Europe 426: Siege of Arles

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 04 Feb 426 (Theodosian Dynasty: Fall of Africa: Siege of Arles), showing the following events: Arrival of Aetius; Reign of Valentinian III; Siege of Arles; Vandal seizure of the Spanish fleet; Hun–Gepid War; Octar.

In October 425, at the behest of the Eastern emperor Theodosius II, the six-year-old Valentinian III was proclaimed emperor in Rome, but, even after Eastern forces withdrew from Italy in March 426, the new emperor remained a figurehead. Instead, power in the West now resided in the hands of Valentinian’s mother Galla Placidia and three rival generals: Felix in Italy, Bonifatius in Africa, and Aetius in Gaul. Initially the weakest of the three, Aetius’ first task was to drive back the Visigoths, who had taken advantage of Western turmoil to besiege Arelate (Arles), the Gallic capital.

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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

425 Arrival of Aetius

Three days after the execution of the usurper Joannes (May or June 425), Joannes’ general Flavius Aetius appeared in northern Italy with a force of several thousand recently recruited Huns and immediately attacked Aspar’s Eastern Roman army. Both sides suffered significant losses, after which they came to an agreement that the new Western regime of Valentinian III would pardon Aetius and give him a command in Gaul, and in return he would persuade the Huns to depart for their homes. This ended the civil war but left the Western Empire under three rival generals: Aetius in Gaul, the newly appointed Flavius Felix in Italy, and the veteran Bonifatius in Africa. in wikipedia

23 Oct 425–16 Mar 455 Reign of Valentinian III

In October 425, by a decree of the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II, the six-year-old Valentinian, son of Constantius III and Galla Placidia, was proclaimed augustus in Rome and became Valentinian III of the Western Roman Empire. Initially dominated by his mother—and later by the general Flavius Aetius—Valentinian’s almost thirty-year reign would see the West repeatedly invaded by both Germanic tribes and the Huns, ultimately resulting in the empire’s loss of Africa and large parts of Europe. In September 454 Valentinian himself killed Aetius, prompting Aetius’ bodyguard to assassinate Valentinian six months later. in wikipedia

425–427 Siege of Arles

In 425, presumably taking advantage of the Roman civil war between Joannes and Theodosius II, Theodoric’s Visigoths besieged Arelate (Arles), the capital of the Praetorian Prefecture of Gaul. The siege seems to have lasted as long as two years, with the Visigoths suffering significant casualties trying to take the city by storm. Eventually, Flavius Aetius, the newly appointed magister militum per Gallias, arrived with a substantial army and drove the Visigoths away, after which a treaty was signed between the two sides. in wikipedia

425–427 Vandal seizure of the Spanish fleet

In 425/426, perhaps encouraged by the fighting between the Visigoths and the Romans over Arelate (Arles), the Vandals emerged from the mountains of southern Hispaniae and captured the important naval base of Carthago Spartaria (also known as Carthago Nova or Cartagena). Here they found much of the Roman Western Mediterranean fleet, which they promptly used to launch raids on the Balearic Islands and possibly North Africa, while another Vandal force threatened the town of Hispalis (Seville). in wikipedia

425?–429? Hun–Gepid War

In the late 420s Rugila’s Huns invaded and conquered the lands of the Gepids. Possibly the Gepids had revolted against Rugila’s authority, because they had apparently already been defeated by the Huns and their Gothic allies in c. 407. Regardless, by c. 429, the Huns had completely crushed their opponents in this new war, after which they removed the Gepids’ entire ruling family and aristocracy, appointing new, compliant leaders to replace them. in wikipedia

426?–430 Octar

At some point in the 420s Rugila’s brother Octar became king of the Huns along the Upper Danube, ruling them until his death while fighting the Burgundians near the Rhine in 430. Little else is known about Octar or his regime, but his period of rule may have coincided with the apparent weakening of Rugila’s power which occurred after 425. in wikipedia