The Persian Wars

A long time ago Croesus the king of Lydia took over the Greek colonies on the east

coast of Asia Minor (Turkey). Croesus was a kind and fair ruler so the Greeks did not really

mind. But around 546 BC King Croesus and his empire was overthrown by Cyrus the Great

who was Persian.

About fifty years later Asia Minor revolted against Persia. The rebellion was assisted by

Athens. The rebellion was successful. After the rebellion had stopped Darius I took complete

control over Asia Minor. Darius sent tyrants to rule over all Greek city states except Athens and

Sparta refused to accept the tyrants. After Darius took rule the Ionian city states rebelled another

time. Darius took this as a personal insult and sent troops in to destroy Athens. Athens beat the

Persians whose army was almost three times the size of the Athenian army at the famous Battle

of Marathon. The battle was fought on the Plains of Marathon outside of Athens.

Darius' successor Xerxes I brought together the largest army of ancient history. In 480

BC Xerxes led his troops to the narrow passes of Thermopylae. In this battle several thousand

soldiers led by the Spartan leader Leonidas I fought against the Spartans. A Greek traitor told

the Persians a way to get around the Greek forces and enter the pass through their flank. The

Persians did so and annihilated the Greek forces from the rear. There was nothing left between

the Persians and Athens so the Persians plundered and destroyed the abandoned city.

The next battle that took place was when the Persian fleet tried to pursue the Greek fleet

at the Battle of Salamis. The Persians did not stand a chance in that battle and lost. All the

Persian forces left in Greece were defeated a year later at the Battle of Plataea and Greece won

it's independence.

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