East Roman-Sassanid Wars
Part of Roman-Persian Wars
Date 285-835
Place Caucasus, Asia Minor, Egypt, Levant, Balkans, Mesopotamia
Result Pyrrhic East Roman Victory
  • East Roman Empire splits into Successor States
  • Sassanid Empire falls apart
  • A new Persian dynasty rises
East Roman Empire Sassanid Empire
Commanders and leaders
Julian IV
Tiberian I
Khosrau I
Khosrau II
East Roman Army Sassanid Imperial Army

The East-Roman-Sassanid Wars refer to the series of conflicts between the East Roman Empire and the Sassanid Empire. This war involved several campaigns and small peace treaties.

Strategy and Tactics

First Sassanid Offensive

Conquest of Syria

In 515 the Sassanids invaded the East Romans under Anastasius. During the following years heavy fighting in Syria and Mesopotamia would ensue. The Sassanid troops were victorious over the East Romans in Syria due to greater generalship.

In summer of 515 the Sassanids sieged Edessa and Amida, finally overcoming the East Romans in January of 516. After this they took most of the land in far east Anatolia without facing major setbacks.

During 517-518, the Sassanids march on Antioch, Tyrus, Bostra, Petra and Emesa, taking each city and taking all of Syria and the coastal cities.

Anatolian Campaign and Constantinople

In June of 518 the Sassanids besieged Pelusium but were defeated, with this they turned their attention to western Anatolia.

In 518-519 the Sassanids sweep through eastern and central Anatolia, most major city or fort fell with ease to the advancing Sassanids.

In 519, hearing that the Avars had besieged Constantinople, they sent a portion of their army to Constantinople and kept the other part attacking remaining East Roman forces, keeping them busy.

In 520, the Sassanids in Constantinople were killed by the Avars.

First East Roman Offensive

Anatolian Offensive 522-528

In the spring of 522 the general Belisarius mounted a counter-attack against the Sassanid armies in central Anatolia. Belisarius supported by Narses, was very successful in taking back the southern coast of Anatolia, he took back the regions of Lydia, Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia, Pisidia and Galatia. He pushed the frontier to central Anatolia, Ancyra became heavily fortified and switched back and forth a few times.

In 523, Belisarius took back the region of Galatia after he successfully besieged Pessinus.

In 524, Narses sieged Ephesus and took back the province of Asia, when he won the siege.

In 525-527, the rest of the western Anatolian provinces came back under Roman control, due to the alliance of Belisarius and Narses.

In 528, the Sassanid reinforcements arrived in central Anatolia. The Sassanid reinforcements arrived at a crucial time for the Sassanids because they stopped the triumphant Roman generals from advancing any further into Anatolia. The second siege of Ancyra was successful for the Sassanids and made Belisarius rethink his strategy against the Persians.

Stalemate in Central Anatolia 529-540

When Belisarius departed for his Balkan campaign, that left Narses in charge of the Persian front, which Narses did a good job defending.

In 531, Narses managed to take back Ancyra after a third siege of the city.

For most of the 530s the border was pretty stable, with small skirmishes occurring along the border and with small towns being traded back and forth with border armies.

A major Sassanid advance took place during 539, where a major Sassanid army marched across the border and besieged Gangra. The news reached Narses and he recalled all of his troops to Ancyra. After his troops were recalled he marched to Gangra with the entire army that he had, meeting the Sassanids outside of Gangra and a huge battle followed. The battle of Gangra was an important battle because Narses effectively slowed the Sassanids down, the Romans were able to kill the Sasanian general and destroy most of his force but Narses himself was slain on the battle field, he died a heroic death fighting off multiple Sassanids at once before an arrow penetrated his armor.

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