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377 Battle of Marcianopolis ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: A local Roman force was annihilated by Goth rebels 377
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Goths (misc tribes)
Gothic Wars
Battle Type:
The Battlefield Marcianopolis Location:
Modern day Devnya, Bulgaria
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Valens) The Enemies
Commander: Lupicinus Chieftain Fritige
Forces: Unknown Unknown
Background story: In the summer of 376, thousands of Goths and other "barbarians" arrived on the Danube River, on the border of the Roman Empire, requesting asylum from the Huns. Fritigern, a leader of the Thervingi, appealed to emperor Valens to be allowed to settle with his people on the south bank of the Danube. Valens allowed it and this decision sealed his future and the fate of the Roman empire.
The motives of Valens were his need to create a new tax base and also to employ new forces for the Roman army. Valens granted admission only to Fritigern and his followers. This did not, however, prevent others from following. What started out as a controlled resettlement exploded into a massive influx. Worse, the Goths crossing the river were supposed to have their weapons confiscated; however, the Romans in charge accepted bribes to allow the Goths to retain their weapon.
With so many people in such a small area, famine struck the Goths, while the Romans were unable and unwilling to help. Instead, they herded the Goths into a reserve area surrounded by an armed Roman garrison where they simply let the Goths starve. When Fritigern appealed to Valens for help, he was told that he would find food in the distant city of Marcianopolis. Having no alternative, some of the Goths trekked south in a death march.
The Battle:
Goth cavalrymen
When the starving Goths finally reached Marcianopolis, they were denied entry. Furthermore, the Roman Governor Lupicinus made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the Goth chiefs. After this, and the overall abusing behavior of the Romans, the Goths revolted. The local Roman army was annihilated. The Goths spent the rest of 376 and early 377 near the Danube plundering food from the immediate region. The Roman army was able to defend isolated forts but most of the country was unprotected from Gothic raids.
Aftermath: It was the first act in a war with Goths that did not end well for the Romans.