Alaric I (/ˈælərɪk/; Gothic: *Alareiks, *𐌰𐌻𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃, "ruler of all"; Latin: Alaricus; 370 (or 375) – 410 AD) was the first King of the Visigoths from 395–410, son (or paternal grandson) of chieftain Rothestes. He is best known for his sack of Rome in 410, which marked a decisive event in the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Alaric began his career under the Gothic soldier Gainas, and later joined the Roman army. He first appeared as leader of a mixed band of Goths and allied peoples, who invaded Thrace in 391 but were stopped by the half-Vandal Roman General Stilicho. In 394, he led a Gothic force of 20,000 that helped Roman Emperor Theodosius defeat the Frankish usurper Arbogast at the Battle of Frigidus. Despite sacrificing around 10,000 of his men, Alaric received little recognition from the emperor. Disappointed, he left the army, was elected reiks of the Visigoths in 395 and marched toward Constantinople until he was diverted by Roman forces. He then moved southward into Greece, where he sacked Piraeus (the port of Athens) and destroyed Corinth, Megara, Argos and Sparta. Nonetheless, the Eastern emperor Arcadius appointed Alaric magister militum ("master of the soldiers") in Illyricum. In 401 Alaric invaded Italy, but was defeated by Stilicho at Pollentia (modern Pollenza) on April 6, 402. A second invasion that same year also ended in defeat at the Battle of Verona, although he did force the Roman Senate to pay a large subsidy to the Visigoths. During Radagaisus' Italian invasion in 406, he remained idle in Illyria. In 408, Western Emperor Honorius ordered the execution of Stilicho and his family, in response to rumors that the general had made a deal with Alaric. Honorius then incited the Roman population to massacre tens of thousands of wives and children of foederati Goths serving in the Roman military. The Gothic soldiers then defected to Alaric, increasing the size of his force to around 30,000 men, and joined his march on Rome to avenge their murdered families. Moving swiftly along Roman roads, Alaric sacked the cities of Aquileia and Cremona and ravaged the lands along the Adriatic Sea. The Visigothic leader thereupon laid siege to Rome in 408, but eventually the Senate granted him a substantial subsidy. In addition, he forced the Senate to liberate all 40,000 Gothic slaves in Rome. Honorius, however, refused to appoint Alaric as the commander of the Western Roman Army, and in 409 the Visigoths again surrounded Rome. Alaric lifted his blockade after proclaiming Attalus Western Emperor. Attalus appointed him magister utriusque militiae ("master of both services"), but refused to allow him to send an army into Africa. Negotiations with Honorius broke down, after which Alaric deposed Attalus in the summer of 410 and besieged Rome for the third time. Allies within the capital opened the gates for him on August 24, and for three days his troops sacked the city. Although the Visigoths plundered Rome, they treated its inhabitants humanely and burned only a few buildings. Having abandoned a plan to occupy Sicily and North Africa after the destruction of his fleet in a storm, Alaric died as the Visigoths were marching northward.
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