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Theban War

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Title: Theban War  
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Subject: Spartan army
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Theban War

The Boeotian or Theban War broke out in 378 BCE as the result of a revolt in Thebes against Sparta. The war would last six years.[1]

Outbreak of the War

In 378 BCE a revolt in Thebes led to the assassination of the ruling 3 man junta and the expulsion of the Spartan garrison.[2] An expedition against Thebes was mounted led by Kleombrotus achieved little but left a garrison in Thespiae under Sphodrias.[3] That winter Sphodrias attempted a raid on Piraeus which ended in fiasco.[4] Sphodrias had not acted under orders and was brought to trial. However, he was acquitted which led Athens to declare for Thebes[5]

The War

Two expeditions against Thebes led by King Agesilaus achieved little.[6] Mark Munn argues that it is likely that the Dema wall was built at this time to defend Attica.[7] An expedition in 376 BCE led by King Cleombrotus was blocked at the passes of Kithairon.[8] Sparta then sent a fleet in and attempted to blockade Athens.[9] The result was the defeat of the Spartan fleet at the Battle of Naxos at the hands of a predominately Athenian fleet commanded by Chabrias in 376 BCE.[10] In 375 BCE Athens mounted 2 successful expeditions - one to the north Aegean under Chabrias and a second round the Peloponnese to North West Greece under Timotheos son of Konon who won the battle of Alyzeia in Akania.[11]

In 375 BCE there was a renewal of the Kings peace but this lasted no longer than a few months.[12] The capture of Platea put the Theban-Athenian under strain.[13] The Plateans were expelled by the Thebans and found asylum in Athens where they were a strong voice against Thebes.[14] Though the alliance held, Athens insisted on negotiations with Sparta.[15] A peace treaty was agreed but things went seriously awry at the signing - Epaminondas insisted that he should sign for the Boeotians as a whole rather than just Thebes, at which the Spartan king Agesilaus struck the name of Thebes off the list of signatories.[16]

After the Peace

Most of Greece implemented the treaty which meant that Thebes faced the Spartan expedition against her alone. However the resulting battle at Leuktra would be a decisive Spartan defeat.[17]


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