I. King of the Visigoths, born about 376, died in 410. Previous to his reign the Goths north of the Danube (mostly Arians), being pressed by the Huns, claimed the protection of the Roman emperors, who allowed them to cross the Danube and establish themselves on its southern side in Moesia (modern Bulgaria) as paid allies of the empire. On the death of Theodosius (395), who divided the empire between his two sons, Alaric, profiting by the weakness resulting from the division, invaded Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and ' central Greece, without meeting resistance on the part of Rufinus, the lieutenant of the emperor Ar-cadius. Athens was obliged to pay a ransom. Alaric entered the Peloponnesus, where he was encountered in Elis by a powerful army under Stilieho, the lieutenant of Honorius, emperor of the West. Stilieho tried to surround the Goths on the banks of the Peneus, but Alaric broke through his army, escaped with his plunder and prisoners to Illyricum, concluded peace with Arcadius, and was made by him the commander of the eastern division of that country in 396. From Illyricum, in 402, Alaric invaded Italy. Honorius shut himself up in Ravenna, while Alaric, marching through northern Italy toward Gaul, was met and defeated by Stilieho near Pollentia on the Tanaro (403) and obliged to retreat.
He sustained a second defeat in the same year near Verona, after which he returned to Illyricum, and concluded a treaty with Honorius, undertaking to invade the eastern empire and join his army with that of Stilieho in Epirus. This project being afterward abandoned by Honorius, Ala-ric claimed a compensation for the cost of his armaments and march, and was promised 4,000 pounds of gold. Stilieho, who made the promise in the name of the emperor, being beheaded in 408, and the promise broken, Alaric invaded Italy, invested Rome, and received as ransom from the city 5,000 pounds of gold and 30,000 pounds of silver. Further negotiations for peace having proved unsuccessful, Alaric for the second time laid siege to Rome. Hunger obliged the city to conclude an arrangement, and in compliance with the will of the conqueror the senate elected as emperor the Roman general Attalus. Shortly afterward, being dissatisfied with the incapacity of his nominee, Alaric ordered him to resign. Renewed negotiations with Honorius were unsuccessful, pending which Alaric's army was treacherously attacked near Ravenna, and he undertook the siege of Rome for the third time. On August 24, 410, he took the city by assault, and it was plundered by the Goths for three days.
After remaining there six days, Alaric marched out, intending to make the conquest of Sicily, but died soon after in Cosenza. The Goths, it is related, turned from its bed the stream of the Busento, to bury their chief there, with all his treasures; and all the prisoners who performed the work of digging were killed, that the Romans might never be able to find the place where the remains of the king were deposited.
II. King of the Visigoths, succeeded his father Euric in 484, died in 507. His dominions extended S. from the Loire and Rhone over Hispania Tarraconensis and BAetica, thus covering the S. W. third of the present territory of France and nearly the whole of Spain. He was peaceful and tolerant, and, though an Arian in religion, granted many privileges to the orthodox Catholics. Clovis, king of the Franks, made religion a pretext for invading Gothia, and defeated Alaric at Vougle, near Poitiers. Alaric fled, but was overtaken and killed. Theodorie, king of Italy, the father-in-law of the slain monarch, became regent during the minority of Alaric's son Amalaric, compelled the Franks to give up their conquests, and put down a rebellion of the supporters of Alaric's bastard son Gesalic.