Northern Africa 418: Wallia’s Spanish War

Political map of Northern Africa on 22 Sep 418 (Africa and Rome Divided: Wallia’s Spanish War), showing the following events: Athaulf’s withdrawal to Spain; Murder of Hypatia; Death of Athaulf; Wallia–Euplutius Treaty; Wallia’s first Spanish campaign; Bonifatius’ Mauri campaigns; Wallia’s second Spanish campaign; Battle of Tartessos; End of the Siling Vandals; Collapse of the Alans.

In 415 the Goths withdrew to Hispaniae and Athaulf was assassinated, leaving his more compliant successor Wallia to make peace with the Romans. Following this, Wallia turned on the Alans and Siling Vandals, conquering their Spanish holdings in a three year war.

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Main Events

415 Athaulf’s withdrawal to Spain

Throughout 414 Honorius’ patricius Flavius Constantius exerted military pressure on Athaulf’s Goths in Gaul, most crucially using his navy to prevent any supplies from reaching the Goths. Faced with famine, Athaulf led his people across the Pyrenees into Hispaniae, abandoning his puppet emperor Attalus to Constantius. The Goths then established control in Barcino (Barcelona), where Athaulf suffered tragedy when Theodosius, his infant son with Placidia, died. in wikipedia

Mar 415 Murder of Hypatia

Hypatia was a renowned neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician who lived in Alexandria in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, and the first female mathematician whose life is recorded in some detail. In her later life she became an advisor to Orestes, the moderate Roman prefect of Alexandria, bringing her into political conflict with Orestes’ rival, Bishop Cyril of Alexandria. In response, Cyril started a smear campaign against Hypatia and on March 415 she was attacked and killed by a Christian mob, led by the lector Peter. The murder shocked the Roman Empire and led to an investigation of Cyril, but did little to stop the bishop’s continued rise to power in Alexandria. in wikipedia

Aug 415 Death of Athaulf

Despite Athaulf’s move to Hispaniae in early 415, the Goths continued to face famine and became dependent on buying overpriced supplies from the Alans and Vandals. Reduced to desperation, Athaulf mounted a number of raids on the Vandals only to be assassinated by one of his servants that summer and succeeded as king by Segeric, brother of Athaulf’s former rival Sarus. Segeric, however, lacked wide support and within a week he too was assassinated, to be replaced by another Goth, Wallia. in wikipedia

416 Wallia–Euplutius Treaty

In late 415 Wallia, the new king of the Goths, attempted to return to Gaul with his followers but was driven back by the army of Flavius Constantius. With his people facing starvation, Wallia opened up talks with Constantius, who sent his agens in rebus Euplutius to a pass in the Pyrenees to negotiate. This led to a treaty in early 416, whereby Wallia agreed to return Honorius’ sister Placidia and give high-ranking hostages to the Romans in return for a supply of 600,000 measures of grain. in wikipedia

416 Wallia’s first Spanish campaign

Soon after making peace with Rome in early 416, Wallia and his Goths turned on the Alans of Lusitania and the Siling Vandals of Baetica. These attacks seem to have been a continuation of hostilities from the year before, but this time the Goths were well-supplied and, like the Alans and Silings, official Roman allies. Frustrated that the Romans were effectively supporting the Goths against them, the Alans and Silings complained to the Western emperor Honorius, but to no avail. in wikipedia

417–418 Bonifatius’ Mauri campaigns

In 417–418 the tribune Bonifatius led a number of campaigns against the “barbarous tribes” (probably the Mauri) inhabiting the border regions of Roman Africa. According to St Augustine, he effectively subjugated his opponents “by storming their strongholds… and menacing them with his small band of brave confederates”, restoring stability to the frontier. in wikipedia

417 Wallia’s second Spanish campaign

By 417 the Western Roman regime had come out firmly in support of the Gothic king Wallia in his wars against the Alans and the Siling Vandals in Hispaniae. That year when Wallia embarked on a new campaign, he marched “in the name of Rome” and “inflicted a vast slaughter upon the barbarians”. Even so, it would take Wallia another year to conclusively defeat his enemies and restore Roman rule to Hispaniae. in wikipedia

418 Battle of Tartessos

In 418 Wallia’s Goths crossed into the territory of the Siling Vandals, where they faced a combined army of Silings and Alans in Tartessos (the region around the mouth of the Guadalquivir) and decisively defeated them. The Alan king Attaces was killed in this battle or shortly afterwards, forcing the Alans to flee back north while most of the Silings escaped to the south. in wikipedia

418 End of the Siling Vandals

After their defeat by Wallia’s Goths in 418, the Siling Vandals retreated south but the bulk of them appear to have ended up trapped around Mons Calpe (the Rock of Gibraltar) where they were massacred. This ended the Siling presence in Baetica and marks their last mention as an independent people, although some Siling remnants escaped north to join the Hasding Vandals. in wikipedia

418 Collapse of the Alans

After suffering heavy casualties at the hands of Wallia’s Goths in Tartessos in 418, the Alans fled northwest back into Lusitania but soon found themselves pursued by the Goths. Having lost their king Attaces in battle—and by now greatly reduced in number—the Alans escaped north into Gallaecia, where they sought asylum among the Hasding Vandals of King Gunderic. Gunderic accepted them, becoming King of the Vandals and Alans, while the Goths chose to break off their campaign at this point, effectively concluding their wars in Hispania. in wikipedia