Europe 194: Second Battle of Issus
In May 193 Septimius Severus invaded Italy, overthrowing Didius Julianus with the approval of the Senate. Meanwhile Severus persuaded Clodius Albinus to side with him by promising to make him his heir. This left Pescennius Niger, who remained strong in the east and had recently established himself in Byzantium. Besieging Byzantium (which would hold out for over two years), Severus chased Niger back towards Syria, decisively defeating him at Second Battle of Issus in March 194.
? May–9 Jun 193 Severus’ Italian campaign▲
In May 193 Septimius Severus invaded Italy, capturing Ravenna and its fleet without difficulty. Didius Julianus attempted to train the Praetorian Guard in field battles, but they proved unable to stop Severus’ legions and the Senate proclaimed Severus emperor. On 1 June Julianus was assassinated; eight days later Severus formally entered Rome.
1 Jun 193–4 Feb 211 Principate of Septimius Severus▲
In 193 the 48-year-old Septimius Severus seized power in the Roman Empire, defeating rivals Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus over the following years to found the Severan dynasty. An African-born Roman noble with Carthaginian ancestry, Severus then spent the rest of his reign expanding the Empire, successively fighting in Osroene, Parthia, Arabia, Africa, and Caledonia. He died of illness at Eboracum (York) in 211, to be succeeded by his sons Caracalla and Geta.
193–194 Expansion of Sauromates II▲
In 193 the Bosporan king Sauromates II (reigned 174–210) defeated and apparently destroyed the Kingdom of the Siraces. Sauromates also conquered the Scythian Kingdom of the central Crimea, signing a treaty with Rome in 194 to set the southern boundary of the Bosporan Kingdom at the Alma and Salsta rivers. In the following years, Sauromates embarked on an anti-piracy campaign which secured the shores of the Sea of Azov and the north-eastern Black Sea.
193 Severus–Albinus pact▲
As he was securing his hold over the Roman Empire in 193, Septimius Severus made overtures to Clodius Albinus, Roman governor of Britain and a potential rival to the throne. The two agreed to a pact, whereby Albinus added the name Septimius to his own, accepted the title of Caesar, and shared a consulship with Severus in 194. This allowed Severus to focus his attentions on destroying his main rival, Pescennius Niger, in the east.
193–195 Severus’ Siege of Byzantium▲
At the outbreak of the war between Septimius Severus and Pesecennius Niger in summer 193, Niger crossed into Europe and occupied the key towns of Perinthus and Byzantium. Massively fortified, Byzantium briefly served as Niger’s capital until, after the fall of Perinthus and Cyzicus, he fled back to Antioch. Even so, the Byzantines held out against the Severan forces for more than two years, long after Niger’s death in April 194. When it finally fell, an enraged Severus leveled the walls and made Byzantium a tributary of Perinthus.
Jan 194 Battle of Nicaea▲
Pescennius Niger’s general Asellius Aemilianus took command of Perinthus in Thrace, but was expelled by Septimius Severus’ forces after two battles in fall 193. Crossing the Propontis (Sea of Marmara), the Severans defeated and killed Aemilianus at Cyzicus towards the end of the year. Niger’s forces consolidated at Nicaea, but were met and defeated by the Severans in a great battle in early 194. Following this, Asia, Egypt, and Arabia declared for Severus.
31 Mar 194 Second Battle of Issus▲
Following defeat at the hands of Septimius Severus in Thrace and Bithynia in the winter of 193–4, Pescennius Niger withdrew across Anatolia towards Antioch. Niger took his stand at the narrow “Cilician Gates” between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean (near Alexander the Great’s victory at Issus), but was defeated in a major battle at the end of March, losing 20,000 men. His cause now hopeless, Niger attempted to flee to Parthia, only to be overtaken and decapitated on the outskirts of Antioch in late April.