Last revised May 15, 2004


The Goths are first mentioned as being in Poland in the first century AD. (Heather 1996 at page 2). During the 300's, the Goths split into two tribes. The Goths who had settled in Dacia became the Visigoths, and those north of the Black Sea became the Ostrogoths.

Origin of GOTHS: Disputing Jordanes, the Goth/Gepid culture originated from northern Continental Europe rather than from southern Sweden (Heather 1996, page 14). Archaeological evidence demonstrates that the Goths did migrate from northeastern Europe to Scythia. [Source: "The Goths" by Peter Heather (1996)]. Jordanes in "Getica" had stated that the Goths probably originated in what is now southern Sweden (Scandza). They migrated to an area north of the Black Sea during the A.D. 100's. During the 200's, they raided the northeastern frontiers of the Roman Empire. Some Goths settled in Dacia (now part of Romania and Hungary) in 272. During the 300's, the Goths split into two tribes. The Goths who had settled in Dacia became the Visigoths, and those north of the Black Sea became the Ostrogoths.
In 376, the Visigoths were threatened by the Huns from the east. They crossed the Danube River, and took refuge in the Roman province of Pannonia. But they soon revolted. In 378, they defeated a Roman army at Adrianople (now Edirne, Turkey) and killed the Roman Emperor Valens. From Jordanes in his "Getica", speaking of another writer of the time: "Josephus, ... why he has omitted the beginnings of the race of the Goths, of which I have spoken [from Scandza then to Scythia], I do not know. He barely mentions Magog of that stock, and says they were Scythians by race and were called so by name." "Scythia, stretching far and spreading wide,--has on the east the Seres, a race that dwelt at the very beginning of their history on the shore of the Caspian Sea. On the west are the Germans and the river Vistula; on the arctic side, namely the north, it is surrounded by Ocean; on the south by Persis, Albania, Hiberia, Pontus and the farthest channel of the Ister, which is called the Danube all the way from mouth to source."

Also disputing Jordanes: One should check the newest scholarly work on the Goths: Arne Søby Christensen's "Cassiodorus, Jordanes, and the History of the Goths: Studies in a Migration Myth", 2002, 391 pages, ISBN 87-7289-710-4. The leader or preface to the book states: "A study in the myth of the origins and early history of the Goths as told in the Getica written by Jordanes in AD 551. Jordanes claimed they emigrated from the island of Scandza (Sweden) in 1490 BC, thus giving them a history of more than two thousand years. He found this narrative in Cassiodorus's Gothic history, which is now lost. The present study demonstrates that Cassiodorus and Jordanes did not base their accounts on a living Gothic tradition of the past, as the Getica would have us believe. On the contrary, they got their information only from the Graeco-Roman literature. The Greeks and Romans, however, did not know of the Goths till the middle of the third century AD. Consequently, Cassiodorus and Jordanes created a Gothic history partly through an erudite exploitation of the names of foreign peoples partly by using the narratives about other peoples' history as if they belonged to the Goths. The history of the Migrations therefore must be reconsidered."

Early Goth leaders from Jordanes in his "Getica": "Now from this island of Scandza, as from a hive of races or a womb of nations, the Goths are said to have come forth long ago under their king, Berig by name.... But when the number of the people increased greatly and Filimer, son of Gadaric, reigned as king--about the fifth since Berig--he decided that the army of the Goths with their families should move from that region.... Filimer as king while they remained in their first home in Scythia near Maeotis. In their second home, that is in the countries of Dacia, Thrace and Moesia, Zalmoxes reigned, whom many writers of annals mention as a man of remarkable learning in philosophy. Yet even before this they had a learned man Zeuta, and after him Dicineus; and the third was Zalmoxes of whom I have made mention above." Another Gothic king, Tanausis, in a battle at the river Phasis ... , battled Vesosis, king of the Egyptians, and there inflicted a severe defeat upon Vesosis.
*From Jordanes, genealogy: "Now the first of these heroes, as they themselves relate in their legends, was Gapt, who begat Hulmul. And Hulmul begat Augis; and Augis begat him who was called Amal, from whom the name of the Amali comes. This Amal begat Hisarnis. Hisarnis moreover begat Ostrogotha, and Ostrogotha begat Hunuil, and Hunuil likewise begat Athal. Athal begat Achiulf and Oduulf. Now Achiulf begat Ansila and Ediulf, Vultuulf and Hermanaric. And Vultuulf begat Valaravans and Valaravans begat Vinitharius. Vinitharius moreover begat Vandalarius; (80) Vandalarius begat Thiudimer and Valamir and Vidimer; and Thiudimer begat Theodoric. Theodoric begat Amalasuentha; Amalasuentha bore Athalaric and Mathesuentha to her husband Eutharic, whose race was thus joined to hers in kinship. (81) For the aforesaid Hermanaric, the son of Achiulf, begat Hunimund, and Hunimund begat Thorismud. Now Thorismud begat Beremud, Beremud begat Veteric, and Veteric likewise begat Eutharic, who married Amalasuentha and begat Athalaric and Mathesuentha. Athalaric died in the years of his childhood, and Mathesuentha married Vitiges, to whom she bore no child." Univ. of Calgary (Jordanes "Getica", or "Origins and Deeds of the Goths" online) .

Battles: The first known attack was in 238 AD, when the Goths attacked the city of Histria at the mouth of the Danube River.
In 249 AD Goths under war leaders Argaith and Guntheric attacked Marcianople.
In 250 AD Goths under another leader, Cniva, broke through the "limes" (the Roman line of small outposts on the frontiers) at the Dacian corridor, crossed the Danube at Oescus, captured Philippopolis just south of the Haemus Mountains.
In 251 AD they defeated a Roman army under Decius, at Abrittus.
The Goths also used ships to cross the Black Sea. They then raided across the southwestern Caucusus Mtn area then westward along the coast. Around 255-257 AD they attacked Pityus, Trapezus and Pontus. Also attacked Bithynia, Propontis, and cities of Chalcedon, Nicomedia, Nicaea, Apamea and Prusa.
268 AD: Leaving the northern part of the Black Sea in a fleet of ships, moving south and west. They tried unsuccessfully to attack Tomi, Marcianople, Cyzicus and Byzantium. They sailed into the Aegean Sea, breaking into three groups. The first group, Heruli's, landed near Thessalonica and were defeated by Emperor Gallienus in 268 AD. The second group, Goths and Heruli, attacked Attica, and were defeated at Naissus in 270 AD by Claudius. The third group, Goths, attacked in Asia Minor at Rhodes, Cyprus, then Side and Ilium, destroying the temple of Diana at Ephesus.
270-271 AD: Another raid across the Danube where the Goths sacked Anchialus and Nicopolis, but the Gothic king Cannabaudes was eventually being defeated by Emperor Aurelian.
376 AD: the Huns were attacking many tribes, including the Goths who lost two kings.
378 AD: at the Battle of Hadrianople (now Edirne, Turkey), the Goths annhilated Emperor Valens and two-thirds of his Roman army.
410 AD: Gothic King Alaric defeated the Romans and took over Rome.
(From "The Goths" by Peter Heather)
Another battle was the Battle of Chalons on the Catalaunian Plains where the Roman armies, including germanic tribal components including the Visigoths under King Theoderic I (died in battle), Burgundians and Franks, Alani, fought the Huns and the Hunnic leader Attila. With the Huns were the Gepids, Ostrogoths, and some others.

OSTROGOTHS The Ostrogoths are the "goths of the east". They ruled a very large kingdom in southern russian plains, but they were purged out by the visitors the Huns. Then they started their life of raids anf pillages, with the climax in the plundering of Rome. The Western Roman Empire officially fell in 476 when Odoacer ("Odovacer") captured Rome and claimed not the title of Emperor of Rome but instead King of the Ostrogoths. It is true that the Ostrogoths were driven out of Rome in 538 AD and were not completely destroyed as a people for about another 20 years. The fact is, even after they were driven out of Rome, they returned again and took it. Belisarius was sent back to drive them out again, but Justinian was suspiciouss of Belisarius so did not send him adequate men and equipment to get the job done. Consequently, he was not particularly successful in controlling the Ostrogoths. Generals who followed in his footsteps later on were able to drive the Ostrogoths to the point of extinction in about 556 AD.
In the first set of battles between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogoths, the Ostrogoths were nearly totally defeated. They held Rome but were forced to abandon it as the Eastern Roman Empire general Belisarius approached. They returned for a siege that lasted from March of 537 AD to March of 538 AD, and were largely defeated right there. They cut the aquaduct and water spread everywhere near their camp, so that malaria caused huge numbers of casualties among them (you can find this information in the Encyclopedia Britannica in the 2003 computer edition in an article about Witigis, who was king of the Ostrogoths during this time). Shortly thereafter, they were defeated and Belisarius hauled Witigis and others captive to Constantinople. So Belisarius left Rome, but this allowed the Ostrogoths to regroup and again regain much of the territory they had lost. Ostrogoths were Arian Christians, which opposed the supremacy of the pope.
The Later Roman Empire_ by J.B. Bury: Italy Under Theoderic, if we date it from the battle of the Adda in 490 AD, lasted thirty-six years. He was a patrician by grant from the roman emperor. The Ostrogoths for the most part replaced Odovacar's Germans, who had been largely killed or driven out.

Another book on this "tribe" is "A History of the Ostrogoths by Thomas Burns (Indiana Univ. Press 1991).

VISIGOTHS The Visigoths are the "goths of the west". They were neighbour to both Eastern and Western Empire, as they occupied lands once part of the Roman Empire, in actual Romania. They plundered Byzancium, but, when the byzantines came back from their eastern wars, they had to flee to the west, bringing with them lots of treasures. They became the most mythic german people by establishing their kingdom in southern Galia and northern Hispania and founding the dynasty of the "long haired Kings", which disputed the sovereignty of western Europe with the Franks. Defeated the Romans at the battle of Adrianople in 378 then swept through the Balkans and took Rome in 410. Visigoth King Recared (586-601). 710-711 Muslim Moors invaded Spain and put an end to Visigothic rule around (c.711).


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Tompsett's Directory of Royal Genealogical Data (genealogical listings)

Bruce R. Gordon's Regnal Chronologies (chronological lists, good for succession)

The Labyrinth (Resources for Medieval Studies: Georgetown University)

Florilegium (Canadian annual journal devoted to the ancient and medieval cultures of Europe, North Africa, and the Near East)

Yahoo Germanic-L List (Early Germanic Peoples from Prehistory to circa 800 AD)

Yahoo Gothic-L List (discussions must relate to the Gothic tribes)

Root sweb Medieval Genealogy Message Board

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Archaeological Resource Guide for Europe

ArchNet (World Wide Web Virtual Library for Archaeology)

Anthro.Net (Anthropology on the World Wide Web)

Anthro.Net (Roman History)

The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire (by Edward Gibbon; etext)

"Getica", or "The Origin and Deeds of the Goths" (by Jordanes, translated by Charles C. Mierow; etext). Jordanes wrote this summary of Cassiodorus' much longer treatment (a lost work) of the history of the Goths).

European medieval maps (excellent maps 530, 565, 600 A.D.)

"Heimskringla" or "The Chronicle of the Kings of Norway" [by Snorri Sturluson (c. 1179 - 1241) (Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #15b)]

Ptolemy's Geographia Book 4

Ptolemy's Geographia Book 5

Ptolemy's Geographia Book 6 (Gaul)

Ptolemy's Geographia Book 7 (Germania)

Ptolemy's Geographia Book 8 (Danube Provinces)

Host Kingdom's German Tribes and Rulers

Roman's Online, tribes and links galore

Roman Place Names


WWW Virtual Library History Index for Medieval Europe


Dr. J. Douglas McDonald's maps of "Y Haplogroups of the World", "Y Haplogroups of Europe", and "mtDNA Haplogroups of the World" (Thank you!)

Y Chromosone Evidence for Anglo Saxon Mass Migration (2002) (pdf file)

Y Chromosone Census of the British Isles (pdf file)

Alu Insertion Polymorphisms and the Genetic Structure of Human Populations from the Caucasus (Nasidze, Stoneking, et al.)

mtDNA and the Islands of the North Atlantic: Estimating the Proportions of Norse and Gaelic Ancestry (Helgason, et al.)

Family Tree DNA Library (library of research papers)


My wish list:
Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume III, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser, Ergänzungsband [Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Second Edition, 2001][has genealogies for the German kingdoms]
Kingdoms of Europe, by Gene Gurney [Crown Publishers, New York, 1982].
Kings & Queens of Europe, compiled by Anne Tauté [University of North Carolina Press, 1989]
"The Encyclopedia of World History; Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged" by Peter N. Stearns [Sixth Edition, Houghton Miffilin Company, 2001].
"The New Cambridge Medieval History, Volume 1, C. 500 - C. 700" edited by Paul Fouracre (Oxford University Press, 1998)
Belgae, Germanic or Celtic?:
Helmut Birkhan, Germanen und Kelten bis zum Ausgang der Römerzeit. Sitzungsberichte der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (Wien 1970).
Rolf Hachmann, Völker zwischen Germanen und Kelten (1962)




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