In 398 Stilicho invaded Britain. It did not go well. Stichlo discovered that the British were determined to create a separate empire and were once again seeking support from Gaul and Hispania. The Celts did not move fast enough. The Celtic reaction was delayed as they fought amongst themselves to establish who was the rightful High King. Marcus 406-407, was followed by Gratian 407, and then Constantine III 407-411.
Stilicho removed the defences from the Rhine frontier. He invited or possibly bribed the entire nations of Vandals, Suevi and Alans to invade the Empire. Fortuitously the winter of 405-406 was extemely cold. the rhine froze over and invasion of Gaul commenced. At the same time Stilicho encouraged the Angles and Saxons to invade norther Gaul and Briton. His objective was to destroy Celtic culture. and in this he suceeeded, altering forever the fabric of the western european peninsula.
Constantine then crossed the channel from Britain and chased the invaders to Hispania.
The “Migration” as it is politely called caused disruption across the whole of Gaul.
The Roman army in Italy revolted, killing their officers and siding with Constantine. They attacked Silicho who retreated to Ravenna where the Emporer Honorius had him executed.
In 410 the British formally declared independance after Honorius had refused to send military assistance to defend against the Saxons.
Internal dissention amongst Constantine’s forces caused his defeat. The Hispanic faction resented the fact that the invaders had been chased in to Hispanic territory. Constantine and his son Constans were beaten in battle by honarius general confusingly called Constantius and subsequently executed. The survivors of the final battle concentrated in north eastern gaul intending to regroup and selected Jovinus as their leader.
In the period immediately after the migrations Stilicho travelled East. He went after the death of Arcadius to supervise the hand over of power to Arcadius’ son Theodorius II. Olympius, a junior court guard, worked his way into the confidence of Honorarius and after the revolt of the Italian legions organised a coup d’etat ending in the murder of both Stilicho and Eucherious, Stilicho’s son.
Stilicho’s army, consisting of Vandals and Visigoths were still in the east but their families had been settled on lands granted in Italy. In a genocidal act Olympius ordered the execution of thirty thousand women and children.
The Visigoths lead by Alaric, magister militum for the east and his people were already settled on the south of the Danube and acting as foederatii for the Eastern Empire. Aleric asked permission to avenge the deaths in Italy and far from resisting Theoderic II gave him assistance. Aleric moved the whole of the gothic population, about 60,000 people, into the Western empire.
They were already inside the defensive barrier and so there was nothing to stop them. Neither the Roman senators nor Honarius wold give the Visigoths the land settlements in Italy that they were looking for. As part of the “negotiation” the Visigoths sacked sacked Rome. A deal was then agreed whereby the Visigoths agreed to become foederatii on the on the new frontier below which the Alans, Sueves and Vandals had settled. this inevitably meant that they would come in confict with the supporters of Constantine III, who still manned the pyrenean border though they now responded to Jovinus.
Atalus died before leaving Italy. The first act of Autulf his successor was to seek out defeat and kill Jovinus which makes it likely that Honorius shared Stilicho’s objective of destroying celtic culture.
History records that Honarius sister, Galla Placida left with the Goths This must have come about during the negotiations with honorius as Galla Placida was not in Rome at the time it was sacked.
It is possible that Placeda went with the Visigoths in a role of Comes Augusti, to make sure the Goths fullfilled their end of the bargain. However romance or sexual attraction intervened. Four years later after the death of Alaric, Galla married Autulf.
She had at least one, possibly three children by Autulf. The geneology is unreliable in the finer detail but it is certain that the Roman bloodline found it’s way into Visigothic, Burgundian and Frankish Royal Families.
These relationships are the reason that the Salic law, formulated by Clovis, barred succession though a female and why his family never mentioned Clothilde, their mother’s heritage. If they had made any claim dependent on Clothilde’s bloodline it would have opened up similar claims from both Visigoths and Burgundians
There is some evidence that Theodoric, King of the Visgoths who died fighting the Huns at the battle of the Catalunian plain was Galla Placida’s son. If this is so he could only have been eight when he was hailed as King. Their is nothing in the record to suggest he was so young or that he needed a regent to act on his behalf.
On Autulf’s death Galla Placida returned to Rome where she married again to Constantius, who in 421 became the Emporer Constantius III. The names are confusing but this Constantius was the comes who defeated Constantine III, the High King. In 425, the son of Constantius and Galla Plaice’s son became Emperor Valantinian III and their daughter was Honoria who became an Augusta in her own right. Even after her return to Rome Gallida Placida was always referred to by the Visigoths as “Our Queen” and they provided her with a personal bodyguard. She made sure they were always treated favourably.
A celebrated painting shows Gallida Placida and her two children. Surprisingly the central figure, dominating the other two, is Honoria. Honoraria was unique the only woman ever to be an Augusta in her own right. Honaria , in an attempt to avoid a dull or distasteful partner then proposed marriage to Attila the Hun, Honoria, Empress, daughter of an Empress, possibly half brother of the Visigoth who now called himself King Theodoric, had proposed marriage to Attila in 400 and sent him her most valuable ring as proof of her scincerity. Obviously Attila was interested. He accepted, claiming her half of the empire (the west) as a dowry.
Attila had established a principle of protection money from the Eastern Emperor. It was a simple arrangement, in return for a generous payment Attila would not cross the Danube, would nor attack Byzantium. There were frequent diplomatic exchanges between Attila and Byzantium and during one diplomatic mission Priscus, the Byzantine historian recorded in great detail the way that Attila lived. His observations are recorded in a famous painting by Mor Than which is in the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest. It is possible that Honaria was impressed by Priscus descriptions of Attila’s court of that she even met him during one of the diplomatic exchanges.