Valens

Valens

Overview
Valens was the Eastern Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I
Valentinian I
Valentinian I , also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west....

 after the latter's accession to the throne. Valens, sometimes known as the Last True Roman
Last of the Romans
The description Last of the Romans has historically been given to any man thought to embody the values of Ancient Roman civilization - values which, by implication, became extinct on his death....

, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Adrianople
Battle of Adrianople
The Battle of Adrianople , sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between a Roman army led by the Roman Emperor Valens and Gothic rebels led by Fritigern...

, which marked the beginning of the collapse of the decaying Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

.

Valens and his brother Valentinian
Valentinian I
Valentinian I , also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west....

 were both born in Cibalae (in present-day Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

) into an Illyrian
Illyrians
The Illyrians were a group of tribes who inhabited part of the western Balkans in antiquity and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula...

 family in 328 and 321 respectively.
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Encyclopedia
Valens was the Eastern Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 364 to 378. He was given the eastern half of the empire by his brother Valentinian I
Valentinian I
Valentinian I , also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west....

 after the latter's accession to the throne. Valens, sometimes known as the Last True Roman
Last of the Romans
The description Last of the Romans has historically been given to any man thought to embody the values of Ancient Roman civilization - values which, by implication, became extinct on his death....

, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Adrianople
Battle of Adrianople
The Battle of Adrianople , sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between a Roman army led by the Roman Emperor Valens and Gothic rebels led by Fritigern...

, which marked the beginning of the collapse of the decaying Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

.

Appointment to emperor


Valens and his brother Valentinian
Valentinian I
Valentinian I , also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west....

 were both born in Cibalae (in present-day Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

) into an Illyrian
Illyrians
The Illyrians were a group of tribes who inhabited part of the western Balkans in antiquity and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula...

 family in 328 and 321 respectively. They had grown up on estates purchased by their father Gratian the Elder
Gratian the Elder
Gratianus Funarius, also known as Gratianus the Elder or Gratianus Major , was an Illyrian soldier of the Roman Empire who flourished in the 4th century...

 in Africa and Britain. While Valentinian had enjoyed a successful military career prior to his appointment as emperor, Valens apparently had not. He had spent much of his youth on the family's estate and only joined the army in the 360s, participating with his brother in the Persian campaign of Emperor Julian
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

.

In February 364, reigning Emperor Jovian, while hastening to Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 to secure his claim to the throne, was asphyxiated during a stop at Dadastana, 100 miles east of Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

. Among Jovian's agents was Valentinian, a tribunus scutariorum. He was proclaimed Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 on 26 February, 364. Valentinian felt that he needed help to govern the large and troublesome empire, and, on 28 March of the same year, appointed his brother Valens as co-emperor in the palace of Hebdomon
Bakirköy
This article is about a neighbourhood in IstanbulBakırköy is a neighborhood, municipality and district on the European side of İstanbul, Turkey. The quarter is densely populated, has a residential character and is inhabited by a middle class population...

. The two Augusti travelled together through Adrianople and Naissus to Sirmium
Sirmium
Sirmium was a city in ancient Roman Pannonia. Firstly mentioned in the 4th century BC and originally inhabited by the Illyrians and Celts, it was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and subsequently became the capital of the Roman province of Lower Pannonia. In 294 AD, Sirmium was...

, where they divided their personnel, and Valentinian went on to the West.

Valens obtained the eastern half of the Empire Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

 and Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 as far east as Persia. Valens was back in his capital of Constantinople by December 364.

Revolt of Procopius


Valens inherited the eastern portion of an empire that had recently retreated from most of its holdings in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 and Armenia because of a treaty that his predecessor Jovian had made with Shapur II
Shapur II
Shapur II the Great was the ninth King of the Persian Sassanid Empire from 309 to 379 and son of Hormizd II. During his long reign, the Sassanid Empire saw its first golden era since the reign of Shapur I...

 of the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

. Valens's first priority after the winter of 365 was to move east in hopes of shoring up the situation. By the autumn of 365 he had reached Cappadocian Caesarea when he learned that a usurper had proclaimed himself in Constantinople. When he died, Julian had left behind one surviving relative, a maternal cousin named Procopius
Procopius (usurper)
Procopius was a Roman usurper against Valens, and member of the Constantinian dynasty.- Life :According to Ammianus Marcellinus, Procopius was a native and spent his youth in Cilicia, probably in Corycus. On his mother's side, Procopius was related, a maternal cousin, to Emperor Julian, since...

. Procopius had been charged with overseeing a northern division of Julian's army during the Persian expedition and had not been present with the imperial elections when Julian's successor was named. Though Jovian made accommodations to appease this potential claimant, Procopius fell increasingly under suspicion in the first year of Valens' reign.

After narrowly escaping arrest, he went into hiding and reemerged at Constantinople where he was able to convince two military units passing through the capital to proclaim him emperor on 28 September 365. Though his early reception in the city seems to have been lukewarm, Procopius won favor quickly by using propaganda to his advantage: he sealed off the city to outside reports and began spreading rumors that Valentinian had died; he began minting coinage flaunting his connections to the Constantinian dynasty; and he further exploited dynastic claims by using the widow and daughter of Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

 to act as showpieces for his regime. This program met with some success, particularly among soldiers loyal to the Constantinians and eastern intellectuals who had already begun to feel persecuted by the Valentinians.

Valens, meanwhile, faltered. When news arrived that Procopius had revolted, Valens considered abdication
Abdication
Abdication occurs when a monarch, such as a king or emperor, renounces his office.-Terminology:The word abdication comes derives from the Latin abdicatio. meaning to disown or renounce...

 and perhaps even suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

. Even after he steadied his resolve to fight, Valens's efforts to forestall Procopius were hampered by the fact that most of his troops had already crossed the Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

n gates into Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

 when he learned of the revolt. Even so, Valens sent two legions to march on Procopius, who easily persuaded them to desert to him. Later that year, Valens himself was nearly captured in a scramble near Chalcedon
Chalcedon
Chalcedon , sometimes transliterated as Chalkedon) was an ancient maritime town of Bithynia, in Asia Minor, almost directly opposite Byzantium, south of Scutari . It is now a district of the city of Istanbul named Kadıköy...

. Troubles were exacerbated by the refusal of Valentinian to do any more than protect his own territory from encroachment. The failure of imperial resistance in 365 allowed Procopius to gain control of the dioceses of Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and Asiana by year's end.

Only in the spring of 366 had Valens assembled enough troops to deal with Procopius effectively. Marching out from Ancyra through Pessinus
Pessinus
Pessinus was a city in Anatolia, the Asian part of Turkey on the upper course of the river Sakarya River , from which the mythological King Midas is said to have ruled a greater Phrygian realm...

, Valens proceeded into Phrygia
Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

 where he defeated Procopius's general Gomoarius at the Battle of Thyatira
Battle of Thyatira
The Battle of Thyatira was fought in 366 at Thyatira, Phrygia , between the army of the Roman Emperor Valens and the army of the usurper Procopius, led by his general Gomoarius....

. He then met Procopius himself at Nacoleia and convinced his troops to desert him. Procopius was executed on 27 May and his head sent to Valentinian in Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

 for inspection.

War against the Goths


The Gothic
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 people in the northern region had supported Procopius in his revolt against Valens, and Valens had learned the Goths were planning an uprising of their own. These Goths, more specifically the Thervingi
Thervingi
The Thervingi, Tervingi, or Teruingi were a Gothic people of the Danubian plains west of the Dnestr River in the 3rd and 4th Centuries CE. They had close contacts with the Greuthungi, another Gothic people from east of the Dnestr River, as well as the Late Roman Empire...

, were at the time under the leadership of Athanaric
Athanaric
Athanaric was king of several branches of the Thervingian Goths for at least two decades in the fourth century. His name, Athanareiks, means "Year King" or "King for the Year" comes from the Gothic word Athni meaning "year" and the Gothic Reiks meaning "king."A probable rival of Fritigern, another...

 and had apparently remained peaceful since their defeat under Constantine in 332. In the spring of 367, Valens crossed the Danube and marched on Athanaric's Goths. These fled into the Carpathian Mountains
Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe...

, and eluded Valens' advance, forcing him to return later that summer. The following spring, a Danube flood prevented Valens from crossing; instead the Emperor occupied his troops with the construction of fortifications. In 369, Valens crossed again, from Noviodunum
Isaccea
Isaccea is a small town in Tulcea County, in Dobruja, Romania, on the right bank of the Danube, 35 km north-west of Tulcea. According to the 2002 census, it has a population 5,374....

, and attacked the north-easterly Gothic tribe of Greuthungi before facing Athanaric's Tervingi and defeating them. Athanaric pled for treaty terms and Valens gladly obliged. The treaty seems to have largely cut off relations between Goths and Romans, including free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

 and the exchange of troops for tribute. Valens would feel this loss of military manpower in the following years.

Conflict with the Sassanids



Among Valens' reasons for contracting a hasty and not entirely favorable peace in 369 was the deteriorating state of affairs in the East. Jovian had surrendered Rome's much disputed claim to control over Armenia in 363, and Shapur II
Shapur II
Shapur II the Great was the ninth King of the Persian Sassanid Empire from 309 to 379 and son of Hormizd II. During his long reign, the Sassanid Empire saw its first golden era since the reign of Shapur I...

 was eager to make good on this new opportunity. The Sassanid
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 ruler began enticing Armenian lords over to his camp and eventually forced the defection of the Arsacid Armenian king, Arsakes II
Arshak II
Arshak II or Arsaces II, was the son of King Tiran and was himself king of Armenia from 350 to 367.- Reign :In the early years of Arshak's reign, he found himself courted by the empires of Rome and Persia, both of which hope to win Armenia to their side in the ongoing conflicts between them...

, whom he quickly arrested and incarcerated. Shapur then sent an invasion force to seize Caucasian Iberia
Caucasian Iberia
Iberia , also known as Iveria , was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli , corresponding roughly to the eastern and southern parts of the present day Georgia...

 and a second to besiege Arsaces' son, Pap
Pap of Armenia
Pap was king of Armenia of the Arshakuni dynasty from 370 to 374. He was the son of King Arshak II and is notorious for poisoning the Catholicos of Armenia Nerses the Great.-Ascendancy:...

, in the fortress of Artogerassa, probably in 367. By the following spring, Pap had engineered his escape from the fortress and flight to Valens, whom he seems to have met at Marcianople while campaigning against the Goths.

Already in the summer following his Gothic settlement, Valens sent his general Arinthaeus to re-impose Pap on the Armenian throne. This provoked Shapur himself to invade and lay waste to Armenia. Pap, however, once again escaped and was restored a second time under escort of a much larger force in 370. The following spring, larger forces were sent under Terentius to regain Iberia and to garrison Armenia near Mount Npat. When Shapur counterattacked into Armenia in 371, his forces were bested by Valens' generals Trajanus and Vadomarius at Bagavan. Valens had overstepped the 363 treaty and then successfully defended his transgression. A truce settled after the 371 victory held as a quasi-peace for the next five years while Shapur was forced to deal with a Kushan invasion on his eastern frontier.

Meanwhile, troubles broke out with the boy-king Pap, who began acting in high-handed fashion, even executing the Armenian bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 Narses and demanding control of a number of Roman cities, including Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

. Pressed by his generals and fearing that Pap would defect to the Persians, Valens made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the prince and later had him executed inside Armenia. In his stead, Valens imposed another Arsacid, Varazdat
Varazdat
Varazdat |Latinized]] as Varasdates) was an Armenian prince who succeeded his uncle King Pap as King of Armenia in 374.-Appointment:...

, who ruled under the regency of the sparapet
Sparapet
Sparapet was a hereditary military rank that originated in the 2nd century BC, under the reign of King Artashes I, and was used in the Kingdom of Armenia and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia , was supreme commander of the armed forces. It was the equivalent of the Parthian Spahbod Sparapet was a...

 Musel Mamikonean, a friend of Rome.

None of this sat well with the Persians, who began agitating again for compliance with the 363 treaty. As the eastern frontier heated up in 375, Valens began preparations for a major expedition. Meanwhile, trouble was brewing elsewhere. In Isauria
Isauria
Isauria , in ancient geography, is a rugged isolated district in the interior of South Asia Minor, of very different extent at different periods, but generally covering what is now the district of Bozkır and its surroundings in the Konya province of Turkey, or the core of the Taurus Mountains. In...

, the mountainous region of western Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

, a major revolt had broken out in 375 which diverted troops formerly stationed in the East. Furthermore, by 377, the Saracens under Queen Mavia
Mavia (queen)
Mavia, was an Arab warrior-queen, who ruled over a confederation of semi-nomadic Arabs, in southern Syria, in the latter half of the fourth century. She led her troops in a rebellion against Roman rule, riding at the head of her army into Phoenicia and Palestine...

 had broken into revolt and devastated a swath of territory stretching from Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

 and Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 as far as the Sinai
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

. Though Valens successfully brought both uprisings under control, the opportunities for action on the eastern frontier were limited by these skirmishes closer to home.

In 375, Valens' older brother Valentinian suffered a burst blood vessel
Blood vessel
The blood vessels are the part of the circulatory system that transports blood throughout the body. There are three major types of blood vessels: the arteries, which carry the blood away from the heart; the capillaries, which enable the actual exchange of water and chemicals between the blood and...

 in his skull while in Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

, which resulted in his death on 17 November, 375. Gratian
Gratian
Gratian was Roman Emperor from 375 to 383.The eldest son of Valentinian I, during his youth Gratian accompanied 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...

, Valentinian's son and Valens' nephew, had already been associated with his father in the imperial dignity and was joined by his half-brother Valentinian II
Valentinian II
Flavius Valentinianus , commonly known as Valentinian II, was Roman Emperor from 375 to 392.-Early Life and Accession :...

 who was elevated, on their father's death, to Augustus by the imperial troops in Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

.

Gothic War



Valens' plans for an eastern campaign were never realized. A transfer of troops to the Western Empire in 374 had left gaps in Valens' mobile forces. In preparation for an eastern war, Valens initiated an ambitious recruitment program designed to fill those gaps. It was thus not unwelcome news when Valens learned that the Gothic tribes had been displaced from their homeland by an invasion of Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 in 375 and were seeking asylum from him. In 376, the Visigoths advanced to the far shores of the lower Danube and sent an ambassador to Valens who had set up his capital in Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

. The Goths requested shelter and land in Illyria. An estimated 200,000 Gothic Warriors and altogether 1,000,000 Gothic persons were along the Danube in Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

 and the ancient land of Dacia
Dacia
In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia was the land inhabited by the Dacians or Getae as they were known by the Greeks—the branch of the Thracians north of the Haemus range...

.

As Valens' advisers were quick to point out, these Goths could supply troops who would at once swell Valens' ranks and decrease his dependence on provincial troop levies — thereby increasing revenues from the recruitment tax. Among the Goths seeking asylum was a group led by the chieftain Fritigern
Fritigern
Fritigern or Fritigernus was a Tervingian Gothic chieftain whose decisive victory at Adrinaople the Gothic War extracted favourable terms for the Goths when peace was made with Gratian in 382.-War against Athanaric:...

. Fritigern had enjoyed contact with Valens in the 370s when Valens supported him in a struggle against Athanaric stemming from Athanaric's persecution of Gothic Christians. Though a number of Gothic groups apparently requested entry, Valens granted admission only to Fritigern and his followers. This did not, however, prevent others from following.

When Fritigern and his Goths undertook the crossing, Valens's mobile forces were tied down in the east, on the Persian frontier and in Isauria. This meant that only limitanei
Limitanei
The limitanei, meaning "the soldiers in frontier districts" The limitanei, meaning "the soldiers in frontier districts" The limitanei, meaning "the soldiers in frontier districts" (from the Latin phrase limes, denoting the military districts of the frontier provinces established in the late third...

 units were present to oversee the Goths' settlement. The small number of imperial troops present prevented the Romans from stopping a Danube crossing by a group of Goths and later by Huns and Alans
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

. What started out as a controlled resettlement mushroomed into a massive influx. And the situation grew worse. When the generals present began abusing the Visigoths under their charge, they revolted in early 377 and defeated the Roman units in Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 outside of Marcianople.

After joining forces with the Ostrogoths and eventually the Huns and Alans, the combined barbarian group marched widely before facing an advance force of imperial soldiers sent from both east and west. In a battle at Ad Salices
Battle of the Willows
The Battle of the Willows took place at a place called ad Salices , or according to Roman records, a road way-station called Ad Salices ; probably located within 15 kilometres of Marcianople , although its exact location is unknown...

, the Goths were once again victorious, winning free run of Thrace south of the Haemus
Haemus
In Greek mythology, King Haemus of Thrace was the son of Boreas. He was vain and haughty and compared himself and his wife, Queen Rhodope, to Zeus and Hera. The gods changed him and his wife into mountains...

. By 378, Valens himself was able to march west from his eastern base in Antioch. He withdrew all but a skeletal force — some of them Goths — from the east and moved west, reaching Constantinople by 30 May, 378. Meanwhile, Valens' councilors, Comes
Comes
Comes , plural comites , is the Latin word for companion, either individually or as a member of a collective known as comitatus, especially the suite of a magnate, in some cases large and/or formal enough to have a specific name, such as a cohors amicorum. The word comes derives from com- "with" +...

 Richomeres
Richomeres
Flavius Richomeres was a Frank who lived in the late 4th century. He took service in the Roman army and made a career as comes, magister militum, and consul. He was married to Ascyla, with whom he had a son Theudemeres, who became king of the Franks...

, and his generals Frigerid, Sebastian, and Victor cautioned Valens and tried to persuade him to wait for Gratian's arrival with his victorious legionaries from Gaul, something that Gratian himself strenuously advocated. What happened next is an example of hubris
Hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....

, the impact of which was to be felt for years to come. Valens, jealous of his nephew Gratian's success, decided he wanted this victory for himself.

Battle of Adrianople and death of Valens


After a brief stay aimed at building his troop strength and gaining a toehold in Thrace, Valens moved out to Adrianople. From there, he marched against the confederated barbarian army on 9 August 378 in what would become known as the Battle of Adrianople
Battle of Adrianople
The Battle of Adrianople , sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between a Roman army led by the Roman Emperor Valens and Gothic rebels led by Fritigern...

. Although negotiations were attempted, these broke down when a Roman unit sallied forth and carried both sides into battle. The Romans held their own early on but were crushed by the surprise arrival of Visigoth cavalry which split their ranks.

The primary source for the battle is Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

. Valens had left a sizeable guard with his baggage and treasures depleting his force. His right wing, cavalry, arrived at the Gothic camp sometime before the left wing arrived. It was a very hot day and the Roman cavalry was engaged without strategic support, wasting its efforts while they suffered in the heat.

Meanwhile Fritigern once again sent an emissary of peace in his continued manipulation of the situation. The resultant delay meant that the Romans present on the field began to succumb to the heat. The army's resources were further diminished when an ill timed attack by the Roman archers made it necessary to recall Valens' emissary, Comes Richomeres. The archers were beaten and retreated in humiliation.

Returning from foraging to find the battle in full swing, Gothic cavalry under the command of Althaeus and Saphrax now struck and, with what was probably the most decisive event of the battle, the Roman cavalry fled. From here, Ammianus gives two accounts of Valens' demise. In the first account, Ammianus states that Valens was "mortally wounded by an arrow, and presently breathed his last breath," (XXXI.12) His body was never found or given a proper burial. In the second account, Ammianus states the Roman infantry was abandoned, surrounded and cut to pieces. Valens was wounded and carried to a small wooden hut. The hut was surrounded by the Goths who put it to the torch, evidently unaware of the prize within. According to Ammianus, this is how Valens perished (XXXI.13.14-6). A third apocryphal account states that Valens was struck in the face by a Gothic dart and then perished while leading a charge. He wore no helmet to encourage his men. This action turned the tide of the battle which resulted in a tactical victory but a strategic loss.

The church historian Socrates likewise gives two accounts for the death of Valens.

Some have asserted that he was burnt to death in a village whither he had retired, which the barbarians assaulted and set on fire. But others affirm that having put off his imperial robe he ran into the midst of the main body of infantry; and that when the cavalry revolted and refused to engage, the infantry were surrounded by the barbarians, and completely destroyed in a body. Among these it is said the Emperor fell, but could not be distinguished, in consequence of his not having on his imperial habit.


When the battle was over, two-thirds of the eastern army lay dead. Many of their best officers had also perished. What was left of the army of Valens was led from the field under the cover of night by Comes Richomer and General Victor.

J.B. Bury, a noted historian of the period, provides specific interpretation on the significance the battle: it was "a disaster and disgrace that need not have occurred."

For Rome, the battle incapacitated the government. Emperor Gratian, nineteen years old, was overcome by the debacle, and until he appointed Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

, unable to deal with the catastrophe which spread out of control.

Legacy



Adrianople was the most significant event in Valens' career. The battle of Adrianople was significant for yet another reason: the evolution of warfare. Until that time, the Roman infantry was considered invincible, and the evidence for this was considerable. However, the Gothic cavalry completely changed all that. Although J.B. Bury states that records are incomplete for the 5th century, all during the 4th and 6th centuries, history shows that the cavalry took over as the principal Roman weapon of war on land.

"Valens was utterly undistinguished, still only a protector, and possessed no military ability: he betrayed his consciousness of inferiority by his nervous suspicion of plots and savage punishment of alleged traitors," writes A.H.M. Jones. But Jones admits that "he was a conscientious administrator, careful of the interests of the humble. Like his brother, he was an ernest Christian." To have died in so inglorious a battle has thus come to be regarded as the nadir of an unfortunate career. This is especially true because of the profound consequences of Valens' defeat. Adrianople spelled the beginning of the end for Roman territorial integrity in the late Empire and this fact was recognized even by contemporaries. Ammianus understood that it was the worst defeat in Roman history since the Battle of Cannae
Battle of Cannae
The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War, which took place on August 2, 216 BC near the town of Cannae in Apulia in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage under Hannibal decisively defeated a numerically superior army of the Roman Republic under command of the consuls Lucius...

 (31.13.19), and Rufinus
Tyrannius Rufinus
Tyrannius Rufinus or Rufinus of Aquileia was a monk, historian, and theologian. He is most known as a translator of Greek patristic material into Latin—especially the work of Origen.-Life:...

 called it "the beginning of evils for the Roman empire then and thereafter."

Valens is also credited with the commission of a short history of the Roman State. This work, produced by Valens' secretary Eutropius, and known with the name Breviarium ab Urbe condita, tells the story of Rome from its founding. According to some historians, Valens was motivated by the necessity of learning Roman history, that he, the royal family and their appointees might better mix with the Roman Senatorial class.

Struggles with the religious nature of the Empire


During his reign, Valens had to confront the theological diversity that was beginning to create division in the Empire. Julian
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 (361–363), had tried to revive the pagan religions. His reactionary attempt took advantage of the dissensions between the different factions among the Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s and a largely Pagan rank and file military. However, in spite of broad support, his actions were often viewed as excessive, and before he died in a campaign against the Persians, he was often treated with disdain. His death was considered a sign from God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

.

Like the brothers Constantius II
Constantius II
Constantius II , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 361. The second son of Constantine I and Fausta, he ascended to the throne with his brothers Constantine II and Constans upon their father's death....

 and Constans
Constans
Constans , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 350. He defeated his brother Constantine II in 340, but anger in the army over his personal life and preference for his barbarian bodyguards saw the general Magnentius rebel, resulting in Constans’ assassination in 350.-Career:Constans was the third and...

, Valens and Valentinian I held divergent theological views. Valens was an Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 and Valentinian I
Valentinian I
Valentinian I , also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west....

 upheld the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

. When Valens died however, the cause of Arianism in the Roman East was to come to an end. His successor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 would endorse the Nicene Creed.

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