Home >> Encyclopedia-britannica-volume-22-part-2-tromba-marina-vascular-system >> Valentinian I to William Tuke >> Vandals_P1

Vandals

gaiseric, africa, king, vandal, emperor, hands and rome

Page: 1 2

VANDALS, a term used by early writers only as a collective designation for a group of Teutonic tribes including, according to Pliny, the Burgundians and the Goths. The Vandals as a separate people figure in the earliest legends both of the Goths and the Lombards, and first came into contact with the Romans during the Marcomannic War. In the time of Aurelian they invaded Pannonia, and during the reign of Probus we find them fighting in Dacia. In the time of Constantine I., according to Jordanes, they suffered a great defeat at the hands of Geberich, king of the Goths, their own king Visimar being killed, and the survivors were allowed by the Romans to settle in Pannonia.

Invasions.—In A.D. 406 they moved westward, according to some writers at the instigation of Stilicho, who is himself said to have been of Vandal origin, and crossing the Rhine at Mainz proceeded towards Gaul.

Owing to defeat at the hands of the Franks the Vandals could not settle in Gaul and in 409 their king Gunderic led them across the Pyrenees. They appear to have settled in Spain in two detach ments. One, the Asdingian Vandals, occupied Galicia, the other, the Silingian, Andalusia. The Silingian Vandals were well-nigh exterminated during the next 20 years but their Asdingian breth ren marched across Spain and took possession of Andalusia. In 428 or 429 the whole nation set sail for Africa, upon an invitation received by their king from Bonifacius, count of Africa, who had fallen into disgrace with the court of Ravenna. Gunderic was now dead, and supreme power was in the hands of Hs bastard brother Gaiseric who was for 5o years the terror of Con stantinople and Rome. Probably in the month of May 428, he assembled all his people on the shore of Andalusia, and numbering the males among them from the greybeard down to the newborn infant found them to amount to 8o,000 souls. The nation was transported to Africa in ships supplied by Bonifacius. Although he soon returned to the Imperial allegiance only three cities of Roman Africa—Carthage, Hippo and Cirta—remained untaken by the Vandals by May 43o. At length (Jan. 435) peace was made between the emperor Valentinian III. and Gaiseric. The emperor was to retain Carthage and the small but rich pro consular province in which it was situated, while Hippo and the other six provinces of Africa were abandoned to the Vandal.

Gaiseric observed this treaty no longer than suited his purpose. On Oct. 19, 439, he suddenly attacked and took Carthage. The Vandal occupation of this great city, the third among the cities of the Roman empire, lasted for 94 years. Gaiseric seems to have counted the years of his sovereignty from the date of its capture. Henceforward he made of Carthage a pirate's strong hold, whence he issued forth, like the Barbary pirates of a later day, to attack, as he himself said, "the dwellings of the men with whom God is angry," leaving the question who those men might be to the decision of the elements. Almost alone among the Teu tonic invaders of the empire he set himself to form a powerful fleet, and was probably for 3o years the leading maritime power in the Mediterranean. Gaiseric's celebrated expedition against Rome (455), undertaken in response to the call of Eudocia, widow of Valentinian, was only the greatest of his marauding exploits. He took the city without difficulty, and for 14 days, in a calm and business-like manner, emptied it of all its movable wealth. Eudocia and her two daughters were carried into cap tivity.

Empire and Defeat.

There does not seem to be in the story of the capture of Rome by the Vandals any justification for the charge of wilful and objectless destruction of public buildings which is implied in the word "vandalism." It is probable that this charge grew out of the fierce persecution which was carried on by Gaiseric and his son against the Catholic Christians. The bishops were almost universally banished, and the congregations were forbidden to elect their successors, so that the greater part of the churches of Africa remained "widowed" for a whole gener ation. In 476, at the very close of Gaiseric's life, by a treaty con cluded with the Eastern emperor, the bishops were permitted to return. There was then a short lull in the persecution ; but on the death of Gaiseric (477) and the accession of Hunneric it broke out again with greater violence than ever.

Page: 1 2