Europe 254: Aftermath of Barbalissos
After their victory at Barbalissos, Shapur I and his Persians ravaged Roman Syria, sacking the capital Antioch and numerous other cities. Back in Rome, Aemilian’s reign was brought to a quick end in September 253 by the arrival of the Rhine legions under Valerian. Concerned by growing hostility among the tribes of Germania, the new emperor appointed his son Gallienus co-emperor and commander of Roman forces in Europe, before he himself headed east to face the Persians.
Aug 253 Battle of Interamna Nahars▲
As Aemilian advanced into Italy in July/August 253, the emperors Trebonianus Gallus and Volusianus moved north to meet him. The two armies met at Interamna Nahars, not far north of Rome, where Gallus and Volusianus were betrayed and murdered by their own troops. Aemilian then proceeded to Rome, where he was formally recognized as Emperor by the Senate.
Sep 253–?? 260 Principate of Valerian▲
Harking from a traditionally senatorial family himself, the 54-year-old Valerian was quickly recognized by the Senate after his victory over Aemilian in September 253. However, his reign would be marked by invasions and plague, as well as his orders to execute prominent Christians in 257 and 258. In 260, while on campaign in the East, he was captured by the Persian Shah Shapur I and condemned to spend his last years in imprisonment.
Sep 253 Battle of the Sanguinarian Bridge▲
Valerian was in the north with the Rhine legions when news of Aemilian’s defeat of Gallus in August 253 reached him. Marching across the Alps into Italy, Valerian met Aemilian either near Spoletium or at the Sanguinarian bridge between Spoletium and Rome. Realizing that they were no match for Valerian’s army, Aemilian’s troops killed him and accepted Valerian as Emperor.
253 Shapur I’s Sack of Antioch▲
Following the Persian victory at Barbalissos, Shah Shapur I advanced on Antioch, capital of Syria Coele and the third largest city in the Roman Empire, and besieged it. The city fell in 253, providing the Persians with many slaves and much plunder. Following this, Shapur ranged across Syria and Cappadocia, seizing and sacking many Roman cities, before withdrawing to Persia.
22 Oct 253–? ?? 260 Co-principate of Gallienus▲
Immediately upon becoming Emperor in late 253, Valerian appointed his 35-year-old son Gallienus as co-emperor in order to manage Roman forces in Europe while he himself traveled east to oppose the Persians. Gallienus established a rule somewhat independent of his father—he opposed, for instance, Valerian’s persecution of the Christians—and by 258 had begun an army reform, with a prestigious central cavalry unit stationed at Mediolanum (Milan) to support both the Rhine and Danube fronts. After defeating numerous barbarian incursions, he suddenly became the sole legal Emperor in 260 when his father was captured by the Persians.
254 Marcomannic raid on Ravenna▲
In 254 the Marcomanni, possibly in alliance with neighboring tribes, invaded Pannonia. From here they raided as far as Ravenna, Italy, before being driven back by Gallienus.
254–260 Gallienus’ German War▲
In 254 Gallienus traveled north to deal with incursions of the Marcomanni, Alemanni, and hitherto-unrecorded Franks across the Rhine and Danube. Acclaimed for five victories over the Germans over the next six years, he also had to rush east to repel an invasion of the Carpi into Dacia in 256–7. Despite these successes, the capture of his father Valerian by the Persians in 260 seriously undermined his position, bringing the Roman Empire to the brink of collapse.