THE BALTHAGOTHS (VISIGOTHS)
The Balthagoths were more closely related to the Lithuanian people,
than the Ostrogoths. Till the 4th century the majority of the Balthagoths lived together with the rest of the Goths.
But about the year 340, the Balthagoths entered the Roman service for compensation,
while the rest of them marauded through southern Europe until they established
the kingdom of Spain.
(1) Radistis (Rothestes, according to Latin authors) was the first Balthagothic chief whose name was recorded in the pages of history. For his great valor and faithfulness the Romans erected a statue in his honor at Constantinople.
There are many inhabitants in Lithuania having the names: Radis, Rudis, Rad-vila, Rud-minas, Rodelis, Radze-vicius etc., etc.
I don't know of any coins bearing the name of Radistis. The native currency of the Balthagoths was the shilling.
(2) Atganarikis (Athanareiks) became the leader of all the Balthagoths at the time when Valens was the Emperor of Rome.
The name Atganarikis, Atganareika is Lithuanian. In Prussia as well as in Lithuania, there are still some peasants with the names Atgama-tis, But-gana-tis, Is-gana-tis, Vad-gana-tis etc.
In the year 366, Valens declared war against Atganarikis under the pretext that the Balthagoths were in alliance with a certain rebel named Procopius. The war lasted till 369, and Valens was the loser.
About the year 370, Christianity was rapidly spreading amongst the Balthagoths. Atganarikis worshiped Perkunas (= Thunder god), and he harshly persecuted those Balthagoths that dared to embrace the new religion.
In the year 376, the Huns attacked the Balthagoths in the vicinity of Dniester and Pruth rivers. Being unable to resist the Hunnish horde, Atganarikis retired to the mountains of Transylvania (Caucaland). For several years nothing was heard about Atganarikis. And only in the year 380, Atganarikis again, as if resurrected, appeared near Danuvius. The whole Balthagothic nation rejoiced at this, and for the second time proclaimed him as their king. The Roman Emperor Theodosius felling that Atganarikis is powerful, wisely endeavoured to gain his friendship and invited him to Constantinople for a visit. No other man was ever entertained in the palace of the Roman emperor with such splendor as Atganarikis was.
In the month of January, A.D. 381, Atganarikis died, and he was buried at Constantinople with royal honors. In his memory a costly monument was erected.
No coins with Atganarikis' name are known. Shillings
were the currency of the Balthagoths, as well as of other Goths.
(3) PROTOGAIRAS (Frotheigairu). The name of this king is composed of two words: Frothei (= Prota in Lithuanian) means wisdom, and gairu (= gairus in Lith.) means "lofty" or "piercing". The Germans peculiarly corrupt the name of this king into "Fritigern".
Of the Lithuanian names there are still existing: Prota-pas, Prats-kunas, Gairis, Kairis, Gaire-lis, Gairuo-lis, etc.
In 376, when Atganarikis was lost in the mountains of Caucaland (in Transylvania), Protogairas became the king of the Balthagoths. That same year the Balthagothic nation migrated across Danuvius to Roman territory. The Goths were grateful to the Romans for giving a refuge to their people, but at the same time they despaired when they learned that all their children must be given up as hostages to the Romans, as a guarantee that they would cause no trouble. Besides, the Balthagoths ran short on food. Valens gave orders to sell food to the Goths until they should be able to raise their own cattle and reap their own crops. But the avaricious governors, Lupicinus and Maximus, purposely monopolized the food and were selling it at rapacious prices. The famished Goths had to give one slave for a loaf of bread, and the price of an animal was 10 pounds of silver. The Goths were compelled to eat dog meat and the flesh of animals that had died of disease. Some of them had to sell a child for a loaf of bread, because it was better for the children to go into slavery than to die from hunger. The Balthagoths suffered terribly. Protogairas did the best he could in consoling his countrymen. Alas, the tears of the innocent Balthagoths brought no good luck to the Romans.......
On one occasion, governor Lupicinus had invited Protogairas to a banquet at Marcianopolis. Only a few selected chiefs as attendants were allowed to accompany Protogairas, while the rest of the numerous Goths had to remain outside of the city walls. Some of the Goths couldn't resist their curiosity, and glanced through the gates into the city, and were surprised that the food was sold in the market cheap, while the Balthagoths were not allowed to buy. The famished ones forced their way in the city to obtain some food, but the Roman soldiers assaulted them, and, of course, several Romans were killed. The news about this incident was brought to the drunken Lupicinus. Protogairas guessed what had happened, therefore he cleverly managed to fool Lupicinus by saying that it was necessary for him to appear before the Balthagoths in order to pacify the tumult. While going out of the banquet hall, he beckoned to his companions not to remain. All of them came out of the trap safely, otherwise they would have perished there. When Protogairas reached his camp, he related the incident, and announced that the friendly terms with the Romans were at an end. The Balthagoths applauded, saying: "It is better for us to perish in the battlefield and die an honorable death, than to die slowly by famine"!
A big battle ensued near Marcianopolis. The Roman army was completely beaten by the enraged Balthagoths, and the cowardly villain Lupicinus fled for his life. To anything that the foolish Romans denied them, the Balthagoths now helped themselves. They began to plunder the Tracian provinces. Other Goths, deserting the Roman army, joined the army of Protogairas. The old slaves (the Goths), that were compelled to work in the gold mines, fled away from their cruel masters to join Protogairas and to serve the Balthagoths. They revealed to the Balthagoths where plenty of gold and food had been hidden.
There were many other battles between the Romans and the Balthagoths, and much blood had been shed. But the Balthagothic army kept growing stronger and stronger and a real danger was threatening to the Roman Empire. The Romans were sorry for their past mistakes, but now it was too late. Shortly, some Ostrogoths under the leadership of Alkcius (Alhthius) and Zebrikis (Sabreiks) joined the forces of the Balthagoths.
On the 9th day of August, A.D. 378, Emperor Valens himself, with his whole army, marched towards Hadrianopolis to attack the Balthagoths. But Protogairas by a clever stratagem completely defeated the Roman army. Two thirds of the Roman soldiers were lying dead on the battlefield. Even Emperor Valens himself perished in this battle. In what manner Valens perished, nobody knows. After a lapse of many years, a certain Roman soldier escaped from Gothic captivity, related how Valens was wounded by an arrow, and that he helped other Romans to convey Valens to a small cottage in order to attend to the Emperor's wounds. Some Goths attempted to force themselves into that cottage, but failing to burst open the strong door, set fire to the cottage. Emperor Valens and all the occupants perished in the flames and he alone succeeded in jumping out of the window. The Goths were very angry when they learned that they didn't know who was in that cottage, because they would have received much gold for capturing Valens alive.
When the Roman Senate learned what had happened at Hadrianopolis, they authorized the war minister Julius to kill all the children that were given up by the Balthagoths as hostages. Complying with the secretly given instructions, the governors of the Roman provinces induced the Gothic youths, by cunning promises, to assemble in different marketplaces, where all kinds of gifts were given to them, and on a certain day, while the youths were having a good time, all of them were mercilessly massacred. The Balthagoths avenging the blood of their children, for two years ravaged the Roman provinces of Thrace and Illyria.
In the month of January, A.D. 379, Theodosius the Great was elected Emperor of the East. He succeeded in winning the good will of the Balthagoth nation by his tact, gifts, kindness and justice. Theodosius provided the Balthagoths with large tracts of land in Thrace, he gave some corn and cattle to the settlers, allowed them to govern themselves according to their national customs and laws, to some distinguished chiefs he assigned some high offices in the state, and the noblest of the Balthagoths were admitted to the imperial court. And during his reign the Balthagoths became the most faithful allies of Rome.
Protogairas died in the year 380. There are no
coins bearing his legend, because at that time there was no need for the Balthagoths
to strike their own coins.
(4) ALKRIKIS the BALTH (Alhreiks Balths) was elected king of the Balthagoths in the year 395.
Alkrikis' name is composed of two words: Alk (= Alka in Lith.) means a sacred place, a temple; and the second part of the name is rikis, which we have discussed before.
There are very many people in Lithuania having names with the word "Alk", such as: Alk-mantas, Alk-girdas, Alk-ante, Min-alka, etc.
After Theodosius' death, his successors, Arcadius and Honorius, again devised various means of oppressing and persecuting the Balthagoths. The Balthagoths arose. Alkrikis led the Balthagothic army through Macedonia and Thessaly into Greece proper, burning down and plundering everything along the way. Alkrikis appeared before the walls of Athens. Frightened Athenians paid a heavy ransom, and Alkrikis left that city unmolested. But other Greek cities, namely Megara, Argos, Corinth and Sparta, fell into the hands of the Balthagoths, and the inhabitants were put to sword or enslaved, and their wealth was divided amongst the besiegers. Roman warriors under the leadership of their general Stilicho attempted to check Alkrikis' army, but were unsuccessful. Emperor Arcadius made peace with Alkrikis, and made Alkrikis a governor of Eastern Illyricum. In the State foundries of Illyria, for three years Alkrikis manufactured armors and weapons for his soldiers. The Romans were greatly perplexed by this, but didn't dare to signify their protest against the mighty Alkrikis. For three years Alkrikis armed and drilled his warriors, and made preparations for a great expedition.
In the fall of A.D. 400, Alkrikis entered Italy. For a year and a half the Balthagoths were marauding through Italy, meeting no resistance. But on the 19th day of March, A.D. 402, on Easter Sunday morning, Stilicho with his immense army unexpectedly attacked the Balthagoths near Pollentia, and the Balthagoths were defeated. Here even Alkrikis' wife was taken by the Romans as a prisoner of war.
In the year 404, Stilicho, knowing that there was no possibility of conquering the Balthagoths, proposed to Alkrikis to withdraw from Italy in consideration of a large amount of gold. The Balthagoths withdrew. Then Honorius and Stilicho boasted that the Balthagoths were expelled from Italy, and they celebrated their festival of "victory". An elaborate triumphal arch was erected with the following inscription:---"The Gothic nation has been crushed, never to rise again". But six years later, Alkrikis and the Balthagoths had a hearthy laugh when they captured Rome and read this foolish inscription.......
In the year 406, Alkrikis demanded a certain sum of money from the Roman Senate, as promised reward for his services. The Senators became very angry at the idea that the "barbarian" king dared to demand a tribute from "civilized" Rome. After a lengthy and hot discussion, Stilicho's arguments proving that it was dangerous for Rome to ignore the demands of Alkrikis, at last it was resolved to give to Alkrikis 4000 pounds of silver. One Senator, named Lampadius, ran out of the Senate-room and announced to the people that the Senate signed not a treaty of peace, but a contract of slavery. There was a great excitement in Rome, and the silver wasn't sent to Alkrikis. Many times Alkrikis demanded that they should remit what belongs to the Balthagoths, but the Romans only ignored all his demands.
Early in the Spring, in 409, Alkrikis lost his patience, and marched towards Rome with a large body of men. After surrounding the city, Alkrikis knew very well that soon there would be a shortage of food to a million of Roman inhabitants. And it proved to be so. Romans were dying of hunger. There was no empty space left within the city to bury the dead. Then the Roman people threatened to kill the stubborn Senators if they refused to open negotiations for peace with Alkrikis. At last the Romans sent two envoys of noble rank to Alkrikis, to bargain for the most favourable terms on which Rome could surrender. Those envoys tried to persuade Alkrikis, that it would be more prudent if he would grant to the Romans honorable terms, otherwise the whole population would rise as one body to defend themselves. And when the envoys began boasting of the enormous numbers of people they had, Alkrikis remarked: "The thicker the grass, the easier it is to mow", and burst into a loud laugh. The envoys were frightened and astonished at such behaviour. Then they asked what terms Alkrikis would propose. Alkrikis replied that he would spare the city if the Roman inhabitants would give up all their gold, all their silver, and all their foreign slaves. "Then what would be left to us?" ---- pathetically asked one of the envoys. "Your lives" --- replied Alkrikis. The envoys were afraid to say anything more; they returned to the city and reported to their fellow citizens that there was no hope of getting any mercy from the cruel Balthagoths.