Greek Warfare: From the Battle of Marathon to the Conquests of Alexander the Great

By Lee L. Brice | Go to book overview

L

Leuctra, Battle of

In the summer of 371 BCE the Battle of Leuctra was fought between Thebes and its allies against Sparta and its allies. Sparta lost on the field of battle to superior Theban generalship. The result was the end of Spartan hegemony and the emergence of the Theban hegemony. Indeed, it was the end of Sparta as a major power in Greece.

The Spartan king, Agesilaus II, oversaw an effort in 371 to renew the Common Peace that had started in 387 as the King’s Peace. During the meeting to formalize the agreement he forcibly excluded Thebes since the Theban leaders wished to swear the oath for all of Boeotia, in contravention of the Common Peace. Then the Spartan king Cleombrotus invaded Boeotian territory with orders to chastise Thebes for not respecting the terms of the Common Peace. After some maneuvering and countermaneuvering the armies of Thebes and Sparta met on the flat plain of Leuctra, a site chosen by the Spartans for its suitability in hoplite warfare.

The Spartan force of around 10,000 hoplites included 1,600 Lacedaimonians of whom only 700 were Spartan citizens. The rest of the army was made up of men from the Peloponnesian League members and mercenaries. There were also around 1,000 cavalry according to Plutarch. Cleombrotus faced serious repercussions (trial) in Sparta if he failed to fight, and Xenophon accused him and the other officers of drinking wine before the battle. When Cleombrotus prepared for the battle he put his Spartans in the place of honor on the right side of the battle line, eight ranks deep. The rest of the force was arrayed outward to his left. He arrayed his cavalry in an unusual position, in front of his lines.

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Greek Warfare: From the Battle of Marathon to the Conquests of Alexander the Great
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xiii
  • A 1
  • B 23
  • C 27
  • D 43
  • E 53
  • G 57
  • H 77
  • I 83
  • J 89
  • K 91
  • L 93
  • M 99
  • N 115
  • P 117
  • S 155
  • T 173
  • W 189
  • X 207
  • Documents 211
  • Chronology 269
  • Glossary 287
  • Bibliography 291
  • Editor and Contributors 299
  • Categorical Index 301
  • Index 305
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