Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rome and the Visigoths – Allies against the Huns

As I frequently note, real history is more interesting than fiction so you're better off with reality than a made up version. As this post will show, you can't make this stuff up.
In the last post we described the sack of Rome which occurred in 410 A.D. Now we jump forward 40 years to find Rome and the Visigoths allied against Attila and the Hunnic Empire. How did this happen? How did the destroyer of Rome, the tribe that fought the Roman army for 200 years, now become an ally?
Before getting to the action – the Battle of Chalons in 451 A.D. – we need to set up the preliminaries, which involve some intricate politics.
Circa 408 A.D, the Pyrenees were manned by a militia placed there to block barbarian incursions into Spain. But the militia was withdrawn to support the usurper Constantine who sought to oppose Honorius for the crown. With the militia gone, the Suevi, Vandals, and Alani poured down from Gaul into Spain, taking it over. They devastated the country before deciding to settle it and then put an administrative apparatus in place.
The king of the Goths at that time was Adolphus, who received the crown following the death of Alaric. Formerly a rival of the Visigoths, Adolphus was now embraced by them out of necessity – the need for a strong leader. And Adolphus had come to realize the merits of friendly co-existence. As Gibbon tells us: