Constantius II lives - Constantius vs Julian

#1
This thread could be a flop, but in 360 Julian the Caesar accepted from the Gallic army the title of Augustus, a title that could only be legitimately bestowed on Julian by the then sole Augustus Constantius II, his half-cousin. Constantius did not accept Julian's promotion as legitimate and, after failing to prevail on his cousin to drop the title, eventually regarded him as a usurper. In spring 361 Julian marched out of Gaul, seized control of Raetia, northern Italy, Pannonia and Moesia, and he secured the pass of Succi into Thrace. However, a force that was loyal to Constantius then seized Aquileia in northern Italy, forcing Julian to use part of his forces to besiege the city. In late 361, a lull in warfare on the eastern front, where Constantius had been fighting the Persians, allowed him to march west against Julian, but he died of a fever in Cilicia. Let's say he got better, and in 362 marched into the Balkans to confront Julian. What would have happened?

Julian had proven himself a good commander during the wars against the Alemanni and Franks of the 350s. He was a bold commander who took chances. He rid Gaul of the Germans, and he repeatedly invaded German lands, forcing the submission of the enemy kings. His army proved its discipline and fighting success at the Battle of Strasbourg (357). On the other hand, his invasion of the Persian Empire in 363 was a disaster that suffered from poor preparation and hasty decisions. He was ultimately killed in a skirmish, and his army eventually found itself trapped and running out of supplies in enemy territory. His successor Jovian agreed to very unfavourable peace terms in order to extricate the army, reversing the gains made by Diocletian and Galerius.

The Persians had been a menace for Constantius II since his accession in 337. His forces defended against the Persians in 337-350 and 359-361, and he failed to win any lasting success against them. The Persians captured the city of Amida, the fortress of Bazabde and (twice) the fortress of Singara, they took effective control over Armenia, and Constantius was defeated by Shapur II in the Battle of Singara (344; an apparent victory was reversed into a nasty defeat). Constantius supposedly blamed his lack of success against the Persians on divine judgement, which, he believed, had been provoked by his massacre of much of his family in 337. On the other hand, his armies had crushed another western usurper, Magnentius, albeit with much loss of life among his own men, in the civil war of 350-353. In 337 he had successfully rallied military support against his uncles and cousins for the aforementioned massacre (Dalmatius Caesar and Hannibalianus, 'King of Kings and of the Pontic Peoples' were killed by their own men on Constantius' orders or encouragement). In 350 he gave a speech before the army of the usurper Vetranio and won their loyalty as well. Vetranio was probably working in Constantius' interests - I can elaborate on that if users are interested - but the point is that the soldiers were swayed from their support for the usurper.
 

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