Europe 249: Decius vs Philip the Arab

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 11 Sep 249 (The Crisis of the Third Century: Decius vs Philip the Arab), showing the following events: Shapur I’s Kushan War; Philip the Arab’s Dacian War; Roman Millennium; First Siege of Marcianople; Pacatian; Jotapian; Revolt of Decius; Battle of Verona.

In late 248 and early 249 almost simultaneous revolts broke out against Philip the Arab in Moesia and Syria. To restore order in Moesia, Philip gave his advisor Decius command of the Danube legions, only for the legions to proclaim Decius as Emperor instead. Philip marched north against the usurper, but was defeated and killed by Decius at Verona.

Main Events

244?–247? Shapur I’s Kushan War

During the reign of Kushan emperor Kanishka II (c.225–c.247), Shah Shapur I of Persia invaded the Kushan lands in Central Asia, possibly due to Kushan support of Armenia. Very little is known about this conflict, except that Shapur claimed to have conquered as far as Peshawar and that by c.247 the Kushan Empire had been reduced to its territories in wikipedia

246–247 Philip the Arab’s Dacian War

In 246 the Carpi invaded Dacia, attacking the town of Romula and ravaging the countryside. The Roman emperor Philip the Arab led his army into the province, defeated them in several battles, and forced them to sue for peace. However, soon afterwards, the Romans seem to have abandoned the Limes Transalutanus, moving the eastern border of Dacia westward to the Aluta (Olt) wikipedia

Apr 248 Roman Millennium

In the Roman calendar, the traditional founding of Rome on 21 April 753 BC was the first date in ab urbe condita 1 (AUC 1), making April 248 the beginning of AUC 1001, or the start of the new millennium. Emperor Philip the Arab spent lavishly on the celebrations, staging spectacular games in the Colossum in which more than 1,000 gladiators were killed along with hundreds of exotic animals including hippos, leopards, lions, giraffes, and one rhinoceros. The festivities, however, do not seem to have improved Philip’s popularity outside of Rome, and he would face growing problems in the provinces over the coming wikipedia

248 First Siege of Marcianople

In the year of Rome’s Millennial celebrations (248), Roman emperor Philip the Arab brought an end to tributes to the Goths and the Carpi. In retaliation, the two tribes invaded Roman Moesia and the Goths besieged the major city of Marcianople. After a number of unsuccessful assaults on the city, the invaders accepted a payment from the Romans and wikipedia

Dec 248–Apr 249 Pacatian

In late 248 Marinus Pacatianus (Pacatian), an officer of the Danube legions, led a revolt in Moesia and Pannonia. Proclaiming himself Emperor, Pacatian nonetheless soon lost the support of his followers. In April 249 they murdered him and resumed their allegiance to the Roman emperor wikipedia

249 Jotapian

During Philip the Arab’s reign, Syria was restive due to both high taxation and Philip’s favoritism towards Arabia Petraea. In early 249 Marcus Iotapianus (Jotapian), an aristocrat claiming descent from either Alexander Severus or the royal house of Commagene, proclaimed himself Emperor, launching a revolt in Syria and Cappadocia. More concerned with the Danube revolts, Philip largely ignored Jotapian, who, in any case, failed to win military support and was eventually killed by his own wikipedia

May 249 Revolt of Decius

Following the revolt of Pacatian on the Danube, Roman emperor Philip the Arab ordered his advisor, senator Gaius Messius Quintus Decius, to travel to the region and restore order, granting him command over the legions of Moesia and Pannonia. On arrival Decius began punishing the former rebels, but was soon himself compromised when the troops proclaimed him Emperor. Hearing of this, Philip rejected Decius’ protests of innocence and prepared for wikipedia

Sep 249 Battle of Verona

In summer 249 Roman emperor Philip the Arab marched north to face the usurper Decius. The two armies met at Verona and, although Philip had the larger force, he was defeated and killed. Decius continued south to Rome, where he was recognized as Emperor by the Senate. Philip II, Philip’s 12-year-old son and co-emperor, was apparently murdered in Rome shortly before Decius’ wikipedia