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Battle of Carthage (238)

Battle of Carthage
Date 238 AD
Location Near Carthage
Result Maximinus victory
Numidian forces loyal to Roman Emperor Maximinus Thrax Forces of Gordian I and Gordian II
Commanders and leaders
Cappelianus Gordian II †
one legion
other veteran units
larger army of untrained militia

The Battle of Carthage was fought in 238 AD between a Roman army loyal to Emperor Maximinus Thrax and the forces of Emperors Gordian I and Gordian II.


  • Background 1
  • The battle 2
  • Lasting effects 3
  • References 4


Gordian I and II were father and son, both supported by the Roman Senate and based in Africa Province. The battle was part of a rebellion against Emperor Maximinus Thrax started by landowners who felt they had been overly and unfairly taxed. These landowners assassinated the procurator in Thysdrus and called on Gordian I and his son Gordian II to be their emperors.[1]

Capelianus was the governor of Numidia who had a previous grudge against Gordian I according to Herodian. Herodian says this grudge was developed after a lawsuit involving the two. Soon after being elected emperor, Gordian I sent a replacement to Numidia to replace his old enemy Capelianus. This action would eventually lead to his untimely demise.[2]

The battle

Gordian I marched from Thysdrus to Carthage, where news of the rebellion was welcomed.[3] Capelianus led the only legion in Africa, Legio III Augusta, in battle against the two emperors.[4]

The two armies met near Carthage. Gordian II personally led his army, consisting of militiamen without military training: he was defeated and killed, and, upon learning of his son's death, Gordian I committed suicide.[3] The father and son's reign lasted a total of 28 days. [5]

Lasting effects

With the death of the two Gordians the Roman senate elected two new emperors that were not popular with the public. The senate then decided to turn to the 13-year-old Goridan III to become the new Caesar.[2][3]


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