Battle of Mursa Major
The Battle of Mursa Major was fought in 351
Year 351 was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Magnentius and Gaiso...

 between the Eastern Roman army led by Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

 and the western forces supporting the usurper
Usurper is a derogatory term used to describe either an illegitimate or controversial claimant to the power; often, but not always in a monarchy, or a person who succeeds in establishing himself as a monarch without inheriting the throne, or any other person exercising authority unconstitutionally...

Flavius Magnus Magnentius was a usurper of the Roman Empire .-Early life and career:...


The action took place along the valley of the Drava River
Drava or Drave is a river in southern Central Europe, a tributary of the Danube. It sources in Toblach/Dobbiaco, Italy, and flows east through East Tirol and Carinthia in Austria, into Slovenia , and then southeast, passing through Croatia and forming most of the border between Croatia and...

, a Danube tributary in present day Croatia.

Before the battle, Constantius sent Flavius Philippus
Flavius Philippus
Flavius Philippus was a Roman Empire officer under Emperor Constantius II.- Biography :Son of a sausage-maker, Philippus rose in social levels becoming a notarius. In 346, he became Praetorian Prefect of the East under Emperor Constantius, allegedly because of the influence of the court eunuchs...

, his 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...

, to negotiate with Magnentius, requiring that the usurper withdraw back to Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

. After this inconclusive mission, one of Magnentius' commanders, Claudius Silvanus
Claudius Silvanus
Claudius Silvanus was a Roman general of Frankish descent, usurper in Gaul against Emperor Constantius II for 28 days in 355.- Origin and career :...

, and most of his men deserted to Constantius, thus helping seal the outcome.

The battle was one of the bloodiest in Roman military history. According to Zonaras
Joannes Zonaras
Ioannes Zonaras was a Byzantine chronicler and theologian, who lived at Constantinople.Under Emperor Alexios I Komnenos he held the offices of head justice and private secretary to the emperor, but after Alexios' death, he retired to the monastery of St Glykeria, where he spent the rest of his...

 (xiii 8.17), Magnentius lost upwards of two-thirds of his troops, and Constantius about half of his army, for a total of over 50,000 casualties, in an age in which the Empire was under severe external pressure from Goths, Alamanni and Persians, as well as internal dissensions and rebellions.

There was also a religious meaning to the conflict. Magnentius had restored some rights to the pagans, while Constantius even left the battlefield to pray on the nearby tomb of a Christian martyr. The bishop of Mursa, Valens, told the pious Emperor that an angel had reported to him the news of the victory, thus ending any chance of a pagan revival.

Magnentius, who had lost in the battle his loyal supporter magister officiorum
Magister officiorum
The magister officiorum was one of the most senior administrative officials in the late Roman Empire and the early centuries of the Byzantine Empire...

Marcellinus (magister officiorum)
Marcellinus was a Roman Empire officer under Roman Emperor Constans and usurper Magnentius.Marcellinus was comes rerum privatarum of Emperor Constans. He played a major role in the election of Magnentius to the rank of Augustus at Augustodunum, on January 18, 350...

, would suffer another, final defeat, two years later at Mons Seleucus
Battle of Mons Seleucus
The Battle of Mons Seleucus was fought in 353 between the forces of the legitimate Roman emperor Constantius II of the line of Constantine I the Great and the forces of the usurper Magnentius. Constantius' forces were victorious, and Magnentius later committed suicide.It took place in today's...

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