Europe 261: Defeat of the Macriani

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 02 Jun 261 (The Crisis of the Third Century: Defeat of the Macriani), showing the following events: Macrianian Egypt; Amazasp III of Iberia; Postumus in Britain and Spain; Macrianian invasion of Europe; Valens and Piso.

The most threatening of Gallienus’ usurpers were Macrianus and his sons, who soon gained control of Egypt and invaded the Balkans in 261. However, their attempt to conquer Greece was repelled by another usurper, Valens, in spring and that fall they were decisively defeated by Gallienus’ forces.


Gallic Empire

The rival Roman regime led by Postumus and his successors in Gaul (260–274) is often referred to as the Gallic Empire by modern historians. This term has no real historical basis; identity-wise, the Gallic emperors were simply Roman usurpers who successfully held out in Gaul for 14 years, but lacked the strength to take Rome.

Main Events

17 Sep 260 Macrianian Egypt

In mid-September 260 Mussius Aemilianus, the prefect of Egypt, recognized Macrianus Minor and Quietus as the legitimate Roman emperors. This gave the Macriani control over the vital Egyptian grain supply to wikipedia

260–265 Amazasp III of Iberia

According to the Historia Augusta, Bactria, Iberia, and Albania defied Shapur I of Persia following his capture of Valerian in 260. Whatever the merits of this claim, Iberia, Albania, and the Bactrian states of Margiana and Chorasmia seem to have fallen increasingly under Shapur’s power by 265. In the case of Iberia, Persian writings claim Iberia was ruled by the high-level Persian vassal Amazasp III from 260–265, in contradiction of Georgian chronicles, which record Mihrdat II ruling from 249–265. Neither source acknowledges the existence of the other king, suggesting that Amazasp may have been a Persian-backed wikipedia

260–261 Postumus in Britain and Spain

Soon after Postumus seized power, Gallienus marched against him, but was wounded by an arrow and forced to withdraw. This secured Postumus’ position and, in the winter of 260/261, he may have traveled to Britain, an event possibly depicted in some of his coins. At any case, by 261 both Britain and Spain had joined his cause, along with Gallia wikipedia

261 Macrianian invasion of Europe

In 261 Macrianus Major and his son Macrianus Minor, having secured most of the East, crossed from Asia into Europe in an attempt to overthrow Gallienus. However, when they advanced westward from Thrace towards Illyricum that fall, the pair were decisively defeated by one of Gallienus’ generals (either Aureolus or Domitianus). This sealed their fate, and both father and son were killed by their own wikipedia

261 Valens and Piso

At the beginning of their invasion of Europe in 261, the Macriani despatched the general Piso Frugi to Achaea to deal with the proconsul Valens Thessalonicus. For reasons unknown, Valens proclaimed himself Emperor, then defeated and killed Piso—who allegedly also made himself Emperor—in Thessaly. The victory proved short-lived, and Valens was killed by his own troops soon wikipedia