Athanaric, king of the Visigoths

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Spanish: Atanarico, Latin: Athanaricus, German: Athanarich
Also Known As: "Atanarico I (Dinastía Baltinga)", "Athanaric", "König der Westgoten"
Birthplace: Dacia [Romania, Moldova, parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Ukraine]
Death: January 26, 381 (58-67)
Constantinople, Byzantium, Byzantine Empire [Istanbul, Mamara, Turkey]
Occupation: King of the Visigoths 354-381, King of the Visigoths, de Wisigothie (Balthes), , rechter, koning der Visigoten, Roi d'Uppsal, de Cologne, Comte des Cornouailles, de Tours, Roi de Navarre
Managed by: Leonor Caldas Pereira
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About Athanaric, king of the Visigoths

Athanaric was succeeded by Alaric but there is no source which posits a familial relationship. Herwig Wolfram, in his book "the History of the Goths" suggests that Alaric was the son of Alaviv.

Athanaric, king of the Visigoths


Athanaric or Atanaric[1] (Latin: Athanaricus; died 381) was king of several branches of the Thervingian Goths (Latin: Thervingi) for at least two decades in the 4th century. Throughout his reign, Athanaric was faced with invasions by the Roman Empire, the Huns and a civil war with Christian rebels. He is considered the first king of the Visigoths, who later settled in Iberia, where they founded the Visigothic Kingdom.

In 381, Athanaric unexpectedly came to Constantinople. According to Jordanes, he negotiated a peace with the new emperor Theodosius, that made some Thervingi foederati, or official allies of Rome, allowed to settle on Roman soil as a state within a state.[6] Orosius (Historiae adversum paganos 7, 34) and Zosimus (New History 4, 34, 3-5) affirm this, but another source, Ammianus Marcellinus (Res gestae 27, 5, 10) tells us an entirely different story. According to him, Athanaric was banished by his fellow tribesmen and forced to seek asylum on the Roman territory. Cf. Themistius (oratio 15, 190-1), who likewise describes Athanaric as a supplicant and a refugee.
A peace and a treaty with the Thervingi (or Visigoths), who still fought the Romans in Thrace, was concluded in 382 and it lasted until the death of Theodosius of Constantinople, in 395.

He was the most powerful of the three "judges" leading the three groups of Visigoths at the end of their time in Dacia. He fiercely persecuted the christians in Dacia (364-376). Because of that he engaged in a civil war against his rival "judge" Fritigern. Eventually he was defeated by the huns after which he fled to to Caucaland in the Carpathian mountains. In 381 he was received in Constantinople by the roman emperor Theodosius I with royal honours. However, he died two weeks later. Meaning of Athanaric: "powerful ruler".

Foundation for Medieval Genealogy-

Chapter 1. KINGS of the VISIGOTHS in TOULOUSE 418-531

The Goths originally lived north of the Danube. According to their legend, they migrated to the Black Sea area from the island of Scandza in the Baltic Sea[1]. They separated into two tribal groups, the Visigoths to the west and the Ostrogoths to the east. Under pressure from the Huns, they sought permission from the Roman Emperor Valens to move into the Roman empire to the south of the river Danube in 376. The inevitable conflicts culminated in 378, when the Goths defeated the Romans at Adrianople and killed the emperor. Following this, the Visigoths drifted westwards through the Balkans and Italy, finally settling in south-west France around Toulouse[2]. The Chronicon of Bishop Idatius records that the Goths entered Narbonne in 413[3]. Visigothic expansion into Spain was slow, starting with the small army led by Ataulf in 415. The main body of Visigoths arrived in Spain during the reign of Alaric II in the late fifth century, possibly encouraged by increased attacks by the Franks on Visigothic lands in France. The Visigoths were expelled from France in 531, and established their new capital at Barcelona. For later Visigoth kings, see the document SPAIN: VANDALS, SUEVI & VISIGOTHS.

1. ATHANARIC (-Constantinople 381). The Chronica Regum Visigotthorum names “Atthanaricus” as first king of the Goths, adding that he reigned for 13 years[4]. The Chronicon of Bishop Idatius records that “Athanaricus rex Gothorum” died at Constantinople under Emperor Theodosius in 381, but that the Goths broke the peace in 382[5]. The Chronicon Albeldense names “Atanaricus” as first king of the Goths, that he was an Arian, ruled for 13 years, that the Goths were expelled “ab Ugnis…de terra propria” under his rule, and that he died at Constantinople under Emperor Theodosius[6].


Atanarico I ( – 381), hijo de Aorico, fue el caudillo de los tervingios y otras tribus visigodas, durante dos décadas al menos, y rey indiscutible de los visigodos durante el último año de su vida. Rival de Fritigerno, otro caudillo de los visigodos, Atanarico aparece por primera vez en la Historia en 369, cuando se enfrentó a Valente, emperador de Oriente, consiguiendo al final firmar con éste un tratado de paz favorable a su pueblo.

El significado de Athanareikis es Atha=noble (or more correct = "of the same family" = Ätt, Atha-as find in fATHEr and brAther", or patéras adelfós, or patrem and fratrem) y Reiks=gobernante, rey, sin embargo fue elegido Iudex Maximus, es decir rey de todos los visigodos.

Durante su reinado, los visigodos se enfrentaron por cuestiones religiosas. Muchos de ellos se habían convertido al arrianismo durante los siglos III y IV, pero Atanarico continuó manteniendo la antigua religión pagana de los germanos. Fritigerno, su rival, era arriano y consiguió el apoyo de Valente, que compartía sus creencias.

En 376, Valente permitió a los seguidores de Fritigerno cruzar el Danubio para instalarse en suelo romano con el fin de frenar a los hunos, que habían vencido recientemente a los ostrogodos y estaban presionando a los visigodos para que abandonaran la Dacia. Los seguidores de Atanarico fueron abandonados a su suerte, pero muchos consiguieron cruzar el río por sus propios medios.

Después de su gran victoria frente a los romanos en la batalla de Adrianópolis en 378, Fritigerno lideró a la mayoría de los visigodos, pero al morir un año más tarde, Atanarico se convirtió en rey de toda la nación visigoda.

Atanarico fue el primer rey extranjero que visitó la nueva capital de Constantinopla, poco antes de morir en 381. Negoció un tratado con el nuevo emperador, Teodosio I, que convirtió a los visigodos en foederati, oficialmente aliados de Roma, lo cual les permitió establecerse en territorio romano. Aunque Atanarico murió unas semanas después, el tratado fue respetado hasta la muerte de Teodosio I en 395.

Athanaric and Valens on the Danube, Eduard Bendemann, 1860

Source: < Wikimedia commons > Woodcut, after a drawing. unknown artist, c. 1860.


  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Athanaric," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, < link > (accessed April 15, 2024). cites
    1. Maurizio Lupoi (18 January 2007). The Origins of the European Legal Order. Cambridge University Press. pp. 47–. ISBN 978-0-521-03295-7. Retrieved 8 December 2012. < GoogleBooks >
    2. History of the Goths. University California Press. 13 February 1990. ISBN 9780520069831. Retrieved 5 April 2012. < GoogleBooks >
    3. Socrates Scholasticus, Church History, book 4, chapter 33.
    4. Sozomen, Church History, book 6, chapter 37.
    5. Zosimus, Historia Nova, book 4.
    6. Jordanes, Getica 142-145.
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Athanaric, king of the Visigoths's Timeline

Dacia [Romania, Moldova, parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Ukraine]
January 26, 381
Age 63
Constantinople, Byzantium, Byzantine Empire [Istanbul, Mamara, Turkey]