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barca

Rome's Disgrace at Adrianople

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Thank you, I will. The strength of castle walls is something that provokes a response in the human psyche and has done right from the start. The need for defence gave rise to simple earthworks and palisades and so on to massive twenty four mile long curtain walls almost impregnable to military assault. That is however missing the point. While a military defeat might not have been suffered by the Byzantines until the fifteenth century, that is a very blinkered view.

 

We do associate castles with medieval conflict. What is noticeable is that assaults, so favoured by Roman legions with a more direct mindset and a tolerance of casualties, was very rare in medieval times. It was often easier to either starve your opponent out or sneak in. There are any number of examples of such practises. It's the result of necessity. If a wall is too tough, you find a door or window to get through.

 

The Byzantines were not invulnerable because Constainople had huge walls. To claim stone battlements around a city kept their empire alive is just ridiculous. In fact, had it not been for the religious fervour and cultural differences of the invaders, the defeat of 1453 might not have been final, irrespective of any military result at Constantinople. The fact that Baibers got in shows that even such defenses were not impossible barriers, but then, the christian crusaders had already done so much earler when they looted the city. The scale of the turkish conquest blinds us to the vulnerability demonstrated in previous centuries.

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First the first; regarding the original topic of this thread, one of the most relevant and problematic criterion indispensable for any of the literally hundreds of proposed mechanisms for the Fall of Rome is that they must explain why the West fell and the East survived; that critical and undisputable fact can't be just left aside.

 

Far as I'm aware, none of the proposed mechanisms (above or elsewhere) on the theoretical relationship of the Roman defeat at Adrianople and the Fall of the Western Empire (i.e., loss of manpower, moral effect, immigration of the Barbarians and so on) has been even remotely able to fulfill such criterion.

 

Plainly, the West fell and the East survived in spite of Adrianople.

At the time of Adrianople the East and the West were still regarded as a single state, although obviously the two governments were starting to drift apart in many ways. Still, ROMANIA was regarded as a single entity, by barbarians and Romans alike. When the Goths gained their victory at Adrianople, they saw themselves as defeating a Roman army, and were increasingly confident against Rome thereafter, regardless as to which bit of the Empire they had defeated. This victory allowed them to drive a path through the Empire virtually unchallenged, culminating in the sack of Rome and ending in Aquitaine where they gained an independent kingdom. To say that Adrianople did not cause the fall of the West because it happened in the East is a remarkable over simplification, and I am slightly surprised to find such localised thinking here. To give a crude analogy, in 1987 a severe storm afflicted the UK which killed dozens and wrecked millions of pounds worth of property. This storm started out as a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

I think it is fair to say that if Adrianople had been a Roman victory, the history of the Goths and the Western Empire would have been very different.

 

QUOTE (sylla @ Dec 18 2009, 02:43 PM)

Have you ever tried to use PM for personal issues entirely irrelevant to the thread's topic and that no one else cares about?

We might well be purchasing a one-way ticket to Tartarus here

 

Not neccessarily, but but a thread may well be opened in the arena so that people who simply dont like each other can trade insults whilst the rest of us get on with things.

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I think it is fair to say that if Adrianople had been a Roman victory, the history of the Goths and the Western Empire would have been very different.

 

What if the Battle of Strassburg had resulted in a Roman defeat and the death of Julian?

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... a thread may well be opened in the arena so that people who simply dont like each other can trade insults whilst the rest of us get on with things.
Talking just for me, that's absolutely not my case; I just come here to talk about "things".

 

EDIT: I entirely missed the Tartarus post, sorry. Maybe this post should be there too.

Edited by sylla

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Far as I'm aware, none of the proposed mechanisms (above or elsewhere) on the theoretical relationship of the Roman defeat at Adrianople and the Fall of the Western Empire (i.e., loss of manpower, moral effect, immigration of the Barbarians and so on) has been even remotely able to fulfill such criterion.

Plainly, the West fell and the East survived in spite of Adrianople.

Far as I'm aware, my objection is still standing unchallanged ...
At the time of Adrianople the East and the West were still regarded as a single state, although obviously the two governments were starting to drift apart in many ways. Still, ROMANIA was regarded as a single entity, by barbarians and Romans alike. When the Goths gained their victory at Adrianople, they saw themselves as defeating a Roman army, and were increasingly confident against Rome thereafter, regardless as to which bit of the Empire they had defeated. This victory allowed them to drive a path through the Empire virtually unchallenged, culminating in the sack of Rome and ending in Aquitaine where they gained an independent kingdom.
And of course, when those same Goths were utterly unable to conquer Constantinople (the capital city for the whole Romania) even in the aftermath of Adrianople, the military consequences and psychological impact of such notorious Gothic failure must have been at least equally immense, if not even more.

In any case, explaining the universal outcome of the Goths just from their victory at Adrianople would be an extremely crude oversimplification; the Goths had a centuries-long curriculum with many notable victories.. and multiple defeats under the Roman armies too; there's a priori no reason why this particular victory must have been so portentuous; after all, this particular Gothic war was eventually won by the Romans (again) and Fritigern disappeared just a couple years later; even more, this was hardly the first defeat of the Romans by the Germanic Barbarians, not even the first time an Emperor perished fighting against them.

Adrianople presumably significantly contributed to the consolidation of the Goths in the Balkans; period. The much later Gothic expeditions to the West were explained by entirely different and essentially unrelated factors.

To say that Adrianople did not cause the fall of the West because it happened in the East is a remarkable over simplification, and I am slightly surprised to find such localised thinking here.
I'm actually extremely surprised by the utter lack of localization for the argumentation here; any deleterious effect from this defeat that may have even just potentially affected the Western half of Romania (including the possible strengthening of the Goths) must have affected exponentially more the Eastern half, for patently obvious reasons.

If you are aware of any possible exception, please share it with us.

Yes, I know it's simple; but why "over"? Why must all historical processes have been tortuous or laberynthine? In any case, gratuitously mixing up events so remote by any measure as Adrianople and the Fall of the West seems to be unnecessarily over-complicating an already complex historical process.

To give a crude analogy, in 1987 a severe storm afflicted the UK which killed dozens and wrecked millions of pounds worth of property. This storm started out as a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.
The analogy is not crude, but it is entirely irrelevant, mainly because the Hurricane was the only destructor there, while the Goths were just one among myriad Barbarians invading the Roman Empire (any Roman Empire), and also because the Barbarian invasions were in turn just one among myriad factors for the Fall of the Western Empire, and also because Adrianople was in turn just one among myriad factors relevant for the fate of the Goths.

If you really want to try analogies for Adrianople & the Fall of the West, how about let say the Ephesian Vespers and Caesar's failure to conquer Britannia? After all, both scenarios would have been a much more closer match in social, geographical and chronological terms (and of course, both involving a priori entirely unrelated phenomena too).

I think it is fair to say that if Adrianople had been a Roman victory, the history of the Goths and the Western Empire would have been very different.
What if the Battle of Strassburg had resulted in a Roman defeat and the death of Julian?
Strictly speaking, that statement from NN is a tautology, and both it and Barca's question (*) are unhistorical speculations, "what-if" scenarios.

As unhistorical speculation goes, a rather likely outcome would be that the Visigoths wouldn

Edited by sylla

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Plainly, the West fell and the East survived in spite of Adrianople.

This is neither plain, nor in accordance with established thinking. As you rightly have asked of others so often, I now ask you to name established academic and primary sources to confirm your hypothesis, as it somewhat counters established analysis.

 

My suggestion that a Roman victory at Adrianople would have led to a different outcome is not speculatory, as I have not suggested what that different outcome would have been. As you well know, the changing, alteration or swapping of one variable for another by definition changes outcomes; speculation only enters the picture if one tries to forecast what that outcome may be. And in any case, there is nothing wrong with that - we are all history enthusiasts and this subject, for us, is supposed to be... fun? I think so. Browbeating laypersons with academic terms and concepts with which they are obviously unfamiliar with to me detracts from it somewhat.

 

Are you suggesting that in the event of a Roman victory, the Goths would STILL have used the Balkans as their stomping ground for a decade or two afterwards, and that despite being no longer a threat, the Goths would still have had an Alaric with which to subjugate Rome? That is speculatory indeed.

 

I do agree with yourself and Sonic's view that the impregnable nature of Constantinople helped to turn the Goths westward, but I also feel that the Victory at Adrianople signalled for the Goths and other Germans that Rome (the empire) was not as formidable as once it was. By turning from Constantinople and heading for the West, they were not so much turning from a stronger Empire to a weaker one - to them it was all the same empire and the division at that stage by no means permanent - but simply hitting a more available target.

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Plainly, the West fell and the East survived in spite of Adrianople.
This is neither plain, nor in accordance with established thinking. As you rightly have asked of others so often, I now ask you to name established academic and primary sources to confirm your hypothesis, as it somewhat counters established analysis.
If you don't find it "plain", that is your opinion, BTW just a bare assertion. The evidence is already above; after Adrianople, Fritigern's army attacked Constantinople, not Rome (please someone tell me how surprising was Fritigern's selection). It's indisputable that the risk was primarily for the East; if Constantinople didn't fall, it was mostly for those same defenses that has previously been so absurdly dismissed.

 

Whatever you may define as "established thinking", you must be well aware that your logic here is overtly fallacious on at least three additional counts; it's an open argument from authority (i.e. I'm wrong because I'm purportedly against "established thinking") , you're demanding negative proof (of an inexistent theoretical relation between Adrianople & the Fall of Rome), and you're also trying to avoid the burden of proof (it is the people that states that a relation between those two events existed at all who must give the evidence backing such assertion).

 

For the record, it seems you're still not aware of any mechanism by which Adrianople would have affected the West without affecting exponentially more the East; period.

My suggestion that a Roman victory at Adrianople would have led to a different outcome is not speculatory, as I have not suggested what that different outcome would have been.
Aside from an obvious internal contradition between both clauses from your last statement, your suggestion most obviously speculates with alternative possibilities from an actual historical event not having taken place; i.e. you stated that (SIC) "history of the Goths and the Western Empire would have been very different"; Different? Granted. Very? Why? That's speculation.
As you well know, the changing, alteration or swapping of one variable for another by definition changes outcomes; speculation only enters the picture if one tries to forecast what that outcome may be. And in any case, there is nothing wrong with that - we are all history enthusiasts and this subject, for us, is supposed to be... fun?
Yes, everybody knows it (the so-called Butterfly effect); that's why I called it a tautology, and that's exactly why it is entirely useless here; i.e. changing anything would have made virtually everything different (not "very"; the Butterfly effect didn't tell you that).

It is still speculative, and all this is indeed fun for history enthusiasts (at least, talking for me).

Browbeating laypersons with academic terms and concepts with which they are obviously unfamiliar with to me detracts from it somewhat.
So you think letting me be browbeated, even knowing I'm right, would be the right course of action?

Actually, if that happens in a natural way, it would still be fun. ;)

Besides, I can't understand why "laypersons" should be "obviously unfamiliar" with the academic terms and concepts that I use ;) .

In any case, why would any of us have learned such stuff if we were never going to use it? :(

 

Let us try this; if you have any question on any of such terms and concepts, I will be more than happy to answer it, if I'm able to.

Are you suggesting that in the event of a Roman victory, the Goths would STILL have used the Balkans as their stomping ground for a decade or two afterwards, and that despite being no longer a threat, the Goths would still have had an Alaric with which to subjugate Rome? That is speculatory indeed.
Indeed; that may be one of the reasons why I didn't suggest anything even remotely like that.
I do agree with yourself and Sonic's view that the impregnable nature of Constantinople helped to turn the Goths westward, but I also feel that the Victory at Adrianople signalled for the Goths and other Germans that Rome (the empire) was not as formidable as once it was. By turning from Constantinople and heading for the West, they were not so much turning from a stronger Empire to a weaker one - to them it was all the same empire and the division at that stage by no means permanent - but simply hitting a more available target.
Actually, I never stated what turned the Goths westward, and I don't think Sonic did it either, at least so far within this thread.

 

If you really want to know what I think about this issue (please forgive me if that was not the case, as you haven't asked me anything yet):

 

- You and some historians may be giving too much weight to the Gothic contribution for the demise of the Western Empire; they were indeed a relevant factor, but only one among myriads, and in all likelihood not even the most relevant.

Even if we restrict ourselves to the northern Barbarians, there were many more populations that invaded the Empire too; in fact, the individual contribution of some of them, like the Huns (for obvious reasons) and the Vandals (for conquering North Africa, the main source of taxes for the West) might have been even more critical.

And of course, there was a great number of additional contributing factors for the Fall of the West, aside from just the northern Barbarian invasions.

 

- As for the "established thinking", please try Ward-Perkins; trust me, you won't regret it B) .

Edited by sylla

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Barca

 

A book you might find interesting is, The Day of the Barbarians by Alessandro Barbero which discusses Adrianople. And as I have said in a post in another thread, it is like 'watching' a train wreck. There is enough pre-battle and post-battle informaton.

 

 

Thanks

 

I just finished it. Very well written and easy to follow. Here's what I found intersting.

 

He mentions Constantine and the peace treaty that he established with the Goths. I get the impression that he was creating a buffer or client state out of them. He may have been trying to bring their land (Dacia) back into the empire by diplomatic and economic means.

Under Valens a number of incidents led to breaking of the treaty and subsequent economic hardships for the Goths. Is it possible that these hardships made them more vulnerable to the Huns?

 

Prior to Adrianople barbarians had been an important part of the Roman military, but they were thought of as being romanized. There was probably a continuum in terms of degree of romanization, i.e. some were fully Romanized and some were fairly raw recruits who stll had ties with their homeland. That's perhaps why Fritigen's Goths were able to entice defectors from the regular Roman army. They were also able to recruit former slaves and other underlings from the areas that they ransacked. Somewhat reminiscent of Spartacus' slave rebellion.

 

After Adrianople Theodossius worked very hard to salvage what was left of the military. He recruited Romans as well as Goths into the military. It's not clear to me if he could have done anything about the Goths that remained in the empire under their own leadership. The major problem with their continued pressence was not that they were Goths, but that they had Roman blood on their hands; they had annhialated a Roman army along with the emperor. That gave them an uprecedented self-confidence when negotiating because the Romans were afraid of them. They certainly didn't want to risk another Adrianople.

 

The continued recruitment of barbarians into the army should not have been a problem in itself as long as they had severred their ties to the Gothic leaders.

Edited by barca

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Methinks the evolution and outcome of the Gothic War of 376-382 will not be fully understood if the whole picture continues being ignored, more specifically the contemporary Hun factor, almost unmentioned all along this thread.

 

Fritigern and his victorious troops were actually not conqueror wannabes; they were paradoxically just refugees from the Hunnic conquest of their land; i.e. the victors over the Roman emperor and army had been previously utterly defeated at and displaced from their own homeland; in fact, almost half the Goths (lately called the Ostrogoths) became Hunnic subjects; and all that happened just two years before Adrianople.

 

Therefore, the real menace for everyone at 378 AD were not the Goths, the Alans or the Romans, but the Huns.

 

If Theodosius had simply tried to erase the offending Goths from the face of the Earth (a rather dangerous and necessarily costly task), the Empire would have simply been left entirely vulnerable to the formidable nomad warriors.

 

In hindsight, Theodosius

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If Theodosius had simply tried to erase the offending Goths from the face of the Earth (a rather dangerous and necessarily costly task), the Empire would have simply been left entirely vulnerable to the formidable nomad warriors.

 

That's what you might consider a "what if" scenario.

 

Theodosius proably would have preferred to eliminate the Gothic threat if he had the manpower to do so, but many of his new recruits proved to be unreliable.

 

At that time the Romans didn't have much direct contact with the Huns. Later in the 5th century there were direct conflicts, and the Romans necessarily had to use the Visigoths as allies, but by that time the regular Roman army had been diminished.

 

What if Gratian had fought a pitched battle with Fritigen right after Adrianople. Certainly a big risk. A loss would have given the Visigoths a free hand in the West, but a victory against them was not out of the question. The Goths must have been weakened somewhat after Adrianople, and not fully recovered.

 

Years later, Stlicho pulled away many of the troops guarding the border zones in order to confront Alaric, who was becoming a troublemaker. He was able to defeat him on more than one occasion, indicating that the regular Roman army was still a formidable force. Somehow the borders still remained somewhat intact for a while.

 

If the Gothic threat within the empire had been eliminated, I suggest that it would have been easier for the Romans to maintain their border defences, and they would have had more control and determination in their eventual conflicts with the Huns.

Edited by barca

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If Theodosius had simply tried to erase the offending Goths from the face of the Earth (a rather dangerous and necessarily costly task), the Empire would have simply been left entirely vulnerable to the formidable nomad warriors.
That's what you might consider a "what if" scenario.

 

Theodosius proably would have preferred to eliminate the Gothic threat if he had the manpower to do so, but many of his new recruits proved to be unreliable.

 

At that time the Romans didn't have much direct contact with the Huns. Later in the 5th century there were direct conflicts, and the Romans necessarily had to use the Visigoths as allies, but by that time the regular Roman army had been diminished.

 

What if Gratian had fought a pitched battle with Fritigen right after Adrianople. Certainly a big risk. A loss would have given the Visigoths a free hand in the West, but a victory against them was not out of the question. The Goths must have been weakened somewhat after Adrianople, and not fully recovered.

 

Years later, Stlicho pulled away many of the troops guarding the border zones in order to confront Alaric, who was becoming a troublemaker. He was able to defeat him on more than one occasion, indicating that the regular Roman army was still a formidable force. Somehow the borders still remained somewhat intact for a while.

 

If the Gothic threat within the empire had been eliminated, I suggest that it would have been easier for the Romans to maintain their border defences, and they would have had more control and determination in their eventual conflicts with the Huns.

You're right, it is a "what-if", as Theodosius and his men certainly didn't choose your direct approach.

 

That Theodosius didn't have to wait to directly confront (and in all likelihood be crushed by) the Huns that were immediately behind the Goths to perceive the magnitude of the risk is a good evidence of his prudence.

 

Not that he had to be a genius for that; if half the Gothic troops that had been so utterly routed by the Huns had been enough for so absolutely defeating the Roman army at Adrianople, the required logic was really not that hard.

 

If as it happened the Huns were eventually able to remain essentially undefeated and conquer immense territories in spite of facing both Goths and Romans at full strength, it seems that Theodosius was absolutely right; the direct approach of simultaneously facing both Goths & Huns at full strength would have been unnecessarily and even absurdly dangerous.

 

But of course, that's just my educated guess.

 

Anyway, your direct approach was indeed just a "what-if".

 

So it seems this is a far as we can go with our available evidence, unless you have some other ideas about the Hunnic factor.

Edited by sylla

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So it seems this is a far as we can go with our available evidence, unless you have some other ideas about the Hunnic factor.

 

Yes I do. I just started reading Ward-Perkin's book, and page 61 he made the following comments of the success of the Huns against the Romans.

 

"... the Huns took advantage of the two occasions when the empire did get embroiled in Persian wars, in 421-2 and 441-2 (when there was also a major expedition against Vandal Africa), and immediatelly launched successful campaigns in the Balkans."

 

This indicates to me that they were not facing the full strength of the Romans. So if the Romans hadn't been caught up in trying to recapture their lost territory, the outcome against the Huns may have been different.

Edited by barca

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Yes I do. I just started reading Ward-Perkin's book, and page 61 he made the following comments of the success of the Huns against the Romans.

 

"... the Huns took advantage of the two occasions when the empire did get embroiled in Persian wars, in 421-2 and 441-2 (when there was also a major expedition against Vandal Africa), and immediatelly launched successful campaigns in the Balkans."

 

This indicates to me that they were not facing the full strength of the Romans. So if the Romans hadn't been caught up in trying to recapture their lost territory, the outcome against the Huns may have been different.

Glad to see you are not ignoring the Hunnic factor any more.

 

It seems that like the sharks, the Huns were powerful, not stupid; even the most powerful predators (or warriors) tend to attack when their prey is more vulnerable, for obvious reasons.

 

Admittedly, had the Huns been predominantly stupid, the outcome of the Romans against them may have been different.

 

In any case, for any Empire as large as the Roman, fighting in more than one front at the same time was the rule, not the exception; that was arguably the main reason why the Roman Empire stopped growing in the first place.

 

In the sense that you imply (i.e. facing a single isolated enemy without the need of protecting any other border) the Romans were virtually never "at full strength".

 

(Regarding your original question for this thread, that was BTW exactly the main reason why the annihilation of 15,000-20,000 men at Adrianople was so painful for an Empire with an army reportedly of no less than 400,000 )

 

Now, also regarding Adrianople, Ward-Perkins immediately previous statement:

"...it was impossible to fight successfully on more than one front at a time ..."

... seems like a good explanation for the end of that Gothic War (376-382) too.

Why must the Romans have simultaneously faced so powerful enemies like the Goths and the Huns? Using one of them against the other (as it actually happened) seemed like a far more wise strategy.

Edited by sylla

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It's indisputable that the risk was primarily for the East; if Constantinople didn't fall, it was mostly for those same defenses that Coldrail so absurdly dismiss.

 

My name isn't Coldrail.

 

Neither did I dismiss the defenses of Constantinople. You really aren't getting the point. The longevity of that city had very little to do with the cities defenses (though it certainly kept the Goths out, but then as one of them said, they weren't there to fight walls)

 

The walls of any location are all very well but history shows a determined enemy will get past them at some point. What matters far more is what that enemy will do afterward. Loot the place? Or raze it to the ground? Usually the former is preferable as it's profitable and unless there's a degree of hatred the latter isn't worth the effort.

 

For instance, the Huns were seen as a threat by the Romans before they'd encountered them, largely out of reputation. So much so that Trajan (not the emperor, but the army commander replaced by Sebastianus) had a wall built to fend them off. History shows the Huns were held up not one jot.

 

This brings up an aspect of Roman military thinking that had been true ever since republican days. They didn't think in terms of exclusion. It wasn't practical to assume that a barrier will keep out the enemy. A palisade might look effective - any determined group of men can soon find a way to cross it. This was why the Romans made such widespread use of border patrols and watchtowers - they knew the border was effectively porous.

 

Such obstructions however do inhibit horses. With cavalry, an enemy can ride around causing havoc inside Roman territory and thus the limes were seen as effective deterrents. In other words, the idea was to 'limit' the damage caused by enemy incursion.

 

The stone walls of forts and settlements might be seen differently. Most people see them as insurmountable obstacles and that's partly why so many curtain walls were built over the centuries, right up to the modern day. No wall, however strong, represents a completely impassable barrier, because we conventiently need to leave doorways through them, which is usually the point of access during sieges.

 

The point is that a wall may be a permanent and strong defence, but people are as vulnerable as always. Not just physically in terms of death and injury, but also in terms of morale and health. Many sieges are finished by starving the defenders out, or simply frightening them into opening the doors anyway - something the Romans did by policy.

 

The question of stone walls also ignores the politics that surround them. Constantinople was defended by treaties and negotiation as much as stone blocks, not to mention numerous legions. Had those legions not been so indifferent, reluctant, or just plain worthless, the eastern empire would not have been so threatened as it was, and the question of stone walls at Constantinople would then be a pointless.

 

The diplomacy that saw rivalry and backscratching in the Adrianople campaign was typical of the Romans. Had the gothic refugees not been so badly treated, then they might not have rebelled so readily against Lupicinus and Maximus to begin with. The first half of them had after all been allowed into Roman territory under the terms of the treaty won in the previous gothic war.

 

That the second half got over the Danube serriptitiously shouldn't suprise given their rambuctuous nature, but this was not seen as a security problem by the local Roman command and rather more of a business opportunity. That the gothic leadership was betrayed and subjected to a "Dinner of the Long Knives" merely reinforced the gothic will to rebel, and again, it was politics that failed Rome, not the stone walls.

 

Also, the reputation of the Huns has survived right down to the modern day intact. The very same characteristics we hear in common circulation are those the Romans wrote about themselves. It is true they were hardy warriors and extraordinary opportunists, but note that the real underlying reason for Roman concern was that they were essentially a cavalry. They knew the Huns had a capability to penetrate deep into their territory, hence the efforts of (general) Trajan to obstruct their progress.

 

That said, we must note that the Romans also used politics to impede them, a standard tactic. We shouldn't forget that these apparently hellish warriors had a capital city under the reign of Attila with hot baths in the Roman fashion. Another example of exported luxury and identification? This was a standard Roman policy. They didn't simply defend militarily, but made efforts to suppress the thread at it's heart.

 

Stone walls therefore are an emergency measure only. Apart from the psychological advantage of such constructions (which I see still afflicts the human mindset), they serve no useful function other than to control passage in and out of a settlement or fort. There is only a limited value to their effectiveness, the extent of which is dependent on the scale and design of them, which admittedly Constantinople was more impressive - but that's the point.

 

Fritigern and his goths had no means with which to conduct a siege of Constantinople. Granted, he was deterred from trying it, regardless of the excuses the goths made, but notice that the motives of the goths weren't complete conquest. They turned into the Roman countryside and began a war of brigandry, which was more to their liking anyway. For all their safety, the defenders of Constantinople were helpless to stop goths running roughshod around the land.

 

In other words, the impedance of a wall is also directly linked to its purpose. If enclosing a small location, a settlement or fort, it's only effective if the enemy see value in assaulting it. In terms of a lengthy border wall, it's only effective until the enemy find a way around it.

 

Constantinople did not survive as a city because its walls were massive, but rather because it wasn't fighting enemies intent on its destruction. Only when Baibers arrived in 1453 did that situation change.

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