|Tacitus and Florianus
|between 230-235, Sirmium, Pannonia Inferior
|September 282 (aged 50), Sirmium, Pannonia
If you are interested in learning more about one of the most successful Roman emperors of the third century, you have come to the right place. In this blog post, I will give you a brief overview of the life and achievements of Marcus Aurelius Probus, who ruled the empire from 276 to 282 A.D.
Early life and military career
Probus was born in Sirmium, a city in the province of Pannonia Inferior (modern-day Serbia), between 230 and 235 A.D. His father was a military officer named Dalmatius, and his mother may have been of noble origin. Probus joined the army at a young age and rose through the ranks, earning many honors and decorations for his bravery and skill. He served under several emperors, such as Valerian, Aurelian and Tacitus, and fought against various enemies of Rome, such as the Sarmatians, the Goths, the Palmyrenes and the Persians.
Probus was appointed as the supreme commander of the eastern provinces by Emperor Tacitus in 275 A.D., after he had successfully reconquered Egypt from Queen Zenobia. However, Tacitus died soon after, and his brother Florian became emperor. Florian was not popular with the army, and Probus was proclaimed emperor by his troops in opposition to him. Florian was killed by his own soldiers after a brief civil war, and Probus became the sole ruler of the empire.
Reign and reforms
Probus inherited an empire that was plagued by internal turmoil and external threats. He devoted most of his reign to restoring stability and security to the provinces, while also maintaining good relations with the Senate and promoting economic and cultural development. He waged several campaigns against the barbarian tribes that were invading the borders of the empire, such as the Franks, the Alamans, the Burgundians, the Vandals and the Longobards. He defeated them decisively and either drove them back or settled them peacefully within the empire as allies or colonists.
Probus also reformed the army and improved its discipline and morale. He recruited many barbarians into his ranks, but also made sure they were loyal and well-trained. He rewarded his soldiers with bonuses and land grants, but also punished them severely for any misconduct or mutiny. He also employed them in various public works projects, such as building roads, bridges, fortifications and irrigation systems. He encouraged agriculture and viticulture in many regions of the empire, especially in Gaul, Spain and Britain.
Probus was not only a great warrior, but also a wise and benevolent ruler. He respected the authority and privileges of the Senate, and consulted them on important matters of state. He issued many laws and edicts that protected the rights and welfare of his subjects, especially the poor and oppressed. He promoted trade and commerce, lowered taxes, minted new coins, supported education and arts, restored temples and monuments, sponsored festivals and games, and patronized many scholars and artists.
Death and legacy
Probus was preparing for a war against Persia in 282 A.D., when he faced a rebellion from some of his troops in Sirmium. They were unhappy with his strict discipline and his orders to work on agricultural projects. They killed him in a mutiny and proclaimed one of their officers, Carus, as emperor. Probus’s death was mourned by many people throughout the empire, who admired him for his achievements and virtues.
Probus was one of the best emperors of the third century crisis period. He restored peace and prosperity to a troubled empire, defended it from external enemies, reformed it from within, and left it stronger than he found it. He was praised by many historians and writers for his military prowess, his administrative skills, his generosity, his piety and his justice. He was also honored with many titles and epithets, such as Restitutor Orbis (Restorer of the World), Invictus (Unconquered), Pius Felix (Pious and Happy), Augustus (Majestic) and Imperator (Commander).