The Danube formed a key part of the northern border of the Roman Empire during the high Imperial period, but is often less studied than the more famous Rhine or eastern frontiers. It was however the location of many of Rome’s most serious wars and defeats, and covered the most threatening approach to Italy and thus Rome.
The nature of this topic feels rather different to that of other entries in this series. The geographical area covered is less coherent, covering the eastern coast of the Adriatic as well as the entire southern side of the Danube, from Germany to the Black Sea, and the Dacians on the north of the river. Rome’s opponents in the area were more varied, with Germans, Dacians, Sarmatians, Pannonians and Illyrians all playing a role. The time frame is also longer, with the first Roman involvement east of the Adriatic coming in 230 BC, the conquest of Dacia in 101-106 AD, and Marcus Aurelius’s lengthy wars on this frontier lasting until 180.
This was one of the borders that most worried the Romans, who believed that a major enemy from this area could quickly threaten Rome. This would eventually prove to be true, as Attila and his Huns captured the key city of Aquileia (at the head of the Adriatic), which did indeed open the road to Rome. Even during this period the threat was real, and the book includes a series of major Roman defeats as well as the major victories that pushed the frontier away from Italy.
This is a useful addition to this series, and certainly helped to fill a gap in my knowledge of the expansion of the Roman Empire.
1 – Illyricum: The Push Towards the Danube
2 – Julius Caesar
3 – Octavius
4 – The Danube as the Northern Frontier
5 – The Pannonian Uprising of Ad 6 to 9
6 – The Dacians: An Emerging Empire
7 – The Flavian Danube
8 – Trajan’s Dacian Wars
9 – Hadrian
10 – The War of Many Nations
Author: Michael Schmitz
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military