in stark contrast to the age of the Greek city-states, was
a regional Greek (Macedonian ethnicity, not necesarily Greek) kingdom. It was located north-east of the Greek mainland
and northwest of Asia Minor. Macedonians were the Greeks who
had to contend with all of the many war-like European tribes.
They served as a buffer for the people who dominated the history
of the ancient Greek world, like the Athenians and Spartans,
and stood between the tribal Europeans
and the Greek city-states. While it left them, to some degree,
independent of the politics and wars between those two rivals;
the Macedonians were deeply unappreciated by their neighboring
Greeks. They were looked on as no better than barbarians themselves,
particularly since they had never developed or adopted the
concept of the city-state, or polis, and were firmly entrenched
as a kingdom.
The Kingdom was
established with Aigai as the capital, some time during the
7th Century BC upon the occupation of the central Macedonian
plain. The king came to power through inheritance, but first
had to be approved by the army. Serving the king was an aristocracy
of nobles who had a limited amount of power. Like all monarchies that shared power with an aristocracy, however, the balance of power frequently shifted from the king to the nobles and back again.
The political turmoil
in mainland Greece to the south, between Athens and Sparta,
gave rise to King Philip II. Having come to power in 359 BC,
he immediately pacified their northern neighbors, capture
the important gold and silver mines of Amphipolis, and began
building cities and a large standing army. By 338 BC he had
conquered the southern mainland, save Sparta, and was essentially
King of all Greece. In 336 BC, plans to conquer the Persian
Empire came to an abrupt end by the sword of an assassin.
of Greece, could have very well collapsed, it not for the
succession of Philips' son, Alexander the Great. At
the age of 21, he assumed his fathers kingdom, confirmed his
own authority, and by 334 BC, continued the plans to conquer
Persia. Asia Minor fell quickly, and with a defeat of the
Persian King Darius, in 333 BC the conquest of the Phoenician
coasts, Palestine and Egypt were secured. In 331 BC, Alexander
again defeated Darius and the whole of the Persian Empire
fell under Macedonian control. At its peak Alexander's
Empire stretched from Greece in the west, to Egypt in the
south and all the way into Mesopotamia, Scythia and India
in the east. Before able to establish an heir and an effective
consolidation of these conquests, he fell into a fever and
died in 323 BC, at the age of 33.
With the death
of Alexander, the newly won Macedonian Empire crumbled quickly.
The east was Hellenized and its lasting effect can still be
seen in the modern world, but Macedonian Kings would be limited
to the control of their own Greek province thereafter.
A growing power
in the west, Rome, would soon become involved in the affairs
of Greece and Macedonia. The First Macedonian-Roman war occurred
between 214 BC and 205 BC. This coincided with the Second
Punic War, when Hannibal of Carthage and Philip V of Macedon
made an alliance against Rome. Rome, weary of war with Carthage,
ended the Macedonian conflict with favorable terms to Macedon,
but Roman interests secured in Illyrium, to the north.
The Second Macedonian-Roman
War began in 200 BC and ended in 196 BC. This war, erupting
so soon after the after the first, and the exhausting Carthaginian
war, was unpopular with Rome, but the Roman Legions, under
Flaminius were veterans and prepared. The Greeks asked for
Roman help against Macedonian incursions and Rome made an
alliance against them. They launched an attack on the armies
of King Philip who refused to guarantee to make no hostile
moves against the states of Greece, and Philip V was defeated.
He lost all his territories outside of Macedonia and had to
recognize the independence and autonomy or the southern Greek
The third and most decisive Macedonian-Roman war began in
171 BC and ended in 168 BC. The Romans were suspicious of
the revival of Macedonian fortunes under Philip and his successor,
Perseus. In 172 the Romans declared war on Perseus and defeated
him at Pydna (168). The Antigonid dynasty was overthrown,
and Macedonia was divided into 4 separate republics under
loose Roman jurisdiction.
The Fourth Macedonian
War or revolt occurred between 149 and 148 BC. The Macedonians
wanted a restoration of their kingdom and supported a man
who pretended to be the son of the last king. The rebels overran
Macedon in 150, attacked southern Greece in 149, but were
finally crushed by the Romans in 148 under the praetor Metellus Macedonicus. The Romans razed the Greek city of Corinth, one
of the leading cities of the revolt and put an end to Greek
resistance under Roman rule. It was this point, in 146 BC,
that Macedonia became an official province with mainland Greece
to follow shortly thereafter.
In the civil wars
of the late Roman Republic, Macedonian rule was thrown into
doubt again. While still under the control of Romans, the
Greek world would continue to fall back and forth under Pompey
and then Caesar, and later under Antonius and Cleopatra. At
the battle of Actium in 31 BC, off the shores of Epirus, Ocatavian,
later Augustus, would ensure Roman dominance of the Greek
world under a single Roman leader. During the Imperial period Macedonia was easily incorporated and it remained a bastion of Roman/Hellenized culture as a part of the Byzantine empire until the 11th century AD.
The reign of Augustus
began a long period of peace, prosperity and wealth for Macedonia,
although its importance in the economic standing of the Roman
world diminished when compared to its neighbor, Asia Minor.
The economy was
greatly stimulated by the construction of the Via Egnatia,
the installation of Roman merchants in the cities, and the
founding of Roman colonies. The Imperial government brought,
along with its roads and administrative system, an economic
boom, which benefited both the Roman ruling class and the
lower classes. With vast arable and rich pastures, the great
ruling families amassed huge fortunes in the society based
on slave labor.
of the living conditions of the productive classes brought
about an increase in the number artisans and craftspeople
to the region. Stone-masons, miners, blacksmiths, etc. were
employed in every kind of commercial activity and craft. Greek
people were also widely employed as tutors, educators and
doctors throughout the Roman world.
The export economy
was based essentially on agriculture and livestock, while
iron, copper, and gold along with such products as timber,
resin, pitch, hemp, flax and fish were also exported. Another
source of wealth was the country's ports, such as Dion, Pella,
Thessalonika, Kassandreia, and Neapolis.
and historic evidence show that the first Hellenic-speaking
tribes settled in the area of Northern Pindos in 2200-2100
BC. During the following centuries, various groups of these
tribes, the Ionians, Achaians, and Minyes etc. moved to the
south, while some of the Macedni tribe moved to Sterea Hellas
and Peloponnesus and others settled in today's West, South
and Central Macedonia. These tribes spoke the Hellenic language,
with a local dialect.
There were three
basic groups of Greek-speaking peoples in Macedonia:
The Ionians in the NW part of Thessaly, the Arcadians and
Aeolian in eastern Macedonia and the Macedni in the west from
which the region takes its name. The Dorians were a split
group from the Macedni and moved south into macedonia (mainland
Greece) and east into Asia Minor. By the late 2nd century
AD, all of these tribes would've been considered Greek
to Rome, and little to no distinction would've been
made in tribal status.
There were also
several large colonies of Jewish settlers and a great many
Romans scattered throughout the region. These Roman settlers
were eventually Hellenized and absorbed into Greek culture
with the transfer of Roman power to Byzantium in the 4th Century
There has been
a great deal of debate on whether or not the Macedonian people
were actually Greek, as opposed to just hellenized northern
neighbors of varying European tribal descent. Certainly,
there were influences of other tribes, based on their proximity
that the Achean people didn't have, but this doesn't
fully support the argument that they were completely separate
people. They may have been related through the Dorians or they may be other influences and origins from migrating tribes. The Macedonians howevver, were certainly completely Hellenized by the time of Alexander, but the debate of ethnicity will rage on.