The Goths Fought For Rome. What They Were Really Fighting For Was A Homeland.

by Daniel Russ on August 23, 2016

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Ludwig_Thiersch_-_Alaric_à_Athènes

Alaric I. King Of The Goths.

It was during 285 AD when Diocletian decided that the best way to manage the massive Roman Empire was to divide it in half, Eastern and Western Empires. Rome surrounded the Mediterranean Sea, including the Iberian Peninsula, north to Brittania, the Northern European provinces in today’s France, Italy, Germany, the Balkans, Northern Europe, the Levant, Egypt, Lydia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Greece, and Turkey. This massive aggregate of the conquered was now so large, there were wars and fires at the periphery of provinces,  Huns were taking territory with impunity and forcing other tribes fleeing in absolute terror into the Roman Empire. Just getting news from one end of the empire was a time consuming and iffy thing. Policing all this territory was only possible by recruiting cheap labor already trained to fight: Barbarians.

.Barbarian auxiliaries comprised most of the Roman Army by 390 AD. It was by then virtually impossible for the Romans to raise enough indigenous Romans to join the army and still cover all the territory they had purview over. So often Goths and Celts would oversee provinces of other otherwise occupied Barbarian tribes. Goths in fact we’re so helpful to the Romans because they seemed to know how to fight the Huns.
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.The Battle of Adrianople in 378 AD left Emperor Valens defeated soundly by Fritigern and his alliance of barbarian tribes. One of the Visigoths who was a child during this battle was Alaric, and his blood was pure Visigoth. He joined the Roman Army band and soon rose to prominence. At age 24, he was in charge of 20,000 men in service to the Emperor.
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.The Roman Commander of forces in the East was Stillicho. His mother was Roman and his father was a Vandal. Despite the fact that he was in charge of tens of thousands of men, he still felt as if he were the outsider. Stillicho and Alaric became rivals and it exacerbated the tension between them when Stillicho helped organized the Goths as the first line of defense against the Western Roman Empire under Eugenius at the Frigidus River in 494 AD.
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.Alaric realized he was arrow fodder and lost half his men, 10,000 Goth just softening up Eugenius for Stillicho. Alaric wasn’t really fighting for the Eastern Empire. He was fighting to eliminate the refugee status of tens of thousands of Goths living in Roman territory. After losing so much, he decided to declare war on Rome. He began an 8 year insurgency by marching into Peloponnesia  and purloining provinces all the way into Sparta.
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.The back and forth struggle between Rome and the Goths went on for years and has been repeated a million times in history. People seek life, and liberty and they also seek national identity. After serving Theodocious I in a battle at Frigidus which was another Roman Civil Conflict, Alaric actually made friends with Stillicho. He sent demands for a tract of land on the Eastern shores of the Danube. Alaric sacked Rome in 410 AD because he wanted a home, and he wanted a home in the very Empire he and his people had struggled to defend all these years.
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In the end, everyone got what they sought.
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Stillicho

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