Northern Africa 280: Probus’ Blemmyan War

Political map of Northern Africa on 11 Jan 280 (Africa and Rome in Crisis: Probus’ Blemmyan War), showing the following events: Probus–Florian War; Kushano-Sasanian Empire; Julius Saturninus; Probus’ Blemmyan War.

Probus’ reign (276–82) was marked by unrest and invasions. In c. 278 Probus’ erstwhile friend Saturninus rose up in Syria and Egypt but was swiftly suppressed by local Roman troops before Probus could arrive. The Egyptian city of Ptolemais revolted not long after, gaining the support of the Blemmyes of Nubia, but was crushed in c. 280, also by local forces.

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

Aug–Sep 276 Probus–Florian War

When Florian heard of Probus’ claim, he abandoned his pursuit of the Heruli—allowing these invaders to escape across the Black Sea—and headed south to Tarsus with his army. Outnumbered by his rival, Probus avoided direct combat until Florian’s troops—who were mostly European and therefore unaccustomed to the climate of Cilicia—began suffering from the summer heat and disease. Probus then attacked and, easily defeating his weakened enemy outside Tarsus, deposed wikipedia

277? Kushano-Sasanian Empire

Early during the reign of Bahram II (274–293) of the Sasanian Empire of Persia, his brother Hormizd, governor of the former Kushan territories of Central Asia, revolted and proclaimed himself king of kings (i.e. shah) in Balkh. Bahram was unable to immediately crush Hormizd and soon faced rebellion across much of his eastern empire. Although Bahram successfully suppressed these new uprisings, Hormizd may have survived and his Kushano-Sasanian Empire would retain its uneasy independence for almost a wikipedia

278? Julius Saturninus

While Probus was in the west, Julius Saturninus, a Moorish general that he had considered a close friend and made governor of Syria, proclaimed himself emperor and began minting coins to that effect (coins also suggest that Saturninus tried to promote himself as co-emperor for a period beforehand). Saturninus was recognized in Egypt and Palestine, but was killed by local troops in Apamea, Syria, before a disbelieving Probus could wikipedia

279?–280? Probus’ Blemmyan War

In the late 270s the major Egyptian city of Ptolemais revolted against Probus. In support, the Blemmyes of Nubia overran much of southern Egypt and captured the town of Coptos. Both Ptolemais and the Blemmyes were defeated by local Roman forces in about 280. in wikipedia