The Goths were a Germanic people, originated in the region around the Baltic Sea, possibly in what is now Sweden and Poland. They began migrating southward and westward in the second century AD, putting pressure on neighboring tribes and eventually reaching the borders of the Roman Empire.
The Goths were divided into two major branches: the Ostrogoths (Eastern Goths) and Visigoths (Western Goths). The Visigoths and Ostrogoths had distinct historical trajectories and often pursued separate destinies within the Roman Empire.
The Visigoths crossed the Danube River and settled within the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) in the fourth century. The Ostrogoths initially settled in the Eastern Roman Empire, but later migrated westward.
The Goths were known for their military prowess and were often employed as mercenaries by various empires, including the Romans. They were also skilled craftsmen, and their art and architecture reflect a blend of Roman and Germanic styles. The Visigoths in particular were known for their adoption of Arian Christianity, which was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church.
Despite their cultural and military achievements, the Goths were eventually assimilated into other European peoples, and their distinct identity disappeared. However, their legacy can still be seen in the languages and cultures of modern-day Europe, particularly in the countries that were once part of the Visigothic and Ostrogothic kingdoms.
Visigoths | History
The Battle of Adrianople was a significant engagement where the Visigoths, led by Fritigern, defeated the Roman army. This battle had major consequences for the Roman Empire.
In 410 AD, under the leadership of Alaric, the Visigoths sacked Rome. This event is often seen as symbolic fall of Rome, as it was the first time the city had been captured by a foreign enemy in over 800 years.
After the sack of Rome, the Visigoths established the Kingdom of Toulouse in southern Gaul (modern-day France and parts of Spain).
The Visigoths faced pressure from the Huns, a nomadic Central Asian people. In 451 AD, the Visigoths, alongside the Romans, fought against the Huns at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains.
In 507 AD, the Visigoths suffered a defeat by the Franks at the Battle of Vouillé, leading to their retreat to the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal). The Visigothic Kingdom in Spain lasted until the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula in the early eighth century.
Ostrogoths | History
Under the leadership of Theodoric the Great, the Ostrogoths established a kingdom in Italy in 493 AD after defeating Odoacer. Theodoric’s rule is often regarded as a period of relative peace and stability in Italy.
After Theodoric’s death, conflict arose between the Ostrogothic kingdom and the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire). The Byzantine general Belisarius reconquered Italy for the Eastern Roman Empire, and in 553 AD, the Ostrogothic Kingdom came to an end.