Known as Arminius to the Romans, he secretly plotted against them with his tribesmen and led the Roman armies into a deadly trap in the Teutoberg Forest in the year 9 C.E. His armies could not withstand the Roman legion formation, but in the Black and Teutoberg Forests, the Romans were forced to abandon their military formations and march single file, in which guise they were easy prey for the furious Cheruscans and Alamanni. So many of the Roman soldiers were killed or captured that Varus, in shame, committed suicide by falling on his sword. Rome withdrew its forces back across the Rhine, and did not attempt any further invasions of the Teutonic territories.


The Herulian Odoacer is credited with being the barbarian who brought about the end of the Roman Empire. In 476 C.E., he forced the last of the Western emperors to abdicate. Odoacer was a rash and arrogant fellow, though, with little concern for others. It was no one’s grief when he was slain by Theoderic in 489 C.E., although the manner of his death was fairly grisly; Theoderic clove him from the shoulder down to the groin with his sword.


The Vandal Stilicho was the arch-enemy of Alaric the Goth. The barbarian governor of the northern Roman province, he and Alaric would cross forces 4 times between 392 and 402 C.E. No one understands why, in three different instances, that Stilicho did not crush Alaric when he so easily could have. Historians have speculated counter-treaties and “back-stabbing” against Rome, but no concrete evidence was ever found to support any of these theories. It seems that Stilicho only wanted to keep Alaric at bay, not to destroy him.

Perhaps he hoped to team up with him at a later time when he felt that Rome was weak. Stilicho’s most heinous attack against Alaric came on Good Friday, April 4, 402, when the Christian Goths were celebrating their mass.

The “Good Friday” massacre very nearly wiped out the Goths, but through negotiations, Alaric was able to maintain his forces. Again, Stilicho could have wiped him out, but didn’t. Stilicho was executed by the Romans on August 22, 408, for suspected treason against Rome, along with thousands of barbarians who were living peacefully in Rome. It was this last crime against the barbarian people, it is believed, that gave Alaric his needed “in” for being able to sack the city of Rome in 410.

Theoderic (Dietrich)

Theoderic the Great, ruler of the Ostrogoths, was one of the last barbarians at the fall of the Roman Empire. After Rome was utterly defeated, he established treaties with all of the other Germanic tribes, and ruled over sort of a “pax gothica” until his death during the 6th century C.E. After his death the Goths fell into squabbles and inter-tribal battles, and were eventually defeated by the Byzantine empire under Narses around 555 C.E. No more is heard about the Goths after that time; supposedly they intermingled with the resident cultures.

This site maintains a text of Theodoric’s (Theoderic’s) Letters. They show him to be a man of wisdom and fair dealing with others.


During Julius Caesar’s occupation of Gaul (now much of which is France) in the first century B.C.E., things were going fairly smoothly for the Romans until this upstart Swabian Barbarian named Ariovistus came moseying across the Rhine to see what was going on. In fury, Julius Caesar chased him and his troops back across into Germany (58 B.C.E) and proceeded to pursue the occupation of Gaul much more aggressively than before.

In anger, many of the Gallic barbarian tribes, such as the Averni, rose up in revolt against the harsh Roman treatment. A feisty young barbarian named Vercingetorix (pronounced Ver-sin-JEH-toh-ricks) was adamant that Caesar and the Romans would be driven out of Gaul. His people raised him to kingship in 52 B.C.E. Under his leadership, the Gallic tribes were very largely successful in quashing the Roman occupation, until the fateful batttle of Alesia, where Vercingetorix and his troops were forced to yield to Julius Caesar. Vercingetorix was captured as a prisoner of war, taken back to Rome by the victorius Julius Caesar, imprisoned there, and later executed by crucifixion in 45 B.C.E. Of course, Caesar himself was assassinated the next year by his own people, so “what goes around, comes around.”


Vortigern was a warlord in Britain during the 5th century C.E. By all accounts, Vortigern appeared to be a usurper and a pretender to the rule of Britain, and was shown to be a man of low character and inclinations. He achieved his position through assassination and treachery, killing even the young king, Constans, to whom he was an advisor.

Constans’ younger brother, Uther, was unknown to Vortigern and so escaped his treachery. Vortigern ruled Britain with the aid of Saxon mercenaries who kept him in power until he, too, dealt with them harshly. The Saxons eventually turned on him and Vortigern met his death in a blazing castle tower in Wales at the hands of Geoffrey of Monmouth, although some sources claim that the tower was mysteriously struck by lightning, catching it on fire. After Geoffrey’s rule of Britain, Constans’ brother, Uther Pendragon, became ruler of Britain, and Uther Pendragon was the father of the legendary King Arthur.

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