Military Deterrence in History: A Pilot Cross-Historical Survey

By Raoul Naroll; Vern L. Bullough et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
THE INTERNAL INVASION
376-385: Conspicuous State, Rome; Conspicuous Rival, Visigoths.

PART 1: SKETCH OF HISTORICAL SETTING (CHIEFLY AFTER AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS AND ZOSIMUS)

EUROPEAN AFFAIRS during the period under study and for a century or so afterwards were dominated by the various incursions of the Germans and Huns into the Roman Empire. These invasions led ultimately to the disintegration of the Empire, although the eastern portion of it continued to exist in a somewhat different form. Impetus for the Germanic migration is usually attributed to the westward thrust of the Huns. This thrust upset the status quo relationships established by Rome with the Germanic tribes north of the Danube and east of the Rhine. At the beginning of the year A.D. 376 one of the most important among the Germanic tribes were the Visigoths, who were being ferried across the Danubian border by the Roman frontier fleet. The Visigoths came not as invaders but as refugees who had sought entrance into the Empire in order to protect themselves from the threat of the Huns. Even though the Roman officials for various reasons had granted the Goths asylum, Roman subordinates mistreated the Visigoths. Sometime in the year 377 the refugee Goths revolted and much to their surprsie, were able to challenge the Roman army successfully. By 378 they had inflicted the worst slaughter and defeat that the Roman army had suffered since the time of Hannibal. The Visigoths, however, did not know what to do with their success. Unable to capture any of the fortified Roman cities, they turned to devastation of the countryside rather than to conquest. It was not until October 382 that peace was restored. In the peace treaty which

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