Emperor Claudius II faced many challenges from enemies inside and outside the Roman Empire. Generals vied for control of the empire and the borders crumbled without protection. The Gothic tribes proved particularly troublesome. Claudius marched on the Goths in late 268 A.D. The Romans confronted the barbarians in modern Syria in 269. Claudius earned the surname Gothicus for a smashing victory at Naissus. The emperor’s victory removed the Gothic threat from the Balkans for decades.
The Goths launched a series of incursions into the Roman Empire in the third century. Gallienus’ navy defeated the invaders at sea, but failed to end the threat. The Goths slipped out of the Black Sea coast and into the Aegean. They attacked Greece before being temporarily defeated. Afterward, Gallienus moved to counter another revolt, but the army assassinated the emperor before he could move. They proclaimed Claudius the new ruler after the murder.
Immediately, Claudius II moved on another barbarian force that threatened Rome. Meanwhile, the Goths launched another invasion. They attacked Aegean civilization, but retreated to the Balkans once Claudius marched on their position. The Goths managed to stop to plunder along the retreat. Eventually, Claudius caught the invaders and the battle began.
The exact strength of the two forces engaged remains unknown. Ancient sources are unclear and often exaggerate. By all accounts, the fighting grew desperate and vicious with many casualties. Claudius turned the battle against the Goths through trickery. The Romans feigned retreat and then turned on the pursuing Goths inflicting a crushing blow. The Romans obliterated the enemy force.
Survivors fled, but were continually attacked by the Roman cavalry. Eventually, many starved to death while others escaped. Rome tracked them to Mount Haemus, where an epidemic further decimated the Goths. The two sides skirmished, but the Romans finally withdrew to face another problem.
The Roman withdrawal provided the Goths breathing room to regroup. The Senate declared Claudius the victor and dubbed him “Gothicus” as the conqueror of the Goths. He died of the plague in 270. A reinvigorated Gothic force returned in 271. Emperor Aurelian returned to defeat the Goths again. This eliminated the Goth threat for decades. However, Aurelian pulled Rome out of Dacia in order to create a stronger frontier defense and buffer zone. Rome never returned to govern the province.
The Roman frontier crumbled as rival generals warred in the third century. Claudius Gothicus assumed imperial power upon the murder of his predecessor. Gothicus moved on the barbarians ravaging the Aegean and Balkans. He defeated them at the Battle of Naissus in 269 A.D. The Gallic Empire forced his withdrawal before finishing off the Goths. Gothicus died in 270 from an illness. His successor, Aurelian, completed the task and eliminated the Goth threat for decades, but lost Dacia in the process.