Author Topic: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD  (Read 30868 times)

aligern

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2012, 09:15:36 AM »
I had a look Jim and my suggestion is that you split it into 'the campaign of Carrhae ' and 'the battle of Carrhae'  Much of the numbers and Parthian army composition can be put in 'campaign'

Patrick is being a bit scary with 50,000 characters. I got it down to 19,000 without too drastic a prune.
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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #31 on: June 09, 2012, 10:56:49 AM »
Yes, sorry about that - I was word counting a document that as I subsequently realised already had another battle on it!  Expect c.30,000 characters in Plutarch's account, less Roy's pruning.

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2012, 08:15:48 PM »
Right, back to the Catalaunian Fields:

Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, II.7:
And Attila king of the Huns went forth from Metz and when he had crushed many cities of the Gauls he attacked Orleans and strove to take it by the mighty hammering of battering rams. Now at that time the most blessed Annianus was bishop in the city just mentioned, a man of unequaled wisdom and praiseworthy holiness, whose miracles are faithfully remembered among us. And when the people, on being shut in, cried to their bishop, and asked what they were to do, trusting in God he advised all to prostrate themselves in prayer, and with tears to implore the ever present aid of God in their necessities. Then when they prayed as he had directed, the bishop said: "Look from the wall of the city to sec whether God's mercy yet comes to your aid." For he hoped that by God's mercy Ætius was coming, to whom he had recourse before at Arles when he was anxious about the future. But when they looked from the wall, they saw no one. And he said: "Pray faithfully, for God will free you this day." When they had prayed he said: "Look again." And when they looked they saw no one to bring aid. He said to them a third time: "If you pray faithfully, God comes swiftly." And they besought God's mercy with weeping and loud cries. When this prayer also was finished they looked from the wall a third time at the old man's command, and saw afar off a cloud as it were arising from the earth. When they reported this the bishop said: "It is the aid of the Lord." Meanwhile, when the walls were now trembling from the hammering of the rams and were just about to fall, behold, Ætius came, and Theodore, king of the Goths and Thorismodus his son hastened to the city with their armies, and drove the enemy forth and defeated him. And so the city was freed by the intercession of the blessed bishop, and they put Attila to flight. And he went to the plain of Moirey and got ready for battle. And hearing this, they made manful preparations to meet him....

Ætius with the Goths and Franks fought against Attila. And the latter saw that his army was being destroyed, and escaped by flight. And Theodore, king of the Goths, was slain in the battle. Now let no one doubt that the army of Huns was put to flight by the intercession of the bishop mentioned above. And so Ætius the patrician, along with Thorismodus, won the victory and destroyed the enemy. And when the battle was finished, Ætius said : to Thorismodus: "Make haste and return swiftly to your native land, for fear you lose your father's kingdom because of your brother." The latter, on hearing this, departed speedily with the intention of anticipating his brother, and seizing his father's throne first. At the same time Ætius by a stratagem caused the king of the Franks to flee. When they had gone, Ætius took the spoils of the battle and returned victoriously to his country with much booty. And Attila retreated with a few men. Not long after Aquileia was captured by the Huns and burned and altogether destroyed. Italy was overrun and plundered. Thorismodus, whom we have mentioned above, overcame the Alans in battle, and was himself defeated later on by his brothers, after many quarrels and battles, and put to death.
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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2012, 11:43:31 PM »
Hydatius, Chronicon (Trans. Burgess, The Chronicle of Hydatius and the Consularia Constantinopolitana):
The tribe of the Huns broke the peace treaty,pillaged the province of Gaul, and sacked a vast number of cities. In the Catalaunian Plains, not far from the city of Mettis, which they had sacked, the Huns were defeated and slaughtered with divine assistance, fighting in open battle against the dux Aetius and King Theoderic, who were joined in peaceful alliance. It was the darkness of night which broke off the fighting. King Theoderic died here after being thrown to the ground. Almost 300,000 men are said to have fallen in this battle.
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aligern

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #34 on: June 26, 2012, 11:47:52 AM »
Interesting how by Gregory of Tours time the Franks, who in Jordanes have a bit part in a fracas with the Gepids the night before, have moved up to a starring role, being mentioned alongside the Romans and Goths.

Jordanes , of course, is going to enlarge the Gothic contribution, Gregory to make sure his masters are mentioned.
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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #35 on: June 26, 2012, 11:56:03 AM »
Interesting how by Gregory of Tours time the Franks, who in Jordanes have a bit part in a fracas with the Gepids the night before, have moved up to a starring role, being mentioned alongside the Romans and Goths.

Jordanes , of course, is going to enlarge the Gothic contribution, Gregory to make sure his masters are mentioned.

The same with Hydatius, who is of course a Spaniard writing under Visigoth kings - so all he mentions are the Visigoths and the Romans.

I believe one of Sidonius' poems talks about the battle, but I haven't found a translation. Maybe I'll buy the Loeb - it's not onte of the ones available online  :(
cheers,
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aligern

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #36 on: June 26, 2012, 03:22:12 PM »
Its Sidonius Panegyric on Avitus ch 7 329ff
When suddenly the barbarian world rent by a mighty upheaval poured the whole north into Gaul. After the warlike Rugian comes the fierce Gepid with the Gelonian closely;the Burgundian urges on the Scirian;forward rush the Hun, the Bellonotian, the Neurian, the Bastarnian, the Thuringian , the Bructeran and the Frankhe whose land is washed by the sedgy waters of the Neckar. Straightaway falls the Hercynian forest, hewn to make boats,and overlays the Rhinewith a network of its timber; and now Attila with his fearsome squadrons has spread himself in raids upon the plains of the belgian. Aetius had scarce left the Alps, leading a thin, mager force of auxiliaries without legionaries, vainly with ill starred confidence expecting the Gothic host would join his camp. But tidings came that struck the leader with dismay; in their own land were the Goths awaiting the Hun, a foe they now almost despised. Perplexed he turned over every pal, and his mind was beset with surging cares. At length was formed the fixed resolve to make appeal to a man of high estate; and before an assembly of the nobles he thus began to plead; ' Avitus, saviour of the world to whom it is no new glory to be besought by Aetius,thou didst wish it and the enemy no longer does harm; thou wishes it an, and he does good (referring to an earlier situation in which Avitus had  prevented a Gothic conquest of Roman lands in the Province.) All those thousands thou dost keep in bounds by thy nod thine influence alone is a barrier-wall to the Gothic people; ever hostile to us, they grant peace to thee.  Go, display the victorious eagles; bring it to pass, O noble hero, that the Huns,whose flight aforetime shook us, shall by a second defeat be made to do me service . (This is a reference to a previous defeat of Huns under the Roman general Litorius by the Visigoths).  Thus he spake and Avitus consenting changed his prayer into hope.  Straightway he flies thence and rouses up the Gothic fury that was his willing slave. Rushing to enrol their names the skin clad warriors began to march behind the Roman trumpets ; those barbarians feared the name of pay-docked soldiers, dreading the disgrace, not the loss. These men Avitus swept off to war, Avitus even thus early the world's hope, though now a plain citizen.
 Book VIII xv 1  (To Prosperus)
the story of the war with Attila, which included , of course, the investment and attack upon Orleans, when the city was invaded but never plundered and the far famed prophesy of the priest who won the ear of heaven (i.e prophesied that the city would be relieved). Sidonius apologises for never having published or indeed completed this history.
 S
idonius panegyric on Avitus is, of course, mainly centred on Avitus. So what we get is a description of how Avitus saves the day by recruiting the Goths to serve with Aetius against Attila rather than awaiting him in Aquitania.
Skin clad barbarians means, I suggest , that the Goths wore leather as opposed to Roman cloth, but it is a tops for barbarian dress.
The items in parentheses are my gloss.

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Duncan Head

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2012, 10:52:27 PM »
Thanks, Roy.
Aetius had scarce left the Alps, leading a thin, meager force of auxiliaries without legionaries

Incidentally, Sidonius' Latin is vix liquerat Alpes Aetius, tenue et rarum sine milite ducens robur in auxiliis; which leaves me wondering if he did mean us to interpret "sine milite" as "without legionaries", or is he perhaps getting at a force of tribal "auxiliaries" without "regular Roman soldiers"?
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aligern

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #38 on: June 27, 2012, 09:08:56 AM »
Very interesting Duncan, because that would imply a rather greater decline in 'regular' Roman trios by 450 than is generally assumed. Not impossible that  Aetius could have left regular Romans behind to garrison Italy, taking his barbarian allies to Gaul because they could be lost without much consequence.  By the time of the Odovakrian revolt in 476 there are still , in Italy, troops Roman enough to be  a counterpoint to the barbarians recruited since the Gothic defeat of the Scirian confederacy. However, those Romans are not enough to face down the recently arrived barbarians. The Italian army is unlikely to have been huge  because the economics of the peninsula had been transformed negatively following the Vandal conquest of Africa, so if an army  has , by 476, significantly less than half of its force as Romans, it might well thus have only a small mobile Roman contingent in 452 and that could have been necessary for protecting the emperor and a last ditch stand if Attila won.

Have a look at the army that Majorian takes to Spain, it is in Sidonius. That is a string of barbarian names, again that would reinforce your suggestion as regards Aetius.

The point that you make is crucial for reconstruction, because it would ;
a) remove the block of legionaries and Palatine auxilia that Aetius tends to be given.
b) make me at least think it even more likely that this is a cavalry battle, that Aetius leaves garrisons in place and takes mounted barbarians with him.

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #39 on: June 27, 2012, 09:47:12 AM »
I did wonder if Sidonius was classicising and all 'Romans' were legions and all 'barbarians' were auxiliaries

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Duncan Head

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #40 on: June 27, 2012, 12:26:52 PM »
The main argument for some sort of Romans in the "Roman" army, as it were, is probably Attila's speech in Jordanes:

You know how slight a matter the Roman attack is. While they are still gathering in order and forming in one line with locked shields, they are checked, I will not say by the first wound, but even by the dust of battle.

J at least seems to think that Aetius had some sort of infantry who would form a battle-line of locked shields, testudo even - "dum in ordine coeunt et acies testudineque conectunt".
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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #41 on: June 27, 2012, 12:41:45 PM »
Could 'Germanic auxilia' fight with locked shields? I wouldn't have thought it would be something restricted to long service 'Roman' regulars

But I do agree that it is good support for there being some infantry in the 'Roman' contingent

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aligern

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 ADWw
« Reply #42 on: June 27, 2012, 11:09:58 PM »
Well I'd say that that was likely example of Jordanes classicising, which he often does.
Roy

However, we must not be too harsh on him because without him we would have no detail on this battle. If his source is, as claimed, Cassiodorus, his report of the Roman side is likely to be more accurate  than what is attributed to barbarian leaders.

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2012, 09:12:32 AM »
Could 'Germanic auxilia' fight with locked shields? I wouldn't have thought it would be something restricted to long service 'Roman' regulars

Jim

Remember that early medieval authors used the word testudo to mean the shieldwall of people like the Saxons, so it is not impossible.  I wouldn't use this argument for it meaning Germans but I don't think you can count it against either.

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #44 on: June 28, 2012, 09:18:25 AM »
My gut feeling is that it is reasonable evidence for infantry  :)

Much more than that I suspect we cannot really be sure of, but the bit about leaving the legions and taking auxiliaries makes me wonder if the infantry might be best represented as some sort of 'Auxilia'. The DBMM lists have the line

Rugians, Turcilingi and similar foederate foot - all Irr Bd (I) @ 4AP or all Irr Ax (S)

I wonder if it is this sort of infantry we're looking at. They might even cross the line into 'Regular'

Jim
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