According to Biography, Alexander the Great was born in July 356 B.C.E. He spent his early life in Pella, a city in the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia. His father was King Philip II of Macedon and his mother was the indomitable Queen Olympias. Though he grew up in the royal court, Alexander resented that his father was constantly gone, fighting in faraway battles.
One year after completing his studies in 340 B.C.E., Alexander became a soldier. Soon afterward, he led the Companion Cavalry to help defeat Theban and Athenian armies alongside his father in 338 B.C.E. But father and son did not fight together for very long. Soon after King Philip II successfully united every Greek state except for Sparta, he ousted Queen Olympias to marry Cleopatra Eurydice — and Alexander was absolutely furious.
Alexander briefly escaped with his mother before returning for his sister’s wedding in 336 B.C.E. At some point during those celebrations, King Philip II was murdered by another Macedonian noble. To ensure that 19-year-old Alexander would take his father’s place on the throne, Olympias drove her former husband’s new wife to suicide and killed the couple’s daughter. Meanwhile, Alexander the Great was proclaimed the feudal king.
Later that year, Alexander gained control of the military, which included 3,000 cavalries and 30,000 infantries. And by the time he was 20, he had fully seized the Macedonian throne. He promptly killed some of his biggest rivals in ancient Greece and quelled local rebellions for independence.
By 334 B.C.E., Alexander had begun his march toward Asia. Though he encountered resistance in numerous cities in modern-day Turkey, his army consistently emerged victorious. He then took on Phoenician cities like Marathus and Aradus in modern-day Syria. After taking over Gaza and entering Egypt, he founded the city of Alexandria, according to History.
Meanwhile, Alexander also focused on his long-held dream of conquering the Persian Empire, which happened after a battle against King Darius III in 331 B.C.E. Now, he was not only the king of Macedonia but also the king of Persia. This, along with other key battles, helped establish Alexander’s empire as one of the largest in ancient history. But it wasn’t to last.