Alexander III of Macedon was the king of Ancient Greece. Due to his great successes and occupation of a large empire, he is commonly known as Alexander the Great. During his 13 year of reign, he conquered Egypt, Persia and large part of Asia and North Africa. He is known as one of the greatest military generals in the history of mankind.
Alexander was born on 20th July 356 BC in Pella (then the capital of Macedonian kingdom and now in Greece). His father was Philip II of Macedon who united the whole of Greece under his leadership. In his childhood, Alexander learned the traits for the noble youth of Macedon include reading, horse-riding, hunting and fighting. At the age of 13, Philip appointed great scholar Aristotle as the tutor of Alexander. Alexander learnt morals, philosophy, medicine, logic, religion etc. from Aristotle and his later victories were much positively affected by the teachings of Aristotle.
Alexander’s victories started at the age of 16 when he crushed the rebellion in Thrace. In 338 BC, Alexander took part in the Battle of Chaeronea against southern Greek city-states including Athens, Thebes and their allies. The Macedonians, under the leadership of Philip II and Alexander, completely defeated their rivals and occupied the whole of southern Greece except the Kingdom of Sparta.
Alexander As King
In 336 BC, Alexander became the king of Macedonia after the death of his father Philip II who was killed by his bodyguard. Alexander was just 20 years old at that time. Alexander initially consolidated his power by killing few of his close relatives and other potential threats including his cousin Amyntas IV, two Macedonian princes and others. He also suppressed the rebellion in different Greek areas which erupted after the death of his father Philip II and soon Alexander was recognized as the Hagemon (leader) by the Greeks and he commanded their war against Persia.
Before moving towards Persia, Alexander decided to end the problems towards his northern borders. In 335 BC, he conquered the areas of Thrace (now in northeast Greece, southern half of Bulgaria and European Turkey) and Illyria (now in Albania) and later defeated the revolt by Thebes.
Victories Against Persian Empire
At that time, Persian Empire was in control of Asia Minor, Levant, Egypt and several other areas. Alexander started his campaign against the Persian Empire from Asia Minor where the first battle was fought at Troy (north-west Turkey) in 334 BC, known as Battle of the Granicus. Alexander had more than 35,000 men while Persians had around 25,000 soldiers. The battle ended in favor of Alexander and he occupied half of Asia Minor. In the same year, Alexander occupied the western coast of Asia Minor after the two encounters known as Siege of Miletus and Siege of Halicarnassus.
In 333 BC, Alexander fought Battle of Issus against the Achaenenid Persian Empire in Issus (Hatay, Turkey). The Persian Army was more than double to the Macedonian army but the Macedonians, under the leadership of Alexander, defeated the much larger army and now Alexander controlled the whole of Asia Minor and northern Levant. Alexander also captured the family of Persian king after this victory. In 332 BC, Alexander occupied whole of Levant after the successful Siege of Tyre. Tyre is in modern-day Lebanon.
In 332 BC, Alexander started his conquest of Egypt with the successful Siege of Gaza after which he killed most of the men including the commander of fortress of Gaza, Batis. Later, Alexander was received in Egypt very warmly as a liberator while Egypt was under control of Persia before Alexander.
In 331 BC, Alexander fought the decisive battle against the Persian empire at Gaugamela (near Mosul, Iraq), known as Battle of Gaugamela. Alexander had around 50,000 soldiers while the Persians were double of that number. The Greeks defeated the Persians in the battle with around half of their soldiers perished. Alexander occupied whole of modern-day Iraq after this battle. It was the decisive battle in the sense that Persians could not bring a large army against Alexander ever again.
In the same year, Alexander again remained victorious in the Battle of Uxian Defile after defeating the western Uxian tribes of Persia. He occupied modern-day western Iran after this battle. In 330 BC, Alexander occupied the capital of Persian Empire Persepolis and around half of total Persia after defeating a small Persian army in the Battle of the Persian Gate. This battle marks the fall of Achaemenid Empire (the first Persian Empire) which was founded in around 550 BC by Cyrus the Great.
In 329 BC, Alexander occupied a Persian province Sogdiana (southern Central Asia between the rivers of Amu Darya and Syr Darya) after the successful Siege of Cyropolis despite stiff resistance. In 327 BC, Alexander occupied whole of the Sogdiana area after few smaller battles which completed the Alexander conquest of Persian Empire.
Indian Campaign of Alexander
Alexander’s campaign in India started against the highlander tribe of Kambojas whose different tribes were residing in modern day Kunar (Afghanistan), Panjkora, Swat and Buner (all three in today’s Pakistan). He had to fight fierce battles against this tribe and he defeated them in 326 BC. This campaign is known as Cophen campaign.
in 326 AD, Alexander fought his biggest battle of the Indian campaign against King Porus of Punjab at Mong (now in Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan), known as Battle of Hydaspes River. Despite tough resistance from Porus, Alexander won the battle due to his warfare skills. But Alexander was so impressed with the bravery of his opponent that he let Porus to remain the ruler of this area on Alexander’s name. Alexander occupied most of the Punjab after this victory.
Alexander’s final campaign in India was the Mallian campaign which he undertook in 325 BC against the Malli tribe of eastern Punjab and that campaign took place in the area between rivers Jhelum and Chenab (now in Pakistan). Alexander was again victorious in this battle but he had to suffer severe injuries during the battle. It proved to be the last Indian campaign of Alexander because his soldiers refused to move forward for another battle as they were away from their homes for almost 10 years. Alexander himself was injured and decided to return to Macedonia without going for another big battle against an Indian ruler. On his way back, he conquered Malhi (now in Multan, Pakistan).
Death & Place in History
In June 323 BC, Alexander died at the age of just 32. The cause of his death was drinking large quantity of alcohol few days before his death. He became seriously ill after this heavily drinking and passed away after spending few days in fever and severe pain.
Alexander the Great was one of the greatest military rulers of human history and also was the greatest Greek ruler. He put an end to the first Persian Empire, Achaemenid Empire, in 330 BC and thus relieved the Greeks from their worst enemy which had been battling them in the past to extend its empire. He also conquered most of modern-day Pakistan and he was also skillful enough to move deeper into India had his soldiers would not mutinied.
During his ten-year of warfare, he never lost a battle and he became King of Macedonia, King of Persia, Pharoah of Egypt and King of Asia (due to occupation of large part of Asia) at a time.
He founded the Hellenistic Empire and the Greek culture flourished in all his occupied areas. He was the last great king of that empire as his successors could not retain the glory any further. All his achievements made him capable to be called as Alexander the Great.