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Updated on December 1, 2016

Alaric was the King of the Visigoths and the first Germanic leader to capture Rome. Born Peuce, an island at the mouth of the Danube River, about 370 A.D. Died Cosentia (now Cosenza), Italy, 410 A.D. After serving as an officer in the Roman army, Alaric invaded Greece in 395 A.D., but the following year he was driven out by the Roman general Flavius Stilicho. In 398 A.D., Alaric was chosen to be King of the Visigoths. During these years he shifted his allegiance between the emperors of the East and West. For a time he was governor of Illyricum, a Roman province north of Greece. About 400 A.D., Alaric invaded Italy. He conquered and looted cities in the north, but in 403 A.D., Stilicho again drove him back. When the Western emperor, Honorius, executed Stilicho in 408 A.D. on a charge of treason, Alaric marched to Rome and besieged the city. The Romans paid him a heavy ransom to lift the siege and return north. Alaric then negotiated with Honorius, demanding land for the Visigoths and the post of commander in chief of the Roman army for himself. When the negotiations failed, Alaric again attacked Rome, and the city fell in 410 A.D. Alaric sacked Rome, but he spared its churches and all the people who had sought refuge within the churches.


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