Roman Wars with Parthia: The Rulers

Rulers in Conflict         

Roman emperor
who warred with Persia

Persian ruler
at the time
Trajan (98-117) Osroes I (109-129)
Parthamaspates (116).
Trajan successfully invaded Mesopotamia and famously captured the gold throne of Parthia and a daughter of Osroes I (who was later returned). Parthamaspates, a young Parthian noble who had been in exile in Rome, was installed as ruler by Trajan. However, he was soon kicked out by the Parthians and fled to the Romans, who granted him the small buffer Kingdom of Osroene (Osrhoene) which was centered around Edessa. 
Lucius Verus (161-169) and his co-emperor Marcus Aurelius Vologases IV (147-191) Armenia was a buffer state with kings appointed or approved by either the Romans or by the Parthians. When a pro-Roman king claimed the throne in 162, Vologases IV invaded, crushed two Roman armies, and installed a new Armenian king. By 164 the Romans were ready to respond and a generals under Lucius Verus installed a pro-Roman King of Armenia and invaded Parthia. Northern Mesopotamia came under Roman control. 
Septimius Severus (193-211) Vologases V (191-208)
a.k.a. Valaksh V
Vologases V supported Niger against Septimus Severus and Roman Mesopotamia did too, which allowed Vologases V to capture Adiabene. His coins are "considerably rarer than coins of his predecessor or successor." [Sellwood, 181] Septimius Severus successfully invaded and made the cities of northern Mesopotamia into colonies of veterans. 
Caracalla, sole ruler (212-217)
Macrinus (217-218)
Vologases VI (208-228)
a.k.a. Valaksh VI
The brother of Vologases VI, Aratabanus IV (Ardavan IV) (216-224), also claimed the throne. A long civil war resulted. This war weakened the Parthians fatally. Caracalla invaded and then both brothers were defeated and the Parthian empire fell to the first Sasanian, Ardahsir I (224-242), who had been ruler of Persis, a dependency of Pathia along the northeast coast of the Persian Gulf. 
Severus Alexander (222-235) Ardashir I (224-242) Ardashir I took Mesopotamia during the reign of Severus Alexander. Roman provincial coins from northern Mesopotamian cities stopped being issued and did not resume until the reign of Gordian III (238-244). 
Gordian III (238-244)
Philip I (244-249)
Trajan Decius (249-251)
Valerian (253-260)
Shapur I (241-272) Shapur I was a son of Ardashir I. The Romans took Mesopotamia under Gordian (238-244) and lost it, including Dura-Europos, again in the early 250s. Valerian attempted to recover northern Mesopotamia and, after initial successes, the Roman army was catastrophically defeated with 70,000 soldiers lost and Valerian famously captured. He spent the rest of his life in humiliating captivity. 
Aurelian (270-275) Bahram I (271-274) Bahram I, a.k.a Varhran I, was a son of Shapur I. Aurelian conquered the rebellious Palmyran Kingdom and planned to invade Persia, but he was killed before his army reached even western Persia. 
Carus (282-284) Bahram II (274-293) Bahram II, a.k.a. Varhran II, was a son of Bahram I. Both his uncle, Narses, and his brother, Hormazd, also claimed the throne. These internal conflicts helped make the invasion by Carus successful.

Later rulers also warred with the Sasanian empire, but are not mentioned here because their coins do not illustrate the conflicts.  

Return to the main page on Roman conflicts with Persia.