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August 9- Battle of Adrianople

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Komnenos View Drop Down
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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: August 9- Battle of Adrianople
    Posted: 08-Aug-2005 at 19:30
I think we could fill up a whole year with disasters that befell the Byzantine Empire. Or as our Constantine XI puts it: The whole Byzantine history is just one long Sophokleian tragedy. Or such.

Although is not strictly speaking a Byzantine affair, but as it concerns the Byzantine heartlands of centuries to come, heres another of such catastrophes:

On August 9, 378 , near Adrianople ( todays Edirne) the East-Roman Army, commanded by Emperor Valens (328-378), is defeated by a combined force of Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Alans led by the Visigoth King Fritigern (reigned 369-380)

The Visigoths were just one of the many Germanic tribes that had left their cold and swampy North-European homelands in the search for better pastures, and had swarmed all over Europe during the 3rd and 4th centuries..
The Visigoths had finally settled in Dacia around 280 and would have probably lived there happily ever after, if it hadnt been for Huns, who had come out of the Central Asian Steppes sweeping everything in front of them.
The Visigoths, now joined by displaced parts of the Ostrogoths and Alans appealed to the Roman Empire, asking to be allowed to cross the Danube and to settle in Roman Thrace, where they would be safe from the Huns. Emperor Valens agreed in the hope that the tribesmen could fill the ranks of his army, and promised land to farm and settle, and necessary supplies.
But Roman help never materialized and soon the Goths were starving in their new home, and out of desperation began to raid and plunder the surrounding country in the search of food.
Emperor Valens, who had been busy on the Persian frontier, returned as quickly as he could to Constantinople, collected a huge army of 60.000 and marched onwards to Thrace to subdue the unruly Goths.
On August 9, 378 the two armies met near Adrianople, and their encounter resulted in one of the worst defeats in Roman history. The exhausted and inflexible Roman infantry was no match for the Goths experienced and mobile cavalry, and the battle ended in a rather one-sided massacre. Two-thirds of the Romans were killed, amongst them the Emperor Valens, one of very few Roman Emperors to die in battle. (Quiz question: Who were the others, including East Roman/Byzantines?).
The Visigoths continued to rule and ravage Thrace and the Balkans for a few more years, until they made their peace with the Empire and became an indispensable part of the army. The rest is history.



What else happened on this day?

48 BC In the Battle of Pharsalos, Julius Caesar defeats Pompeius, who then fled to Egypt to be murdered the following month.

1910 Alva Fisher patented the first complete, self-contained electric washing machine. (A much underrated event in history, as anybody who has ever tried to wash his jeans in a sink, can testify!)
    
1945 The US Air force drops an Atom bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, with similar results to that three days earlier on Hiroshima.

Full list:

Wikipedia
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Imperator Invictus View Drop Down
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  Quote Imperator Invictus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Aug-2005 at 14:28
The exhausted and inflexible Roman infantry was no match for the Goths experienced and mobile cavalry, and the battle ended in a rather one-sided massacre.


I think the role of the Gothic cavalry in this battle has been debated.

Personally, I'm a little puzzled as to why this battle is seen as an infantry vs cavalry encounter. The Eastern Roman army at that time fielded fully armored Cataphracts and Clibanarii that should've been better than Gothic cavalry.
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  Quote morticia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Aug-2005 at 16:50
WOW!! This is great! I look forward to learning something new every single day. Thank you.

Regards,

Morty
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  Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Aug-2005 at 16:56

Imperator:

Isn't Adrianopolis a watershed in military history because of a "technological" innovation, i.e. the stirrup, being used massively by the Goths (and allies)?

Supposedly, this gave cavalry (and knights) an insurmountable advantage in many cases for 1,000 years.....until the rebirth of missile weapons in the XIV century.  What are others' thoughts? 

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  Quote Imperator Invictus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Aug-2005 at 18:13
I think there was a thread about how cavalry was exaggerated in the battle some time ago....

Adrianople is pretty overblown for its place in history. The main reason why it has become so symbolic for the decline of the Roman Empire is its pure timing,  the fact that it's well documented, the fact that the goths uprised due to Roman incompetency, and the fact that a Roman Emperor died in it. Militarily, the battle was not different from many other defeats of the Romans, including those against the Persians who had undoubtedly better cavalry than the Goths.

The battle has also lead people to characterized the Gothic cavalry as the ancestor of Feudal Knights. While this might've been true in practice, people often ignore that the Romans fielded Cataphracts and Clibanarii  fully armored from head to toe and sometimes with full Horse armor, a warrior copied from Sarmatian and Persian armies. These cavalry were far superior in equiptment than what the Goths had the money to buy.

About the stirrups, there is no documentation or archaeological evidence that clearly show that Goths used stirrups. Some insists that early stirrups were made of decomposible materials that can no longer be found. In any case, stirrups are also exaggerated by some historians who say that they were instrumental to cavalry warfare. Not so; the saddle was more important than the stirrup for a cavalry charge. The stirrup was only there for comfort and some more stability during melee.


Edited by Imperator Invictus
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Johnny Darko View Drop Down
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  Quote Johnny Darko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Aug-2005 at 05:22

Hi every one .

 

The cause of the Roman defeat was that Valent  did not  wait for the western emperor Gratianus  .Gratianus had  a good army, better than the oriental army like  demonstrated in Battle of Argentaria ,378,where Gratianus was victorious over Alemanni two months earlier.

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Nick1986 View Drop Down
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Aug-2012 at 19:15
Me Grimlock not nice Dino! Me bash brains!
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  Quote carolgreen270 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2012 at 01:59
Clibanarii that should've been better than Gothic cavalry.
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  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2012 at 02:11
Well they enjoyed an immmense psych-ops shock value for certain. Ntl in restrictive or inhospitable terrain or that based on geo-physical advatages for the defense.... they still suffered the same weakness of all heavily armored Cavalry: Mobility.
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

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Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'

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