Roman Emperors Dir Battle Descriptions

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The descriptions of Assorted Imperial Battles are listed below in alphabetical order. If you wish to see a map of the the location of a particular battle, simply click on the hypertext link for the name of a particular battle. Remember only to have one map open at a time. Additionally, one can link to some of the imperial essays through links in some of the battle descriptions.


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Battle of Abrittus, A.D. 251 Battle fought as part of Roman operations against Gothic invaders of the Balkans in 250-251. After initial Roman successes, the Romans were drawn into the marshes and surrounded. The emperor Decius and his son were killed and the Romans took heavy casualties. Trebonianus Gallus extricated the survivors.

Battle of Actium, B.C. 31 Naval battle between Octavian and Antony which ended the Republican civil wars. Octavian's fleet was led by Agrippa. Antony's forces included many eastern allies, including a large Egyptian contingent under Cleopatra. Antony's fleet rapidly lost cohesion and disintegrated before battle was fully joined.

Battle of Ad Decimum, A.D. 533. Battle fought as part of Roman invasion of Vandal Africa on September 13th, 533 during the reign of Justinian, at the tenth milestone (Ad Decimum) south of Carthage. Belisarius' cavalry (c6,000) probed towards the Vandal army led by King Gelimer and was able to defeat some small forces, including a contingent led by Gelimer's brother, Ammatas. Gelimer then led the Vandal main body to some success, until he learned of his brother's death. Then Vandals were then pushed back and their army disintegrated, allowing the Romans to occupy Carthage. Casualties on both sides were low.

Battle of Adrianople, A.D. 378. On 9 August 378, A Roman force under the emperor Valens met a force of Goths under Fritigern. The battle opened prematurely, before the Romans had finished deploying. As the main bodies clashed, the Roman left, deploying late, was caught by a force of Gothic cavalry and collapsed. Fighting continued to nightfall and Valens was killed. The number of troops engaged is unknown, though Roman losses were severe (perhaps two-thirds of the forces engaged).

Battle of Akroinon, A.D. 740. An Umayyad Arab army under Suleiman invaded Asia Minor and plundered widely in several detachments. One part of the raiders was defeated by Leo III and Constantine V at Acroinon, on the western edge of the Anatolian plateau. Although the Byzantines had won some smaller victories over Arab raiders in the preceding decades, this victory left Constantine well-placed to take advantage of the collapse of the Ummyyad dynasty.


The First Battle of Bedriacum, AD 69. (The First Battle of Cremona) In an attempt to control the Po River crossing south of Cremona, the armies of Vitellius and Otho, rivals for the Roman throne, met in a decisive battle on April 14, A.D. 69. The Vitellian legions broke through and defeated the center of the outnumbered and unprepared Othonian forces. The news of this defeat prompted Otho to commit suicide, briefly ending the civil war.


Battle of Callinicum, A.D. 531. Battle between Romans and Persians in Mesopotamia during the reign of Justinian. The campaign involved the Romans forcing the Persians to fight as they retreated from Roman territory. The Persian forces, c15,000 and a contingent of Lakhmid Arab allies, were led by Azarethes. They were opposed by a Roman force of c20,000 men led by Belisarius which included c5,000 Ghassanid Arab allies. The Romans deployed with their left flank on the Euphrates. The Persians broke through the Roman left flank and were able to drive Belisarius against the river. Here, the Romans were able to resist the Persians and withdraw much of their army across the river. The Persians were then able to complete their withdrawal from Roman territory and did not attempt to follow up their victory.

Siege of Constantinople, AD 1453. The siege and capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks took place in three phases. The initial investment began 5th April, 1453. The Byzantine forces led by Constantine XI, were weak. Only 5000 Byzantines, supported by c2000 allies, mostly Italian, garrisoned a wall circuit 14 miles long. The Byzantine fleet was composed of 26 ships. The Ottoman forces under Mehmed II comprised c80,000 regular troops and 20,000 Bashi-Bazouks, supported by a fleet of 126 ships. Early Ottoman probes against the walls and harbor were repulsed. The second phase took place 22nd April, when 70 Ottoman ships were moved overland into the Golden Horn, bypassing the harbor boom, and now stretching the defenders more thinly. The third phase was the final assault on walls which took place early morning, Tuesday 29th May. In this assault, the first two waves (of Bashi-Bazouks and Anatolian troops respectively) were repulsed. The third assault wave of Janissaries was successful. Constantine XI was killed in the fighting and his body was never identified.

Battle of Cotyaeum, AD 491 Battle fought in Phrygia between the rebel Longinus of Cardala and Anastasius. Longinus of Cardala's army was composed mostly of Isaurians. Subordinate commanders included Conon Phuscianus (an ex- bishop) and Longinus of Selinus. Anastasius' army was led by John the Scythian and John the Hunchback. Subordinate commanders included Justin (the future emperor), Apsal. Longinus' forces were decisively defeated and the rebels retreated to fortresses in Isauria where imperial forces slowly winkled them out over the next seven years.

Sieges of Ctesiphon, A.D. 198, Battle of Ctesiphon, AD 198 In late 197 the Roman armies of Septimius Severus began to sweep through upper Mesopotamia, traveling down the Euphrates. They sacked Seleucia, Babylon and then reached Ctesiphon, which they surprised. The Parthian king Vologaeses V fled, accompanied only by a small cavalry force. A few days later, on 28 January 198, Severus took the victory title Parthicus Maximus.







Battle of Issus, A.D. 194. By late spring 194, the armies of Septimius Severus had fought their way through the Cilician Gates and were in Cilicia, preparing to enter Syria. The Emperor Pescennius Niger and his army met the Severan troops near Issus, at an unknown date in 194. The battle was a decisive defeat for Niger, who fled back to Antioch; the remainder of his support collapsed. Niger prepared to flee once more, but outside Antioch he was captured and killed. Syria was pacified.




Siege of Lugdunum, A.D. 197 The Battle of Lyon took place 19 February 197 and involved more than 100,000 men. Septimius Severus' army was mostly composed of Illyrian, Moesian and Dacian legions, probably with the support of some of the Rhine troops. In the initial fighting, Clodius Albinus' troops forced the forces of Septimius Severus into retreat, during which Severus fell off his horse. But Albinus' success was short-lived. The Severan cavalry appeared under the command of Laetus, and Albinus' army was routed. The battlefield was strewn with bodies, and Severus' victorious troops were allowed to vent their anger by sacking Lyon. Albinus committed suicide.













Battle of Yarmuk, A.D. 636. During the reign of Heraclius this battle was fought between Romans and Arabs in the Jordan valley in the Roman province of Palestine. The Arab forces perhaps numbered 24,000, under four commanders, including a contingent recently arrived from Iraq under Khalid. The Byzantine force, of unknown strength, consisted of the eastern field army, supplemented by garrisons from Antioch and Aleppo, as well as contingents of Ghassanid and Lakhmid Arabs and Armenians. The approach of Byzantine army forced Moslems to unite. The battle opened well for the Byzantines, who, as expected, pushed the Arabs back to their camp. Then the Arabs broke part of the Byzantine line and forced them into a wadi. Later, the Byzantines tried to break out, but were massacred. After the Yarmuk, the Byzantines rapidly lost control over Syria.


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