Cleruchs, also known as cleruchies, were a type of military colonization that took place in ancient Greece and Persia. The term “cleruch” comes from the Greek word “kl?rós,” meaning “lot” or “share,” as the soldiers who participated in this type of colonization were given a portion of land as their reward.
In ancient Greece, cleruchs were typically Athenian citizens who volunteered to settle in newly conquered territories. These soldiers were chosen for their military skills and loyalty to Athens. They were sent to strategic locations to establish colonies and maintain control over the region. The purpose of cleruchy was to secure the borders of the Athenian Empire and strengthen its influence in the conquered areas.
Cleruchs were granted land in these new colonies, which they could farm or use for other economic activities. However, unlike traditional colonization, they did not become independent communities. Instead, they remained under the jurisdiction and control of Athens. The cleruchs enjoyed certain privileges and protections as Athenian citizens, but they owed their allegiance to the city-state and were expected to uphold its interests. They served as a means of extending the authority of Athens beyond its own borders and maintaining its dominance in the region.
The concept of cleruchy also existed in the Persian Empire, where it served a similar purpose of establishing military colonies to secure conquered territories. Persian cleruchs were often soldiers or administrators who were given control over specific regions. These cleruchs would have their own territories and subjects, but they ultimately answered to the Persian king and had to contribute resources and troops, if required, for the empire’s military campaigns.
Overall, cleruchy was an important political and military strategy used by ancient Greece and Persia to consolidate their power over conquered lands. It allowed the ruling powers to maintain control and influence over distant regions while rewarding and ensuring the loyalty of their soldiers and administrators.