Europe 268: Battle of Nessos

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 21 May 268 (The Crisis of the Third Century (I): Battle of Nessos), showing the following events: Loss of Northern Dacia; Lakhmid Kingdom; Aureolus; Battle of Nessos.

Gallienus responded to the Gothic–Herulian invasion of Greece by leading a Roman army into the Balkans in 267/268, decisively defeating the Goths at Nessos. At this point, however, the general Aureolus revolted at Milan, forcing Gallienus to race back to Italy and postpone the destruction of the Goths.


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.

Palmyrene Empire

The region controlled by the Palmyrene queen Zenobia in the name of her son Vaballathus (267–273) is often called the Palmyrene Empire by modern historians. This term was not used at the time and, despite her expansionism, Zenobia continued to officially recognize the authority of Rome—with her son as a king under the Roman emperor—up until Aurelian’s move against her domain in late 271. After this, Zenobia openly rebelled, declaring Vaballathus emperor and herself an empress, but here she was probably acting as a usurper challenging Aurelian rather than a secessionist attempting to create an independent empire.

Main Events

267?–268? Loss of Northern Dacia

At some point after 262, Gallienus withdrew Rome’s remaining legions from Porilissum and Dacia north of Apulum and Potaissa. This probably occurred in 267/268, after the Gothic–Herulian invasion of Greece rendered the region indefensible. Whatever the date, the Hasdingi Vandals and other neighboring tribes soon moved in, increasing the pressure on southern Dacia and wikipedia

268? Lakhmid Kingdom

In the late 3rd century, the Lakhmids, an Arab dynasty purported to have originated in Yemen, emerged as a local power in the desert region to the west of the Euphrates. At some point, possibly in 268, the semi-legendary Lakhmid leader Amr ibn Adi made the predominantly Christian city of Al-Hirah his capital and established strong ties with the Sasanian Persian Empire. According to later Arab tradition, he would soon expand across northern Arabia and the Syrian desert, clashing with local rulers, including wikipedia

268 Aureolus

In 268 Aurelous, Gallienus’ commander of cavalry in Raetia and Mediolanum (Milan), took advantage of the emperor’s war against the Goths in the Balkans to revolt in support of Postumus. Gallienus immediately traveled to Italy to confront the upstart, while Postumus declined to provide him any support. Briefly saved by Gallienus’ assassination later that year, Aureolus was killed soon after when he rode in revolt against the new emperor wikipedia

268 Battle of Nessos

In late 267 Gallienus marched east to face the Gothic invasion of the Balkans, while the Athenian general Dexippus chased the Heruli from Greece. The next year Gallienus defeated the Goths and their allies at Nessos (probably the Nestos River on the Macedonia–Thrace border), killing 3,000. After this battle, the Goths fled to the mountains, allowing Gallienus to leave the completion of the campaign to his wikipedia