Thessaly and the Sacred War (356–352 BC)
I pulled most of this from Wikipedia, so lets take it with a grain of salt. I post as I am a bit confused about who fought with whom. The situation is decidedly unclear and my scenario for this (non GMT) also seems buggered. So this is all we get…. No battle report for Thessaly. On to the next segment of the campaign, where we will conduct the Battle of Crocus Plain or Field.
The Third Sacred War (often just called ‘the’ Sacred War) broke out in 356 BC, and would present Philip with his first real opportunity to expand his influence into the affairs of central and southern Greece. The war was ostensibly caused by the refusal of the Phocian Confederation to pay a fine imposed on them in 357 BC by the Amphictyonic League, a pan-Greek religious organisation which governed the most sacred site in Ancient Greece, the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Behind the religious facade, there probably lay a display of realpolitik in bringing charges against the Phocians, instigated by the Thebans. At this time, Thebes controlled a majority of the votes in the council, and at the autumn meeting in 357 BC, the Thebans were able to have both the Phocians (for the cultivation of the sacred land) and the Spartans (for occupying Thebes some 25 years previously) denounced and fined. Since the fines for both parties were “unjustifiably harsh”, the Thebans probably expected neither party to pay, and thus to be able to declare a “sacred war” on either.
The ruins of ancient Delphi
In response, the Phocians, under the leadership of Philomelos, seized Delphi (which was situated within the boundaries of Phocis), and asserted the ancient claim of Phocis to the presidency of the Amphictyonic League, intending to annul the judgment against themselves. There seems to have been some sympathy in Greece for the Phocians, since other states could see that “the Thebans…had used the Amphictyony to pursue petty and destructive vendettas”. The Phocians were supported by Athens (perennial enemies of Thebes) and unsurprisingly Sparta, who hoped to see their own fine wiped out when the Phocians seized Delphi. However, Philomelos plundered the treasury of Apollo to pay for mercenaries, thus raising a powerful army, but drastically altering the opinion of the other Greek states. In winter 356/355 BC, a “sacred war” was declared against the Phocians by the Amphictyonic council, with the Thebans being the major protagonists. The war started relatively well for the Phocians, but a severe defeat was inflicted on the Phocians at Neon by the Thebans in either 355 or 354 BC, and Philomelos was killed. Undeterred, Onomarchos took over the Phocian effort, and raised new mercenaries to carry on the fight.
The ancient sources for the sacred war are scant, and generally lacking in firm chronological information. The most we know that is concrete is that it is generally accepted that the war lasted 10 years, and ended in summer 346 BC .
Continue reading “Thessaly 353 B.C., Phillip & the Third Sacred War”