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Alaric I

Alaric I (ălˈərĭk) [key], c.370–410, Visigothic king. He headed the Visigothic troops serving Emperor Theodosius I. After the emperor's death (395) the troops rebelled and chose Alaric as their leader (see Visigoths). Alaric devastated Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece. Stopped, but not defeated, by Stilicho, he retired northward, and by an agreement with the Eastern emperor, Arcadius, occupied Epirus. In 401 he invaded Italy, where after some indecisive warfare he agreed to withdraw. Stilicho persuaded (407) the Romans to buy Alaric's alliance, but shortly afterward Emperor Honorius had Stilicho executed for treason. Alaric again invaded (408) Italy and laid seige to Rome. Raising the seige after an agreement with the Roman senate, Alaric again turned on Rome (409) and forced the city to accept a puppet emperor, Attalus, whom he himself deposed the next year for disregarding his advice. After the failure of renewed negotiations with Honorius (who all the while held out at Ravenna) Alaric stormed and sacked Rome (410) and then marched south to attack Sicily and Africa. A storm destroyed his fleet, and Alaric, having turned back, died of an illness. His brother Ataulf was elected his successor. It is said that Alaric was buried with his treasures near Cosenza in the bed of the Busento River, which was temporarily diverted from its course. That the secret of his burial place might be kept, the slaves employed in the labor were killed.

See study by M. Brion (tr. 1932).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Late Roman and Byzantine: Biographies


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