The site “100 great monarchs and rulers” presents in chronological order portraits of the most famous princes, kings, emperors, sultans, heads of state of various countries and eras.
Darius I (550-486 to
Darius I was a representative of the younger line of the Achaemenids, but he became the Persian king as a result of a conspiracy. When King Cambyses, the eldest son of Cyrus the Great, died, the Median magician Gaumata seized power in the country, posing as the youngest son of King Cyrus Bardiy. The conspirators – the seven most prominent Persians – decided to kill the impostor, and then agreed that the king of Persia will be the one whose horse will be the first to blast when they leave the gates of the palace.
Gauma was killed. Darius delivered a mortal blow to him. Now it was necessary to determine who will be king. And then Darius decided to cheat. He arranged with his groom to hide a mare outside the gates of the palace, in which the foal was recently born from Darius’s horse. As soon as the conspirators left the palace gates, like Darius’s horse, sensing the mare, rushed forward and sneered … The conspirators unanimously recognized Darius as king of Persia, but that no one could later challenge his right to the royal throne, Darius married the daughter of Cyrus the Great Athosa.
Darius I inherited a huge empire from Egypt to India. But conquered by Cyrus the Great, it began to fall apart. Conquered peoples did not want to remain under the rule of the Persians, uprisings broke out in one place or another. Darius had to gather troops and go hiking. He moved to Babylon, realizing that if he could suppress the rebellion there, then other nations would calm down …
Darius was able to conquer Babylon. Then he went to Media and brought order to it. This was followed by the invasion of Phenicia, Egypt, in a number of Greek cities. After that he went to India. The Persian state gained dimensions that were under Cyrus the Great.
Palace of Darius I in Persepolis
To manage such a huge territory was very difficult. The messengers who rode with important messages to the distant ends of the state, were on the way sometimes up to six months. Then Darius divided the state into satrapies, at the head of which he put his deputies – satraps. From the main cities of the satrapies, he ordered the roads to be laid and, at short intervals, to set up posts where horses could be changed. Now travel time has been reduced to a few weeks.
In 517 BC, Darius approached the borders of India. He did not meet much resistance. From the captured lands he formed the satrapy of India. It was the farthest eastern province of the Persians. Darius did not move further east and returned to his lands. He was called the king of kings, as he conquered all the kingdoms adjacent to him.
Death of Darius 1. Artist J.-B. Piazetta. 1746
Now Darius decided to conquer the countries located along the lower reaches of the Danube. In 512 BC, he transferred troops to the eastern bank of the river by a wooden bridge and found himself in the possession of the Scythians. But these nomadic tribes were not going to fight the Persians’ well-armed army. They hijacked their cattle in the distant steppes, burned everything behind them and filled the wells with water. The army of Darius suffered from thirst and hunger. Warriors began to show discontent. The pursuit of the Scythians led to tangible losses, and Darius turned the troops back.
Once again in his native lands, the king of the Persians did not think about peace. He began to prepare his army for a new campaign. This time against the Greeks based on the Balkan Peninsula. Darius ordered to build ships that could smuggle many thousands of troops across the sea. Ships were built, and in 490 BC, troops landed on the coast near the village of Marathon. There they were met by a well-organized, albeit small, Athenian army led by the commander Miltiades.
Tomb of Darius I in the rocks of Naksh-Rustam
The Greeks fought desperately for their homeland and despite the tenfold superiority of the Persians
Darius suffered a crushing defeat for the first time. Frustrated, he returned to his homeland. He wanted to punish the Greeks, to restore his name to the invincible commander, but failed to implement it. Soon he died from some kind of illness. With great honors, he was buried in a rock tomb not far from Persepolis. The throne of the Persian king was inherited by his son Xerxes, but the state began to fall apart again.