The city of Thebes, according to legend founded by King Cadmus, was located in Boeotia, the fertile region of central Greece. In 447 BCE the city of Thebes instigated the foundation of the Alliance of Boeotians, which shared a common foreign policy and defensive force. The Boeotians were allies of the Peloponnesians in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE), fighting against Athenian hegemony. Later, they joined their erstwhile foes, the Athenians, against the rising power of Sparta. In 382 BCE the Spartans took Thebes, and held the city for three years before they were expelled by the Boetian allies, who were ultimately victorious at the Battle of Leuctra (371 BCE) against the Spartans, led by the Theban aristocrat Epaminondas. Spartan dominance had been crushed, and the Peloponnesian League broke up into independent entities. At this point, the Thebans established an uneasy hegemony over Greece, which was disrupted by frequent battles and shifting alliances. In 362 BCE Epaminondas broke into the Peloponnese, with his allies, reaching Sparta. He then retreated to Mantinea, and at the battle that took place there he was killed, although the Thebans were ultimately victorious. Leaderless, they sued for peace and withdrew from the Peloponnese, ending the Theban Hegemony.
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