Europe 161: Vologases IV’s Conquest of Armenia
Antoninus Pius died in March 161 and was succeeded by the co-emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, neither of who had any military experience. Seizing advantage of the situation, Vologases IV, shah of a resurgent Parthia, invaded and occupied Armenia, defeating Roman legions sent from Cappadocia and Syria.
151 Fall of Meredates of Characene▲
In 131 Meredates, son of Pacorus II of Parthia, became ruler of Characene, possibly in revolt against Shah Vologases III. Twenty years later Vologases’ successor, Vologases IV, defeated Meredates in battle, bringing his reign to an end. Characene was then restored to a Parthian client state under the rule of one of Vologases IV’s relatives, Orabazes II.
8 Mar 161–17 Mar 180 Principate of Marcus Aurelius▲
In 161 the 40-year-old Marcus Aurelius succeeded Antoninus Pius, becoming co-emperor of the Roman Empire alongside Lucius Verus. Known for his Stoic philosophy, Marcus’ reign was nonetheless marked by military conflict—with wars with both the Parthians and the Germanic tribes—and the devastation of the Antonine Plague. Marcus died at age 58 in March 180, to be succeeded by his son Commodus.
8 Mar 161–23 Jan 169 Co-principate of Lucius Verus▲
In March 161, following the death of Antoninus Pius, the 30-year-old Lucius Verus became co-ruler of the Roman Empire alongside Marcus Aurelius. As the more junior of the pair, Verus was almost immediately dispatched to the east to command the war against Parthia (161–66) which broke out later that year. After returning to Rome, he traveled north to handle the Marcomannic Wars in 168, but fell ill and died—either of food poisoning or the plague—in early 169.
161 Vologases IV’s Conquest of Armenia▲
In late summer or early autumn 161, Shah Vologases IV of Parthia invaded the Roman client state of Armenia, expelling its king, Sohaemus, and replacing him with Pacorus, a Parthian Arsacid. In response, Marcus Sedatius Severianus, the Roman governor of Cappadocia, crossed into Armenia, but the Parthians quickly trapped him at Elegia, massacring his legion and compelling him to commit suicide. The Parthians then invaded Syria, also defeating the Roman governor there.