The Roman empire was out of money when Valens
became emperor. So much had been wasted by previous
emperors. There was nothing left to pay Roman soldiers or even
construction crews. The Roman roads were not getting repaired and
soon the road network fell apart. Without the road network, food
and supplies as well as soldiers could not travel quickly across the
empire. The barbarians were starting to take over parts of the
Roman empire. To the Romans, anyone who was not a citizen of Rome
or who did not speak Latin was a barbarian.
Europe there were five major barbarian tribes - the Huns, Franks, Vandals,
Saxons, and Visigoths (Goths) - and all of them hated Rome. Each of
the barbarian tribes wanted to destroy Rome. The
Barbarians were destroying Roman towns and cities in the outer regions
of the empire. The only reason that they had not destroyed
Rome yet was they spent almost as much time fighting each other as they
Valens had a brilliant idea. He would ally with one of the
Barbarian tribes against the others. He promised the Visigoth
(Goths) land, slaves and other payment if they would attack the other
barbarians and keep order along the Danube River. This might have
worked. It had worked in other parts of the Roman empire.
But there was a big problem with the idea. Rome was broke.
There was nothing to pay the Visigoths with.