Alexander The Great Crushed An Invading Army When He Was Only 16 Years Old

(Alexander the Great receiving news, painting by Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne, 1672, [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)


In the year 340 BCE, King Philip II of Macedonia was off campaigning in Byzantium to further his agenda of becoming the undisputed ruler of the Ancient Greeks. As Philip was challenging his other regional rivals, he left his sixteen-year-old son, Alexander, in charge of the home guard and the general management of the kingdom.

With the king away from his kingdom, and an untested youth commanding the garrison left in Macedonia, a Thracian mountain tribe known as the Maedi decided it was the opportune time to do some raiding. The invading warriors gathered in the Strymon valley and threatened the city of Amphipolis. The Maedi, however, underestimated the young prince of Macedonia. Showing no sign of incompetence or indecision, the teenage Alexander calmly mustered his troops and set out to crush the invading force.

Alexander curtailed the invasion and pursued the warriors into the homeland of the Maedi. Very little was recorded about what battles may have occurred between Alexander and the Maedi forces, but the aftermath of the incident was much better documented.

After the sixteen-year-old Alexander had invaded the territory of the Maedi, he occupied the main settlement of the Maedi people and colonized it with a more loyal population, including former soldiers. With the people and the attitude of the settlement drastically changed, Alexander renamed the community in his own likeness—Alexandropolis. Two years later, the young royal would add to his growing résumé of military victories by participating in his first major battle, alongside his father, against Athens and Thebes in the 338 BCE battle at Chaeronea.

Written by C. Keith Hansley


  • The Age of Alexander: Ten Greek Lives by Plutarch, translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert and Timothy E. Duff. London: Penguin Classics, 1973, 2011.
  • The Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian, translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt. New York: Penguin Classics, 1971.
  • The History of Alexander by Curtius Rufus, translated by John Yardley. New York: Penguin Classics, 1984, 2001, 2004.
  • Alexander The Great: The Story of an Ancient Life by Thomas R. Martin and Christopher W. Blackwell. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
  • Alexander The Great by Philip Freeman. New York: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 2011.

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