Julian and The Decision to Fight: Strasbourg, 357

Adam Glen Hough

Abstract


In the year 357, the armies of the Alamanni king Chnodomar crossed the Rhine and assembled just north of present day Strasbourg. Answering this challenge was the western empire’s new Caesar, Julian (known to wider circles as Julian the Apostate). Ammianus Marcellinus, one of our primary sources for details of Julian’s Gallic campaign, tells us that going into the battle, Julian’s forces were significantly outnumbered. Despite this apparent disadvantage, however, Julian won a decisive victory, routing an enemy perhaps 35,000 strong,(though there is debate as to whether or not this figure is plausible) while only losing 243 men.This engagement, and particularly its outcome, raises a number of questions. First among them, why would Julian consent to pitched battle against such an overwhelming force?



Keywords


Julian the Apostate; Alamanni; Battle of Strasbourg

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The Graduate History Review EISSN 1925-2455

Formerly Preteritus: 2009-2010