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Entire History of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) / Ancient History Documentary

Entire History of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (550-330 BC) / Ancient History Documentary
in the year 480 bc war came to greece not the usual squabbling between the regional powers that myriad patchwork of greek speaking city-states kingdoms and oligarchies strewn around the seashores of the eastern mediterranean no this threat was something else

entire

ly a leviathan rolling in from the east no doubt many amongst the coalition raised to face this new threat must have cursed their cousins across the sea in ionia for bringing down this fate upon them the ionian greeks having rebelled
entire history of the persian achaemenid empire 550 330 bc ancient history documentary
against their new near eastern overlords more than a decade earlier ushering in years of conflict in the process and now out in the water just beyond the horizon of the greek mainland a massive army and fleet of ships to match had gathered the likes of which the greek world had never seen before to those defenders each individual greek state being able to field a few thousand men at best the sheer size and composition of this new force must have been near incomprehensible the greek historian
herodotus writing several decades later claims that over two and a half million men were present from all nations of the known world today we simply don't know the actual size of the invasion force though modern scholars tend to estimate the number closer to somewhere between around a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand men still a massive force this was the grand army of the

achaemenid

persian

empire

quite simply the most powerful state that had ever existed in the

history

of the
world and in many respects herodotus was quite right this force didn't consist of

persian

s alone not by a long shot to name a few those present were medes elamites babylonians phoenicians judeans egyptians bactrians scythians sogdians lydians cushites even indians from the far off eastern edge of the known world together these were the subjects of a colossal land

empire

stretching from the deserts of libya in the west to the indus river valley in the east from the steps of central asia in
the north to at least the first cataract of the nile in the south many of these contingents of soldiers fought on behalf of their own local rulers the same elites who still governed their kins people at home yet in truth above all there was only one king who really mattered a king of kings the shah and shah who sat on the

persian

throne in 480 bc that man was xerxes son of the mighty darius the great one of the greatest administrators in

history

and grandson of cyrus the great the warrior lord
who'd brought the world to its knees for the greeks a literate society from whom most of our evidence on the

persian

s is derived the situation looked bleak this last and greatest of the near eastern

empire

s of the

ancient

world was the most successful that the world had ever seen this was a very different extremely hierarchical world to that of the greeks who saved their prostrations and worship for the gods rather than mortal rulers today across the plains and mountains of the middle east
the remains of fire altars monumental architecture temples and cities can still be seen a testament to this long gone by age when all roads led to persia the

persian

s are thought to have worshipped deities of the natural world water fire earth and above all else the sky their foremost deity being a horror mazda depicted here as a winged guardian as such other pantheons could easily be incorporated into their own without offending the subject peoples too much a stark contrast to brutal

empire

s
like the assyrians before them a policy which allowed them to absorb greeks into their world fairly easily specifically the city-states of the ionian shore absorbing them into the ever-growing

empire

under tributary status the

persian

's idea of subject peoples was different to most other

empire

s being particularly lenient often allowing local rulers to carry on as before therefore as soon as the

persian

armies left the ionians revolted culminating in the burning of the city of sardis
however when they had to be the

persian

s were no pushovers in 499 bc the great king darius turned his gaze to the west the storied and

ancient

city of miletus a center of power since the bronze age long considered the wealthiest and greatest of all greek cities was burned to the ground its men folk killed women and children sold into slavery and now in 480 under a new king xerxes the

persian

s had returned in force to bring their power to the greek mainland culminating in some of the most famous
battles in

history

and yet barely 80 years earlier few outside of their homeland or the mountains of western iran had even heard of the people known as the

persian

s they didn't have the long and storied histories of other

ancient

peoples such as the babylonians assyrians egyptians or the several other groups who had ruled parts of the near east before them in truth these were outside us whose distant ancestors like the greeks had rolled off the eurasian step atop war chariots to bring the
world of the city builders to its knees though relative newcomers on the world stage the impact of the

persian

s on the lands that they ruled would change the course of

history

forever but who were the

persian

s where did they come from and how did they build the greatest

empire

the world had ever seen let's go back to the time when persia ruled the world oh hello there pete kelly here usually i write and produce all of the videos that you see on this channel this time however the initial
research and script was written by somebody else and he has his own youtube channel one of the very best on the internet for

ancient

history

and definitely one of my favorites go and check out

history

with psy here and don't forget to subscribe these videos that i'm putting out are very long productions they take an immense amount of time and energy to make so i hope you don't mind me thanking the sponsor for this one it's magellan tv a longtime supporter of both

history

time and
my brother david at voices of the past magellan is the premier

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streaming service in the world it's essentially a netflix for scholars comprised

entire

ly of documentaries with the largest collection of

history

content found anywhere and many other genres a lot of them available in 4k my personal recommendation this time is the neanderthal in us a fascinating look at the human story perhaps an insight into distant ancestors click on the link in the description below or go to
try.magellantv.com forward slash

history

time for your exclusive month-long free trial now back to the

ancient

world in order to really understand the

history

of the

persian

s we must look far outside the traditional heartlands of the city builders of the near east to the outsiders on the periphery lands with no writing and very little archaeology to go on as so often happens in

history

we must look to a fresh infusion of warrior culture from a barbarian outer world forcing its way into power
over an older more settled land first of all we must look at another related iranian people to the

persian

s the medes today it's thought that the ancestors of both

persian

s and meads who were indo-european speaking tribes first started migrating from the steps of central asia to what is today the iranian plateau sometime in the second millennium bc leaving in their wake horse gear chariot accoutrements bronze weapons drinking vessels and even vast archaeological sites these were pastoralist
societies of mobile herders and tribespeople eventually settling down to farm too it isn't for a thousand years that we get written records of these people for the most part they're stories lost in the mists of time the first written record of the medes comes in the year 835 bc in the annals of the assyrian king shall manasseer the third as a people occupying large parts of the areas around the zagros mountains barbarians on the periphery of his world it's now thought that this may
have simply been the far western extremity of the median domain median territory perhaps stretching all the way to the great salt deserts of central iran there's no way to know for sure as assyrian sources aren't specific on the matter and the medes themselves didn't leave behind any written texts or records of their own what is known is that several assyrian kings after chalmanisir also claimed to have fought many campaigns against the restless medes we're told that assyrian
forces would regularly march deep into the zagros mountains to subdue tribes of meads only to have them revolt the following year forcing the assyrians back in ever greater numbers both assyrian sources and the later writings of herodotus portray the medes as a fiercely independent but disunited people ruled over by tribal chieftains each of whom may have controlled a single fortress and several adjacent villages from time to time coalescing into larger groups and then collapsing again tradition
has it that eventually the medes grew tired of both assyrian attacks and the general lawlessness throughout their land and so they united together to form a single kingdom perhaps having learned the art of statesmanship from their assyrian and elamite neighbors much like germanic tribes with the roman

empire

though his existence cannot be confirmed by archaeology or any other sources herodotus writes that eventually the man they chose to lead them was called diocese however it was deuces
grandson king cyaxaris who turned the fledgling median state into a world power allying with the king nabapalassa of babylon as well as chimerian and scythian horse nomads the two kings took advantage of a crisis of succession and weak rulers in assyria to launch a two-pronged assault on this

ancient

superpower eventually bringing it to its end once and for all leaving a massive vacuum in its wake in the aftermath of the collapse of the assyrian

empire

the two allies split the territories of
this mighty

empire

amongst themselves with the babylonians taking most of mesopotamia and the levant whereas the medes took land in anatolia all the way to the hallis river on the border with the kingdom of lydia an

ancient

land that would eventually make its way into greek legend for five years king cyaxaris and the medes fought against king aliyatis and the lydians with neither side being able to gain the upper hand finally apparently after a solar eclipse that was taken to be assigned the
gods were displeased the two sides made peace in 585 bc the following year cyaxariz died and his son astiagis became king outside of herodotus there is little information about the reign of astiagis overall though it seems that the three most powerful kings of the

ancient

near east at the time nebuchadnezzar of babylon crisis of lydia and astiagi's of media were at peace with one another though this would prove to be the calm before the storm according to herodotus one of the median kings of
was the kingdom of passa which the greeks called persia being a closely related iranian people the

persian

s had much in common with the medes they had similar customs religion and spoke a dialect of the same indo-european language it was perhaps for this reason that astiagi's married his daughter mandani to his vassal can be a seized of persia it was these two who would become the parents of arguably persia's greatest ever king cyrus ii better known to

history

as cyrus the great today

ancient

cities still litter the plains and mountains of modern day iran vast edifices and statues jutting out of the dusty ground leftovers from the slew of

empire

s and kingdoms who once ruled this land in antiquity elamites medes

persian

s parthians sasanians and arabs all left their mark here in order to get to the origins of the mightiest of all

persian

kings however a figure still revered in the middle east today we must look to one of the oldest cities of all to the rugged zagros mountains
in the south west of the country home to one of the oldest urban centers in the

entire

ty of the middle east this is anshan firmly placed within the elamite sphere of influence a center of power since the 4th millennium bc like the sumerian cities to the west by the time anshan came under

persian

rule in the seventh century bc supposedly captured by the warlord tayuspise it was already a storied and

ancient

place and soon enough it would serve as the capital of a new fledgling

persian

state
fortesbis was the great grandfather of cyrus and as far as he was concerned the progenitor of his royal house yet nonetheless this is a period steeped in the mists of time with very little concrete evidence to go on there are many stories regarding cyrus's birth and upbringing most appearing to be more legend than fact indeed many of these tales come from later greek and roman writers such as herodotus tessias xenophon and arion outsiders looking in and they disagree on several of the major
entire history of the persian achaemenid empire 550 330 bc ancient history documentary
events and details of his life for example herodotus writes that the last king of the median

empire

astiagis was cyrus's grandfather while tessias a 5th century greek writing at the

achaemenid

court claims that there wasn't actually any familial relationship between the two what the accounts do agree on as well as writing from neighbouring babylonia is that whether they were related or not the young cyrus clearly an able politician and capable military leader was able to overthrow
astiar geese by around 550 bc becoming the king of a unified

persian

median state according to the greek geographer strabo it was on the site of his victory over the medes that cyrus established his new royal capital of pasagade an especially important site for hundreds of years to come kings in the

ancient

world were overthrown and replaced by their enemies all the time but what made astiagis defeat around 550 bc different than many of his peers of the past is that cyrus apparently showed his
former liege lord mercy not only allowing him to live out his final days with dignity and honor but keeping him on at court as a member of the king's entourage though this was likely not the first time that a king had been showed mercy by an enemy such events were rare particularly between rivals in the

ancient

world however if the stories about his life are true from the very beginning cyrus had made it his general policy to not only treat his defeated enemies with dignity but also be
tolerant of their customs and religion sometimes even showing deference for the customs of newly incorporated peoples searches with mesopotamia where local infrastructure was simply absorbed into the new

empire

it's this policy of tolerance that would eventually make the

persian

s famous in the

ancient

world and probably to a great extent allowed them to rule over such a diverse group of peoples cyrus's relatively sudden rise to power didn't go unnoticed by the other kingdoms of the
region especially the superpowers of lydia and babylon both had treaties with media and astiagis a respected king not the

persian

cyrus who they viewed as a usurper of the median throne the lydian king cresis famous in future generations as an incomprehensibly wealthy ruler confident after victories against the greek city-states to his west sought to put an end to the upstart

empire

now bordering him to the east crossing the

ancient

boundary of the hallis river to march into cappadocia for
decades the boundary between lydian and median territory according to herodotus crisis renowned for his elite cavalry confronted the

persian

s and medes under cyrus ultimately the battle was a stalemate and as the campaigning season drew to a close crisis decided to fall back to his capital of sardis far to the west not thinking for a moment that cyrus would continue to pursue him across western anatolia a huge gamble for a new king how wrong he was not only did cyrus pursue the lydians a
campaign that could easily have cost him his life but after a battle and a short siege at the lydian capital he succeeded in capturing and absorbing the

entire

kingdom as a new province in his

empire

according to herodotus cyrus initially planned to burn the lydian king on a funeral pyre other sources argue crisis plans to burn himself but ultimately reigns sent by the gods doused the fire instead of dying this once proud king like astiagi's before him apparently joined cyrus's retinue
becoming one of his closest advisors shortly afterwards the greek city-states of ionia along the aegean coast once subject to lydian tribute now submitted to cyrus's rule cyrus's most famous conquest however and the one that would immortalize him was that of the neo-babylonian

empire

and its fabled capital city of babylon during cyrus's time the babylonian state was going through a period of gradual decline it also didn't help that its king nabonidus successor of the great
nebuchadnezzar apparently spent much of his time offending both babylon's people and its priests by neglecting their patron deity marduk in favour of another sin the god of the moon in fact nabonidus had embarked on a 10-year pilgrimage of sorts around northern arabia to build and restore temples dedicated to the moon god the babylonian chronicle tells of how nabonidus failed to return for the new year's festival in commemoration of marduk leaving his son belshazzar to lead the
festivities and run the day-to-day activities of the

empire

in his absence a massive insult today scholars tend to think that when it became clear cyrus had his sights on babylon a vastly rich and powerful land bordering his own many in the city who were displeased with nebonnetus may have invited the

persian

s in for all sources agree that in 539 bc the city was conquered without the shedding of blood just like his other conquests cyrus treated the citizens of babylon with kindness and was
tolerant of their religious practices even masterfully portraying himself as marduk's chosen representative in direct opposition to nabonidus in the process not only absorbing babylon itself but all of its subject peoples stretching all the way to the borders of egypt was during this time that cyrus famously freed the jews who had been exiled in babylonia since the time of nebuchadnezzar nearly 60 years prior not only permitting them to return to their homeland but helping to rebuild the
jewish temple in jerusalem passages from the bible's book of ezra where the

persian

king is reportedly speaking in the first person underscores cyrus's kindness towards his new jewish subjects thus says king cyrus of persia the lord the god of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has charged me to build him a house at jerusalem in judah any of those among you who are his people may their god be with them are now permitted to go up to jerusalem in judah and rebuild
the house of the lord the god of israel he is the god who is in jerusalem and let all survivors in whatever place they reside be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold with goods and with animals besides free will offerings to the house of god in jerusalem for centuries such biblical passages along with testaments to cyrus's benevolent nature in herodotus's histories and xenophon's cyropedia were dismissed by many historians as being simply legends that were
compiled decades if not centuries after the

persian

king's death then in 1879 a clay foundation cylinder with cuneiform writing on it was found amongst the ruins of

ancient

babylon when the text was deciphered it revealed that the aforementioned texts may not have been legends after all written shortly after his conquest of babylon the text of the cylinder tells how cyrus was the chosen agent of marduk sent to bring peace and justice to the land part of it purporting to be in cyrus's own
words states the following i am cyrus king of the universe the great king the powerful king king of babylon king of sumer and akhad king of the four quarters of the world son of cambises the great king king of the city of anshan descendant of tespes the great king king of the city of anshan my vast troops were marching peaceably in babylon and the whole of sumer and akkad had nothing to fear i sought the safety of the city of babylon and all its sanctuaries as for the population of babylon i
soothed their weariness i freed them from their bonds marduk the great lord rejoiced at my good deeds i sent them back to their places to the city of ashur and susa akad the land of ashnuna the city of zamban the city of meternu dur as far as the border of the land of gooti the sanctuaries across the river tigris whose shrines had earlier become dilapidated the gods who lived therein and made permanent sanctuaries for them i collected together all of their people and returned them to their
settlements and the gods of the land of sumer and akkad which nabanidus to the fury of the lord of the gods had brought into shuana at the command of marduk the great lord i returned them unharmed to their cells in the sanctuaries that make them happy both the biblical passage as well as the babylonian cylinder attest to cyrus's policy of religious tolerance something that with few exceptions would remain a core policy of future

achaemenid

kings in fact nearly all of the greek and roman
historians who would later write about the

achaemenid

s style of governance noted that all subject peoples were allowed to worship and carry on with their lives and customs as they pleased provided that they paid their taxes to the central government such a policy was also practical since it would have been impossible in the long term to have managed such an expansive and diverse

empire

without showing goodwill towards subject peoples most of whom were proud and fiercely independent and for the
most part could continue to consider themselves as such whilst it seems clear that cyrus respected the religious practices of others scholars have long debated what the actual native religion of the

achaemenid

s was interestingly no texts or inscriptions have been found that specifically link cyrus to any form of religious practice however based on what is known of

ancient

median and

persian

religion especially that of cyrus's successors darius xerxes and the rest of the

achaemenid

line the

ancient

persian

s are believed to have practiced a form of zoroastrianism the religion taught by the prophet zarathustra known as zoroaster in greek writings believed to have lived around 1800 bc during the murky epoch of the bronze age zarathustra proclaimed that there was only one god a horror mazda whose name means lord of light and wisdom and that mankind was in a cosmic struggle against the forces of evil those who were on the side of a horror mazda against evil and spoke the truth would be
rewarded after death with entrance into heaven known as the house of song while those who allied with evil also known as the lie would be punished in the afterlife and live in hell at the end of time there would be a final judgment whereby all souls would be judged again and after a purification process even those who had committed grave wrongdoings would be allowed to enter into heaven many scholars believe that it's from zoroastrian religion that the concepts of heaven hell a day of
judgment the devil angels and perhaps even the concept of monotheism itself may have stemmed towards the end of his reign having achieved the greatest territorial expansion ever yet seen in

history

cyrus continued to expand his state leaving his son and crown prince cambiuses as king in babylon the great king began conducting campaigns into what is now central asia perhaps seeking to control the lucrative trade routes crisscrossing eurasia and also to protect his borders from outside attack
resulting in the incorporation of a number of eastern lands into his now ever expanding state he also had plans to conquer egypt though this was a dream that cyrus himself was not able to achieve according to herodotus and most other sources the great king was killed in battle with nomadic tribes most likely scythian horse nomads along his

empire

's north eastern frontier the one dissenting source is the greek general and philosopher xenophon who in his cyropedia claims that cyrus died
peacefully of old age he was buried in a modest tomb that he himself had designed in his capital city of pasagade cyrus had been a great king however like many similar rulers throughout

history

his realm could very easily have collapsed not long afterwards cyrus was fortunate in that a significant number of his successors were great too near the city of kermanshah in western iran a vast multilingual inscription and rock relief stand immobile on the landscape dwarfing those who come to look at
them into a cliff face here some twenty five hundred years ago this is mount bearhiston and the inscription here a little like the rosetta stone written in three languages and thus vital in the modern translation of hundreds of cuneiform tablets was made by the

persian

king darius the great sometime between the years 522 and 486 bc along with singing the deeds of the latest king of kings the inscription also gives the very first mention of the supposed patriarch of the royal family achaemenis
entire history of the persian achaemenid empire 550 330 bc ancient history documentary
said by darius to be the father of the teus peace mentioned by cyrus thus the

persian

royal house would be known as the

achaemenid

dynasty however there's a good argument that this achimanis never existed at all perhaps a clever piece of political scheming by a usurper looking to write himself into the royal family nevertheless the name stuck and darius is regarded as one of the greatest of all

persian

kings but how did he get into power in the first place on cyrus's death in 530 bc it
was his son kambi assist ii who succeeded him continuing his father's policy of expansion to annex the island of cyprus before turning his gaze toward egypt in 525 bc defeating the pharaoh semeticus iii in a battle just outside the egyptian capital of memphis cambiuses remained in egypt for three years consolidating his rule as well as launching efforts to conquer neighbouring libya and nubia however his absence from the

persian

heartland caused a crisis one that not only threatened his
rule but the

persian

empire

itself some scholars call these events the crisis of 522 bc herodotus tells us that cambiuses went mad furiously killing sacred animals all over egypt though there is no other evidence for this soon enough cambiuses would be dead the

empire

had very real risk of falling apart enter darius the great the story of how darius came to the throne is a fascinating one most well-known version being told in the bahistan inscription commissioned by darius himself therefore
espousing his view of the crisis and its resolution according to darius cambiuses had a brother named bardia whom he slew in secret before embarking on his egyptian campaign we're not told the motive but it's assumed that his reason was to prevent bardia from possibly usurping the throne in cambia caesar's absence however while cambiuses was in egypt a man named gal mata who was a bardia lookalike took the throne gamata was able to do this because he covered his tracks by slaying
many of bardia's close associates while also terrifying the people nevertheless darius with the help of a handful of chosen men six of whom are specifically mentioned was able to kill the usurper gaumata after which darius a self-proclaimed relative of cambiuses and cyrus was chosen as the new king it's a great story and it may well be true however it's just as likely that the cunning darius perhaps no relation at all to the royal family simply killed bardia before ascending the
throne and creating an elaborate story to justify his actions maybe even creating a common ancestor to link him to the royal house whatever the truth the

achaemenid

s dynasty was born and every king to follow would be a descendant of darius whether or not they were related to cyrus of course when he assumed command darius had an especially difficult task ahead of him imposter kings and rebels now sitting on thrones all over the realm in elam media babylonia and elsewhere apparently an extremely
capable military commander perhaps belying his true identity as a general darius claims that with his allies he was able to put down every single rebellion being victorious in 19 battles all within the space of a single year finally by 522 bc after restoring order darius became the rightful shahan shah or king of kings or there was nobody left to argue with him herodotus also tells a similar though more dramatic tale which was probably based off of darius's story to begin with in his account
he calls bardia smirdis darius's story is hotly debated amongst scholars many of whom simply believe it to be an outright fabrication concocted by the king himself to cover the fact that he was a usurper however regardless of the details it illustrates the fragility of the

empire

during this particular time without a strong king it would simply fall apart fighting so hard to keep the

empire

together darius was determined to do whatever it took continuing many of the policies of cyrus he
formally divided the

empire

into provinces called satrapis appointing each with a hand-picked governor these tended to be individuals related to the royal house areas retained autonomy and were to a certain extent self-sufficient kingdoms to further foster the territorial integrity of the

empire

darius commissioned several large construction projects including a vast network of roads and highways one of which would be known as the royal road this highway started in the city of susa in south
western iran extending all the way to the city of sardis in western anatolia not too far from the aegean sea darius also ordered the building of a canal between the red sea and the nile a forerunner of the modern day suez canal like sargon the great of the akkadian

empire

or ashunasipal of assyria darius also built a new capital city to reflect his greatness as a king known around the world by its greek name persepolis meaning city of the

persian

s the new capital was located in the

persian

heartland around 50 kilometers from pasagade

ancient

greek historians wrote that during the

empire

's heyday it was the wealthiest and most magnificent city in the known world surpassing even babylon finally with order restored throughout the realm darius launched new military campaigns to expand the

empire

's borders including new lands in central asia and territories in the east up to the indus river in what is now pakistan however it's his campaigns in greece the start of what would
become the greco-

persian

wars that have gained the most attention as well as notoriety in the western world in 499 bc and with help from athens and eritrea the ionian greeks along the aegean sea revolted against their

persian

overlords the rebels made it as far as the city of sardis former capital of the lydian kingdom which they sacked and burned it was a short-lived victory however and by 493 the rebellion was crushed in order to prevent future attacks from the greek mainland darius launched a
campaign to punish athens eritrea and any other troublemakers in 492 bc a

persian

force seized thrace and macedonia but aborted the attack on athens due to bad weather conditions and hostile local tribes by 490 however the

persian

s crossed the aegean sea capturing several islands before landing on the mainland there they were defeated by greek forces on the plains of marathon the conflict didn't end there however with darius making plans to return and subjugate all of greece though this
wouldn't happen during his lifetime as he died four years later at his death the

persian

empire

was at its very height in terms of power and territory the task of punishing greece would fall to his son and successor xerxes in the west xerxes remains probably the most famous

persian

king of all immortalized but also vandalized by his role in the greco-

persian

wars most notably his defeat of the 300 spartans at the battle of thermopylae portrayed most recently by the hollywood movie 300. in
persia xerxes was remembered as great second only to cyrus and darius it goes without saying that greek society was a very different one to that of the

persian

s a people who favored oral tradition over the written word much of which has either been lost or distorted over time therefore for the most part when it comes to xerxes ruling over the greatest

empire

in the world at its very height the story is told from his enemies point of view yet because these sources do exist we can arrive at a
picture of his life nonetheless life wouldn't have been easy for a

persian

prince raised by eunuchs at age seven according to a later greek source xerxes would have been taught to ride and hunt at age 14 his teaching would begin instructing him to be wise just prudent and brave finally by age 16 10 years of national service would begin with an emphasis on archery javelin throwing competing for prizes and hunting then finally an official military career would begin for some 25 years to come
after which came elevation to the status of elder and advisor to the king by no means guaranteed the throne this life would continue unless disrupted by the death of a king such has happened in 486 bc when darius finally passed away in the midst of preparations for a new war against egypt but not before naming xerxes as his heir but this didn't necessarily mean a smooth transition for another claimed the throne too xerxes had the right pedigree for sure his mother being a tosa a daughter
of cyrus the great yet the eldest prince was his half-brother artobazan born of a commoner due to the high prestige of his mother and apparently the words of demeritus a spartan king in exile at the

achaemenid

court who argued that the eldest doesn't necessarily need to inherit the throne xerxes was triumphant by december being crowned without challenge is the new great king he was 36 years old he had the bloodline and all the prestige that came with it but it remains to be seen whether
he'd be a capable ruler like his father and grandfather xerxes first challenge as king was to put down rebellions in egypt and babylon both of which he was able to accomplish and once peace had been restored in those restless provinces he too like his father before him made preparations for an invasion of greece by 480 the great king amassed a gigantic army very possibly over a hundred thousand men and invaded the mainland seizing thessaly macedonia and other parts of northern greece spartan
forces elite warriors who'd trained their

entire

lives for war by now allied with the athenians were able to halt the

persian

advance at the pass of thermopylae before eventually they were defeated by the numerically superior

persian

force the sacrifice of the spartans was not in vain as it gave the athenians time to escape when xerxes army reached athens save for a few defenders they found the place more or less abandoned its people living to fight another day xerxes put the city to the
torch but he could not kill his population this was an act which would return to haunt the

persian

s 150 years later the next major confrontation took place at salamis where a greek fleet possibly aided by the weather won a decisive victory destroying persia's superior naval capabilities it's these two battles thermopylae and salamis that future greek writers and historians such as herodotus would cite as being momentous events that were turning points in the

history

of greece the war
didn't end there however while xerxes returned to persia to oversee matas elsewhere in his massive state he left a sizable

persian

force in greece under the command of his trusted general mardonius a force to be reckoned with since the time of darius in 479 bc madonius attacked the region of attica engaging with greek forces at palate the battle remained a stalemate until madonius fighting in the thick of the action was killed throwing his forces into disarray and forcing the

persian

s to
retreat back to asia after this second great defeat no future

persian

force would ever land on the greek mainland again these military conflicts in europe had taught the

persian

s that the greek city-states though divided amongst themselves would unite against a foreign aggressor and so the

persian

kings long having allied with greek rulers on occasion adopted a strategy of using the near unlimited financial resources of the

persian

state to create diplomatic alliances with select city-states and
to support them against their local rivals their strategy of divide and rule worked within a few years the greek city-states were back to fighting amongst themselves posing little threat to

persian

interests in the region it would take an especially powerful and cunning ruler to unite the greeks a ruler to rival cyrus in the 5th century bc no such figure existed and few would have predicted that one ever would despite his defeats in greece xerxes nearly 20 years of rule is still regarded as a
golden age by 465 bc however this would change according to the later greek historian diodorus siculus xerxes was assassinated by the man closest to him the captain of his royal guard artabanus seemingly in order to gain more power and influence through xerxes successor artaxerxes instead the new king whether he'd been in on the plan or not had artabanus killed for 40 years to come artaxerxes ruled over a time of stability and peace for the

persian

empire

yet the

empire

had stopped growing
and future kings wouldn't be so lucky much was changing in the greek world to the west and more and more greek generals such as the mysticalise would involve themselves in the affairs of the

persian

state in truth not much is known about artaxerxes reign although we do know that his successor xerxes ii occupied the throne for a mere 45 days before he too was cut down by the assassin's blades without clear guidelines for royal succession the rot of factionalism was beginning to seep in
according to tessias a struggle soon broke out between xerxes brothers sogdianus and ocus with the latter eventually winning out assuming the throne in 423 bc as darius ii again not much is known about darius's reign a median rebellion in 409 bc is mentioned by xenophon and generally tensions with certain greek factions began to rise breaking out into all-out war with athens on a few occasions so much so that he is remembered as darius nothos or darius the bastard following darius's
death in 404 bc a full-scale civil war broke out between darius ii son and successor artaxerxes ii and another son known as cyrus the younger supported by thousands of battle-hardened greek mercenaries notably under the athenian general and historian xenophon who would record the ensuing events for posterity in 401 bc the two sides finally engaged near the small town of kuksana on the euphrates river when cyrus was killed however by one of artaxerxes's champions his faction quickly fell
apart artaxerxes ii became the new king and the ten thousand greeks had to march across the

empire

to get home like the first artaxerxes the second

achaemenid

king of his name also had a lengthy reign in this case 46 years though for once there may have been some stability within the

achaemenid

household his reign also had its setbacks for example the loss of egypt had to be contended with and there are few records of any

persian

expansion in any other direction artaxerxes ii however was able
to manage greece by continuing the

persian

policy of divide and rule of supporting one city-state against another still he was no cyrus or darius and upon his death in 359 bc one of his sons succeeded him taking the name artaxerxes iii in a sense artaxerxes iii was the type of king that the stagnant

persian

empire

needed to turn its fortunes around whereas his father had lost egypt artaxerxes successfully brought it back into the fold as well as suppressing rebellions in phoenicia and cyprus
though successful on the battlefield the end of his reign was marred by a plot orchestrated by his close confidant a eunuch named bagoas who craved more power for himself artaxerxes iii and all but one of his sons were assassinated by bagawas who we're told by greek writers wanted to control the

empire

through a puppet ruler that puppet turned out to be rc's who eventually ascended the throne as artaxerxes the fourth though with baghoas calling the shots rc's only ruled for two more
years before he himself was poisoned presumably by bagoas with the

achaemenid

royal family being decimated by so many assassinations soon enough there was only one prince left from the ruling dynasty who could still make a legitimate claim to the throne at the time already in his forties with no hope in normal circumstances of ever becoming king he served as the governor or satrap of armenia called back to the

persian

heartland for his coronation the prince assumed the throne name darius iii
little did he know his reign would be the last of any

achaemenid

for a new kingdom was on the rise by the time darius iii became the new king of kings in 336 bc news of the internal strife and regicide plaguing the ruling

persian

house had reached all the way across the western sea to the mountain kingdom of macedonia a war-like realm on the periphery of the hellenistic world in the previous decades the highly capable ruler of macedon philip ii had forcibly united the major greek city-states
save sparta under his banner his next plan allegedly to invade the

persian

empire

but philip had made many enemies over the years and that was when the assassin's blades cut him down too he was succeeded by his son just 18 years old but already a tested general his name of course was alexander by 336 bc the highly efficient imperial system of administration that had been started by cyrus the great and perfected by darius the first now suffered from gross mismanagement and corruption the
saturdays especially babylonia and egypt were restless burdened by heavy taxes this coupled with the instability and bloodletting within the royal family led to a situation ripe for foreign invasion just two years later the young alexander all the might of greece behind him ever spurred on by his insistence that his father had been murdered by

persian

assassins crossed over the hellespont to asia minor there he defeated a modest

persian

force at the granicus river freeing ionia from centuries
of foreign occupation the first in a remarkable series of victories that would bring the world to its knees within a year alexander occupied most of asia minor in 333 he marched south into what is today syria where the army of darius iii probably double the size of the invasion force awaited him near the town of isus on a narrow coastal plain bounded by mountains and the sea they met there in november the fighting was fierce and both sides well-matched until darius's chariot was seen leaving
the field apparently fleeing in panic abandoning not only his army but his mother wife and infant heir shattering the morale of the

persian

troops they broke and fled alexander was victorious and took darius's family under his personal protection of course he didn't stop there continuing south along the mediterranean coast facing strong resistance only at tyre and in gaza before venturing on to egypt on his way there darius sent the young king a peace offering claiming that he would
yield all of the lands east of the euphrates to the macedonian conqueror if he suspended hostilities alexander refused he wanted the

entire

empire

or nothing at all victoriously riding into egypt by 332 bc to a downtrodden egyptian population weary of outside

persian

rule alexander was treated as a hero and portrayed himself as such egypt spread basket under his belt his army well rested the road lay wide open to the heart of the

persian

empire

by october 331 near the town of gaugamela in
today's northern iraq darius had assembled another huge force he had the advantage choosing the battlefield and having weeks to prepare again however it was alexander who triumphed relying on his elite hoplite infantry cutting-edge military technology to hold the center and his swift companion cavalry to out-maneuver the enemy's wings again darius was seen leaving the field before the battle's outcome was clear causing his men to panic and follow him into retreat from then onward
alexander had little trouble taking over what was left of the

persian

empire

eventually making it to the royal cities of pasagade and persepolis at pasagarde he paid tribute to the tomb of cyrus even stationing guards there to protect it in his absence persepolis though was a different matter there alexander's men are said to have taken three months in order to empty the city of its vast treasures after this reportedly during a night of drunken revelry and perhaps at the instigation of a
greek courtesan alexander set the city on fire burning a good part of this magnificent capital to the ground some say this was in revenge for xerxes burning of athens 150 years earlier regardless the burning of persepolis symbolized the end of the

achaemenid

ruling house and the glorious

empire

they had presided over which now was mostly in the hands of alexander and the greeks darius is said to have fled to equitana and then to areas of eastern iran with his presumably still loyal nobles their
plan was probably to connect with the satraps and commanders of the eastern provinces of the

empire

most likely in bactria and soggdiana alexander though was in hot pursuit it's not known exactly what happened in the end but by the time alexander caught up with the king the last

achaemenid

had been stabbed and left to die or was already dead at the command of bessos the satrap of bactria and so in the summer of 330 bc the

achaemenid

line officially came to an end alexander is reported to
have given darius a royal burial as for bessus he declared himself to be darius's successor attempting to make peace with alexander thinking that the latter might reward him for killing his former king alexander rejected the offer and according to the historian quintus rufus adbessus arrested tortured and then killed for betraying his rightful king in the end alexander continued to campaign into central asia before arriving in what is now india conquering lands beyond those ever secured by
the

persian

s he probably would have gone further but his men were tired of fighting and demanded that they return home facing a mutiny alexander marched west back to babylon where eventually he died in 323 unlike cyrus's

empire

alexanders fell apart almost immediately after his death with his generals fighting over the spoils and eventually dividing it up amongst themselves the cultural impact of the conquest however was immense with the descendants of these generals still being in control
hundreds of years later whilst helenization occurred all over the lands of the former

persian

state and cities named for alexander built as far afield as egypt and afghanistan as for the

persian

s they carried on under several dynasties most notably the celiacids and the parthians until another native

persian

dynasty the sassanians would come to power in the year 224 a.d the

achaemenid

empire

though remained the model that was followed by these and other dynasties they tried to manage diverse
groups of people and nations with different customs languages religions and laws under a single ruler in a world that was becoming ever more interconnected and ever more complex if you'd like to hear more about this world then why not subscribe for much much more you've been watching

history

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