SIEGES OF ROME
THE Goths had scarcely gone when some other barbarians
made an invasion, and this time Florence was besieged.
The town held out bravely until Stilicho could come to
its rescue, and then the invaders were all captured,
and either slain or sold into slavery.
Shortly after this, however, Stilicho was murdered by
the soldiers whom he had so often led to victory. The
news of trouble among the Romans greatly pleased
Alaric, the King of the Goths; and, when the money
which Stilicho had promised him failed to come, he made
a second raid into Italy.
This time Alaric swept on unchecked to the very gates
of Rome, which no barbarian army had entered since the
Gauls had visited it about eight hundred years before.
The walls were very strong, and the Goths saw at once
that the city could not be taken by force; but Alaric
thought that it might surrender through famine.
A blockade was begun. The Romans suffered greatly from
hunger, and soon a pestilence ravaged the city. To
bring about the departure of the Goths, the Romans
finally offered a large bribe; but, as some of the
 not promptly paid, Alaric came back and marched into
Again promises were made, but not kept, and Alaric
returned to the city a third time, and allowed his men
to plunder as much as they pleased. Then he raided all
the southern part of Italy, and was about to cross over
to Sicily, when he was taken seriously ill and died.
Alaric's brother, Adolphus, now made a treaty with
the Romans, and married Placidia, a sister of
Honorius. He led the Goths out of Italy, across
France, and into Spain, where he founded the well-known
kingdom of the Visigoths.
When Adolphus died, his widow, Placidia, married a
noble Roman general; and their son, Valentinian III.,
succeeded his uncle Honorius on the throne of the
Western empire. During his reign there were civil
wars, and his territory was made still smaller; for
Genseric, King of the Vandals, took possession of Africa.
The Huns, in the mean while, had seized the lands once
occupied by the Goths; and they now became a united
people under their king, Attila, who has been called
the "Scourge of God." By paying a yearly tribute to
these barbarians, the Romans managed for a time to keep
them out of the empire, and induced them thus to pursue
their ravages elsewhere.
But after becoming master of most of the territory
beyond the Danube and the Rhine, Attila led his hordes
of fierce Huns and other barbarians, numbering more
than seven hundred thousand men, over the Rhine, and
into the very heart of France. There, not far from
Châlons, took place one of the fiercest and most
important battles of Europe.
 Attila was defeated with great loss by the Roman
allies; but the next year he led his army over the Alps
and down into the fertile plains of Italy. Here Pope
Leo, the bishop of Rome, met Attila and induced him to
spare Rome and leave Italy, upon condition that the
sister of Valentinian should marry him.
This marriage never took place, however, for Attila
returned home and married a Gothic princess named
Ildico. We are told that she murdered him, on her
wedding night, to avenge the death of her family, whom
Attila had slain; but some historians say that the king
died from bursting a blood vessel.