the Ionian
coast revolt and expel the persians garrisons.
The next spring, a fleet the Greek cities still faithful to the Large King These successes subject do not cease the state of war.
Athens benefits from the situation and, to prevent all new attack, form an alliance with many Greek cities within the League of Delos in - 478. Sparta is engaged on internal concerns and cannot play a prominent part in the fight against Persia. In the following decade, the League of Delos progresses towards the Straits and in Iony. Towards - 465, Large King Artaxerxes Ist sends against the Greeks a fleet which is destroyed in two battles which Eurymedon, on the southern coast of Asia Minor, where 200 phoenicians triremes are destroyed or catured by Cimon, Miltiade's son. The Persian naval power does not exist any more, it is driven out Aegean Sea. After this defeat all the Greek cities of Anatolia are members of the alliance dominated by Athens .
The end of Greco-Persians Wars intervient after the peace of
Callias (-449 -448), conceded by Artaxerxes.