Northern Africa 407: Constantine III
In late 406 a force of Vandals, Alans, and Suebi invaded the Western Roman Empire by crossing the Rhine into Gaul. Alarmed, the British legions proclaimed the military veteran Constantine III as emperor and landed in Gaul, quickly winning support as far as Hispaniae.
18 Nov 401 Alaric’s invasion of Italy▲
Taking advantage of Stilicho’s campaign against the Vandals on the Upper Danube, Alaric—who had taken the title King of the Goths in 400—invaded the Western Roman Empire in late 401. He passed through the Julian Alps into Italy in November, encountering no opposition from the garrison of Ad Pirum, which may have been stripped of troops for Stilicho’s war in the north. Alaric then moved to capture Aquileia, but, when this proved too difficult, instead advanced across the north Italian plain to attack Mediolanum (Milan) early in the new year.
Jun 402 Battle of Verona▲
In the wake of his defeat at Pollentia (April 402), Alaric seems to have come to an agreement with Stilicho and begun retiring east towards the Diocese of Illyricum. However, the Goths made slow progress and when, apparently suffering from the heat and bad food, they stopped near Verona, Stilicho attacked. In the ensuing battle, Alaric was almost captured and many Goths—including the leaders Sarus, Sigeric, and Ulfilas—deserted to the Romans, leaving the humbled Gothic king with no choice but to accept Stilicho’s terms.
402 Stilicho’s treaty with Alaric▲
Shortly after the Battle of Verona (June 402), Stilicho and Alaric entered into negotiations. According to what appear to have been Stilicho’s terms, Alaric then returned across the Julian Alps and settled in the Diocese of Illyricum with his remaining followers, occupying the border regions of the provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia as foederati of the Western Roman Empire by the end of the year.
In late 405 Radagaisus, a pagan ‘King of the Goths’ of uncertain origins, crossed the Danube with a force allegedly 200–400 thousand strong—a number considered improbable by most modern historians, who suggest around 20,000 warriors and 80,000 noncombatants. Advancing across the Western Roman provinces of Pannonia, Noricum, and Raetia, Radagaisus and his Goths moved through the Alpine passes to enter northern Italy by the end of the year. Here they split into three armies, while the Western generalissimo Stilicho, with an outnumbered Roman force at Ticinum, called on the Rhine legions, the Alans, and the Huns of Uldin for support.
?–23 Aug 406 Battle of Faesulae▲
Following their defeat outside Florentia (Florence), Radagaisus and his Goths fled to the nearby hills around Faesulae (Fiesole), where they were quickly blockaded by the Roman army. After holding out for some time, and with his men on the brink of starvation, Radagaisus attempted to slip through Roman lines but was captured and, on 23 August 406, executed. With their king lost, his surviving followers surrendered; some 12,000 were incorporated into the Roman auxiliaries while the remainder were sold into slavery, apparently in such large numbers that the slave market collapsed.
31 Dec 406 Crossing of the Rhine▲
On 31 December 406 a large party of Hasding Vandals, Siling Vandals, and Alans crossed the Rhine near Mogontiacum (Mainz) and invaded Roman Gaul. They were accompanied by the Suebi—a collection of Germanic tribes that included members of the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Alemanni—and small numbers of other peoples, including Sarmatians, Gepids, and Herulians. Having already defeated the neighboring Franks and catching the depleted Roman garrisons by surprise, the invaders quickly stormed Mogontiacum before overrunning the region.
Feb 407 Constantine III▲
In early 407 the rebel Roman legions in Britain killed their usurper Gratian—who had proved unwilling to go on the offensive against the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi ravaging Gaul—and proclaimed Flavius Claudius Constantinus, a veteran soldier, as emperor in his place. Constantinus, or Constantine III as he would be known, was a popular choice among the troops, at least in part because his namesake, Constantine the Great, had also risen to power in Britain. The new emperor immediately gathered most of Britain’s remaining forces—possibly stripping the defenses of Hadrian’s Wall for the last time—and began making preparations to cross onto the continent.
407 Hispaniae declares for Constantine III▲
The provinces of the Diocese of Hispaniae were quick to recognize Constantine III, declaring for him in mid 407. In response, the usurper sent magistrates to Spain, where they were obediently received by the governors.