|Emperor Valens & the Barbarians
Valens tried to be a good emperor, but he inherited a great many problems. By the time he took over, Rome was just about broke. Some of Rome's wealth had been spent in warfare. Some had been spent on the development of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Much had been wasted by the outlandish behavior of some of Rome's less able rulers.
Without money to use for repairs, the famous Roman roads fell into disrepair. Without good roads, fresh supplies of men and goods did not always reach the far ends of the empire. Nor were needed goods getting back to Rome. Barbarian tribes had always raided the Roman Empire. These days, barbarian raids on the provinces were becoming more successful.
In ancient Rome, a barbarian was the name given to any people who lived outside the borders of the Roman Empire. You were also called a barbarian if you did not speak Latin.
There were five main barbarian tribes in Europe. Each wanted to conquer the famous Roman Empire. These tribes were the Huns, Franks, Vandals, Saxons, and Visigoths.
These barbarian tribes were attacking various pieces of the Western Roman Empire at the same time. Forts and strongholds along the road were destroyed. There were few cities in the outlying regions of the empire, but those that existed were attacked.
Rather than try to defend against all the barbarian tribes who had turned their eyes on Rome, Emperor Valens tried to turn one barbarian tribe against another. Since the barbarian tribes rarely got along anyway, it was a smart thing to do. Valens went one step further. He believed that if he could get some of the barbarians working for him, he might be able to restore order.
Valens allowed a fierce and battle-strong barbarian tribe, the Visigoths (Goths), to settle in the Danube region of the Western Roman Empire. He promised these settlers that Rome would help with food and shelter, provided they helped by keeping order in their section of the empire.
When Valens did not keep his promises, the Visigoths rebelled. It was the beginning of the end of the Western Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire finally fell in the year 476 CE.
When people say "Rome fell", they mean the Western Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire included the city of ancient Rome, Italy, Spain, France, Britain, and most of the North African Coast . The Western Roman Empire fell into the Dark Ages in 476 CE.
The Eastern Roman Empire, with its capital Constantinople and including Greece, Asia Minor, and the Eastern part of the North African Coast, continued for another thousand years.