The first king of Visigoths is on the daunting task of marching onto Constantinople(capital city of the Roman Empire) and challenging the Roman emperor. Rome has insulted his honor. Alaric and his army of 30,000 men are pillaging everything under the flag of Rome.

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The First King Of Visigoths: Alaric I
Alaric I

Stilicho: The Serpent

The year is 395 AD. The roman empire is in the hands of two young sons of the emperor. Their guardian is a man named, Flavius Stilicho. Stilicho was a military commander in the Roman army. A cunning man he sets himself up as the master of the west and tries to control the eastern sector to an extent. As the empire faces an internal power strife Alaric and his forces march down upon Athens to force the Romans to see the error of their ways.

Eutropius: The Eunuch

Eutropius

At this point, our hero has made his way all the way to Thrace. Here he encounters the newly appointed minister of Thrace, Eutropius. Eutropius is also the only eunuch to have served on the Roman consul. He declares Alaric as magister militum per Illyricum. This has allowed Alaric the right to gold and grain for his followers.

The King of Visigoths meets his match

The year is 402AD. Eutropius has fallen out of power. Alaric is once again on the march. Two battles happen. The first is the Battle of Pollentia, where Alaric faces defeat. His wife and children become hostages for negotiation. The King of Visigoths is humbled. He decides to fight again and the second battle is the Battle of Verona. Defeated again Alaric withdraws from Italy with his family in exchange for a truce.

The First Seige Of Rome

May 1 408AD- Theodosius The Second has ascended the Roman throne. Stilicho is dead, killed by a coup led by a man named Sarus. Sarus the Goth is a man of the Amal family and a hereditary enemy of Alaric and his house. This is his moment, he has the emperor’s ear. Alaric is now an enemy of the state. On hearing of this insult and having bided his time Alaric declares war on the Romans.

A sketch of Alaric before riding into battle

Alaric with some 30,000 men surrounds the city. It is September and a harsh winter is coming. Blocking every gate of the city starves the whole city. No blood is shed. The senate taunts Alaric, “What might a desperate crowd accomplish“. His celebrated retort, “The thicker the hay, the easier mowed”.

Finally, the famine-stricken citizens cave and decide to pay. A ransom weighing 5,000 pounds of Gold, 30,000 pounds of Silver, 4,000 silken tunics, 3,000 hides dyed scarlet, 3,000 pounds of pepper is the bargain for normality. Alaric also frees some 40,000 gothic slaves.

THUS ENDS THE FIRST SEIGE OF ROME.

The King Of Visigoths Returns

Alaric returns exactly a year later. On August 24, 409AD Alaric and his ever strengthened army sack the city of Rome. The assault lasts three days. Romans will write of this day- “In one city, the whole world perished”.

Sack of Rome by the Visigoths on 24 August 410 by JN Sylvestre 1890

This is a psychological blow to the empire- ROME HAS FALLEN TO THE VISIGOTHS. The goths go on to settle in Gaul as the Roman empire now watches with frustration on being unable to protect their own boundaries.

But for all fortune and fame, there is evermore. The trampling of horse hooves is loud and clear and so are the screams. THE HUNS ARE COMING and THEY WILL STOP AT NOTHING.

In our next edition on history, ATILLA THE HUN.

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