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European Kingdoms

Ancient Greece

 

Lysimachian (Hellenic) Empire
305 - 279 BC

The Hellenic empire was created by Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, in his conquests between 334-326 BC. Essentially it encompassed all of the territory that was now under Macedonian control, from Greece to India, and was the largest empire that the world had seen at the time. Alexander rarely paused in extending its borders, especially eastwards even though his army felt that enough was enough and forced an about-turn. The unexpected death of Alexander in 323 BC changed the situation dramatically.

Immediately his generals divided the empire between them, all the while paying nominal allegiance to the regent and Alexander's puppet successor. Lysimachus was appointed to help control Phrygia and Thrace, quite possibly governing in parallel with the last Odrysian king in the latter, although strife between them was reported. Lysimachus' focus was elsewhere, however, as he fought in the various Wars of the Diadochi (the successors, Alexander's former generals). In 314 BC he joined Ptolemy (based in Egypt), Cassander (based in Macedonia), and Seleucus (hoping to re-secure his temporarily lost seat in Babylonia) in the Third War of the Diadochi against what would soon become the Antigonid empire. When terms were concluded in 311 BC, Lysimachus had managed to survive with his domains intact. When Antigonus proclaimed himself king in 306 BC, all the other surviving generals followed suit, confirming the dismantling of the Greek empire into various regional domains.

In some ways the Greeks were their own worst enemy. Their culture bore some similarities with that of their Indo-European cousins, the Celts, in that they would seemingly fight anyone, especially each other. Partially symptomatic of a culture that did not especially set out laws and which did not especially respect any laws that were set out, Greek history is rife with rebellions, pretenders, and civil wars, so much so that towards the end of the Hellenic period they essentially self-destructed their surviving empires, effectively handing them over to Rome to replace them as the dominant force in the ancient world.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from Alexander the Great: A Reader, Ian Worthington (Routledge, 2012), from Bibliotheca Historica, Diodorus Siculus, from Historiae Alexandri Magni, Quintus Curtius Rufus, from Anabasis Alexandri, Arrian of Nicomedia, from The Generalship of Alexander the Great, J F C Fuller, from the Historical Dictionary of Ancient Greek Warfare, J Woronoff & I Spence, from Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great: Prosopography of Alexander's Empire, Waldemar Heckel (Ed), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), and from External Links: Encyclopśdia Britannica, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History (dead link).)

Argead Dynasty in Thrace (Lysimachians)

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia who reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Following Alexander's conquest of central and eastern Persia in 331-328 BC, the Greek empire ruled the region until Alexander's death in 323 BC and the subsequent regency period which ended in 310 BC. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire. Following that latter period and during the course of several wars, much of western Asia Minor (Anatolia) and southern Thrace was left in the hands of the Antigonid empire from 319 BC.

Lysimachus, son of Agathocles of Pella, was one of the bodyguards of King Philip II of Macedonia. Aged about twenty-seven when Alexander invaded Persian-held Anatolia, he is not mentioned in connection with any of the early battles but is certainly with Alexander by the time he reaches north-western India, where he takes part in lion hunts. He also participated in Alexander's Northern Indus battle of 326 BC against King Porus. Following the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Lysimachus was confirmed as satrap of Thrace, a region that no longer recognised Macedonian overlordship. The Odrysian King Seuthes III resisted any attempts to re-establish control and Lysimachus was soon distracted by the Wars of the Diadochi. Even in those, though, he was largely anonymous at first, until he was one of the last senior generals left standing.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Histories, Herodotus (Penguin, 1996), from the Cyropaedia & Anabasis, Xenophon of Athens, from The Cambridge Ancient History, John Boardman, N G L Hammond, D M Lewis, & M Ostwald (Eds), from Ancient and Modern Assyrians: A Scientific Analysis, George V Yana (Xlibris Corporation, 2008), from Brill's Companion to Alexander the Great, Joseph Roisman (BRILL, 2002), and from External Links: Encyclopśdia Britannica, and Appian's History of Rome: The Syrian Wars at Livius.org, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History (dead link), and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and the Nabonidus Chronicle, contained within Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, A K Grayson (Translation, 1975 & 2000, and now available via Livius in an improved version).)

336 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

336 BC

Alexander III puts down the Thracian rebellion, gaining submission from all the tribes, and they become the earliest component in his Greek empire. The traditional Thracian border with Macedonia is shifted from the River Struma to the River Mesta. Thracian troops accompany Alexander when he crosses the Hellespont which links Thrace to Asia Minor. Seuthes III appears to retain his throne but probably only as a client king under Macedonian domination.

Map of Central Asia & Eastern Mediterranean 334-323 BC
The route of Alexander's ongoing campaigns are shown in this map, with them leading him from Europe to Egypt, into Persia, and across the vastness of eastern Iran as far as the Pamir mountain range (click or tap on map to view full sized)

336? - 332? BC

?

Greek satrap in place?

332? - 331 BC

Zopyrion / Zopirion

Greek satrap of Thrace or Pontus. Killed.

331 BC

Wanting to make his mark with a conquest of some kind, Zopyrion assembles 30,000 men and marches into Scythia. He besieges Olbia, which is a colony of Miletus (itself already in Alexander's hands since 334 BC). The siege fails after the Olbians free their slaves to aid with the defence, and Zopyrion's navy forces may also be battered by a great storm. He retreats in disorder and his forces are picked off by Scythian raids and then destroyed by the Danubian Getae and Thracian Triballi. Zopyrion himself is killed.

To an extent the Greeks retain control of Thrace following this disaster, but perhaps only along the Aegean coastal strip. Seuthes of the Odrysian kingdom would seem to restore a good deal of his kingdom's former independence, although he does also seem to agree a certain level of peaceful co-existence with Lysimachus from after 323 BC until 300 BC (despite some apparent fighting to the contrary).

331 - 323 BC

?

Unknown Greek satrap(s).

323 - 322 BC

Following the death of Alexander the Great, Antigonus is confirmed in his territories of Lycia and Pamphylia while Alexander's former secretary, Eumenes of Cardia, commands Cappadocia, Mysia, and Paphlagonia. He is confirmed in 322 BC by the Greek regent, Perdiccas. Thrace is granted to Lysimachus while Hellespontine Phrygia is handed to Leonnatus (who is subsequently killed in action, virtually gifting his command to Lysimachus).

Kozi Gramadi
The remains of the tower that guarded the fourth century BC royal residence of the Odrysian kings at Kozi Gramadi, uncovered by Bulgaria's National History Museum in 2011

323 - 305 BC

Lysimachus

Greek satrap of Phrygia (322 BC) & Thrace.

322 - 320 BC

A coalition of Greek cities has sprung up with the intention of detaching Greece from the Macedonians, including Athens and the Aetolian League. Despite two impressive victories in battle on land, the allies are undone when the Athenian navy fails to secure control of the seas. The Macedonians are able to bring in reinforcements and the war ends in victory for the Macedonians and their Boeotian allies. General Leonnatus, satrap of Phrygia, has been killed in the process of gaining it, however, so Lysimachus gains this territory in the subsequent settlement of titles.

The First War of the Diadochi (the successors - the generals of Alexander's army) between 322-320 BC sees civil war break out between the generals as two factions become apparent, one of which supports the regency. Lysimachus seems not to take any noticeable part in these events, during which Antipater in Macedonia, Antigonus from Lycia and Pamphylia, Ptolemy Soter (based in Egypt), and Craterus (soon killed) team up to oppose Perdiccas and Eumenes. Perdiccas is murdered by his own generals during an invasion of Egypt. Alexander's successor, Philip III, agrees terms with the murdering generals and appoints them as regents.

A new agreement with Antipater in 320 BC makes him regent of the Macedonian empire and commander of the European section. Antigonus remains in charge of Lycia and Pamphylia, to which is added overlordship of Lycaonia, Syria, and Phoenicia, making him commander of the Asian section. His main task is to defeat Eumenes. Ptolemy retains Egypt, Lysimachus retains Phrygia and Thrace, while the three murderers of Perdiccas - Seleucus, Peithon, and Antigenes - are given the former Persian provinces of Babylonia, Media, and Susiana respectively.

The tombs of Rhodiapolis
Although Greek settlers had been populating coastal Anatolia for centuries, the Argead period of occupation opened the way for the full Hellenisation of the region and the blossoming of towns such as Rhodiapolis (of which the tombs are shown here)

319 - 315 BC

The death of Antipater leads to the Second War of the Diadochi. Philip III is killed by his stepmother, Olympias, in 317 BC with her being killed by Cassander the following year. Cassander also captures Alexander IV and Roxana and installs a governor in Athens, subsuming its democratic system.

The result is that Cassander controls the European territories (including Macedonia), while Antigonus controls those in Asia (Asia Minor, centred around Lycia and Pamphylia and extending as far as Susiana). He also holds Paphlagonia (from 316 BC). Polyperchon remains in control of part of the Peloponnese.

314 - 311 BC

The Third War of the Diadochi results because the Antigonids have grown too powerful in the eyes of the other generals, so Antigonus is attacked by Ptolemy (of Egypt), Lysimachus (of Phrygia and Thrace - his first major participation in any of the wars), Cassander (of Macedonia), and Seleucus (who is hoping to regain Babylonia).

308 - 306 BC

The Fourth War of the Diadochi soon breaks out, although Seleucus has already dealt Antigonus a decisive defeat in 309 BC to fully secure his hold on Babylonia. Ptolemy and Cassander face the two Antigonid leaders in this conflict, with Syria being the prize that Ptolemy especially desires.

Babylon
Babylon was the great prize of the Near East for the participants of the Wars of the Diadochi, although once the wars had been settled the city was almost immediately sidelined in favour of a brand new - fully Hellenic - city nearby (click or tap on image to view full sized)

In 306 BC, Ptolemy is defeated in a naval battle off Salamis, cutting off another attempt to snatch territory from the Antigonids. Probably seeing the obvious conclusion that any semblance of maintaining the Greek empire is now truly dead, Antigonus proclaims himself king of his Antigonid empire. In the following year the other generals do the same in their domains. Lysimachus becomes head of the Lysimachian empire.

Lysimachian Dynasty (in Thrace)
305 - 279 BC

Lysimachus seemingly fought in few of the wars during the campaigns of Alexander the Great, although he was there at least towards the end. He also seems to have kept a low profile during much of the Wars of the Diadochi ('successors', these being Alexander the Great's generals), as the Greek empire fragmented, only becoming a major participant in the third and fourth of them. The Fourth War of the Diadochi followed the murder of Alexander IV (son of Alexander) and helped to stave off any real advances by the Antigonid bloc that was led by the eponymous Antigonus Monophthalmus. It also served to establish each of the remaining leading generals as kings in their respective domains. The illusion of maintaining the survival of Alexander's empire was over.

Babylon was the great prize for Antigonus, but he was defeated in a last attempt to recapture it in 309 BC. When he proclaimed himself king in 306 BC, all the other surviving generals followed suit in the following year, confirming the dismantling of the empire into various regional domains. The stage was set for the final showdown at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC, which saw defeat for Antigonus (as well as his death). Lysimachus was secure in his own small empire, Cassander was in firm control of Macedonia and much of Greece, and Seleucus virtually unchallenged between Anatolia and Central Asia in his newly-formed Seleucid empire. Antigonus' own empire was divided between the victors so that within a few more years it would cease to exist entirely.

As the ruler of (southern) Thrace and well on his way to claiming royal prerogatives, in 309 BC Lysimachus built a capital for himself in the Thracian Chersonesos which he named Lysimacheia. In order to find settlers to live in his new foundation he destroyed the nearby Greek city of Kardia (Cardia) and forcibly transferred its inhabitants to Lysimacheia. Such heavy-handedness became a hallmark of his foundation policies and did nothing to endear him to the locals. Following his death at about eighty years of age the city served as little more than a fortress for various competing Greek factions, and was destroyed in 144 BC.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Marshals of Alexander's Empire, Waldemar Heckel, from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from Revised Chronology for the Late Seleucids at Antioch, O Hoover, and from External Links: University of Leicester, and Listverse, and Virtual Religion: Into His Own, and Encyclopśdia Britannica, and Appian's History of Rome: The Syrian Wars at Livius.org, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History, and Seleukid Empire, Pausanias, at Livius.org.)

305 - 281 BC

Lysimachus

Greek general and former satrap of Thrace (323-305 BC).

302 - 301 BC

Lysimachus enters western Asia Minor in 302 BC, governed as part of Phrygia, and gains (or regains) control of much of it. Following the death of Antigonus at the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC, his territories are carved up by the other diadochi. Lysimachus gains Caria, Ionia, Lydia, Phrygia, and the southern Black Sea coast of Asia Minor. Lydia appears to fall under the control of the Seleucids at some point afterwards.

Lysimachian coin
This silver tetradrachm was issued by Lysimachus, and shows the deified head of Alexander the Great on the obverse, with the goddess Athena on the reverse

300 BC

Odrysian opposition to Lysimachus possibly comes to an end, probably upon the death of Seuthes III. The Odrysian throne may remain vacant for another two decades or so while Lysimachus controls part of the region directly. An alternative possibility is that Odrysian sub-rule continues, dividing in two under Macedonian domination.

292 BC

The son of Lysimachus, Agathocles, is captured by Thracians, perhaps now more openly hostile towards Macedonians than they seem to have been under Seuthes III. Some time later Lysimachus himself is also taken prisoner, possibly while trying to mount a rescue. He is forced to cede land in return for release.

288 BC

The combined forces of Pyrrhus (of Epirus), Ptolemy (of Egypt) and Lysimachus oblige Demetrius I of Macedonia to leave his kingdom. He passes into Asia and attacks Lysimachus' provinces but famine and plague destroys much of his forces and he is abandoned by his troops on the field of battle, surrendering to the founder of the Seleucids, Seleucus. Lysimachus and Pyrrhus share Macedonia between them, with Lysimachus also taking Thessaly in 286 BC.

The city of Amantia in Albania
One of the gates of the city of Amantia in Epirus show very clearly how the tribal people there were 'civilised' during the course of Classical Greece's progression towards dominating the ancient world (reproduced with permission by Carole Raddato at External Link: Amantia, Albania - click or tap on image to view full sized)

282 - 281 BC

Lysimachus' general, Philetaerus, takes greater control of the city of Pergamon, with his successors forming a kingdom centred around it. Around the same time, Lysimachus has to execute his own son, Agathocles, on charges of treason which have been brought by his stepmother, ArsinoŽ. Lysimachus dies in battle at Corupedium against the Seleucid empire in the following year. His death appears to pave the way for a restoration of the Odrysian kingdom in Thrace within a year or so, while Lycia would seem to become a possession of Egypt.

281 - 279 BC

Ptolemy II Ceraunus / Keraunos

Son of Ptolemy Soter of Egypt. Gained Macedonia.

281 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe (II)

Widow of Lysimachus. Remarried to Ptolemy II Ceraunus.

281 BC

Ptolemy assassinates Seleucus in 281 BC and rushes back to Lysimacheia in Thrace to have himself proclaimed king by the Macedonian army. Safe in his rule both of the Lysimachian empire and Macedonia, and having his main rival, the Antigonid King Antigonus II Gonatas bottled up in his own capital, Ptolemy kills ArsinoŽ's two sons for conspiracy against him. ArsinoŽ flees to Egypt to seek protection from her brother.

279 BC

Ptolemy is killed during an invasion of proto-Galatian Celts which begins just the year after his accession. Greece is plunged into anarchy as the Celts invade further into Greece, and only the Aetolians seem to be able to take the lead in defending Greek territory.

Hittite tablet mentioning Arzawa
The Gauls moved into an Anatolian landscape to found new Galatian tribal kingdoms, while also finding that landscape to be littered with remnants of previous kingdoms, notably that of Arzawa, which formerly dominated the Phrygian lands

The Lysimachian empire ceases to exist, with the Antigonid King Antigonus II having to rescue Greece from the Celts in 277 BC. Then he is able to claim the throne of Macedonia, combining the Macedonian-controlled southern reaches of Thrace with the kingdom, which he is able to pass onto his son when he dies at the grand old age of eighty.