Europe 269: Battle of Lake Benacus

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 25 Feb 269 (The Crisis of the Third Century: Battle of Lake Benacus), showing the following events: Death of Gallienus; Principate of Claudius Gothicus; Laelianus; Battle of Lake Benacus.

In September 268, while suppressing Aureolus’ revolt, Gallienus was assassinated by his generals. He was succeeded by the general Claudius, who immediately finished off Aureolus only to face a renewed Alemannic invasion of Italy. Claudius defeated the Alemanni at Lake Benacus, and drove them back north, but the empire he now ruled remained heavily embattled.


Gallic Empire

The rival Roman regime led by Postumus and his successors in Gaul (260–274) is often referred to as the Gallic Empire by modern historians. This term has no real historical basis; identity-wise, the Gallic emperors were simply Roman usurpers who successfully held out in Gaul for 14 years, but lacked the strength to take Rome.

Palmyrene Empire

The region controlled by the Palmyrene queen Zenobia in the name of her son Vaballathus (267–273) is often called the Palmyrene Empire by modern historians. This term was not used at the time and, despite her expansionism, Zenobia continued to officially recognize the authority of Rome—with her son as a king under the Roman emperor—up until Aurelian’s move against her domain in late 271. After this, Zenobia openly rebelled, declaring Vaballathus emperor and herself an empress, but here she was probably acting as a usurper challenging Aurelian rather than a secessionist attempting to create an independent empire.

Main Events

Sep 268 Death of Gallienus

While besieging the rebel Aureolus in Mediolanum (Milan) in early September 268, Gallienus was alerted that Aureolus and his army were approaching. Hastily riding out to rally his troops to battle, he was intercepted by conspirators and assassinated. The plot seems to have been orchestrated by his praetorian prefect Heraclianus and his generals Claudius Gothicus and Aurelian. Despite this, upon becoming Emperor, Claudius persuaded the Senate to deify wikipedia

Sep 268–Aug 270 Principate of Claudius Gothicus

Following the assassination of Gallienus in 268, the 54-year-old general Claudius Gothicus was proclaimed Emperor by the troops. Hailing from Lower Pannonia, Claudius would be the first of a long series of ‘Illyrian emperors’—between his rule and 378 only one emperor would not come from either Pannonia, Moesia, or Dalmatia. After a reign of less than two years, in which he killed the usurper Aureolus, defeated an Alemannic invasion, regained lands in southern Gaul and Spain, and ended the Gothic war, Claudius died of the plague in Sirmium, while preparing for war with the wikipedia

269 Laelianus

In early 269 Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus, a military commander and possibly the governor of Germania Superior, revolted against the usurper Postumus and proclaimed himself Emperor at Mogantiacum (Mainz). Despite having had recent successes against the Germans, Laelianus failed to gain wider support and was defeated by Postumus after just a few wikipedia

269? Battle of Lake Benacus

Aureolus’ revolt in mid 268 had stripped large numbers of troops from the Raetian Limes, encouraging the Alemanni and Juthungi to cross the Alps into Italy that winter, just as Claudius Gothicus was in Rome being confirmed as Emperor by the Senate. Rallying his forces, Claudius raced north, decisively defeating the invaders on the shores of Lake Benacus (Lake Garda) in late 268 or early wikipedia