ATHANARIC (d. 381), a ruler of the Visigoths from about 366 to 380. He bore the title not of king but of judge, a title which may be compared with that of ealdorman among the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Britain. Athanaric waged, from 367 to 369, an unsuccessful war with the emperor Valens, and the peace by which the war was ended was ratified by the Roman and Gothic rulers meeting on a barge in mid-stream of the Danube. Athanaric was a harsh and obstinate heathen, and his short reign was chiefly famous for his brutal persecution of his Christian fellow-countrymen. In 376 he was utterly defeated by the Huns, who a few years before had burst into Europe. The bulk of the Visigothic people sought refuge within the Empire in the region now known as Bulgaria, but Athanaric seems to have fled into Transylvania. Being attacked there by two Ostrogothic chiefs he also, in 381, sought the protection of the Roman emperor. Theodosius I. received him courteously, and he was profoundly impressed by the glories of Constantinople, but on the fifteenth day after his arrival he died, and was honoured by the emperor with a magnificent funeral.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)