The Battle of Adrianople (9 August 378), sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between an Eastern Roman army led by the Eastern Roman Emperor Valens and Gothic rebels (largely Thervings as well as Greutungs, non-Gothic Alans, and various local rebels) led by Fritigern. The battle took place in the vicinity of Adrianople, in the Roman province of Thracia (modern Edirne in European Turkey). It ended with an overwhelming victory for the Goths and the death of Emperor Valens.
Part of the Gothic War (376–382), the battle is often considered the start of the process which led to the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. A detailed account for the leadup to the battle from the Roman perspective is from Ammianus Marcellinus and forms the culminating point at the end of his history.
|Battle of Adrianople|
|Part of the Gothic War (376–382)|
Map of the battle, according to the History Department of the US Military Academy
|Eastern Roman Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Emperor Valens †|
|Casualties and losses|
10,000–15,000 or20,000 (roughly two-thirds of the Roman force) killed
In AD 376, displaced by the invasions of the Huns, the Goths, led by Alavivus and Fritigern, asked to be allowed to settle in the Eastern Roman Empire. Hoping that they would become farmers and soldiers, the Eastern Roman emperor Valens allowed them to establish themselves in the Empire as allies (foederati). However, once across the Danube (and in Roman territory), the dishonesty of the provincial commanders Lupicinus and Maximus led the newcomers to revolt after suffering many hardships. Valens (of the Eastern Empire) then asked Gratian, the western emperor, for reinforcements to fight the Goths. Gratian sent the general Frigeridus with reinforcements, as well as the leader of his guards, Richomeres. For the next two years preceding the battle of Adrianople there were a series of running battles with no clear victories for either side.
Valens left Antioch for Constantinople, and arrived on the 30th of May. He appointed Sebastianus, newly arrived from Italy, to reorganize the Roman armies already in Thrace. Sebastianus picked 2,000 of his legionaries and marched towards Adrianople. They ambushed some small Gothic detachments. Fritigern assembled the Gothic forces at Nicopolis and Beroe (now Stara Zagora) to deal with this Roman threat.
Gratian had sent much of his army to Pannonia when the Lentienses (part of the Alamanni) attacked across the Rhine. Gratian recalled his army and defeated the Lentienses near Argentaria (near modern-day Colmar, France.) After this campaign, Gratian, with part of his field army, went east by boat; the rest of his field army went east overland. The former group arrived at Sirmium in Pannonia and at the Camp of Mars (a fort near the Iron Gates), 400 kilometers from Adrianople, where some Alans attacked them. Gratian's group withdrew to Pannonia shortly thereafter.
After learning of Sebastian's success against the Goths, and of Gratian's victory over the Alamanni, Valens was more than ready for a victory of his own. He brought his army from Melantias to Adrianople, where he met with Sebastian's force. On 6 August, reconnaissance informed Valens that about 10,000 Goths were marching towards Adrianople from the north, about 25 kilometers away. Despite the difficult ground, Valens reached Adrianople where the Roman army fortified its camp with ditch and rampart.
Richomeres, sent by Gratian, carried a letter asking Valens to wait for the arrival of reinforcements from Gratian before engaging in battle. Valens' officers also recommended that he wait for Gratian, but Valens decided to fight without waiting, ready to claim the ultimate prize.
The Goths were also watching the Romans, and on 8 August, Fritigern sent an emissary to propose a peace and an alliance in exchange for some Roman territory. Sure that he would be victorious due to his supposed numerical superiority, Valens rejected these proposals. However, his estimates did not take into consideration a part of the Gothic cavalry that had gone to forage further away.
Valens' army may have included troops from any of three Roman field armies: the Army of Thrace, based in the eastern Balkans, but which may have sustained heavy losses in 376–377, the 1st Army in the Emperor's Presence, and the 2nd Army in the Emperor's Presence, both based at Constantinople in peacetime but committed to the Persian frontier in 376 and sent west in 377–378.
Valens' army included units of veterans, men accustomed to war. It comprised seven legions — among which were the Legio I Maximiana and imperial auxiliaries — of 700 to 1000 men each. The cavalry was composed of mounted archers (sagittarii) and Scholae (the imperial guard). However, these attacked precipitately, while peace negotiations were going on, and precipitately fled. There were also squadrons of Arab cavalry, but they were more suited to skirmishes than to pitched battle.
Ammianus Marcellinus makes references to the following forces under Valens:
He also refers to the following officers:
Several modern historians have attempted to estimate the strength of Valens' army.
Warren Treadgold estimates that, by 395, the Army of Thrace had 24,500 soldiers, while the 1st and 2nd Armies in Emperor's Presence had 21,000 each. However, all three armies include units either formed (several units of Theodosiani among them) or redeployed (various legions in Thrace) after Adrianople. Moreover, troops were needed to protect Marcianopolis and other threatened cities, so it is unlikely that all three armies fought together.
However, some modern historians estimated the real number of Roman troops to be as many as 15,000 men, 10,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry.
It is not possible to precisely list the units of the Roman army at Adrianople. The only sources are Ammianus, who describes the battle but mentions few units by name, and the eastern Notitia Dignitatum, which lists Roman army units in the late 4th to early 5th century, after Theodosius. Many units listed in the Balkans were formed after Adrianople; others were transferred from other parts of the Empire, before or after Adrianople; others are listed in two or more sectors. Some units at Adrianople may have been merged or disbanded due to their losses. The Roman forces consisted of heavy infantry, various archers and cavalry.
There were probably two main Gothic armies south of the Danube. Fritigern led one army, largely recruited from the Therving exiles, while Alatheus and Saphrax led another army, largely recruited from the Greuthung exiles. Fritigern brought most if not all of his fighters to the battle, and appears to have led the force the Romans first encountered. Alatheus and Saphrax brought their cavalry into action "descending like a thunderbolt" against the Romans. These forces included Alans.
The Gothic armies were mostly infantry, with some cavalry, which was significant in the battle of Adrianople. Some older works attribute the Gothic victory to overwhelming Gothic numbers, to Gothic cavalry, and sometimes to Gothic use of stirrups. More recent scholarly works mostly agree that the armies were similarly sized, that the Gothic infantry was more decisive than their cavalry, and that neither the Romans nor the Goths used stirrups until the 6th century. probably brought by the Avars.
Ammianus records that the Roman scouts estimated 10,000 Gothic troops; but Ammianus dismissed this as an underestimate. This appears to be due to Alatheus and Saphrax's forces being away when the Roman scouts estimated the Goth's numbers before battle. Several modern historians have estimated the strength of the Gothic armies at 12,000–15,000.
Ammianus notes the important role of the Gothic cavalry. Charles Oman, believing that the cavalry were the majority of the Gothic force, interpreted the Battle of Adrianople as the beginning of the dominance of cavalry over infantry for the next thousand years. Some other historians have taken the same view. Burns and other recent historians argue that the infantry were the vast majority of the Gothic force, and that the battle had little effect on the relationship between infantry and cavalry.
The battle took place within a few hours' march of the city of Adrianopolis, but its precise location is uncertain. Three possible locations of the battle have been discussed in modern historiography:
On the morning of 9 August (the fifth of the Ides of August), Valens decamped from Adrianople, where he left the imperial treasury and administration under guard. The reconnaissance of the preceding days informed him of the location of the Gothic camp north of the city. Valens arrived there around noonafter marching for eight miles over difficult terrain.
The Roman troops arrived tired and dehydrated, facing the Gothic camp that had been set up on the top of a hill. The Goths, except for their cavalry, defended their wagon circle, inside of which were their families and possessions. Fritigern's objective was to delay the Romans, in order to give enough time for the Gothic cavalry to return. The fields were burnt by the Goths to delay and harass the Romans with smoke, and negotiations began for an exchange of hostages. The negotiations exasperated the Roman soldiers who seemed to hold the stronger position, but they gained precious time for Fritigern.
Some Roman units began the battle without orders to do so, believing they would have an easy victory, and perhaps over-eager to exact revenge on the Goths after two years of unchecked devastation throughout the Balkans. The imperial scholae of shield-archers under the command of the Iberian prince Bacurius attacked, but lacking support they were easily pushed back. Then the Roman left-wing reached the circle of wagons, but it was too late. At that moment, the Gothic cavalry, returning from a foraging expedition, arrived to support the infantry. The cavalry surrounded the Roman troops, who were already in disarray after the failure of the first assault. The Romans retreated to the base of the hill where they were unable to maneuver, encumbered by their heavy armor and long shields. The casualties, exhaustion, and psychological pressure led to a rout of the Roman army. The cavalry continued their attack, and the killing continued until nightfall.
In the rout, the Emperor himself was abandoned by his guards. Some tried to retrieve him, but the majority of the cavalry fled. Valens' final fate is unknown; he may have died anonymously on the field. His body was never found. An alternative story circulated after the battle that Valens had escaped the field with a bodyguard and some eunuchs, and hid in a peasant's cottage. The enemy attempted to pillage the cottage, apparently unaware Valens was inside. Valens' men shot arrows from the second floor to defend the cottage and in response the Goths set the cottage on fire. The bodyguard leaped out the window and told the Goths who was inside, but it was too late. Valens perished in the flames.
The Goths immediately marched to the city of Adrianople and attempted to take it; Ammianus gives a detailed account of their failure. Ammianus refers to a great number of Roman soldiers who had not been let into the city and who fought the besieging Goths below the walls. According to the historian Ammianus Marcellinus, a third of the Roman army succeeded in retreating, but the losses were uncountable. Many officers, among them the general Sebastian, were killed in the worst Roman defeat since the Battle of Edessa, the high point of the Crisis of the Third Century. The battle was a significant blow for the late Empire, resulting in the destruction of the core army of the eastern Empire, the deaths of valuable administrators, and the destruction of all of the arms factories on the Danube following the battle. The lack of reserves for the army worsened the recruitment crisis. Despite the losses, the battle of Adrianople did not mark the end of the Roman Empire because the imperial military power was only temporarily crippled.
The defeat at Adrianople signified that the barbarians, fighting for or against the Romans, had become powerful adversaries. The Goths, though partly tamed by Valens' successor Theodosius I (who accepted them once more as allies), were never expelled, exterminated, or assimilated; they remained as a distinct entity within its frontiers, for a few years allies, later independent and often hostile.
The long-term implications of the battle of Adrianople for the art of war have often been overstated, with many 20th-century writers repeating Sir Charles Oman's idea that the battle represented a turning point in military history, with heavy cavalry triumphing over Roman infantry and ushering in the age of the Medieval knight. This idea was overturned by T. S. Burns in 1973. Burns shows that the Gothic army's cavalry arm was fairly small, that Valens would actually have had more cavalry and that while the role of Fritigern's cavalry was critical to his victory, the battle was a mainly infantry versus infantry affair. The Medieval knight was not to rise for several centuries after Adrianople. It is also often stated that the defeat at Adrianople led to changes in the composition of the late Roman Army and an increase in the use of cavalry. In fact, this process had been going on in the Roman Army long before AD 378, with cavalry increasing its role and status in the Army from at least the time of the Emperor Gallienus (AD 253 to 260).
Alatheus and Saphrax were Greuthungi chieftains who served as co-regents for Vithericus, son and heir of the Gothic king Vithimiris.Battle of Adrianople (1205)
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The Battle of Adrianople was fought on July 3, 324, during a Roman civil war, the second to be waged between the two emperors Constantine I and Licinius; Licinius suffered a heavy defeat.Battle of Adrianople (disambiguation)
The Battle of Adrianople (378 CE), in which Gothic rebels defeated the Eastern Roman Empire, was the main battle of the Gothic War (376–382).
Battle of Adrianople may also refer to:
Battle of Tzirallum or Battle of Adrianople, a 313 CE battle in which Licinius defeated Maximinus Daia in a Roman civil war
Battle of Adrianople (324), a battle in which Constantine the Great defeated Licinius in a Roman civil war
Siege of Adrianople (378), an unsuccessful siege by the Goths following the Battle of Adrianople
Battle of Adrianople (813), a successful Bulgarian siege of the Byzantine city
Battle of Adrianople (1205), part of the Fourth Crusade, in which the Bulgarians defeated the Crusaders
Battle of Adrianople (1254), in which the Byzantines defeated the Bulgarians
Battle of Adrianople (1365), in which the Ottoman Empire took the city from the Byzantine Empire
Battle of Adrianople (1829), in which the Russians seized the city from the Ottoman Empire
Battle of Adrianople (1913), in which the Bulgarians took the city from the Ottomans in the First Balkan WarBattle of Constantinople (378)
The Battle of Constantinople was a Gothic attack on Constantinople in 378 following the Gothic victory at the Battle of Adrianople. The emperor Valens's widow prepared the defence, and also reinforced the city with Arab warriors, who performed excellently in combat. It is said that the Goths were impressed when one of the Arab warriors stormed out of the city naked, slaughtered enemies and drank blood from the neck of a decapitated Goth. Other sources maintain that the Goths actually abandoned the attack because they were greatly outnumbered.In the end, Goths did not enter the city and retreated to Thrace, Illyrium and Dacia.Gothic War (376–382)
Between about 376 and 382 the Gothic War against the Eastern Roman Empire, and in particular the Battle of Adrianople, is commonly seen as a major turning point in the history of the Roman Empire, the first of a series of events over the next century that would see the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, although its ultimate importance to the Empire's eventual fall is still debated.Gratian
Gratian (; Latin: Flavius Gratianus Augustus; Greek: Γρατιανός; 18 April/23 May 359 – 25 August 383) was Roman emperor from 367 to 383.
The eldest son of Valentinian I, Gratian accompanied, during his youth, his father on several campaigns along the Rhine and Danube frontiers. Upon the death of Valentinian in 375, Gratian's brother Valentinian II was declared emperor by his father's soldiers. In 378, Gratian's generals won a decisive victory over the Lentienses, a branch of the Alamanni, at the Battle of Argentovaria. Gratian subsequently led a campaign across the Rhine, the last emperor to do so, and attacked the Lentienses, forcing the tribe to surrender. That same year, his uncle Valens was killed in the Battle of Adrianople against the Goths – making Gratian essentially ruler of the entire Roman Empire. He favoured Christianity over traditional Roman religion, refusing the divine attributes of the Emperors and removing the Altar of Victory from the Roman Senate.Kölemen Abdullah Pasha
Abdullah Pasha or Abdullah Kölemen (1846–1937) was an Ottoman general in the First Balkan War, notable as the Ottoman commander in the Battle of Kirk Kilisse in 1912, the Battle of Lule Burgas, and the Battle of Adrianople (1913) in which the Ottoman forces were defeated by the Bulgarians.He was the Minister of War (Turkish: Harbiye Nazırı) of the Ottoman Empire for 38 days between 11 November and 19 December 1918 in the cabinet of Ahmet Tevfik Pasha. He died in 1937 in İzmir.Legio I Maximiana
The Legio I Maximiana (of Maximian) was a comitatensis Roman legion, probably created in the year 296 or 297 by the Emperor Diocletian.
The I Maximiana was formed together with II Flavia Constantia, to garrison the newly created province Thebaidos, in Aegyptus. The legion is also known as Maximiana Thebanorum or Thebaeorum ("Maximian legion of the Thebans"). Since no Legio I Maximiana is listed as being stationed at Thebes in the Notitia Dignitatum, the designation is interpreted more broadly as of the Thebaid in general. The cognomen Maximiana originated from Maximian, Diocletian's colleague.
In 354, I Maximiana was in Thrace, in the neighborhood of Adrianople (modern Edirne). Thus it is likely that it fought in the Battle of Adrianople, in 378, when emperor Valens was defeated by Goths. According to Notitia Dignitatum, the I Maximiana Thebanorum was still under Thracian command (magister militum per Thracias) at the beginning of the 5th century, while the I Maximiana was in Philae (Egypt, south of Aswan), under the dux Thebaidos.
There exists also a Theban Legion in the legend of Saint Maurice from the 5th century. According to that tradition, this (Prima Maximiana Thebanorum) was a legion from Thebes that was ordered to move by Maximian. Thus it is sometimes related to I Maximiana Thebanorum. However, according to tradition, the Theban Legion of Saint Maurice was martyred in 286, while the I Maximiana was not founded until ten years later.Matochina
Matochina (Bulgarian: Маточина, "lemon balm") is a small village in southeastern Bulgaria, part of Svilengrad municipality, Haskovo Province. Matochina lies in the southernmost ridges of the Sakar Mountain, 40 kilometres (25 mi) from the municipal centre Svilengrad and 110 kilometres (68 mi) from the provincial capital Haskovo; it is located just west of the Bulgaria–Turkey border and not far northeast of the Bulgaria–Greece border. The village is famous for the medieval Matochina Fortress.Ottoman conquest of Adrianople
Adrianople, a major Byzantine city in Thrace, was conquered by the Ottomans sometime in the 1360s, and eventually became the Ottoman capital, until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.Sebastianus (4th-century Roman general)
Sebastianus (d. 9 August 378) was a Roman general who died at the Battle of Adrianople alongside the Emperor Valens during the Gothic War.Siege of Adrianople (1912–13)
The Battle of Adrianople or Siege of Adrianople (Bulgarian: Обсада на Одрин, Serbian: Опсада Једрена, Turkish: Edirne Kuşatması) was fought during the First Balkan War, beginning in mid-November 1912 and ending on 26 March 1913 with the capture of Edirne (Adrianople) by the Bulgarian 2nd Army and the Serbian 2nd Army.
The loss of Edirne delivered the final decisive blow on the Ottoman army and brought to a close the First Balkan War. A treaty was signed in London on 30 May. The city was re-occupied and kept by Turkey in the Second Balkan War.The victorious end of the siege was considered an enormous military success because the defenses of city were carefully developed by leading German siege experts and were dubbed 'undefeatable'. The Bulgarian army, after 5 months of siege and two bold night attacks, took the Ottoman stronghold.
The victors were under the overall command of General Nikola Ivanov, and the commander of the Bulgarian forces on the Eastern sector of the fortress was General Georgi Vazov, brother of the famous Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov and General Vladimir Vazov.
One early use of an airplane for bombing took place during the siege: the Bulgarians dropped special hand grenades from one or more airplanes in an effort to cause panic among Turkish soldiers. Many young Bulgarian officers and professionals who took part in this decisive battle of the First Balkan War, later played important roles in the politics, culture, commerce and industry of Bulgaria.Siege of Adrianople (378)
The Siege of Adrianople took place in 378 following the Gothic victory at the Battle of Adrianople. Gothic forces were unable to breach the city walls and retreated. It was followed by an unsuccessful Gothic attempt to breach the walls of Constantinople.Siege of Adrianople (813)
The siege of Adrianople (Bulgarian: Обсада на Одрин) in 813 was a part of the wars of the Byzantine Empire with the Bulgarian khan Krum (Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars). It began soon after the Byzantine field army was defeated in the battle of Versinikia on 22 June. At first the besieging force was commanded by Krum's brother (whose name is not mentioned in the primary sources). The khan himself went on with an army to Constantinople. After an unsuccessful Byzantine attempt to murder him ruined all prospects for negotiations with them, Krum ravaged much of Eastern Thrace and then turned against Adrianople which was still under siege. The city—one of the most important Byzantine fortresses in Thrace—held out for a while despite being attacked with siege engines. Yet, without any help from outside, the garrison was forced to capitulate due to starvation. On Krum's order the population of Adrianople and the surrounding area (numbering about 10,000) was transferred to Bulgarian territory north of the Danube.Under the peace treaty, concluded in 815, Adrianople remained in the Byzantine empire.Traianus (magister peditum)
Traianus (died August 9, 378 at Adrianople) was a Roman general under Emperor Valens with whom he died in the battle of Adrianople.Valens
Valens (; Latin: Flavius Julius Valens Augustus; Greek: Οὐάλης; 328 – 9 August 378) was Eastern Roman Emperor from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I after the latter's accession to the throne. Valens was defeated and killed in the Battle of Adrianople, which marked the beginning of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.