The Nisibis War

The Defence of the Roman East AD 337-363

John S. Harrel

Date Published :
September 2020
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781473848306
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9.21 X 6.14 inches
Stock Status : Out of stock
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781526782069
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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The war of 337-363 (which the author dubs the Nisibis War), was an exception to the traditional Roman reliance on a strategic offensive to bring about a decisive battle. Instead, the Emperor Constantius II adopted a defensive strategy and conducted a mobile defense based upon small frontier (limitanei) forces defending fortified cities, supported by limited counteroffensives by the Field Army of the East. These methods successfully checked Persian assaults for 24 years. However, when Julian became emperor his access to greater resources tempted him to abandon mobile defense in favor of a major invasion aimed at regime change in Persia. Although he reached the Persian capital, Ctesiphon, he failed to take it, was decisively defeated in battle and killed. The Romans subsequently resumed and refined the mobile defense, allowing the Eastern provinces to survive the fall of the Western Empire.

John Harrel applies his personal experience of military command to a strategic, operational, tactical and logistical analysis of these campaigns and battles, highlighting their long-term significance.


“This is a good account of a very confusing conflict, in an area still in contention.”

- The NYMAS Review, Autumn 2017

“In The Nisibis War Harris offers us some excellent strategic analysis, helping explain the many military problems confronting the late empire, and evaluating the abilities of the respective armies and leaders, particularly the over-rated Julian, altogether providing us with a good account of a very confusing conflict, in an area still in contention.”

- StrategyPage

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