Europe 36 AD: Civil Wars of Artabanus II
From 10–38 AD Parthia was dominated by Shah Artabanus II, who gained power when he overthrew the Roman-raised Vonones I in the civil war of 10–18 and regained power after being usurped by another pro-Roman shah, Tiridates III, in 36. A third civil war would break out later that year. Despite repeated attempts to expand into Armenia, Artabanus’ reigns saw an overall weakening of Parthian power as the empire fell victim to increasing infighting.
?? 26–18 Oct 31 AD Conspiracy of Sejanus▲
With the accession of Tiberius (14 AD), Sejanus had been appointed prefect of the Praetorian Guard and began building that unit from a simple imperial bodyguard into a powerful and influential branch of government. As his power rose, Sejanus assassinated Drusus Julius Caesar, Tiberius’ son and heir, by conspiring with Drusus’ wife to poison him (23 AD) and isolated Tiberius by persuading him to leave Rome (26 AD). Sejanus then orchestrated a purge of senators and had two of Germanicus’ three sons—whom Tiberius had adopted after the death of Drusus—arrested and imprisoned (30 AD), where they would later die under suspicious circumstances (the third son, Caligula, survived by moving to Capri with Tiberius). This reign of terror came to a sudden end in October 31 AD, when Tiberius finally struck back by arresting and executing Sejanus and beginning a six-year purge of his followers.
28 AD Battle of Baduhenna Wood▲
In 28 AD, in response to increasingly heavy taxation, the Frisii rose up against Roman rule in the northern Netherlands, besieging the Roman governor in the fort of Flevum. When news reached Lucius Apronius, propaetor of Lower Germania, he gathered a force of legions and auxiliaries, descending down the Rhine to successfully relieve the governor. Thereafter fighting was fierce and in the space of two days the Romans lost some 1,300 men in fighting in and around Baduhenna Wood. Learning of these casualties, Lucius decided to withdraw back across the Rhine without further retaliation, abandoning the Empire’s hold over what was then the marginal and swampy lands of the Frisii.
30?–50? AD Rise of the Kushans▲
By c.30 AD the Kushans had emerged to become the dominant tribe in the Greater Yuezhi Confederation. Asserting himself as the first Kushan king, Kujula Kadphises (reigned c.30–c.80) defeated the Indo-Scythians and Indo-Parthians in the southeast, while establishing himself in the southwest by seizing the middle Oxus River (Amu Darya) and thereby gaining control of the trade routes between Parthia and Central Asia. By c.50 AD Kushan rule was firmly established among the Greater Yuezhi.
33? AD Crucifixion of Jesus▲
In either 30 or 33 AD the Jewish preacher and religious leader Jesus of Nazareth was arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin (a Jewish judicial body), before being passed on to Pontus Pilate, prefect of the Roman province of Judea, to face charges of sedition. Pilate then sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion, which probably took place in early April. Jesus’ crucifixion would become a core aspect of Christianity as it began its spread around the Eastern Mediterranean in the next decades.
35–36 AD Armenian Succession War of 35▲
After the death of Artaxias III Zeno of Armenia, the Parthian shah Artabanus II installed his son Arsaces as Roman Client King of Armenia in 34 AD, only for him to be poisoned by servants. As a replacement, Artabanus sent in Arsaces’ younger brother, Orodes, but this choice was rejected by the Roman emperor Tiberius, who instead backed the Iberian prince Mithridates. In 35 AD the Iberians and their Albanian and Sarmatian allies invaded Armenia, expelling Orodes and installing Mithridates as king. Artabanus marched north in support of his son, but backed down when Lucius Vitellius, Roman governor of Syria, threatened to intervene in the war.
36 AD Parthian Civil War of 36▲
In 35/36 AD, following Parthia’s unsuccessful intervention in Armenia, the Parthian nobility deposed Artabanus II and applied to the Roman emperor Tiberius for a new shah. In response, the Romans released a hostage prince, the grandson of Phraates IV, to assume the Parthian crown as Tiridates III. However, the Parthians soon came to regard Tiridates as a Roman vassal and, when Artabanus returned from his refuge in Hyrcania with an army of Dahan (Scythian) auxiliaries, the old shah swiftly ousted the new one.
36–53? AD Clitae Revolts▲
In 36 AD the Clitae—a Cilician tribal people—rejected Roman regulations and taxation, rising up against the Roman-installed Archelaus of Cappadocia (probably a king of Cilicia Trachea). The rebels held out in the Taurus Mountains until Roman troops arrived from Syria and defeated them. A second revolt occurred in 52/53 AD, in which the Clitae besieged the town of Anemurium but were eventually placated by Antiochus IV of Commagene (who ruled Cilicia at the time).