As the new ruler of Thrace well on his way to claiming royal prerogatives, in 309 BC Lysimachos built a capital for himself in the Thracian Chersonesos which he named Lysimacheia. In order to find settlers to live in his new foundation he destroyed the nearby Greek city of Kardia and forcibly transferred its inhabitants to Lysimacheia. Such heavy handedness became a hallmark of Lysimachos' foundation policies.
Following the death of Lysimachos at the Battle of Koroupedion in 281BC, Seleukos I and his victorious army marched through Asia Minor and crossed into Thrace with the intention of reaching Macedonia and claiming the entire empire of Alexander the Great (with the exception of Ptolemaic Egypt) as Seleukid territory. Unfortunately, while stopped near Lysimacheia Seleukos was murdered by Ptolemy Keraunos, a son of Ptolemy I who sought refuge at the Seleukid court. Keraunos immediately established himself as king in Lysimacheia. His victory was short lived, for within a year he had been killed by invading Galatian tribesmen and by 279/8 Lysimacheia had fallen.
The city eventually recovered from the devastation of the Galatians and by the time of Antiochos II it had become a base for Seleukid ambitions in Europe. This king used Lysimacheia as a command center for his campaigns against the Thracians and several local Greek cities in the early 240s, but upon his death in 246 BC it was quickly captured by the forces of Ptolemy III Euergetes. However, by the 230s it had changed hands yet again and fell under the control of Antiochos Hierax.
In 202/1, after a period of decline and damage inflicted by native Thracians, Philip V of Macedon started work restoring the city, but the disaster of the Battle of Cynoskephaloi against the Romans in 197/6 made it impossible for him to continue work at Lysimacheia. The city was almost immediately taken by Antiochos III, who repopulated and fortified it in anticipation of his own clash with Rome. It was also intended as a new western capital for his son, Seleukos IV.
Despite Seleukid plans for Lysimacheia in 196/5 BC Antiochos III was warned by the Roman envoy, L. Cornelius Scipio, to vacate the city and remove all of his forces from Europe or face war. The king responded with bravado, claiming that Lysimacheia was a rightful possession of the Seleukid dynasty, but when the legions and their Greek allies marched on Thrace he gave up the city and crossed the Hellespont with his army.
As part of the provisions in the Peace of Apameia (188 BC) Lysimacheia was placed under the control of Eumenes II of Pergamon, but Attalid authority lasted here for less than forty years. In 144 BC the native Thracian king, Diegylis, seized the city and had it completely destroyed.
See a coin of Lysimacheia. For an enlargement and a brief discussion of the coin's historical and iconographic importance please click on the appropriate coin picture.
Return to Seleukids Home Page