Strategy & Tactics Quarterly #25: Fall of Rome

Fall of Rome

by Joseph Miranda

On the morning of 9 August 378, Emperor Valens led a Roman field army out of Adrianople (or Hadrianopolis), a city in Thrace north of the East Roman capital at Constantinople. The emperor was up against a coalition of tribesmen who originated from north of the Danube River, mainly Germanic Goths of the Thervingi and Greutungi peoples and allied steppe nomads.

Two years earlier, the Goths had requested refuge within the Empire as they were attacked by the Huns, who now dominated the west Eurasian steppes. Roman officials had initially agreed to the migration as part of a deal to settle the newcomers in a military frontier. However, mismanagement and corruption on the part of those officials led the Goths to take up arms and cause much havoc in the countryside. Finally, Valens, campaigning far to the east against the Sassanid Persians, returned to Constantinople, concentrated his comitatenses (field armies), and launched an offensive against the newcomers…

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