Europe 422: Battle of Tarraco

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 14 Aug 422 (Theodosian Dynasty: The West Besieged: Battle of Tarraco), showing the following events: Treaty of Dara; Exile of Bonifatius; Battle of Tarraco.

The death of Constantius III in September 421 left the Western Roman military command dominated by the rivals Castinus (supported by Emperor Honorius) and Bonifatius (supported by Honorius’ sister Placidia). Their relations became so bad that when, in 422, the two generals were ordered to deal with the Vandals in Hispaniae, their ongoing quarrels soon led Bonifatius to flee to Africa. Castinus continued on, but he was defeated by the Vandals when his Visigothic auxiliaries (also likely aligned with Placidia) deserted him and he fled to nearby Tarraco.

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Akatziri and the “Scythian Kingdom” (Kuban Huns)

Little is known about the region north and east of the Black Sea in the first half of the fifth century, except that in c. 400 a “Scythian King” (almost always assumed to be a Hun) lived in the Kuban region and by the 440s a Hunnic people known as the Akatziri lived east of the Dniester. Although fragmented, the Akatziri were powerful enough that, when the Eastern Romans aligned with all but one of their kingdoms in 447, it took over a year for Attila’s armies to crush them and install his son as their king. After this, Attila contemplated invading Persia, implying that suppressing the Akatziri had bought the periphery of his empire close to the Caucasus. All this suggests that the Akatziri may have extended into the North Caucasus and that the “Scythian King” may have been part of the Akatziri, although this is of course conjecture.

Main Events

422 Treaty of Dara

Following the incursion of the Huns into Thrace in the winter of 421/422, the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II dispatched the courtier Helion to the Persian front to make peace with Shah Bahram V. At first Bahram refused, but, after a number of unsuccessful clashes, he bowed to Roman pressure in early 422. The two sides then signed a treaty, agreeing to return the frontier to the status quo ante bellum and to tolerate each other’s religions in their own territories. in wikipedia

422 Exile of Bonifatius

When, in early 422, the Western magister militum Flavius Castinus was ordered to lead a campaign against the Vandals in Hispaniae, the general Bonifatius was appointed to join him—a move probably instigated by Emperor Honorius’ sister Galla Placidia to limit Castinus’ power. The two generals immediately took to quarreling and, soon afterwards, Bonifatius fled from Ravenna to Africa. This move was endorsed by Placidia early the following year, when she arranged for Bonifatius to become comes Africae. in wikipedia

422 Battle of Tarraco

In 422 the Western Roman government dispatched the newly appointed magister militum Flavius Castinus with a large force of Roman troops and Visigothic auxiliaries to attack the Vandals, who were at large in Baetica, Hispaniae. After successfully surrounding the Vandals, Castinus offered battle, only to be defeated when the Visigoths deserted him. Having lost an alleged 20,000 men, he fled to Tarraco, blaming the disaster on collusion between Honorius’ sister Galla Placidia, Bonifatius, and the Visigoths. in wikipedia