Battle of the Nervasos Mountains
The Battle of the Nervasos Mountains occurred in the year 419 and was fought between a coalition of Suebi, led by King Hermeric together with allied Roman Imperial forces stationed in the Province of Hispania, against the combined forces of the Vandals and Alans who were led by their King Gunderic. This battle occurred in the context of a contemporary Germanic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula; the battle took place in what is today the Province of León, resulted in a Roman/Suebian Victory. Between the years 409 and 411, the Germanic peoples of the Vandals and the Suebi like the Iranian Alans, migrated into the Iberian Peninsula via the Pyrenees Mountains after having conquered the Gallo-Roman province of Gaul and subjected it to a three-year system of plunder and pillage. Seeing that the forces of the Western Roman Empire were unable to respond to new threats due to local uprisings led by Maximus of Hispania and Gerontius, the Germanic tribes saw an opportunity to invade the peninsula and carve out territory for themselves, starting the period of the Germanic Invasion of Iberia.
The invaders divided amongst themselves, the territories of Hispania, taking the whole of Hispania Tarraconensis from the Romans without encountering any significant opposition. The Silingi Vandals gained control over the Roman province of Hispania Baetica, the Alans took over administration of Lusitania and Hispania Carthaginensis, whilst the Suebi and the Hasdingi Vandals took over Gallaecia; the Suebi continued on with the original Roman Conventus iuridicus Lucense, maintaining a capital in Lucus Augusti, with the Bracarense with its capital at Bracara Augusta. The Hasdingi Vandals maintained the Roman structure dating back from the Augustan and Claudian emperors, their Roman Conventus Asturicensus maintained its capital at Asturica Augusta. In 416, King of the Visigothic Kingdom of Toulouse, entered the Iberian Peninsula as a Roman general to fight the invading barbarian tribes; the Germanic tribes were unable to unite against their common enemy and by 418, the Silingi Vandals had been completely annihilated and the Alans were dispersed after the fighting death of their king, Attaces.
The survivors of these groups sheltered themselves with the Hasdingi Vandals. The King of the Suebi, for his part, was able to sign a treaty with the Emperor Honorius, gaining his tribe the legal status of Foederati, for which the Hispano-Romans were obliged to cede them land, they established a garrison at Braga. The disgrace felt by the Hispano-Romans at having to cede their lands to the Suebi would be felt painfully in the future during the conflicts between the natives and the colonizers; the following periods would be marked with failed peace treaties and the sending of a native embassy to solicit the help of the Gallo-Roman general Flavius Aetius by Bishop Hydatius that would end in failure. In his alliance with the Romans, Hermeric was swayed by the expansionist desires of his kingdom and would enter into conflict with his neighboring Vandals, the closest other German tribe occupying Hispania; the details of the confrontation between the two tribes are not clear, but it is possible to deduce that it was the Suebi who took the initiative in commencing hostilities seeing as the Nervasos Mountains, due to their imprecise location, could have been situated in the region of El Bierzo in today's Province of Leon the conventus iuridicus asturicensis, which under the pact of 409-411, belonged to the Hasdingi Vandals under Gunderic.
During the invasion of the Vandal lands and his army are surrounded in the Nervasos Mountains by the forces of Gunderic, only being saved from a disastrous defeat by timely Roman intervention. The Roman comes Hispanorum, Asterius, at the head of a powerful Roman army, lifted the Suebi siege and obliged the Vandals to retreat; the Roman campaign continued and Asterius obliged the Vandals to retreat south to Bracara Augusta, where he had pre-arranged a pincer movement together with his vicarius, who commanded another sizable Roman force. They routed them. Having been defeated, the king Gunderic guided his tribe in search of new settlement in Hispania Baetica. Between 421 and 422, they routed the imperial army of General Castinus, sent to reconquer former Roman lands in that area; the Vandals built a grand fleet which they used to gain naval dominance in the region and were able to conquer a large portion of southeastern Spain, sacking the cities of Carthago Nova and Hispalis amongst others. In 428, Gunderic dies and is succeeded to the throne by his half brother Genseric, who decides that best place for his people to settle would be North Africa, being ravaged by internal disputes which would nullify the Roman resistance.
Genseric began preparations to cross the Straits of Gibraltar with over 80,000 people, 15,000 of whom were soldiers, however he was attacked from the rear by a large force of Suebi under the command of Heremigarius who had managed to take Lusitania. This Suebi army was defeated near Mérida and its leader Hermigario drowns in the Guadiana River while trying to flee; the following year, the Vandals disembarked in Ceuta, from which in a few years they would control all of Roman North Africa before being swept from history by Belisarius, a general of Justinian I. The Suebi would remain in Gallaecia until their conquest by the Visigoths under Liuvigild in the year 585 sharing the same fate
Western Roman Empire
In historiography, the Western Roman Empire refers to the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court. The terms Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire are modern descriptions that describe political entities that were de facto independent; the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476, the Western imperial court was formally dissolved in 480. The Eastern imperial court survived until 1453. Though the Empire had seen periods with more than one Emperor ruling jointly before, the view that it was impossible for a single emperor to govern the entire Empire was institutionalised to reforms to Roman law by emperor Diocletian following the disastrous civil wars and disintegrations of the Crisis of the Third Century, he introduced the system of the tetrarchy in 286, with two separate senior emperors titled Augustus, one in the East and one in the West, each with an appointed Caesar. Though the tetrarchic system would collapse in a matter of years, the East–West administrative division would endure in one form or another over the coming centuries.
As such, the Western Roman Empire would exist intermittently in several periods between the 3rd and 5th centuries. Some emperors, such as Constantine I and Theodosius I, governed as the sole Augustus across the Roman Empire. On the death of Theodosius I in 395, he divided the empire between his two sons, with Honorius as his successor in the West, governing from Mediolanum, Arcadius as his successor in the East, governing from Constantinople. In 476, after the Battle of Ravenna, the Roman Army in the West suffered defeat at the hands of Odoacer and his Germanic foederati. Odoacer became the first King of Italy. In 480, following the assassination of the previous Western emperor Julius Nepos, the Eastern emperor Zeno dissolved the Western court and proclaimed himself the sole emperor of the Roman Empire; the date of 476 was popularized by the 18th century British historian Edward Gibbon as a demarcating event for the end of the Western Empire and is sometimes used to mark the transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.
Odoacer's Italy, other barbarian kingdoms, would maintain a pretence of Roman continuity through the continued use of the old Roman administrative systems and nominal subservience to the Eastern Roman court. In the 6th century, emperor Justinian I re-imposed direct Imperial rule on large parts of the former Western Roman Empire, including the prosperous regions of North Africa, the ancient Roman heartland of Italy and parts of Hispania. Political instability in the Eastern heartlands, combined with foreign invasions and religious differences, made efforts to retain control of these territories difficult and they were lost for good. Though the Eastern Empire retained territories in the south of Italy until the eleventh century, the influence that the Empire had over Western Europe had diminished significantly; the papal coronation of the Frankish King Charlemagne as Roman Emperor in 800 marked a new imperial line that would evolve into the Holy Roman Empire, which presented a revival of the Imperial title in Western Europe but was in no meaningful sense an extension of Roman traditions or institutions.
The Great Schism of 1054 between the churches of Rome and Constantinople further diminished any authority the Emperor in Constantinople could hope to exert in the west. As the Roman Republic expanded, it reached a point where the central government in Rome could not rule the distant provinces. Communications and transportation were problematic given the vast extent of the Empire. News of invasion, natural disasters, or epidemic outbreak was carried by ship or mounted postal service requiring much time to reach Rome and for Rome's orders to be returned and acted upon. Therefore, provincial governors had de facto autonomy in the name of the Roman Republic. Governors had several duties, including the command of armies, handling the taxes of the province and serving as the province's chief judges. Prior to the establishment of the Empire, the territories of the Roman Republic had been divided in 43 BC among the members of the Second Triumvirate: Mark Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Antony received the provinces in the East: Achaea and Epirus, Bithynia and Asia, Syria and Cyrenaica.
These lands had been conquered by Alexander the Great. The whole region the major cities, had been assimilated into Greek culture, Greek serving as the lingua franca. Octavian obtained the Roman provinces of the West: Italia, Gallia Belgica, Hispania; these lands included Greek and Carthaginian colonies in the coastal areas, though Celtic tribes such as Gauls and Celtiberians were culturally dominant. Lepidus received the minor province of Africa. Octavian soon took Africa while adding Sicilia to his holdings. Upon the defeat of Mark Antony, a victorious Octavian controlled a united Roman Em
Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age, inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present day France, Belgium, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. It covered an area of 494,000 km2. According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica and Aquitania. Archaeologically, the Gauls were bearers of the La Tène culture, which extended across all of Gaul, as well as east to Raetia, Noricum and southwestern Germania during the 5th to 1st centuries BC. During the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Gaul fell under Roman rule: Gallia Cisalpina was conquered in 203 BC and Gallia Narbonensis in 123 BC. Gaul was invaded after 120 BC by the Cimbri and the Teutons, who were in turn defeated by the Romans by 103 BC. Julius Caesar subdued the remaining parts of Gaul in his campaigns of 58 to 51 BC. Roman control of Gaul lasted for five centuries, until the last Roman rump state, the Domain of Soissons, fell to the Franks in AD 486.
While the Celtic Gauls had lost their original identities and language during Late Antiquity, becoming amalgamated into a Gallo-Roman culture, Gallia remained the conventional name of the territory throughout the Early Middle Ages, until it acquired a new identity as the Capetian Kingdom of France in the high medieval period. Gallia remains a name of France in modern modern Latin; the Greek and Latin names Galatia and Gallia are derived from a Celtic ethnic term or clan Gal-to-. The Galli of Gallia Celtica were reported to refer to themselves as Celtae by Caesar. Hellenistic folk etymology connected the name of the Galatians to the "milk-white" skin of the Gauls. Modern researchers say it is related to Welsh gallu, Cornish galloes, "capacity, power", thus meaning "powerful people"; the English Gaul is from French Gaule and is unrelated to Latin Gallia, despite superficial similarity. The name Gaul is derived from the Old Frankish *Walholant "Land of the Foreigners/Romans", in which *Walho- is reflex of Proto-Germanic *walhaz, "foreigner, Romanized person", an exonym applied by Germanic speakers to Celts and Latin-speaking people indiscriminately, making it cognate with the names Wales and Wallachia.
The Germanic w- is rendered as gu- / g- in French, the historic diphthong au is the regular outcome of al before a following consonant. French Gaule or Gaulle cannot be derived from Latin Gallia, since g would become j before a, the diphthong au would be unexplained. Proto-Germanic *walha is derived from the name of the Volcae. Unrelated, in spite of superficial similarity, is the name Gael; the Irish word gall did mean "a Gaul", i.e. an inhabitant of Gaul, but its meaning was widened to "foreigner", to describe the Vikings, still the Normans. The dichotomic words gael and gall are sometimes used together for contrast, for instance in the 12th-century book Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib; as adjectives, English has the two variants: Gallic. The two adjectives are used synonymously, as "pertaining to Gaul or the Gauls", although the Celtic language or languages spoken in Gaul is predominantly known as Gaulish. There is little written information concerning the peoples that inhabited the regions of Gaul, save what can be gleaned from coins.
Therefore, the early history of the Gauls is predominantly a work in archaeology and the relationships between their material culture, genetic relationships and linguistic divisions coincide. Before the rapid spread of the La Tène culture in the 5th to 4th centuries BC, the territory of eastern and southern France participated in the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture out of which the early iron-working Hallstatt culture would develop. By 500 BC, there is strong Hallstatt influence throughout most of France. Out of this Hallstatt background, during the 7th and 6th century representing an early form of Continental Celtic culture, the La Tène culture arises under Mediterranean influence from the Greek and Etruscan civilizations, spread out in a number of early centers along the Seine, the Middle Rhine and the upper Elbe. By the late 5th century BC, La Tène influence spreads across the entire territory of Gaul; the La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age in France, Italy, southwest Germany, Moravia and Hungary.
Farther north extended the contemporary pre-Roman Iron Age culture of northern Germany and Scandinavia. The major source of materials on the Celts of Gaul was Poseidonios of Apamea, whose writings were quoted by Timagenes, Julius Caesar, the Sicilian Greek Diodorus Siculus, the Greek geographer Strabo. In the 4th and early 3rd century BC, Gallic clan confederations expanded far beyond the territory of what would become Roman Gaul, into Pannonia, northern Italy and Asia Minor. By the 2nd century BC, the Romans descr
Crossing of the Rhine
The crossing of the Rhine by a mixed group of barbarians which included Vandals and Suebi is traditionally considered to have occurred on 31 December 406. The crossing transgressed one of the Late Roman Empire's most secure limites or boundaries and so it was a climactic moment in the decline of the Empire, it initiated a wave of destruction of Roman cities and the collapse of Roman civic order in northern Gaul. That, in turn, occasioned the rise of three usurpers in succession in the province of Britannia. Therefore, the crossing of the Rhine is a marker date in the Migration Period during which various Germanic tribes moved westward and southward from southern Scandinavia and northern Germania; the full statement of received opinion has been that "a mixed band of Vandals and Suebi crossed the Rhine at Mainz on December 31, 406, began to ravage Gaul". Several written accounts document the crossing, supplemented by the time line of Prosper of Aquitaine, which gives a firm date of 31 December 406.
A letter by Jerome, written from Bethlehem, gives a long list of the barbarian tribes involved. Some of them, like Sarmatians, are drawn from history or literary tradition. Jerome mentions Mainz first in a list of the cities devastated by the incursion, the sole support for the common assumption that the crossing of the unbridged Rhine was effected at Mainz. Jerome lists the cities now known as Mainz, Rheims, Arras, Thérouanne, Tournai and Strasbourg as having been pillaged; the initial gathering of barbarians on the east bank of the Rhine has been interpreted as a banding of refugees from the Huns or the remnants of Radagaisus' defeated Goths, without direct evidence. A frozen Rhine, making the crossing easier, is not attested by any contemporary but was a plausible surmise made by Edward Gibbon. On the east bank, the mixed band of Vandals and Alans fought a raiding party of Franks; the Vandal king Godigisel was killed, but the Alans came to the rescue of the Vandals, once on the Roman side, they met with no organized resistance.
Stilicho had depleted the garrisons in 402 to face Alaric I in Italy. Zosimus's New History imputes the usurpation of Marcus in Britannia to a reaction to the presence of barbarians in Gaul in 406. An article by Michael Kulikowski, finding that "the sequence of events bristles with technical difficulties", bypassed modern historians' accounts, which he found to have depended upon Gibbon and one another, reanalysed the literary sources, his conclusion was that a date for the mid-winter crossing of the Rhine of 31 December 405 offers a more coherent chronology of events in Belgica and Britannia. Kulikowski outlined; the traditional date of 31 December 406 is offered by Prosper of Aquitaine in his year-by-year chronicle: "In the sixth consulship of Arcadius and Probus and Alans came into the Gauls, having crossed the Rhine, on the day before the kalends of January." The sixth consulship of Arcadius, with Probus as co-consul, corresponds to 406. Prosper noted the invasion of Italy by Radagaisus as the prime event of the previous year, as well as his death, which occurred in 406, he assigned to the next year the usurpation of Constantine III.
"The three entries are linked, together they tell a kind of story", Kulikowski observed "Prosper was writing a chronicle, the genre abhorred blank years. Since his chosen genre demanded an entry for each of three years, Prosper portioned out his sequence of events, one event to the year, he does the same thing elsewhere in the chronicle". With the traditional date of 31 December 406 in mind, much has been made of the inaction of Stilicho, sometimes imputed to his strategy focussed on ambitions in Illyria. Kulikowski's date of 31 December 405 finds Stilicho occupied in Tuscia battling the forces of Radagaisus, not overcome and executed until August 406, it places the acclamation of the first of the usurpers in Britannia, characterised as a fearful reaction to the barbarian presence in Gaul, after the crossing of the Rhine. However, Kulikowski's dating theory, a revival of arguments that were put forward by N. H. Baynes, was forcefully refuted by Anthony Birley
Battle of Cape Bon (468)
The Battle of Cape Bon was an engagement during a joint military expedition of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires led by Basiliscus against the Vandal capital of Carthage in 468. The invasion of the kingdom of the Vandals was one of the largest amphibious operations in antiquity, with 1,113 ships and over 50,000 personnel. While attempting to land near Carthage at the Cape of Mercury, the Roman fleet was thrown into disorder by a Vandal fireship attack; the Vandal fleet sunk over 100 Roman ships. Some 10,000 Roman soldiers and sailors died in the battle; the Roman expedition was now too scattered to land its troops. The battle is considered to have ended the Western Roman Empire's chances of survival. Without access to the resources of the former Roman province of Africa, the west could not sustain an army powerful enough to defeat its numerous enemies. By 435, the Vandals under their king Gaiseric, had established the Vandal kingdom of Africa. In 455, Gaiseric sacked Rome, the former capital of the Western Roman Empire, in 455, the Empress Licinia Eudoxia and her daughters had been taken as hostages.
The plan was concerted between Eastern Emperor Leo, Western Emperor Anthemius, General Marcellinus, who enjoyed independence in Illyricum. Basiliscus was ordered to sail directly to Carthage, while Marcellinus attacked and took Sardinia, a third army, commanded by Heraclius of Edessa, landed on the Libyan coast east of Carthage, making rapid progress, it appears that the combined forces met in Sicily, whence the three fleets moved at different periods. Procopius records that Basiliscus, brother-in-law to Emperor Leo, had been selected as general by the emperor in hope he would balance the growing influence of the Alan Magister militum Aspar who sought to control Leo. Ancient and modern historians provided different estimates for the number of ships and troops commanded by Basiliscus, as well as for the expenses of the expedition, although both were enormous sums. According to the text of Priscus, 100,000 ships were assembled, although modern scholars have emended this to 1100, closer to Cedrenus's figure of 1,113 vessels.
Peter Heather estimates a strength of 30,000 soldiers for the expedition and 50,000 total, when including sailors and the additional forces of Marcellinus and Heraclius. The figures for the money spent on this expedition ranges from the 1300 centaria of gold reported by Priscus and Procopius, to the 64,000 pounds of gold and 700,000 pounds of silver by John Lydus and to 65,000 of gold and 700,000 of silver by Candidus. Sardinia and Libya were conquered by Marcellinus and Heraclius, when Basiliscus cast anchor off Cape Bon, opposite Sicily, about forty miles from Carthage. Gaiseric asked Basiliscus to allow him five days to draw up conditions for a peace. During the negotiations, Gaiseric gathered his ships and attacked the Roman fleet; the Vandals had filled many vessels with combustible materials. During the night, these fire ships were propelled against the unguarded and unsuspecting Roman fleet; the Byzantine commanders tried to rescue some ships from destruction, but these manoeuvres were blocked by the attack of other Vandal vessels.
Basiliscus fled in the heat of the battle. One act of heroism stands forth from this naval defeat. Despite the situation, Basiliscus' lieutenant, bravely fought the Vandal onslaught. Upon seeing that his ship was about to be captured, he refused to surrender to Genso, the son of Gaiseric, instead leaped overboard in heavy armor and drowned himself, his last words were that he "would never come under the hands of dogs". One half of the Roman fleet was burned, sunk, or captured, the other half followed the fugitive Basiliscus; the whole expedition had failed. Heraclius effected his retreat through the desert into Tripolitania, holding the position for two years until recalled. After returning to Constantinople, Basiliscus hid in the church of Hagia Sophia to escape the wrath of the people and the revenge of the Emperor. By the mediation of Verina, Basiliscus obtained the Imperial pardon, was punished with banishment to Heraclea Sintica, in Thrace; the treasuries of the Eastern Roman Empire were now empty.
Peter Heather considers the expedition to have been the last chance to save the Western Roman Empire, which controlled only the Italian peninsula and Sicily. Without the revenue stream from the former Roman province of Africa, the west was incapable of sustaining its army. Heather, P.. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History. New York City: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-532541-6
The Visigoths were the western branches of the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples referred to collectively as the Goths. These tribes flourished and spread throughout the late Roman Empire in Late Antiquity, or what is known as the Migration Period; the Visigoths emerged from earlier Gothic groups who had invaded the Roman Empire beginning in 376 and had defeated the Romans at the Battle of Adrianople in 378. Relations between the Romans and the Visigoths were variable, alternately warring with one another and making treaties when convenient; the Visigoths invaded Italy under Alaric I and sacked Rome in 410. After the Visigoths sacked Rome, they began settling down, first in southern Gaul and in Hispania, where they founded the Visigothic Kingdom and maintained a presence from the 5th to the 8th centuries AD; the Visigoths first settled in southern Gaul as foederati to the Romans – a relationship established in 418. However, they soon fell out with their Roman hosts and established their own kingdom with its capital at Toulouse.
They next extended their authority into Hispania at the expense of the Vandals. In 507, their rule in Gaul was ended by the Franks under Clovis I, who defeated them in the Battle of Vouillé. After that, the Visigoth kingdom was limited to Hispania, they never again held territory north of the Pyrenees other than Septimania. A small, elite group of Visigoths came to dominate the governance of that region at the expense of those who had ruled there in the Byzantine province of Spania and the Kingdom of the Suebi. In or around 589, the Visigoths under Reccared I converted from Arianism to Nicene Christianity adopting the culture of their Hispano-Roman subjects, their legal code, the Visigothic Code abolished the longstanding practice of applying different laws for Romans and Visigoths. Once legal distinctions were no longer being made between Romani and Gothi, they became known collectively as Hispani. In the century that followed, the region was dominated by the Councils of the episcopacy. In 711 or 712, an invading force of Arabs and Berbers defeated the Visigoths in the Battle of Guadalete.
Their king and many members of their governing elite were killed, their kingdom collapsed. During their governance of Hispania, the Visigoths built several churches, they left many artifacts, which have been discovered in increasing numbers by archaeologists in recent times. The Treasure of Guarrazar of votive crowns and crosses is the most spectacular, they founded the only new cities in western Europe from the fall of the Western half of the Roman Empire until the rise of the Carolingian dynasty. Many Visigothic names are still in use in modern Portuguese, their most notable legacy, was the Visigothic Code, which served, among other things, as the basis for court procedure in most of Christian Iberia until the Late Middle Ages, centuries after the demise of the kingdom. Contemporaneous references to the Gothic tribes use the terms "Vesi", "Ostrogothi", "Thervingi", "Greuthungi". Most scholars have concluded that the terms "Vesi" and "Tervingi" were both used to refer to one particular tribe, while the terms "Ostrogothi" and "Greuthungi" were used to refer to another.
Herwig Wolfram points out that while primary sources list all four names, whenever they mention two different tribes, they always refer either to "the Vesi and the Ostrogothi" or to "the Tervingi and the Greuthungi", they never pair them up in any other combination. This conclusion is supported by Jordanes, who identified the Visigoth kings from Alaric I to Alaric II as the heirs of the 4th century Tervingian king Athanaric, the Ostrogoth kings from Theoderic the Great to Theodahad as the heirs of the Greuthungi king Ermanaric. In addition, the Notitia Dignitatum equates the Vesi with the Tervingi in a reference to the years 388–391; the earliest sources for each of the four names are contemporaneous. The first recorded reference to "the Tervingi" is in a eulogy of the emperor Maximian, delivered in or shortly after 291 and traditionally ascribed to Claudius Mamertinus, it says that the "Tervingi, another division of the Goths", joined with the Taifali to attack the Vandals and Gepidae. The first recorded reference to "the Greuthungi" is by Ammianus Marcellinus, writing no earlier than 392 and later than 395, recounting the words of a Tervingian chieftain, attested as early as 376.
The first known use of the term "Ostrogoths" is in a document dated September 392 from Milan. Wolfram notes that "Vesi" and "Ostrogothi" were terms each tribe used to boastfully describe itself and argues that "Tervingi" and "Greuthungi" were geographical identifiers each tribe used to describe the other; this would explain why the latter terms dropped out of use shortly after 400, when the Goths were displaced by the Hunnic invasions. As an example of this geographical naming practice, Wolfram cites an account by Zosimus of a group of people living north of the Danube who called themselves "the Scythians" but were called "the Greutungi" by members of a different tribe living
Gothic War (376–382)
Between about 376 and 382 the Gothic War against the Eastern Roman Empire, in particular the Battle of Adrianople, is seen as a major turning point in the history of the Roman Empire, the first of a series of events over the next century that would see the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, although its ultimate importance to the Empire's eventual fall is still debated. In the summer of 376, a massive number of Goths arrived on the Danube River, the border of the Roman Empire, requesting asylum from the Huns. There were two groups: the Thervings led by Fritigern and Alavivus and the Greuthungi led by Alatheus and Saphrax. Eunapius states their number as 200,000 including civilians but Peter Heather estimates that the Thervings may have had only 10,000 warriors and 50,000 people in total, with the Greuthungi about the same size; the Cambridge Ancient History places modern estimates at around 90,000 people. The Goths sent ambassadors to Valens, the Eastern Roman Emperor, requesting permission to settle their people inside the Empire.
It took them some time to arrive, for the Emperor was in Antioch preparing for a campaign against the Sasanian Empire over control of Armenia and Iberia. The bulk of his forces were stationed in the East, far away from the Danube. Ancient sources are unanimous that Valens was pleased at the appearance of the Goths, as it offered the opportunity of new soldiers at low cost. With Valens committed to action on the Eastern frontier, the appearance of a large number of barbarians meant his skeleton force in the Balkans were outnumbered. Valens must have appreciated the danger when he gave the Thervings permission to enter the empire and the terms he gave them were favorable; this was not the first time. This would keep them from posing a unified threat and assimilate them into the greater Roman population; the agreement differed with the Thervings by allowing them to choose the place of their settlement and allowed them to remain united. During the negotiations, the Thervings expressed a willingness to convert to Christianity.
As for the Greuthungi, Roman army and naval forces denied them entry. The Thervings were allowed to cross at or near the fortress of Durostorum, they were ferried by the Romans in hollowed tree-trunks. So, the river swelled with rain and many drowned; the Goths were to have their weapons confiscated but, either because the Romans in charge accepted bribes. The Romans placed the Thervings along southern bank of the Danube in Lower Mœsia as they waited for the land allocations to begin. In the interim, the Roman state was to provide them food. So many people in so small an area caused a food shortage and the Thervings began to starve. Roman logistics could not cope with the vast numbers, officials under the command of Lupicinus sold off much of the food before it reached the hands of the Goths. Desperate, Gothic families sold many of their children into slavery to Romans for dog meat at the price of one child per one dog; this treatment caused the Therving Goths to grow rebellious and Lupicinus decided to move them south to Marcianople, his regional headquarters.
To guard the march south, Lupicinus was forced to pull out the Roman troops guarding the Danube, which allowed the Greuthungi promptly to cross into Roman territory. The Thervings deliberately slowed their march to allow the Greuthungi to catch up; as the Thervings neared Marcianople, Lupicinus invited Fritigern, Alavivus and a small group of their attendants to dine with him inside the city. The bulk of the Goths were encamped some distance outside, with Roman troops between them and the city. Due to the persistent refusal of the Roman soldiers to allow the Goths to buy supplies in the town's market, fighting broke out and several Roman soldiers were killed and robbed. Lupicinus, having received the news as he sat at the banquet with the Gothic leaders, ordered Fritigern and Alavivus held hostage and their retainers executed; when news of the killings came to the Goths outside, they prepared to assault Marcianople. Fritigern advised Lupicinus that the best way to calm the situation was to allow him to rejoin his people and show them that he was still alive.
Lupicinus set him free. Alavivus is not mentioned again in the sources and his fate is unknown. Having survived the chaos of the night and the earlier humiliations and the Thervings decided it was time to break the treaty and rebel against the Romans and the Greuthungi joined them. Fritigern led the Goths away from Marcianople towards Scythia. Lupicinus and his army pursued them 14 km from the city, fought the Battle of Marcianople and were annihilated. All the junior officers were killed, the military standards were lost and the Goths secured new weapons and armor from the dead Roman soldiers. Lupicinus escaped back to Marcianople; the Thervings raided and pillaged throughout the region. At Adrianople a small Gothic force employed by the Romans was garrisoned under the command of Sueridus and Colias, who were themselves Goths; when they received news of the events they decided to remain in place "considering their own welfare the most important thing of all." The Emperor, afraid of havi