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(War and Macedon)

“The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy,
to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced
to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears,
and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”

                                                             - Genghis Khan


Scholars have denied that this king was an Illyrian (see Hammond, The Kingdoms in Illyria). However, there is no reason not to assume that he was Illyrian. Both the historical evidence (e.g. Plutarch, Moralia) and the contextual evidence support that he was (see Mortensen, Career of Bardylis). To which tribe he belonged to is not known but the center of his rule must of been in the vicinity of Lake Ohrid thus close to his allies (see Aristotle, Politics), the Lyncestes (Illyrians?). In any event, Sirras was the son-in-law of the Lyncestian king, Arrabaeus. They fought against Macedonian incursions from the late 5th to the early 4th century BC. A truce finally emerged in 392 when the new Macedonian King, Amyntas III capitulated to peace and married Sirras' daughter, Eurydike.


A former charcoal burner, Bardylis' success came as a skillful raider. He used the spoils of his maraudering to usurp the throne by dividing the booty gain. Which tribe's power Bardylis usurped is not known (Sirras'?). Some scholars believed him to be a Dardanian (see Hammond, Kingdoms in Illyria) or Dassaretan (see Mortensen, op. cit.), nonetheless, his kingdom must have bordered Macedon and Epirus as he was a menace to both. In 360 BC, Bardylis failed to invade the Molossian kingdom as he had done time and again before (see Frontius). This led to a battle against the Macedonian king, Perdiccas III in 359 who probably assumed that Bardylis had lost some muscle. In the aftermath, Perdiccas and 4,000 Macedonian soldiers were slained (see Diodorus). Eventually, the new king of Macedon, Philip II avenged his brother's death and defeated Bardylis and the Illyrians a year later. Bardylis was pressed back and agreed to peace.


Grabus, along with the kings of Paeonia and Thrace, formed a coalition at the behest of the Athenians to overthrow Philip II whom the Athenians feared. Yet, Philip and his generals was able to act on this coaliton before they had a chance to converged and defeated them in 356 BC (see Diodorus). Although Grabus was a member of the royal house of the Grabaei tribe, this tribe may have been incorporated into the Taulanti realm in which Grabus became king (Hammond, the Macedonian State).


During Philip's advances into Illyria, he and one hundred and fifty of his elite corps were wounded in their pursuit of Pleuratus in 344 BC (see Didymus and Polyaenus). Philip's injuries forced him to come to a peace agreement with this Illyrian king. 'Pleuratus' is  a well known dynastic name from the royal house of the Ardiaei (see below).


This Illyrian king nearly succeeded in killing Philip in 337 BC for his incursions if not for a bodyguard stepping in front of the Macedonian king and receiving Pleurias' sword (see Diodorus). Philip's aim may have been against the Autariatae (Hamond, Kingdoms in Illyria).


After Philip's death, Cleitus (son of Bardylis) took to revolt against Philip's son, Alexander, who assumed the Macedonian throne (see Arrian). In 335, Cleitus seized the opportunity to capture the Macedonian city of Pelium while Alexander was in Thrace. The Taulantians and their king, Glaucias, arrived in Pelium as reinforcements to Cleitus. Alexander arrived on the scene heavily outnumbered as the Illyrians held the hills into the city. Soon though, Alexander employed strategy and tactic and chased Cleitus and the Illyrians out of Pelium and Macedonia (Bosworth, The Location of Alexander's Campaign Against the Illyrians in 335 BC).


Upon losing the Taulantian city of Epidamnus to the Macedonian King, Cassander (314 BC), Glaucias sought the aid of old allies, the Corcyrians. The Corcyrians succeeded in recapturing Epidamnus and delivered it back to Glaucias in 312 (see Justinus). Glaucias was also the adoptive father of the Molossian prince, Pyrrhus (see Plutarch's Lives), who was placed on the Molossian throne by Glaucias in 307.

Bardylis II

This son of Cleitus became a client king to Pyrrhus who absorbed or inherited Glaucias' kingdom. Pyrrhus' power and hatred of Macedon made him an attractive ally to Bardylis II who probably ruled a modest portion of the area his father and grandfather once governed (Hammond, Epirus). Plutarch recorded Pyrrhus taking Birkenna, Bardylis II's daughter, as  one of his wives.


In 280 BC, the Thracians joined Monunius in an attack on the Macedonian king, Ceraunus. Ceraunus was successful in repelling the invasion but was only killed later (279) by Celtic Marauders storming into Macedon (Justinus, Epitome of Trogus). A Macedonian type coin discovered with the legend "MONOYNIOY ... " could mean that after the smoke had cleared in the aftermath of Ceraunus' death, Monunius may have held Macedon for a brief period (Papazoglu, Les Origines ... ). Monunius was the first Illyrian king to mint coins (see image) and did so in the city of Epidamnus (Taulantian?) or Dyrrachium as it was also known.


Mytilus was likely Monunius' successor (son?) and also minted Dyrrachium type coins that bore his name. Mytilus retained his authority in Dyrrachium even after Prryhus' son, Alexander (Molossians are no longer allies), invaded his territory around 270 BC (Papazoglu, Les Origines ... ).

(War and Rome)

"I am powerful, I am omnipotent,
I am a hero, I am gigantic, I am colossal."

                                                         - Esarhaddon, King of Assyria


Very little is known of this Ardiaen king (Polybius, Cassius Dio). In all probability he was the founder of this new kingdom that controlled much of the Adriatic for the next 100 years.


Polybius noted that Agron (the Great?) was the son of Pleuratus and was master of stronger land and sea foces than any other Illyrian king before him. Appian wrote that Agron captured northern Epirus, Corcyra, Epidamnus (Dyrrachium) and the Island of Pharus in succession. The strength of Agron's kingdom was furthered corroborated in 231 BC when at the behest of the Macedonians, his forces defeated the mighty Aetolians (or as Polybius puts it "the proudest of peoples") at Medion. When Agron received news of the great victory, he celebrated heavily with drink only to die later of pleurisy.


Pinnes was the son of Agron. He was an infant at the time of Agron's death and 'ruled' under the tutelage of his stepmother, Teuta (Appian). Teuta reinstated the policy of raiding both by land and sea. This caused an outcry for Roman intervention. Rome sent an embassy to Teuta, but were apparently rebuked by her. One of the envoys, on their voyage back to Rome, was killed on Teuta's order (Polybius). In 229, Roman legions set out for Illyria (First Roman-Illyrian War). Many of Teuta's subjects welcomed Rome with open arms. That compelled Teuta to agree to peace terms with the Romans. She abdicated the throne to Pinnes and retreated to the city of Rhizon. Pinnes' rule, though, had again come under guardianship. Demetrius of Pharus who fell in good favor with the Romans for surrendering peacefully, had become Pinnes' administrator by marrying the infant king's natural mother, Triteuta. Demetrius' greed, however, broke the peace. He raided Greek trade vessels and colonies. He even detached Roman allies and was a no show when called to Rome by the senate to answer for his deeds. Rome sent a large naval force in 219 that overpowered the Illyrians (Second Roman-Illyrian War). Demetrius abandoned Illyria and fled to Macedon (Appian). Pinnes was restored to the throne but, presumably, died around 217 BC at the age of 15 as he is not heard of again (Papazoglu, Les Origines ...).


He was the commander of the Illyrian army during the reign of, Agron and also served under Teuta and Demetrius. He later adopted Roman rule and became king of Illyria and Macedon's enemy (allies prior) for parleying with Rome. With the Romans preoccupied in their war with the Carthinginians, Philip V of Macedon sought to take Illyria from Skerdilaidas. However, the Greeks and the Dardanians joined Skerdilaidas and his son, Pleuratus, in their war against Philip V. With no chance of victory, the Macedonian king accepted peace in 205 (Livy).


Although his tenure was one of the longest (25 plus years), Pleuratus' reign was the least notable. Polybius states, "Pleuratus, who did absolutely nothing except maintain his loyalty to Rome, was made the greatest of Illyrian kings."


Gentius' (Pleuratus' son) intemperate habits and lack of restraint brought great horror and cruelty to Illyrian subjects. The Delmatae declared independence immediately upon his accession in 180 BC. Gentius would later kill his brother Plator for planning to marry a Dardanian princess. Gentius' justification was fear of a sibling power struggle and decided to marry the princess himself. He threw the Romans into a rage for conspiring with Macedon and resurrecting piracy. Roman commanders led a force of 30,000 towards Scodra (capital) in 168 and after thirty days of battle (Third Roman-Illyrian War), Gentius surrendered. He and his entire family were taken into custody (Livy). This sad chapter ended Illyrian sovereignty forever as Illyria became the Roman province Illyricum (see image).

The Kingdoms noted here are modeled after Fanula Papazoglu's paper, Les Origines et la Destinee de L'etat Illyrien: Illyrii Proprie Dicti, though the contention of the article is that there was a single Illyrian state. The author of this site contends their were two (if the terms 'kingdoms' or 'states' can be applied at all) with the first concerning the struggles with Macedon and the second dealing with the conflicts against Rome.