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
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
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.
were five main barbarian tribes in Europe. Each wanted to
conquer the famous Roman Empire. These
tribes were the Huns, Franks, Vandals, Saxons, and
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.