Northern Africa 260: Thirty Tyrants
In 260 the Persians captured the Roman emperor Valerian, leaving his son Gallienus with the task of defending the entire Roman Empire while it was under attack from all sides. With the emperor unable to be everywhere at once, usurpers sprang up across the empire—‘thirty tyrants’ according to a 4th-century source but more likely around nine over Gallienus’ reign. By September 260 Postumus had seized power in Gaul, Regalianus in Pannonia, and Macrianus and his sons in the East; a fourth ‘tyrant’, Odaenathus, controlled Palmyra but retained nominal loyalty to Rome.
255?–265? Hadramawt–Himyar War▲
In the mid-250s King Yadail Bayyin VI of Hadramawt attacked the Kingdom of Himyar in an attempt to regain the lost territories of Qataban. Both sides scored some victories but neither Yadail Bayyin nor his son Iliriyam Yadum—who succeeded him and continued the war—made any significant gains.
260 Capture of Valerian▲
In spring 260 Shapur I of Persia besieged Edessa and Carrhae, prompting the eastern Roman emperor Valerian to march against him. However, much of Valerian’s army fell in a outbreak of plague, allowing Shapur to easily defeat and capture his rival (some sources even claim that he was seized while attempting to negotiate a truce). The first Roman emperor to have been taken prisoner, Valerian was sent back to Persia with the remnants of his army and ended his life in captivity.
In 260 Regalianus was proclaimed Emperor in Carnuntum, Upper Pannonia, apparently gaining support among both the Moesians and the survivors of Ingenuus’ earlier revolt in Lower Pannonia. To strengthen his position Regalianus elevated his wife, the noble-born Sulpicia Dryantilla, to Empress. He battled the Iazyges, who had been ravaging the region, but was soon undone when his own people aligned with the Roxolani to overthrow him.
260 Revolt of Postumus▲
In early 260 Marcus Cassianius Latinius Postumus led the Rhine legions to victories over the Franks (at Empel, Lower Germania) and the Alemanni (at Augsburg, Raetia). In one or both of these encounters Postumus gained large amounts of booty, which he shared among his troops but not with his nominal commander, Gallienus’ son Salonius. When Salonius’ praetorian prefect Silvanus demanded that Postumus surrender these spoils, the legions rebelled and proclaimed Postumus as Emperor. The unfortunate Salonius and Silvanus were then besieged in Colonia Agrippina (Cologne), betrayed by their own garrison, and executed.
260 Revolt of the Macriani▲
At the time of the Shapur I’s capture of Valerian at Edessa, Valerian’s finance minister Macrianus was nearby at Samosata with the Praetorian prefect Ballista and the imperial treasury. The two led the remaining Roman forces in the area against the Persians and eventually chased them from Asia Minor and Syria. Ballista then urged Macrianus to become emperor, but Macrianus considered himself too old and opted to proclaim his two sons, Macrianus Minor and Quietus, as emperors instead.
260 Rise of Odaenathus▲
When the Macriani declared themselves emperors, they were opposed by Odaenathus, a high-ranking Roman official who ruled Palmyra and had some authority in Syria Phoenice. Unlike the Macriani, Odaenathus refused to proclaim himself Emperor and thereby maintained a nominal allegiance to Gallienus.
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 Rome.