Eastern Mediterranean 216: Caracalla’s Parthian Campaign

In the 210s Caracalla, Septimius Severus’ son and successor, turned his brutal focus on the East, annexing Edessa, alienating Armenia, and massacring the population of Alexandria. In 216 he launched a campaign against Parthia, now splintered between Shah Vologases VI, the usurper Artabanus IV, and the insurgent Sasanians. After Vologases agreed to cede political refugees to him and Artabanus agreed—or refused, sources vary—to give him his daughter in marriage, Caracalla attacked Artabanus and seized the city of Arbela, the proposed site of the wedding.

Main Events

202–203 Severus’ Garamantian Campaign

In late 202, while touring his homeland of Africa Proconsularis, Septimius Severus led an expedition against the Garamantes, who had harassing the province’s frontiers, including Severus’ home town of Leptis Magna. The Romans captured the Garamantian capital Garama (Germa), pacifying the desert kingdom. After this Severus had a series of forts constructed along the southern frontier at the desert oases of Cydamus (Ghadames), Garbia, and Golaia (Bu Ngem).in wikipedia

213 Annexation of Osroene

In 211 Abgar IX assumed the throne of Osroene, which by this time consisted of little more than the city of Edessa. Caracalla—probably while he was still in Rome in 212/213—cordially invited Agbar to visit him, but had the new king arrested and imprisoned on arrival. Following this, the emperor annexed Osroene to the Roman province of Osrhoene.in wikipedia

214–217 Caracalla’s Armenian Crisis

In an attempt to gain control of Armenia, Caracalla had King Chosroes and his family detained in Rome in 214, but the move simply encouraged the Armenians to reject Roman authority altogether. Caracalla responded by sending in the army the following year, only to suffer a humiliating defeat. Roman–Armenian relations were finally restored in 217 when, after the death of Chosroes and then Caracalla, Chosroes’ son Tiridates II was declared King of Armenia.in wikipedia

215 Alexandrian Massacre

In the 210s the Roman emperor Caracalla heard that the inhabitants of Alexandria—where his murdered brother Geta remained popular—were widely mocking his reign. He responded by visiting Alexandria en route to Parthia and persuading all the city’s young men to form an unarmed phalanx in honor of his hero Alexander. When they were thus gathered, Caracalla suddenly unleashed his troops on them, slaughtering the young men and executing the leading citizens. He then plundered and partially destroyed the city itself.in wikipedia

27 May 216–8 Apr 217 Caracalla’s Parthian Campaign

In 215 the Roman emperor Caracalla demanded Shah Vologases VI of Parthia hand over some political refugees. When Vologases obliged, Caracalla turned to his brother and rival, Artabanus IV, and offered to accept his daughter’s hand in marriage early the next year. Sources differ on whether or not Artabanus agreed; regardless, Caracalla took the opportunity to seize Arbela, capital of the Parthian client state Adiabene and proposed site of the wedding, and cause terror among the population. Artabanus withdrew to gather forces east of the Tigris, but was saved from a renewed invasion by Caracalla’s assassination in April 217.in wikipedia