After the Persian army invaded Attica and took Athens in 480 BCE, they set fire to the Acropolis and destroyed much of the city. This angered the Athenians, many of whom had evacuated to Salamis, off the coast of Attica. In retaliation, they lured the Persian fleet towards Salamis into a place too narrow for the Persian ships to manoeuvre. Here the Greeks destroyed most of the Persian fleet. No longer protected by his navy, the Persian king, Xerxes I, retreated from Athens, leaving behind a sizeable army under military commander, Mardonius. A Spartan force advanced from Mantinea to ‘take back’ Athens. Mardonius, hearing of the Spartan advance, left the city and retreated to Thebes, where he deployed his cavalry and archers. In the ensuing battle at Plataea, the Persians were defeated by the Spartans and incurred huge casualties, with Mardonius killed by a slung stone.
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