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Diocletian pacifies the Balkans

The Danube region presented an extreme challenge to Rome.
The Danube region presented an extreme challenge to Rome.

The Sarmatian tribes tangled with Emperor Diocletian over the years. They originally approached the emperor for assistance and alliance. Diocletian rebuffed their efforts and campaigned against them. However, he failed to defeat their spirit in the initial conflict. In the end, the emperor finally defeated the Sarmatians and secured the Balkans after a decade of struggle.

In 284, Diocletian turned his attention east. By the end of 285, he encountered the Sarmatians. The tribal nomads of Sarmatia hoped to ally with the Roman Empire. They demanded Diocletian help them restore their native lands or allow them to settle within the empire with land use rights. The emperor refused to be bullied and defeated the tribe in a minor conflict. The Sarmatians lost the battle, but were not defeated.

Samartia represented another in a long line of nomadic problems for the empire. These tribes plagued the Roman Empire for centuries. Emperors had varied success against them. Diocletian managed to hold the line against this foe for a decade. Finally, in 294, the Romans dealt a lasting defeat upon Samartia. The defeat expelled the tribe from the Danube region.

The Danube area represented a major defensive investment for Rome. Diocletian's pacification campaign restored peace to the region. However, he realized that peace in the Balkans was fleeting. As a result, he built up the area's defenses. Diocletian created a defensive line in the north designed to keep the Sarmatians, and other troublemakers, out. He constructed forts near modern Serbia, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Rome called the new defensive line the Ripa Sarmatica. Despite the measures, Diocletian spent the remainder of the third century campaigning in the Balkans. By the time he retired in 305, he secured the area in totality. Additionally, the Romans built bridges, roads, walled villages and towns, and additional fortifications to entrench the region. By the end, Diocletian had accomplished a minor miracle. The emperor secured the Balkans.

The Balkans have been Europe's trouble spot for more than 2,000 years. Diocletian entered the region determined to secure it. He defeated the Sarmartian Tribe in the early 290s and then spent the next decade campaigning in the region. Eventually, the Romans pacified the Balkans, created an impressive defensive network, and brought peace. Considering the region's history, the Diocletian peace represented a major accomplishment.