On This Day in History: Alexander the Great Defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of the Granicus on May 22, 334 B.C.

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On May 22, 334 B.C., the Macedonian army led by Alexander the Great decisively defeated the Persian army commanded by Darius III in the Battle of the Granicus. This pivotal battle marked the beginning of Alexander's historic campaign to conquer the vast Persian Empire and establish one of the largest empires in the ancient world.

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On This Day in History: Alexander the Great Defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of the Granicus on May 22, 334 B.C. 1

Prelude to the Battle:

Following the assassination of his father, King Philip II of Macedon, in 336 B.C., Alexander ascended to the throne at the age of 20. Determined to secure his kingdom and fulfill his father's ambitions, he embarked on a campaign to subdue the rebellious regions and launch an invasion of the Persian Empire.

In the spring of 334 B.C., Alexander led an army of approximately 35,000 soldiers across the Hellespont into Asia Minor. The Persian Empire, which controlled a vast territory stretching from the Indus River in the east to Egypt in the west, was caught off guard by Alexander's bold incursion.

The Battle:

As Alexander's army approached the Granicus River, they encountered a Persian force of roughly 20,000 soldiers under the command of satraps (governors) Pharnabazus, Atizyes, Mithridates, and Memnon of Rhodes. The Persians had deployed their cavalry on the riverbank, while their infantry formed a reserve behind.

Alexander divided his army into several formations. He placed his elite Companion Cavalry, led by Cleitus the Black, on the right flank. The left flank consisted of other cavalry units, while the phalanx, a disciplined formation of tightly packed infantry, formed the center.

The battle commenced with the Macedonian cavalry charging into the Persian cavalry. A fierce melee ensued, and Alexander himself faced danger when Rhoisakes, a Persian nobleman, struck him with an axe. The blow stunned him, but his companions intervened to save him.

Meanwhile, the Macedonian phalanx crossed the river and engaged the Persian infantry. The Persian cavalry, seeing their infantry collapsing, turned to flee. Alexander ordered a pursuit, and the Persian casualties mounted rapidly.

Outcome and Consequences:

The Battle of the Granicus was a decisive victory for Alexander. The Persian army suffered heavy losses, with an estimated 1,000 cavalry and 3,000 infantry killed. The Greeks lost around 300 soldiers. Alexander's boldness and tactical prowess had prevailed over the numerically superior Persian force.

The victory at Granicus opened the way for Alexander's further conquests. He went on to conquer vast territories and establish an empire that extended from Greece to India. His military genius, combined with the skilled armies of Macedonia, forever changed the course of ancient history.

In recognition of his triumph at Granicus, Alexander ordered a monument to be built on the battlefield, depicting him leading the Macedonian army into battle. The battle remains a testament to his strategic abilities and the unmatched military might of the ancient Greeks.

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