The Goths (Gothic Old Norse: Gutar/Gotar; German: Goten; Latin: Gothi; Greek: Γότθοι,) were an East Germanic people, 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.

An important source of knowledge of the Goths is Getica, a semi-fictional account, written in the sixth century by the Roman historian Jordanes, of their migration from southern Scandza (Scandinavia), into Gothiscandza—believed to be the lower Vistula region in modern Pomerania—and from there to the coast of the Black Sea. Archaeological evidence from the Pomeranian Wielbark culture and the Chernyakhov culture, northeast of the lower Danube, confirms that some such migration did in fact take place. In the third century, the Goths crossed either the lower Danube or the Black Sea, ravaged the Balkan Peninsula and Anatolia as far as Cyprus, and sacked Athens, Byzantium, and Sparta. By the fourth century, the Goths had 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). The Goths dominated a vast area, which at its peak under the Kings Ermanaric and Athanaric extended all the way from the Danube to the Volga river, and from the Black to the Baltic Sea.

In the late fourth century, the Huns came from the east and invaded the region controlled by the Goths. Although the Huns successfully subdued many of the Goths, who joined their ranks, a group of Goths led by Fritigern fled across the Danube. They then revolted against the Roman Empire, winning a decisive victory at the Battle of Adrianople. By this time the Gothic missionary Wulfila, who devised the Gothic alphabet to translate the Bible, had converted many of the Goths from paganism to Arian Christianity. In the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries the Goths separated into two main branches, the Visigoths, who became federates of the Romans, and the Ostrogoths, who joined the Huns. [more..]

(Source: mortisia)

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