Goths

The Goths (Gothic: *Gut-þiuda, *Gutans; Old Norse: Gutar/Gotar; German: Goten; Latin: Gothi; Greek: Γότθοι, Gótthoi) were an East Germanic tribe two of whose branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe.

One important source is Jordanes' 6th-century, semi-fictional Getica which describes a migration from southern Scandza (Scandinavia), to Gothiscandza, believed to be the lower Vistula region in modern Pomerania, and from there to the coast of the Black Sea. The Pomeranian Wielbark culture and the Chernyakhov culture northeast of the lower Danube are archaeological traces of this migration. In the 3rd century, either through crossing the lower Danube, or travelling by sea, the Goths ravaged the Balkan Peninsula and Anatolia as far as Cyprus, sacking Athens, Byzantium, and Sparta. By the fourth century, the Goths conquered Dacia, and were divided into at least two distinct groups separated by the Dniester River, the Thervingi, led by the Balti dynasty, and the Greuthungi, led by the Amali dynasty. Centered around their capital at the Dnieper, the Goths ruled a vast area which at its peak under the Kings Ermanaric and Athanaric stretched from the Danube to the Volga river, and from the Black to the Baltic Sea.

In the late fourth century, the Huns invaded the Gothic region from the east. While many Goths were subdued and joined the ranks of the Huns, a group of Goths led by Fritigern fled across the Danube and revolted against the Roman Empire, winning a decisive victory at the Battle of Adrianople. Meanwhile, the Goths were converted from paganism to Arian Christianity by the Gothic missionary Wulfila, who devised the Gothic alphabet to translate the Bible. In the fifth and sixth centuries, the Goths separated into two tribes, the Visigoths, who became federates of the Romans, and the Ostrogoths, who joined the Huns.

After the Ostrogoths successfully revolted against the Huns at the Battle of Nedao in 454, their leader Theodoric the Great settled his people in Italy, founding a Kingdom which eventually gained control of the whole peninsula. Shortly after Theodoric's death in 526, the country was captured by the Eastern Roman Empire, in a war which caused enormous damage and depopulation to Italy. After their able leader Totila was killed at the Battle of Taginae, effective Ostrogothic resistance ended, and the remaining Goths were assimilated by the Lombards, another Germanic tribe, who invaded Italy and founded a Kingdom in the northern parts of the country in 567 AD.

The Visigoths under Alaric I sacked Rome in 410, defeated Attila at the Battle of the Catalunian Plains in 451, and founded a Kingdom in Aquitaine which was pushed to Hispania by the Franks in 507, converted to Catholicism by the late sixth century, and in the early eighth century conquered by the Muslim Moors. Subsequently, the Visigothic nobleman Pelagius began the Reconquista with his victory at the Battle of Covadonga, and founded the Kingdom of Asturias, which eventually evolved in to modern Spain and northern Portugal.

While its influence continued to be felt in small ways in some west European states, the Gothic language and culture largely disappeared during the Middle Ages. In the 16th century a small remnant of a Gothic dialect known as Crimean Gothic was described as surviving in the Crimea.

Read more about GothsEtymology, Legacy, Written Sources About The Goths

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