Europe 257: Gothic Black Sea Raids

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 03 Sep 257 (The Crisis of the Third Century: Gothic Black Sea Raids), showing the following events: Valerian in Syria; Borani sea raids; Fall of Dura-Europos; Chrocus’ Raid; Gothic raid on Bithynia.

In the mid 250s the Goths pressured the Bosporan Kingdom to provide them with ships, which they then used to mount raids across the Black Sea. After initial attacks on Colchis and Trapezus, these newly seaborne invaders moved on to sack the rich cities of Bithynia, while Valerianpreoccupied with the Persian threat—stood by helplessly.

Main Events

254–257? Valerian in Syria

In 254 Valerian traveled to the East, ending the usurpation of Uranius Antoninus and restoring Roman rule in Antioch by 257 (but probably much earlier). By this point, it is likely that the Persians had withdrawn with their plunder, leaving Syria in ruins. Hearing of the victory of Successianus over Scythian sea raiders at Pityus (c.255), Valerian summoned him to rebuild the defenses of the battered wikipedia

255?–256? Borani sea raids

In the mid-250s the Borani, a tribe associated with the Goths, pressured the Bosporan Kingdom to supply them with ships, which they used to mount raids across the Black Sea. Attacking Pityus in Colchis, they were repelled by the Roman officer Successianus, but returned the following year after Valerian promoted Successianus to command in Syria. This time they sacked the town, then sailed on to the major city of Trapezus (Trabzon), which they successfully took and plundered despite it being defended by ten thousand more troops than wikipedia

256 Fall of Dura-Europos

In 256 Shah Shapur I of Persia turned his focus to eliminating the Roman frontier fortress of Dura-Europos. After a long siege, in which Persian tunnelers used chemical weapons against Roman counter-sappers, the city fell. Shapur had the entire population deported, bringing an end to Dura’s wikipedia

256?–257? Chrocus’ Raid

During the reign of Valerian and Gallienus, an army of Alemanni under the leadership of Chrocus crossed into Gaul. Chrocus successfully evaded Roman forces to ravage Aquitania and Narbonensis, destroying the great temple of Vasso Galatae at Augustonemetum (Clermont). Eventually the Romans intercepted him at Arelate (Arles), where they defeated his forces and had him wikipedia

257? Gothic raid on Bithynia

Enticed by the spoils of the Borani raids in the eastern Black Sea, the Goths decided to launch a major expedition through Moesia into Asia in the winter of c.257. With both land and sea forces traveling down the coast, the Goths coerced fishermen in Thrace to help transport their army across to Bithynia. Facing almost no Roman resistance, they sacked the rich cities of Chalcedon, Nicomedia, Nicaea, Cius, Apamea, and Prusa before the onset of rains and floods compelled them to return home with their wikipedia