The Goths were angry with the Empire for unfulfilled promises – they had been promised lands and other privileges. The Empire, on the other hand, saw them as a threat.
This ultimately led to a conflict which culminated in this battle. The Battle of Adrianople was fought in Adrianople which is situated in modern-day Turkey.
It was the territories of the Eastern Roman Empire at the time.
The battle was a decisive victory for the Goths and the Eastern Roman Emperor Valens died while fighting in it.
The Rise of Alaric
Alaric was a Gothic chieftain who became the king of the Visigoths in 391.
Following the Battle of Adrianople, Visigoths had reached peace with the new emperor Theodosius and now fought on his side.
In 394, Alaric and his Visigoth warriors fought alongside the emperor in a fight with the Western Roman Empire.
Although Theodosius won, he failed to reward Alaric sufficiently.
So when Theodosius died, Alaric launched an invasion of the Eastern Roman Empire.
He was able to gain control of vast territories of Greece and other lands.
In the end, the Empire offered him a military post and incentives to end his invasion.
First Siege of Rome
In 408, disgruntled and disillusioned by the unfulfilled promises of the Roman Empire, Visigoths under Alaric launched a second invasion of Italy.
During this invasion, they marched on Rome and laid siege to it.
Any reinforcements or help to Rome from outside was intercepted.
In the end, the city agreed to pay a heavy ransom in gold, silver, barbarian slaves and other resources to convince Alaric and his men to end the siege.
Second Siege of Rome
In 409, due to the failure of the Emperor Honorius to honor the promises made to Visigoths, Alaric launched another attack on Italy.
Rome was besieged once again. This time, Alaric forced the Roman Senate to elect its own emperor while also earning a prestigious position for himself.
Alaric also marched on the city of Ravenna, the capital of the Western Roman Empire at the time and the home of Emperor Honorius.
However, the city could not yet be taken and the siege of Rome was lifted as negotiations with Honorius resumed.
Who sacked Rome? – Third Siege and Sack
After the second siege of Rome, negotiations between Visigoths and Emperor Honorius were still ongoing in 410. However, these broke down when some allies of the Emperor attempted to attack and kill Alaric.
Alaric escaped but enraged at the treachery, laid siege to Rome for the third and final time.
This time, the Visigoths were able to breach and enter the city.
This was then followed by widespread looting, plunder, murder, rape and overall destruction.
The homes, buildings and inhabitants were stripped of their valuables.
Many Romans were taken as slaves, other fled and were forced to live out their days in misery. The pillage and looting of the city continued for three days.
Result and Aftermath – Sack of Rome 410
The Sack of Rome 410 was a shocking event for those within the Empire as well as those without. It exposed the decline and weakness of the Roman Empire.
The eternal city of Caesar and Augustus which had also become an important city of Christendom had been overrun by the barbarians.
Many timeless treasures from the city were forever lost. The event marked the final days of the Western Roman Empire.
A few decades later, Vandals would sack the city a second time.
The true legacy of the Roman Empire came to be limited to the Eastern Roman Empire which would live on for nearly another thousand years as the Byzantine Empire.