Battle of Singara (344)

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Battle of Singara
Part of the Roman-Persian Wars
Date344
Location
Result Sasanian victory[1][2]
Belligerents
Sasanian Empire Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Shapur II Constantius II
Strength
Unknown Unknown (larger than the Sasanians[3])
Casualties and losses
Heavy[4] Heavy[5]


The Battle of Singara was fought in 344 between the Roman and Sasanian Persian forces. The Romans were led in person by Emperor Constantius II, while the Persian army was led by King Shapur II of Persia, it is the only one of the nine pitched battles recorded to have been fought in a war of over twenty years, marked primarily by indecisive siege warfare, of which any details have been preserved.[6] Although the Persian forces prevailed on the battlefield, both sides suffered heavy casualties.[7]

Background[edit]

When Shapur II, who ascended to the rule of the Sasanian Empire in 309 (at the time an unborn infant), came of age and took in hand the administration of his kingdom, he dedicated himself to a lifelong mission of restoring his country's military power, and revenging its recent defeats sustained against the Romans and Saracens. After thoroughly subduing the Lakhmid Arabs rebellion in the south, he directed his attention towards Rome, his main enemy, in 337;[8][9] the sacking of a Sasanian city and the deportation of its population may have led to the intervention of Shapur II.[10] He began by recapturing Armenia.[11] and then advanced in his first campaign against Constantius II in the following year, however, the Roman defensive lines resisted and the Persian forces made limited progress.[12]

Battle[edit]

In 344, Shapur raised an army that included foot archers, mounted archers, regular cavalry, cataphracts, slingers and hoplites;[13] the preparation of such a massive army was not unnoticed by the Roman Emperor since his spies informed him of every move the Sasanians made.[14]

The Romans retired their frontier troops and the Persian forces susequently crossed the Tigris river.[15] Shapur's tactic was to tire the Roman forces with a long march in the hot hours of the day before engaging them with his archers and cataphracts,[16] thus, when the two armies came face-to-face, the Persian cavalry feigned flight and the overconfident Romans then pursued them for more than 18 kilometers, reaching Singara while the Sasanians had cut off their communication lines.[17]

When the Persian cavalry reached a higher position during their retreat, they halted and shot arrows on the Roman forces who were probably using the tortoise order to resist the enemy's arrows;[18] the Roman army included in its ranks elite units, the club-bearers/mace-bearers who were trained to fight against the Sasanian clibanarii.[19] Close to the night evening, the Roman forces reached the Persian camp and, while Constantius asked them to halt in vain, engaged the Persian troops. Roman club bearers' tactic was effective and simple, each of them had to charge the clibanarii opposite him, to sidestep or deflect his enemy's kontos and hit the rider with his mace in order to knock him off his horse;[20] when Shapur realised that the Romans had brought a huge army that outnumbered his own forces, he decided to leave for the Tigris and left his son in charge or the Sasanian army.[21] The Roman troops smashed down the defences of the Persian camp,[22] inflicted heavy casualties,[23] captured Shapur's son and tortured him to death.[24] However, the Roman forces inside the Persian camp made a mistake when they used torchs to light their way and while the exausted Roman soldiers were recovering, the Sasanian troops, helped by the light of the torchs, suddenly fired a deadly barrage of missiles with high accuracy and launched a general counter-attack that inflicted massive casualties to the Roman troops who were unable to resist.[25][26]

Outcome and Aftermath[edit]

The death of Shapur's son did not facilitate an amicable settlement of the conflict, and the war dragged on several years later. Shapur, notwithstanding the extent of his victory, proved unable to utilize the event to any further advantage. Two years later, he became bogged down in another siege of Nisibis, but was once more repelled with losses;[27] he was then obliged to break off the war to meet the threat of nomadic barbarian invasions in Sogdiana in the far east;[28] the war resumed in 359 A.D. but ended with no conclusive result. In 363 it was taken up energetically by Julian, who died and suffered a decisive defeat, his successor, Jovian, was forced to cede extensive Roman territory in the disgraceful treaty of Dura, and thus Shapur's ambitions were at length accomplished.[29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dmitriev, Vladimir (2015-03-21). "The 'Night Battle' of Singara: Whose Victory?". Rochester, NY. The analysis of the sources from the point of view of the “classical theory of war” elaborated by C. Clausewitz, unambiguously demonstrates that the winning side in this battle were the Persians. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Taylor, Donathan (2016-09-19). Roman Empire at War: A Compendium of Roman Battles from 31 B.C. to A.D. 565. Pen and Sword. p. 166. ISBN 9781473869110.
  3. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 314. ISBN 9781848848559. He realized that the Romans had brought a huge army to the scene of operations, with the implication that the Romans outnumbered his own forces.
  4. ^ From Constantine to Julian: Pagan and Byzantine Views: A Source History "344 (summer) Both Romans and Persians suffered heavy casualties at the battle of Singara."
  5. ^ From Constantine to Julian: Pagan and Byzantine Views: A Source History "344 (summer) Both Romans and Persians suffered heavy casualties at the battle of Singara."
  6. ^ An Encyclopedia of World History, (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1952), ch. II., Ancient History, p. 125
  7. ^ Vladimir, Dmitriev, (2015-03-21). "The 'Night Battle' of Singara: Whose Victory?". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  8. ^ Edwards, Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen; Gadd, Cyril John; Bowman, Alan; Boardman, John; Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière; Garnsey, Peter; Walbank, Frank William; Cameron, Averil; Astin, A. E. (2005-09-08). The Cambridge Ancient History: Volume 12, The Crisis of Empire, AD 193-337. Cambridge University Press. p. 471. ISBN 9780521301992.
  9. ^ electricpulp.com. "ŠĀPUR II – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2018-11-07. Until the death of Constantine in 337, there was relative peace with the Romans, but the conversion of Armenia to Christianity and the Roman rulers’ backing of Armenia caused Šāpur II to begin a campaign against them.
  10. ^ Harrel, John (2016-02-29). The Nisibis War: The Defence of the Roman East AD 337-363. Pen and Sword. p. 78. ISBN 9781473848337.
  11. ^ An Encyclopedia Of World History, Ibid
  12. ^ electricpulp.com. "ŠĀPUR II – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2018-11-07. Šāpur II laid siege to Nisibis three times, and there was constant warfare, which did not go in favor of either side. The Roman defensive system of fortresses and limes hindered Šāpur’s campaign in the region, but some forts, such as the town of Bezabde near Nisibis, fell to him.
  13. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 313. ISBN 9781848848559.
  14. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 313. ISBN 9781848848559.
  15. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 313. ISBN 9781848848559.
  16. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 314. ISBN 9781848848559.
  17. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 314. ISBN 9781848848559.
  18. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 314. ISBN 9781848848559.
  19. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 314. ISBN 9781848848559.
  20. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 314. ISBN 9781848848559.
  21. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 314. ISBN 9781848848559.
  22. ^ Dodgeon, Michael H.; Lieu, Samuel N. C. (1994). The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars (AD 226-363): A Documentary History. Psychology Press. p. 188. ISBN 9780415103176.
  23. ^ Taylor, Donathan (2016-09-19). Roman Empire at War: A Compendium of Roman Battles from 31 B.C. to A.D. 565. Pen and Sword. p. 166. ISBN 9781473869110.
  24. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 315. ISBN 9781848848559.
  25. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 315. ISBN 9781848848559.
  26. ^ Taylor, Donathan (2016-09-19). Roman Empire at War: A Compendium of Roman Battles from 31 B.C. to A.D. 565. Pen and Sword. p. 166. ISBN 9781473869110.
  27. ^ Syvanne, Ilkka (2015-09-09). Military History of Late Rome 284-361. Pen and Sword. p. 316. ISBN 9781848848559.
  28. ^ "ŠĀPUR II – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 2019-06-20. The encroachment of the nomadic tribes in Central Asia forced Šāpur II to turn his attention to the East (Chronicle of Arbela, p. 85), and the war with Rome ended in stalemate by 350.
  29. ^ An Encyclopedia Of World History, Ibid.