Europe 397: Gildonic Revolt
In 397 the Western Roman generalissimo Stilicho attacked Alaric’s Goths in Greece, only to be forced to withdraw when the Eastern Empire came out in support of the Goths by denouncing Stilicho as a public enemy. At about the same time Gildo, Western commander in Africa, declared for the Eastern emperor Arcadius—threatening war between the two halves of the Empire—but was quickly suppressed by Stilicho in early 398.
396 Stilicho’s Gallic campaign▲
In the summer of 396 Stilicho descended down the Rhine to launch a sudden attack against the Franks. Marcomer—who had defeated a Roman incursion in 388—was arrested without any apparent resistance, while his former ally Sunno was killed by his own people while attempting to rally them against the Romans. The Franks then submitted and, along with other Germanic tribes, agreed to provide recruits for the Western Roman army.
In late 396 or early 397, after corresponding with Ambrose of Milan, Queen Fritigil of the Marcomanni persuaded her husband to submit himself and his people to the Romans. As a result they signed a treaty with the Western Roman general Flavius Stilicho, who resettled them within the Roman Empire, in the Vienna Basin in Pannonia. This is the last record of the Marcomanni as an independent nation.
397 Stilicho’s second Gothic campaign▲
In mid-397 the Western Roman generalissimo Stilicho sailed from Italy to Greece, in the Eastern Empire, with an army to confront Alaric and his Goths. Landing at Corinth, the Western Romans soon had Alaric surrounded on Mount Pholoe in the Peloponnese when the Eastern emperor Arcadius, rejecting Stilicho’s claim to act as a liberator, denounced him as hostis publicus (a public enemy). In response, Stilicho withdrew from the peninsula—which his angered troops pillaged as they departed—allowing Alaric to escape to Epirus.
397 Stilicho hostis publicus▲
Seeing Stilicho’s Western Roman campaign against Alaric in Greece in 397 as a threat to the regime in Constantinople, the powerful Eastern official Eutropius persuaded the Eastern emperor Arcadius to demand that the Western general withdraw. When Stilicho ignored this order, the Eastern Court took the next step and proclaimed him hostis publicus (a public enemy). This cemented the rift between the two empires, effectively turning Stilicho from a liberator of Greece to an occupier of Eastern territory.
397 Gildonic Revolt▲
In late 397 Gildo, Western Roman commander in Africa and brother to the rebel Berber prince Firmus (d. 375), declared for the Eastern emperor Arcadius. The Roman Senate promptly denounced Gildo as hostis publicus (a public enemy), after which Gildo cut the supply of African grain to Rome. This revolt occurred at around the time of the Eastern Empire’s denouncement of Stilicho’s campaign in Greece, although it’s uncertain as to how much these events influenced each other.