Battle of Edessa

Battle of Edessa

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Edessa
partof=the Roman-Persian Wars

caption=A rock relief at Naqsh-e Rostam, depicting the triumph of Shapur I over the Roman Emperor Valerian
place=Edessa, Mesopotamia (southern Turkey)
result=Decisive Sassanid victory
combatant1=Sassanid Empire
combatant2=Roman Empire
commander1=Shapur I
casualties2=Entire Force [Avalanche Press, Sassanid Persia.
] [Kevan Barwise, Sassanid Persian - DBA 73a&b(220AD-637AD).
The Battle of Edessa took place between the armies of the Roman Empire under the command of Emperor Valerian and Sassanid forces under King Shapur I in 259.

Prior to the battle, Shapur I had penetrated several times deeply into Roman territory conquering and plundering Antiochia in Syria in 253 or 256. In order to halt these advances and retaliate, Emperor Valerian gathered an army, which included the Roman Praetorian Guard, and marched eastward to the Sassanid borders. He succeeded initially and recaptured Syrian provinces. He then marched to Carrhae and Edessa where he met the main Persian army under command of the King Shapur I. After minor skirmishing with the Persian forces, the main battle commenced.


Shapur I defeated and captured Emperor Valerian, along with many other high ranking officials, though not much is known about the battle itself. The outcome of the battle was an overwhelming Persian victory, with the entire 70,000-strong Roman force being slain or captured. This compared starkly to the minimal number of Persian casualties.

A handkerchief proportedly used by Christ, the Mandylion Of Edessa, which miraculously retained his image on it was carried into battle and some claimed that it was responsible for the incredible victory. Vikan, Gary "Sacred Image, Sacred Power"Ashgate, 1984. p.6]


Some scholars claim Shapur sent Valerian and some of his army to the city of Bishapur, where they lived in relatively good condition. Shapur used the remaining soldiers in engineering and development plans. "Band-e Kaisar" (Caesar's dam) is one of the remnants of Roman engineering located near the ancient city of Susa. [Zarinkoob, Abdolhossein, "Ruzgaran: tarikh-i Iran az aghz ta saqut saltnat Pahlvi" pp. 195.]

Other sources say Valerian was captured with most of his army, by treachery, while negotiating a peace (Zosimus). According to Lactantius, Shapur humiliated Valerian, using the former emperor as a human stepping-stool while mounting his horse. Valerian's body was later skinned and stuffed with manure to produce a trophy of Roman submission preserved in a Persian temple.



* Lactantius, "De Mortibus Persecutorum", v.
* Zosimus, "New History", i.
* Abdolhossein Zarinkoob, "Ruzgaran: tarikh-i Iran az aghz ta saqut saltnat Pahlvi", Sukhan, 1999. ISBN 964-6961-11-8

External links

* [ "Valerian"] on "De Imperatoribus Romanis".

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