Persian Wars

The Persian Wars were also called the Greco-Persian Wars. The wars took place between the Persians and Greeks during 492-449 BC.

At the time of the wars being fought, the Persians were one of the most powerful in the world owning land from Egypt to India.

The Greek warriors came from different city-states in Greece and often fought between themselves.


In the Persian Wars, they joined up to go to war against the Persians. The wars lasted almost half a century.

How the Persian Wars Began

A group of ancient Greek people lived on the coast of Turkey; they were called “Ionians”.

The Persians took over their land and the Ionians asked the people of the cities in Greece to help.

The people of the Greek cities agreed and sent ships to help the Ionians.

The Persians won the fight, which took place 500-494 BC and this was the start of the Persian Wars.

The Persians then decided to take over the rest of the cities of Greece.

The Persians Landed at the Bay of Marathon in Greece

In 490 BC, the King of Persia, Darius I set out to invade Greece for the first time with around 25,000 men.

This was a lot more men than Greece had in their army. The ships landed in the Bay of Marathon in Greece.

Even though there were many more men in the Persian army than in the Greek, the Persians failed to take into account how good the Greeks were at fighting wars.

During the battle, around 6,000 men from the Persian army were killed and only 192 Greek soldiers.

The Greek army ran back to Athens to stop the Persian army from entering the city to take it over.

The Battle of Thermopylae

The second battle of the Persian Wars was the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC.

Spartan King Leonidas I led the battle taking 10,000 men with him.

The warriors met the Persians in the Thermopylae Mountains in a narrow pass.

Around 250,000 soldiers were in the Persian army.

The Greek army killed thousands of Persian soldiers.

The Persians then found a way to get around the mountain and crept up behind the Greek army.

King Leonidas told most of the army to run away, but left 300 Spartan warriors behind. They fought to the death killing many more Persians.


The Battle of Salamis

The fighting continued during the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC.

After the defeat of the Spartans at the Thermopylae Mountains, the Persian army marched on to Greece.

The Greek army waited for them on the sea close to the island of Salamis.

Once again, the Greek army was smaller than the Persian army was.

The Greek warriors had one thing on their side that the Persians didn’t, the “Triremes”.

These warships could move fast and had battering rams on the front of the ship.

The Persian army thought they were sure to win the battle, as there were more of them than in the Greek army.

They attacked the Greek ships but the Triremes were able to ram into the side of the Persian ships to sink them.

The Greeks won the battle and the Persians went home to Persia.

Battles at Plataea and Mycale Ended the Persian Wars

The Persian Wars ended with battles at Plataea and Mycale in 479 BC.

The Persians and Greeks fought on both land at Plataea and sea at Mycale.

The biggest battle was at Plataea between 100,000 Persian soldiers and 40,000 Greek warriors.

The war between Greece and Persia ended but for another 30 years, smaller fights took place between the two countries.

The Delian League was set up in Athens at this time. The aim was to free all the Ionian city-states along the coast.

Finally, in 449 BC the fighting between Persia and Greece ended.

Facts about Persian Wars

  • The battle of Thermopylae was made into a movie called “300”
  • The King of Persia had people carry his throne made from gold into battle so he could sit on it and watch Persia beat the Greeks. Of course, this did not occur.
  • In all battles during the Persian Wars, the Persian army had many more soldiers than the Greek army did but the Greeks still won.
  • The Persian wars ended with the signing of the “Peace of Callias” agreement in 449 BC.
  • The Greeks built the Trireme ships after the first battle in the Bay of Marathon.
  • When the Greek army won the battle in the Bay of Marathon they ran back to Athens to stop the Persian army entering the city. This is how the “Marathons” of today got their name.
  • In 480 BC, the Persian Empire ruled around half of the world with a population of about 50 million people out of the 112 million on the planet.
  • King Darius I of Persia swore revenge on Athens and had his servant remind him once a day before dinner that he had sworn revenge.

Questions and Answers

Question 1 – What started the Persian Wars?

Answer – The Persians attacked the Ionians taking over their land

Question 2 – How long did the Persian Wars last?

Answer – Almost half a century

Question 3 – Where did the first of the Persian Wars take place?

Answer – The Bay of Marathon

Question 4 – Which side had most men in their army, the Persians or the Greeks?

Answer – the Persians

Question 5 – What are the names of the battles that ended the Persian Wars?

Answer – Plataea and Mycale

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