Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great, born on July 20, 356 BC Pella, the son of King Philip II of Macedonia and Queen of Olympia, achieved considerable success within a few years as a gifted and bold military general, and in addition to parts of Greece, Egypt, even conquered parts of the Indian territory.


Alexander's father, King Philip II, had already expanded the Macedonian kingdom into one of the strongest military powers during his reign, conquered neighboring territories such as Thessaly and Thrace, and (with the exception of Sparta) forced all Greek city-states under his leadership into the Corinthian League. In the campaigns Alexander already gained his first military experience. Thus, under the leadership of Athens, other city-states were conquered as in 338 BC. in the battle of Chaironeia. In addition to the Macedonian phalanx, the Hetairenreiterei, which also played a special role in the later campaigns of Alexander, were decisive in the victories. In addition, Alexander surrounded himself with capable officers, which he rallied because of their achievements.


Alexander der Große

Alexander the Great




The uncertain succession of the throne:

The relationship between Alexander and his father was always tense. Especially the marriage between King Philip II and Cleopatra, the niece of his general Attalos in 337 BC. led to strong tensions between father, son and the general, so that Alexander in a descendant and his succession feared and fled with his mother Olympias via Epeiros to Illyria. After half a year, however, he returned to Pella, where in 336 BC. His father was murdered by the bodyguard Pausanias at the wedding of Alexander's sister.




The takeover and internal security:

In the same year Alexander followed his murdered father to the throne as a 20-year-old. Although there were rumors of his involvement in the murder of his father, but these were quickly strangled by Alexander's loyal army leader Antipater by executions in the bud. So Alexander was sure of the loyalty of his soldiers.

As one of the first official acts, Alexander confirmed the faithfulness of the Greek city-states in the Corinthian League. Encouraged by the death of King Philip II, however, the regions of Thrace and Illyria tried to break away from the Macedonian occupiers. Alexander marched thereupon at the beginning of the year 335 v. Chr. with a 15,000 -strong army to the north to today's Balkans and suppress the revolt.

During the campaign in the north Demosthenes spurred the city-states in the south to oppose Macedonia as well. He spread the rumor that Alexander had fallen and that the country was now without a driver. When the news reached Alexander, he immediately marched south to the city of Thebes. He left these except for the exception of the temple and the house of the poet Pindar completely destroyed and killed at the 6,000 inhabitants. Another 30,000 were sold into slavery. After this example, the rest of the city-states gave up their revolt.




Alexander's campaigns

The beginnings of the campaigns against Persia:

The conflict between the Persians and Greeks had been smoldering for more than a hundred years after Persia tried to conquer the Greek peninsula. Already Alexander's father King Philip II worked out plans for a military campaign against the Persian Empire, but could not carry them out.

In 334 BC Alexander started by sending Parmenion across the Hellespont with a small force. However, after this army was stopped by the Persians, Alexander followed with about 35,000 soldiers in support.

The first major battle between the Macedonian and Persian armies was on at the Granikos, which could be won by the defensive attitude and tactically unfavorable positioning of Alexander's Persian soldiers. Thus, the city of Ioniens could be conquered. In the further course of his campaign fell among other things, the cities of Sardis and Ephesus almost without a fight, only Milet offered resistance. Meanwhile, in Halicarnassus, the remnants of the Persian army gathered and settled on the siege, which was smashed under Alexander's heavy losses. The coastal areas of Lycia and Pamphylia were taken almost without a fight. In the winter of the year, Alexander united his army with the southern part under General Parmenion Gordion, lingered for a while in the city to get supplies and to refresh soldiers. Then it went through Cappadocia to Cilicia, where he remained until the conquest of the city of Tarsus until October 333 BC. there remained.


Schlacht zwischen Alexander der Große und den Persern

Battle between Alexander the Great and the Persians


During his stay in Tarsus Alexander learned that the Persian ruler Dareios III. set up a new army to fight the Macedonian. While Alexander waited around Dareios Tarsos and occupied the city Issos to cut off the supply. Shortly thereafter, the two armies met in this city and again the poor Persian leadership showed up and the victory went to Alexander again. Alexander immediately sent his General Parmenion to Damascus in the Persian camp. Not only could the war treasure be captured, but also the mother, the wife and 3 children could be captured by Dareios.


Dareios Flucht nach der Niederlage seines Heeres

Dareio's escape after the defeat of his army


In 332 BC Due to the military successes, the northern half of Phenicia joined the Macedonian Empire without a fight. However, the trading metropolis Tyros had to conquer Alexander, which he managed by siege also. With the same tactics, he also had to conquer the city of Gaza, located in southern Syria, while the rest of Syria also joined the empire without a fight.




The invasion of Egypt:

After the conquest of Gaza, Alexander and his army moved on to Egypt, where they met only a small Persian army of occupation, which, after consultation with Alexander, moved without a fight and with the payment of 800 talents.

Shortly thereafter, Alexander invaded Memphis and further north, he founded the still known Alexandria in 331 BC.




Further campaigns against the Persian Empire:

In May 331 BC. Alexander returned to Tyros, refreshed his army with 15,000 new soldiers to a total of 47,000 and moved further north, where he crossed the Tigris in September to face the army of Dareios.

On October 1, the two armies met and again Alexander was able to win the victory. Dareios was able to flee again, but his army was practically battered and Alexander now dominated Babylonia. A few weeks later, the army moved on to the heartland to conquer the local Persian cities. In January 330 BC. the Persian capital Persepolis could be taken.

On the hunt for Dareios, the army continued to Ekbatana, but this city was surrendered without a fight in the face of the hopelessness of the Persian Empire. Meanwhile, Dareios hid in Bactria. But the Stadthalter read in captivity to enter into a deal with Alexander. When he refused the demands, the governor Bessos let Dareios kill and had to flee from Alexander himself.

In August 330 BC. The army of Alexander marched on, this time in the hunt for Bessos. Among other things, the areas Hyrkanien and Aria.

In April 329 BC Alexander and his army reached the center of today's Afghanistan, they crossed the Hindu Kush to get from there to Bactria where Bessos was staying. The fear of retaliation on the part of Alexander, let the inhabitants drive away Bessos and then pass the area without a fight.

After taking the area and a short stay, Alexander moved further north towards the river Oxus the Persian Sogdia region in today's Kazakhstan. After crossing, Besso's companions were relieved to flee and rebelled against him. They captured him and handed him over to Alexander, who mutilated him and then sent him to the crucifix for mass media. After taking the city of Marakanda, Alexander had conquered all areas of the Persian Empire.




The uprisings in Sogdia:

Shortly after the conquest of the Persian region of Sogdia, the inhabitants rose against Alexander. This left as punishment some cities besiege and burn down. Until the year 328 BC. However, Alexander had to wait for reinforcements of his weakened army to attack the insurgents again. This fight lasted throughout the year, until the people gradually turned away from their rebel leader Spitamenes and handed over his head to Alexander in December. 327 BC Alexander conquered two mountain fortresses, which still resisted. Afterwards, the area was cleared so that hardly anyone would have been able to resist.

In the same year, Alexander returned to Baktra and subjected his army to a number of reforms aimed at the integration of Persians into the army, which made the old Macedonian soldiers doubt their commander. In addition, Alexander married the Sogdian princess Roxane to the Persian region Sodien better to tie. He also inherited some of the cultural characteristics of the Persians, leading to a further split between his Macedonian soldiers and him.


Verlauf des Alexanderzuges durch Persien

Course of the Alexander campaign through Persia




The raids to India:

Beginning of the year 326 BC. Alexander began to conquer the Indian territories, which were not united at the time, but consisted of many smaller kingdoms. However, in contrast to the Persian conquests, Alexander relied less on gentleness and the integration of the new culture and people into his kingdom, but allowed harshness and extermination to prevail over the Indian territories. He burned down many of the conquered villages and towns, killing the population or selling them into slavery.

His first foray with his two armies, who entered the territories separately, took him to the valley of the Kabul River, which at the time was still Indian territory. Later on the Indus, the two armies reunited and Alexander incorporated the conquered territory into his kingdom.

After crossing the river, Alexander submitted to the kingdom of Taxila. He also demanded this from the other kingdoms in the area, all of whom submitted to Pauravas under king Poros. Alexander's army then crossed the river and defeated a mounted unit Pauravas, whereupon the kingdom also submitted and the king was pardoned.

Farther to the east was the kingdom of Magadha on the river Ganges. The army tormented itself through the dense forests and had to endure the monsoon rains, which led to complete demoralization. In July 326 BC. should translate the army across the river Hyphasis. After the long exertions, however, the soldiers had enough and refused the orders, they only wanted to go back to Greece in their homeland. Although Alexander was angry with himself, he had to bow to the wishes of his soldiers. Before leaving, however, he founded yet another at the easternmost point of his empire Alexandreia and settled there many veterans who now lost the hope of a homecoming.




The arduous return:

Following the wishes of his soldiers, Alexander's army turned west to Bukephala. There he built 800 ships to sail down the river Hydaspes down to the Indian Ocean. But since the ships were not sufficient for all soldiers, many had to run alongside the river. After encountering rapids in the river and many ships capsizing, the remaining soldiers had to walk south. Here you crossed areas that Alexander had not subjected. Again and again the army was attacked, which in turn burned down villages and towns.

325 BC the army finally reached the mouth of the Indus and the Indian Ocean. Alexander had the remaining ships prepared for the journey, so that about 1/4 of his army could at least travel by sea via the return journey. In August, the army finally set off again, in September, the ships ran rashly after the Indian territories rebelled against the rule of Alexander. In order to shorten the return trip, Alexander chose the way through the Gedrosian desert. The 60-day crossing cost the lives of many soldiers due to thirst or exhaustion. In December, they reached the easternmost post of the former Persian Empire Pura.




Alexander's death:

In autumn 324 BC. Alexander went to Ekbatana where his closest friend Hephaistion fell ill after a lot of drinking and shortly after died. The death of his friend hit Alexander hard.

In February 323 BC Alexander returned to Babylon where he planned new campaigns towards the Arabian peninsula. In the meantime, he sent a messenger to the Siwa Oasis to ask the priests to worship his dead friend Hephaistion as God. This was denied by the priests, according to them Hephaistion could only be worshiped as Heroenkult (demigod). With this message arrived in May, just before the new campaign should begin, the messenger at Alexander. He postponed the campaign and paid tribute to Hephaistion, where he used alcohol as usual. A strong fever followed on June 10, 323 BC. led to his death.


Der Leichenzug Alexanders (Rekonstruktionsversuch des 19. Jahrhunderts)

The funeral procession of Alexander (reconstruction attempt of the 19th century)






You can find the right literature here:


Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great Paperback – October 18, 2011

The celebrated Macedonian king has been one of the most enduring figures in history. He was a general of such skill and renown that for two thousand years other great leaders studied his strategy and tactics, from Hannibal to Napoleon, with countless more in between. He flashed across the sky of history like a comet, glowing brightly and burning out quickly: crowned at age nineteen, dead by thirty-two. He established the greatest empire of the ancient world; Greek coins and statues are found as far east as Afghanistan. Our interest in him has never faded.

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Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great Paperback – September 28, 2012

What's so "Great" about Alexander? Read about this infamous leader and find out.

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Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death

Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death Hardcover – August 27, 2019

More than two millennia have passed since Alexander the Great built an empire that stretched to every corner of the ancient world, from the backwater kingdom of Macedonia to the Hellenic world, Persia, and ultimately to India—all before his untimely death at age thirty-three. Alexander believed that his empire would stop only when he reached the Pacific Ocean. But stories of both real and legendary events from his life have kept him evergreen in our imaginations with a legacy that has meant something different to every era: in the Middle Ages he became an exemplar of knightly chivalry, he was a star of Renaissance paintings, and by the early twentieth century he even came to resemble an English gentleman. But who was he in his own time?

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