Europe 427: Revolt of Bonifatius

Political map of Europe & the Mediterranean on 03 Aug 427 (Theodosian Dynasty: Fall of Africa: Revolt of Bonifatius), showing the following events: Second Perso-Kidarite War; Insubordination of Bonifatius; Fall of the Fossatum Africae; Hunnic expulsion from Pannonia; Mavortius, Gallio, and Sanoeces.

In 427 the Western Roman empress regent Galla Placidia summoned Count Bonifatius from Africa to Italy, but Bonifatius, fearing a plot against him, refused. Angered, Placidia ordered the commander Felix to bring Bonifatius to justice. Felix promptly dispatched a force to Africa, only to face a humiliating setback when the three generals leading the expedition were killed in a sequence of betrayals.

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Akatziri and the “Scythian Kingdom” (Kuban Huns)

Little is known about the region north and east of the Black Sea in the first half of the fifth century, except that in c. 400 a “Scythian King” (almost always assumed to be a Hun) lived in the Kuban region and by the 440s a Hunnic people known as the Akatziri lived east of the Dniester. Although fragmented, the Akatziri were powerful enough that, when the Eastern Romans aligned with all but one of their kingdoms in 447, it took over a year for Attila’s armies to crush them and install his son as their king. After this, Attila contemplated invading Persia, implying that suppressing the Akatziri had bought the periphery of his empire close to the Caucasus. All this suggests that the Akatziri may have extended into the North Caucasus and that the “Scythian King” may have been part of the Akatziri, although this is of course conjecture.

Main Events

426?–427 Second Perso-Kidarite War

By the mid-420s Shah Bahram V of Sasanian Persia was ready for revenge against the Kidarite invasion of 421 and, after recruiting additional troops from Armenia, advanced via the southern Caspian coast to reach Merv. There the Persians completely routed their opponents, killing the Kidarite king and capturing his wife, before pursuing the remaining Kidarites into Transoxiana, where the Persians defeated them again. With victory secured, Bahram erected a pillar on the Oxus river to mark the Persian Empire’s eastern frontier. in wikipedia

427 Insubordination of Bonifatius

In 427 the Western Roman empress regent Galla Placidia, under the influence of the magister militum Felix, summoned the comes Africae Bonifatius to Ravenna. Convinced by Felix’s intrigues that the empress meant to have him arrested, Bonifatius refused the summons and remained in Africa. In response, Placidia denounced Bonifatius as a rebel and ordered Felix to dispatch an army to Africa to deal with him. in wikipedia

427 Fall of the Fossatum Africae

In 409 the emperors Honorius and Theodosius II warned the vicar of Africa that he needed to maintain the fossatum Africae (fortifications and trenches on the Roman African frontier) or they would turn over the frontier territory to friendly local tribes. It is uncertain what happened after this, but by 417–418 St Augustine was commending the tribune Bonifatius for his successful expeditions against hostile tribes (perhaps the Mauri). However, Bonifatius proved less successful as comes Africae, leading Augustine to complain in 427 that invading tribes were laying waste to populated areas of Africa while Bonifatius himself was preoccupied with his own circumstances. This probably marked the end of the fossatum Africae, as there would have been little opportunity to restore the frontier during the years of civil war and Vandal invasion that immediately followed. in wikipedia

427 Hunnic expulsion from Pannonia

In 427 a combined army of Romans and Goths retook the lands of Pannonia north of the Sava, which had been occupied by the Huns for many years. It is unclear which Romans, which Goths, or even which Huns were involved in this campaign, but it is possible that the Diocese of Illyricum was still under the administration of the Eastern Roman Empire after the defeat of Joannes in 425 and that this was one of the Eastern army’s last actions there before restoring the diocese to Western control. As for the Goths, the 6th-century historian Jordanes implies that they were Visigoths and that after the campaign they set off for Spain to deal with the growing power of the Vandals. in wikipedia

427 Mavortius, Gallio, and Sanoeces

In response to Bonifatius’ insubordination in Africa, the Western Roman magister militum Felix dispatched an expedition against him under the generals Mavortius, Gallio, and Sanoeces in the summer of 427. The three generals promptly laid siege to Bonifatius in Carthage, only for Mavortius and Gallio to be suddenly killed when Sanoeces—who may have been a Hun—betrayed them. Shortly after this, Sanoeces himself was betrayed and killed, bringing the entire expedition to an ignominious end. in wikipedia