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378 Battle of Adrianople ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: Disastrous defeat of Romans by the Goths and death of Emperor Valens 9 August 378
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Gothic tribes
Gothic Wars
Battle Type:
Pitched Battle
The Battlefield Adrianople Location:
13 km north of Adrianople (modern Edirne, Turkey)
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Valens) The Enemies
Commander: Emperor Valens Chieftain Fritige
Forces: Unknown Unknown
Background story: In 376 AD, displaced by the invasions of the Huns, the Goths were allowed to settle in the Roman Empire, south of the Danube border.
However, the abuse and the dishonesty of the local Roman commanders pushed the newcomers to revolt after suffering many hardships. Emperor Valens asked Gratian, the western emperor, for help against the Goths. For the next two years preceding the battle of Adrianople, there were a series of battles and skirmishes without clear results.
In 378, Valens decided to become more active. He transferred more troops from Syria and asked Gratian, the western emperor, to send reinforcements from Gaul. But when Valens arrived in Adrianople on August, did not wait for the legions of Gratian and decided to engage in battle without the western forces.
The Battle:
Battle of Adrianople
Key failure factors for the Romans were the bad intelligence gathering and the unwarranted confidence of Emperor Valens who left Adrianople with his army and arrived to the Gothic camp after marching for seven hours in a very hot summer day.
At around 14:30, the Roman troops arrived in disorder, facing the Gothic camp that had been set up on the top of a hill. The Goths, except for their cavalry, took position in front of their wagon circle, inside of which were their families and possessions.
A detachment of Romans began the battle without orders to do so, believing they would have an easy victory but they were pushed back easily. Then the Roman left-wing reached the circle of wagons but the Goth cavalry attacked and surrounded the Roman troops, who were already in disarray after the failure of the first assaults. The Roman army being surrounded, disordered, exhausted by the heat, confused, without central command, without visibility (due to the dust and the smoke from burning fields), and -at the end - in a state of panic, was routed. The cavalry continued their attack, and the massacre went on until nightfall.
Valens himself was abandoned by his guards. His final fate is unknown; he was probably killed anonymously on the field, although one account says he was trapped in a nearby village barn and burned.
Noteworthy: A new era for the importance of cavalry in the Roman wars was initiated. The destruction of Roman troops caused cavalry to be the new dominant fighting force for the next thousand years, taking the place of the previously exalted Roman infantryman.
Aftermath: This battle is often considered one of the most important battles in World History. For the Romans, it was the worst defeat after the battles against Hannibal. It allowed the presence of a large and hostile foreign force in Empire territory.