Siege of Aquileia

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Siege of Aquileia
Date 238
Location Aquileia
Result victory to Senate forces
Maximinus Thrax Senate
Citizens of Aquileia
Commanders and leaders
Maximinus Thrax Rutilius Pudens Crispinus
Tullius Meniphilus
unknown unknown
Casualties and losses
many many

The Siege of Aquileia is a siege battle that took place in 238 in the town of Aquileia during the Year of the Six Emperors which resulted in the assassination of Maximinus Thrax.


After the revolt of Gordian I and Gordian II and ascension of Balbinus and Pupienus, Maximinus marched on Rome. He reached the city of Aquileia, expecting an easy victory: the city's walls had long been in disrepair. However under the leadership of senators Rutilius Pudens Crispinus and Tullius Meniphilus, the walls were repaired and the city rallied to defend itself in a siege. According to Herodian:

These two had seen to everything with careful attention. With great foresight they had brought into the city supplies of every kind in quantities sufficient to enable it to withstand a long siege. An ample supply of water was available from the many wells in the city, and, a river flowing at the foot of the city wall provided both a defensive moat and an abundance of water.[1]

Maximinus' Pannonian legions attacked the walls of the city but were unsuccessful. Maximinus sent envoys to negotiate a surrender, but Crispinus persuaded the town to refuse.[2]

Maximinus' forces besieged the city but found it more difficult than originally thought. Herodian:

They launched numerous assaults virtually every day, and the entire army held the city encircled as if in a net, but the Aquileians fought back determinedly, showing real enthusiasm for war. They had closed their houses and temples and were fighting in a body, together with the women and children, from their advantageous position on the parapet and in the towers. In this way they held off their attackers, and no one was too young or too old to take part in the battle to preserve his native city.[3]

The Aquileians had plenty of food and good morale; they also used weapons to better effect, such as pouring oil on soldiers trying to climb the walls. Maximinus' soldiers began to lose heart and eventually assassinated the emperor along with his son Maximus.[4] This led to the end of the siege.[5] Pupienus Maximus visited the city to give thanks and made rousing speeches.[6]


The battle was dramatised in the play The siege of Aquileia: A tragedy by John Home (1722-1808).


  1. ^ Herodian, Roman History, 8.2 accessed 6 August 2013
  2. ^ Herodian, Roman History 8.3 accessed 6 August 2013
  3. ^ Herodian, Roman History, 8.4 accessed 6 August 2013
  4. ^ Herodian, Roman History 8.5 accessed 6 August 2013
  5. ^ Herodian, Roman History 8.6 accessed 6 August 2013
  6. ^ Herodian, Roman History 8.7 accessed 6 August 2013

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