Zénobie, la reine guerrière de l’Orient qui fit trembler l’Empire romain

Elle est pourtant méconnue des livres d’Histoire.

En 267 après J.-C., Zénobie réunit sous son autorité les provinces d’Égypte, d’Arabie et de Syrie, et se lance dans la conquête des provinces d’Asie mineure. Retour sur la vie de cette reine guerrière qui fit trembler Rome.

UN RÈGNE DE CINQ ANS

De 267 à 272, Zénobie dirige l’Empire de Palmyre et étend son influence de l’actuelle Syrie à la Turquie en passant par l’Égypte. Sous son règne, Palmyre devient un foyer culturel brillant qui attire artistes, rhéteurs et philosophes.

La reine Zénobie représentée par le peintre anglais Sir Edward Poynter

Bien que l’on sache peu de choses au sujet des origines de Zénobie, elle est souvent décrite comme la fille d’un notable de la colonie romaine de Palmyre. Elle se marie ensuite à Odénat, qui contrôle alors Palmyre, et lui donne un fils, nommé Waballath.

À cette époque, Palmyre est subordonnée à l’Empire romain, mais sous la domination d’Odénat, les relations entre les deux États restent cordiales. Palmyre sépare l’Empire romain de l’Empire perse, qui cause bien des problèmes à Rome en commerçant avec ses provinces les plus orientales.

En 260, l’empereur romain Valérian tente d’écraser les Perses Sassanides mais est finalement vaincu. Suite à cette cuisante défaite, Odénat combat les Perses et réussit à les chasser de Syrieen les repoussant de l’autre côté de l’Euphrate.

Cet acte bénéficie grandement à l’Empire romain et contribue à renforcer les liens entre Palmyreet RomeOdénat s’autoproclame « Roi des Rois » après que les Romains ont fait de lui le gouverneur de la partie la plus orientale de leur empire.

Odénat inflige deux défaites cuisantes à l’Empire perse en 263 et 267

ODÉNAT ET SON FILS AINÉ SONT ASSASSINÉS

En 267, Odénat et son fils ainé sont assassinés par son neveu, et c’est Waballath, fruit de son union avec Zénobie, qui hérite du trône. Comme ce dernier est trop jeune pour gouverner, c’est sa mère qui prend le contrôle de Palmyre en tant que régente.

Au début de son règne, Zénobie suit les traces de son mari et travaille en étroite collaboration avec les Romains. Mais la crise que traverse l’Empire, qualifiée par les historiens de crise du troisième siècle et caractérisée par de forts conflits internes, l’empêche de conserver le contrôle de ses provinces les plus éloignées.

Alors que l’influence de Rome s’effrite, Zénobie se consacre à l’expansion de son propre empire. En 269, elle renforce son armée et étend son pouvoir à l’Est, et rompt les relations cordiales qu’elle entretenait jusqu’alors avec l’Empire romain en prenant le contrôle de ses terres à partir de 270.

Elle commence par annexer l’Égypte en 270, après avoir mis en déroute l’armée romaine de l’empereur Claude II, dit Claude le Gothique, et s’attaque ensuite à l’Asie Mineure et à la Phénicie.

ZÉNOBIE MET EN DÉROUTE L’ARMÉE DE L’EMPEREUR ROMAIN CLAUDE II EN 270

Zénobie se consacre également à l’établissement de liens diplomatiques forts et à la négociation d’accords commerciaux avec les pays voisins afin de consolider davantage son empire.

L’Empire de Palmyre en 271

Avec l’Égypte, l’Asie Mineure et le Levant sous son contrôle, elle rompt tout lien avec Rome en 271 et déclare Palmyre comme un empire indépendant tout en s’auto-proclamant reine-impératrice.

En 271, l’empereur romain Aurélien se lance dans une importante campagne militaire afin de vaincre Zénobie et de récupérer les terres sous son contrôle. Présentes en nombre, les deux armées s’affrontent lors de la bataille d’Immae, dans la ville de Daphné en 272.

Les forces de l’empereur Aurélien prennent le dessus et forcent l’armée de Zénobie à battre en retraite dans la ville d’Émèse afin de se renforcer et de se réapprovisionner.

Les deux armées s’affrontent ensuite à Émèse et Aurélien sort une nouvelle fois victorieux de la bataille. Zénobie n’a alors pas d’autre choix que de se réfugier à Palmyre, dans l’espoir de consolider ses défenses en vue d’une nouvelle attaque.

Ne disposant pas de remparts, la ville tombe sans combat et est mise à sac par l’armée romaine. Zénobie tente alors de fuir vers la Perse, mais elle est finalement rattrapée alors qu’elle tente de franchir l’Euphrate et livrée à Aurélien.

ALORS QU’ELLE FUIT VERS LA PERSE, ZÉNOBIE EST RATTRAPÉE PAR L’ARMÉE D’AURÉLIEN ET LIVRÉE À L’EMPEREUR

La reine Zénobie devant l’empereur Aurélien par le peintre italien Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Certains historiens estiment qu’elle a ensuite été ramenée à Rome et exhibée chaines aux poings lors d’un défilé célébrant la victoire d’Aurélien, avant d’être libérée et d’épouser un notable de la ville. On ignore la date, le lieu et les circonstances exactes de sa mort. Quoi qu’il en soit, Zénobiefigure assurément parmi les reines les plus puissantes de l’Histoire.

Pour aller plus loin, découvrez aussi la vie de Ching Sih, l’une des cinq femmes pirates les plus redoutables de l’histoire.

Source: dailygeekshow

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