Battle of Plataea Facts
The great Greek naval victory over the Persians at the
Battle of Salamis
in 480 BC was a major setback to the Persians in their second invasion of Greece during the
Greco-Persian Wars. However the Persian King Xerxes was not ready to call off his invasion; he was determined to crush the Greek city-states with his massive army and
bring Greece under his control. In 479 BC the Persians and Greeks would face off at the Battle of Plataea which would determine the fate of the ancient Greek people.
Below we list interesting information about this crucial battle; you will find facts such as where the battle was fought and who won.
Basic Battle of Plataea Facts
- An alliance of Greek city-states would defeat the invading forces of the Persian Empire in what would end up being the last land battle of the second Persian
of Greece (Greco-Persian Wars).
- The alliance of Greek city-states that fought this battle against the Persian Empire included Athens, Sparta, Megara, and Corinth.
- The combined Greek forces were commanded by the Spartan Pausanias whereas the Athenian forces were commanded by Aristides. It is believed the other city-states
had separate commanders. The level of cooperation among the leaders is uncertain but is believed that the armies did not act as a single unit and did not obey all of
- The battle took place near the city of Plataea which is northwest of Athens in an area of ancient Greece called Boeotia.
- The number of soldiers on each side is uncertain. There is no doubt that the Greeks were vastly outnumbered. Some estimates put the Persian force at over 300,000
Battle of Plataea Description
The Persians fled back to their camp. The Greek armies pursued them. After an attempt to defend the camp the Greek soldiers breached its walls and slaughtered
thousands of the Persians leaving very few alive; thus ending the Battle of Plataea.
- After the Greek naval victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC the Persian King Xerxes I left Greece and returned home with much of his
force. He left general Mardonius in Greece to complete the Persian invasion and conquer the Greek city-states.
- The Persians, under the command of Mardonius, were hesitant to attack the alliance of Greek city-states. Mardonius tried to break up the Greek alliance by offering
city-state of Athens peace, and stating that the Persians would, after conquering Greece, allow them to continue their self-government.
- The Athenians refused the peace offer by the Persians; soon after the Persians completely destroyed the city of Athens which had been evacuated.
- A military force comprised of soldiers from numerous Greek city-states set out to confront the Persian army.
- Upon hearing of the Greek advance the Persians retreated to an area near the city of Plataea where they built a fortified encampment. General Mardonius chose this
location due to its wide open plains, which would make a great battlefield for his superior cavalry. Here he hoped to lure the Greeks into battle.
- The Greek warriors took up positions around the Persian encampment but did not attack as the Persians had hoped they would.
- After the unsuccessful attempt at luring the Greeks into battle the Persians used their cavalry to cut off the Greek supply lines.
- The Greeks, with supplies running low, decided to withdraw from Plataea.
- Mardonius looked upon the Greek withdrawal as a confused retreat and saw it as an opportunity to attack.
- The Greek forces repelled the Persian attack; during the fighting the Persian General Mardonius was killed.
- The main reasons it is believed that the Greeks were able to defeat the Persians even though greatly outnumbered are listed below:
- The short spears of the Persians were not able to effectively penetrate the tight knit formation of the Greeks known as the phalanx.
- Their long wicker shields were not able to protect the Persian soldiers from the long spears of the Greeks. The Greeks used bronze shields which made for
- The Persians wore armor made of quilted linen whereas the Greek soldiers wore superior armor made of bronze.
- Having their commander Mardonius killed during the fighting caused many of the Persians to retreat.