Battle of Carrhae

Battle of Carrhae ... 16/05/296 History

Keywords:#Ardashir_I, #Armenia, #Armenian, #Armenians, #Arsacid, #Arzanene, #Battle_of_Callinicum, #Battle_of_Carrhae, #Battle_of_Satala, #Caesar, #Callinicum, #Carrhae,, #Euphrates, #Galerius, #Harran, #Iberia, #Iran, #Iranian, #Media, #Mesopotamia, #Naqsh-e, #Naqsh-e_Rustam, #Narseh, #Nisibis, #Peace_of_Nisibis, #Persia, #Persian, #Roman, #Rome, #Rustam, #Sasanian, #Syria, #Tigris, #Tiridates, #Valerian

The Battle of Carrhae or the Battle of Callinicum took place in 296 or 297, after the invasion of Mesopotamia and Armenia by the Sasanian king Narseh. The battle took place between Carrhae (Harran) and Callinicum (al-Raqqah) and was a victory for the Sasanians. Narseh attacked with forces recruited from the Euphrates frontier. He managed to defeat his opponent by good timing.
Relief of the Sasanian king (shah) Narseh in Naqsh-e Rustam.

* * * Galerius and Tiridates III of Armenia escaped with a remnant of their forces. Galerius met Diolectan in Antioch. Eutropius and Theophanes have recorded versions of a celebrated story regarding a public humiliation of Galerius by Diolectan, though the latter retained Galerius in command.
Diolectan later sent reinforcements for Galerius, and the latter managed to defeat the Sassanids two years later at the Battle of Satala (298).
When Narseh ascended the throne, the eastern portion of Mesopotamia (since 244) and all of Armenia (since 252) were under Iranian rule. The traditional notion of the western part of Armenia had been given to the Arsacid prince Tiridates III has been questioned. According to historian Ursula Weber, "It is quite certain" that the whole of Armenia continued to be a part of the Sasanian Empire in the 3rd century, until it was later ceded to the Romans in 298/9 after the Peace of Nisibis. The proposition of Narseh presumably following Shapur I's expansionistic approach does not match with his testimony in the Paikuli inscription; "And Caesar and the Romans were in gratitude (?) and peace and friendship with us." Contrary to the testimony, however, the two empires soon clashed with each other−in 296. From a Roman viewpoint, the mutual relations with Iran had been heavily strained due the aggressive and expansionistic approach of Ardashir I and Shapur I. However, the conclusive causes for the Roman offensive was possibly due to their territorial losses and the disadvantageous change in the sphere of authority and influence in the Mesopotamian-Armenian lands in the 240s and 250s.
The war
Galerius, Caesar under Emperor Diocletian, invaded Mesopotamia, which Narseh had occupied hoping to check his advance. Three battles were fought subsequently, the first two of which were indecisive. In the third fought at Callinicum, Galerius suffered a complete defeat and was forced to retreat. Galerius crossed the Euphrates into Syria to join his father-in-law Diocletian at Antioch. On his arrival at Antioch, Galerius was rebuked by Diocletian who disgraced him for his shameful defeat at the hands of Narseh. Vowing to take revenge, Galerius made preparations throughout the winter of 297 and invaded Armenia with 25,000 men.
Supported by the Armenians, Galerius surprised Narseh in his camp at the Battle of Satala and inflicted a crushing defeat on the latter, forcing him to flee in haste. His wife, prisoners, his sisters and a number of his children were captured apart from his prodigious military chest. Eastern Mesopotamia was recovered by the Romans and Tiridates was reinstated as the monarch of Armenia.
Peace negotiations
Anxious to make peace with the Romans, Narseh dispatched his envoy Aphraban to Galerius with the following message:
"The whole human race knows that the Roman and Persian kingdoms resemble two great luminaries, and that, like a man's two eyes, they ought mutually to adorn and illustrate each other, and not in the extremity of their wrath to seek rather each other's destruction. So to act is not to act manfully, but is indicative rather of levity and weakness; for it is to suppose that our inferiors can never be of any service to us, and that therefore we had better get rid of them. Narseh, moreover, ought not to be accounted a weaker prince than other Persian kings; thou hast indeed conquered him, but then thou surpassest all other monarchs; and thus Narseh has of course been worsted by thee, though he is no whit inferior in merit to the best of his ancestors. The orders which my master has given me are to entrust all the rights of Persia to the clemency of Rome; and I therefore do not even bring with me any conditions of peace, since it is for the emperor to determine everything. I have only to pray, on my master's behalf, for the restoration of his wives and male children; if he receives them at your hands, he will be forever beholden to you, and will be better pleased than if he recovered them by force of arms. Even now my master cannot sufficiently thank you for the kind treatment which he hears you have vouchsafed them, in that you have offered them no insult, but have behaved towards them as though on the point of giving them back to their kith and kin. He sees herein that you bear in mind the changes of fortune and the instability of all human affairs."
But Galerius dismissed Aphraban without giving any definite answer, at the same time accusing the Iranians of ill-treating Valerian. In the meantime, he consulted Diocletian at Nisibis, and he persuaded Galerius to offer terms of peace to the Iranians. Accordingly, terms of peace were agreed upon, and were ratified by a treaty concluded by Narseh with the Romans.
According to this treaty,
Five provinces beyond the Tigris were to be ceded to the Romans. One writer gives these provinces as Ingilene, Sophene, Arzanene, Corduene, and Zabdicene; by another as Arzanene, Moxoene, Zabdicene, Rehimene, and Corduene.
The semi-independent kingdom of Armenia was to be extended up to the fortress of Zintha, in Media.
Iran was expected to relinquish all her rights over Iberia.
Formal dealings between Iran and Rome would henceforth be conducted at Nisibis.
Narseh did not survive for long after the conclusion of this humiliating treaty. He died in 303 and was succeeded by his son, Hormizd II.
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