Northern Africa 238: Year of Six Emperors

Political map of Northern Africa on 22 Mar 238 (Africa and Rome in Crisis: Year of Six Emperors), showing the following events: Sha’r Awtar’s Hadramawt War; Sasanian Empire; Sha’r Awtar’s Kinda expedition; Battle of Zafar; Mazun; Reign of Maximinus Thrax; Gordian I.

In 235 the Rhine legions killed the Roman emperor Severus Alexander and proclaimed the soldier Maximinus Thrax as emperor in his place. Maximinus’ extortionate behavior outraged not just the Roman people but also the Senate, who, in 238, supported five candidates against him—including the African governor Gordian I, his son Gordian II, and his grandson Gordian III.

This map has in-depth notes in the Journal, exclusive to Patrons on Classical Tier and above. Find them in the events descriptions, marked with the Journal icon .

Main Events

225?–226? Sha’r Awtar’s Hadramawt War

In c. 210 Sha’r Awtar succeeded his father ’Alhan Nafhan as King of Saba’ and initially continued the Sabaean alliances with Aksum and Hadramawt. Around ten years later Sha’r Awtar even intervened in Hadramawt to suppress a rebellion against King Il’azz Yalut, who was by now married to his sister. However, in about 225 Il’azz Yalut invaded Qataban, prompting Sha’r Awtar, supported by the Himyarites, to march into Hadramawt, defeat and capture Il’azz, and seize his capital Shabwa. in wikipedia

6 Apr 227 Sasanian Empire

In 226/227 the Sasanid ruler Ardashir I captured Ctesiphon, capital of the Parthian Empire, from Vologases VI. Here, probably in early April 227, he was formally crowned Shah of a new Empire of the Iranians, vowing to restore the domains of the ancient Achaemenids. Lasting until 651, Ardashir’s empire would be variously called the Neo-Persian Empire and the Sasanian Empire (after Ardashir’s Sasanid dynasty) by wikipedia

227? Sha’r Awtar’s Kinda expedition

In c. 200 the people of Kinda seized control of the important Arabian oasis of Qaryat al-Faw from the tribes of Qahtan and Madhhij, establishing the Kingdom of Kinda there. Two decades later—and about a year after his invasion of Hadramawt—Sha’r Awtar of Saba’ sent an army against Kinda, apparently in retaliation for its raids into southern Arabia. The Sabaeans defeated the Kindite king Rabi’a Dhu’ Al Thawr and sacked Qaryat al-Faw. For the next fifty years or so, Kinda would remain a loyal tributary of Saba’ and provide troops for its army. in wikipedia

230? Battle of Zafar

In the late 220s Sha’r Awtar of Saba’ allied with the Himyarites against Gadarat of Aksum. War broke out soon after and by c. 230 an Aksumite force under Gadarat’s son Beygat faced a combined Sabaean–Himyarite army near the Himyarite capital of Zafar (which, depending on interpretations, was either being besieged by the Aksumites or still under Aksumite occupation). After several days of battle, the Aksumites were defeated and driven back to the coast, securing Zafar for Himyar. in wikipedia

234?–235? Mazun

From his capital Gōr, Ardashir I of the Sasanian Empire traveled to Tylos (Bahrain), where he besieged the local king Sanatruk. Sanatruk died with the fall of his fortress, allowing the Sasanians to assume control over the southern Persian Gulf as far as northern Oman. The newly conquered region was reorganized as the Sasanian province of wikipedia

19 Mar 235–10 May 238 Reign of Maximinus Thrax

In March 235 the disgruntled Rhine legions rose in support of the 62-year-old Maximinus Thrax—who had been charged with training recruits for the entire army—and assassinated Roman emperor Severus Alexander the next day. The low-born and brutal Maximinus was immediately unpopular with the Senate, who in 238 orchestrated a revolt against him. Maximinus responded by marching on Rome, but was halted and assassinated at wikipedia

22 Mar 238 Gordian I

Allegedly to pay for his military campaigns, Maximinus Thrax encouraged arrests, confiscations, and the seizure of treasures throughout the Roman Empire. In 238 revolt broke out in Africa Proconsularis, where outraged youths killed the tyrannical procurator appointed by Maximinus and proclaimed the 80-year-old governor, Gordian, as wikipedia