Battle of the Margus
The Battle of the Margus was fought in July 285
Year 285 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Carinus and Aurelius...

 between the armies of Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

s Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

 and Carinus
Carinus , was Roman Emperor 282 to 285. The elder son of emperor Carus, he was appointed Caesar and co-emperor of the western portion of the empire upon his father's accession...

 in the valley of the Margus River (today Great Morava) in Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

 (present day Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...


Carinus led the larger force, but the loyalty of this army was definitely questionable. Carinus had allegedly alienated men whose support his success depended upon, including mistreating the Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

  and its womenfolk and seducing the wives of his officers. The exact circumstances of the battle are in doubt, but it is known for certain that Carinus was killed in the course of the battle, most probably by one of his own officers.

Diocletian was then left in sole control of the Roman Empire. The tide of the battle may have tilted to Carinus at first, only to shift in Diocletian's favor after the defection of Carinus' Praetorian Prefect
Praetorian prefect
Praetorian prefect was the title of a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders becoming the Emperor's chief aides...

, Aristobulus. Some scholars suspect that Aristobulus was the officer responsible for the murder of Carinus, an argument that gains credibility in the fact that Diocletian afterward rewarded Aristobulus by confirming him in office as Praetorian Prefect and Consul for the remainder of 285.

Aristobulus' Rationale

Although the battle decisively decided the issue of Roman leadership in Diocletian's favor, it is likely that, with the eastern provinces behind him, Diocletian would eventually have outlasted Carinus even if he had found himself on the losing side at Margus. After his victory, Diocletian administered the oath of loyalty to Carinus' former troops, then turned his attention to the Danube frontier
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 where the Marcomanni
The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribe, probably related to the Buri, Suebi or Suevi.-Origin:Scholars believe their name derives possibly from Proto-Germanic forms of "march" and "men"....

 and Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

were conducting raids across the border.
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