Extension of Macedonian Control over Greece by 338 BC

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Explain the extension of Macedonian control over Greece by 338BC In the year 360BC, Macedon was a small impoverished state amongst the larger more peaceful and prestigious city states of Greece. Indeed, leading states like Athens, Thrace, Illyria and Paeonia did not consider Macedon to be truly Greek and instead dismissed the Macedonians as a nation of sheep herding barbarians. The fact that Macedon was a poor, agricultural economy that was divided politically by tribal loyalties gave support to this perception. Moreover, Macedon had no significant military tradition like other Greek states and had not been considered a major threat to any of the established Greek cities. However in 22 years all this changed completely. By 338BC Macedon was the dominant power in Greece. It had been transformed economically to one of the most prosperous and wealthy states in Greece, and had evolved from a society dominated by tribal civilians and loyalties into a stable nation controlled and united under one political system. Finally Macedon by 338BC had become a feared and formidable military power that had defeated all its opponents and left the Greek states no option but to submit to its influence. The question for an historian of this period however, is very simple. How can this change over a mere 22 year period be explained? The answer is found in the Macedonian’s King Philip, who exploited Macedon’s opportunities and the weaknesses of his political opponents. When Philip II ascended to the throne in 359BC, Macedon was weak and underdeveloped politically, economically, militarily and socially. Alexander, Philip’s son, noted in his speech at Opis in 324BC that Philip found the Macedonians “vagabonds and destitute of means, most of you clad in hides, feeding a few sheep up the mountain sides, for the protection of which you had to fight with small success against Illyrians, Triballians, and the border Thracians.” Macedon lacked a decisive political leader, a major problem for a country constantly under threat from attack by neighbouring states such as Illyria and Paeonia. Philip’s leadership was also in danger as possible candidates to the throne also existed, Pausanias and Argaeus, supported by foreign political powers in Thrace and Athens. Furthermore the Macedonian army had been destroyed by the Illyrians and was in urgent need of reform. Economically, Macedonia was underdeveloped, impoverished and barbaric as compared to its neighbouring states. In addition, Macedonia was socially unstable, with its people reliant on agricultural work and lacking national cohesion. Philip understood that all these problems needed to be dealt with effectively if Macedonia was to survive and he quickly put his diplomatic skills into practice, introducing various reforms to strengthen his country. Philip first dealt with the political issues within his state. Using his diplomatic skills he gave gifts of money and gold to the Thracian King to persuade him to stop support for Pausanias. Philip then defeated Argaeus in battle, releasing the Athenian troops without ransom. Philip understood that the Athenian support for Argaeus was motivated by their desire to regain Amphipolis, and so Philip withdrew the Macedonian battalion from the area and declared it independent. Diodorus informs us that “Philip sent ambassadors to Athens and persuaded the Athenian people to make peace with him by giving up all claim to Amphipolis...as well as to make alliance and renew his fathers’ friendship with us” The Athenians were therefore removed as an immediate threat to Macedon and Philip’s reign secured. Philip subsequently proceeded to transform the structure of the economy by invading the mining areas of Krinides. After that he continued to channel the profits from the mines to fund his military reforms. This new focus on mining transformed the economy of Macedonia from a subsistent agricultural society, into a prosperous and more complex entity that rivalled the...
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