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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Roman Emperor Valens – The Beginning of the End

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Valent and his brother Valentinian were born in the southern Pannonian city ​​of Kibale in the family of the future committee of Britain, tribune ( lat. Tribunus ) and protector ( lat. Protectorus) Gratian the Elder, in 328 and 321 respectively. Valens, like Valentinian, received almost no education.

While Valentinian made a successful military career, Valent probably lived with his family on his father’s estates in Africa and Britain. He entered the army service in the 360s, participating with his brother in the Persian campaign of Emperor Julian the Apostate.

In February 364, Emperor Jovian, on his way to Constantinople, died unexpectedly during a stop in Dadastan, 100 miles east of Ankira. Among the tribunes Jovian was Valentinian. He was proclaimed emperor on February 26, 364. Valentinian understood that he needed help to control a large and turbulent empire, and on March 28 of the same year, he appointed his brother Valens co-ruler in Abbomon’s palace. Two of August together proceeded through Adrianople to Sirmium, where they divided their retinue, and Valentinian went to the West, and Valent remained to rule the eastern part of the empire. His lands belonged to the west of Persia – Greece, Egypt, Syria and Anatolia. Valent returned to his capital Constantinople in December 364.

Rise of Procopius

Valens got the eastern part of the empire shortly before that lost most of the possessions in Mesopotamia and Armenia because of the agreement concluded by his predecessor Jovian with the Persian king Shapur II. Therefore, the first task of Valens was to strengthen the Roman positions in the east. By the fall of 365, he arrived in Caesarea, where he heard the news that in Constantinople, the cousin of Julian the Apostate Procopius had started a revolt. On September 28, 365, he convinced two legions passing through the capital to proclaim him emperor. The aristocracy in general did not support Procopius’s claim to power, but pagan leaders were on his side. Procopius organized propaganda by organizing the spread of rumors about the death of Valentinian. He began to mint coins with his profile and brag about his kinship with the dynasty of Constantine. The Thracian army turned to his side, but attempts to raise a rebellion in their favor in Illyria ended in failure. Then Procopius directed his efforts to seize the provinces of Asia Minor.

Valens, meanwhile, flinch. When the news of the revolt of Procopius arrived, he prepared to renounce, and perhaps even commit suicide. Although in the end he mastered himself and made the decision to fight for power, Valens’ efforts to suppress the rebellion ran into objective obstacles: the majority of his troops had already crossed Cilicia on their way to Syria. Valent was able to send only two legions to march against Procopius, but he easily convinced them to go to his side. By that time, Chalcedon, Nikaia, Nicomedia, Heraclea and Kyzik had already recognized his authority. In the same year, Valent himself was nearly captured in a battle near Chalcedon. The troubles were aggravated by the fact that Valentinian was forced to refuse to help his brother, since he was actively fighting the Alemanni in the west. The failure to suppress the rebellion became apparent in 365, when the provinces of Bithynia and Hellespont passed under the authority of Procopius.

Only in the spring of 366, Valens gathered enough troops to seriously oppose Procopius. By that time, the usurper was faced with an acute shortage of funds necessary to maintain the army and pay for hired barbarian units, since the richest provinces remained under the rule of Valens. Procopius was forced to confiscate in large numbers the property of the rich Romans who did not support him, and thus deprived himself of the support of the senatorial estate and began to lose supporters among the provincial nobility. The troops of Procopius began to go over to the side of the emperor Valens. Passing Anatolia, Valens headed the army to Phrygia, where he broke the vanguard of Procopius under Thyatira. Procopius with several confidants tried to escape, but his companions betrayed him and handed him over to Valens. On May 27, 366, he was executed somewhere in Thrace, and his head Valens sent his brother to Trier.

Conflict with the Goths

In the summer of 365, Valent received an alarming message from his commanders of the border troops: “The people are ready, long left alone and therefore extremely wild, formed an alliance and are preparing an attack on the neighboring Thracian provinces”. Valens sent cavalry and infantry to areas threatened by the Visigoths, led by Atanarih. However, when these elite units passed through Constantinople, Procopius drew them to his side and, with their help, proclaimed himself emperor. However, after the execution of Procopius, the Visigoths turned home, on the way back to the Danube, a bloodless victory was won over them, and they themselves were interned in various cities of Thrace. Atanarih protested this, but Valent did not give out prisoners. Both sides began to prepare for war.

In the spring of 367, Valent began hostilities. At Transmariski, the Romans crossed the Danube and went deeper into the territory of the Visigoths. However, Atanarihu succeeded all the time skillfully to evade the imperial army, and he took the main part of the tribal alliance entrusted to him to the Carpathians. In the third year of the war (year 369), Valent crossed the river from Noviodun (present-day Isaccea ). At the same time, he first encountered Ostrogoths, who came, perhaps, to help the Visigoths. The riders of the Ostrogoths quickly retreated, and the imperial troops moved on. The deeper they penetrated into the area between the Prut and the Dniester, the stronger the resistance of the Visigoths became, until, at last, Atanarih appeared before the Roman army. Surprisingly, Atanarich entered the battle only with a part of the warriors of the tribe. Most likely, he was not at all going to give the Romans a decisive battle, which his tribal alliance could hardly win. The Goths lost the battle, but under the leadership of Atanarih they avoided destruction. After a tactically competent retreat, the Gothic “judge” began negotiations with the Romans. Realizing that attempts to surround a highly mobile group of tribes and inflict a decisive defeat on it are in vain, Valent was inclined to agree to Atanarih’s peaceful proposals.

The end of hostilities was, of course, also in the interests of the ready, who, because of the campaign of the Romans in 367 and the natural disaster of 368, which destroyed the harvest, faced the real threat of famine.
Conflict with the Sassanians

One of the reasons for the willingness of Valens to conclude peace with the Visigoths in 369 was the deterioration of the situation in the East. In 363, Jovian renounced his claims to domination over Armenia, and the Persian Shah Shapur II sought to take advantage of this. The ruler of the Sasanian empire drew to his side several notable Armenian dignitaries, and in the end, the Armenian king Arshak II was arrested and imprisoned. Shapur II sent his troops to Armenia. Queen Parandzem, learning of the attack, with her son, Prince Pope, disappeared into Artagers fortress. With a surprise attack, the besieged defeated the Persian army and lifted the siege of the fortress. Prince Pope was sent to Rome.

In 369, the pope returned to his homeland with the Roman legions. However, the forces for his enthronement were not enough, and the prince was forced to flee to the Black Sea coast, and the Persians occupied the Artagers fortress and captured Queen Parandzem. In 370, Valent ordered the commander Flavia Arinfeu to return the Pope to the throne. The Persians, in turn, sent a new army to Armenia led by commanders Zik and Karen. Dad was put on the Armenian throne again. The following year, 371, seeing the Persians’ readiness to invade Armenia, the emperor Valens sent troops there again. At Bhagavan, Roman and Armenian troops defeated the enemy. This victory finally gave the Pope the opportunity to strengthen his power, and over the next five years to address the internal problems of the empire.

The situation on the eastern frontier again escalated in the year 375. Valens began preparations for a major expedition, but suddenly another problem arose. In Isaurian, a mountainous region of western Cilicia, a major riot broke out that distracted troops that had previously been stationed at the eastern borders. In addition, the Saracens under the leadership of Queen Mavia revolted and devastated the territory from Phenicia and Palestine to the Sinai Peninsula. Although Valens was able to suppress these statements through coercion and negotiation, the Romans had to abandon the conflict with the Persians.

In 375, brother Valentin Valentinian suffered a stroke, and he died in a camp in Pannonia. Gratian, the nephew of Valens, who by that time was co-regent with Valentinian, was proclaimed emperor with his half-brother Valentinian II.

Gothic War (376–382)

Valens plans to strengthen the eastern borders were thwarted. In addition, the transfer of troops to the west of the empire in 374 left impressive gaps in the composition of the army of Valens. In preparation for the war in the east, the emperor initiated a large-scale recruitment program designed to fill these gaps.

In 376, under the blows of the Huns, the leader Fritigern took part of the Visigoths to the left bank of the Danube, preparing in case of imminent danger of crossing over to the imperial areas. Fritigern sent ambassadors to the emperor Valens in his new capital, Antioch, asking him to give the Visigoths land; in gratitude, they promised to protect the borders of the Roman Empire. Ensuring such a large number of immigrants and their resettlement posed extremely serious tasks for the Roman administration. However, Valens was seduced by the possibility of including about 200,000 Gothic soldiers into his army.

As a result, Valent gave permission to the Visigoths to settle in Meyzii. In the autumn of 376, they, with their wives and children (about 40,000 people in total), crossed the Danube at Durostor (now Silistria). Feeding many people led to great difficulties. In addition, the Roman dignitaries Lupitsin and Maxim treated them very inhumanly. They were forced to buy food at exorbitant prices, and, moreover, often of the worst quality. At first, the Goths, having no cash, were paid with clothes, carpets, weapons, and other valuable items. When their funds were exhausted, they were forced to sell even their children into slavery. The tension that grew among the ready, forced the commander of the Roman troops in Thrace Lupicin to send part of their troops for the protection ready. These activities were carried out to the detriment of the continuous protection of the Danube. Therefore, at least three groups of barbarians, whose passage has so far been closed, have uncontrolledly penetrated the Roman Empire. These were the Ostrogoth alliance of the three peoples ( Goth, Alans and Huns ) of Alathey and Safrak and the detachment of Farnobia, also probably consisting of Ostrogoths.

To top it off, Lupicin invited Fritigern and other Gothic leaders for lunch at Markianopol, where a dispute broke out between the Romans and the Goths, which grew into battle, as a result of which many Gothic princes were killed, and Fritigern himself escaped with difficulty. As a result, at the beginning of 377, an uprising of the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, Alans and Huns who joined them began. Lupitsin hastily gathered all his troops, but in the Battle for the Willows, nine miles from Markianopol, he was defeated and fled.

Valentine and his entourage did not immediately realize the impending danger. The commander of the infantry, Traian, and the commander of the cavalry, Profuthur, appeared in the Thracian theater of military operations, with some of the troops that were deployed in Armenia. His nephew and co-ruler Gratian Valens asked for support from the west. In response, Frigerides, an experienced ducks of the Pannonian army, arrived. At first it seemed that the measures taken were sufficient. Even before Frigerid arrived, several elite units of the Eastern Army had already fulfilled an important preliminary task and pushed back Dobrudja and blocked them there, expecting that the famine would quickly force the rebels to surrender. Several Gallic units, which were led by the domestics Richomer, joined the existing three groups of Roman troops. However, the Roman troops numerically still inferior to the Goths, and, moreover, the leadership did not come to a common opinion how to deal with the enemy.

Actions to block the enemy bore fruit; it seemed that it would be possible to take ready to starve in the triangle between the Danube, the Balkans and the Black Sea. In this difficult position, Fritigern stepped up his actions. Soon the whole of Thrace from the Rhodope Mountains to the Black Sea was dominated by the barbarians, who began a kind of campaign of revenge against the Romans.

In the winter of 377/37, Gratian wanted to hasten to the aid of his uncle Valens, but he was distracted by the Alemanni invasion of Retsu. In this situation, Valens decided to personally go to Thrace at the head of the army. General Frigerid and the new Thracian army commander Sebastian, who had arrived from the west, tried to convince him to wait for the arrival of Gratian with his victorious legions, but Valent did not heed the warnings. According to Ammianus Marcellinus, this was the result of the arrogance of the emperor and his jealousy for the successes of Gratian.

The Battle of Adrianople (378) and the Death of Valens

After a brief stay in Thrace, aimed at strengthening the ranks of the army, Valent went to Adrianople. From there, he spoke out against the united barbarian army on August 9, 378, without waiting for the legions of Gratian, who had already entered Bulgaria. Negotiations were undertaken the day before, but they failed when the Roman squad made a sortie and provoked the start of the battle.

The Goths were waiting for the Romans, as usual, inside and around his wagenburg. The Romans had to overcome 18 km under the scorching sun before they entered the battle. The road was bad, and besides, the Goths set fire to dry grass and shrubs to increase the heat of the early afternoon hours. In addition, the Roman vanguard discovered that the Goths were much more numerous than previously thought.

The outcome of the battle was decided by the rapid attack of the Gothic cavalry on the right flank of the Romans. Then part of the Gothic cavalry moved away and, beating the Romans, attacked their left wing. At this time, Fritigern’s infantry left the wagenburg and attacked the enemy from the front. The Roman army, surrounded on all sides, was completely defeated. Two-thirds of the Roman army, both the commander Traian and Sebastian, and at least thirty-five commanders of the highest rank fell on the battlefield. Those who escaped were obliged to life, not least because of the fact that the battle began in the evening and the moonless night made the pursuit difficult. The Western Roman emperor Gratian arrived with his troops too late and was no longer able to prevent disasters. The Roman defeat could be partially compensated only by the successor of Valens Theodosius I the Great.

Valent himself was killed in this battle, fighting in the ranks of the legions of the Matties and Lanziary. Ammianus Marcellinus indicates two possible options for the circumstances of his death. In the first case, Valent was allegedly “mortally wounded by an arrow”. His body was never found and therefore did not give him a proper burial. In the second case, Ammianus claims the Roman infantry was crumpled and ran, and the wounded Valent was taken to a small village hut. She was surrounded by Goths and, not knowing about the possible reward for capturing the emperor, was set on fire. Valens died in the fire. There is a third version of the circumstances of the death of Valens: he was allegedly hit in the face with a gothic dart and died even in the midst of the battle. He did not wear a helmet to inspire his soldiers, but this time this tactic was not justified: the death of the emperor in front of the soldiers only brought the defeat of his army closer.

Vus O. V., Fomin M. V. The Battle of Adrianople
Lenski N. Failure of the Empire
N.V. Pigulevskaya. Arabs at the borders of Byzantium and Iran

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