Battle of Plataea
July 3, 2022
The Battle of Plataea was the decisive land battle of the Second Persian War. It was fought in August 479 BC. near the city of Plataea, in Boeotia, between an alliance of Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara, and the Persian empire of Xerxes I. The previous year the Persian troops, led by the Great King himself, had collected victories, sometimes paid for dearly, in the battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium and had conquered Thessaly, Boeotia, Euboea and Attica. However, in the battle of Salamis, the Greek fleet had achieved a landslide victory over the Persians, preventing them from conquering the Peloponnese. Xerxes then withdrew with most of his army, leaving his general Mardonius to overwinter in Greece to finally defeat the Greeks the following year. In the summer of 479 BC the Greeks assembled a huge army of 100,000 men and marched out of the Peloponnese. The Persians, who could count on an army two to three times the Greek one, withdrew to Boeotia and built a fortified camp near the city of Plataea. The Greeks avoided fighting in the vast terrain around the Persian camp, favorable to the enemy cavalry, and a stalemate ensued that lasted eleven days. During an attempted retreat by the Greeks, since they had been denied access to supplies, the allied host broke up, making Mardonius think that his enemies were on the run. The Persians thus pursued the Greeks, but these, in particular the Spartans, the Tegeans and the Athenians, stopped and attacked battle, turning the enemy light troops to flight and killing Mardonius. Much of the Persian army was trapped in the camp and massacred. The destruction of this army and the remnants of the Persian fleet, presumably on the same day near Mycale, ended the war. After Plataea and Mycale, a new phase of the Persian wars would begin, the Greek revival. Although the victory of Plataea was brilliant, both in antiquity and today it is not attributed the same importance as the battles of Marathon and Thermopylae.