The Vandals (also Vandals , Vandali , Vandili , Vandilier and Vanduli called; ancient Greek Οὐανδαλοί Uandaloí , Βανδῆλοι Bandēloi , Βανδίλοι Bandíloi ) were a Germanic people , the one East Germanic language spoke. At the time of Tacitus the Vandals first settled in the northeastern Germania magna , but later spread further. In the 5th century arrived Vandal warriors during the migration of peoples in what is now Spain and finally to North Africa , where they own regnum established. With the smashing of the Vandal Empire in the 6th century by Eastern Roman troops, their traces are lost.
History of the Vandals
The early days
There are only scattered statements about the origins of the vandals in the written sources, which are intensively discussed in research. According to Pliny the Elder and Tacitus , vandals settled in the first centuries after the beginning of the Christian era east of the Oder and south of the Burgundies, which were then settled there . Isolated statements about an alleged origin from Scandinavia in later sources are not archaeologically secured and should rather be seen in connection with fictitious stories of origin ( Origo gentis ).
Belonging to the cult association of the Lugians is possible: the early vandals are often equated with these in the sources. In the 2nd century different sub-tribes of the Vandals can be traced: The Silingen in Silesia and the Asdingen or Hasdingen in later Hungary and Romania , from where they invaded the Roman Empire during the Marcomann Wars. However - as with almost all Germanic gentes of the Migration Period - it is unclear what connections existed between the peoples of this name and those associations that then appear in the sources in late antiquity . In any case, under Constantine there is evidence that the Hasdingen settled in Pannonia .
Vandals and Great Migration
The origin and descent of the Vandal ethnic group have not been fully clarified. In contrast to older research, the attempt is made to understand the processes that led to the formation of ethnic identities and no longer assumes “wandering”, fully trained peoples. Pliny, Tacitus and Ptolemy mention the Vandilians as a group of people in the Vistula region , but define them differently. As with the "Gotonen" / "Gutonen" / "Goten" names, a continuity of names is known, but no statement can be made about the ethnic processes behind these names.
Around the year 400 one can see great migrations and upheavals north of the lower and middle Danube , probably triggered by the invasion of the Huns . A large Vandal association moved westward to Gaul with the Alans and Suebi .
Since the 1st century, Roman politics tried to achieve the hegemony of the Roman Empire outside the imperial borders in a peaceful way: through contracts ( foedera ) with federations , through the recruitment of soldiers and through the trade in industrial and luxury goods. The Imperium Romanum was an economically and politically stable area with an enormous pull on “barbaric” societies. Specialized warriors, social differences and internal conflicts slowly emerged. Tribes disintegrated and new units formed, such as the “peoples” of the Vandals and Suebi, mentioned in historical texts, who were no longer farmers but were subject to the process of expansion . The reason for abandoning old identities and building new ones (see ethnogenesis ) was not, as often assumed in late antique literature, to flee from hunger and cold , but rather to set out on new opportunities in the rich Mediterranean world.
Penetration into the Roman Empire
On New Year's Eve 406 a vandal group crossed the Rhine together with a large group of Alans and Suebi and invaded the Roman province of Gaul (see Rhine crossing from 406 ); The reason was probably to flee from the Huns advancing further. Franconian Foederati who opposed them were beaten. The Western Roman history of the 5th century is a succession of power struggles and civil wars, and each time have been summoned by the warring parties do not Roman troops fight each other. The independently operating warrior groups of the Goths under Alaric I in Italy and the Vandals, Alans and Suebi increasingly represented their own power factor.
In the year 409, the Alan-Vandal-Suebi Association moved to Spain, taking advantage of another civil war, and founded various short-lived states there. The Kingdom of Suebi in Galicia lasted until the late 6th century. In the past, it was assumed that the Arabic name for Spain, Al-Andalus (which has been preserved in the Andalusia landscape designation) is an Arabic name for the "land of the vandals". This view is controversial. After a Roman campaign, in the course of which Visigoth armies were also deployed, these political structures collapsed in Spain; the Silingian vandals were almost completely destroyed in the Baetica , the Asdingian vandal warriors united with the Alans. Together with fighters from other origins, they crossed to Africa in May 429 .
The Vandal Kingdom in North Africa
Geiseric led the Vandals (around 15,000 to 20,000 warriors and their relatives - Prokopios speaks of a total of 80,000 people) to North Africa in 429 . According to Prokopios, the Roman general Bonifatius had "invited" the Vandals as federates in order to use them to defend himself against an attack by the imperial family, but then he opposed the invaders. However, this representation is controversial, especially since Boniface at this point in time, according to some researchers, was again on good terms with Ravenna. What is certain is that the Vandals coveted the riches of the Roman province of Africa , the heart of the western empire, which supplied Italy with grain and generated a large part of the tax revenue. Moreover, Carthage had repeatedly proven to be a good starting point from which to intervene in the power struggles in Italy. The Vandals marched through what is now Morocco and Algeria , besieging and looting several cities. In the process, Augustine died in Hippo . Some Berber tribes joined them. Representatives of the Christian faith movement of Donatism also supported the Vandals, as they promised themselves protection from persecution by the Roman state church under their rule. Boniface, who had come to terms with the imperial family, now fought them, but was recalled to Italy to fight against Aëtius . In doing so he found death.
Achievement of maritime domination in the western Mediterranean
After Geiseric had conquered larger areas, the western imperial government, now controlled by General Flavius Aëtius, concluded a treaty with the conquerors in 435, which granted them territories in Mauritania (the two provinces of Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis ) and Numidia . In 439 Carthage was conquered, the largest city in the west after Rome , in breach of the treaty , whereby the Vandals fell into the hands of the Roman fleet stationed there. The Vandals and Alans established a kingdom ( regnum ) in the rich north-west African provinces of Byzacena and Proconsularis (roughly in the area of today's Tunisia), which after the failure of a counter-offensive in 442 also by Valentinian III. was factually recognized. Formally, however , Africa remained part of the Roman Empire. With the help of the captured ships (the Vandals were the only Germanic association to maintain a significant fleet) they succeeded in conquering Sardinia , Corsica and the Balearic Islands . In North Africa Geiseric took over the imperial estates as his own property, but hardly touched Roman private property. The Vandals, which were already largely Romanized, quickly adopted the Roman way of life, but distinguished themselves from the upper class of the region through their Arian beliefs.
The Sack of Rome 455
In 455 the Vandals and Alans sacked Rome under Geiseric . The term vandalism, derived from this incident in the 18th century, as a term for “fanatical destruction for its own sake” is historically and factually incorrect. The Vandals plundered the city of Rome thoroughly and not without brutality (although the inhabitants were largely spared at the Pope's request), but without a blind rage of destruction; rather, valuables were systematically stolen. This was not just a foray, but above all an intervention in the highest level of imperial politics: Emperor Valentinian III. had promised his daughter Eudocia as bride for the Vandal-Alanic heir to the throne Hunerich , but after the murder of the emperor his successor Petronius Maximus had married the girl to his son Palladius. Apparently, Valentinian's widow and her daughters called on Geiserich for help against the usurper, and the capital was attacked. The gates were opened to Geiserich. The vandals brought home valuable booty. Numerous people were also brought to Carthage, including the Valentinian's widow and, above all, craftsmen who were needed in the Vandal kingdom. At the same time, Sardinia, Corsica, the Balearic Islands and finally Sicily (even if only for a short time) were included in the Vandal area. In addition, the vandals now finally controlled the grain supply to the western empire.
Petronius Maximus had died before the sack of Rome . However, this did not happen, as is often claimed, by the hand of the vandals (for example there is a picture from the 19th century showing his beheading). Petronius Maximus was recognized while on the run, disguised as a simple citizen and (depending on the source) either stoned by Burgundian auxiliaries , slain by the Roman population, or killed by a legionnaire named Ursus. Geiseric did not raise a new emperor, but in the following period repeatedly demanded that Olybrius , his daughter-in-law's brother-in-law, be dressed in purple. The Western Roman Emperor Majorian raised new troops in 460 and moved them to Cartagena with a fleet of 300 ships. However, when the Roman fleet anchored unguarded in the bay of Alicante, it was surprised and destroyed by the vandals in the Battle of Cartagena . The Roman army fell apart on the march back to Italy, Majorian was killed on the orders of the army master Ricimer .
From 468 to the end of the empire
In 468 the Vandal kingdom became the target of a large-scale joint military operation by the western empire under Anthemius and the eastern Roman empire under Leo I , but this failed. Geiseric managed to set fire to the great Roman fleet. After the failure of another Roman campaign in 470, the Geiseric family was guaranteed ownership of the province of Africa and the islands in a treaty between the Eastern Roman emperor and Geiseric in 474 , but the Vandals were soon no longer able to access these regions always effective to control.
Internally, there were problems among Geiseric's successors, as the Vandals were Arians , but the majority of the Roman population remained Nicene . There was massive persecution of the Catholics, especially under Hunerich (483/84). An important source for this is the (admittedly tendentious) work of Victor von Vita . Apparently the religious policy of the Vandals was far less tolerant than that of the likewise Arian Ostrogoths ; that earned them the contempt of the Romans.
In addition, there were dynastic disputes over the succession. The vandals also had to fend off ever more violent attacks by the Berbers, who quickly gained control of the mountainous country under masties , which was hardly populated by the Germanic warriors. These made up maybe two or three percent of the population. Their goods were concentrated in the region of Carthage and Hippo Regius; they adopted the lifestyle of the Roman landowners. Whether the accusation of the massive decadence of the vandals raised by late antique sources is true, however, can be doubted - after all, they had to constantly fend off external attacks.
The end only came when Ostrom took the throne disputes within the Vandal Empire as an occasion for another military expedition : at least in the opinion of the Romans, the Treaty of 474 only applied to Geiseric and his rightful successors; when the usurper Gelimer unlawfully ascended the throne in 530, relations between Carthage and Constantinople deteriorated. In 533/534 Eastern Roman troops under Belisarius , general of Emperor Justinian , conquered the Vandal kingdom. They were helped by the fact that the main Vandal army put down an uprising in Sardinia. So the number of Vandal warriors was too small to be able to cope with the two heavy defeats ( Ad Decimum , Tricamarum ) which Belisarius inflicted on them with luck and skill. Gelimer was brought to Constantinople and had to submit to the emperor as part of the triumphal procession, but spent his old age comfortably on an estate in Galatia . A large number of Vandal prisoners of war were brought to Constantinople in the summer of 534 and were later used by Eastern Europe in the Persian Wars. North Africa was reintegrated into the Roman Empire . The last armed, vandal resistance under Guntarith was extinguished in 546. From then on, no more vandals appear in the sources. Most of the remnants of the small Germanic civilian population were probably deported to the east, while several vandals served in the imperial army.
- Around 375: Goths evading the Huns push many vandals west.
- Rhine crossing from 406 : Vandals cross the Rhine with non-Germanic Alans and Germanic Suebi and plunder Gaul .
- 409 Train to Hispania
- 411 Branch in Baetica and Gallaecia
- 415–418 heavy defeats against the Visigoths intervening for the Romans, almost complete annihilation of the Silingian Vandals
- In 429, the Hasdingian vandals, along with the rest of the Silings and Alans under King Geiseric , penetrated from southern Spain to North Africa and conquered the Roman provinces there. From 430 to 439 Hippo Regius is the Vandal capital. During the vandal siege of Hippo Regius, the city's bishop Augustine of Hippo dies .
- In 439, Geiseric, in breach of contract, conquered the rich province of Africa Proconsularis , today's northern Tunisia, and made Carthage the capital of the Vandal Empire.
- 455 occupation and sacking of Rome; the Balearic Islands , Corsica , Sardinia and Sicily come to the Vandal Empire.
- Also 455 confiscation of Catholic liturgical objects and church closings.
- In 474 the Eastern Roman Emperor Zenon recognized the rule of the Vandals in North Africa.
- 477 Geiserich dies and his son Hunerich becomes king.
- 483/484 Great persecution of Catholics under Hunerich
- February 24, 484: A decree requires all Catholics to convert to Arianism by June 1.
- 484 Gunthamund becomes king and ends the persecution
- 496 King Gunthamund is replaced by Thrasamund .
- 523 King Hilderich allows Catholicism .
- 530 Gelimer overthrows Hilderich and becomes king, renewed reprisals against the Catholics
- In 534 the rule of the Vandals in North Africa ends with the conquest of the area by the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I.
Economy, society, language and culture
The Vandals became Arian Christians around 350. Very little is known about the economy, society and culture of the Vandals before the start of the great migration. The Przeworsk culture in today's Poland is mostly associated with the Vandals. However, this assignment is very insecure. In Gaul and Spain, no archaeological finds can be linked to the Vandals.
In North Africa , the Vandals replaced the elite of Roman Africa and benefited from the wealth of this province. The Vandals in Africa seem to have cultivated a Roman lifestyle in every respect, which can be deduced from the art and architecture of this time, but also from the written sources. Essentially, the Vandal masters integrated themselves into the economic structures of the Mediterranean world of late antiquity, and the culture of antiquity was also cultivated in Vandal North Africa. Vandalism is the subject of discussion.
List of the Vandal kings and their dynastic connection
Godigisel (? -406, king)
- Gunderich (? –428, King 406–428)
Geiserich (approx. 389–477, King 428–477)
Theodoric († approx. 479/81)
- Godagis († before 484)
Hunerich (around 420–484, King 477–484)
- Hilderich (King May 26, 523-530; 533 executed)
Gento († before 477)
- Gunthamund (? –496, King 484–496)
- Thrasamund (? -523, King 496-523)
- Hoamer (father unsecured, nephew Hilderich), († before 533)
- Euagees (father unsecured, nephew Hilderichs), († 533)
- Geilarith (also Gelaris )
- Theodoric († approx. 479/81)
Equation of the terms vandals and turns
Since the 8th century, the name of the Vandals in relation to the Slavs was in use, especially in southern Germany. In Europe, historical research was diversified and nationalized in the 12th century. Historiography also took part in this development in the Slavic kingdoms. The Polish examples of such historical works, the Chronica Polonorum by Vincentius Kadlubek , although he explains in his Wanda (legend) that Wanda lives among the Vandals on the Wandalus River. The continuation of the same legend through Dierszwa and the Chronicle of Baszko / Boguphal contain a historiography that the Poles (allegedly) descend from the Vandals.
The sentence: "Vandali, qui nunc Poloni dicuntur" can still be found in the history work of Jan Dlugosz from the 15th century. The Polish historical models of the 12th to 15th centuries were supported by the genealogy of peoples, which is contained in the so-called “Franconian table of nations”. This source, which is related to Tacitus , was probably the starting point for the equation of the Slavs / Wends with the Vandals in the Franconian region before the eighth century . With the equation, the conditions that the Slavic ethnogenesis had created in the centuries before were integrated into a European-Franconian historical picture.
The use of the vandal name based on medieval traditions both for the Slavic population and as a self-designation for political entities in the “Wendenland” had a long tradition. The humanist Albert Krantz took up this tradition in his Wandalia, published posthumously in 1519 . In it he deals with the history of various Slavic peoples, Hanseatic cities and the ducal Mecklenburg house , whose origins and origins he traced back to the ancient vandals. The conclusion about this connection was based essentially on the so-called pseudo-Berossos of the humanist Annius von Viterbo . This text, first printed in 1499, was a humanistic forgery that intended to combine elements of the biblical narrative with the Germanic genealogies of Tacitus . The Germanization of the Slavs, which Krantz carried out primarily on the basis of the pseudo-Berossos , was rejected in Polish humanism, namely by Martin Cromer , who wrote on behalf of King Sigismund August .
The names of the "Wendish cities" of Danzig, Lübeck, Wismar, Rostock, Stralsund, Königsberg, Riga and other Hanseatic cities have been mixed up since the 14th century. These cities were latinized as "vandalicae urbes". The name Wendish cities was related to the division of the Hanseatic League into quarters. The Hansequartier with the suburb of Lübeck, which included the cities listed, was called Wendish quarter. The equation of Vandals and Wends is also documented in the Latin transcription of the Corona Danica from 1618 with CHRISTIANUS • D (ei): G (ratia): DANIAE • // NORVEGI (ae): VANDALO (rum): GOTORU (m): Q (ue) • REX • 1618.
The Latin form "Ducatus Vandaliae" is also used in the name of the Pomeranian partial duchy of Wenden . It was this learned Latinization that contained a historical dimension that humanistic historiography could use for speculations. The roots of the name go back to the early Middle Ages. Against this background, a number of historical concepts from the area around the Mecklenburg court can be interpreted, explained and put into context.
Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, historical research established a negation of the equation of Wends and Vandals, which traces the use of the word back to an error by medieval authors.
Prokopios of Caesarea , Histories (or Bella , Books 3 and 4).
[contemporary description from an Eastern Roman point of view]
Victor von Vita , Historia persecutionis Africanae provinciae
[a tendentious but not unimportant source on the internal processes in the Vandal Empire in North Africa]
- Essays and Lexicons
- Volker Bierbrauer , Helmut Castritius : Vandals. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). 2nd Edition. Volume 33, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2006, ISBN 3-11-018388-9 , pp. 168-217.
- Hans-Joachim Diesner : Vandals . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classical antiquity . RE supplement volume 10. Stuttgart 1965, Sp. 957-992.
- Christoph Eger: silver dishes and golden brooches. The vandal upper class in the mirror of the treasure and grave finds of North Africa . In: Ancient World . Journal for Archeology and Cultural History , Vol. 35 (2004), Issue 2, pp. 71-76, .
- Roland Steinacher : Vandals. History of reception and science . In: Hubert Cancik (Ed.): Der Neue Pauly , Volume 15/3 . Metzler, Stuttgart 2003, Sp. 942-946, ISBN 3-476-01489-4 .
- Roland Steinacher: Wends, Slavs, Vandals. An early medieval pseudological equation and its aftermath until the 18th century . In: Walter Pohl (Ed.): The search for the origins. On the importance of the early Middle Ages (research on the history of the Middle Ages; Vol. 8). Verlag der ÖAW , Vienna 2004, pp. 329–353, ISBN 3-7001-3296-4 .
- Guido M. Berndt , Roland Steinacher (ed.): The realm of the vandals and its (previous) stories (research on the history of the Middle Ages; Vol. 13, OeAW memoranda of the phil.-hist. Class, 366). Verlag der ÖAW, Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-7001-3822-8 .
- Guido M. Berndt: Conflict and Adaptation. Studies on Migration and Ethnogenesis of the Vandals (Historical Studies; Vol. 489). Verlag Mathiesen, Husum 2007, ISBN 978-3-7868-1489-4 (plus dissertation, University of Paderborn 2005).
- Ralf Bockmann: Capital continuous. A study of Vandal Carthage and Central North Africa from an archaeological perspective . Reichert, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-89500-934-1 .
- Helmut Castritius: The Vandals. Stages of a search for clues (Kohlhammer-Urban pocket books; Vol. 605). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart a. a. 2007, ISBN 978-3-17-018870-9 .
- Frank M. Clover: The Late Roman West and the Vandals (Collected studies series; Vol. 401). Variorum Books, Aldershot 2007, ISBN 978-0-86078-354-1 (reprint of the Aldershot 1993 edition).
Christian Courtois : Les Vandales et l'Afrique . Scientia-Verlag, Aalen 1964 (unchanged reprint of the Paris 1955 edition).
Still the unsurpassed standard monographic work.
- Pierre Courcelle : Histoire littéraire des grandes invasions germaniques (Collection des études Augustiniennes: Série antiquité, 19). 3rd edition, Paris 1964.
- Hans-Joachim Diesner: The Vandal Empire. Rise and Fall (Urban Pocket Books; Vol. 95). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1966.
- Noël Duval et al. a. (Ed.): L'Afrique vandale et byzantine . Brepols Verlag, Turnhout 2002/03
The two volumes of Antiquité Tardive with archaeological, historical and numismatic contributions by Javier Arce, Aicha BenAbed, Fatih Bejaoui, Frank M. Clover, Noel Duval, Cécile Morrisson , Jörg Kleemann , Yves Moderan, Philipp von Rummel u. a .; Current state of research on the African vandal empire.
- Congress, 5. – 8. October 2000, Tunis (Antiquité Tardive; vol. 10). 2002, ISBN 2-503-51275-5 .
- Congress 20. – 21. August 2001 (Antiquité Tardive; Vol. 11). 2003, ISBN 2-503-52262-9 .
- Christoph Eger: Late antique clothing accessories from North Africa I. Carrier group, mobility and ethnos as reflected in the finds from the latest Roman Empire and the Vandal times. Munich Contributions to Provincial Roman Archeology 5. Reichert, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-89500-912-9 .
- Claus Hattler (Ed.): The Kingdom of the Vandals. Heirs to the empire in North Africa . Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 2009, ISBN 978-3-8053-4083-0 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, Badisches Landesmuseum , Karlsruhe Palace , October 24, 2009 to February 21, 2010).
- Robert Kasperski: Ethnicity, ethnogenesis, and the Vandals. Some Remarks on a Theory of Emergence of the Barbarian Gens. In: Acta Poloniae Historia. 112 (2015) pp. 201–242.
- Christian Leiber (Ed.): The Vandals. The kings, the elites, the warriors, the artisans . Edition Trigena, Nordstemmen 2003, ISBN 3-9805898-6-2 (catalog of the exhibition of the same name, Maria Curie Skłodowska University in Lublin , Zamość State Museum and Weser Renaissance Castle Bevern ).
- Andy Merrills, Richard Miles: The Vandals . Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford 2010, ISBN 978-1-4051-6068-1 .
- Yves Modéran: Les Maures et l'Afrique romaine. 4th-7th. siècle (Bibliothèque des Écoles françaises d'Athènes et de Rome; Vol. 314). EFR, Rome 2003, ISBN 2-7283-0640-0 .
- Walter Pohl : The Great Migration. Conquest and Integration . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2002, pp. 70-86, ISBN 3-17-015566-0 .
- Ludwig Schmidt : History of the Vandal . 2nd edition Beck, Munich 1970, ISBN 3-406-02210-3 (reprint of the Munich edition 1942).
- Roland Steinacher: The vandals. The rise and fall of a barbarian empire . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-608-94851-6 .
- Konrad Vössing : The Kingdom of the Vandals. Geiseric's rule and the Roman Empire . Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt 2014, ISBN 978-3-8053-4761-7 .
- Konrad Vössing: The Vandals . CH Beck, Munich 2018, ISBN 978-3-406-71881-6 .
- Roland Steinacher: Project Historical Ethnography of the Vandals at the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.
- Roland Steinacher: Project: History of the Vandals. (taking into account specialist archaeological literature).
- Urs Willmann : Cultivated Conquerors. In: DIE ZEIT, No. 41 , October 1, 2009 .
- scinexx.de: The Forgotten Kingdom July 20, 2018
- On the beginnings of the Vandals see Castritius, Die Vandalen , p. 15ff.
- Castritius, Die Vandalen , pp. 16f.
- Castritius: Die Vandalen , S. 54ff.
- See Henning Börm: Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian . Stuttgart 2013.
- Castritius: The Vandals . P. 76 ff.
- Jörg Spielvogel: Arian Vandals, Catholic Romans: the imperial political and cultural dimension of the Christian religious conflict in late ancient North Africa. In: Klio 87, issue 1, 2016.
- Castritius: Die Vandalen , S. 159ff.
- Roland Steinacher: Studies on Vandal History. The equation of the ethnonyms Wends, Slavs and Vandals from the Middle Ages to the 18th century . Diss. Vienna 2002 ( online ( memento of the original from May 13, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this note. ).