26.06.

363: Roman emperor died in Iraq

363: Roman emperor died in Iraq
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/19th century depiction of Julian being proclaimed Emperor in Paris at the Thermes de Cluny, standing on a shield in the Frankish manner, in February 360

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 26 June 363
  • Roman Emperor Julian died of wounds suffered at the location north of the river Tigris, probably close to the present Tikrit (near the city of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein was born, as well as the prominent Muslim conqueror Saladin from the time of the Crusades).

On this day Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate died in present-day Iraq. 

Such a place of death seems unusual for one Roman emperor, but the gist of it was that Julian was invading Persian Empire with his Roman legions.

 Back in the spring of that same year he penetrated from the Roman Empire to the Persian territory with a strong military force, estimated at 65 to 90.000 people (10-15 classic Roman legions). 

They left from the city of Antioch and through the valley of the river Euphrates towards Mesopotamia. In May, they clashed with the army of Persian shah in the famous Battle of Ctesiphon. This was near the present-day Baghdad.

Though Emperor Julian defeated the Persians at Ctesiphon, he failed to secure a firm foothold in the Persian territory (which was a strategic mistake), so he decided to return on Roman territory.

With time, Julian’s retreating army increasingly weakened, suffering occasional attacks from the Persians. In one of these smaller skirmishes Emperor Julian was hit by a spear.

The wound was so severe that he died after a few days at the location north of the river Tigris, probably close to the present Tikrit (near the city of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein was born, as well as the prominent Muslim conqueror Saladin from the time of the Crusades).

According to his wish, Emperor Julian was buried in Tarsus in what is now Turkey. Jovian, one of Julian’s generals in the Persian campaign, was declared the new emperor.

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