Talk:Battle of Adrianople

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Strength of Goth Forces[edit]

Where is that 40K figure from? Unless someone sources it, I'm going to revert to the prevalent 10K figure. happydrifter 11:15, 30 June, 2009 —Preceding undated comment added 15:15, 30 June 2009 (UTC).

I want to second that question. We can't have a cavalry force of 50,000 as part of a total army of 10,000 to 15,000. Was the total force 60,000 when combined or is that a typo and 50,000 cavalry should be 5,000? Tumb (talk) 17:21, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

The infobox listed a Gothic strength - unreferenced - of 50,000 to 60,000. Since that's absurd, I switched that to "More than 10,000." 71.191.233.225 (talk) 03:20, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
The infobox also listed a Roman strength - again unreferenced - of 40,000 to 50,000. Since that's about the upper limit of current estimates, I've marked it dubious but not changed it. 71.191.233.225 (talk) 03:20, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Beware of "facts" about this battle[edit]

I've added a link to my article about the campaign, which closely examines the text of Ammianus and shows that many common interpretations of the events are wrong. I would caution against adding anything to this article just because it is stated in a book such as Barbero's. For example, the movements of the Goths in the days preceding the battle, and the site of the battlefield, are highly contentious. All the major known facts can be gleaned from the translation of Ammianus by Hamilton, in Penguin. Anything else is just supposition based on the limited information Ammianus gives us. Skookumpete (talk) 22:31, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Well there are some issues - 8 miles vs. 8 hours? - not to mention the use of modern terms often creates ambiguity which the Roman terms would help minimize. And at some point we end up needing to consider Zosimus, the Notitia Dignitatum, logistics, reconstructions of the road network, and so on. 74.96.61.80 (talk) 23:10, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

old talk - may be undated, un-titled and unsigned - please clean-up[edit]


Would it be to much to ask that people sign and date their comments?


Thom Simmons, Kapiti Coast, NZ Malangthon July 12, 2005


your information on this page is incorrect. fritigern did not lead an attack on Valens and Valens did not battle the Visigoths. from several sources it is said that Fritigern and Valens were attacked during peace negotiations. it is in question who exactly it was that attacked them... Gibbons hinted that it might have been by Roman forces who were not happy at the thought of peace. He said that they could have even been Roman troops sent by the brother of valens. both Valens and Fritigern died because of the attack.


Would like to see those sources. J. B. Bury is as highly regarded a source as any and he treats the entire episode in his chapter "The Visigothic Entry Into the Empire." The Hermanric Ostrogoths had already been severely beaten by the Huns and the Alans were streaming toward the borders, being absorbed by the Germanic tribes. The Visigoths under Athanaric had been utterly defeated at the Dniester and everybody was running toward the Roman border. It was chaos. Fritigern was the great uniter. The Goths that met Valens at Adrianople were a mix of the Gothic tribes and other Germanic peoples. There may even have been Hunnic mercenaries amongst them. Fritigern was, however, Visigoth.

Ammianus Marcellinus says that there was a pre-emptive attack at the battle of Hadrianople by the Roman archers led by Bacurius the Iberian that interrupted a peace envoy led by Richomer. In essence the only source, Roman, is saying that it was a rash screw up and the negotiations were not actually in progress (though there had been earlier attempts).

Whether Fritigern was actually engaged is unknown. The cavalry that decimated the Roman infantry were led by Alatheus and Saphrax. When and how Fritigern died is not clear. Ammianus does not say and people like Bury and Gibbon do not say either. If some one has a source please speak up.


Thom Simmons, Kapiti Coast, NZ Malangthon July 12, 2005


Gibbons isn't exactly reknowned for being a great historian anymore, really, and a lot of his stuff shouldn't be considered too reliable unless it's backed up by other sources. As for the Adrinople article itself - the first set battle the Romans lost? That's spectacularly incorrect, as the Romans had a long, proud history of military defeats going back more than eight hundred years by that point.


Well if he ain't considered a great historian, someone ought to tell Norman Kantor and J. B. Bury and others who think he invented the genre. Gibbon does contain errors but a sweeping attempt at discrediting him does not advance the debate. Furthermore, he also quotes primary sources, in this situation he quotes Ammianus at length. There is sufficient value in that to retain Gibbon as a source.

Thom Simmons, Kapiti Coast, NZ Malangthon July 11, 2005


       "It was the first set battle that the Romans had ever lost."

The Romans had indeed lost set battles before -- does the Battle of Cannae ring any bells? This line has to go: it's absolutely incorrect. I have deleted it.


Here is what is significant, it was, according to J. B. Bury, the first time the Roman infantry had been routed by cavalry. In that, at least, it is a watershed event that led to the prominence of the cavalry in Europe.

Thom Simmons, Kapiti Coast, NZ Malangthon July 11, 2005


Since this was a puny little article, I translated the much more detailed one from the French wikipedia, hopefully accurately, although someone more fluent than me might want to check (and someone who knows more about the specifics may want to fix some things...like "shield-archers," I'm not sure about that). I want to add the pictures from the French one as well, but it's a little more difficult figuring out how to put them into English. Adam Bishop 21:15, 17 Dec 2003 (UTC)


With regard to the section "Composition of the Roman troops": Where does this come from?

J. B. Bury (The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians) states that the primary source, Ammianus Marcellinus, "did not tell his readers definitely the number of the forces on either side. So that we do not know precisely how strong the Goths were, or how strong were the Romans."


Thom Simmons, Kapiti Coast, NZ Malangthon July 12, 2005


I previously inserted the bullet pointed lists in "Composition of the Roman Troops", as well as the list of officers, extracting the information from Ammianus' description of the battle.

Paul Jurdeczka, Sydney, Australia 15 May 2008


  • Why does the article earlier say that few romans had heavy armour, even refusing to wear it, then later claim that the romans could not maneuver due to their heavy armour? A. D., Heidelberg, Oct 28, 2005
  • I too found this odd. It's inconsitent and confusing. Hu Gadarn 06:11, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
  • The reference may have been to different types of troops. The "legions" by this stage did not tend to use the previous commonly known segmented armour. However, this does not mean that there were not heavy infantry present who had problems with mobility. Paul Jurdeczka, Sydney, Australia 15 May 2008

Use of Stirrups[edit]

I thoroughly enjoyed the article, it was a cracking good read.

I'm under the impression the irresistable force of the visigothic cavalry's charge, and the turning point of the battle . . . was the effectiveness of their early use of stirrups . . . ?

Apparently Valens himself escaped temporarily to a farmhouse, the Visigoths on realising this burnt the farmhouse and Valens in it.


Source for above two "By the Sword" by Richard Cohen, another cracking good read !


Jerry Kenny 30th Jan 06

Stirrups? Stirrups?? Stirrups??? In the 370s???? The Goths did not use stirrups!!!!! IIRC the Avars introduced stirrups into Europe some centuries later. Jacob Haller 08:09, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

I deleted the stuff about stirrups. Jacob Haller 00:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
It seems to be pretty common in a lot of sources to read that the stirrup was used at Adrianople, usually the controversy is how significant it was to the battle, and to the future Roman calvary. -- Stbalbach 13:54, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
Elton, Hugh, 1996, Warfare in Roman Europe, A.D. 350-425, p. 109 ... "This suggests that the lack of stirrups was not important, a hypothesis supported by the apparent lack of chance in cavalry tactics after their introduction in the late *sixth* century." Jacob Haller 06:00, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
Feugere, Michel, 1993, trans. Smith, David, 2002, Weapons of the Romans, p. 136 ... "Stirrups were unknown in ancient times, an early mention of them being in the Strategikon of the Byzantine emperor Maurice (AD 582-602). The earliest known archaeologically found stirrups come from seventh-century Avar tombs in Dacia." Jacob Haller 06:00, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't know.. how did the story of stirrups become so popular in association with this battle, are you saying it's all myth that has since been debunked, there were no stirrups in the late 4th century? if so this is notable and should be mentioned in the article. -- Stbalbach 03:14, 21 July 2006 (UTC)


I haven't heard of '"By the Sword" by Richard Cohen' but it sounds like a historical novel - not quite the standard of source we are looking for here, I think. Deipnosophista 14:33, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Someone added the stirrups again. This has been refuted so many times and re-inserted so many times. I've added a section on obsolete theories to address the stirrups, the cavalry thesis, etc. 71.191.236.44 (talk) 19:02, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Or lack of a water break?[edit]

For my part, I had always thought that one of the factors in the Roman loss was that Valens, not wanting Gratian to share credit for the victory, marched his troops for seven hours over difficult terrain under a hot summer sun right into battle, without even giving them a badly-needed water break (Centuries later on another continent, the same mistake (though in entirely opposite conditions) is believed to have cost Banastre Tarleton the Battle of Cowpens). Do any sources or historians discuss the effect of a long, difficult march on the Romans heading into battle? Shouldn't this be in the article? Daniel Case 17:13, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

It's only an 8-mile march, through relatively flat terrain, and Ammianus makes much of the wait at the end. Jacob Haller 17:27, 9 August 2007 (UTC)
Still, though, you walk eight miles (Roman miles? Or British miles?) on a hot sunny day in western Turkey, wearing something equivalent to whatever the legionnaires were wearing, and then tell me you're ready to kick some barbarian butt. Especially when you know this is being done too hastily and the enemy decides they'd rather talk than fight. First. Daniel Case 05:23, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
I've got exceedingly severe asthma, and as a result, incredibly limited stamina. Nonetheless, I have more than once walked more than 20 miles in one day. If I can do that, any healthy person can do far more. Jacob Haller 05:16, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

I think that this point bears a little water. I am in the service and i have done more than my share of walking. You are supposed to be able to carry on a protracted fight at the end of a hump. Can it be done, absolutely. But your average legionnaire was probably carrying a pretty significant amount of gear. The uniform of the day left a lot to be desired, and for them to go straight from a hump into prolonged combat could have definitely given the Goths an edge. At the end of all my walks, i've always felt like crap, i'm sure Romans felt no differently.

Jonathan Reed 173rd Airborne Brigade —Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.36.198.42 (talk) 18:50, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Roman Forces[edit]

This section's pure speculation. None of our surviving sources identifies how many legions or auxilia were involved. (Although Sebastianus had 2,000 or so men, with 300 or so drawn from each of various legions, some time earlier, this was only part of the Roman field army in the theater). I think it better to point out various numbers estimates and/or point people to studies of late Roman field armies and Barbarian tribal armies. Jacob Haller 08:09, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

The Death of Valens and the Consequences[edit]

The article states "...in the worst Roman defeat since the Battle of Cannae."

As mentioned in the article on the battle of Cannae the Roman loss at the battle of Arausio was bigger than the loss at Cannae. It was certainly bigger than the loss at the Battle of Adrianople.

To avoid discussions maybe the article should just mention the Battle of Adrianople was a major defeat. Pukkie 08:22, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Pukkie, blessed are the peacemakers. I salute you. Augustulus 01:07, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

I have to completely disagree with this section of the article. I find that the fact the article states that while this was clearly not the end of the roman empire and that it did not completely destroy the Roman empire's army it only succeeded in crippling the army for a short time. This is completely irrelevant and untrue to the article's purpose. The Empire was already in a massive decline and the Army was crippled for a time wayyyy before this time. The Roman empire was a mere shadow of its past form. Cmatos1991 17:46, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

That many soldiers getting killed in one battle was essentially one of the biggest defeats (perhaps except for some battles against the Persians) since Varus lost 3 legions in Germany in AD 9. In an economy and military situation where barbarians were coming across the rivers fleeing the Huns, there has been war in the Balkan provinces for 2 years, and ongoing internal civil wars, the loss of such a large portion of man power was always going to affect the Roman Empire. Alessandro Barbero and Peter heather certainly disagree with you. When reading Heather a couple of years ago I arrived at the opinion this battle was the turning point, and that was before I saw Barbero's book (which I still haven't read). Rome was never going to hold off the hordes after losing this battle. had they won it, they may have held out. Maybe. Paul Jurdeczka - Sydney, Australia 16 October 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Pjurdeczka (talkcontribs) 03:46, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Opposing Armies[edit]

Made several changes to 'Composition of the Roman Troops.' Need similar section on 'Composition of the Gothic Troops.' I can't reconcile Ammian's account with more than 20,000 Gothic troops, or see how the exiles and their allies could field more than 15,000 relatively lightly-equipped troops. And others, including Delbrück, have kept their estimates of Roman numbers below 15,000 for similar reasons. Jacob Haller 03:40, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Gothic forces: In the first subsection, we should probably discvuss the two contingents, i.e. Fritigern's largely Therving contingent of about 10,000 and Alatheus' and Saphrax' largely Greuthing reinforcements of at most comparable size. In the second subsection, we should discuss experience, equipment, and related issues. Jacob Haller 22:12, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

This pre-supposes such information is accurate and widely accepted. It is debated and open to many interpretations. This article should discuss the scholars themselves, including names, dates of works with a summary of position. See Decline of the Roman Empire for example. Let the reader decide. We simply report on what other people say, not tell people what is right or wrong. -- Stbalbach 23:38, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

False Claims[edit]

In the first place, the Goths were only Germanic in the loosest linguistic sense; the phrase "Germanic Tribes" suggests more west-Germanic-ness and less agricultural-society-of-the-North-Pontic-plains-ness. In the second place, the 'Visigoth's as such did not exist before the 390s and the 'Ostrogoths' as such did not exist until several decades later; the Thervingi and the Greuthungi do not correspond with the Visigoths and Ostrogoths. The presence of Alans is reasonable but not proven; the presence of Moesian and Thracian rebels is about as reasonable (if we read Ammianus) and not proven either. I suggest listing Thervingi, Greuthingi, and possibly Alani and local rebels. Jacob Haller 22:12, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

This was discussed in more detail recently on the talk page of the Goths article. Obviously much of the material on Wikipedia is not up to date with current views on a number of fronts - the Goth's story on Wikipedia basically represents 19th C German historiography. -- Stbalbach 23:42, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Book[edit]

Probably it would be useful to rewrite this article (and the french version as well) after having red this book: Alessandro Barbero, The day of barbarians, 2005. http://www.walkerbooks.com/books/catalog.php?key=635 Goneri {unsigned}

strength of armies & casualties[edit]

I may be wrong, but it doesnt seem accurate for the estimated strength of the roman army to be 15,000 to 30,000, whereas the death count was about 20,000. Wouldnt the army size be closer to 20,000 to 30,000?

See above. Ammianus states the Romans suffered 2/3 losses; noone offers absolute figures. Given 15-30,000 Roman troops that implies 10-20,000 Roman losses. Jacob Haller 01:13, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

If you want to adjust the strength figures, please discuss your changes here, and give recent scholarly sources for your estimates. Thank you. Jacob Haller 23:24, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

I've changed "to" to "or" in the infobox, between the estimates. "To" implies both are correct, which isn't possible, and is unnecessarily wordy (15,000 to 30,000 is alright; 15,000 to 20,000 to 25,000 to 30,000 isn't.) InedibleHulk (talk) 10:33, 9 August 2012 (UTC)

How does "to" imply both are correct? I think "to" is a reasonable label when the infobox includes both low-end and high-end estimates. I think "or" implies that there are no intermediate estimates. 71.191.228.51 (talk) 17:21, 12 August 2012 (UTC)

this paragraph is a mess![edit]

Quoted from the background section:

After learning of Sebastian's success against the Goths, and of Gratian's victory over the Alamanni, Valens was more than ready for a victory of his own. He left Melanthias for Adrianople, where he met with Sebastian's force. On August 6, reconnaissance informed him that the Goths were marching towards Adrianople from the north, about 25 kilometers away. The goal of the Goths was to circumvent the Roman army that stretched back towards Adrianople. Despite the difficult ground, Valens reached Adrianople where a camp was constructed with a ditch and a rampart.

I can't tell what the second-to-last sentence is supposed to mean (outflank? to what end? with what target? if the Romans are strung out along the road, the Goths could hit the front of the column and roll it up). Also, the article uses the passive voice far too often. Perhaps "... the Roman army fortified its camp behind ditch and rampart" in the last sentence. Jacob Haller 04:22, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
Also, I would suggest "reconnaissance informed Valens that 10,000 Goths were marching towards Adrianople from the north, about 25 kilometers away." Jacob Haller 04:30, 26 January 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. Please, edit for corrections. Everything can be improved. -- Stbalbach 14:24, 26 January 2007 (UTC)

Link Issues[edit]

The Sebastianus link leads to the wrong guy. Drop the link or disambiguate and start the stub?—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jacob Haller (talkcontribs).

Does either one have a more complete name that could be used to disambiguate? If not, pick the one who is the lesser known, and create some sort of identifier like Sebastianus (Adrianople) and then on the Sebastianus article create a top-hat that reads "For the Sebastianus at the Battle of Adrianpole see Sebastianus (Adrianople)" - something like that. -- Stbalbach 14:35, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

Greuthungs[edit]

The Greuthungs and Ostrogoths are two different groups. Sure, Jordanes identifies the 4th-century Greuthungs as the predecessors of the late-5th/early-6th century Ostrogoths, but Jordanes identifies the Getae, and many less plausible groups, with the Goths. Peter Heather shows this in The Goths and Goths and Romans, 332-589. Jacob Haller 18:35, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Argentaria[edit]

What exactly does "Argentaria" mean?

A Roman town. At or near Colmar, IIRC. I'm not entirely sure. Jacob Haller 18:45, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks.--Shikyo3 00:38, 2 February 2007 (UTC)

Did Somebody Move This?[edit]

Because I've been correcting Battle of Adrianople (which used to lead to disambiguation, iirc) to Battle of Adrianople (378). Jacob Haller 01:00, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

nahh i cant tell bruh — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lalala1234321 (talkcontribs) 23:40, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

Speculation[edit]

I removed the following as it is admittingly speculation and therefore unencylopedic. It should be replace by something along the lines of, "The Roman forces likely consisted of heavy infantry, various archers and cavalry."[1]

A possible composition of the Roman army could be (according to Macdowall,[2] Valens had 15,000 men at Adrianople):

  • 1,500 Scholae (Imperial Guard), commanded by Valens. Each Schola was nominally composed by 500 men, but the campaign strength was possibly reduced to 400 men. Probably they were divided into:
    • Scutarii Prima (heavy cavalry);
    • Scutarii Secunda (heavy cavalry), which, together with Scutarii Prima, were the Scutarii who attacked at the beginning of the battle;
    • Scutarii Sagittarii (horse archers), possibly the mounted archers following the Scutarii attack;
  • 1,000 Equites Palatinae (elite cavalry). The vexillationes Palatinae had a nominal strength of 500 men, possibly 300 men during the campaign. The units that were probably present at Adrianople were:
    • Equites Promoti Seniores (conventional heavy cavalry), whose tribune, Potentius, was killed during the battle;
    • Comites Sagittarii Iuniores (light horse archers), in the right wing cavalry;
    • possibly Comites Clibanarii (heavily armoured cataphracts);
  • 1,500 Equites Comitatenses (conventional cavalry), with units nominally composed by 500 men, actually reduced to 200-300 during the campaign. Most probable present units:
    • Equites Primi Scutarii (conventional heavy cavalry);
    • Equites Promoti Iuniores (conventional heavy cavalry), commanded by Potentius;
  • 5,000 Legiones Palatinae, nominal strength 1000 men, possibly reduced to 800 men during the campaign. The units present at Adrianople were:
    • Lanciarii Seniores (heavy infantry), the most expert unit on the field, made the last stand during the battle;
    • Matiarii Iuniores (heavy infantry), joined the Lanciarii during the last stand;
  • 6,000 Auxilia Palatinae, full strength 500 men, campaign strength 300-400 men:
    • Batavi Seniori (heavy infantry), held in reserve;
    • Sagittarii Seniores Gallicani (foot archers);
    • Sagittarii Iuniores Gallicani (foot archers);
    • Tertiis Sagittarii Valentis (foot archers), raised by Valens;

On the other hand, 15,000 would have been minuscule for a Roman army, even for an army of the late Roman Empire. The loss of two thirds of a 15,000 army, or even of an entire army of 15,000, could have been readily absorbed and made good by the Romans. The inability of the Empire to make good on the losses suffered at Adrianople (comparable in scale and enormity to the catastrophic defeat suffered in the Battle of Cannae, in which 70,000 to 80,000 Romans were killed or captured) suggests that the Roman losses at Adrianople exceeded 15,000. Some argue that Valens led a force of at least 40,000 Romans to disaster. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wasted Sapience (talkcontribs) 19:32, 7 April 2007 (UTC).

Roman Soldier Picture[edit]

The picture of the Roman soldier says that he represents the Roman soldier of the 3rd century B.C. The battle took place in 378 A.D. Is the caption wrong? If so, it needs to be corrected. If not then the picture needs to be removed as it makes no sense to have a picture depicting something that is representative of Roman uniforms from a time 700 years before the battle took place. Dr. Morbius (talk) 20:55, 30 April 2008 (UTC)

Mjollnirs?[edit]

What's up with the mjollnirs in the box? Weren't Goths Christian by that time? Anyhow... which evidence indicates that they worshiped almighty Thor? --Faveladweller (talk) 15:25, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Again, someone switched the fibulae for a Mjollnir. Although it was cleaner to only have one icon, a fibula makes more sense. 71.191.228.6 (talk) 22:36, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

Cavalry?[edit]

What is the source for the claimed number of Gothic cavalry? Is this OR speculation or is this at least scholarly speculation?

What is the basis for the claim that "Their destruction of Roman troops caused cavalry to be the new dominant fighting force for the next thousand years, taking the place of the previously exalted Roman infantryman." I see a reference here, and can't find a contrary source right now, but much of modern scholarship rejects such claims if it even bothers to address such claims.72.66.37.62 (talk) 02:00, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

There are two separate sections regarding the cavalry hypothesis... One in the discussion of the Gothic forces, where it pushed Oman's older view, and one in the implications. I rewrote the part on the discussion of the Gothic forces, but maybe it would help to merge the two. 71.191.233.225 (talk) 03:43, 1 January 2012 (UTC)

Strengths are controversial[edit]

Note several sections regarding army strengths and the controversies above. 74.96.61.80 (talk) 00:31, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

Coordinate error[edit]

{{geodata-check}}

The following coordinate fixes are needed for the Battle of Adrianople.

1. The battle's location is in dispute, with the most widely-accepted candidates being near Muratcali [MacDowell] and near Demirhanli [Runkel, Donnelly]. I don't accept either theory, but we need to go by the recognized scholars.

2. The coordinates listed are misleadingly precise.

3. The coordinates listed point a mile west of the Tundzha river. Both of the most widely-accepted candidates are east of the Tundzha river, one a few miles east of it, and the other a full day's march east of it.

4. Better have no coordinates than the wrong coordinates!

74.96.53.170 (talk) 05:45, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

Since the article itself seems to imply a location near Muratcali ("8 miles north of Adrianople"), I've revised the coordinates accordingly and reduced their precision. Deor (talk) 11:17, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.96.53.170 (talk) 16:55, 23 March 2012 (UTC)