The third king of the Sargonid dynasty, Esarhaddon is most famous for his conquest of Egypt in 671 BC, which made his empire the largest the world had ever seen, and for his reconstruction of Babylon, which had been destroyed by his father.
44 Facts About Esarhaddon
The murder, and Arda-Mulissu's aspirations of becoming king himself, made Esarhaddon's rise to the throne difficult and he first had to defeat his brothers in a six-week long civil war.
Esarhaddon quickly defeated his brothers in 681, completed ambitious and large-scale building projects in both Assyria and Babylonia, successfully campaigned in Media, the Arabian Peninsula, Anatolia, the Caucasus, and the Levant, defeated and conquered Lower Egypt, and ensured a peaceful transition of power to his two heirs Ashurbanipal and Samas-suma-ukin after his death.
Esarhaddon described the reaction of his brothers to his appointment as heir in a later inscription:.
Esarhaddon was unhappy with his exile and blamed his brothers for it, describing it with the following words:.
The murder of Sennacherib had caused some friction between Arda-Mulissu and his supporters which delayed a potential coronation and in the meantime, Esarhaddon had raised an army.
Shortly after taking the throne, Esarhaddon made sure to execute all conspirators and political enemies he could get his hands on, including the families of his brothers.
Esarhaddon frequently sought the advice of oracles and priests on whether any of his relatives or officials wished to harm him.
Esarhaddon's paranoia was reflected by where he chose to live.
Esarhaddon wished to ensure the support of the inhabitants of Babylonia, the southern part of his empire.
The project was not only important because it illustrated goodwill towards the Babylonian people, but because it allowed Esarhaddon to assume one of the essential characteristics the Babylonians invested in kingship.
Esarhaddon successfully rebuilt the city gates, battlements, drains, courtyards, shrines and various other buildings and structures.
Exactly how much of the reconstruction was done during the reign of Esarhaddon is uncertain, but stones with his inscriptions are found in the ruins of the city's temples, suggesting that a substantial amount of work had been completed.
Esarhaddon was king of both Assyria and Babylonia and his military and political base remained in the north, much like his predecessors.
Possibly in order to reassure the Assyrian people that his projects in the south would be matched with projects of equal proportion in the north, Esarhaddon ensured that repairs were made to the temple of Esarra in Assur, one of the chief temples of northern Mesopotamia.
Esarhaddon allied with the nomadic Scythians, famous for their cavalry, in order to dissuade the Cimmerians from attacking but it doesn't appear to have helped.
In 679 BC, the Cimmerians invaded the westernmost provinces of the empire and by 676 they had penetrated further into Esarhaddon's empire, destroying temples and cities on the way.
Esarhaddon was captured and executed a year later, the same year that Esarhaddon decisively defeated the Cimmerians.
Esarhaddon discusses his victory over Sidon in a contemporary inscription:.
The king's casus belli for this invasion was the king of Shupria's refusal to hand over political refugees from Assyria and though the Shuprian king had agreed to give up the refugees after a long series of letters, Esarhaddon considered it took him too long to relent.
The Egyptians had for years sponsored rebels and dissenters in Assyria and Esarhaddon had hoped to storm Egypt and take this rival out in one fell swoop.
Notes and letters preserved from those at the royal court, including Esarhaddon's physicians, describe his condition in some detail, discussing violent vomiting, constant fever, nosebleeds, dizziness, painful earaches, diarrhea and depression.
Esarhaddon probably surmised that the Babylonians would be content with someone of Babylonian heritage as their king and as such set Shamash-shum-ukin to inherit Babylon and the southern parts of his empire instead.
Treaties drawn up by Esarhaddon are somewhat unclear as to the relationship he intended his two sons to have.
Three months after having received this prophecy, Esarhaddon's forces were victorious in their first battle with the Egyptians.
Esarhaddon had performed the ritual earlier in his reign, but this time it left him unable to command his invasion of Egypt.
Whatever omen Esarhaddon was fearing, he survived 671 and would perform the ritual twice during the two years that followed, which left him unable to fulfill his duties as the Assyrian king for a total of almost a year.
Since Esarhaddon had conquered Egypt and proven the previous prophecy from the city right, the oracles of Harran were seen as trustworthy.
The aftermath of the conspiracy saw Esarhaddon tighten security considerably.
Esarhaddon introduced two new ranks into the court hierarchy so as to make it more difficult to meet him, which limited the number of officials who controlled the access to his palaces.
Esarhaddon received word of this rebellion and learnt that even some of his own governors who he had appointed in Egypt had ceased to pay tribute to him and joined the rebels.
Esarhaddon was determined to retain the loyalty of the Arabic tribes who had been subjugated by his father in the Arabian Peninsula, particularly around the city of Adummatu.
The king of Adummatu, Hazael, paid tribute to Esarhaddon and sent him several presents, which were reciprocated by Esarhaddon through returning the statues of Hazael's gods which had been seized by Sennacherib years earlier.
When Hazael died and was succeeded by his son Yauta, Yauta's position as king was recognized by Esarhaddon, who aided the new king in defeating a rebellion against his rule.
Esarhaddon successfully appointed a woman who had been raised at the Assyrian royal palace, Tabua, as "queen of the Arabs" and allowed her to return to and govern her people.
The reign of Esarhaddon saw many of the Medes becoming Assyrian vassals.
Esarhaddon's armies had proven to the Medes that Assyria was a great power to be feared when the Assyrians defeated the Median kings Eparna and Shidirparna near Mount Bikni at some point before 676 BC.
When Esarhaddon made his subjects swear to uphold his wishes in regards to the succession of Ashurbanipal and Shamash-shum-ukin, some of the vassals made to swear allegiance to his successors were rulers and princes from Media.
From inscriptions it can be ascertained that Esarhaddon had multiple wives as his succession treaties differentiate between "sons born by Ashurbanipal's mother" and "the rest of the sons engendered by Esarhaddon".
Esharra-hammat is chiefly known from sources after her death, especially in regards to a mausoleum Esarhaddon constructed for her.
Some children suffered from constant illness, similar to Esarhaddon, and required permanent and constant medical attention by the court physicians.
Contemporary letters by Esarhaddon's subjects discussing the king's "numerous children" confirm that his family was viewed as large by ancient Assyrian standards.
Those of Esarhaddon's children known by name are the following:.
Esarhaddon is typically characterized as gentler and milder than his predecessor, taking greater efforts to pacify and integrate the peoples he conquered.