Thursday, October 15, 2009

C) The forming of the Persian Empire

The lands of what became later on known as Persia were at that time ruled by several local kings. Most of them were vassals to bigger neighboring powers. The Medes were subjected to the Assyrians, Elam to Babylonia, etc. Naturally so, these vassals tried to shake off their yokes, and occasionally succeeded.

The Medes, fierce fighters, were the first to gain independence from dominating Assur and, being in alliance with Babylonia, could eventually conquer Niniveh (625 B.C.E.). Media, under its kings Cyaxares and Astyages, achieved supremacy over Minor Asia and Iran, including the provinces of Persia, Anshan, and Elam, where local kinglets became vassals. It became a danger to Babylonia, then the mightiest power1.

Cyrus, king of Persia, took advantage of the situation. He could count on Babylonia's King Nabunaid's suspicion of Media on the one hand, and on the mood of the Median nobility and army on the other hand. Astyages' extreme cruelty must have been too much even for them. Both army detachments which he sent against rebelling Cyrus, mutineered and went over to the latter, delivering even their king into his hands2. The Babylonians, although in alliance with Media, felt apparently relieved by seeing it crumbling, and looked on.

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