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Carnuntum (Greek Καρνους): name of a military and civil settlement on the Middle Danube, forty kilometers downstream from modern Vienna.
- During the reign of Augustus (r.27 BCE - 14 CE), the Roman Empire reached the rivers Rhine and Danube, which would later become the empire's northern frontier (limes). About 15 BCE, the put up its barracks in Carnuntum.
- In 6 CE, the future emperor Tiberius used Carnuntum as main base for an expedition to conquer Bohemia.On the opposite bank were the Germanic Quadi. Although this operation was canceled, the Fifteenth Legion Apollinaris would remain in Carnuntum, where it controled the Amber Route from the Baltic Sea to Italy.
- The legionary base (which measured sixteen hectares and was rather small) and the civil settlement that grew about 2½ kilometers to the west would serve as the residence of the Roman governor of the province of Pannonia, which was later (by the emperor Trajan (r.98-117) divided into two parts, Upper and Lower Pannonia. Carnuntum was the capital of the upper province.
- There were some minor settlements in the neighborhood, like a sanctuary at the Pfaffenberg.
- During the reign of Trajan, XV Apollinaris was replaced by the Fourteenth Legion Gemina
- During his northern wars, the emperor Marcus Aurelius (r.161-180) crossed the Danube at Carnuntum, where he defeated the Quadi. For a moment, the Roman northern frontier moved up to Mušov, but the emperor Commodus (r.180-192) abandoned the northern conquests.
- In 193, Septimius Severus launched a succesful coup d'état from Upper Pannonia; he later awarded the civil settlement the rank of colonia
- Although Marcus Aurelius had secured the Danube frontier for decades to come, Pannonia suffered in the mid-third century and towards the end of the third century, Diocletian (r.284-305) reorganized the frontier zone. Upper Pannonia was divided into two parts, Pannonia Prima and Pannonia Savia, with capitals that were less exposed to enemy attacks (Savaria and Siscia)
- In 308, there were problems within the tetrarchy. The retired emperor Diocletian chaired a meeting in Carnuntum that appeared to solve the problems: Licinius was recognized as emperor in the west with Constantine as his caesar, while Galerius and Maximinus Daia were recognized in the east. Maximian and his son Maxentius, who had usurped powers, were supposed to retire (which they didn't). In the end, Constantine united the Roman Empire and would reign until 337.
- Carnuntum was in decline the fourth century, but the emperor Constantius II (r.337-361) took care to at least maintain the frontier. After the usurpation of Magnentius, he did his best to strengthen the unity of the empire, and while his caesar Julian was active in the west, restoring the Rhine frontier, Constantius himself strengthened the Middle Danube. The "Heidentor" ("Pagan Gate") must have been a honorific arch that Constantius erected for himself in about 360.note[Cf. Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History 21.16.15.]
- In 374, Carnuntum was detroyed by the Quadi, supported by Iazyges.
- When Valentinian I visited Carnuntum one year later to retaliate against the Quadi, he found a town that was in ruins.note[Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History 30.5.2.]
- The city was eventually abandoned.