The battle of Adrianople (9 august 378), sometimes well-known as the fight of Hadrianopolis, to be fought in between an eastern Roman military led through the Eastern roman inn Emperor Valens and Gothic rebels (largely Thervings and also Greutungs, non-Gothic Alans, and also various local rebels) led by Fritigern. The battle took place around 13 km (8 mi) phibìc of Adrianople (modern Edirne in europe Turkey, near the border through Greece and Bulgaria) in the Roman district of Thracia. It ended with an overwhelming win for the Goths and the death of Emperor Valens.

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Part of the Gothic battle (376–382), the battle is often thought about the start of the procedure which caused the loss of the west Roman realm in the 5th century.


In 376 AD, displaced through the invasions of the Huns, the Goths, led through Alavivus and also Fritigern, asked come be enabled to clear up in the Eastern roman Empire. Hoping the they would come to be farmers and also soldiers, the Eastern roman emperor Valens enabled them to develop themselves in the realm as allies (foederati). However, once throughout the Danube (and in roman territory), the corrupt of the provincial commanders Lupicinus and also Maximus led the newcomers to rebellion after suffering numerous hardships. Valens (of the eastern Empire) climate asked Gratian, the west emperor, because that reinforcements to fight the Goths. Gratian sent the basic Frigeridus through reinforcements, and also the leader that his guards, Richomeres. For the next two years preceding the fight of Adrianople there were a series of running battles with no clear victories because that either side.

In 378, Valens made decision to take control himself. Valens would certainly bring more troops from Syria and also Gratian would bring an ext troops native Gaul.

Valens left Antioch because that Constantinople, and arrived top top the 30th that May. That appointed Sebastianus, freshly arrived from Italy, to reorganize the roman armies currently in Thrace. Sebastianus choose 2,000 that his legionaries and also marched in the direction of Adrianople. Castle ambushed some tiny Gothic detachments. Fritigern assembled the Gothic forces at Nicopolis and also Beroe (now Stara Zagora) to attend to this roman inn threat.

Gratian had actually sent much of his military to Pannonia once the Lentienses (part of the Alamanni) attacked across the Rhine. Gratian recalled his army and also defeated the Lentienses near Argentaria (near modern Colmar, France.) after this campaign, Gratian, with part of his ar army, went east by boat; the rest of his field army went eastern overland. The former group arrived on Sirmium in Pannonia and also at the Camp that Mars (a fort near the steel Gates), 400 kilometers native Adrianople, whereby some Alans attacked them. Gratian"s group withdrew to Pannonia quickly thereafter.

After discovering of Sebastian"s success versus the Goths, and of Gratian"s success over the Alamanni, Valens was much more than prepared for a win of his own. He carried his military from Melantias come Adrianople, whereby he met with Sebastian"s force. On 6 August, reconnaissance notified Valens that about 10,000 Goths were marching in the direction of Adrianople native the north, about 25 kilometers away. Despite the challenging ground, Valens reached Adrianople whereby the Roman army fortified that is camp v ditch and also rampart.

Richomeres, sent by Gratian, carried a letter asking Valens come wait because that the come of reinforcements from Gratian before engaging in battle. Valens" officers also recommended the he wait because that Gratian, however Valens chose to fight there is no waiting, all set to insurance claim the can be fried prize.

The Goths were likewise watching the Romans, and also on 8 August, Fritigern sent out an emissary to propose a peace and an alliance in exchange for some Roman territory. Sure that he would be victorious because of his supposed numerical superiority, Valens rejected this proposals. However, his approximates did no take into consideration a component of the Gothic cavalry that had gone come forage more away.

Composition of the roman troops

Valens" military may have consisted of troops from any of 3 Roman field armies: the army of Thrace, based in the east Balkans, yet which may have sustained hefty losses in 376–377, the 1st Army in the Emperor"s Presence, and the 2nd Army in the Emperor"s Presence, both based at Constantinople in peacetime however committed come the Persian frontier in 376 and also sent west in 377–378.

Valens" military included units of veterans, guys accustomed come war. It comprised seven soldier — amongst which to be the Legio ns Maximiana and also imperial auxiliaries — the 700 come 1000 guys each. The mounties was composed of an installed archers (sagittarii) and Scholae (the imperial guard). However, these struck precipitately, while peace negotiations to be going on, and precipitately fled. There were also squadrons the Arab cavalry, but they were an ext suited to skirmishes than to pitched battle.

Composition that the Gothic forces

The Gothic armies were greatly infantry, with some cavalry, i m sorry was far-reaching in the fight of Adrianople.

There were more than likely two key Gothic militaries south the the Danube. Fritigern led one army, largely recruited from the Therving exiles, if Alatheus and Saphrax led an additional army, largely recruited indigenous the Greuthung exiles.

Fritigern carried most if not every one of his fighters to the battle, and also appears to have led the force the Romans very first encountered. Alatheus and also Saphrax brought their mounties into activity "descending favor a thunderbolt" versus the Romans. These forces had Alans.

Ammianus documents that the roman inn scouts approximated 10,000 Gothic troops; however Ammianus dismissed this together an underestimate. This shows up to be due to Alatheus and also Saphrax"s pressures being away as soon as the roman inn scouts approximated the Goth"s numbers before battle. Several modern-day historians have approximated the stamin of the Gothic armies at 12,000–15,000.

Ammianus notes the important function of the Gothic cavalry. Charles Oman, believing that the cavalry were the majority of the Gothic force, construed the battle of Adrianople together the beginning of the supremacy of cavalry over infantry because that the next thousand years. Some various other historians have actually taken the same view. Burns and other recent historians argue that the infantry were the vast majority of the Gothic force, and also that the fight had small effect ~ above the relationship between infantry and cavalry.


On the morning the 9 August, Valens decamped indigenous Adrianople, wherein he left the royal treasury and administration under guard. The enlightenment of the coming before days educated him of the place of the Gothic camp phibìc of the city. Valens arrived there after marching because that seven hrs over complicated terrain.

The roman troops arrived tired and also dehydrated, facing the Gothic camp that had been set up on the optimal of a hill. The Goths, except for their cavalry, defended their wagon circle, inside of i m sorry were your families and possessions. Fritigern"s objective to be to delay the Romans, in order to give sufficient time for the Gothic cavalry to return. The fields were charred by the Goths to delay and harass the Romans with smoke, and negotiations began for an exchange that hostages. The negotiations exasperated the roman inn soldiers who seemed to organize the more powerful position, but they acquired precious time for Fritigern.

Some roman units began the fight without orders to do so, believing they would have straightforward victory, and also perhaps over-eager to specific revenge top top the Goths after two years of unchecked devastation transparent the Balkans. The royal scholae of shield-archers under the command that the Iberian prince Bacurius attacked, but lacking support they were quickly pushed back. Then the roman inn left-wing got to the circle of wagons, however it was as well late. At that moment, the Gothic cavalry, return from a foraging expedition, come to assistance the infantry. The mounties surrounded the roman troops, that were currently in disarray ~ the fail of the first assault. The Romans retract to the base of the hill where they were unable come maneuver, encumbered by their heavy armor and also long shields. The casualties, exhaustion, and psychological pressure brought about a rout the the roman inn army. The cavalry continued your attack, and also the killing ongoing until nightfall.

In the rout, the Emperor self was abandoned by his guards. Part tried come retrieve him, yet the majority of the mounties fled. Valens" last fate is unknown; he might have passed away anonymously ~ above the field. His body was never ever found. An alternative story circulated after the battle that Valens had actually escaped the field with a bodyguard and some eunuchs, and also hid in a peasant"s cottage. The opponent attempted come pillage the cottage, apparently unaware Valens was inside. Valens" guys shot arrows native the 2nd floor to protect the cottage and in an answer the Goths collection the head on fire. The bodyguard leaped out the window and said the Goths who was inside, yet it was also late. Valens perished in the flames.


The Goths automatically marched come the city the Adrianople and attempted to take it; Ammianus offers a comprehensive account of their failure. Ammianus describes a good number of roman soldiers who had actually not to be let into the city and also who fought the besieging Goths below the walls. According to the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, a third of the Roman army succeeded in retreating, however the losses were uncountable. Numerous officers, amongst them the general Sebastian, were eliminated in the worst roman inn defeat because the fight of Edessa, the high allude of the dilemm of the 3rd Century. The battle was a far-ranging blow because that the late Empire, leading to the damage of the core military of the east Empire, the deaths of an useful administrators, and also the destruction of all of the arms factories ~ above the Danube adhering to the battle. The absence of reserves because that the army worsened the recruitment crisis. Regardless of the losses, the fight of Adrianople go not mark the end of the roman inn Empire due to the fact that the royal military strength was just temporarily crippled.

The defeat at Adrianople signified the the barbarians, fighting for or against the Romans, had become powerful adversaries. The Goths, despite partly trained by Valens" follower Theodosius ns (who embraced them once much more as allies), were never expelled, exterminated, or assimilated; they stayed as a unique entity within its frontiers, because that a couple of years allies, later on independent and often hostile.

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The long-term effects of the battle of Adrianople for the arts of battle have often been overstated, with numerous 20th-century writers repeating sir Charles Oman"s idea that the fight represented a turning point in armed forces history, through heavy cavalry triumphing over roman infantry and ushering in the period of the medieval knight. This idea to be overturned by T. S. Burns in 1973. Burns shows that the Gothic army"s cavalry arm was reasonably small, the Valens would certainly actually have actually had more cavalry and that when the duty of Fritigern"s mounties was crucial to his victory, the battle was a mainly infantry versus infantry affair. The middle ages knight was not to increase for numerous centuries ~ Adrianople. It is likewise often proclaimed that the loss at Adrianople led to changes in the composition of the so late Roman army and boost in the usage of cavalry. In fact, this procedure had been going top top in the Roman military long before ad 378, with cavalry increasing its function and condition in the army from at least the time of the Emperor Gallienus (AD 253 come 260).