The Roman Empire, during its glorious period, extended to various parts of the world including Mesopotamia, North Africa, Britain and the Atlantic. However, the Romans’ power and victory soon came to an end when the Germanic tribes reached the Danube and the Rhine. Among these people who invaded some of the Roman provinces were the Visigoths. In 395, Alaric led several revolts that caused great problems to the Roman empire. The situation was also aggravated by the death of Theodosius the Great, a Roman emperor. Since then, the empire was divided into east and west, and its capital was moved to Ravenna.
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Worsening Condition in the Roman Empire
Alaric’s main purpose was to secure an area where his people could live comfortably. He also wished for this land to be recognized by the empire, yet authorities in Ravenna refused to give him what he wanted. With his strong desire to obtain this piece of land for his followers, he decided to head off to Rome and claimed what he wanted.
In 409 AD (where it is listed on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History), Alaric and his followers invaded and appointed Priscus Attalus as a temporary emperor. However, his reign did not last for a long time. A year after, he came to Rome once again because Ravenna failed to give in to his demands. Along with his warriors, they waited outside the city as the Senate attempted to resist the invasion of the Visigoths. However, several rebellious slaves prompted the attack when they opened the Salarian Gate. This gave the invaders a chance to enter freely and set fire to houses within the area.
Attack of the Visigoths
Once the Visigoths found their way into the city, the palaces were quickly looted. Those who resisted were murdered, yet not many inhabitants were slaughtered during the invasion of Rome. Moreover, several monuments and buildings were spared.
With the Arian Christian background of the Visigoths, numerous Christian treasures and sites were left untouched. They also refused to steal silver and gold vessels that once belonged to St. Peter. Alaric ordered his men to secure sacred objects that were brought to St. Peter’s Church.
The Visigoths Left Rome
Three days after Rome was sacked, the Visigoths withdrew their armies and left the city. They took with them some money and treasures looted from the palace and houses of aristocrats. They also took some prisoners for ransom, while others were taken as slaves. One of their prisoners was Galla Placidia, who was the 20-year-old half-sister of Honorius. Although she was held captive by the Visigoths, she was treated in a decent and respectful manner.
After the invasion, Alaric, and his followers headed off Campania. The invaders also went to the Roman province of Africa, and he intended to leave his army there for a secure place to stay. However, his ships were destroyed by a storm, which prolonged the journey.
When Alaric died, Athaulf took his place. He was Alaric’s brother-in-law, and he was chosen by the Goths to rule over them. Instead of going to Africa, which was the original plan, Athaulf led the people away from Rome and across the Alps. They also attacked Tuscany before they headed north.
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