Alaric I also known as Alaric The Visigoth was instrumental in bringing the Roman Empire to an end. He was part of the Visigoth tribes that were of Germanic heritage and part of the western Goths in Europe. Alaric The Visigoth was a masterful military tactician and was King of the Visigoths from 395 C.E. until his death in 410 C.E.
Alaric The Visigoth was born around 370 C.E. on the island of Puece in what is modern day Romania. He was a child of a noble Goth family that was part of the Tervingian Goths who resided on the Danubian Plain.
As a child Alaric witnessed numerous attacks on the Goths from the Huns. Eventually his family was forced to flee the plains and enter territory held by the Roman Empire. Alaric later became a soldier in of the Gaina’s army which was led by the Goths. After skirmishes with the Romans, Alaric at the age of 20 years old joined the Eastern Roman army.
Alaric The Visigoth quickly learned the art of warfare while serving for Gaina the Goth leader. While serving for Gaina’s army he rose to power as a military commander of a mixed Roman army of Goths and other friendly people to the Goths.
In 391 C.E. he led his army of soldiers in the invasion of Thrace where his soldiers were turned back by the Roman General Stilicho. Alaric quickly regrouped his army of Goths for Roman Emperor Theodosius. In 394 C.E.
Alaric went of the attack with 20,000 soldiers against the Frankish leader Arbogast at the Battle of Frigidus. After losing half of his soldiers with little support from Theodosius I, Alaric left the Eastern Roman Army.
Appointed King of the Visigoths
After the Battle of Frigidus, Theodosius I died In 395 C.E. During that same year the Roman Empire was once again split into two with Arcadius and Honorius taking control of the eastern and western Roman Empire.
Also in 395 C.E. Alaric I was named the king of the Visigoths. He formed his army once again and waged war on the Roman Empire Army which was led by the Roman General Stilicho.
Alaric I’s army marched toward the capital of Rome in Constantinople until he was forced by Stilicho to move southward. His army entered Greece where they did considerable damage to the Port of Athens, Corinth, Megara, Sparta, and Argos. Alaric I then was appointed to be the “master of soldiers” by the Eastern Roman Emperor Arcadius.
During 401 C.E. Alaric I and his army of Visigoths invaded Italy. Unfortunately he was once again defeated by Stilicho at the Battle of Pollentia in 402 C.E. That same year he led his army in defeat at the Battle of Verona.
Alaric I’s actions led to the Roman Senate paying a large sum of money to the Visigoths. In 408 C.E. there were rumors abound that Alaric I and Stilicho had formed a partnership. The partnership led the Western Roman Emperor Honorius to turn on Stilicho and the Visigoth population in Roman territory.
At the order of Honorius, Stilicho was executed as well as tens of thousands of women and children of Visigoth heritage were slaughtered in Roman territory.
The Sacking of Rome
After the execution and slaughtering of Goths, many Goth soldiers defected to Alaric I’s army. With a force of 30,000 soldiers Alaric I proceeded to march on Rome in 408 C.E. His army laid siege to Rome until the Roman Senate once again paid him a large tribute.
Alaric I also negotiated the freedom of more than 40,000 Gothic slaves in Rome. None the less, Honorius was not interested in appointing Alaric I the commander of the Western Roman Army. In 409 C.E. Alaric I laid siege on Rome once again.
The third siege on Rome during 410 C.E. was fruitful for Alaric I and his soldiers. They entered the city and plundered Rome for more than three days. From here Alaric I and his army planned to occupy Sicily and North Africa but later changed their minds. Alaric The Visigoth would die on the subsequent march northward in 410 C.E.
Important facts about Alaric The Visigoth
- Alaric I was born on Peuce Island in present-day Romania to a noble Balti family of the Tervingian Goths.
- At an early age of 20 years old, Alaric I became leader of Gania’s Army of Gothic soldiers.
- His biggest rival was Roman General Stilicho who commanded both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire Armies.
- Alaric I became the general of the Eastern Roman Army under Arcadius in 408 C.E.
- During his sieges of Rome, Alaric I was instrumental in having the Roman Senate pay large sums of tribute to the Goths and free more than 40,000 Gothic slaves in Rome.
- Alaric I formed his army of 30,000 soldiers in 408 C.E. after the Western Roman Emperor Honorius executed tens of thousands of Gothic people in Rome.
- His third siege of Rome in 410 C.E. led to the plundering of the city for three days.
- Alaric The Visigoth died of fever while on campaign in 410 C.E.
- Alaric The Visigoth was born on what island in present-day Romania?
- In what year did Alaric I become the king of the Visigoths?
- Which Roman Empire General was Alaric I’s biggest rival?
- What year did Alaric I’s army of Visigoth soldiers finally enter and plunder the city of Rome?
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