364: Jovian: A Roman who was Proclaimed Emperor in what is now Iraq

Photo Credit To https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jovian1.jpg

Roman emperor Jovian died on this day in 364.

It is interesting that he was born in Singidunum, the Roman city located on the same spot as modern Belgrade. Namely, Singidunum was an important traffic junction at the time of the Roma Empire, being located at the place where the Save flows into the Danube.

It was also the base of the IV Roman Legion, called Legio IIII Flavia Felix in Latin. The legion had its castrum near Kalemegdan, while the Roman forum and baths were located in what is now the center of Belgrade.

The way in which Jovian became the Roman emperor is of particular interest. Namely, he was a high-ranking military commander at the time when his predecessor, Emperor Julian, led a military expedition against Persia. Julian was known as “The Apostate” because he had renounced Christianity, which had by then become the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.

Julian led his troops deep into Mesopotamia, where he managed to defeat the army of Persian king Shapur II near what is now Baghdad. However, much like Napoleon in Russia, complete victory eluded him and he was forced to return to Europe. During the return journey, the emperor was wounded and died on the territory of what is now Iraq.

It was in precisely on the territory of what is now Iraq that Jovian became Julian’s successor, since the main factor in the election of a new emperor was the Roman army. Jovian restored Christianity to the status of the official state religion in the Roman Empire. However, he died soon after on the territory of modern Turkey, most likely as the result of an accident.

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