How Climate Change Affected The Outcome Of A Roman War With The Goths


Medal of Roman Emperor Valens made 375-8 AD

From Forbes by author Kristina Killgrove:

While the emperor Valens’s Second Gothic War ended with the sack of Rome in 410 AD, the result of his First Gothic War is far less well known. Historians have assumed that the Goths surrendered after the Romans moved into Gothia and imposed a trade embargo. New research, however, claims that a prime mover in the Goths’ decision to surrender to the Romans in 369 AD was severe flooding of the Danube River.

In an article published this week in the Journal of Late Antiquity, ancient historian Jonathan Stanfill of the University of Portland and palaeoclimatologist Adam Schneider of the University of Colorado at Boulder draw on primary historical sources, archaeological settlement pattern data, modern weather data and flood statistics, and tree-ring analysis to make the case that a natural disaster played a significant role in compelling the Goths to surrender to the Romans.

Roman-Gothic political relations were in flux in the 4th century AD. After emperor Constantine defeated the Goths in 332, there was a sort of peace as the Romans traded with their barbarian neighbors. A few decades later, however, the Goths allied themselves with the losing side of an internal Roman power struggle and many ended up forcibly resettled along the Danube by the eastern Roman emperor Valens. When Valens learned that the Goths had supported his opponent, he launched a punitive war against them in 367.

Read the rest of the article at Forbes


Categories: Roman History

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