The city was founded around 315 BC by the King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and twenty-six other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great (Thessalo-nike means the "victory of Thessalians"). It was an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Macedon. After the fall of the kingdom of Macedon in 168 BC, Thessalonica became a city of the Roman Republic. It grew to be an important trade-hub located on the Via Egnatia and facilitating trade between Europe and Asia. The city became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia.
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When in 379 the Roman Prefecture of Illyricum was divided between East and West Roman Empires, Thessaloníki became the capital of the new Prefecture of Illyricum. The economic expansion of the city continued through the twelfth century as the rule of the Komnenoi emperors expanded Byzantine control to the north. Thessaloniki passed out of Byzantine hands in 1204, when Constantinople was captured by the Fourth Crusade. Thessaloníki and its surrounding territory — the Kingdom of Thessalonica — became the largest fief of the Latin Empire. The city was recovered by the Byzantine Empire in 1246. In the 1340s, it was the scene of the anti-aristocratic Commune of the Zealots. In 1423, the Byzantines sold the city to Venice, which held the city until it was captured by the Ottoman Sultan Murad II on 29 March 1430.
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