The Persian Wars
The Persian wars lasted from 500- 449 B. C., the Persian wars started off as a conflict between the Greek city - states and the Persian empire. From 500 B. C. the Ionian Greek city - states also allied with Athens and Eretria revolted against the despotic rule of Darius I, they were subdued by the Persians around 494 B. C. Darius decided to war with the Athenians andthe Eretria, and annex all of Greece. Darius sent his first expedition in 492 B. C. but fortunately for the Greeks, the fleets were crippled by a sea storm.
Darius sent a second expedition in 490 B. C. and destroyed Eretria and then targeted the Athenians, but the Athenians were under Militiades (Spartans which aid had been spought) and expelled the invaders at Marathon. Darius failed a second time. Darius prepared for a third expedition but died, his son and successor, Xerxes I completed the preparation of one of the largest armies in history and reached Greek around 480 B. C. The Persians crossed Hellespont strait over a bridge of boats and advanced southwars, Xerxes huge forces were delayed when he was encountered with the Greeks first stand through the narrow pass in Thermopylae, the Spartans (under command of Leonidas I) had a small force (about a thousand soldiers) and fought bravely to defend the narrow pass. A Greek traitor showed the Persians another pass that enabled their forces to enter the pass from the rear. Leonides I allowed many of his men to withdraw from the army and was left with a force of 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians and engaged battle untill Leonides forces were destroyed. The Athenians which were under Themistocles control, put trust in their navy and made little effort to defend their abondened city, which was razed and plundered by the Persians around 480 B. C. The Persian fleet pursued the Greek fleet to Salamis (an island in the Gulf of Aegina, now known as the Gulf of Saronikos) near Athens and were lead into an ambush, the Persian naval forces were destroyed by the Greeks. The naval battle consisted than fewer than 400 Greek vessels (under Themistocles controll) and defeated around 1200 Persian vessels, meanwhile Xerxes watched from his golden throne on a hill overlooking the harbor of Salamis. Xerxes went back to Persia and left his military forces behind. The Greeks (under Spartan Pausanius) drove off the Persian army in 479 B. C. at Plataea. The Greek achieved naval victory ar Mycale. Although the wars lasted many years, the two victorys marked the end of the Persian threat and the beginning of the Athenian greatness.
After the defeat of Persia, the Athens became the most prosperous and wealthy state in Greece. The wars proved the importance of seapower, and Sparta the greatest military power in Greece because of its army, lost its prestige to the Athenian fleet. In 478 B. C. a large number of Greek city states formed a voluntary alliance, the Delian League in order to drive off the Presians from Greek city-states and coastal islands of Asia Minor. The Athenians headed the alliance, the league was used to benefit the Athenians and the league treasurey was transferred from Delos to Athens, and
the money was used to benefit the Athens instead of the League. Any city - states revolting from the policies of the Athenians were crushed. The victories of the league under Athenain general Cimon, resulted in the liberation of the Asia minor coast from Persia around 476- 466 B. C.
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