Europe 254: Aftermath of Barbalissos

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 23 Apr 254 (The Crisis of the Third Century: Aftermath of Barbalissos), showing the following events: Battle of Interamna Nahars; Principate of Valerian; Battle of the Sanguinarian Bridge; Shapur I’s Sack of Antioch; Co-principate of Gallienus; Marcomannic raid on Ravenna; Gallienus’ German War.

After their victory at Barbalissos, Shapur I and his Persians ravaged Roman Syria, sacking the capital Antioch and numerous other cities. Back in Rome, Aemilian’s reign was brought to a quick end in September 253 by the arrival of the Rhine legions under Valerian. Concerned by growing hostility among the tribes of Germania, the new emperor appointed his son Gallienus co-emperor and commander of Roman forces in Europe, before he himself headed east to face the Persians.

Main Events

Aug 253 Battle of Interamna Nahars

As Aemilian advanced into Italy in July/August 253, the emperors Trebonianus Gallus and Volusianus moved north to meet him. The two armies met at Interamna Nahars, not far north of Rome, where Gallus and Volusianus were betrayed and murdered by their own troops. Aemilian then proceeded to Rome, where he was formally recognized as Emperor by the wikipedia

Sep 253–?? 260 Principate of Valerian

Harking from a traditionally senatorial family himself, the 54-year-old Valerian was quickly recognized by the Senate after his victory over Aemilian in September 253. However, his reign would be marked by invasions and plague, as well as his orders to execute prominent Christians in 257 and 258. In 260, while on campaign in the East, he was captured by the Persian Shah Shapur I and condemned to spend his last years in wikipedia

Sep 253 Battle of the Sanguinarian Bridge

Valerian was in the north with the Rhine legions when news of Aemilian’s defeat of Gallus in August 253 reached him. Marching across the Alps into Italy, Valerian met Aemilian either near Spoletium or at the Sanguinarian bridge between Spoletium and Rome. Realizing that they were no match for Valerian’s army, Aemilian’s troops killed him and accepted Valerian as wikipedia

253 Shapur I’s Sack of Antioch

Following the Persian victory at Barbalissos, Shah Shapur I advanced on Antioch, capital of Syria Coele and the third largest city in the Roman Empire, and besieged it. The city fell in 253, providing the Persians with many slaves and much plunder. Following this, Shapur ranged across Syria and Cappadocia, seizing and sacking many Roman cities, before withdrawing to wikipedia

22 Oct 253–? ?? 260 Co-principate of Gallienus

Immediately upon becoming Emperor in late 253, Valerian appointed his 35-year-old son Gallienus as co-emperor in order to manage Roman forces in Europe while he himself traveled east to oppose the Persians. Gallienus established a rule somewhat independent of his father—he opposed, for instance, Valerian’s persecution of the Christians—and by 258 had begun an army reform, with a prestigious central cavalry unit stationed at Mediolanum (Milan) to support both the Rhine and Danube fronts. After defeating numerous barbarian incursions, he suddenly became the sole legal Emperor in 260 when his father was captured by the wikipedia

254 Marcomannic raid on Ravenna

In 254 the Marcomanni, possibly in alliance with neighboring tribes, invaded Pannonia. From here they raided as far as Ravenna, Italy, before being driven back by wikipedia

254–260 Gallienus’ German War

In 254 Gallienus traveled north to deal with incursions of the Marcomanni, Alemanni, and hitherto-unrecorded Franks across the Rhine and Danube. Acclaimed for five victories over the Germans over the next six years, he also had to rush east to repel an invasion of the Carpi into Dacia in 256–7. Despite these successes, the capture of his father Valerian by the Persians in 260 seriously undermined his position, bringing the Roman Empire to the brink of wikipedia