Europe 441: Destruction of Viminacium

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 02 Aug 441 (Theodosian Dynasty: Hunnic Wars: Destruction of Viminacium), showing the following events: Suebian Spain; Areobindus’ Sicilian Expedition; Conquest of Maskut; Saxon authority in Britain; Destruction of Viminacium; Astyrius’ Spanish expedition.

In response to the Vandal capture of Carthage in 439 and their attack on Sicily the following year, the Eastern Roman Empire dispatched an army to Sicily in 441. However, no sooner had the troops departed than the Huns invaded the Balkans, capturing and destroying the major city of Viminacium.

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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

441 Suebian Spain

In 441, within months of the death of his father Hermeric from his four-year-long battle with illness, the Suebian king Rechila seized Hispalis (Seville) from the Romans. Perhaps convinced by this act of power, the provinces of Baetica and Carthaginiensis fell under Rechila’s control soon afterwards and by the end of the year the Suebi ruled all of Spain except for Tarraconensis and parts of Gallaecia. in wikipedia

441–442 Areobindus’ Sicilian Expedition

In the spring of 441 the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II dispatched a fleet of 1,100 cargo ships carrying a sizeable Roman army under the command of the magister militum praesentalis Areobindus, the magister militum Germanus, and three other generals to deal with the Vandals in Carthage. This force soon landed in Sicily but after this faced constant delays and by the end of the year had made no further moves to regain Africa. Meanwhile, Thedosius, now facing war with the Huns, made peace with the Vandals and in 442 the entire expedition returned to the Balkans, having achieved nothing except to be a tax burden to Sicily. in wikipedia

441? Conquest of Maskut

In c. 440—but probably after the start of the Roman–Persian War of 440/441—a large body of Huns broke through the Derbent Pass and overran the Kingdom of Maskut, threatening the Sasanian Empire of Persia. Although the Persians would reestablish the fortifications of the Derbent Pass by the end of the decade, the Maskuts themselves appear to have been absorbed into the Huns and by the 460s they had vanished from history. in wikipedia

441 Saxon authority in Britain

The Gallic Chronicles record that in the sixteenth year of the reign of Valentinian III (i.e. 441) the “British provinces… were subjected to the authority of the Saxons”. As the Romano-British would continue to resist Anglo-Saxon expansion into the region that is now England for another century or so, the meaning of this entry is still debated by modern historians, but it may refer to the establishment of some level of Saxon power in eastern Britain. If so, this initial hegemony cannot have lasted more than a few years as by 443 or 446 the Britons seem to have regained whatever independence they had lost and were appealing to Rome for support against the Picts. in wikipedia

441 Destruction of Viminacium

In 441, at the time of the annual fair, the Huns attacked one of the fortified trading posts north of the Danube and massacred the Romans there, claiming that the bishop of Margus had been robbing their grave sites and that the Romans continued to hold Hunnic fugitives in violation of the Treaty of Margus (435). The Hunnic kings Bleda and Attila then led their forces across the Danube, where they completely destroyed the major city of Viminacium and, with the treacherous help of the aforementioned bishop, captured Margus. However, further violence was temporarily averted when the Eastern Roman magister militum Aspar arrived on the scene and persuaded the Huns to agree to a one-year truce. in wikipedia

441 Astyrius’ Spanish expedition

Alarmed at the growing power of the Suebi, the Western Roman government dispatched the dux utriusque militiae Astyrius to Hispaniae in 441. However, before Astyrius could face the Suebi in the western provinces, he first had to deal with the breakdown in central authority in the northeastern province of Tarraconensis. In a brutal campaign, Astyrius killed large numbers of bagaudae (peasant rebels) but proved unable to restore order in the region. in wikipedia