Europe 409: Vandalic invasion of Spain

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 12 Oct 409 (Theodosian Dynasty: Vandalic invasion of Spain), showing the following events: Saxon raids on Britain; Revolt of the Barbarians; Honorius’ pact with the Huns; Franco-Burgundian expansion; Vandalic invasion of Spain.

Soon after seizing power in Hispaniae (spring 409), Gerontius encouraged the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi to revolt against Constantine III and join him. Cutting a swathe of destruction across Gaul, the Vandals and their allies advanced to the Pyrenees, which they crossed into Spain on 28 September and/or 12 October.

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Main Events

409 Saxon raids on Britain

Taking advantage of the revolt of Gerontius and much of Constantine III’s army in spring 409, the Saxons crossed the North Sea and mounted large scale raids on Britain and northern Gaul. Having already been stripped of most of their troops by Constantine, who now resided in far off Arelate (Arles), the Britons were forced to take up arms and organize their own defenses. Eventually they defeated the Saxons—who seem to have gone so far as to besiege Londinium (London)—and drove them from their lands. in wikipedia

409 Revolt of the Barbarians

In mid-summer 409, encouraged by the rebel general Gerontius in Hispaniae, the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi revolted against Constantine III in Belgica and proceeded to march south and west across Gaul towards the Pyrenees. Devastating the provinces of Aquitania, Narbonensis, and Novempopuli as they went, the barbarians reached Tolosa (Toulouse) in September, by which point, according to a Roman poet, “All Gaul was filled with the smoke of a single funeral pyre.” Inspired to resist by the bishop Exuperius, Tolosa itself held out for some time but eventually succumbed to the invaders. in wikipedia

409 Honorius’ pact with the Huns

By April 409 Jovius, a former supporter of Stilicho and Praetorian Prefect of Italy, held most influence over the Western emperor Honorius and, after defusing a troop mutiny in Ravenna, he proceeded to open up negotiations with Alaric at Ariminum (Rimini). Alaric’s initial demands were extreme—asking for annual payments plus the right to inhabit Venetia, Noricum, and Dalmatia—and, when they were denounced, he threatened to march on Rome. Meanwhile Honorius had opened up negotiations with the Huns, sending them a number of hostages including Aetius, in return for 10,000 warriors. Learning of this, Alaric quickly reduced his demands—asking only to reside in Noricum—but was again rejected. The Huns, however, did not arrive that year, although Honorius’ pact with them appears to have remained in force until the 420s. in wikipedia

409–411 Franco-Burgundian expansion

In the summer of 409, taking advantage of the chaos caused by the revolt of the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi against Constantine III, the Franks and Burgundians crossed the Rhine and invaded Gaul. Their raids would continue until the fall of Constantine in 411, during which time they would gain control of large amounts of territory on the formerly Roman left bank of the Rhine. in wikipedia

28 Sep–12 Oct 409 Vandalic invasion of Spain

After plundering Gaul, the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi entered the Diocese of Hispaniae via the Pyrenees in either late September or early October 409 (or both; the destruction in southern Gaul suggests that the invaders traveled in at least two separate groups). The Honoriaci—a unit recently charged with defending the mountain passes—allowed them through without offering significant resistance, probably on orders from Gerontius, the rebel general in control of Spain. in wikipedia