10 amazing facts you didn’t know about Decebalus


Decebalus, the last king of Dacia, is one of the fascinating characters in Romanian history. His rule, for two decades, took place in a time when the Roman Empire was in continue expansion and pose the biggest threat to the people who ruled Romania’s present territory. The Dacian King armies were defeated finally by the Romans, and part of the country became a province of the Empire. However, the defeated King remained in history as a tough opponent for even the mighty Roman Empire. Here are 10 interesting facts you didn’t know about Decebalus:

1 The most famous descriptionDecebalusRoman historian Cassius Dio presented Decebalus as a feared enemy of the Romans. “This man was shrewd in his understanding of warfare and shrewd also in the waging of war; he judged well when to attack and chose the right moment to retreat; he was an expert in ambuscades and a master in pitched battles; and he knew not only how to follow up a victory well, but also how to manage well a defeat. Hence he showed himself a worthy antagonist of the Romans for a long time“.

2 Rise to power DecebalusAccording to historians, Decebalus was born between 50 and 60 AD and took power in Dacia in the year 87, in a period in which Dacia is under threat of Roman armies. Power was ceded voluntarily, according to reports of ancient historians, by King Duras and the decision thus enabled the reorganization and strengthening of the Dacian state. Decebalus was the son of King Scorilo, according to historians who interpreted an inscription discovered in Sarmizegetusa. It is a dish probably one of worship, stamped with inscriptions DECEBALVS Per Scorilo written with Latin letters. Hadrian history Daicoviciu translated an inscription: Decebalus son of Scorilo. “Indeed, the word per (cognate with the Latin puer) has the Thracian-Dacian language meaning” son “as, for example, the name Zuper.

3 Dacian state under the rule of Decebalus

Dacia under Decebalus and the Roman Empire

Under the reign of Decebalus, the Dacian kingdom covered Transylvania, Banat, Oltenia, central and southern Moldova is considered stronger and better organized than in the time of King Burebista, even if it was less extended. Dacian state borders were south and west of the Danube, Prut and Danube east, Dobrogea was under the Roman influence, and the Tisza and the Prut. Sarmizegetusa was the capital city in the Orastie Mountains.

4 The first four years of reignDecebalusFrom the early years of the reign of Decebalus, Dacia was in conflict with the Roman Empire. Under the rule of Emperor Domitian, the Romans invaded the south but initially were defeated and destroyed. In 88 AD the Romans obtained a victory against the Dacians at Tapae (Iron Gates of Transylvania, in the Ulpia Traiana Sarmizegetusa) and later establishes peace between the two nations. Although Decebalus was defeated, the peace treaty concluded with Rome it was advantageous, according to historians. Dacia becomes a client state of Rome, but Decebalus`s kingdom receives payment and subsidies from Rome, who sent in Dacia engineers and military instructors so that the country can develop and organize.

5 Origin of its name

Historians claim that Decebalus name means “brave” or “mighty”. Dacian king was called Diurpaneus before fame conquered in wars from Tapae to bring this nickname. One of these wars was fought with armies of Emperor Domitian, led by General Fuscus. In year 87, the Romans crossed the Danube but were stopped at Tapae in an ambush planned by Decebalus. Historians claim that almost all soldiers of the Legio V Alaudae were killed, along with General Cornelius Fuscus. Before this battle, Decebalus, seeing a large number of Roman armed forces, proposed  a peace treaty, but was refused. After the refusal, according to Cassius Dio the Dacian King send another emissary with a : “insulting proposal to make peace with the emperor, on condition that every Roman should elect to pay two obols to Decebalus each year; otherwise, he declared, he would make war and inflict great ills upon the Romans“. Apparently, Fuscus then took this as an insult to him and he came – as angry as it is unwise to Dacia, to punish Decebalus. Having such a temperament, we can understand how Fuscus could be drawn into the trap of Decebalus. Flags and loot conquered by the Romans – now will be destroyed entire Legio V Alaudae – stealing went – we know this from Dio Cassius – not Sarmizegetusa, but in other burgs in the mountains. ”

6 How he has managed to trick the Romans

Romans legionaries in battle

Another witness of skill king if war came following the defeat of the year 88, at Tapae, where the Dacians tried to withstand the invasion Roman legions led by General Tettius Iulianus. Historians claim that Roman legionaries were ordered to register their names on each shield, to be followed in battle. The Romans defeated the Dacians, but suffered significant losses. Decebalus`s army withdrew into the mountains, fleeing the Roman legions, who gave up the pursuit and destruction of Dacian troops. About this battle Roman historian Cassius Dio wrote about an ingenious trick used by the Dacian king against Roman troops: “Decebalus, fearing that the Romans, now that they had conquered, would proceed against his royal residence, cut down the trees that were on the site and put armour on the trunks, in order that the Romans might take them for soldiers and so be frightened and withdraw; and this actually happened. “. The legionnaires believed they had to face a great army and avoid advance towards the capital of Sarmizegetusa. Another story about the battle of Tapae presents Dacian Vezinas, who escaped captivity pretending to be dead on the battlefield, and then running the night shelter.

7 Decebalus`s armyDecebalusAccording to historians, Decebalus`s army could rise to 60,000 people, of which 40,000 were Dacians, and the rest came from the ranks of Germanic and Sarmatian tribes, these tribes were allies against the Romans. About the Dacian army’s organization historian Vasile Parvan wrote: “Both the troops, the divisions commanded by officers skilled in the war (especially the guerrillas and stratagems) and weapons and war machines, Getae they could perfectly learn from kings Hellenistic, Macedonia, and Thrace, which had been the relentless fighting, or who had served as mercenaries. But the main fight of the Getae were Greeks or not, then, the Romans, but the surrounding barbarians: Scythe-wire suebi, bastarni Celts of all kinds, finally Thracians”. Therefore the army represents more than a shrug mass peasant population, troubled by nomadic and barbaric tribes. In Decebalus` time, the Dacians controlled many fortresses owned and controlled more war machines after Roman models. But even in the wars with Trajan, on the Column the  Dacians appear as peasants, poorly armed and not as an army of occupation, “. According to historian Vasile Parvan, in combat, the Dacian troops used wedge formation to break in two enemy lines.

8 Dacian Wars

Map of the first Dacian War

In the first war of conquest of Dacia, the Romans used an army to 150,000 soldiers. The war began in the spring of 101 but had been prepared in previous years. Dacian gold and other resources and the anti-roman external policy of Decebalus were the main causes of this war. Trajanus wanted to conquer Dacia. During the War, the Romans managed to destroy several fortresses in the Orastie Mountains, but the approach of winter forced them to slow their advance. A legend presented before a Roman army Dacian fortresses, finding stakes stuck into the skulls of prisoners Romans. The battles between the Dacians and the Romans lead to big losses on both sides. The war ended in the year 102, with a truce dictated by Trajanus. The terms of this peace were very tough. Decebalus had to give up foreign policy, the war machines and to break down the walls of their own fortresses. Practically this means the end of the Dacian state. Decebalus could not accept these conditions, and soon resumed all policies against Rome. The Second Dacian War began in the spring of 105, when Decebalus, based on the support of its allies, attacked the Roman legions stationed in Dacia, with the intention of recovering lost territories. In retaliation the Romans, who had at that time an army expanded up to 200,000 people are strong. They launched another invasion in the summer of 106 and conquered the capital city of Sarmizegetusa. The war ends with defeat so Dacian king Decebalus death and Dacia becomes the province of Roman Dacia.

9 Decebalus`s treasureDecebalusHistorians who reported Dacian-Roman wars states armies of Emperor Trajan took the spoils which totaled over 160 tons of gold and 300 tons of silver. The conquest of Dacia has been celebrated for 123 days on the streets of Rome and its citizens have been exempted for a year from paying taxes.Before the Roman conquest of Dacia, Decebalus managed to hide some treasures in the riverbed of Sargetia that flowed near the capital Sarmizegetusa, according to Dio Cassius:“ The treasures of Decebalus were also discovered, though hidden beneath the river Sargetia, which ran past his palace. With the help of some captives Decebalus had diverted the course of the river, made an excavation in its bed, and into the cavity had thrown a large amount of silver and gold and other objects of great value that could stand a certain amount of moisture; then he had heaped stones over them and piled on earth, afterwards bringing the river back into his course. He also had caused the same captives to deposit his robes and other articles of a like nature in caves, and after accomplishing this had made away with them to prevent them from disclosing anything. But Bicilis, a companion of his who knew what had been done, was seized and gave information about these things“. The Roman historian said that Decebalus was betrayed by Biciclis, one of his friends, taken prisoner in the war, and the Romans had discovered the treasure.

10 The death of DecebalusDecebalusDecebalus’s dramatic death scene was depicted on Trajan’s Column. The fresco depicts Roman soldiers surrounding him, while he cuts his throat with a knife. “Decebalus well knew that after everything was lost was to be dragged into captivity, to decorate the king’s triumph winner. His pride does not support such a shame and therefore chose to end their own life, “explained historian John Horatiu Crisan. The scene was recounted by historian and Latin Cassius Dio: “Decebalus, when his capital and all his territory had been occupied and he was himself in danger of being captured, committed suicide; and his head was brought to Rome“. About where the event occurred he would have known less. Some historians place the suicide near the city Sarmizegetusa.









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