Battle of Naissus

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Battles

The Battle of Naissus took place in September of 268 between the armies of the Goths and forces of the Roman Empire, led by Gallienus as emperor and the future Emperors Claudius II "Gothicus" ("conqueror of the Goths") as Commander in chief and Aurelian as cavalry commander.


The battle of Naissus came about as a result of a massive invasion of the Goths into Roman territory in late 267 and in the early months of 268. The Goths pushed across the Danube River and made their way into the wealthy Roman province of Pannonia, where they stormed and sacked several cities. It was feared by many that their next stop was going to be Rome itself.

Gallienus checked the Goths by winning an impressive victory in the spring, probably in April, but the Romans were weakened by decades of internal strife and rebellions, and were unable to expel the Goths from their provinces. The Goths continued their depredations throughout the summer, until Gallienus led a second expedition against them as the autumn began.

There is some dispute about who commanded the Roman army in the ensuing battle, as Gallienus died at about the same time and Claudius, known to history afterwards as Claudius II "Gothicus" ("conqueror of the Goths"), later was given credit for the victory, and his namesake, by the Roman Senate. Gallenius was almost certainly alive and present at the battle, so credit for the victory as emperor is his, but it appears that Claudius and especially Aurelian did most of the fighting.

The battle

Gallienus led a comitatus, a highly-mobile army composed mainly of cavalry units; the comitatus was probably composed by the Praetorians and vexillationes from the legions:

In the beginning, the Dalmatian Roman cavalry defeated a thousand Gothic horsemen. The Goths, who had the advantage of numbers, pushed back the Romans, despite valiant resistance. The Roman army, however, did not break, and counterattacked, with the help of the cavalry squadrons under Aurelian, which routed the vaunted Goth heavy cavalry and took the Goths' rear by surprise. The Goths were obliged to return to their fortified camp, but again the Roman cavalry stormed the Gothic laager. In the ensuing chaos, between 30,000 and 50,000 Goths were killed or wounded, and thousands more taken prisoner. Many of the prisoners later chose to join the Roman army and served in the later, victorious campaigns of both Claudius II and Aurelian. Gallienus, however, could not completely destroy the Goths, because he was obliged to return to Italy (possibly forced by the Aureolus revolt); the Goths broke the Roman siege, and succeeded in departing from the Roman Empire, but at the cost of very heavy casualties.


This devastating defeat, coupled with the earlier defeat in April of the same year, broke the war power of the Goths. Some remained on Roman soil until 271, when Aurelian drove the last of them back across the Danube, but they were no longer a danger to Rome or any other vital Roman area. In fact, a century would pass before the Goths would again seriously threaten the Empire.


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools