Saturday, October 29, 2011

Christ and Goths before Wulfila - Isidorus Hispanlensis


Saint Isidore of Seville (Spanish: San Isidro or San Isidoro de Sevilla, Latin: Isidorus Hispalensis) (c. 560 – 4 April 636) served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien" ("the last scholar of the ancient world"). Indeed, all the later medieval history-writing of Hispania (modern Spain and Portugal) was based on his histories.

The Historia (de regibus) Gothorum, (Vandalorum et Suevorum) ("History [of the Kings] of the Goths[, Vandals and Suevi]") is a Latin history of the Goths from 265 to 624, written by Isidore of Seville. It is a condensed account and, due to its diverse sources, somewhat inconsistent. The history of the Vandals is appended after that of the Goths, followed by a separate history of the Suevi.

Isidore begins his history with a prologue, "Laus Spaniae", praising the virtues of Spain. It is here that he invents the phrase mater Spania (mother Spain). The rest of the work elaborates and defends the Gothic identity of a unified Spain. Isidore uses the Spanish era for dating throughout. The main source for his early history was Jerome's continuation of Eusebius to the year 378...

Isidore, Archbishop of Seville and Doctor of the Church, was one of the most significant figures of Visigothic Spain, exerting a tremendous influence in his own time (through his vigorous participation in the various synods of the early seventh century) as well as on education throughout the Middle Ages (through his extensive writings). His vast learning and debt to the Latin classics has led him to be considered “the last scholar of the ancient world.” One of the two main historical works of Isidore (the other being the Chronica maiora), the Historia de regibus Gothorum, Vandalorum, et Suevorum is primarily a chronologically-arranged history of the West Goths from their descent from the Alps in 256 CE, replete with praise for the land of Spain and the Gothic heritage found there. Although it is a compendium building on other accounts, the Historia itself is regarded as an authoritative history of the Goths in the West. Isidore also appends brief histories of the Vandals and Suevi to the main text on the Goths.
Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

Historia Gothorum
Gothic Arianism was, of course, a major issue for Isidor of Seville as the fierce battles between Catholic and Arian Christianity had culminated at his time in the Third Council of Toledo in 589.

Historia Gothorum does not tell us much about the conversion of the Gothic tribes. Isidor gives short paragraphs about various Roman Emperors and their relations with the Goths. The paragraph for events in the third century A.D. follows directly after the description of the time of Julius Caesar and general Pompeius. It tells in general terms how the tribes arrived from the Alps spreading to Greece, Macedonia and Asia Minor.

Valerian the Elder was emperor of Rome 253 to 260 and was taken prisoner by Sassanid Persians. He ruled together with his son, Gallienus.

4 Aera CCXCIV. Anno imperii Valeriani et Gallieni primo, Gothi, descensis montibus Alpibus, quibus inhabitabant, Graeciam, Macedoniam, Pontum, Asiam atque Illyricum vastaverunt. Ex quibus Illyricum et Macedoniam 15 ferme annis tenuerunt. Deinde a Claudio Imperatore superati sedes proprias repetunt. Romani autem Claudium Augustum pro eo quod tam fortissimam gentem a finibus reipublicae removisset, insigni gloria honorantes, in foro illi aureum clypeum, in capitolio auream statuam collocaverunt.
(Historia Gothorum 4)

Isidore of Seville writes about the period of Constantine (HG 5) and then mentions for the first time Christianity in connection with the Goths during the reign of Valentinian (364-375).

6 Aera CDVII, anno V imperii Valentis, primus Gothorum gentis administrationem suscepit Athanaricus, regnans annos XIII, qui, persecutione crudelissima adversus fidem commota, voluit se exercere contra Gothos, qui in gente sua Christiam habebantur, ex quibus plurimos, qui Idolis immolare non acquieverunt, martyres fecit; reliquos autem multis persecutionibus affectos, dum pro multitudine horreret interficere, dedit licentiam, imo magis coegit de regno suo exire, atque in Romani soli migrare provincias.

7 Aera CDXV, anno XIII imperii Valentis, Gothi in Istrum adversus semetipsos in Athanarico et Fridigerno divisi sunt, alternis sese caedibus depopulantes. Sed Athanaricus Fridigernum Valentis imperatoris suffragio superat. Hujus rei gratia legatos cum muneribus ad eumdem imperatorem mittit, et doctores propter suscipiendam Christianae fidei regulam poscit. Valens autem a veritate catholicae fidei devius, et Arianae haeresis perversitate detentus, missis haereticis sacerdotibus, Gothos persuasione nefanda sui erroris dogmati aggregavit, et in tam praeclaram gentem virus pestiferum semine pernicioso transfudit, sicque errorem quem recens credulitas ebibit, tenuit, diuque servavit.
(Historia Gothorum 6, 7)

Again - no fish from this net!

None of the three principal sources about the early history of Goths, Procopius of Caesaria, Jordanes and Isidor of Seville, provides us information about the conversion of Goths to Christianity or how they adopted Arian Christianity before the times of bishop Wulfila.

Christ and Goths before Wulfila - Jordanes


The second important source of earlier history of Goths is Getica written by Jordanes. The book is online in original Latin and in English translation by Charles C. Mierow.

Quoted from Wikipedia:
Former notarius to a Gothic magister militum Gunthigis, Jordanes would have been in a position to know traditions concerning the Gothic peoples without necessarily relying on anyone else. However, there is no evidence for this in the text, and some of the instances where the work refers to carmina prisca can be shown to depend on classical authors.
De origine actibusque Getarum (The Origin and Deeds of the Getae/Goths, or the Getica, written in Late Latin by Jordanes (or Jornandes) in 551, claims to be a summary of a voluminous account by Cassiodorus of the origin and history of the Gothic people, which may have had the title "Origo Gothica" and which is now lost.

[ Flavius Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus, was a Roman statesman and writer, serving in the administration of Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths. Senator was part of his surname, not his rank.]

However, we cannot assess the extent to which Jordanes actually used the work of Cassiodorus (see the discussion below on the sources also used by Jordanes). It is significant as the only remaining contemporaneous resource, which gives the full story of the origin and history of the Goths. Another aspect of this work is its information about the early history and the customs of Slavs.
The Getica begins with a geography/ethnography of the North, especially of Scandza (16-24). He lets the history of the Goths commence with the emigration of Berig with three ships from Scandza to Gothiscandza (25, 94), in a distant past.

In the pen of Jordanes (or Cassiodorus), Herodotus' Getian demi-god Zalmoxis becomes a king of the Goths (39). Jordanes tells how the Goths sacked "Troy and Ilium" just after they had recovered somewhat from the war with Agamemnon (108). They are also said to have encountered the Egyptian pharaoh Vesosis (47).

The less fictional part of Jordanes' work begins when the Goths encounter Roman military forces in the 3rd century AD. The work concludes with the defeat of the Goths by the Byzantine general Belisarius. Jordanes concludes the work by stating that he writes to honour those who were victorious over the Goths after a history of 2030 years.

Invasion of Moesia - Jordanes Getica XVIII
(101) After his death, Cniva divided the army into two parts and sent some to waste Moesia, knowing that it was undefended through the neglect of the emperors. He himself with seventy thousand men hastened to Euscia, that is, Novae.

When driven from this place by the general Gallus, he approached Nicopolis, a very famous town situated near the Iatrus river. This city Trajan built when he conquered the Sarmatians and named it the City of Victory. When the Emperor Decius drew near, Cniva at last withdrew to the regions of Haemus, which were not far distant. Thence he hastened to Philippopolis, with his forces in good array.

(102) When the Emperor Decius learned of his departure, he was eager to bring relief to his own city and, crossing Mount Haemus, came to Beroa. While he was resting his horses and his weary army in that place, all at once Cniva and his Goths fell upon him like a thunderbolt. He cut the Roman army to pieces and drove the Emperor, with a few who had succeeded in escaping, across the Alps again to Euscia in Moesia, where Gallus was then stationed with a large force of soldiers as guardian of the frontier. Collecting an army from this region as well as from Oescus, he prepared for the conflict of the coming war.

(103) But Cniva took Philippopolis after a long siege and then, laden with spoil, allied himself to Priscus, the commander in the city, to fight against Decius. In the battle that followed they quickly pierced the son of Decius with an arrow and cruelly slew him. The father saw this, and although he is said to have exclaimed, to cheer the hearts of his soldiers: "Let no one mourn; the death of one soldier is not a great loss to the republic", he was yet unable to endure it, because of his love for his son. So he rode against the foe, demanding either death or vengeance, and when he came to Abrittus, a city of Moesia, he was himself cut off by the Goths and slain, thus making an end of his dominion and of his life. This place is to-day called the Altar of Decius, because he there offered strange sacrifices to idols before the battle.
Getica XVIII

Invasion of Asia Minor - Jordanes Getica XX
(107) While he was given over to luxurious living of every sort, Respa, Veduc and Thuruar, leaders of the Goths, took ship and sailed across the strait of the Hellespont to Asia. There they laid waste many populous cities and set fire to the renowned temple of Diana at Ephesus, which, as we said before, the Amazons built. Being driven from the neighborhood of Bithynia, they destroyed Chalcedon, which Cornelius Avitus afterwards restored to some extent. Yet even to-day, though it is happily situated near the royal city, it still shows some traces of its ruin as a witness to posterity.

(108) After their success, the Goths recrossed the strait of the Hellespont, laden with booty and spoil, and returned along the same route by which they had entered the lands of Asia, sacking Troy and Ilium on the way. These cities, which had scarce recovered a little from the famous war with Agamemnon, were thus destroyed anew by the hostile sword. After the Goths had thus devastated Asia, Thrace next felt their ferocity. For they went thither and presently attacked Anchiali, a city at the foot of Haemus and not far from the sea. Sardanapalus, king of the Parthians, had built this city long ago between an inlet of the sea and the base of Haemus.

(109) There they are said to have stayed for many days, enjoying the baths of the hot springs which are situated about twelve miles from the city of Anchiali. There they gush from the depths of their fiery source, and among the innumerable hot springs of the world they are esteemed as specially famous and efficacious for their healing virtues.
Getica XX

In the following books of Getica Jordanes/Cassiodorus continue to describe the tribal leaders and the  troubles with the Romans and other people in the turn of the 4th century.

In this source I do not find any mention of captive Christian women or men or children taken from Moesia or Asia Minor to Gothic homeland across Danube. Of course, we can assume that the rich loot included also people and not only gold and silver and other valuables.

There is also no reference to their religion.

Christ and Goths before Wulfila - Procopius of Caesarea

Byzantine sources about the early history of Christ and the Goths (Geta, Gothorum) are rare. These three historians are mentioned as the best witnesses

Procopius of Cæsarea (Historia, IV.-VIII., de Bello Italico adversus Gothos gesto)
Jornandes (de Getarum [Gothorum] origine et rebus gestis)
Isidore Hispalensis (Historia Gothorum)

Procopius of Caesarea

Procopius of Caesarea wrote extensively about Goths - but he concentrated on the events during the reign of Justinian.

Procopius was born in Caesarea in Palestine late in the fifth century and died not earlier than AD 562. He is known as one of the greatest later Greek historians. He became a lawyer, and in AD 527 he was made legal adviser and secretary of Belisarius, commander against the Persians , and went with Belisarius again in AD 533 against the Vandals, and in AD 535 against the Ostrogoths. After AD 541, or AD 540, Procopius returned to Constantinople. He might have attended Belisarius again when Belisarius and then Narses campaigned against Tutila in Italy.

His History Of The Wars in 8 books recounts the Persian Wars of emperors Justinus and Justinian down to AD 550 (2 books); the Vandalic War and after events in Africa AD532-546 (2 books); the Gothic War against the Ostrogoths in Sicily and Italy AD 536-552 (3 books); and a sketch of events to AD 554 (1book). The whole consists mostly of military history, with a lot of information about people and places also, and about special events. Procopius was a diligent, careful, judicious narrator of the facts and developments and shows good powers of description. He is just to the Empire's enemies and boldly criticizes Justinian. Procopius's education included all the greatest of the Greek historians and geographers, as well as the poets and the orators. An interesting aspect of Procopius is his personal as well as his official familiarity with the people, the places, and the events of which he writes. His account of "Justinian's Buildings" (peri ktismaton) was completed in A.D. 558 or 559. He is thought to have written it either by Imperial command or to deflect suspicions of disaffection.

Procopius writes about the early history of Goths in his History of Wars that consists of eight books. They are introduced in Book III in the following way:

Now while Honorius was holding the imperial power in the West, barbarians took possession of his land; and I shall tell who they were and in what manner they did so. There were many Gothic nations in earlier times, just as also at the present, but the greatest and most important of all are the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, and Gepaedes. In ancient times, however, they were named Sauromatae and Melanchlaeni and there were some too who called these nations Getic.

All these, while they are distinguished from one another by their names, as has been said, do not differ in anything else at all. For they all have white bodies and fair hair, and are tall and handsome to look upon, and they use the same laws and practise a common religion. For they are all of the Arian faith, and have one language called Gothic; and, as it seems to me, they all came originally from one tribe, and were distinguished later by the names of those who led each group.

This people used to dwell above the Ister River from of old. Later on the Gepaedes got possession of the country about Singidunum and Sirmium, on both sides of the Ister River, where they have remained settled even down to my time.

Procopius of Caesarea then goes on to describe the Visigoths. The events he describes in more detail  take place over hundred years later than the early history of Goths we are hunting: Flavius Honorius Augustus was Emperor of Western Rome from 395 to 423 A.D.

But the Visigoths, separating from the others, removed from there and at first entered into an alliance with the Emperor Arcadius, but at a later time (for faith with the Romans cannot dwell in barbarians), under the leadership of Alaric, they became hostile to both emperors, and, beginning with Thrace, treated all Europe as an enemy's land.

Now the Emperor Honorius had before this time been sitting in Rome, with never a thought of war in his mind, but glad, I think, if men allowed him to remain quiet in his palace. But when word was brought that the barbarians with a great army were not far off, but somewhere among the Taulantii, he abandoned the palace and fled in disorderly fashion to Ravenna, a strong city lying just about at the end of the Ionian Gulf, while some say that he brought in the barbarians himself, because an uprising had been started against him among his subjects; but this does not seem to me trustworthy, as far, at least, as one can judge of the character of the man.

And the barbarians, finding that they had no hostile force to encounter them, became the most cruel of all men. For they destroyed all the cities which they captured, especially those south of the Ionian Gulf, so completely that nothing has been left to my time to know them by, unless, indeed, it might be one tower or one gate or some such thing which chanced to remain. And they killed all the people, as many as came in their way, both old and young alike, sparing neither women nor children. Wherefore even up to the present time Italy is sparsely populated. They also gathered as plunder all the money out of all Europe, and, most important of all, they left in Rome nothing whatever of public or private wealth when they moved on to Gaul. But I shall now tell how Alaric captured Rome.
Procopius History of the Wars Book III.ii

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Christ and Goths before Wulfila

Map of modern Ukraina

Mark Furnival writes about the great division of the Gothic tribes at this time:
Gothic power came to an abrupt and dramatic end in the 270s, when the Emperor Aurelian caught up with a raiding army and destroyed it, killing the Gothic king, Cannabaudes. This precipitated a major shift in the balance of power in Eastern Europe. The appearance of the Gepids to fill the vacuum, drove a wedge between the Tervingi branch of the Goths, west of the Dniester, and the Greutungi, east of the Sea of Azov. While the Tervingi consolidated their realm between the Dniester and the Danube, and became known to the Romans as the 'Visigoths', the Greutungi, or Ostrogoths, were conquered by the Huns, who swept into Europe from the Asiatic steppes in the latter half of the Fourth Century.
(M. Furnival)

Woman missionaries
The events during the almost hundred years "mission of the captive Christian women" and before Wulfila (310-383) became the first bishop of Goths are apparently not very known from historical sources. We can try to imagine how the Kingdom of God progressed in the areas of modern Ukraina - for it did. Instead of mistreating their Christian captives from Moesia and Asia Minor, the Goths may have greatly valued their culture, traditions and religion and wanted to learn from them also about Jesus Christ.

Socrates Scholasticus
Socrates Scholasticus finished writing his Historia Ecclesiastica in Constantinople during the rule of Emperor Theodosius II and probably in 439. But alas, the respected historian gives no role to the captive women at all. Instead, he concentrates on the much later personal decision of the king of Goths, Fritigernes during the time of Emperor Valens who ruled 364-378.

The barbarians, dwelling beyond the Danube, called the Goths, having engaged in a civil war among themselves, were divided into two parties, one of which was headed by Fritigernes, the other by Athanaric. When the latter had obtained an evident advantage over his rival, Fritigernes had recourse to the Romans, and implored their assistance against his adversary. This was reported to the Emperor Valens, and he ordered the troops which were garrisoned in Thrace to assist those barbarians who had appealed to him against their more powerful countrymen; and by means of this subsidy they won a complete victory over Athanaric beyond the Danube, totally routing the enemy. This became the occasion for the conversion of many of the barbarians to the Christian religion: for Fritigernes, to express his sense of the obligation the emperor had conferred upon him, embraced the religion of his benefactor, and urged those who were under his authority to do the same. Therefore it is that so many of the Goths are even to the present time infected with the errors of Arianism, they having on the occasion preferred to become adherents to that heresy on the emperor's account.
(Socrates Scholasticus c. 439 AD)

But at that time Christ was already well known by many Goths and they had their own Bishop also known to Socrates:
Ulfilas, their bishop at that time, invented the Gothic letters, and translating the Sacred Scriptures into their own language, undertook to instruct these barbarians in the Divine oracles. And as Ulfilas did not restrict his labors to the subjects of Fritigernes, but extended them to those who acknowledged the sway of Athanaric also, Athanaric regarding this as a violation of the privileges of the religion of his ancestors, subjected those who professed Christianity to severe punishments; so that many of the Arian Goths of that period became martyrs. Arius indeed, failing in his attempt to refute the opinion of Sabellius the Libyan, fell from the true faith, and asserted the Son of God to be a new God': but the barbarians embracing Christianity with greater simplicity of mind despised the present life for the faith of Christ. With these remarks we shall close our notice of the Christianized Goths.
(Socrates Scholasticus c. 439 AD)

It is noted in the translation of Socrates Church history that
"The fullest and best ancient authors on the origin and history of the Goths are Procopius of Cæsarea (Historia, IV.-VIII., de Bello Italico adversus Gothos gesto), Jornandes (de Getarum [Gothorum] origine et rebus gestis), and Isidore Hispalensis (Historia Gothorum).
On the conversion of the Goths to Christianity, see Neander, Hist. of the Christ. Ch. Vol. II.-p. 125-129, and Schaff, Hist. of the Christ. Ch. Vol. III. p. 640, 641.

Perhaps these sources have some more information about the events during the 3rd century when Christ conquered the fearsome Goths by using the tragic captivity of Christian women as a powerful weapon.

Post script - After writing this I analysed the referred sources in other blogs and saw that they do not give first hand information about late 3rd century but concentrate on the events during the 4th century.

I did find out, however, that the lost history of Philostorgius wrote about the pious captives with whom Christianity reached Goths before Wulfila.

Gothic Christianity - oh, those women!

Before Christ had conquered Roman empire itself His own kingdom had already crossed the borders and reached the Gothic people. The method how Jesus Christ conquered the hearts of the fearsome Goths is quite amazing and - I think unique in Church history.

The homeland of the Gothic tribes was Gotland - Gutland, the land of the Gutes. It is a large island (2,994 km²) on the east cost of Sweden. The region has been inhabited since prehistoric times. They called themselves Gothiscandza which has an echo of Scandinavia.

Ancient local history is preserved in a valuable collection of poetry known as Gutasaga.

"The Gutasaga contains legends of how the island was settled by Þieluar and populated by his descendants. It also tells that a third of the population had to emigrate and settle in southern Europe, a tradition associated with the migration of the Goths, whose name has the same origin as Gutes, the native name of the people of the island." (wikipedia)

Gothic clouds at the borders of Rome
Goths mingled with the local people on their way through East Germany. At the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. we meet them in historical sources living in Dacia at the borders of the Late Roman Empire. From Dacia they crossed the river Danube and entered Roman territory. Their fearsome multitudes raided Moesia Inferior in 238 AD.

At this time Rome was weakened by devastating power struggles in the capital and serious problems both in Roman North Africa and with the mighty Sassanian Persia.

When retreating from the first raid the Goths took from Moesia many captives. These first prisonsers were, however, later returned home for good ransom. The negotiations for their return gave the troubled Romans the chance to develop relations with the Goths and they succeeded in getting them to join the campaign of the teen-age Emperor Gordian III (225-244) against Shapur I the Great of Persia.

The battles against Shapur I ended badly for the Romans and Gordian III was either killed or died from fever in 244 AD. With this the military pact made with the Goths was ended and the brave warriors were sent home to their great disappointment. It turned out that this was not a very smart move from the Roman generals who seriously underestimated the threat posed by the Gothic tribes.

Emperor Decius - enemy of Christ
The death of the Gordian III in 244 led to power struggles in Roman empire. Aristocratic Decius (201-251) usurped power from Philip the Arab who had trusted him with the task to lead the campaign against the Goths in Moesia. late 249, when Decius returned to Rome, he embarked upon an active building program in the capital. After a destructive fire, he extensively restored the Colosseum. He later commissioned the opulent Decian Baths along the Aventine. He perhaps also was responsible for the construction of the Decian Portico.
Another possible aspect of this conservatism was a reported wide-scale attack on the growing Christian minority. The third century saw the slow creation of sizeable communities in the Empire's urban populations. For the first time, if we are to believe Christian sources, an Empire-wide persecution of Christians was begun under Decius.

The state required all citizens to sacrifice to the state gods and be in receipt of a libellus, a certificate from a temple confirming the act. The rationale for the emperor's actions, however, is not entirely clear. Eusebius writes he did so because he hated, who purportedly was a secret Christian. Probably the enmity was real, but it seems unconnected to the introduction of these policies. More likely, if Decius did indeed seek to persecute Christians, he was reacting to the growing visibility of the religion, especially in the city of Rome itself. One of the more prominent martyrs of the age was Fabian, the bishop of the imperial capital.
(De Imperatoribus Romanis).

St. Fabian, Bishop of Rome and Martyr 
Catholic Encylopedia tells about Pope Fabianus

Pope (236-250), the extraordinary circumstances of whose election is related by Eusebius (Church History VI.29). After the death of Anterus he had come to Rome, with some others, from his farm and was in the city when the new election began. While the names of several illustrious and noble persons were being considered, a dove suddenly descended upon the head of Fabian, of whom no one had even thought. To the assembled brethren the sight recalled the Gospel scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Saviour of mankind, and so, divinely inspired, as it were, they chose Fabian with joyous unanimity and placed him in the Chair of Peter.
Fabian died a martyr (20 Jan., 250) at the beginning of the Decian persecution, and was buried in the Crypt of the Popes in the catacomb of St. Callistus, where in recent times (1850) De Rossi discovered his Greek epitaph (Roma Sotterranea II, 59): "Fabian, bishop and martyr."
(Catholic Encyclopedia)

Gothic invasion of Moesia

Gothic invasion of Moesia 249-251

Disappointed with Rome after the Sassanid war 244 the Goths decided to take the initiative. Only six years later, in 250 AD, a mighty coalition had been formed led by the Gothic king Cnifa "the Knife". The military force included warriors from the fearsome Vandali, Taifalae, Bastarnae and Carpi tribes.
Cniva began the invasion of the Roman Empire when he crossed the Danube in the third century. He sent detachments throughout the Roman province of Moesia with forces of Goths, Germans and Sarmatians. His considerable forces demanded the attention of the emperor Decius. While Cniva was laying siege to the city of Nicopolis, Decius arrived, and the Goths left and headed towards Philippopolis. Decius and his troops pursued Cniva through the difficult terrain, but soon, after many forced marches, Cniva turned his troops on Decius, who thought he was further away from the Goths. The Roman camp was surprised and Decius fled while his army was defeated. Then Cniva laid siege to Philippopolis and, after a long resistance, he conquered the city, slaying one hundred thousand people, and taking many prisoner.

The sack of Philippopolis invigorated Decius, who intercepted several parties of Germans, and repaired and strengthened his fortifications along the Danube, intending to oppose Cniva’s forces. The Romans in time, with their superior numbers, surrounded the Goths, who attempted now to retreat from the empire. But Decius, seeking revenge and confident of victory, attacked the Goths at a small town called Forum Terebronii. The Roman army was caught in a swamp when they attempted to attack the Gothic army, and both the emperor Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus were slain in this battle, known as the Battle of Abrittus. After the battle, the new emperor, Trebonianus Gallus, let Cniva leave with his spoils, and aided the Goths' departure. He even promised to pay a tribute to Cniva in order to keep him from invading the empire again.

Oh, those women!
Goths were a deadly threat that was not so easily to be put off with some money - but the near future was not known to the rulers of the Roman empire in mid 3rd century. (Visigoth king Alaric I took the capital Rome itself 410 AD)

The ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven had better information and took a marvellous and strange step in Moesia and the surrounding regions in order to reach the hearts of the Goths before the historic fall of eternal Rome would take place (Alaric was Christian!). 

Decius, the persecutor of the lambs of the Good Shepherd, was surprisingly killed against all odds with his son in a nasty swamp during the battle of Abrittus. His time for punishment had come like it came to those arch-persecutors of Christians, emperors Maxentius and Diocletian, later on.

In addition, our Lord let thousands of His own to be captured by the pagan Goths. Imagine the cries of terror and tears when mostly women are taken by force from their burning villages and towns littered with the corpses of humans. Ravished, pulled away from their homes and families, these women are taken as captives across Danube. What worse fate could we imagine for a defenceless women in the hands of pagan barbarians who can do to them whatever they want.

What is this God that lets such things happen to His own?

Well, things went quite differently from what we imagine and what the Enemy of Christ would have hoped. For these captive women turned out to be not just innocent civilian victims of a cruel war - but with the help of the Good Shepherd they turned the darkest situation of life into a great victory for the Kingdom of Heaven. Through the Moesian Christian women Jesus reached the hearts of Gothic men and the rest is history!

The conversion of the Goths to Christianity was a relatively swift process, facilitated on the one hand by the assimilation of (primarily female) Christian captives into Gothic society and on the other by a general equation of participation in Roman society with adherence to Christianity. Within a few generations of their appearance on the borders of the Empire in 238 AD, the conversion of the Goths to Christianity was nearly all-inclusive. The Christian cross appeared on coins in Gothic Crimea shortly after the Edict of Tolerance was issued by Galerius in 311 AD, and a bishop by the name of Theophilas Gothiae was present at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. However, fighting between Pagan and Christian Goths continued throughout this period, and religious persecutions - echoing the Diocletianic Persecution (302-11 AD) - occurred frequently. The Christian Goths Wereka, Batwin and others were martyred by order of Wingourichos ca. 370 AD, and Saba was martyred by order of Athanaric in 372 AD.