"Foederatus" (pl. "foederati") is a
Latin termwhose definition and usage drifted in the time between the early Roman Republicand the end of the Western Roman Empire. Early in the history of the Roman Republic, a "Foederatus" identified one of the tribes bound by treaty("foedus"), who were neither Roman colonies nor had they been granted Roman citizenship("civitas") but were expected to provide a contingent of fighting men when trouble arose, thus were allies. The Latini tribe were considered blood allies, but the rest were federates or "socii".
During the Roman republic, the friction between these treaty obligations without the corresponding benefits of Romanity led to the Social War between Romans, with a few close allies, and the disaffected "Socii." A
lawof 90 BC ("Lex Julia") offered Roman citizenship to the federate states that accepted the terms. Not all cities were prepared to be absorbed into the Roman " res publica" (e.g. Heraclea and Naples). Other foederati lay beyond Italy: Gadesin Spain, and Massilia(Marseilles).Clarifyme|So not offered the settlement, or just turned it down?|date=March 2008
Later the sense of the term "foederati" and its usage and meaning was extended by the Roman practice of subsidizing entire
barbariantribes — which included the Attacotti, Franks, Vandals, Alansand, best known, the Visigoths— in exchange for providing soldiers to fight in the Roman armies. Alaric began his career leading a band of Gothic foederati.
The word "federations" came from the
Latinword "foedus", which indicated a solemn binding treaty of mutual assistance between Romeand another nation for perpetuity. At first, the Roman subsidy took the form of money or food, but as tax revenues dwindled in the fourth and fifth centuries, the "foederati" were billeted on local landowners, which came to be identical to being allowed to settle on Roman territory. Large local landowners living in distant border provinces (see " marches") on extensive, largely self-sufficient villas, found their loyalties to the central authority, already conflicted by other developments, further compromised in such situations. Then, as loyalties began to fractionate and become more local, the Empire began to crumble into smaller and smaller territories.
The Franks became foederati in
358, when Julian the Apostatelet them keep the areas in northern Gaul, which had been depopulated during the preceding century. Roman soldiers defended the Rhineand had major armies convert|100|mi|km|-1 south and west of the Rhine. Frankish settlers were established in the areas north and east of the Romans and helped with the Roman defense by providing intelligence and a buffer state in place. The breach of the Rhine borders in the winter of 406and 407made an end to the Roman presence at the Rhine when both the Romans and the allied Franks were defeated by an incursion of Vandalsand Alans.
367certain Gothsasked Emperor Valensto allow them to settle on the southern bank of the Danuberiver, and were accepted into the empire as "foederati". In 378 ADthe Goths then rose in rebellion and defeated the Romans in the Battle of Adrianople. The serious loss of military manpower forced the Roman Empire to rely much more on foederati thereafter.
The loyalty of the tribes and their leaders was not reliable and in
395the Visigoths, this time under the lead of Alaric, once again rose in rebellion. One of the most powerful late Roman generals, a Vandal called Stilicho, was born of parents who were from the "foederati".
By the fifth century lacking the riches of the Eastern Empire needed to pay a professional army, the Western Roman military strength was almost completely based upon "foederati" units. In
451, Attila the Hunwas defeated only with help of the "foederati" (who included the Visigoths and Alans). The "foederati" delivered the fatal blow to the dying Roman Empirein 476when their commander Odoacerdeposed the last Western Roman emperor Romulus Augustulus.
- Ammianus Marcellinus- Zozimus
* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Foederatae_Civitates.html George Long, "Foederati civitates"] (English). An essay by a 19th-century Roman law scholar.
* [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/ Harry Thurston Peck, "Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities", 1898] : Foederati
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