Philip II of Macedon was the king of Macedon (an Ancient Greek kingdom) who remained the king from 359 BC to 336 BC till his death. He was the first Greek ruler who defeated all the opposing Greek City States and founded a united Greek kingdom in order to fight against the Persian Empire. Later his son Alexander III (Alexander the Great) defeated the Persians with the help of the united Greek troops and founded the Hellenistic civilization.
Philip II was born in 383 BC in Pella (Macedon). He was the youngest son of Amyntas III, king of Macedon. From 368 – 365 BC, Philip remained as the prisoner in Thebes during which he received diplomatic and military education. He returned to Macedon in 364 BC. Till 359 BC, Philip’s elder brothers Alexander II and Perdiccas III died after which Philip was able to take the throne in 359.
Philip II as King
At the time of accession of Philip II, the situation of Macedon was very miserable. His brother Perdiccas III was killed during the lost battle against the Illyrians in northern Macedon which resulted in the occupation of eastern regions of Macedon by Paionins and Thracians while the Athenians also reached a coastal area. Philip defeated the Athenians while he was successful to push back the Thracians and Paionians through diplomacy.
In 357 BC, Philip defeated the Illyrians and thus occupied the northern part of Macedon. During 357 BC and 356 BC, Philip conquered few neighboring areas of Macedon relatively easily.
In 356 BC, the Third Sacred War started in Greece for religious reasons during which Philip sided with the Amphictyonic League against the Phocis and its allies. The war lasted for ten years (356 – 346 BC) and ended with the victory for Amphictyonic League. The main battle of the Third Sacred War was the Battle of Crocus Field (352 or 353 BC) in which Philip completely defeated the forces of Phocis.
In 348 BC, Philip occupied Olynthus after which Philip became the sole ruler in Macedonia and its adjoining areas. In 342 BC, Philip conquered Molossia, the western coast of Macedon.
The last major battle of Philip was the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 in which he defeated the combined forces of Thebans and Athens. Through this victory, Philip successfully restored his authority over the area of Aegean Sea which was weakened by the failed sieges of Perinthus (340 BC) and Byzantium (339 BC).
Now Philip and Macedon had authority over most of the Greece. In 337 BC, Philip founded the League of Corinth (Hellenic League) which comprised almost the whole of Greece. Through this league, Philip became the leader of the forces of Greece which had to invade Persia while the members of league also agreed never to fight against each other in the future.
Death & Importance
In 336 BC at Aegae (now Vergina, Greece), Philip II was assassinated by his own bodyguard Pausanias of Orestis while he was celebrating the marriage of his daughter Cleopatra. Pausanias was also killed by the other bodyguards of Philip while he was trying to escape due to which the real motives behind this assassination could not be known.
Philip II was the first ruler of the united Greece which was the first step towards the invasion against Persian Empire. Apart from that, he also introduced the army of Phalanx (a heavy infantry) who were master to use sarissas, spears, pikes and other such large and heavy weapons and this force played very important role in the victories against the Persians under the command of Alexander the Great.