Alaric was again defeated at Verona, which hastened his retreat out of Italy. Although Alaric had not been able to sack, or even lay seige to Rome he did through the fear of his Germanic warriors force the Romans to move their seat of government to Ravenna. Another result of Alaric' s attacks was that the Roman Empire recalled the 20th legion from Britain to protect the Western Empire which was coming under more and more pressure from the Germanic tribes.
As were the fortunes of war in ancient times, in 407 A. D. , Stilicho became a friend of Alaric' s, and ally of the Goths. Alaric then entered Epirus, and demanded 4, 000 pounds of gold to leave. His friend, and now ally, Stilicho pressured the Roman senate, which eventually relented and paid the amount. Paying ransom did not work in Roman times, just as it did not work in the Viking Age, and a few months later Alaric would once again be on the offensive.
Three months later the Roman Emperor Honorius ordered Stilicho and his ministers to be killed. In the turmoil that followed the families of the Germanic warriors, who were fighting with the Roman Legions, were killed throughout Italy. Rome could not have made a worse choice ! 30, 000 very angry Germanic warriors then picked up their arms and marched over to join Alaric, and avenge their loved ones. In 408 Alaric marched on Rome and laid seige to the ancient city. Without Stilicho the Romans had little chance of removing the Germans. After the usual bargaining, the now starving Romans forced their senate to pay 5,000 pounds of gold, and 30, 000 pounds of silver to Alaric and his Goths.
In 410 Alaric beseiged Rome again, ( and why not when he was making a fortune for himself and his men by doing so), with much the same results. The Romans did not put up much of a fight, and the historians suggest that this time there may have even been a little collusion between the two sides. On August 24, 410, the Visigoths penetrated for the first time the gates of Rome. Alaric was able to gain entrance to the ancient city by way of Port Salaria, and the sack of Rome began. Considering the anger of the Visigoths, and their allies, they did surprisingly little damage to the city. The Gardens of Sallust were destroyed, but they were located at the very gates that the Visigoths entered through, so that is not very surprising. Some tombs were destroyed, as was the Basilica Aemelia, but considering what could have befallen Rome and their citizens, they actually fared quite well.
Later that year Alaric headed south with the intention of invading North Africa, but his ships were destroyed in a ferocious storm, and he lost many of his warriors as a result. Not long thereafter Alaric came down with a fever and died in Cosenza. According to one legend his body was buried under the Busento river, which his men diverted until the tomb could be constructed and the body placed in it. They legend also says that the men who buried Alaric, ( probably slaves ) were then killed to keep the location secret.
We can only speculate what further triumphs this great Germanic warrior could have accomplished if the fates had not turned against him and his men. Possibly he could have carved out a Germanic homeland in North Africa ! Even with his life cut short his deeds live on in the memories of all our Germanic peoples. Alaric I should be remembered and honored for his great feats in battle, and also as the first Germanic king to battle his way into the Western Empire's capital, and sit on the throne of Rome !
Next article : The Feast of the Hunters !
Go with Odin' s wisdom, Freyja' s love, and Thor' s protection !