A Falling Empire and the Barbarians

After the third century, the Roman empire was entering its valley of doom. All sorts of political and economic problems were oppressing the people and the government. The icing on the cake came when the Barbarians (germanic origin peoples) began to struggle greatly in approximately the mid 4th century.

Years of neighborhood had accumulated between the Romans and the Barbarians, with these last ones surrounding the borders of the empire, sometimes mixing with the Roman civilization to annoy it or contribute in it. They were the inferior group of people who recognized the greatness of the Roman Empire and always sought participation within it. Emperor Augustus had given them the availability to settle in the empire peacefully and even become soldiers of Rome. However, as the decades went by, these people began to become authorities of Rome, while others returned to their tribes fusing the Roman culture with the Germanic one.

This fusion was ultimately the dissolving of Rome that accelerated dramatically around the years of 375 and 376 when the fearful, warlike Huns were persecuting the Germans. More specifically, these germans were the group known as the Visigoths that migrated westward urgently to beg for protection in Rome. Emperor Valens was the man in charge at the time and delegated the Visigoths entry to the empire. For a short time only, there remained tranquility between the Visigoths and Valens, due to the harsh treatment that arose from Romans to Barbarians, so they rebelled against the Emperor.

War was declared by Emperor Valens and this one culminated with his murder and defeat at the city of Adrianople, in the year of 378. This clearly demonstrated that what was once a powerful and conquering empire, had now been quickly degenerated by controlling emperors, ambitious political figures, price controls, debasing money, etc. The Visigoths conformed with this victory for only a minimum time, as in 395, their “King Alaric” plundered Italy once again, now in search for richer property.

On the verge of establishing a Germanic kingdom in Italy, Alaric died. Yet, the Visigothic victories opened the gates of Rome for other Barbarian groups, like the Vandals, to sack Rome, as well. The Roman defenses were left hopeless as they tried to cope with the German assaults by calling reinforcing troops from Britain, leaving those territories highly exposed and inevitably conquered by the Angles, Saxons, and other Germans. The West of Rome was practically gone and taken by the Barbarians at the ends of the 5th century, being the Visigoths the pioneers of this expedition.


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