First Macedonian Civil War Military Conflict in Terra Occidentalis | World Anvil

First Macedonian Civil War

  The political turmoil arising from the assassination of Alexandros V would eventually lead to large scale conflict known as the first Macedonian Civil War. It would become a defining moment for the Macedonian Empire as the satraps each declared their allegiance to a different claimant to the throne. The war would end with the usurper taking the throne and the true heir ruling an independent India.   The account below is written by the Greek historian Antipatros


  To understand the reasons for the decline of Alexandros' legacy we need to look back to the rule of Alexandros V as the seeds were already sowed during his reign. After his father died during the Indian rebellions he was forced to continue the conflict even when a new front opened as the western Greek city states declared their independence. Having seen so much conflict arise from the lack of unity in the empire, Alexandros V decided to focus on stablising the realm. He granted religious rights to many beliefs in the realm and even adopted Buddhist beliefs, including the practice of non-violence.   These peaceful policies, however, did not sit well with everyone, especially the megas satrapes of Egypt, Ptolemaios III, who had lost a lot of his western territories during the city states independence war. He foolishly ignored Alexandros V's commands and decided to try to reclaim what was lost. As Alexandros himself did not participate in the war this ended in a loss for the Egyptian satrap who was then stripped of his title.   Although it was never confirmed, many of us believe that the assassination of Alexandros V was orchestrated by Ptolemaios III as he succeeded in regaining his title with the support of Perdikkas IV, the pretender to the throne. With the various satraps declaring their allegiance to either Perdikkas IV or the rightful heir Philippos IV, a civil war became unavoidable.  



Choosing Sides

  The entirety of the Egyptian territories had declared itself for the pretender but many more had also joined Perdikkas' cause. Many of the smaller satraps were discontent with the latest reforms that were bound to continue under the rightfull heir, Philippos IV. Especially in the Persian region, many satraps joined forces with Perdikkas in the hopes of keeping the Greek culture and religion as dominant. Others joined the pretender as they saw him as the more capable candidate to rule the empire.  
Macedonian Civil War

First conflicts

  Ptolemaios III had managed to convince the satrap of Babylon to join on Perdikkas side which allowed them to effectively force the megas satrapes of Persia to flee eastward. With their closest enemy stuck near Persepolis and India unable to effectively send reinforcements, the troops of Perdikkas were free to engage Macedonian territories in Asia Minor.   Philippos himself marched his armies over the Hellespontos into Asia, trying to push the usurper back. Not long after the opposing armies first clashed near Perge from which Perdikkas emerged victorious. This defeat forced the true heir to return to Macedonia to regain his strength. With his enemy out of the way Perdikkas defeated the opposing satraps in Asia Minor one by one.  


  As a response to the blight caused by his brother, Philippos sent out his fleet southwards where he managed to bring Krete and Kypros back into the fold. Afterwards he sailed directly to Egypt to strike at the heart of his enemy. Due to the siege on Alexandria, Perdikkas was tempted to march his armies back.   However, this victory for Philippos was not long lasting, as Perdikkas had secretly turned several city states in the Greek mainland. Philippos had choice but to return to ensure that no armies could march to the Macedonian capital.  


  The battles in mainland Greece quickly escalted as the city states not only started to pick sides, some even tried to regain their independence. From this group Sparta was by far the most influential and managed to win several other cities from the Peleponnesos for its cause.   During this period of turmoil Perdikkas also set foot in the region and attempted to get a foothold to march to the capital. This endeavour was successful until the armies met near Amphiopolis. Luckily for Philippos the march on the capital was stopped as he won the battle and forced the enemy's army back.  
by kefkejaco with Inkarnate

Rome's involvement

  To honour the alliance made with Alexandros V Rome entered the Macedonian civil war on the side of Philippos IV. At first they helped with the defence of Greece but after the situation improved they send their armies to northern Africa to take hold of territories belonging to the Egyptian satrap.   After almost reaching Alexandria Karchedon, Rome was forced to return to Italia as enemy troops were deployed in southern Italy.  


  After the first conflicts in Asia Minor and Greece the majority of the war would take place in Persia. India and Persia had managed to merge their armies and headed west to reclaim Babylon. Chaos ensued in the region as armies clashed with victories and defeats at both sides. The conflict in the region would go on for more than 5 years until the course of the war changed in one instant.  

Philippos Death

  During the battle near Opis one of the largest clashes between Philippos and Perdikkas occurred. Although at first it seemed that Philippos would claim victory, he was suddeny struck by an arrow. His allies tried to aid him but he was beyond help. With its leader gone the generals decided to retreat which led to many casulaties during the army's rout.   After Philippos dead his son Pausanias became the new true heir, but seeing his father's defeat in battle more satraps switched to Perdikkas side. The loss of many allies forced Pausanias to flee to India where he still had many supporters due to his conversion to Graeco-Buddhism.  

Independent India

  When Philippos died Rome looked for a way out of the war and made an agreement with Perdikkas. Rome was allowed to maintain some of its conquered territories. In return Rome agreed to an end of the hostilities and a non agression pact. This allowed Perdikkas to focus on trying to take India from Pausanias.   When he arrived in India and secured his position, Pausanias declared India independent from the larger Macedonian Empire and prepared a defence. The Egyptian satrap at the time, Ptolemaios IV, decided to let his armies remain in Egypt as he believed Perdikkas had not kept his promise to restore his lands. Because of this Perdikkas was forced to go to India with less troops.   When Perdikkas armies arrived they were unable to penetrate far past the Indos river. The last years of the war would take place around western India but would eventually end with Perdikkas retreating to Persia. After many years of fighting Perdikkas made peace and allowed India to gain its independence.


by kefkejaco with Inkarnate
  The first Macedonian civil war affected a large portion of the known world. It involved all of the megas satrapes of the empire but was mainly fought in Macedonia and Persia, although Egypt and India also played a very significant role in the war.   But the war also involved nations outside of the Empire. Alexandros V had formed an alliance with the Romans to ensure safety along the western borders. The Romans joined on the side of the rightful heir when the civil war broke out. With their participation the western Greek city states joined as well which made the war involve the entire Mediterranean Sea.  


by kefkejaco with Inkarnate
  When Alexandros III divided his empire into 4 main megas satrapes, Macedonia was considered to be the main region with Pella as its capital. Although the Macedonian region itself only consists of the northern regions of Greece, the megas satrapes included the whole of Greece, Asia Minor and Syria. The region itself was later greatly expanded by Alexandros IV who conquered the regions around the Pontus Euxinus as well.   During the civil war most territories stayed loyal to the true heir at the start with the exceptions of the regions near Syria. Later in the war many Greek city states joined the usurper's side as well.  


by kefkejaco with Inkarnate
  The megas satrapes of Persia included many regions such as Mesopotamia, part of the Arabian peninsula and the Persian homelands. In the farthest reaches of the megas satrapes one would find Bactriane and Sogdiane, of which the latter had been expanded during more recent conquests. Both of these far away regions decided to join the pretender's side as they hoped to gain more support for their future expansion plans.   The most damaging betrayal during the civil war was that of the satrap of the Babylon region as this effectively took a large number of troops away from the Persian megas satrapes.  


by kefkejaco with Inkarnate
  The Egyptian megas satrapes had not been expanded since the division by Alexandros III. It had even lost territories such asSardo , Kyrnos and the power over the western Greek city states such as Massalia.   During the war the Egyptian megas satrapes tried to regain a position of power by supporting to more war minded Perdikkas IV. However, in the end they ended up losing some additional territories.  


by kefkejaco with Inkarnate
  India had been a problematic region during a large part of both Alexandros IV and Alexandros V's rule. Eventually the region was pacified in part due to Alexandros V adopting some Indian customs and Buddhist belief in later life. His hope for a more hybrid Greek culture in the various megas satrapes is in part what let to the civil war. The problematic period, however, also cause the Indian megas satrapes to be expanded as both Kalinga and Gangaridai were defeated and taken into the fold.   During the civil war most of India joined the side of the true heir, Philippos with the expception of some southern regions such as Kalinga. The Indian army was able to defeat them but it did cause them to only join the war at a later time. After Philippos IV's death India would become independent under the rule of Pausanias II.


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Dec 28, 2023 21:55 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Great write up of all the moving piece. I sometimes get confused reading conflict articles, but I didn't reading yours. :D

Dec 28, 2023 22:13

Thanks! Glad that it was easy to follow :D

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