Europe 198: Severus’ Parthian Campaign
Following his defeat of Clodius Albinus (197), Septimius Severus quickly returned east to attend to the Parthian clients of Adiabene and Araba, who had been making incursions into Roman territory. After defeating both these states—although unable to capture Araba’s capital Hatra—Severus sailed down the Euphrates, sacking the Parthian capital Ctesiphon in January 198.
To wage his war against Septimius Severus, Clodius Albinus withdrew most of the garrison from Britain. When Severus defeated Albinus in 197, rebellions swept the now weakly-defended island and the tribes north of Hadrian’s Wall consolidated under the previously-unrecorded Maeatae. Severus’ new governor of Britain, Virius Lupus, managed to pacify most of the province, but was forced to buy off the Maeatae for fear they would align with the Caledonians.
197 Upper and Lower Britain▲
Following his victory over Clodius Albinus, Septimius Severus divided Roman Britain into two provinces, thereby restricting the provincial governors to no more than two legions each (Britain had three legions in total). The southern province was named Britannia Superior (Upper Britain), with its capital at Londinium (London), and the northern one Britannia Inferior (Lower Britain), capital Eboracum (York).
197–198 Severus’ sieges of Hatra▲
After summer 197 Septimius Severus headed east, relieving the Parthian siege of Nisibis and invading the Parthian clients of Adiabene and Araba. Before invading Parthia, he attempted to capture Hatra—a mountain fortress and capital of Araba—but, after losing many men to both missiles and disease, eventually called off the siege. Severus made a second attempt at Hatra after returning from Parthia in early 198, then a final effort the following winter, but was repelled with heavy losses in both cases.
Dec 197–Feb 198 Severus’ Parthian Campaign▲
In winter 197 Septimius Severus led a sudden invasion of Parthia from Araba, sailing down the Euphrates in quickly-constructed boats. The move caught the Parthians by surprise, allowing Severus to seize Seleucia and Babylon without resistance. He then routed the Parthian army and plundered Ctesiphon, before returning north via the Tigris.