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Barbarization?
#16
(10-08-2018, 09:05 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: Although it's also clear that these landowners were very loath to surrender their men, and in many cases it might have been easier to rely on settled barbarian laeti or even more recent arrivals.

Reecruitment was not easy, given all we hear about amputated thumbs et al, but I doubt that the 'problems' were the norm. Hiring barbarian mercenaries was much easier, but they were clearly temp souldiers, and they were sent home after the campaign.

If indeed most soldiers of the army are supposed to be non-Roman volunteers (and you'd need a 'Völkerwanderung' of these migrating into the Empire each year for the numbers alone), how on earth do we get the problem that Alaric and his troops were still outside of the regular army - a status he wanted changed as one of the main points leading to his invasion of Italy? If all the Roman soldiers were Goths, why would Alaric and his men not simply have joined the ranks of their brethren and served as Roman soldiers at full pay?

(10-08-2018, 09:05 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: It seems to me that the purges, or anti-Gothic pogroms in AD408, were principally directed at the families of foederati billeted in the cities of northern Italy. It isn't clear who was carrying out the massacres - it could just as easily have been the citizens of the towns in question as soldiers. We have seen all too often how readily people can turn on 'unwelcome foreigners' in their midst...

But even if the troops were largely of barbarian/Gothic origin, that doesn't mean that they were naturally allied to other groups of Goths, foederati or otherwise, or had some Gothic 'national' affinity. The British in India commonly used Indian troops to fight Indian rebels, after all, and had few problems. Presumably, once a man joined the Roman army he became a Roman soldier and his loyalty was to the emperor, his unit, and (increasingly, maybe) his commanding officer.

However, I was interested in the idea that Bileta seems to suggest in his paper, and which I've heard elsewhere recently, that there was perhaps a kind of hybridised Romano-Gothic culture developing throughout the Roman army after about AD380, that blurred the boundaries between Roman and barbarian and made the 'fall of the empire' rather more of a fade from one type of control or loyalty to another. Interesting, if perhaps impossible to prove in any way!


The purges, as far as we know, were hardly directed at persons but against all the troops supporting Stilicho. I can't tell from the sources if those troops were all non-Roman, or all wore red ribbons.. how did they tell one family from another? Or were they all belonging to one group, billeted on one town? the survivors joined Alaric in large numbers - I can't see other non-Roman troops remaining in the Roman army being very at ease there. Yet later we hear of more Gothic troops (Sarus), enemies of Alaric, fighting Constantine III.
I really don't know. yet my feeling when reading this is that the purge was directed at non-Roman troops, and not a certain bband of Goths?

About that hybrid culture, how can we tell? I've read some about hybrid cultures among the civilians (Franks, Saxons, Thracians, Bavarians) which apparently show a new population where inavders mixed with the indeginous provincials to create new groups. But that's usuall later 5th c. and as far as I know unrelated to a hybrid military culture - how would one make that visible anyway?

About the apparent 'abandoning of the Rhine’, I am more in favor of Evan’s argument than that of Nathan and Marco.

Yes, on the one hand we have Claudian about the troops along the Rhenus being pulled off for the defense of Italy. And indeed, we have an invasion of barbarians shortly later, and a difficult situation in Gaul for years to come.

However, there are a number of arguments against this.
Claudian mentions the legions being moved, but not Stilicho’s opponents? Claudian also mentions such removals before’; the removal of ’the legion that reads the tattoos from dead Picts’ from Britain in my opinion rather shows a point of describing an active defense policy rather than a terse defense of what was considered a disaster.

There were problems in Gaul in 406, yes, but utter chaos? No. The British diocese shows 3 rebellions in rapid succession, no doubt aimed at the crisis in Gaul, but despite Constantine III leaving with a number of troops – and no doubt gathering more in Gaul – Britain is not left defenseless (despite the moans of later authors), nor does is fall for invaders within decades to come.

Nor does Gaul for that matter. Despite authors claiming all the diocese being in flames and ruin this is clearly not the situation. The invaders move on, fairly quickly to the south and into Spain. Why? Clearly there were enough forces present in the border regions of Gaul to threaten them. Constantine III and/or the troops present in NE Gaul clearly number enough to make plundering all the cities of Gaul unattractive for the invaders (how different from the Alamannic invasions of the 350s). And even the defeat of Constantine III in 411 does not change that.

So what was the defense of Britain, Gaul and the Upper Danube about in the period 400-450?
A number of sources indicates that the military were weak, but present. Severinus indeed shows that by the 450s, despite about 2 generations removed from the ‘chaos of 406’, there was a border force accustomed to being paid (ir)regularly, and only taking action when that stopped. Britain, despite being outside of the Empire to all extent and purposes, does not fall into chaos until c. 440. Neither does Gaul, which is rather untouched by the invasions of 406 but suffers from Frankish expansions only later, and still it does not fall – clearly it was not undefended.

I would say that, although it is very hard for us to see them, Roman forces are still present in the provinces and indeed also in Gaul. Procopius wrote about them, possibly Frankish or Alamannic troops mixed with their Roman ancestors and still carrying on the traditions of the military – fable or real?
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#17
(10-11-2018, 01:27 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: If indeed most soldiers of the army are supposed to be non-Roman volunteers... how on earth do we get the problem that Alaric and his troops were still outside of the regular army...?

I suspect that these Goths were different to those Goths...!

We tend to think of 'Goths' or whatever as one differentiated mass, but I would think the sons of men originally settled as laeti or foederati in Pannonia in the 380s, for example, and subsequently enlisted into the regular army would see themselves as quite distinct from newcomers from other places.


(10-11-2018, 01:27 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: I can't tell from the sources if those troops were all non-Roman, or all wore red ribbons.. how did they tell one family from another? ... my feeling when reading this is that the purge was directed at non-Roman troops, and not a certain bband of Goths?

I believe the story of this event in AD408 comes solely from Olympiodorus, who I haven't read, but Zosimus's version (based heavily upon his) suggests that Sarus was in command of a large body of Gothic foederati based around Ravenna, while the regular field army was based at Ticinum. The wives and families of these foederati were billeted in Roman cities - either Ravenna or elsewhere - perhaps as a sort of insurance policy?

When news of the mutiny at Ticinum arrived, and not knowing whether Honorius was alive or dead, Stilicho "engaged the cities, in which were any women or children belonging to the Barbarians, not to afford reception to any of the Barbarians if they should come to them" - presumably so the insurance policy would remain in force and the foederati would not go on the rampage!

However, following the death of Stilicho, "The soldiers who were in the city... fell upon all the women and children in the city, who belonged to the Barbarians. Having, as by a preconcerted signal, destroyed every individual of them, they plundered them of all they possessed. When this was known to the relations of those who were murdered, they assembled together from all quarters. Being highly incensed against the Romans ... they all resolved to join with Alaric, and to assist him in a war against Rome. Having therefore collected to the number of thirty thousand men, they fixed themselves in whatever place they pleased."

It appears from this that it was only the Gothic women and children in Ravenna itself that were killed, but that it was indeed Roman troops who killed them: whoever the 'soldiers' in the city might have been (scholae, perhaps, or city militia, or even Hunnic mercenaries?). It's also unclear whether this was a deliberate act of policy, or just a spontaneous outbreak of violence and robbery. The field army troops at Ticinum were not involved though.

The 30,000 Gothic foederati themselves, however, who were presumably encamped in various places nearby, were not themselves attacked or massacred, but instead took off to join Alaric.


(10-11-2018, 01:27 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: a hybrid military culture - how would one make that visible anyway?

Are there not plentiful studies - often citing Ellen Swift, among others - of the apparent cultural cross-pollination between Roman and Barbarian from the later 4th century onwards, particularly in the military but also in the civilian sphere? I can't be certain myself, as it's a fairly new field for me, and currents of academic opinion seem to flow rapidly back and forth, and often at cross purposes!

But we seem to have evidence of later Roman military styles appearing in barbarian contexts (east of the Rhine, for example), or in civilian contexts, or of women being buried with what appear to be 'military' belt fittings - all suggesting that the borders distinguishing a 'Roman soldier' from a 'barbarian warrior' (or 'foederati soldier'), or 'Germanic chief' (or even 'Germanic chief's wife'!) were a lot less certain than we might like, and determining who might have been occupying this or that fort or settlement is next to impossible without inscriptional or literary evidence, perhaps.


(10-11-2018, 01:27 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: Constantine III and/or the troops present in NE Gaul clearly number enough to make plundering all the cities of Gaul unattractive for the invaders

I'm not sure - we'd still have to ask why Mainz was apparently in the hands of the Burgundii and Alans in AD411... We could be looking at a steady flow of successive barbarian groups through an apparently rather porous border from c.405 onwards, with whatever Roman authorities that remained struggling to make agreeements with them each in turn.

Perhaps it was the collapse of Roman authority in the province that caused these outside groups to come in, rather than some massive invasion that caused the collapse of authority? But this is getting into the territory of one of those notorious academic disputes, I know!

Constantine III, I would think, had only the troops he had brought with him from Britain, supported by foedarati (so clearly not all the invaders headed off to the Pyrennes). If we can believe Orosius, he appears to have sent the remains of the 'mutinous soldiers of Gaul' to Spain. I doubt there were enough remaining troops in Gaul before his arrival to have much effect on the movements of the invaders in 406-411.


(10-11-2018, 01:27 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: Roman forces are still present in the provinces and indeed also in Gaul. Procopius wrote about them... fable or real?

What Procopius might have meant by a 'Roman unit' is anybody's guess. My guess would be that this might have been one of the old units brought over by Constantine III from Britain still maintaining itself after all that time... but who knows?

*about the Pannonian limes - apparently Carnuntum might have been destroyed by an earthquake in c.350, which would explain why Ammianus thought it was 'deserted and in ruins'! But Vindobona has a destruction layer dated by coin hoard to c.395, and no subsequent construction either there or at other sites (this is from Mocsy), so it looks like the Danube frontier in Pannonia did not last much beyond c.400.*
Nathan Ross
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#18
(10-10-2018, 10:22 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: As I mentioned above, large parts of the Pannonian limes appear to have passed from regular Roman occupation towards the end of the 4th century. Burns suggests that many of the forts in Noricum and Raetia were garrisoned by Germanic troops by the 380s. From what I can make out, most of the upper Danubian limes forts like Eining and Kellmunz seem to have been abandoned by c.430 at the latest.

As said before, I think that you are missing the point that in border fortresses there were auxiliary troops in all the ages of the empire. So the fact that in the IV century many of the forts were garrisoned by Germanic troops does not seems to be a novelty.

The point to be investigated is the organization, engage rules and numerical consistency of "main troops". Some information about them and their numeric relevance would be really interesting.

And, it is absolutely interesting that for what we know, Stilicho moved to Greece versus Alaric with barbaric troops and not with roman troops.
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#19
(10-11-2018, 09:32 PM)CaesarAugustus Wrote: in border fortresses there were auxiliary troops in all the ages of the empire. So the fact that in the IV century many of the forts were garrisoned by Germanic troops does not seems to be a novelty.

Certainly. But for most of the period prior to c.380 these auxiliary troops were part of the regular Roman army, equipped by Rome and commanded by Romans (and often relocated hundreds of miles from their homelands too!)

What we seem to see from the end of the 4th century is a frontier zone garrisoned by Germanic troops in an almost totally Germanic social and cultural milieu, possibly commanded by Germanic leaders with or without Roman military titles, with only the barest trace of Roman military control remaining.

This may be a chimera, based on limited evidence or a misreading of the evidence, but it surely looks rather different to the previous situation. I don't think this is a particularly bizarre view, by the way - as far as I know everyone from Luttwak to Halsall seems to present much the same sort of picture (This does not mean it's necessarily true, of course!)


(I've just remembered a point from Pollard's Soldiers, Cities, and Civilians in Roman Syria - by the late 4th century, Syriac writers use the word 'Goths' to refer to Roman soldiers indiscriminately! Another point towards the 'hybridisation' argument, perhaps?)
Nathan Ross
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#20
It's probably worth mentioning that Constantius II's civil war from 350-353 was extraordinarily bloody, with tens of thousands of casualties at the Battle of Mursa alone. Rome would have had to replace a lot of troops in a hurry, and training/equipping recruits takes time. The revolts of Magnus Maximus and Eugenius resulted in a lot of bloodshed too. These events alone might not have "barbarized" the army, but it stands to reason that Rome was scrambling to find replacements.
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#21
(10-11-2018, 03:03 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: I suspect that these Goths were different to those Goths...!
[..]
It appears from this that it was only the Gothic women and children in Ravenna itself that were killed, but that it was indeed Roman troops who killed them: whoever the 'soldiers' in the city might have been (scholae, perhaps, or city militia, or even Hunnic mercenaries?).
[..]
Are there not plentiful studies - often citing Ellen Swift, among others - of the apparent cultural cross-pollination between Roman and Barbarian from the later 4th century onwards, particularly in the military but also in the civilian sphere?
[..]
Constantine III, I would think, had only the troops he had brought with him from Britain, supported by foedarati (so clearly not all the invaders headed off to the Pyrennes). If we can believe Orosius, he appears to have sent the remains of the 'mutinous soldiers of Gaul' to Spain. I doubt there were enough remaining troops in Gaul before his arrival to have much effect on the movements of the invaders in 406-411.
[..]
What Procopius might have meant by a 'Roman unit' is anybody's guess. My guess would be that this might have been one of the old units brought over by Constantine III from Britain still maintaining itself after all that time... but who knows?


@ Goths & Goths - that was not what I was getting at. I meant that with apparently most of the Roman army being made up of barbarian volunteers, why would ANY Goth settle for being a lower paid federate, when he could join the regular army? Same with Alaric - why did he not join the regular army if there were apparently so many vacancies for people like him? Instead he was seemingly stuck in a role as a federate and without military career opportunities in the regular army. I think this completely clashes with the notion that 98% of the army of c. 400 was filled by non-Roman troops. Which is one of the reasons I must reject that idea, at least for the time around c. 400.

@ massacre - The tekst only says 'the Romans'. You could read into that that one group consisted of Gothic families and the other group of 'non-Roman attackers' but that's not what the tekst says, and I'm unwilling to read more into that. technically ALL were employed by the Romans, and Olympiodorus would have a hard time selling a story to his audience that the barbarians supporting the 'good faction' were to be addresses as 'Romans' while the barbarians supporting the 'bad faction' were to be addressed as 'those who belonged to the barbarians'.
No, I don't think this is anything but a confrontation between Roman troops and families of non-Roman troops.

@ hybrid cultures – military styles get into civilian styles, yes. But studies by Swift et al about wearing fibulae do in my opinion not show a mix between Roman and non-Roman military culture, as we see such fibulae being worn by Romans for centuries. The cruciform brooch is a Germanic-Gallic type from North of the Alps becoming the main military (and civilian) fibula long before the period we’re discussing (very recent Dutch study of Roman fibulae). We need much more to visualize such a propose later 4th c. mix between Roman and non-Roman soldiers in the Roman army.

@ Constantine III in Gaul – so how would he not only have managed to ‘entice’ the barbarian invaders of 406 into Spain, send all the other remaining Roman troops in Gaul (your proposal, not mine) after them, liberate most of the territory overrun and maintain an adequate defense against any barbarian leader in a mind of plundering Gaul after Constantine moved south? With only the troops from Britain (and we full well know that he did not ‘denude the island of soldiers’ as Gildas et al claimed later)? If he did not succeed by ‘staring them down’, the enemy must have seen a bit more ‘boots on the ground’ opposing them. As I said earlier, Julianus had a far more difficult time liberating an overrun Gaul in the 350s with far larger forces in great condition at his disposal. If the Rhine had really been overrun and deserted all the towns in Gaul would have been plundered, the countryside ful of marauders. No source says it was. Ergo, the Rhine was defended. I don’t know by whom but they did an adequate job, even with some towns along the Rhine in enemy hands for a few years (until Constantius III).

@ Procopius – see above – no way those troops could have been from Constantine III, who either lost them to Gerontius or needed them as his core army for the invasion of Italy.

(10-12-2018, 05:11 AM)Justin I Wrote: It's probably worth mentioning that Constantius II's civil war from 350-353 was extraordinarily bloody, with tens of thousands of casualties at the Battle of Mursa alone. Rome would have had to replace a lot of troops in a hurry, and training/equipping recruits takes time. The revolts of Magnus Maximus and Eugenius resulted in a lot of bloodshed too. These events alone might not have "barbarized" the army, but it stands to reason that Rome was scrambling to find replacements.


True enough, but by 400 we are almost two generations further in time and I think it can be suggested as reasonable that there had been plenty of Roman recruits in the meantime to fill those gaps.
I know, Adrianople and the Gothic Wars follow hot on the heels within the next generation, but apparently the army of the East had recovered enough from Mursa et al to again be a force to be reckoned with - so would the army of the West had been.

Stilicho sending an army of non-Roman troops to Greece is perhaps similar as Theodosius having his Goths bearing the brunt at the frigidus against Arbogast?

Anyway, Theodosius stealing the best units of the field army for his own army of the East seems to me the real reason for the bad condition of the West c. 400 - but that need not mean that all the limitanei forces had been pulled away to Italy by Stilich. See my reasoning above.
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#22
Wink 
(10-12-2018, 08:01 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: why would ANY Goth settle for being a lower paid federate, when he could join the regular army? Same with Alaric - why did he not join the regular army if there were apparently so many vacancies for people like him?

I would guess they would not have wanted to join for the same reason that many citizens did not - 20-25 years compulsory service, under harsh discipline, with compulsory service for your descendents as well. A foederatus (if that's a word!) could come and go much more freely, presumably... (I realise that you could then turn that around, and ask why any Goth would join the army when he could be a federate!)

As for Alaric, from what I can work out so far he was constantly angling for a better position, and knew that he could get a better deal out of the Roman state, both east and west, as a free agent than he could by taking a regular military position.


(10-12-2018, 08:01 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: @ massacre - The tekst only says 'the Romans'... I don't think this is anything but a confrontation between Roman troops and families of non-Roman troops.

Do you mean the text of Zosimus? I admit I didn't check the original. It does say 'soldiers' were doing the massacring though? But yes - it's soldiers (presumably) killing Gothic civilians. My point was that they weren't the same group of Goths killing their own families (!) - but it is rather hazy...

I'm trying to work out the possible identity of the soldiers who apparently mutinied at Bologna, and were threatened with decimation by Stilicho - the foederati under Sarus are the obvious choice, but could they be punished in that way? (if so, my point above about discipline is out the window!) Or was it the 'four arithmoi' (Sozomen 9.4) that were due to be sent east with Stilicho? I doubt there is any way to know...


(10-12-2018, 08:01 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: so how would he not only have managed to ‘entice’ the barbarian invaders of 406 into Spain, send all the other remaining Roman troops in Gaul (your proposal, not mine)

It strikes me that if this horde of barbarians crossed the Rhine in midwinter, they would need to keep moving - with all grain and other food supplies kept in stores, mostly inside fortified towns, their abilities to live off the land would be very limited, and if they remained in one place long they would face starvation. This might have been one reason why they ended up so far away from northern Gaul.

The note in Orosius (7.42.4) just says that the Spanish usurper Maximus, "stripped of the purple and abandoned by the troops of Gaul, which were transferred to Africa and then recalled to Italy, is now a needy exile living among the barbarians in Spain" (militibus Gallicanis, qui in Africam traiecti, deinde in Italiam reuocati sunt) - Orosius was a contemporary source, and I think we should take him seriously. The 'troops of Gaul' must have been sent across the Pyrenees by Constantius III, although I admit this isn't as clear as I would like!

However, Orosius's description of the original 'invasion' under Constans mentions another group: "certain barbarians, who had at one time been received as allies and drawn into military service, and who were called Honoriaci". Who these might have been (and what relation they had to the 'troops of Gaul') is obscure.

Interestingly, Orosius mentions that, prior to their domination by these Honoriaci, the Pyrenees were defended by a "faithful and efficient peasant guard" (rusticanorum fideli et utili custodia, Oros 7.40.4). That, and the need of Honorius's cousins to raise an army from their own slaves, speaks against the existence of a large and efficient regular Roman army in Spain at that point.


(10-12-2018, 08:01 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: and we full well know that he did not ‘denude the island of soldiers’ as Gildas et al claimed later

That's most certainly your field and not mine! I'm curious, though - what evidence do we have for troops in Britain after c.400? (aside from the ND, I mean...)


(10-12-2018, 08:01 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: If the Rhine had really been overrun and deserted all the towns in Gaul would have been plundered, the countryside ful of marauders. No source says it was. Ergo, the Rhine was defended.

Orosius (him again!) writes that "the Alans, Suebi, Vandals as well as many others with them, overwhelmed the Franks, crossed the Rhine, invaded Gaul, and advanced in their onward rush as far as the Pyrenees. Checked for the time being by this barrier, they poured back over the neighboring provinces." He then describes them "roaming wildly through Gaul."

No source, by contrast, suggests that any military force opposed these successive barbarian influxes and movements. Why not? As for the Rhine, Orosius puts it neatly: Francos proterunt, Rhenum transeunt, Gallias inuadunt. So - the Rhine was defended by the Franks!


[EDIT - p.s. - as for 'no source' talking of the plundering of Gaul, I would direct you to the extract of Jerome you quoted yourself! Pretty fruity, maybe, but a source nonetheless! [Image: wink.png] ]
Nathan Ross
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#23
(10-12-2018, 11:08 AM)Nathan Ross Wrote: A foederatus (if that's a word!) could come and go much more freely, presumably... (I realise that you could then turn that around, and ask why any Goth would join the army when he could be a federate!)
[..]
As for Alaric, from what I can work out so far he was constantly angling for a better position, and knew that he could get a better deal out of the Roman state, both east and west, as a free agent than he could by taking a regular military position.
[..]
But yes - it's soldiers (presumably) killing Gothic civilians. My point was that they weren't the same group of Goths killing their own families (!) - but it is rather hazy...
[..]
It strikes me that if this horde of barbarians crossed the Rhine in midwinter, they would need to keep moving - with all grain and other food supplies kept in stores, mostly inside fortified towns, their abilities to live off the land would be very limited, and if they remained in one place long they would face starvation. This might have been one reason why they ended up so far away from northern Gaul.
[..]
The 'troops of Gaul' must have been sent across the Pyrenees by Constantius III, although I admit this isn't as clear as I would like!
However, Orosius's description of the original 'invasion' under Constans mentions another group: "certain barbarians, who had at one time been received as allies and drawn into military service, and who were called Honoriaci".
[..]
Orosius (him again!) writes that "the Alans, Suebi, Vandals as well as many others with them, overwhelmed the Franks, crossed the Rhine, invaded Gaul, and advanced in their onward rush as far as the Pyrenees. Checked for the time being by this barrier, they poured back over the neighboring provinces." He then describes them "roaming wildly through Gaul."
[..]
No source, by contrast, suggests that any military force opposed these successive barbarian influxes and movements. Why not? As for the Rhine, Orosius puts it neatly: Francos proterunt, Rhenum transeunt, Gallias inuadunt. So - the Rhine was defended by the Franks!


@ foederati vs regular army. Well that seems to me my problem – we have a large number of barbarians (fighting as a Gothic army under Alaric) vs. a Roman army that (according to the theory under discussion) is filled with hundreds of thousands of similar soldiers. Now Alaric does not seem to want to be a ‘free agent’, nor do his men – they clamor about becoming regular forces (just like the rest). That is a contradiction that I cannot explain with any theory that the ranks of the Roman army was already filled with non-Romans. Either a barbarian wanted to serve as a Roman soldier or not. Seeing that large amounts of Goths (et al) fought with Alaric, demanding legal status, and assuming that the tribes at home were not left undefended, I just cannot go with an assumption that the Roman army was already packed to the rafters with non-Romans of a similar origin as Alaric’s troops, but lacking the room (or whatever) to accommodate such numbers. Assuming there were not a million of available non-Roman soldiers available, the logic of numbers and availability tells me that the Roman army was not already full of non-Romans and that Alaric became a magnet for all who wanted but so far couldn’t.

@ Alaric himself, if he had been able to enter the Roman army with all those who (according to this theory) apparently already entered Roman service, his career could have gone all the way to the top. That he did not enter the army signifies for me that the army was not open to any non-Roman. Another reason to reject the hypothesis of a ‘barbarian Roman army by 400’.

@ the massacre, we have indeed soldiers killing civilians, but the theory under discussion would have us accept barbarian troops killing the folk of other barbarian troops. I cannot see such a situation just yet, whereby the Roman army was in fact one barbarian faction fighting another barbarian faction. Maybe after 460 or so, but not by 400 without proper evidence.

@ The invasion of Gaul by 406 – the ‘horde’ could indeed have ran south as you assume, but that would have been an enormous gable – what if the food to the south of the Pyrenees had been guarded as well? Which indeed was the case, as the invaders streamed back into Gaul. Starving, I presume, if the sources are correct.
So, why did they not remain in NW Gaul to attack the cities (where you presume they guarded the food)? Who guarded the cities? Surely not citizens and farmers? Or, as is my hunch, the armed forces of the region which were pulled back or remained in place to ward off the invaders? Who, as would happen in Roman doctrine, could break through the frontier to be harassed by the field army? All the way south?

@ troops in Spain, in the end we see these invaders go south and cross the Pyrenees. You would say because of the food (but they were plundering the countryside of Gaul, without any troops to hinder them), I propose because of the troops in Gaul pushing them south, perhaps to starve them or to engage them in Spain. We know they were attacked there, and the Vandals were badly defeated.
I would propose that the troops guarding the Pyrenees were those units loyal to Honorius, who guarded the passes in order to stop Constantine III, later joining Maximus before being pulled back to Italy. Constantine III could not have denuded Britain and Gaul of soldiers to be defeated by Honorius later – I think he had to leave border troops beside the federates, and maybe he lost his troops through the defection of Gerontius. 

@Orosius (and Jerome), the sources are difficult to read. The shock must have been immense, and a number of sources describe this apparently utter destruction that ensued. I mentioned a number of them HERE: Fastidius, Orientius, Salvian, the Narratio, and similar approaches by Sidonius and Gregory of Tours.
Their language is clear – cities burned, countryside destroyed, unburied bones in the fields and wrecked homes. ‘All Gaul is a single funeral pyre’.
Sure.
However, archaeology (I was thinking of that while writing ‘the sources, my bad) does not show a layer of destruction around this period. Which would be the case if you assume that the Rhine was undefended, the federates overwhelmed, an enemy roaming through all the provinces looking for food and the cities undefended (not my theory, NB). So I’m thinking hyperbole. The Rhine limes was broken, sure, but not undefended, and the troops of Constantine herder the barbarians towards Spain (in the hands of Honorius’ cousins). That’s my theory and it works better I think than an undefended Gaul.
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