Europe 377: Valens’ Second Gothic War

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 12 Jan 377 (Valentinianic Dynasty: Valens’ Second Gothic War), showing the following events: Beginning of the Völkerwanderung; Goths cross Danube; Battle of Marcianople; Sueridus and Colias.

In the fall of 376 the Romans agreed to ferry the Tervingi Goths across the Danube into the Roman Empire, while the Greuthungi, who were not permitted entry, secretly crossed into the Empire anyway. Angered by their treatment by the local Roman commander, the Tervingi soon revolted against their hosts, who they defeated at Marcianople towards the end of the year.

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Main Events

376 Beginning of the Völkerwanderung

In the immediate wake of the Hunnic conquest of the Goths, roving bands—including Alanic, Herulian, and Gothic refugees—pushed through the region north of the Danube, destabilizing tribes as far west as the Marcomanni and the Quadi. At about the same time Athanaric’s Thuringii, believing that they had no chance of gaining refuge in the Roman Empire, advanced westwards through the Carpathians into Oltenia, where they defeated the Sarmatians. Possibly displaced by this conflict, many Taifals abandoned Oltenia and, allying with a group of Greuthungi Goths under the leadership of Farnobius, crossed into Roman lands. in wikipedia

376 Goths cross Danube

In the fall of 376, under orders from Valens, the Roman commander Lupicinus ferried the Tervingi Goths across the flooded Danube in boats, rafts, and canoes for resettlement in Thrace. Once they were across, however, he took advantage of their desperation and hunger to induce them to sell some of their people as slaves in return for food scraps, including dog meat. Taking advantage of the rising tensions between the Tervingi and the Romans, the Greuthungi—whose request for asylum had been specifically rejected by Valens—secretly crossed the Danube in makeshift craft some distance from the Tervingi settlement. in wikipedia

376 Battle of Marcianople

In late 376 Alavivus and Fritigern, leaders of the Tervingi Goths, were attending a banquet in Marcianople at the invitation of Lupicinus, Roman commander in Thrace, when suddenly the Romans attacked and killed a number of their attendants. Fritigern escaped and rallied the Tervingi, who laid waste to the countryside in retaliation. Hastily mustering his soldiers, Lupicinus advanced out of Marcianople to face the Goths, but was completely defeated some 15 km north of the city. in wikipedia

376 Sueridus and Colias

Learning of the revolt of the Tervingi Goths near Marcianople, Valens grew concerned about the loyalty of a contingent of Gothic auxiliaries posted at Adrianople under the chieftains Sueridus and Colias and ordered them to cross the Hellespont into Asia. When these Goths asked for provisions and time to prepare for the journey, they were instead attacked by the local Roman commander and had to fight their way out of the city. Having been forced into revolt in this way, Sueridus and Colias joined the Tervingi in an unsuccessful siege of Adrianople before they—along with the Tervingi, Greuthungi, liberated Gothic captives, and many impoverished Roman subjects—turned to plunder the villages of Thrace. in wikipedia