In this article we will talk a little about the Germanic Vandal people.
"Hatred of a city that has the gift of speech"
The vast majority of people around the world are aware of vandals from only one episode of their centuries-old stories - the sack of Rome in 455. As a matter of fact, the vandals did not do anything supernatural there. In those days, any other armies behaved in the same way in the captured cities. Vae victis, "Woe to the vanquished" - this famous phrase of the Celtic leader Brenna would have signed all the generals of the world, and not only the ancient ones. The Romans themselves were no exception to this rule. Titus Livy wrote in his War with Hannibal:
"Lucius Marcellus ... brought to Rome numerous statues and paintings that adorned Syracuse ... since then it has become a custom to admire Greek art, followed by a brazen habit of robbing temples and private houses in search of works and objects of this art."
By the way, the Vandal king Geyserich allegedly said in that year 455 to the proud queerites who humiliatedly came to him to ask them to take a rich ransom from them:
"I did not come for gold, but to avenge the Carthage you destroyed."
K. Bryullov. "Invasion of Henzerich on Rome"
Of course, this campaign of the Vandals has nothing to do with ancient Carthage, destroyed 600 years before these events. Only in 439, Geyserich captured Carthage, in 455, as they would say now, subtly "protrolled" the Romans. But Plutarch once wrote (about Minos):
"It is truly a terrible thing to hate a city that has the gift of speech."
As a result, it was the vandals who remained in the memory of mankind as barbarians, senselessly destroying priceless works of art, and even a special term “vandalism” appeared.
O. Dymov, one of the authors of the famous "General History, processed by Satyricon", wrote later:
“For two weeks, vandals plundered and destroyed Rome; they could not act otherwise: they already had such a name. At the same time, they undoubtedly displayed taste and understanding, since they destroyed precisely those paintings that were most valuable. "
And how great were the "taste and understanding" of art by the Romans who first "joined" it in Syracuse? This is demonstrated by the same Lucius Marcellus. When transporting the loot to Rome, he gave a stern order: anyone guilty of losing or damaging a statue will be obliged to order a new one at his own expense. And it doesn't matter that it will already be a miserable remake instead of a priceless work of an ancient great master - the main thing is that the total number of sculptures coincides.
I must say that there is no evidence of "senseless destruction of works of art" by vandals. Geyserich plundered Rome, just as Lucius Marcellus plundered Syracuse. He took with him many sculptures and statues, but, of course, did not destroy them.
Less well known are the other traces of vandals in European history. Meanwhile, it was this people who gave the name to the Spanish province of Andalusia.
The memory of one of the Vandal tribes, the Siling, is preserved in the name of Silesia. But the name "Vandal Mountains" (the mountain range separating Bohemia from Silesia) was forgotten.
The first centuries of vandal history
So, the Vandals are a people of Germanic origin, which Paulus Orosius calls akin to the Goths and Suyons (Swedes). For the first time Pliny mentions vandals (XNUMXst century AD). Tacitus and Ptolemy also wrote about them. The Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea (VI century) reports that the Vandals themselves considered the coast of the Sea of Azov their ancestral home and on the way to the north annexed a part of the Alans. About the appearance of the vandals, Procopius says:
"Everyone has white bodies and blonde hair, they are tall and beautiful to look at."
Vandals, reconstruction at the Krakow Museum
Image of a vandal in a XNUMXth century manuscript
And Jordan in "Getik" claims that the Vandals are from South Scandinavia (like the Goths). Which, of course, is much more likely.
One way or another, from the XNUMXst century A.D. e. Vandals lived in the area between the Elbe and the Oder. It is possible that their lands extended further to the east - to the Vistula. Two large Vandal tribes are named - the Siling (which gave the name to Silesia) and the Asding. They were forced to unite at the beginning of the XNUMXth century - already in Spain, where both of them were strangers.
Since the 990th century, some Germanic authors have identified the Vandals with the Wends (Vendians). The fact is that these Slavic tribes occupied the same territory as the Vandals once, and their self-designation seemed similar to the name of the German tribe that had long gone from these places. Around 1601, Gerhard from Augsburg writes a biography of St. Ulrich, in which he calls a vandal ... the Polish prince Meszko I. The chronicler Adam of Bremen, who lived in the XNUMXth century, declares that the Slavs used to be called vandals. And even Orbini in the work "Slavic Kingdom" (XNUMX) says:
“As long as the Vandals are real Goths, it cannot be denied that the Slavs are also Goths. Many famous writers confirm that the Vandals and the Slavs were one people. "
However, in the Alamanna annals and later St. Gallenic annals, Avars are called vandals, who at that time lived in the territory of Pannonia and Dacia.
In the second half of the XNUMXnd century, the Vandals of the Asding tribe begin their movement south. It is possible that silings went with them then, but there is no evidence in historical sources for this assumption. The Vandals took part in the Marcomanian War (Germanic and Sarmatian tribes against Rome). Apparently, some of the Vandals adopted Arian Christianity from the Gothic preachers.
In 174, Marcus Aurelius allowed the Asdings to settle in Dacia, here they remained until the 30s. IV century. With the Romans, they coexisted relatively peacefully. A military conflict was recorded in the year 271 - under the Emperor Aurelian. And then the presence of Siling here is clearly recorded: the Vandals have two kings, Siling and Asding, concluding a new peace treaty. Then the emperor Prob fought with the vandals. At the same time, the vandals fought with their neighbors - the Goths and Typphals. But in 331-337. the Vandals were driven out of Dacia by the Goths, whose king was Geberich. In one of the battles, the king of the Asdings Vizimar was killed (this is the first king of the Vandals, whom we know by name).
Emperor Constantine allowed the Vandals to go to the right bank of the Danube - to Pannonia. The Vandals, in turn, pledged to provide the empire with auxiliary troops, mainly cavalry.
Vandal Horseman, Mosaic, Bordj Djedid City, circa 500
The Vandals have lived in Pannonia for 60 years.
In the 380s. they were strongly pushed by the Goths. And at the beginning of the 418th century, under the onslaught of the Huns, the Vandals under the leadership of King Godegisel (Gôdagisl, probably asding) headed up the Danube to the Rhine and further to Gaul. On this path, some of the Suevi and Alans joined them. At the same time, the Suevi and Alans retained their leaders and their relations with the vandals were not vassal, but allied. Moreover, Bishop Idatius claims that up to the defeat by the Visigoths in XNUMX, it was the Alans who played the main role in this alliance of barbarian tribes.
In the winter of 406-407, the Allies invaded Roman possessions in the area of the city of Mongonziaka (now Mainz).
The famous Roman commander Flavius Stilicho (husband of the niece of the eastern emperor Theodosius the Great and father-in-law of the western emperor Honorius), who was of Vandal origin, was reproached by his enemies for allegedly “letting the genie out of the bottle” - he called his relatives for help in the war with the Goths of Radogais. In fact, Stilicho then had to withdraw the troops from the Rhine, which was used by the Vandals, Alans and Suevi. They did not confine themselves to the province of Germany, transferring the hostilities to Gaul as well. A contemporary of those events, the poet Orientius wrote:
"All Gaul started to smoke with one fire."
During one of the battles with the Franks, the Vandal king Godegisel died and along with him - up to 20 thousand soldiers. Then the Alans, who came up in time, saved from the complete destruction of the vandals.
Vandals in Spain
In 409, the Allies crossed the Pyrenees and fought for three years in the territory of modern Spain.
In the chronicle of the Spanish bishop Idazia, it is reported that the conquered lands were distributed by lot by the aliens. The Asdings of King Gunderich occupied Galletia, which then included present-day Galicia, Cantabria, Leon and northern Portugal. The Suevi occupied "the westernmost edge of the oceanic sea" and part of Galletia. Alans settled in the provinces of Lusitania (part of Portugal) and Cartagena. Silingam (king - Friubald, Fridubalth) got the southern lands - Betika. This area is now called Andalusia. The north of Spain was still controlled by the Romans.
At the same time, the conquerors were in a clear minority - 200 thousand newcomers occupied the lands where about 6 million "natives" lived. Orosius claims to be very fast barbarians
"They exchanged swords for plows and the rest of the Romans were favored as friends and allies ... there were some Romans among them who preferred the poor freedom among the barbarians to the tax burdens among the Romans."
Rome did not have the strength to openly resist the vandals, but in 415 they set the Visigoths against the Siling and Alans. In 418, the Gothic king Walia
“Staged a grand slaughter of the barbarians in the name of Rome. He defeated the Siling Vandals in Betika in a battle. He destroyed the Alans, who ruled the Vandals and Suevi, so thoroughly that when their king Atax was killed, the few who survived forgot the name of their kingdom and submitted to Gunderich, the Vandal king of Galicia. "
The king of the Siling was taken prisoner by the Goths and sent to the Romans.
When in 419 the Visigoths left for Gaul, Gunderich, who had already assumed the title of king of the Vandals and Alans, attacked and subjugated his former allies - the Suevi. Then he went to the more promising and richer Bettika, empty after being hit by the Goths.
Gunderich, portrait by an unknown artist, 1513
In 422, he managed to defeat the Roman army, which also included the detachments of the Goth-federates.
But the threat from the more numerous and powerful Visigoths remained.
African kingdom of the Vandals and Alans
In 428, Gunderich died, and his brother Geyserich became the new king, who was to establish a new state in Africa, make Carthage his capital and sack Rome. The great king of the Vandals and Alans, Geyserich, ruled for 49 years and was certainly not the stupid and greedy barbarian that biased Roman authors tried to portray him.
Even the Byzantine Procopius wrote about him:
"Geyserich knew military affairs very well and was an extraordinary person."
Jordan, a representative of a hostile people, in "Acts of the Goths" described Geyserich as a man of short stature and lame because of a fall from a horse, secretive, laconic, far-sighted and despising luxury. And at the same time - "greedy for wealth" (I wonder how this is combined with contempt for luxury?). Also, this author calls Geiserich “stormy in anger"And ready"sow seeds of discord and stir up hatred».
In 437, Geiserich willingly accepted the offer of Boniface, the Roman governor in Africa. "Separatist" Boniface, a rival of the great Aetius, from 427 fought the Roman armies sent against him by Galla Placidia, who actually ruled for her son, Emperor Valentinian III. For help in the fight against the central government, Boniface promised Geiserich two-thirds of the territory of the province of Africa.
Olympiador wrote that
"Boniface was a hero who distinguished himself in many battles against many barbarian tribes."
At the same time, the basis of his army was made up of just mercenary barbarians. So he did not see any problem in cooperation with the vandals.
In May 429, the entire people of the Vandals, Alans and Suevi, led by Geyserich (from 50 to 80 thousand people), crossed the Strait of Gibraltar. The vandals were able to do this only thanks to the help of Boniface, who, according to the testimony of Prosper of Aquitaine, called for help "tribes that did not know how to use ships».
Soon Boniface reconciled with Galla Placidia, but, as the saying goes, "the challenge had to be paid." Vandals occupied most of the Roman possessions. And Spain now belonged to the Goths.
In 430, during the siege by the vandals of the city of Hippo Regius (modern Annaba, Algeria), here, either from hunger, or from old age, Bishop Augustine, the future saint and "Teacher of the Church", died.
In 434, Rome was forced to conclude a treaty securing the lands conquered by him in Africa for Geyserich. King Geyserich promised to pay tribute, but in October 439 the Vandals captured Carthage, which became the capital of this state. It is curious that the vandals entered this city without a fight, because, as it is said, almost all of its inhabitants were at that time in the racetrack for the races. In 442 Rome recognized this conquest as well.
Now the kingdom of the Vandals and Alans included the territories of modern Tunisia, northeastern Algeria and northwestern Libya.
Not long ago, the vandals, who did not know how to use ships, were the first of the barbarians to build a real fleet - the most powerful in the Mediterranean. With his help, they captured Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearic Islands. Then it was Sicily's turn.
Vandals at the height of power and glory
In 450, the position of the vandals improved. That year, the ruler of Rome, Galla Placidia, died. She was buried in Ravenna (the capital of the Western Roman Empire since 401), and her mausoleum misled Alexander Blok, who mistook the empress for some kind of saint:
“The coffin halls are silent,
Their threshold is shady and cold,
So that the black gaze of blessed Galla,
Waking up, he did not burn the stone. "
Their threshold is shady and cold,
So that the black gaze of blessed Galla,
Waking up, he did not burn the stone. "
In 451, the Visigoth king Theodoric died in the battle on the Catalaunian fields. Finally, in September 454, Emperor Valentinian killed the best commander and diplomat of Rome - Aetius. Already on May 16, 455, Valentinian himself was killed as a result of a conspiracy. His widow, Licinia Eudoxia, was married to a new emperor - Petronius Maximus. Legend claims that it was she who summoned King Geyserich to Rome. It didn't take long to persuade the vandals. Their fleet entered the mouth of the Tiber, Rome surrendered at the mercy of the victors and for two weeks (from June 2 to June 16, 455) was in their power.
In addition to other captives, Geiserich took Empress Eudoxia and her two daughters to Africa, one of whom (also Eudoxia) became the wife of his son Gunarikh. This marriage gave Geyserich, as a relative of the emperors, the formal right to interfere in the affairs of Rome. In 477, Gunarich inherited the throne of his father, and for 14 years the daughter of Valentinian III was the queen of the Vandals. By the way, according to a more likely version, the formal reason for the vandal attack on Rome was not the invitation of Eudoxia, but her refusal to marry her daughter to Gunarikh. According to the third version, Geyserich declared that the purpose of his "visit" to Rome was to punish the murderers of the legitimate emperor and "restore justice." But it must be admitted that any reason would have been good for Geiserich's Roman campaign. On the one hand, there is a strong army and a large fleet, on the other, there is an ancient rich and beautiful city. And this is quite enough for the army commander to have a desire to send his subordinates "on an excursion."
Only 7 years later, the former Empress Eudoxia and her other daughter, Placidia, were allowed to return to Rome.
After 455, the Vandals occupied the last areas in Africa that still belonged to Rome.
In 468, the Vandals, led by Geyserich's eldest son, Genson, defeated the combined fleet of the Western and Eastern Empires directed against them.
In 475, the Byzantine emperor Zeno the Isaurian concluded "eternal peace" with Geyserich.
Since the official documents in the kingdom of the Vandals and Alans were drawn up in Latin, and the influence of Roman culture was great, Geyserich, in contrast to Byzantium, supported the Arians. Isidore of Seville wrote in The History of the Goths, Vandals and Suevi:
"Geyserich ... spread the infection of the Arian teaching throughout Africa, expelled the priests from their churches, made a large number of them martyrs and handed them over, according to Daniel's prediction, to the Church of Saints, by changing the sacraments, to the enemies of Christ."
The first coins of the kingdom of the Vandals and Alans were minted under Geizerich.
Meanwhile, the "Eternal City" Rome has lost its significance and grandeur, in fact, has ceased to be a subject of international politics. Italy became a battlefield between the Byzantines and the Goths.
20 years after the sack of the Goths, in 476, during the lifetime of the great Geiserich, the commander of the German mercenaries Herul Odoacer overthrew the emperor of the Western Roman Empire Romulus Augustulus and declared himself king of Italy. Odoacer fought with the Ostrogoths of Theodoric the Great, who killed him during a reconciliation feast in Ravenna in 493.
The decline and fall of the Vandal power
The vandals gradually lost their warlike disposition. The historian Procopius, who was with Belisarius during the last war with the Vandals, already called them "the most pampered" of all the barbarians with whom the Byzantines fought.
The penultimate king of the Vandals was the son of the Roman princess Eudoxia - Gilderich. He moved away from the previous policy: he sought an alliance with Byzantium and patronized not the Arians, but the Orthodox Christians. In 530 he was dethroned by his nephew Helimer. Emperor Justinian used this palace coup as a pretext for an invasion. The war went on from 530 to 534. The famous commander Belisarius in 533 captured Carthage and in 534 finally defeated the army of the Vandals, annexing North Africa to the Byzantine possessions.
Supposed portrait of Belisarius, Church of San Vitale, Ravenna
From two thousand captured Vandals, five cavalry regiments were formed (they were called Vandi or Justiniani), which were sent to the border with Persia. Some of the soldiers entered the service personally to Belisarius. Others fled to the Gothic kingdoms or to the north of Algeria, in the vicinity of the city of Salde (modern Beja), where they mingled with the local population. Young women of the kingdom of the Vandals were married to Byzantine soldiers - also barbarians. In 546, the last attempt to resist vandals was recorded. Some Dux and Guntarit, having deserted from the Byzantine army, raised an uprising, which was supported by the local Berber tribes (which, apparently, under the Byzantines began to live worse than under the Vandals). They even managed to capture Carthage, but the uprising was suppressed, its leaders were executed.