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What Factors Explain The Persian (Archaemenid) Empire's Survival For Two Hundred Years?

1920 words - 8 pages

By the 6th cent BC the early Persians were established in the present-day region of Fars and were benefiting from the decline of Elam. Fars (Persis to the Greeks) was a recognizable district of the Assyrian Empire like the neighboring but larger Media. The Persian rulers, claiming descent from one Achaemenes, were associated with the Medes, who created a strong state in the 7th century. Cyaxares, son of Phraortes, the founder of Median power, was one of the kings who brought about the fall of Nineveh (612 BC) and broke the control of the Assyrians. The Persian ruler of about the same time, Cambyses I, would marry the daughter of the Median ruler Astyages (Cyaxares' son), and his son Cyrus was thus also grandson of Cyaxares. This join with the Medes gave the Persians the strong standpoint they needed in the near Middle East up until early/mid 4th century in order for them to expand in the manner they did. However, a common factor in the premature fall of empires is that they have been often set up to quickly, this is the case with the Persian Empire as Cyrus the Great had conquered Media, Lydia, Ionia and Babylonia within around 11 years of his reign. If this is the case then there must have been reasons as to why the Persian Empire lasted so long.There are a number of factors that must be looked at when trying to ascertain why the Persian Empire lasted 200 years. My research has led me to the conclusion that there are three or four major reasons as to why the Persian Empire managed to last so long. Firstly, the role of Cyrus the Great and Darius the great must not be underestimated, both in their roles as rulers and as generals. Secondly, the role of the governors of satraps (provinces) and their arbitrary style of rule played a major part in the Empires survival. The fact that most of the rulers of the empire came from the same family also helped considerably, although there was a large amount of dynastic problems later in the Persian Empire. As did the lenient nature of the Persian rulers, all they were normally concerned with was whether or not the Persians received their tributes from other states. They normally allowed defeated rulers to live and would let peoples keep their native religions for example. As well as these major reasons there were also slightly less important factors contributing to the Persian Empires survival.The Persian Empire effectively started when Cyrus the Great inherited the throne off of Cambyses. It was he who united all Persians under his rule and who then began a process of expanding Persia's territory and increasing its sphere of influence across the territories of the near Middle East. By 550 b. c. Cyrus had conquered Media, Lydia by 547 b. c., Ionia in 546-540 b. c. and Babylonia by 539 b. c. This fast gain in territory may have caused the Persian Empire to have split there and then. It must be recognized that keeping a people with different customs and religions to that of ones own people happy is a very...

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