Battle of Adrianople — August 9, 378
also called Hadrianopolis, is the
for present day Edirne in northwest Turkey.
Here is Adrianople / Edirne on a 2006
Map Location of Adrianople / Edirne
Click map to enlarge
Who Fought the Battle
The Battle of Adrianople was fought between
the Visigoths, led by Fritigern,
the Ostrogoths, and friends,
an army of the Eastern Roman Empire,
led by Emperor
The Battle of Adrianople was part of
the Fifth Roman-Gothic War,
which was fought from 377 to 385.
Who Won, Who Lost the Battle of Adrianople?
The Visigoths won and Valens got himself
killed, his body was never found.
Regarding casualties, some believe
that at least 10,000 or even up to 40,000 men, or in any event,
two-thirds of the Roman army were killed. Whatever the exact
numbers, it was a crushing defeat for the Romans.
Other sources say that the Roman army
of Valens consisted of 15,000 to 25,000 men and the army of the
Goths of about 100,000 men.
Background of the
Battle of Adrianople
Tribes on the Move:
Around 370, the Chinese drove out the
Huns, and in turn, the Huns drove the Goths westward around 372
to 376. This pushed the Goths into the Danube River area and brought
them face to face with the Eastern Roman Empire.
Valens allowed the Goths to settle in
the area as long as they would be willing to fight for Rome.
Poor diplomatic skills and downright
evil displayed by the Roman officials in charge drove the Goths to
Thus, Roman generals were fighting the
Visigoths. Emperor Valens decided to come to
their aid in 378.
The Goths camped just outside of
Adrianople. Valens was outnumbered, a fact that he might or might
not have known. Either way, he decided to attack anyway.
Mistakes Made During
the Battle of Adrianople
Some argue that the outcome of the
Battle of Adrianople could have been quite different if Valens would
have had more patience and had waited for reinforcements from his
nephew Gratian, who was the
Emperor of the West Roman Empire.
Gratian was on his way to aid Valens,
but when he heard of Valens' defeat, he went back home.
What Was the
Significance and What Were the Consequences of the Battle of
For the Romans, this battle was the
beginning of a major wave of raids from various tribes.
Theodosius I the Great, Valens' successor as Emperor
of the East Roman Empire, was
pressured into negotiating with the Goths.
This weak position in combination with
the fact that a Roman
army, led by their Emperor himself, could be defeated, encouraged anybody who
felt like marauding and pillaging the Roman Empire. Contrary to
popular belief, the Romans were vulnerable.
Furthermore, the outcome of the Battle
of Adrianople showed that if there was a supportive military connection
between Eastern and Western Roman Empire, it was not at all
Thus, it can be said that the Battle of
Adrianople marked the beginning of the collapse of the West Roman Empire
in the fifth century. It paved the sacking
of Rome by Alaric in August 410.
Map of the Battle of Adrianople AD 378
Here is more
about the Visigoths.