Male, Deceased Person

– 0400


Who was Gainas?

Gainas was an ambitious Gothic leader who served the Eastern Roman Empire as Magister Militum during the reigns of Theodosius I and Arcadius.

Gainas began his military career as a common foot-soldier, but later commanded the barbarian contingent of Theodosius' army against the usurper Eugenius in 394. Under the command of Gainas, a man of "no lineage", was the young Alaric of the Balti dynasty. In 395, he combined his forces with those of Stilicho and Eutropius to bring about the fall of Rufinus.

In 399 he replaced the Magister Militum Leo after the latter failed to put down invasions led by Ostrogothic chieftain Tribigild, who was devastating Asia Minor. Gainas too failed to put down the invasions, although he blamed his failure on Eastern Roman Emperor Arcadius' palace chamberlain Eutropius. Gainas then proceeded to install his forces in Constantinople, where he ruled for several months. He attempted in effect to copy the success of Stilicho in the West and posed a danger to the survival of the Eastern Roman Empire. He deposed all the anti-Goth officials and had Eutropius executed, though after the intervention of St. John Chrysostom the others were spared.

While a somewhat competent military commander, the zealous Arian Gainas was patently unable to administer a city of 200-400,000 whose Graeco-Roman populace intensely resented barbarian Goths and Arian Christians. Gainas' compromises with Tribigild led to rumors that he had colluded with Tribigild, his kinsman; when he returned to Constantinople in 400, riots broke out. He attempted to evacuate his soldiers but even then the citizens of Constantinople managed to trap and kill 7,000 armed Goths, spurred to action by the Empress Aelia Eudoxia.

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on July 23, 2013


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