Europe 408: Stilicho vs Constantine III
In early 408 Stilicho responded to Constantine III’s usurpation by sending a force into Gaul. At the same time, a revolt kicked Constantine out of Hispaniae. However, both actions were defeated by Constantine’s forces later that year.
407 Hispaniae declares for Constantine III▲
The provinces of the Diocese of Hispaniae were quick to recognize Constantine III, declaring for him in mid 407. In response, the usurper sent magistrates to Spain, where they were obediently received by the governors.
407? Thorismud vs the Gepids▲
Around the time of the defeat of Radagaisus (406), the trans-Danubian Goths west of the Carpathians became subjects of the Huns. These Goths and/or the eastern Goths then attacked the neighboring Gepids—still holding out in the Carpathians—and inflicted a major defeat on them, although the young Gothic king Thorismud was killed in the battle. The Gepids may have continued to retain some independence after this—or perhaps later revolted—because they would ultimately be crushed by Ruga the Hun in the 420s.
407 Alliances of the Barbarians▲
When Constantine III invaded Gaul in 407, the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi seem to have withdrawn to the Rhine in the vicinity of Argentoratum (Strasbourg), where they were largely ignored by the warring Roman factions. Upon securing his hold over northern Gaul, Constantine made peace with these tribes—as well as the Burgundians and Alemanni—in order to add their manpower to his armies. As a result the Vandals, Alans, and Suebi remained quiet for over a year.
407–408 Alaric in Emona▲
In the winter of 407–8, having returned from Epirus and the abandoned Illyricum campaign, Alaric arrived in Emona, on the Italian border with Noricum, and sent messengers to Stilicho, asking for payment for his troops. Stilicho immediately proceeded to Rome, where he brought the matter to Emperor Honorius and the Senate. Eventually, despite heated debate among the Senate, Stilicho was able to push the payment through; even so, one senator denounced the final agreement as “not peace, but a bond of servitude”.
408 Didymus and Verinianus▲
In early 408 Didymus and Verinianus, two young and wealthy brothers related to the Western emperor Honorius, launched a revolt against Constantine III’s rule in the Diocese of Hispaniae. Probably orchestrated by Stilicho, the revolt faced no serious opposition and within a short space of time the brothers had secured Spain as far as the Pyrenees.
408 Sarus vs Constantine III▲
In early 408, under the orders of Stilicho, the Gothic general Sarus led a contingent of troops across the Alps into Gaul, where he promptly defeated and killed Justinian, one of Constantine III’s two magistri militum. Sarus then besieged Constantine himself in Valentia (Valence)—and even treacherously killed the usurper’s other magister militum Nebiogast during negotiations—but the siege was lifted after just seven days, when Constantine’s reinforcements arrived under the British commanders Gerontius and Edobich. Chased back to Italy, Sarus suffered further humiliation when he was forced to relinquish any spoils he had gained to Bagaudae (bandits) guarding the mountain passes.
? Apr 408–23 Mar 409 Roman–Persian crisis▲
In early 408 tensions grew between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire of Persia, possibly to do with either the status of the independent-minded Kingdom of Iberia or the approaching death of Emperor Arcadius and the succession of his young son Thedosius II (who was allegedly under the claimed guardianship of Shah Yazdegerd I). Whatever the reason, the Romans marched troops from the Balkans to the eastern border, where the Persian army had been assembling. War, however, was averted with the signing of a ‘hundred-year truce’ between the two empires by March 409, which restricted Roman merchants to trading no further east than the cities of Nisibis, Callinicum, and Artaxata for reasons of Persian security. The Romans also cut any support to Iberia at about this time, leading to its fall to the Persians in 411.