Common Peace
Common Peace was the term used in ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 for a peace treaty that simultaneously declared peace between all the combatants in a war. The concept was invented with the Peace of Antalcidas
Peace of Antalcidas
The Peace of Antalcidas , also known as the King's Peace, was a peace treaty guaranteed by the Persian King Artaxerxes II that ended the Corinthian War in ancient Greece. The treaty's alternate name comes from Antalcidas, the Spartan diplomat who traveled to Susa to negotiate the terms of the...

 in 387 BC
387 BC
Year 387 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Tribunate of Papirius, Fidenas, Mamercinus, Lanatus and Poplicola...

. Prior to that time, peace treaties in Greece were between two combatants or alliances only and had an expiration date after which either side was free to resume hostilities. According to John Fine, before the advent of the concept of Common Peace, "since peace was seemingly considered only a lull in the more normal condition of war, treaties were always bilateral and usually limited to specified periods of time." An example of such a limited peace is the Thirty Years Peace that concluded the so-called First Peloponnesian War
First Peloponnesian War
The First Peloponnesian War was fought between Sparta as the leaders of the Peloponnesian League and Sparta's other allies, most notably Thebes, and the Delian League led by Athens with support from Argos. This war consisted of a series of conflicts and minor wars, such as the Second Sacred War...


The first common peace

The Common Peace was a product of a period of Greek history
History of Greece
The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied much through the ages, and, as a result, the history of Greece is similarly...

 in which increasingly widespread and destructive warfare had led a number of states to think outside of such limited conceptions of peace. From 395 BC
395 BC
Year 395 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Tribunate of Cossus, Medullinus, Scipio, Fidenas, Ambustus and Lactucinus...

 to 387 BC
387 BC
Year 387 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Tribunate of Papirius, Fidenas, Mamercinus, Lanatus and Poplicola...

, the inconclusive Corinthian War
Corinthian War
The Corinthian War was an ancient Greek conflict lasting from 395 BC until 387 BC, pitting Sparta against a coalition of four allied states; Thebes, Athens, Corinth, and Argos; which were initially backed by Persia. The immediate cause of the war was a local conflict in northwest Greece in which...

 further exhausted a number of states that had already been severely taxed by the Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BC, was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases...

. In 387, these states agreed to end the war with a new sort of peace.

The Peace of Antalcidas, also known as the King's Peace because of the strong Persian influence it reflected, contained many of the elements that would characterize later common peaces. First among these was the Persian influence on the terms; by the mid 4th century, disunity in Greece has allowed Persia to claim a dominant role in Greek politics
Politics of Greece
The Politics of Greece takes place in a large parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister of Greece is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Hellenic Parliament...

. A second element that would be passed on to later peaces was an avowal of the principle of autonomy, which stated that all cities should be free and independent. This provision was highly open to interpretation, and another characteristic provision of Common Peaces provided for how it would be interpreted. The Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

ns were appointed as guardians (prostatai) of the peace, with the power to interpret and enforce its provisions. This provision amounted to de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 recognition of Sparta's hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 in Greece, and later treaties would include similar enforcement mechanisms.

Later common peaces

During the course of the 4th Century, common peaces were signed on numerous occasions, most of which failed quickly. After the first attempted peace in 387, fighting soon resumed and continued until a peace was signed in 375 BC
375 BC
Year 375 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the First year without Tribunate or Consulship...

. In 371 BC
371 BC
Year 371 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Fifth year without Tribunate or Consulship...

, another peace conference was held, and a peace was signed by all major parties except Thebes, but conflict between Sparta and Thebes soon resulted in renewed fighting at the Battle of Leuctra
Battle of Leuctra
The Battle of Leuctra was a battle fought on July 6, 371 BC, between the Boeotians led by Thebans and the Spartans along with their allies amidst the post-Corinthian War conflict. The battle took place in the neighbourhood of Leuctra, a village in Boeotia in the territory of Thespiae...

. In 365 BC
365 BC
Year 365 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Aventinensis and Ahala...

, a peace called the Peace of Thebes was signed, which recognized Thebes instead of Sparta as guardian of the peace. This too quickly failed, but another more lasting peace was signed after the Battle of Mantinea
Battle of Mantinea (362 BC)
The Battle of Mantinea was fought on July 4 362 BC between the Thebans, led by Epaminondas and supported by the Arcadians and the Boeotian league against the Spartans, led by King Agesilaus II and supported by the Eleans, Athenians, and Mantineans...


Following that peace, the center of conflict in the Greek world began to shift away from struggles between the city-states of the Greek heartland and towards the growing struggle between Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

. No common peaces were signed between 362 and 338 BC
338 BC
Year 338 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Camillus and Maenius...

, when in the wake of Philip of Macedon's
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

 victory at Chaeronea, an agreement was signed in which all Greek states joined his League of Corinth
League of Corinth
The League of Corinth, also sometimes referred to as Hellenic League was a federation of Greek states created by Philip II of Macedon during the winter of 338 BC/337 BC after the Battle of Chaeronea, to facilitate his use of military forces in his war against Persia...

 in preparation for a pan-Hellenic campaign against Persia.


The notion of a Common Peace was an attempt to resolve the seemingly endless warfare that plagued Greece in the late 5th and early 4th centuries BC. Ultimately, however, it became little more than a tool in warfare and accompanying political maneuvering. Sparta, as appointed guardian of the first peace, used its position to marshall support for its military campaigns. The principal of autonomy, in theory absolute, was in fact applied only as the hegemonic power saw fit; Epaminondas
Epaminondas , or Epameinondas, was a Theban general and statesman of the 4th century BC who transformed the Ancient Greek city-state of Thebes, leading it out of Spartan subjugation into a preeminent position in Greek politics...

 famously pointed out at the peace conference of 371 that Sparta was acting hypocritically by demanding autonomy for the cities of Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

 while it continued to dominate Laconia
Laconia , also known as Lacedaemonia, is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. Its administrative capital is Sparti...

. Some later treaties, such as the Peace of Thebes in 365 and the treaty that established the League of Corinth in 338, served as much to certify the rise of a new hegemonic power as they did to declare peace. Common Peaces, therefore, became merely another element of the politicking and warfare that they were meant to end.
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