Sparta’s homeland was in Laconia, a Greek city-state in the southern Peloponnese. Run by a military elite who concentrated on warfare and politics, it forbade money-making activity. Each Spartan warrior was given a plot of land, farmed by state slaves (helots). Land was at a premium and in the 8th century the fertile plains of Messina were annexed by the Spartans and its land used to support its warriors, with the Messenians enslaved. By the 6th century, Sparta was the strongest Greek city-state and used its leadership role to create a Greek state alliance, known as the Peloponnesian League. This Spartan confederacy destroyed Athens, which was becoming increasingly tyrannical and demanding exacting tariffs from their own league, the Delian League, formed to provide military support against the Persian invasions of 480 BCE. This victory meant that by the end of the 5th century BCE, Sparta had hegemony over much of Ancient Greece.
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