While Vaballathus was established as the king and true heir to his father, Zenobia acted as regent. She began to expand her empire’s practices, education, and most importantly reach. Hoping that Rome would accept her actions and modify their initial agreements to fit her expansion, she established her son as a subordinate to Rome’s Emperor Aurelian through documents, inscriptions, and coins. (Southern 118, 2008) However, she continued to move her empire into Egypt. Eventually, she ruled a kingdom which reached from what is modern day Iraq to Turkey and down to Egypt. Possibly this expansion was out of her own ambition for power or a necessary economic measure. Perhaps it was for both reasons or an entirely different one. All that can be confirmed is that Zenobia viewed the need to expand the Palmyrene Empire as important enough to dare go against the Roman Empire. (Southern 101, 2008 )
By 272, the Roman Emperor Aurelian had had enough of the Palmyrene Empire expanding under Zenobia’s rule. He gathered the resources he needed to launch an attack on the Palmyrene Empire and to place it firmly under Rome’s power before it could overtake Rome. As he marched to Palmyra, he destroyed all cities that loyal to Zenobia until he got to Tyana. He spared Tyana who then switched alliances to the Roman side and soon other cities were following Tyana’s example. Once Aurelian reached Palmyra, he and Zenobia began to exchange letters in which Aurelian encouraged Zenobia to surrender, and Zenobia confidently replied, “Whatever must be accomplished in matters of war must be done by valour alone.” -Historia Augusta The Thirty Pretenders XXVII
Ultimately, Zenobia and the Palmyrene Empire fell to Rome, and after that, the sources differ on what happened to Zenobia. According the Historia Augusta, Zenobia was led in gold chains through the streets of Rome during Aurelian’s Triumph parade but then released, pardoned, and given a nice house in Rome where she lived her remaining days in luxury and leisure. Zonaras’s account goes similarly to the Historia Augusta except after the parade she was married off to a wealthy Roman while one of her daughters married Aurelian and though having some slight variation Zosimus also states that Zenobia arrived in Rome, was acquitted, married a wealthy Roman, and then lived out her remaining days in luxury.