Friday, November 13, 2009

Post 176. II Instalment of "The Franks ".

continued from post 175: "The Franks ".
Sarmatians on the Danube. In Asia, he received offers of peace from Varanane the Persian Emperor, but, not satisfied with the terms offered, marched onto Seleucia and Ctesiphon, where he died. Numerianus was nominated Emperor by the troops, ordered the
retreat from Persia but also died.

The troops then nominated Emperor Diocletianus (284-305 ) against whom Carino, the remaining legitimate Caesar who had in the meanwhile defeated the Franks and Alemanni in Gaul, marched, meeting him in Moesia, after defeating Cajo Giuliano, another usurper, before reaching Diocletianus. Carino was assassinated during the battle against Diocletianus, at the moment when victory had come within his grasp.

Diocletianus who, like Claudius, Aurelianus, Probus and Carus, was also an Illyrian, realized that, in view of the numerous, continuous and geographically distanced events requiring the Emperor’s personal presence, he needed associates in order to efficiently rule such a large Empire. Eventually a tetrarchy was nominated consisting of Diocletianus and Massimianus (286-305) as Augusti, and of Valerio Galerio and Flavio Costanzo as their respective Caesars. Milan and Nicomedia were nominated as the new capitals.

Maximianus’ first mission was to subdue the rebellious Bagaudae of Gaul; these were a people from the celtic peasant class, that had increasingly become desperately oppressed since the days of the Roman occupation of Gaul, owing to the accumulation of tithes they had been required to pay, not only to their nobles, since celtic tribes had been allowed by the Romans to maintain their traditional ancestral structure, customs and religion, but also to the Romans. The continuous raids and depredations of the barbarians, that had begun in the days of Gallienus, while encouraging the anarchy of troublemakers and independent and adventurous spirits, made this state of affairs so insufferable that the peasants saw in rebellion a hope for the improvement of their condition. The danger that this rebellion represented for the Romans was at one time demonstrated by the fact that the leaders of the rebellion even considered usurping the authority of the Emperor to themselves and make Gaul an independent celtic Empire.

Gibbon is careful to note and expand on these events, the significance of which were little appreciated by the ancient historians, in view of their decreased sensitivity in relation to the sufferings and alienation of the provincial peasant classes in the face of the existence of slaves, a class of people at a lower level than the peasants, whose living conditions and expectations in life were potentially even lower than those of the peasants. In fact, the scenario of corruption and general moral degeneration in the cities, offered to those among the freed slaves, who were prepared to compromise their character and morality, the opportunities for relatively better living conditions which were denied to the peasants. Moreover, the peasant classes were expected to either supply soldiers or pay a heavy gold tax for a substitute. Many among the peasants due for enlistement even mutilated themselves, a crime that was punished with the death-penalty. Many among the peasants and the rural workers were then tempted to move to the cities, and the centralised Government began to issue laws tying the populations to their native places and occupations. Gibbon correctly sees in these events and the developments within the celtic tribal societies during the rise and fall of the Empire, the seeds of the future feudal social structures adopted by european societies in the times of chaos and anarchy, following the fall of the Roman Empire of the West ( ca. 450 A.D.). So, while in China there was a swing, pendulum-like,
almost conscious and somehow controlled by the nobility, between feudalism and central government that occurred in order to maintain social equilibrium, restore independence from foreign invaders, limiting whatever excessively negative trend is intrinsic to either systems, in the Roman Empire, feudalism occurred once only, in the West and was catastrofic to the unity of the Empire, resulting from the competitions between the Papacy the Holy Emperors and the various european nationalistic movements rising with the mutually competing Desposyniic Monarchies, a trend that was to be resolved only to-day with the creation of a United Europe, which is admittedly still an untried political system. In the eastern Roman Empire the development of society followed a process of orientalisation in which centralisation, oligarchy and theocracy always remained predominant characteristics of its government, which totally disintegrated under the constant pressure of Islam. The weackness of Bizanthium was the sabotage by the religious establishments of the monks and the clergy of the military spirit and determination to win, by answering the brutalities of the Ottoman-Turks leading Islam, with equal brutality. To this was also added the sabotage by the various heretically diverging christian sects existing in the Middle East, such as the Jacobites, the Arians, the Copts etc.

In 305, both Diocletianus and Maximianus retired, nominating as their successors, Galerius (Augustus ), Massiminus Daius ( Caesar), Costanzo Cloro ( Augustus ) and Flavius Valerius Severus ( Caesar).

Until the days of Constantine I (324-337) power struggles disturbed the Empire, also resulting from the abuses and divisions generated by christian theological disputes and the competition between pagans and christians.
Constantine was repeatedly compelled to fight against the Franks on the Rhine, in the times when Maximianus, before his death at Marseilles, had challenged him, while also attending a conference with Licinius at Milan. In 322 he sent his son, the future Constantine II ( 337-340 ), answering the Sarmatians’ call for help to fight the Goths who had attacked the former in their territories of the Chersonesus ( the Crimean peninsula ). Constantine II defeated the Goths and took their King Ariarico’s son as hostage, however 300,000 Sarmatians were later-on expelled by the local populations, whom they had enslaved, the Sarmatians being resettled by the Romans among the provinces of the Empire.
In the meanwhile, Costantine was preparing a great expedition against the Sasanids’ dynasty of Persia to pre-empt their demands for the return of the five persian provinces beyond the Tigris, which Diocletian had taken from Persia, however Constantine died.

It is of interest to note that Constantine’s son trusted Franks to guard and to provide garrisons at camps and in the imperial palaces, even though fighting these at the same time, which means their oath, or sense of honour was reliable.

According to Gibbon I, p. 278, Constantine and members of his dynasty were responsible for weakening the structures of the Roman army, by for example, reducing a legion ( its infantry) from 6,000 to not more than 1,500 soldiers, the reason being that they thought a body of soldiers thus reduced in number and power, could not represent as effective a threat in a rebellion as the full-strength legion had hitherto. Although this consideration has some merit and the total number of fighting men was reduced since the number of legions remained the same, one must also notice the fact that the armament of the general infantry-man, and cavalry-trooper of both the offensive and defensive kind had been being made heavier with time, to match the improved standard of armament which the barbarians had also acquired with time through the gains from conquest, raiding and subterfuge. The cavalry arm was however increased in number and quality in contrast to the reduction of the number in the infantry. The use of missile weapons, such as javelins and arrows, was also increased, especially in the cavalry. Gibbon and others who are not military historians fail to understand these particulars. The Roman army became relatively weakened by the incapacity of the economy of the Empire to increase the overal numbers of recruits and units, preferring to focus on the quality of the armament at the expense of the size of the units and of the total number of men under arms. From the times of Constantine onward, the capacity of the Roman armies of the West to be simultaneously at various places of conflict on the borders was in decline while the strategical awareness and collusion of the enemies of Rome had increased.

At the end of the power struggles, Costanzo II (340-361) and his cousin Julian (361-363) who had been nominated Caesar ruled together, however, mutual animosity and mistrust still remained between them, a legacy of the massacre of all the sons of Costanzo Cloro and his wife Theodora, perpetrated by the sons of Costantine I in 337. Only Gallo and Julian, sons of Giulio Costanzo had been left alive at the end of that massacre. Gibbon reports the rumour that Giulian maintained his ancestors originated from Moesia.

Owing to the excellent cavalry arm maintained by the Messagetae, an equestrian nation of very ancient indo-european origins ( ca. 6000-B.C.), these were able to attack the Persian Empire, which had also ido-european origins in addition to its greek and macedonian blood acquired during the conquest by Alexander the Great (ca. 350 B.C.), and thus be of help to the Romans. The Massagetae had been steadfast indo-european allies of the chinese Empire since the beginning of chinese history, owing to their economy depending from the Silk Route between Europe and China remaining open, and were also friendly to the Romans during the war between Costanzo II ( Augustus: 340-361) and Shapur II in 350, at a time after the Romans had suffered a disastrous defeat at Singara in 348. Incidentally, the Celts, the Goths, the Scythians and the Sicambrian leaders of the Franks had originated from the lands westward of those occupied by the Messagetae who were the only original peoples still left there.

Hebrews, Isaurians and Syria’s Saracens caused several rebellions in the Middle East, partly the result of Gallo’s ineptitude to govern after his nomination to Caesar by Constanzo. Gallo, who was like Giulian, a cousin of Costanzo, both being the sons of Cloro’s brother Giulio Costanzo, whose life had been spared during the massacres of the members of his family, was therefore judged and executed in 354. In the meanwhile, the Franks, Saxons and Alemanni raided along the frontier between the lake of Constance and the North Sea; it was at this time, in 355, that Constanzus nominated Gallo’s brother Giulian: Caesar in 355, making him responsible for the provinces of Gaul, Spain and Britain.

Gaul’s border-territories were at the time occupied by the Franks and Alemanni. Giulian first expelled from the regions of Alsace and Lorraine ( their modern names ) the Alemanni, whom he pushed beyond the Rhine, pursuing them, proposing a truce of ten months, during which, in spite of winter, he attacked the Franks who had crossed the Rhine, the Moselle and the Meuse and besieged them in two of their fortresses forcing them to surrender for lack of food
( this was the first time in the history of the Franks, when they decided to change their law that forbade them to surrender in war ).
The following year, in 359, he defeated the Salian Franks ( the other branch competing for predominance with the Sicambrian Franks ), who had been occupying the region of Brabant ( its modern name ), which had belonged before then to the Batavians, which region can be considered to be that from which their monarchy later-on proceeded, then moved against the Chamavi whom he also defeated, finally crossing the Rhine again to renew the war with the Alemanni, subduing two of their Kings, Suomario and Ortario.
It is here important to note, in view of the fact that, the future french monarchy originated from the union of the Sicambrian ( R , I, J etc. Y-DNA haplogroup) and the Salian Franks ( probably R ), whom he then accepted as subjects and auxiliaries of the Roman Empire, that these were the only one among the vanquished barbarians whom Giulian allowed to remain in their territories comprising of Brabant and the Batavian islands. Since then, the Salian Franks, preceded by the Visigoths, who were the most emancipated among the barbarians, after the distinctive Swiss, who had never rebelled since their surrender to Rome in the first century ( hence their reputation even to-day for loyalty ) and the romanised Gallic Celts, enjoyed special consideration from the Romans

Giulian crossed the Rhine three times, in his pursuits of the Alemanni, the first time after the battle of Strasburg, in which Giulian’s 13,000 men fought Chodomar’s forces of 35,000 men, led by a staff of six other Kings, ten royal Princes together with their retinue of nobles. This was a text-book type of battle which may be used for the purpose of teaching the dangers inherent in the use of heavy but relatively slow cavalry ( the first use by the Romans of sword-swinging-un-saddled-un-stirruped cuirassiers on Giulian side, therefore particularly predictable and slow ), that must be initially supported by infantry as well as missiles troops, until it has had the time to gather speed and momentum, when opposed by determined, numerous, fast, light, cavalry and infantry, ready to seize the initiative.
Giulian relied principally on the heavily armoured cavalry of cuirassiers which he intended to be supported by a numerous body of archers whom he was personally leading in the right wing of his forces. The Alemanni however managed to initially confuse and disrupt Giulian’s resistance to their swift attack by a mix of light infantry and cavalry, the sudden movement of which must have unnerved and made Giulian’s archers and cavalry to panick and hastily retreat. However Giulian fortunately succeeded to rally his cuirassiers who, being decidedly superior to the Alemanni’s cavalries, counter-attacked and slaughtered 6,000 Alemanni, with a minimum of losses. The initial panick actually working-out as a feigned retreat, like the one used by the Bretons and Normans at Hastings in 1066.
Giulian defeated in the locality of Cleves, a territory presenting difficult access, a little-known but pugnatious tribe of Franks called the Attuarii.
Costanzus was worried by Giulian’s successes but could not do anything about it, in the usual Roman tradition of vengeance and repression, since the barbarians were always raiding across the Danube and Persia was again taking the initiative against Rome. It so happened that the provincial (Batavians, Eruli and Celts) auxiliaries in Giulian’s legions, upon having been summoned by Costanzus to join and reinforce his armies in the preparation of the war against Persia, refused to go to the Orient and leave their families behind, rebelled and convinced the legions to elect Giulian Emperor. Giulian tried to deal with Costanzus but in the face of his lack of co-operation, was forced by his troops to march against him who died of illness in 361.

Giulian himself died of a Persian arrow-shot, when, during a sudden attack by the enemy, he neglected to wear his cuirass, during his attempt at conquering Persia in 363.

The Franks were the most politically subtle and ambitious among the barbarians of those times and had already infiltrated the imperial court in the days of Gratian (378--383 ), who was murdered by Andragathius, a frankish master-general of the usurper, of Maximus’ cavalry. Mellobaudes, the King of the Franks, was also one of Gratian’s generals, and after the latter’s death, also served in the same capacity as Andragathius, Valentinian II ( 375-392 ), Gratian’s brother. In the case of Valentinian II, Arbogastes, a Frank who had held the second highest military command under Gratian, had succeeded in isolating and controlling emperor Valentinian II until the latter was found strangled. Arbogastes had also succeeded in winning over to his side most people at the imperial court and in the armed forces of Gaul and as these were prepared to elect him Emperor of the West as a colleague of Theodosius I ( Caesar of Valentinian II: 379-392; Augustus: 392-395), petitioned Theodosius for his approval. Theodosius refused and declared war to Arbogastes whom he fought and defeated in Italy, in 394, but he himself died in 395, of illness ( idropisy ) at Milan. The generally widespread honour of the average Frank was not apparently shared by the leaders.

The Huns had by now already reached the Volga river and defeated the Scythians ( who had been weakened by the Goths prior to the Huns’ arrival ), the Roxolani, the Sarmatians, the Alani, the Goths etc. ( ca. 375 ), thus causing the latter to seek quarters and settlement within the roman Empire across the courses of the Rhine and Danube rivers. The battle of Hadrianopolis ( 378 ) proved to be a total disaster for the Romans and revealed the danger of the Huns, who had become the temporary allies of the Goths. While the Visigoths and the Baltic Goths, after continuous wars against the Romans had settled areas of Spain and Gaul becoming their allies in the times of Aetius who was preparing the resistance against Attila’s claims on Gaul, the eastern Ostrogoths had remained under Attila’s sphere of influence, while the Franks had also split into two factions, one loyal to the Romans under Meroveus, the other joining Attila before the indecisive battle of the Catalaunian Fields (451), when hunnic power and unity was weakened by Attilsa’sa retreat after a two-days fight ending in a draw. Attila retreated to Italy, his death (453) resulting in the divisions between, power-struggles and decadence of the Huns, returning the Visigoths in the West and the Ostrogoths in the East to a position of dominance until the times of Clovis the first King of the all the Franks ( 481-511).

In the times of Theodosius I ( Caesar: 379-392; Augustus: 393-395 ) the Roman Empire had enjoyed the last moments of unity and integrity in so far as it had remained free from a permanent occupation by barbarians.

In the times of Honorius ( 394-493 ), however, the first great permanent invasion of the Roman Empire of the West, that practically began the fragmentation of the Empire, occurred in Gaul after the death of Radagaisus the baltic Ostroghoth, who died at the siege of Florence, leaving approximately 100,000 desperately hungry and impoverished confederates consisting of Ostrogoths, Suevi, Vandals, Alani and Burgundians free to move north toward the borders of the Rhine, according to a plan previously devised by Alaric the Visigoth, who was at the time employed as the master-general of the army of the eastern Illyrichum by Arcadius ( 383-385 ), the Emperor of the East.
During this crisis the Alemanni decided to remain neutral while the Franks actively aided the Romans, showing great loyalty and observance of the treaty of alliance ( 359 ) agreed upon by the Salian Franks with Giulian ( Caesar: 355-361; Augustus: 361-363 ), to such an extent that Marcomir, one of their kings had been brought by his people before the tribunal of the roman magistrate accused of violating the faith of the treaties and condemned to exile to the province of Tuscany. The Franks subsequently even punished with death Sunno, Marcomir’s brother who had presumed to seek revenge for his brother’s public disgrace.
The Franks attacked the remnant of Radagaisus’ forces, slaying 20,000 of the Vandals, who formed the vanguard, among whom was their King, Godigisclus, and would have totally destroyed the whole nation if supporting Alani cavalries had not intervened at the end of the battle and put the infantries of the Franks to a serious disadvantage, compelling these to a retreat.
However, the Rhine froze during that winter and these barbarians crossed over into Gaul, desolating it, inexorably moving toward Spain.

In the meanwhile, Alaric, who had originally contemplated the design to invade Gaul, deciding instead to invade Italy, possession of which he attained in 412, after besieging Rome three times and finally sacking it, died after the conquest of Sicily, while he was preparing an expedition to invade Africa, in ca. 413. He was succeeded by Alaric’s brother-in-law Adolphus, who had great admiration and respect for the positive achievements of the Roman Empire and decided to use gothic powers and resources to preserve and defend it.Adolphus and his Goths, with the blessings of the Romans, entered Gaul and occupied most of it.
During the occupation of Arles by Constantine the usurper from Britain, Constantius, a very capable Roman general of Honorius, defeated an army of Franks and Alemanni led by Constantine’s ambassador Edobic. Constantine who had been finally captured,
had not yet been executed, when another usurper from Upper Germany, called Jovinus was instigated by Goar, the King of the Alani, and Guntarius the King of the Burgundians, to aspire to the position of Emperor. When Costantius, who was becoming old and fatigued retired, Adolphus first sided with Jovinus, however when finding that Sarus the Gothic supporter of the House of Baltic had also joined the conspiracy, changed sides and took Jovinus’ and his brother Sebastian’s heads to Honorius.

The Visigoths led by Adolphus, entered Spain in order to destroy, in the name of Honorius, the barbarian settlers, the descendants of Radagaisus’ allies, but although reducing the power of the Alani of Spain causing them to become submerged in the vandalic tribes, also destroying the Silingi who had irretrievably devastated Baetica, and reducing the power of the Suevi, the Visigoths returned to their possession of Aquitaine in Gaul, leaving a remnant of the original invaders, including the Vandals, in possession of parts of Spain. The survival of the Vandals was to have terrible consequences for the integrity of the Roman Empire, due to their subsequent invasion and conquest of Africa ( 428 ). Gibbon I, p.520-:
...........the successors of Alaric fixed their royal residence at Toulouse, which included five populous quarters, or cities, within the spacious circuit of its walls. About the same time, in the last years of the reign of Honorius, the Goths, the Burgundians, and the Franks, obtained a permanent seat and dominion in the provinces of Gaul. The liberal grant of the usurper Jovinus to his Burgundian alllies, was confirmed by the lawful emperor; the lands of the First, or Upper, Germany were ceded to those formidable barbarians; and they gradually occupied, either by conquest or treaty, the two provinces which still retain, with the titles of Duchy and of County, the national appellation of Burgundy. The Franks, the valiant and faithful allies of the Roman republic, were soon tempted to imitate the invaders whom they they had so bravely resisted.....................................The ruin of the opulent province of Gaul may be dated from the establishment of these barbarians, whose alliance was dangerous and oppressive, and who were capriciously impelled, by interest or passion, to violate the public peace. A heavy and partial ransom was imposed on the surviving provincials who had escaped the calamities of war; the fairest and most fertile lands were assigned to the rapacious strangers, for the use of their families, their slaves, and their cattle; and the trembling natives relinquished with a sigh the inheritance of their fathers.
Unquote.
I have already mentioned the appearance of the Huns on the Volga river ( 375 ), their wars against all the barbarians settled in the Balkans, and their victories, significant among which is the almost complete destruction of the eastern Ostrogoths and the reduction of the power of the Visigoths. In the meanwhile, Radagaisus, the leader of the northern Osgtrogoths who had moved from the Baltic shores, carrying along all vandalic tribes located between the Baltic and the Carpathian ranges, and had confederated with that branch of the Huns which had separated from the one directed to the Volga and the Ukraine, which had been fighting the Goths of the lower Danube, was planning the invasion of Italy. The Gepidae, a division of the Goths, had during the latest migrations to the Balkans, remained outside Pannonia, struggling to survive against neighbouring nations which included the fierce Lombards and had therefore joined Attila. The Romans were near to panic in view of the complex scenario created by the meeting together of all these alien forces.
At the time of Attila’s leadership, the Huns had reached the peak of their power in relation to the European scenarios. The Huns’ presence at the European borders with the steppes had resulted from their defeats in the struggles with the chinese Empire, which had been going on for a millennium, until the time when the pastoralist, nomadic confederation they had led ( the Hsiung-nu ), had become fragmented, owing to the competition for dominance offered by other tribes, of mongolian, turkic, turkish origins, and by the ubiquitous Scythians, ther ancient masters in the times of the Scythian dominance on the Altai Plateau.
While the Visigoths and small sections of the other tribes, like for example the Franks, had obtained from the Romans the right to join Aetius under their own standards and national or tribal leaders as allies, and not any longer as subjected auxiliaries, the majority and bulk of the Germanic and Scythian tribes under Attila were deprived even of the status of auxiliaries or of allies. This was in fact the case for Ardaric the King of the Gepidae and Walamir the King of the eastern Ostrogoths fighting on Attila’s side.
The alliance of Radagaisus with the northern Huns explains the presence of the Ostrogoths and Gepidae among Attila’s hordes at the battle of the Catalaunian Fields ( 451). Attila had positioned the Ostrogoths at his left wing, opposite Aetius’ right wing consisting of Theodoric and Torismond’s Visigoths while the Gepidae who had lost 15,000 men in the rear-guard-action against Aetius’ Franks, during Attila’ initial tactical retreat from Orlean, were located on the latter’s right wing, commanded by their king Ardaric, with all Attila’s other supporters: the Rugians, the Heruli, the Thuringians, the Ripuarian Franks ( note the Salian, the Sicambrian and the Ripuarian branches of the franks finally united by Clovis ) , and the Burgundians, facing Aetius.
The loyalty shown by the Visigoths toward the Romans, resulted partly from their having settled with Roman blessings their territories in Gaul, their rejection of Attila’s pretensions to exclusive sovereignity, their having obtained from the Romans, before the battle, together with Salian, the Sicambrian Franks and the Burgundians, among other traditional roman auxiliaries from Gaul and Germany, the status of allies and equal partners with Rome. The latter concession must have worried Aetius who is thought to have entered secret intelligence with Attila, before the battle, aiming at a draw, relying on Attila’s hatred of the Visigoths, aiming at conducting the battle in such a way as to result in a maximum of losses among the Visigoths. Only the acceptance of such a possibility can explain Attila’s order before the battle, to burn all saddles, which would have seriously curtailed the speed of both a pursuit and a retreat of the enemy, and his turning left, following the probably pre-arranged flight of Aetius’ Alani cavalry, un-conventionally positioned at the centre of his front-lines by Aetius, concentrating all his power against the Visigoths, in spite of the latter’s advantageous occupation of the only elevated ground in those plains.
It seems to me that Attila should have located the eastern Ostrogoths in his right wing, against Aetius’ Romans, placing all other tribes, including the Gepidae opposite the Visigoths in his left wing, in a semi-static or at least a slow moving attack, of retention, initially avoiding a climb of the raised ground upon which the Visigoths were located, until Attila, having turned right onto the Romans’ side, would have, supported by the eastern Ostrogoths, defeated the Romans, to subsequently turn around all vailable forces onto the Visigoths’ side and end up if not as the full victor, since the saddles had been destroyed and a fast pursuit was not possible, at least as the dominating side in the battle. As it happened, the battle was a draw, and Aetius on whom the onus of finishing it had resided, decided to not pursue the Huns in their retreat, also convincing Torismond to not do so, warning him of the possibility that his competitors ( five younger brothers ) for the position of King might have been conspiring at Toulouse against him, urging him to leave the battle field. The Visigoths had carried the weight of that battle, almost alone, since the Alani cavalry that had been supposed to support and protect both Aetius and Theodoric’s flanks at the centre of the battle front, had taken flight. King Theodoric had been killed when his troops were assaulted from two directions, from the front by the eastern Ostrogoths and on the left flank by Attila’s cavalry aiming at encircling them. His eldest son Torismund having narrowly succeeded in rallying his troops nearing a condition of panic, resisted and counterattacked the Ostrogoths who were aiming at occupying the high ground the former had been able to secure at the beginning of the battle, depriving the enemy of the advantage, while Aetius, who was confronting Attila’s auxiliary tribes with his Armorican ( Breton ), romanised-celtic, relatively heavy cavlries, was too far off and seriously engaged to help with a concerted maneuvre.

In the years preceding the battle, Aetius had restrained the Huns and Alani in his pay, in Gaul, from their customary raiding of Goths, Burgundians and Franks who had been their traditional enemies, restraining them by limiting their operations to oppose the aspirations of the Visigoths led by Theodoric, Alaric’s son, to expansion in the Provence and of the Burgundians in Belgic Gaul. Even before the war against Attila, he had reduced Burgundian power by slaying 20,000 of their troops in a battle and restricting their remnant within the confines of the mountains of Savoy, then under Roman control.
Aetius and Theodoric’s Visigoths eventually reached a mutual measure of trust and respect, agreeing to a peace-treaty, after a war in which, the victories of Aetius at Arles and Narbonne, including the slautering of 8,000 Goths, were marred by the total defeat of Aetius’s general, Count Litorius, whom he had left behind when called back to conduct some urgent business in Rome, to continue the war against Theodoric, at the head of an army of Huns. Aetius and Theodoric were planning the reduction of Vandal power in Africa, following the outrageous offensive treatment by Genseric of one of Theodoric’s daughters, who had married one of Genseric’s sons. It was in fact the conbination of several excuses masking his motivation to invade Gaul as a preliminary to the taking over of the Roman Empire of the West, that had decided Attila to fight in Gaul. These were the perceived slight resulting from the refusal of a Roman Lady of the Imperial Family to marry him, the request for help by Genseric, the Vandal ruler of North Africa, wnbo feared Aethius’ planned invasion of North Africa aided by the Visigoths, together with a similar plea for protection from the eldest son of Clodion, the Merovingian king of the Franks, that ended in the Battle of Chalons-sur-Marnes (Catalaunian Fields ).


The Franks also, who aspired to Belgic Gaul, represented a problem for Aetius, since Clodion, the first Merovingian King of the Franks, had been confined within his traditional territories of the Lower Rhine, before the battle of the Catalaunian Fields, had invaded in ca. 431 the second Belgic, had been defeated by a surprise attack of Aetius’ light cavalry, and had devoted his House to the cause of opposing the Romans. In spite of Roman opposition, Clodion recovered and achieved some of his goals. However, fortunately enough for the Romans, at Clodion’s death, his younger son Meroveus asked their protection, and was adopted by Aethius, thus bringing a considerable part of the Franks to the Roman side, as an ally of emperor Valentinian III (423-455). This is why, at the battle of Chalons ( Catalaunian Fields ) in 451, Franks fought on both sides.
Attila entered Gaul moving from Hungary to where the Rhine and the Neckar rivers meet, joining the elder of Clodion’s sons and his frankish followers, directed to the siege of Orlean, while devastating a large area of Gaul on his approach route. Sangiban, the King of the Alani, who were Aetius’ allies, in spite of traditional enmity towards the Huns, betrayed the Romans, and instead of opposing Attila at the crossing of the Loire, let him through.
In the meanwhile, the Visigoths of Theodoric and Torismond were persuaded by the Romans to meet Attila under the walls of Orleans rather than waiting for him in their territories, around the town of Toulouse, and asked his loyal collaborator, the provincial Roman Avitus, who owned large estates in the Auvergne, and had recently retired from the position of Praetorian Prefect of Gaul, to form a Confederation of tribes from Gaul and Germany. These barbarians asked the Romans to be promoted to the elevated status of volunteers and independent sovereign allies rather than fight as the custom had been until then, at the lower status as provincial-auxiliaries. This, in itself was a sign Roman dominance in Gaul was at an end.
The Confederation opposing Attila comprised of the Laeti, the Armoricans, the Breones, the Saxons, the Burgundians, the Sarmatians, the Alani, a portion of the Ripuarians Franks, and the Salian Franks who followed Meroveus.
Attila abandoned the siege of Orleans and moved back across the Seine to the plains of Chalons, more suitable to cavalry manoeuvres, loosing 15,000 Gepidae who had formed his rear-guard, at the hands of the pursuing Franks, during the march from Orleans. This is why many military historians consider the Battle of Chalons to have occurred during the span of three days.

See, Aetius and Battle of the Catalaunian Fields.

At the death of Maximus (455), who had succeeded Valentinian III (423-455), the Saxons infested the seas, the Alemanni and the Franks had advanced from the Rhine to the Seine. Maximus had recalled a colleague of Aetius, called Avitus, to the rank of Praetorian Praefect of Gaul, thus ensuring a measure of order, after Aetius’ death. At Maximus’ death, Avitus obtained the support of Theodoric, the King of the Visigoths, a younger brother of Torismond, who had been murdered, and during the one year-government of Avitus (455-456), Theodoric had invaded and conquered Spain and Lusitania, claiming to be fighting in the name of Rome, while really planning a Visigothic empire, defeating Rechiarius the King of the Suevi, who represented the only force in those areas capable to oppose the Visigoths.
During the last days of Avitus’ rule, a powerful, if dark character and personality had manifested itself, Count Ricimer,
( the son of a Suevi father and of the daughter of Wallia, the King of the Visigoths ), who had become famous as the destroyer of sixty galleys of Vandals on the coasts of Corsica. Ricimer hated Avitus whom he saw as the ally of the Visigoths of Gaul who had humbled the power of the Suevi and of their King, Rechiarius. He expelled Avitus from Rome and offered him the station of bishop of Placentia, but Avitus died during his travels.
Ricimer covertly controlled the imperial power vested in the Emperors who succeeded Avitus-: Majorian (475-461), and Severus (461-465), etc.; at the death of Severus, Ricimer ruled directly for six years as a despot, but his influence was limited to Italy alone by two Roman generals, Marcellinus, who had assumed the title of Patrician of the West and ruled Dalmatia, and Aegidius who maintained a strong army in Gaul as the Master-General of Gaul; when the Franks exiled their foolish king Childeric, they asked Aegidius to become their King; he accepted but returned the kingship to the Merovingians when the Franks requested him to do so; these were the only characters capable to resist Ricimer, without however being able to overthrow him, supported as he was by the power of the Visigoths, in Gaul, whom he had attracted to his sphere of influence and by that of Genseric’s Vandals and Alani in Africa.
Anthemius (467-472), a Bizantinian, was finally appointed Emperor of the West, by Leo I (457-474), the Emperor of the East, as soon as the latter had been able to free himself from the influence of a powerful Bizantinian, by the name of Aspar, whose family had controlled the Bizantinian army for three generations, and who had elected the same Leo, at the time a tribune from Thracia, planning to act as Ricimer had done in Rome by controlling puppet-Emperors.
Aspar and his family were in a collusion with the Vandals of Africa in the same way that Ricimer had been. Anthemius opposed and fought Ricimer, but was eventually killed by the Burgundian and Suevi mercenaries of Ricimer who had attacked and entered Rome. In the meanwhile Leo I had planned, and attempted an invasion of Africa, with a huge army and fleet at the command of which he had placed Basiliscus, Leo’s wife’s brother, seconded by Heraclius, the Praefect of Egypt, but the Basiliscus’ ineptitude, incompetence and lack of determination, doomed the expedition to failure.
Following Anthemius’ murder, Ricimer had Olibrius (472) elected, who died seven months after Ricimer’s own death.
Ricimer’s heir, Gundobald, a prince of the Burgundians, tried to play the same power game as his uncle, nominated Glycerius Emperor (473-474), an obscure soldier, but had to abandon him to his destiny when called back to Burgundy were pressing business attended him. Glycerius was forced to renounce the title of Emperor and to accept the bishopric of Salona in the way of compensation.
Nepos (474-475), a Greek, was subsequently elected by the Senate and the Roman people, but, upon being attacked by a barbarian Confederacy of Heruli, Scyrri, Alani, Turcilingi and Rugians led by Orestes, panicked and, abandoning the better fortification of Ravenna, fled to his principality of Dalmatia, where Glycerius, assassinated him, being promoted for his crime to the Archbishopric of
CONTINUES AT THE NEXT POST 177: The Franks.

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