History Files


European Kingdoms

Ancient Greece




Sparta / Laconia (Lacedaemon)

Laconia (or Lacedaemon ) was the name of the wider city state which was centred on the city of Sparta, although the name of Sparta has since superseded that of Laconia to encompass both city and state. Sparta's capital seems not to have been important before circa 1000 BC, despite legendary emphasis to the contrary. The nearby remains of sites at Amyclae (a Minoan ruin a few miles to the south of Sparta), and Therapne (Therapnae) seem to be more important, and the latter was probably the Achaean (Mycenaean) capital of Laconia.

There are few remaining signs of Ancient Sparta. The Spartans set little store on fine buildings and high defensive walls, being far more proud of the fact that their kingdom was protected by men who could fight and defeat any opponent, or die in the attempt.

Laconia (Sparta)

Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and Taygete and founder of the kingdom/city state, legendarily named the city of Sparta after his wife, the daughter of Eurotas. However, it does seem more likely that the early Mycenaean kingdom was centred at Laconia's Therapne at this time.

According to legend, the Mycenaean Greek hero, Heracles, took part in the Trojan War alongside Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and his allies. After Troy was conquered and sacked, Heracles enjoyed a number of adventures, including establishing a new Mycenaean ruling house in Maeonia. Despite apparently not ruling in Sparta himself, his descendants seemed to rule until the Dorian invasion.


First king of Sparta. Probably a Mycenaean.



Brother. Usurper.

Hippocoon overthrows Tyndareus, a definite mistake, as the latter also claims Heracles as a brother. Heracles reinstates Tyndareus and kills Hippocoon and his four sons.

fl c.1200 BC


Restored by Heracles.


Brother of Tyndareus.

The brothers Agamemnon and Menelaus shelter with Tyndareus following the usurpation of the Mycenaean throne. They marry the king's daughters, Clytemnestra and Helen respectively (the young Helen had been raped by Theseus of Athens when the old king became enraptured by her beauty). Agamemnon wins Helen for his brother in ritual games and with his great wealth, ensuring a double alliance between the two most-powerful Mycenaean states. Both of Tyndareus' sons pre-decease him, so Menelaus becomes his heir.

fl 1193 - 1183 BC


Brother of Agamemnon of Mycenae.

fl 1193 - 1183 BC

Helen of Sparta

Dau of Tyndareus, wife of Menelaus (& Paris & Deiphobus).

c.1193 - 1183 BC

Following the abduction of Helen by Paris of Troy, Agamemnon of Mycenae and his brother gather their supporters together and sail off to the Trojan War. Menelaus returns with Helen despite her marrying another Trojan after the death of Paris, and she is re-installed as his queen. According to non-Homeric sources, after Menelaus' death his illegitimate son Megapenthes sends Helen into exile.


Son. Ruled?


Son of Heracles and Deianeira or Melite.



c.1100 BC

The Dorian invasion from the north takes place between about 1200-1140 BC, with the Mycenaean city states north of Sparta falling between those dates, and with domination being achieved by about 1140 BC. Greece enters a Dark Age lasting about four hundred years.

The traditional view of the invasion of the Peloponnese says that approximately eighty years after the Trojan War (in other words, by the end of the century), a group of Dorians joins up with Aetolians to cross the Corinthian Gulf and invade from the north-west. The Aetolians settle in Elis, and the Dorians divide into two forces, one of which invades and later subdues Messenia, while the other, led by Aristodemus (or his twin sons Eurysthenes and Procles), gains Sparta. They make this the Dorian capital of Laconia.

In reality the conquest may be a matter of inroads made over a number of years, and the dates ascribed to the sons of Aristodemus put them about a century and-a-half away from the invasion, so perhaps it is ascribed to them to fill a gap in later knowledge of the event.


Legendary great-grandson of Heracles, but possibly Dorian.


Son. King of Argos. Legendary father of Caranus of Macedonia.

Greek myth paints Caranus as the son of Temenus, king of Argos, who in turn is the son of Aristomachus, the Dorian conqueror of Laconia (although given dating discrepancies between Caranus and Aristomachus, it is more likely that he claims descent from the latter rather than being his actual son). It is Caranus who takes his followers north to aid the king of the Orestae and ends up founding the Macedonian kingdom.

c.960 BC


Son of Aristomachus. Also king of Mycenae.

c.950 - c.192 BC

The Doric Spartans practised a unique form of dual kingship, with a candidate from each house sharing the throne. The idea behind this was that if one of the warlike kings died in battle, the state would not be left leaderless, instead being able to respond immediately to the threat. The two ruling houses were created by the descendants of the twin sons of Aristodemus in the late tenth century BC, although there is little external evidence for the Spartan kings before around the middle of the sixth century BC.

Numbering was carried down through both houses and not in isolation, although re-used names in general tended to remain within their own house. Kings of the House of Agaid are shown in the centre-left column. Kings of the House of Eurypontidae are in the centre-right column. Some differences in ruler's names and dates are shown on some lists of the kings of Sparta.



? - c.930 BC


Son of Aristodemus of Mycenae.

? - c.930 BC



? - c.895 BC


Son of Procles.

c.930 - 900? BC


Son of Eurysthenes. Founder of the House of Agaid.

Agis is traditionally credited with capturing Helos, a maritime town which resists his attempt to curtail its guaranteed rights. He is also the creator of the class of serfs called Helots which provides the backbone of service and support for the Spartan warrior class.

c.900 - 870? BC


Son of Agis.

c.895 - 865? BC


Son of Sous. Founder of the House of Eurypontidae.

c.870 - 840? BC


c.865 - 835? BC


c.840 - 815? BC


c.835 - 805? BC


c.815 - 785? BC

Agesilaus I

c.805 - 775? BC


c.785 - 760 BC


c.775 - 750 BC


Grandson of Eunomus. Purported to have invaded Argolis.

c.760 - 740 BC


Killed in a skirmish with the Messenians.

The reign of Teleclus sees the Spartans conquer Amyclae, Pharis and Geranthrae, towns belonging to the Perioeci or 'dwellers round about', securing the central Laconian plain. Teleclus is killed during a skirmish with the Messenians during a festival at the temple of Artemis Limnatis, an event which leads to the First Messenian War.

c.750 - 720 BC


c.735 - 720 BC

In the First Messenian War, Sparta subjugates its neighbour, Messenia, after a fifteen year struggle. Many Messenians are reduced to the status of helots, the servant class which maintains the warrior elite for much of Sparta's history.

c.740 - 700 BC


Son of Teleclus.

c.720 - 675 BC


706 BC

The only Spartan colony outside Greece is founded. Located on the heel of Italy, it is named Taras (later Tarentum, modern Taranto). The colonists interact with the local tribes, including the Peucetii, over whom the Spartans may exert some control. The westernmost neighbours of the Peucetii, the Messapii, oppose the settlement, and they and the Spartans frequently find themselves in conflict.

c.700 - 665 BC


c.675 - 660 BC

Anaxandridas I

Or c.675-645 BC on some lists.

c.665 - 640 BC


c.660 - 645 BC

Archidamus I

Or c.600-575 BC on some lists.

c.648 - 631 BC

The Messenians revolt and in the Second Messenian War they manage to keep Sparta at bay for seventeen years until Spartan skill at arms defeats them, most especially after an eleven year siege of the stronghold of Ira (or Eira) and final defeat at the Battle of the Great Foss.

c.645 - 625 BC


Replaced by Zeuxidamas on some lists.

c.640 - 615 BC


c.625 - 600 BC

Leotychidas I

Replaced by Anaxidamus on some lists.

c.615 - 590 BC


Sparta suffers during a devastating war with the Greek state of Tegea, with no victor on either side. The long-standing hostility between the two states is believed to date from the reign of Charillis (c.775-750 BC).

c.600 - 575 BC


Replaced by Archidamus II (c.675-660 BC) on some lists.

c.590 - 560 BC


Son of Eurycratidas.

Under Leon, the Spartans fight to a draw with Tegea.

c.575 - 550 BC


c.560 - 520 BC

Anaxandridas II

Anaxandridas finally brings about a Spartan defeat of Tegea.

c.550 - 515 BC


c.520 - 490 BC

Cleomenes I

Son of Anaxandridas. Schemed to replace Demaratus as king.

c.515 - 491 BC


Son of Ariston, but his parentage was questionable. Exiled.

c.490 - 480 BC

Leonidas I

Half brother of Cleomenes I. m Gorgo, dau of Cleomenes I.

480 - 479 BC

FeatureLeonidas achieves everlasting fame as a result of the events in the Battle of Thermopylae against the Persians in 480 BC. The 300 Spartans of Leonidas' personal guard leads a force totalling no more than 7,000 Greeks which includes Athenians, Corinthians, Helots, Mycenaeans, Thebans, and Thespians. The Persian army is held up long enough for the Athenians to prepare their navy for a seaborne engagement with the Persian fleet. (These events are depicted somewhat colourfully - but no less impressively for that - in the 2007 film, 300.)

Athens, as the leader of the coalition of city states known as the Delian League, fights the Persian navy at the battles of Artemisium and Salamis, the latter being a resounding Greek victory. It leaves much of the Persian navy destroyed and Xerxes is forced to retreat to Asia, leaving his army in Greece under Mardonius (with the naval battles being shown to superb graphic effect in the 2014 sequel film, 300: Rise of an Empire, although it does contain a great many historical inaccuracies). As a reward for his support of Xerxes during the war, the exiled Demaratus of Sparta is granted a satrapy of his own in Pergamum, whilst Queen Artemisia I of Caria is sent to Ephesus to care for the sons of Xerxes. The following year, Mardonius meets the Greeks in a final battle. The Spartans, now at full strength, lead a pan-Greek army at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC which decisively defeats the Persians and ends the Greco-Persian War.

491 - 476 BC

Leotychidas II

Leotychidas I on some lists. Gained throne through Cleomenes.

480 - 458 BC


Son of Leonidas I.

473 BC

Hoping to follow up on a victory of 500 BC, the Spartan settlers of Tarentum (modern Taranto) and its ally, Rhegion (modern Reggio Calabria), in Italy attempt to take control of one or more of the towns of the Messapii and Peucetii. However, the tribal Italians are able to hold them off, and in this year inflict a serious defeat upon the Greeks, thanks to the superiority of their cavalry (according to Herodotus). The war against Tarentum continues until 467 BC.

469 - 427? BC

Archidamus II

Grandson of Leotychidas II. Regent (476-469)? d.427/6.

468 - 458 BC

The Third Messenian War is sparked by a helot revolt following the massive earthquake of 464 BC, which had caused the Spartans heavy losses. The helots fortify themselves at Ithome and Sparta calls in help from its allies, including Athens, which delivers siege equipment. However, Sparta experiences self-doubt at its enslavement of an entire Greek people, the Messenias, and sends the Athenians home. This causes a rift which leads to two wars, in 460 BC and 431 BC. Sparta eventually negotiates a settlement with the Messenians.

458 - 408 BC


Cousin of Pleistarchus. Exiled 446-428 BC.

460 - c.445 BC

Pleistoanax advocates peace during the First Peloponnesian War. In 446 BC he is charged by the Spartans with taking a bribe, probably from Pericles of Athens, to withdraw from the plain of Eleusis in Attica after leading the Peloponnesian forces there following the revolts of Euboea and Megara from the Athenian empire, and is exiled. His father is regent in his stead. In fact, Pericles was probably offering good peace terms. In 428 BC, Pleistoanax is recalled and restored in obedience to the advice of the Delphic oracle.

431 - 404 BC

The Second Peloponnesian War pitches Sparta against Athens in all-out war. Fortunes swing either way, but Athens' failure to take the Corinthian colony of Syracuse and the subsequent loss of thousands of troops almost brings the city and its empire to its knees. A year later and Sparta's acquisition of Persian gold sees the Athenian fleet starved of huge numbers of freelance rowers and soldiers, giving Sparta dominance both on land and, for the first time, at sea. Athens is defeated and Sparta is established as the greatest Greek power.

427 - 399 BC

Agis II

Ruled until 401/400 BC on some lists. Son of Archidamus II.

408 - 395 BC


Father of Pleistoanax. Brother of Leonidas. Regent 446-428.

395 - 387 BC

At the start of the Corinthian War, Pausanias fails to join forces with the Spartan general, Lysander, and for this is condemned to death and replaced as king by his son Agesipolis I. Pausanias escapes to exile in Tegea. He also travels to the Persian empire and marries a Persian princess. At some point he returns to Sparta and is killed by the populace. Sparta fights the war against a coalition of four allied states; Thebes, Athens, Corinth, and Argos; all initially backed by Persia.

399 - 360 BC

Agesilaus II

Half-brother of Agis II. Ousted Agis' possibly illegitimate son.

395 - 380 BC

Agesipolis I

Son of Pausanias.

380 - 371 BC

Cleombrotus I

Brother. Little is known of his early life.

371 BC

The number of Spartan warriors has fallen dramatically from its heyday at the time of Thermopylae, when perhaps 10,000 true Spartans could be called to battle. Now the number is more like 1,000, and Sparta's warriors become a sort of officer class, leading allied and subject troops to battle, something that works nearly as well as the old Spartan war machine.

In an effort to solve the problem of post-Peloponnesian War conflicts, a pan-Greek conference is called in 371 BC. However, the arrogant Agesilaus II picks a fight with Thebes. Cleombrotus leads the allied Spartan-Peloponnesian army of about 700 Spartans and 1,300 allies (some reluctant) against a Theban army three times their number under Epaminondas at the Battle of Leuctra. Cleombrotus' death and the utter defeat of his army leads to the Helots being freed and Spartan dominance in Greece being ended forever.

371 - 370 BC

Agesipolis II


370 - 309 BC

Cleomenes II


360 - 338 BC

Archidamus III

Son of Agesilaus II.

338 BC

Philip II of Macedonia defeats the Greek states at the Battle of Chaeronea and gains overlordship over all of Greece. Athens and other city states (but not Sparta) join the Corinthian League (or Hellenic League) which is formed by Phillip to unify the military forces at his command so that he can pressure Persia.

338 - 331 BC

Agis III

Son. Killed by Antipater of Macedonia after a rebellion.

331 BC

Spartan defeat by Macedonia at the Battle Megalopolis forces them to join the Corinthian League.

331 - c.305 BC

Eudamidas I


309 - 265 BC

Areus I

Grandson of Cleomenes II.

265 BC

Areus dies in battle near Corinth during the Chremonidean War (267-261 BC), which is fought between a coalition of Greek city states including Athens and Sparta for the restoration of their independence from Macedonian influence, aided by the Ptolemaic Egyptians.

c.305 - 275 BC

Archidamus IV

Son of Eudamidas I. Defeated by Macedonia in 296 BC.

c.275 - 244 BC

Eudamidas II


265 - 262 BC


Son of Areus I.

262 - 254 BC

Areus II


254 - 235 BC

Leonidas II

Grandson of Cleomenes II.

c.243 - 241 BC

The ephor (elected officials who helped the kings govern), Lysander, claims to see a sign from the gods against Leonidas and the king flees to avoid a trial. In his absence, Leonidas is deposed and replaced by his son-in-law, Cleombrotus, who opposes the attempted reforms of his co-regent, Agis IV.

244 - 241 BC

Agis IV

Son of Eudamidas II. Murdered.

c.243 - 241 BC

Cleombrotus II

Not on all lists. Son-in-law & reigned during Leonidas' exile.

241 - c.228 BC

Eudamidas III

Son of Agis IV. Succeeded by his uncle.

235 - 222 BC

Cleomenes III

Son of Cleombrotus II. Fled to Egypt. In exile (222-219 BC).

227 - 219 BC

Cleomenes III is a great reformer of social conditions in Sparta following the example set by Agis IV, although in 227 BC he removes his political opposition in a coup, including Archidamus V, and installs Eucleidas as his co-ruler. For his last campaign in 222 BC, he faces 28,000 Macedonians with 10,000 Spartans at the Battle of Sellasia, but despite good positioning and fighting his forces are overwhelmed. He takes refuge at Alexandria in Egypt with Ptolemy Euergetes, but is arrested by his successor in 219 BC. He escapes, tries to raise a revolt which fails, and to avoid capture he takes his own life. With him perishes Sparta's last hope of recovering her ancient supremacy in Greece.

c.228 - 227 BC

Archidamus V

Removed and possibly killed by Cleomenes III.

c.227 - 222 BC


Brother of Cleomenes III.

222 - 219 BC

Following the death of Cleomenes III, the Spartan system begins to disintegrate and from 221-219 BC Sparta is governed as a republic.

219 - 215 BC

Agesipolis III

Not on all lists. Grandson of Cleombrotus III. Deposed.

219 - 215 BC


Ended the joint kingship.

215 BC

Lycurgus ends the joint kingship by deposing Agesipolis III and not replacing him with another Agid king. From this point onwards, the House of Eurypontidae rules Sparta alone with a series of cruel and rapacious kings.

215 - 210 BC


210 - 207 BC


Guardian of Pelops. A tyrant.

210 - 206 BC


The last king from the two houses. Opposed Machanidas.

206 - 192 BC


Usurper. Assassinated.

192 BC

Nabis claims to be a descendant of Demaratus (c.515-491 BC), the Spartan king who had been exiled and who then sided with the Persians to be awarded a satrapy in Pergamum. He tries to restore Spartan power in the region, but an army is dispatched by the Achaean League to force Sparta to join, bringing the kingdom to an end.

192 - ? BC


Of royal blood, but relationship unknown. Last king of Sparta.

146 BC

The Achaean League is dissolved by Rome and Greece is annexed to the Roman province of Macedonia.

AD 395

Greece becomes the central segment of the Eastern Roman empire. It remains so until the Byzantine empire's final conquest in 1453 by the Ottoman empire. Only in the twentieth century does an independent Greek kingdom rise out of two millennia of Turkish occupation or Romanised empire.