In 371 AD, Augustine of Hippo, age 17, travelled to Carthage, to continue his education in rhetoric. His writings would later influence the development of Western philosophy and Western Christianity, and he is still viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers of the Latin Church from the Patristic Period.
He was influenced by the Neoplatonism of Plotinus. In 368 AD, he converted to Christianity and helped to reformulate the doctrine of ‘Holy War’ and ‘just war theory,’ as in that Christians should be pacifists and any war leading to peace could only be defensive. Augustine also reformulated the theory of Original Sin, claiming it to be an act of foolishness followed by pride and disobedience, thus giving way to the doctrine of self-chastising. He also contributed to what would become the Decretum Gratiani, a collection of Roman Catholic canon law, covering all areas of church discipline and regulation, which for example, prohibits women from leading, teaching, or being a witness.
In 372 AD, the Huns attacked the Gothic tribe of Tervingi on the Dniester, the plains north of the Lower Danube, overwhelming them with light cavalry (horse archers.) Most settlements of the Goths were destroyed and the King Athanaric took refuge in the Carpathian Mountains (Romania.)
In 373 AD, the Huns defeated the Alans near the Don, the fifth-longest river in Europe, flowing from Central Russia to the Sea of Azov in Southern Russia. The remaining survivors fled towards the west.
Meanwhile, King Shapur II of Persia once again declared war on the Roman Empire as a result of Valens’ support of Armenia.
Also, Saint Martin of Tours, also known as Martin the Merciful, undertook the Christianization of Gaul (as in present-day France.) He also introduced a rudimentary parish system. Once a year, the bishop visited each of his parishes, traveling on foot, by donkey or boat.
In 375 AD, Emperor Valentinian I concluded peace with the Alamanni in Germany, then marched into Illyricum to repel an invasion of the Quadi and the Sarmatians on the Danube frontier. While negotiating with the Quadi, Valentinian, age 54, became so enraged that he allegedly died of apoplexy (bleeding into an organ or loss of blood flow to an organ, as in a stroke or blood clot in the brain.)
Gratian, age 16, took over the government at Augusta Treverorum, while Valentinian’s 4-year-old son Valentinian II was proclaimed co-emperor with his mother, Justina, as regent.
Gratian, a follower of Arian and Donatist Christianity, immediately continued with the persecution of pagans, confiscating the fortunes of temples to add to the Imperial Treasury.
Meanwhile the Talmud of Babylon was written by Rav Ashi. This commentary on the first oral Mishnah contained approximately 2.5 million words on 5.894 pages.
In 376 AD the Gothic War began as the Visigothic chieftain Fritigern and his people crossed the Danube, soon followed by the Gothic Greuthungi. At first, they were allowed passage as they were fleeing from the Huns, but as more and more Gothic refuges gathered around Adrianople in Turkey, food shortage and starvation became a real problem. During the winter, Fritigern attempted an unsuccessful siege of Adrianople.
In 377 AD the famine in Lower Moesia occupied by the Goths took a real toll. Fritigern and his followers appealed for help, but the governors Lupicinus and Maximus regarded them as second-class citizens and invaders. Several thousands were said to have starved to death while the war became a reality.
Valens sent his nephew Gratian to deal with the Goths and both sides suffered heavy casualties. Later it is said that the Greuthungi Goths made an alliance with some of the Huns and Alans along the Danube, which allowed them to break free from the surrounding Romans and enter the lowlands of southern Thrace.
While the Goths plundered and attacked villages to force the Empire to make terms, Valens concluded peace with the Persian Empire, which allowed him to send enough troops to defend the eastern frontier.
This peace also allowed Persian king Shapur II to push the Huns back across the Caucasus (the region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.)
In 378 AD, the Gothic War continued as the Romans adopted a guerrilla war tactic against the groups of raiding Goths in Thrace. However, the success was short lived.
In August, a large Roman army was defeated by the Thervingi. Valens was killed along with two-thirds of his army. The Goths, supported by the Huns, then moved on to Constantinople.
In Rome, in emerging Catholic tradition, Pope Damasus I was accused of adultery but was exonerated by Gratian.
In early 379 AD, after the death of Valens, Emperor Gratian elevated Flavius Theodosius to the title Augustus with power over all the eastern provinces.
In Persia, King Saphur II died of old age and his brother Ardashir II, governor-king of Adiabene, succeeded him by request of the nobles.
In Ireland, the legendary, semi-historical Niall became King — the ancestor of the Uí Néill dynasties that dominated Ireland from the 6th to the 10th centuries.
And in China, Buddhism was declared as state religion.
In 380 AD, the Roman transformation of Christianity continued as the ‘Edict of Thessalonica’ was issued by Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II, which made ‘Nicene Christianity’ the state church of the Roman Empire, further connecting the church to the state. The ‘Nicene Creed’ of the Holy Trinity, as in one God and the creation of heaven and earth as the beginning and foundation of all God’s works, is still used in Catholicism and many other Protestant churches. By this decree, Arianism was seen as heretical.
Later in the year, The Goths under Fritigern defeated a Roman army in Macedonia. Theodosius I was forced to retreat to Thessalonica and left Gratian in control of the Western Roman Empire.
Due to heavy losses and compromised borders, a lot of Rome’s enemies (the Germans, Sarmatians and Huns) were taken into Imperial service. As a consequence, these “barbarian” leaders began to play an increasingly active role in the Roman Empire.
By the end of the year, The Visigothic chieftain Fritigern died after ravaging the Balkans. His rival Athanaric became king of the entire Gothic nation.
In 381 AD, Athanaric visited the Eastern Roman capital of Constantinople where he negotiated a peace treaty with emperor Theodosius I that made his people foederati in a state within a state. Two weeks later, Athanaric died after an 18-year reign in which he had been undisputed king of all the Goths for only one year. However, the peace would continue until Theodosius’s death in 395 AD.
During this time, Theodosius I called a general council of Constantinople to affirm and extend the Nicene Creed, and for show to denounce Arianism and Apollinarism, as they were already assimilated into the new Roman Christianity.
In 382 AD, a peace treaty was signed with the Visigoths, allowing them to settle south of the Danube. They were installed as foederati in Moesia and Thrace with the title of “Allies of the Roman People,” in exchange for providing auxiliary troops to defend the borders.
In Rome, the Council of Rome established the Biblical canon of what was now known as the Catholic Church. To further the development of their own Christianity, Pope Damasus I commissioned a revision of the Latin translations of the Bible known as Vetus Latina, eventually resulting in the Vulgate (4th century Latin translation) by Saint Jerome.
Also, Trinitarianism, as in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, was adopted as doctrine.
In 383 AD, Hadrian’s Wall, the northern Roman frontier in Britain, was overrun by the Picts and fell into ruin. The Romans abandoned the region of Wales.
In Rome, Arcadius was elevated to Emperor.
In late August, Emperor Gratian, age 24, was assassinated at Lugdunum (present-day Lyon.) Valentinian II, age 12, became co-emperor, whose mother Justina, ruled in his name.
In Britain, Roman troops proclaimed Magnus Maximus as Emperor and he made Trier his capital. Gaul, the Italian provinces, and Hispania proclaimed loyalty to him, which forced Theodosius I to temporarily accept him.
In 384 AD, King Shapur III signed a treaty with Theodosius I where Armenia was divided into two kingdoms, and became a vassal state of the Roman Empire and Persia.
In 385 AD, Pope Siricius issued the ‘Directa Decretal,’ proclaiming the predominance of Rome and the priestly obligation of celibacy.
Meanwhile, Priscillian, a Spanish bishop, was accused of Manichaeism and magic, and was beheaded at Trier. He became the first person in the history of Christianity to be executed for heresy.
In 388 AD, after five years of ‘tolerance,’ Emperor Theodosius I defeated self-proclaimed Emperor Magnus Maximus near Emona (modern Slovenia.) During the ‘Battle of Save,’ Theodosius was in command of a large army including Goths, Huns and Alans. Valentinian II, now 17, was restored as Roman Co-Emperor.
In 389 AD, all pagan buildings in Alexandria, including the library, were destroyed by fire.
In 390 AD, Theodosius I brought yet another obelisk from Egypt to the Hippodrome of Constantinople.
In 391 AD, Emperor Theodosius I established Christianity as the official state religion of the entire Roman Empire. The eternal fire in the Temple of Vesta at the Roman Forum was extinguished, and the Vestal Virgins were disbanded.
Meanwhile, the destruction of ‘pagan temples,’ symbols, monuments, and buildings continued in Alexandria, as manipulated Christians by Patriarch Theophilus went on a rampage. The “Order of Monks,” known as the Parabalani, took charge of patrolling the streets.