Europe 420: Battle of the Nervasos Mountains

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 11 Feb 420 (Theodosian Dynasty: The West Besieged: Battle of the Nervasos Mountains), showing the following events: Visigothic Settlement; Battle of the Nervasos Mountains; Restoration of Maximus of Hispania.

In late 418 the Western Roman generalissimo Flavius Constantius recalled Wallia’s Goths from Hispaniae and resettled them in Aquitania, where they would become known as the Visigoths. After this the Romans helped the Suebi defeat the Vandals in Gallaecia, but ultimately failed to prevent the Vandals from escaping into the more fertile province of Baetica.

This map has in-depth notes in the Journal, exclusive to Patrons on Classical Tier and above. Find them in the events descriptions, marked with the Journal icon .

Roman return to Britain

These maps show a Roman return to Britain in 418–421. There are a number of reasons to believe this might have happened, including:

  1. A Roman return followed by an amicable withdrawal is mentioned by Gildas and Bede.
  2. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles date a Roman withdrawal to 418/421 and, along with Nennius, tell of departing Romans burying treasure that they did not take to Gaul. This is supported somewhat by the discovery of multiple 5th century hoards in south and east Britain.
  3. There is evidence of work on Hadrian’s Wall dating to the 420s.
  4. The Notitia Dignitatum, dated to the 420s in the West, attests to Roman units in Britain.
  5. It makes logical sense for Constantius III’s forces to conclude their reconquest of Gaul in 418 by at least visiting Britain. It would also make sense that this visit would be unexpected and late in the year, as stated by Bede.
  6. Continued interactions between the Roman church and Britain from the 420s to as late as the 450s suggest ongoing ties with the Empire.

However, be aware that at the present moment (2023) only a few mainstream historians hold this view. For further arguments in favor of a Roman return, see Pace (Nov 2015, Walls and Withdrawals: Gildas’ Version of the End of Roman Britain).

Main Events

418–419 Visigothic Settlement

In late 418 Wallia’s Goths broke off their campaign in Hispaniae and were recalled by Flavius Constantius to Gaul, where they were granted settlements in Aquitania, along the Garonne from Tolosa (Toulouse) to the Atlantic Ocean. Wallia, however, died shortly afterwards, while still in Spain, and was succeeded by Theodoric, said to be the grandson of Alaric. Under their new king, the Goths reached their new homeland by 419, establishing the foundation of what would become the Visigothic Kingdom. in wikipedia

419–420 Battle of the Nervasos Mountains

In 419 war broke out in Gallaecia between the Vandals of Gunderic and the Suebi of Hermeric, during which the Vandals successfully trapped a large force of Suebi in the Erbasian or Nervasos Mountains (commonly identified with the Arbas region in the Cantabrian Mountains). Despite this, the Suebi held out until the following year, when pressure from the Roman comes Hispaniarum Asterius forced the Vandals to withdraw. Outnumbered, the Vandals abandoned Gallaecia and headed for the southern—and far richer—province of Baetica. in wikipedia

419? Restoration of Maximus of Hispania

After the defeat of the rebel general Gerontius in 411, the Spanish usurper Maximus had taken refuge with the Vandals in Gallaecia. Here he remained in obscurity until sometime after July 419, when he was proclaimed emperor again with Vandal backing, perhaps in response to a Roman threat to Gallaecia. in wikipedia