The ancient Persians were a formidable empire; they owned lands that ran the length of Asia and into Northern Africa. The Persian Empire even encompassed Egypt at certain points through its reign.
It seems that Persia was an unstoppable force; this was until they met the Ancient Greeks who were the only civilisation that was able to stop the Persians and even take the fight to them. Today you are going to find out about some of the Ancient Persian Wars.
Ancient Persian wars
Battle of Pelusium
In 525 BC the Persian Empire and the Egyptian Empire first met on the battle field. The battle happened near Pelusium on the eastern Nile delta and comprised of two massive forces faces one another.
The full battle details are unknown but we do know that the Egyptians were led by a young Prince who had no experience of commanding in battle. This showed as the Persians caused complete carnage on the battlefield and literally decimated the Egyptian army.
The battle finished with 50,000 Egyptian dead to 7,000 Persian. The outcome of this battle was that Egypt became a part of the Persian Empire and the Persians took the title of Pharaoh for themselves.
Between 499 BC and 448 BC were the Greco-Persian Wars, these wars were set over two different time periods, one being of the Persian Emperor Darius the Great and the other being that of his son Xerxes I.
Darius decided he wanted to conquer Greece and thus took an army over to Marathon, the Greeks however were a better trained fighting force than the Persians had ever faced and with 10,000 Greeks facing 60,000 Persians the Greeks won the battle by killing over 6,000 Persians with 194 men lost.
Xerxes I had some unfinished business to do for his father and ten years after his father’s first attempt Xerxes tried the Persians second attempt at conquering Greece. This saw around 200,000 Persian soldiers march on Greece and arrive at Thermopylae where the Persians faced a small Greek force, this force shrunk to just 300 Spartans and their leader King Leonidas. The Persians lost many men to the small group but won the battle, Xerxes had already gone a step further than his father.
When Thermopylae was over the Persians got on their ships and sailed on south on their way to Athen, here they faced the Greek Navy of 378 ships, a lot smaller than the Persian 700 or so ships. The Greeks won the battle of the seas and the Persians stopped their invasion attempt.
The Greeks now held the power and went into Byzantium (present day Turkey) and started beating Persia on its own lands and taking some control.
Battle of Cunaxa
The Battle of Cunaxa was an internal struggle between Cyrus the Younger and his elder brother Arsaces to see who would be Emperor of Persia. Arsaces was already Emperor and Cyrus wished to take the throne.
The date was 401 BC when the two met on the battlefield. Cyrus the Younger had an army of over 10,000 Greek Hoplite mercenaries while his brother commanded an army in the hundreds of thousands.
When the battle started Cyrus took a courageous but tactically inferior decision to personally attack his brother’s bodyguards and was killed instantly by a flying javelin. This meant the war started and finished very quickly with minimal deaths on either side.
Alexander the Great
Between 334 and 333 BC Alexander the Great, carrying on the work of his father Philip of Macedon defeated Persian armies in three great battles, these battles were at Granicus in 334 BC, Issus in 333 BC and Gaugamela in 331 BC.
Darius III was Emperor of Persia at the time and he was killed by a relative called Artaxerxes V, also known as Bessus. Bessus made himself Emperor before Alexander captured him and had him convicted of crimes in court before torturing him and executing him.
Through these battles and the marauding invasion he created Alexander the Great toppled the Persian Empire and took control of the Persian lands for himself.