Revolt of Firmus 372 to 375 AD

Firmus was the son of the Moorish (Berber) prince Nubel, a powerful Roman officer and wealthy Christian. On Nubel’s death Fimus’ half brother Zammac seized the family wealth and was duly killed by Firmus.

Between 372 and 375 Firmus revolted against Romanus, the Comes Africae, who had been a supporter of Zammac and was suspected by Valentinian of criminal activity.

When Valentinian sent his Magister Militum, Theodosius (father of Theodosius I), to deal with Firmus and to investigate and depose Romanus, Firmus tried to find a compromise with him. Theodosius refused as Firmus had been proclaimed emperor and a three-year bloody war ensued.

Era: Triumph of Cavalry   Revolt of Firmus 372 to 375 AD CR: H: 3 L: 5   BP: 2 Init: 2
Number Type   Description Key FV PROT Weapon Cost
1 HC   Key 4(0)0 +1 Various 10
2 LHI   Key 4(1)2 +1 Javelins 7
2 LI     3(1)2 +1 Javelins 5
2 LC   Key 2(0)0 +1 Javelins 7
2 SI     2(1)1 +2 Bows 2
2 SI     3(1)2 +2 Javelins 2
1 FT Constantiani Pedites Key 5(1)1 +1 Spears/bows 8
1 FT Vidensis Limitani Key 4(1)1 +1 Spears/bows 6
1 HC   Key 4(0)0 +1 Various 10
6 LC   Key 2(0)0 +1 Javelins 7
1 LC Equites Quartae Sagitarii Key 2(0)0 +1 Bows 8
5 LHI   Key 4(1)2 +1 Javelins 7
1 LI     3(1)2 +1 Javelins 5
2 LI     2(1)1 +1 Bows 4
2 SI     2(1)1 +2 Bows 2
2 SI     3(1)2 +2 Javelins 2
3 Cam(d!) Camels Key 3(0)0 +1 Various 7


Core: 1 SH

Bonus: (Max: 4 ) 2 GR, 2 SH, 2 RG


Core: 87 Bonus: 151

*Camels (d!) may not brigade with FT or HC.

During his conflict with Theodosius, which ranged throughout the southern regions of Mauretania Caesariensis and Mauretania Sitifensis, Firmus had the support of some Roman forces in the form of the Equites Quartae Saggitarium Cohortis and members of the Constantiani Pedites.

He was also aided by some of his siblings; his brothers Mascizel and Dius led the Tyndenses and Masinissenses peoples, while his sister Cyria led a confederation of African peoples on Firmus' behalf.

Theodosius' campaign nearly turned into a fiasco as his army was vastly outnumbered and Firmus was able to stir up support among the various native peoples of the two provinces. Theodosius was almost defeated and forced to withdraw several times, but in the end Firmus was betrayed and captured by Igmazen, a chieftain of the Isaflenses, who apparently wanted to win the support of Theodosius. Not wanting to fall into the hands of Theodosius, Firmus committed suicide.

The war was mostly guerrilla in nature, the mountainous nature of the terrain aiding Firmus’ troops and hampering Theodosius’. However, there were battlefield confrontations; at Adda, where Theodosius withdrew due to superior enemy numbers and was harried all the way, and there was another clash after Theodosius took an unnamed town and the enemy occupied the surrounding hills. The occupation of the dominating terrain forced a withdrawal by Theodosius and Firmus, who was reinforced by Ethiopian troops, may have engaged him post this withdrawal.

It is interesting to note that Theodosius the father was executed in Carthage in the winter of 375/6. This is likely to have occurred after he attempted to intercede on his son's (the later Theodosisus I) behalf with an angry Valentinian III following a military disaster in Valeria in 374 involving legions from Moesia and Pannonia and a 'party' of Sarmatians. Responsiblity for this setback sat with Theodosius the son as overall military commander 'dux Moesiae Primae' as it was a legio Moesiaca that first broke and ran when attacked by the Sarmatians (and was subsequently almost annihilated). Valentian took a very dim view of such things, stripped Theodosius the son of his command and sent him home to Spain.

Sources: Ammianus Marcellinus, Robin Seager (University of Liverpool) ‘Ammianus, Theodosius and Sallust's Jugurtha’, Roberts, Walter, "Firmus (ca.372-ca.375 A.D.)", De Imperatoribus Romanis site

List Author: O Cahan