Peloponnesian War

History of War - Ancient Wars




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The Peloponnesian War was an internal conflict that saw the more powerful of the Greek states rise up against one another to become a full blown conflict.

The outcome of the Peloponnesian War had far reaching consequences for all concerned, some of which were positive for the victors and others which reduced the losers to mere failed states. The war also had further reaching consequences for other states economically.

Today you will find out about the Peloponnesian War

Causes of the Peloponnesian War

For the fifty years before the Peloponnesian War Athens had grown from strength to strength to become the main power in Greece. The impact of this was both startling and untenable for some of the other Greek states as Athens wielded its power without consequence.

The increase in strength of Athens meant it grew to become an empire called the Athenian Empire as it gained more control on other lands.

When Persia left Greece the Spartans tried to stop Athens rebuilding its huge city walls, the idea was that Athens would have no defence without the walls and thus would need to rely on the Spartans. Athens ignored the Spartans and built the wall anyway, this started Sparta and other Peloponnesian states from becoming negative towards Athens.

The Spartans ended up with their own conflict with the Helots and called on support from across Greece, many states sent troops including Athens who sent an army of 4,000. When the Athens troops arrived they were simply turned away by the Spartans while all other armies were welcomed with open arms. This made Athens less than happy with the Spartans.

Towards the start of the Peloponnesian War Athens started making more enemies as they put trade restrictions on Megarian citizens who were friends of Sparta. In response Sparta called for a Peloponnesian League to meet in 432 BC.

At this meeting the Corinthians said they were unhappy that Sparta has not acted against Athens and said Sparta risked losing all her allies unless she acted. In response to this Sparta voted to wage war against Athens.

Peloponnesian War

The first period of the war was called the Archidamian War and occurred between 431 and 421 BC. In this period of the war Sparta and her allies invaded the lands of Attica and took control thus trying to stop Athens from having all its lands for food production.

The Athenians were not too troubled by this as they simply used their sea superiority to make raids off the coast into Peloponnesian territories. It was seen that the Spartans would always control the lands while Athens the sea and thus a truce was formed as no winner could be seen, in 421 the Peace of Nicias was signed.

In 415 BC Athens took to the seas and started raiding the Peloponnesian states again bringing war back to Greece. During this same period the Athenians also sent a massive group of ships to Syracuse in Sicily in a move to try and gain lands, this move ended in utter failure with the whole force being wiped out.

Sparta saw its opportunity and gained the backing of Persia as they worked to build rebellions in Athenian satellite states, something that occupied the now crippled Athenian Empire for many years until 405 BC. In 405 BC Sparta and the Peloponnesian League got Naval support from Persia and pitched a battle at sea with Athens.

This battle became known as the Battle of Aegospotami and saw 180 ships led by Sparta face 170 Athenian ships. What happened in the battle must have sent shivers down the Athenian spines as the Athenian Navy was wiped out by the opposing force with 150 Athenian ships annihilated and around three thousand of their men executed. Sparta and her allies lost minimal men and ships in this war.

At the war’s end Sparta became the sole power of Greece while Athens was reduced to a crumbling ruin with no military force and no finance. The rest of Greece suffered economically through this war.





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