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Siege of Rhagae (XI: Serica & Romanum)

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Battle of Rhagae
Timeline: XI: Serica & Romanum
Part of the First Silk War
Date December 1392- April 1393
Location: City of Shahr-e-Rey, Persia

1st stage: overwhelming Serican victory

2nd stage: Pyrrhic Allied victory; tactical Serican victory


Roman Empire


Islamic Abbasid Caliphate
Flag of Libya

Song Dynasty of Serica

Song flag


Tiberius Servilius


18,000 Roman soldiers with 40,000 reinforcements

20,000 Arab soldiers with 9,000 reinforcements


several cannons and firearms

Casualties and losses

60,000 killed or captured, modern estimates about 35,000

Unknown number of civilians

15,000 killed or captured

The Siege of Rhagae (Latin: Proelium in Rhagae)(simplified Chinese: 赖伊之战; traditional Chinese: 賴伊之戰; Làiyī zhī zhàn)(December 1392- August 1393) was a battle fought between the allied Roman and Arabian forces (known as the Allies) against the Song Serican army during the First Silk War. The battle ended with a decisive, strategic victory for the Allies.


Rhagae (commonly known as Shahr-e-Rey or Rey) was Southwest Asia's largest city during the Middle Ages. Located in an area of fertile lowland between the Zagros Mountains, Elburz Mountains, and the Dasht-e Kavir desert, it commanded vital routes across and around the mountains, making it a key to power over all of Persia and thus a military objective. Within days after hearing news of the war's beginning, 20,000 Abbasid Arab soldiers marched to reinforce the Roman garrison at Rey. Meanwhile, 30,000 Serican troops stationed in the Serican part of Persia were ordered to take Rey by force.

Beginning of the Siege

On December 18th, 1392, the Serican force was sighted by the scouts of the legion I Persia and battle preparations were made. Previously, a strong defensive city wall had been made by the Romans when they realized the strategic importance of Rey. By the next evening, the Serican force had arrived at the city gate, demanding the Romans surrender. The Roman general, Tiberius Servilius was unaware of the destructive power of Serican cannons and refused to surrender. When they saw the strong city wall, the Sericans began to bombard Rey heavily with cannons and caused much destruction in the opening stages of the battle, breaching the walls of Shahr-e-Rey. Although among the finest siege weapons in the world at the time, the Allied army's technologically inferior arrows, ballistae, and catapults were no match for the Serican cannons, and were quickly pushed out of Rey in January 1393.

Arrival of the Reinforcements

Realizing Asia Minor would be in danger if Rey was lost, Emperor Manuel II commanded the legions II Persia, III Persia Constantia, and IV Persia to reinforce I Persia. Along with them came 9,000 Arab reinforcements from the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate. The Allied soldiers stormed the Serican camps and cut off their supply routes. Seeing that they were heavily outnumbered, the Sericans left some of their heavy artillery and broke out of the blockade, retreating south.


The Allied army had defeated the Serican army, although with heavy casualties. Senator Tiberius Servilius was criticized and blamed for the severe casualties, but he was later praised for be able to capture the Serican firearms, which introduced the Romans and Arabs to gunpowder warfare, paving the road to modern warfare.

The defeated Sericans marched to Isfahan and regrouped with the Serican garrison there. The Romans and the Arabs followed and engaged the Serican army in the Persian city, which became known as the Battle of Isfahan.

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