Macedonia, Kingdom of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Macedonia, Kingdom of


(Greek, Makedonia; Latin, Macedonia), a state that existed in the fifth to second centuries B.C. on the Balkan Peninsula.

There is no uniformly accepted opinion concerning the origin of the Macedonians, who settled the territory that came to be known as Macedonia. In present-day historiography, the Macedonian tribes are commonly considered to have been formed as the result of the mingling of the population of the early Neolithic lower Danubian culture with the Thracians, Illyrians, and Greek ethnic elements. The relative backwardness of Macedonia is explained by its remoteness from the principal centers of Greece and by its isolation from the seacoast, which was occupied by the Greeks. During the early period there were almost no cities in Macedonia that were centers of crafts and trade. Slavery was much less developed there than in the other Ancient Greek city-states (poleis) of central and southern Greece. The Macedonian tribes developed unevenly: the tribes of upper Macedonia had a clan and tribal system in the fourth century B.C., whereas in the more developed lower Macedonia an early class society had formed at the turn of the fifth century.

In the fifth century, under the kings of the Argead dynasty, gradual unification of Macedonia took place. During the reign of Alexander I (ruled 495-450), all of lower Macedonia was united. The military, monetary, and other reforms of King Archelaus (ruled c. 413-399) facilitated the unification of Macedonia, as well as its further economic and political development. Under his reign the capital of the state was transferred from Aegae to Pella, on the coast.

The formation of the Macedonian monarchy was completed during the reign of Philip II (ruled 359-336); it was he who subjugated Lyncestis, the last independent region of upper Macedonia. Philip II promulgated reforms in administration, finances, and military affairs, which led to a weakening of the clan aristocracy and centralization of the state. The strengthening of Macedonia’s economic and political position allowed it to begin to seize adjacent territories.

The profound socioeconomic crisis of the Greek city-states and the support of Philip by pro-Macedonian factions in the states facilitated the successes of Macedonia. From 359 through 338 Macedonia conquered Amphipolis, Paeonia, Thessaly, Phocis, Chalcidice, and Thrace. After his victory over the combined forces of the Greek city-states at the Battle of Chaeronaea in 338, Philip subjected all of Greece to the influence of Macedonia. In 338-337 in Corinth at a congress convoked by Philip, the Greek city-states acknowledged the hegemony of Macedonia over all of Greece. Oligarchic forms of administration relying on Macedonian military garrisons were established in the Greek city-states.

In several eastern campaigns Alexander the Great (ruled 336-323), the son of Philip II, in continuing the policy of conquest, destroyed the imperial power of Persia and formed an extremely large monarchy on the conquered lands. Immediately after Alexander’s death, the state, which had been created through conquest and which was devoid of inner coherence, disintegrated into several states. In Macedonia the Antigonid dynasty was established in 306 after a struggle for power.

Macedonia’s entrance into a period of Hellenism (late fourth to early third centuries B.C.) was marked by a crisis that was manifested above all in the shift of a considerable portion of the artisans and peasants to the east and in the ruin of the free producers. The power struggle among the Diadochoi and the invasion of the Galatians (in the 270’s) intensified the crisis. Greece remained under Macedonian domination, but the domination became increasingly difficult to maintain, particularly after the strengthening of the Aetolian League (established c. 320) and the resurgence of the Achaean League (c. 280), both of which began to struggle for the restoration of independence to the Greek city-states. In 229 the Macedonian garrison was withdrawn from Athens. By 228, Macedonia had lost its power over the city-states of the Peloponnesus, but in 221 (during the reign of the Macedonian king Antigonus III Doson), after the victory of the Macedonians over the Spartans at Sellasia, the territory of Laconia was made part of the Hellenic League under the hegemony of Macedonia. In 220 the Macedonian king Philip V (ruled 221-179), in attempting to restore the influence of Macedonia over all of Greece, began the Social War against the Aetolian League. However, in 217, in connection with preparations for war against Rome, he was compelled to conclude peace with the league at Naupactus on conditions of maintaining the status quo. The strengthening of Rome in Illyria (beginning in 229) led to a clash with Macedonia, which was striving to establish its own influence in Illyria and gain access to the Adriatic Sea. As a result of the three Macedonian wars (215-205, 200-197, and 171-168), Macedonia was defeated. In the battle at Pydna (June 168), the army of the Macedonian king Perseus (ruled 179-168) was smashed and Macedonia plundered, was economically and politically weakened, and divided into four districts. In 148, after the suppression on Macedonian territory of an anti-Roman uprising by Andriscus, Macedonia, together with southern Illyria and Epirus, was made a Roman province.


Ranovich, A. B. Ellinizm i ego istoricheskaia rol’. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Shofman, A. S. Istoriia antichnoi Makedonii, parts 1-2. Kazan, 1960-63.
Kalleris, J. N. Les anciens Macedoniens, etude linguistique et historique, vol. 1. Athens-Paris, 1954.
Papazoglu, F. Makedonski gradovi u Rimsko doba. Skopje, 1957.
Cloché, P. Un Fondateur d’empire: Philippe II, roi de Macedoine. Saint’ Etienne [1955].
Cloché, P. La Dislocation d’un empire, Paris, 1959.
Cloché, P. Histoire de la Macédoine jusqu’ïl’avènement d’Alexandre le Grand. Paris, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Full browser ?