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date: 16 January 2018


Goths, a Germanic people, who, according to Jordanes' Getica, originated in Scandinavia. The Cernjachov culture of the later 3rd and 4th cents. ce beside the Black Sea, and the Polish and Byelorussian Wielbark cultures of the 1st–3rd. cents. ce, provide evidence of a Gothic migration down the Vistula to the Black Sea, but no clear trail leads to Scandinavia. In the mid-3rd. cent. ce, Goths from the Black Sea region (see heruli) launched heavy attacks upon Asia Minor and the Roman Balkans. These were eventually halted by the victories of Gallienus, Claudius II (Gothicus), and Aurelian. The Goths have usually been viewed as from this date divided into two—Visigoths and Ostrogoths—but the Gothic world of the 4th cent. probably comprised a number of chieftainships; how many is unknowable. Visigoths and Ostrogoths were actually the product of a later convulsion occasioned by the inroads of the Huns. As a direct result, two separate Gothic groups crossed the Danube in 376, their victory at Hadrianople in 378 paving the way for a more ordered coexistence with Roman power after 382. These two groups were definitively united by Alaric (395–411) to create the Visigoths, but only after being joined by a third large contingent: the survivors of Radagaisus' attack on Italy in 405–6. This force was settled in the Garonne in 418, and, as Roman power waned, created a Gothic kingdom in Gaul and Spain, especially under Euric (466–84). Further east, various (but not all the other) Gothic groups who had either fled to the Romans after c.400 or survived Hunnic hegemony, were united in various stages between c.450 and 484 behind the family of Theoderic (1) to create the Ostrogoths, who then carved out a kingdom in Italy after 489. Theoderic further united both Gothic kingdoms in 511, but this did not survive his death (526). The Ostrogothic kingdom was destroyed by the Byzantines in twenty years of warfare after 536; Visigothic Spain was eventually conquered by Muslim forces in the early 8th cent.


E. A. Thompson, The Goths in Spain (1969).Find this resource:

H. Wolfram, History of the Goths (1988).Find this resource:

M. Kazanski, Les Goths (1991).Find this resource:

P. J. Heather, Goths and Romans 332–489 (1991).Find this resource:

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