Ancient history


The Goths were Germanic peoples, according to their own traditions originating in Scandinavia, see Goths of Scandinavia. They may have come from the island of Gotland. But they could also come from Götaland in southern Sweden or from the north of present-day Poland. At the beginning of our era they settled in the region of the Vistula estuary (in the north of present-day Poland). We then find the written traces of their presence in the writings of ancient geographers under the name of Gutonen (Gothic:gutans, Gutans) - Tacitus, La Germanie. The root "gaut", which seems to return both in the names of "Goths", "Götar" and "Gutar" indicates however that it is a probable common origin. It comes from the Gothic giutan (in German giessen, in French pour) and would take the meaning
Ausgießer ⇔ neck

(in German Ausgießer).

In the second part of the 2nd century, part of the Goths migrated south-east towards the Black Sea. As early as the 3rd century the Goths were settled in the region of modern Ukraine and Belarus where they were probably joined by other groups who were more or less integrated into the tribe. The Goths formed a single people until the end of the 3rd century. After a first confrontation with the Roman Empire in the south-east of Europe at the beginning of the century, they separated into two groups:the Greuthunges in the East and the Tervinges in the West who would later become the Ostrogoths or "bright Goths", in the East, and the Visigoths or "wise Goths" in the West.

The Greutungen/Ostrogoths were subjugated by the Huns in 375. After their decline, they became Foederati of the Roman Empire. But in 488, they conquered Italy under Theodoric, at the request of the Byzantine Empire. After Theodric's death, the Ostrogot empire collapses under the pressure of Justinian's army.


Macedonia and Greece. antique

Installed on the borders of the Roman Empire, the Goths were, from 230, at the origin of the first great barbarian invasions that the empire suffered. In 267, the Goths plundered Thrace. In 269 the Romans, led by Emperor Claudius II the Gothic, defeated them at the Battle of Naissus and in 271 they were driven back to the Danube. This group, the future Visigoths, then settled across the Danube and established an independent kingdom in the abandoned Roman province of Dacia. Meanwhile, the Goths who remained in Ukraine established a vast and powerful kingdom along the Black Sea. They became the Ostrogoths.

The Goths were briefly united under a single crown at the beginning of the 6th century, during the reign of the Ostrogothic king Theodoric the Great, who was the regent of the Visigothic kingdom for almost two decades.

The Goths were the first barbarian people to be Christianized. Bishop Wulfila (311-383) translated the Bible into Gothic and converted the Goths to Arianism, one of the first heresies of Christianity (according to the word used by the Roman church) and which contributed to stigmatize the differences between the Romans and the so-called barbarian Germanic peoples who adopted it.


The question of the origin of the Goths is an important historical and philological puzzle.

The first Mediterranean descriptions of the presence of the Goths place them in Poland, at the mouth of the Vistula, in the 2nd century BC. Around 150-200, they occupied the shores of the Black Sea, in the region of present-day Ukraine. Jordanes, a sixth-century Romanized Goth, reported that according to their traditions and legends, their place of origin is Scandinavia. Jordanes also describes two Scandinavian tribes named Gautigoths (probably the Swedish province of Westrogothia/Västergötland) and Ostrogoths (probably the Swedish province of Ostrogothia/Östergötland). This tradition is supported by archeology which demonstrates close relationships between southern Scandinavia and the culture of the Goths. There is also a large population loss in Ostrogothia in southern Sweden at the time of the appearance of the Goths in Poland. According to linguists, the Ostic (Gothic) branch of the Germanic languages ​​is more closely related to the Scandinavian branch than to the Westic branch.

The reconstructed root of the word goth, *Gut-, is identical to that of Gotland, an island in the Baltic Sea. There are interesting correspondences between Gothic, the language of the Goths, and Gutnisk, the Swedish dialect of Gotland.


* Around 180:Installation of the Goths on the shores of the Black Sea.

* Around 200:The empire of the Goths is formed on the shores of the Black Sea.

* 220:The Goths invade Asia Minor and the Balkan Peninsula.

* 238:Despite paying tribute, the Romans fail to persuade the Goths and Carps to withdraw from the province of Moesie.

* 247:Beginnings of the invasions of the Goths.

* 250:In the Balkans, the Carps invade Dacia and the Goths Moesia.

* 250:Beginning of the first war of the Goths (end in 269).

* 257:The Goths float on the Black Sea.

* 257:The Goths separate into Ostrogoths and Visigoths.

* 267:The Goths plunder Thrace, Macedonia and Greece.

* 269:End of the first war of the Goths.

* 332:The Goths allied to Rome protect the borders of the Danube.

* 332:The Romans under Constantine I defeat the Goths on the Lower Danube.

* 334:The Goths protect the Roman Empire against a Vandal invasion in the Danubian region.

* 350:Beginning of the second Gothic war (ending in 360).

* 350:Foundation of kyiv, the capital of the Gothic Empire of Russia.

* 360:End of the second Gothic war.

* 369:The Gothic bishop Wulfila (or Ulfilas) composes a Gothic alphabet from Greek and Latin letters as well as some Germanic runes.

* 379:Theodosius I supports the war against the Goths.

* 401:Beginning of the Third Goth War.

* 413:End of the Third Goth War.

* 512:Theodoric the Great publishes his Edictum Theodorici, code for the Romans and the Goths.

* 531:The Latin writer Cassiodore, historian of the Goths, makes them the equals of the Romans.

* 535:Beginning of the last war of the Goths

* 552:End of the last war of the Goths


The Goths spoke a Germanic language. As it received from Wulfila a writing several centuries before the other Germanic languages, thus reaching the rank of written language, traditional Gothic is more ancient than Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse. Gothic was the best-known representative of the East Germanic languages, a group of languages ​​in which we can count Vandal or Burgundian. Today, goth is dead down to the traces it left in the vocabulary of the Roman language. Until the 17-18th centuries there were still remnants in Crimea:Crimean Gothic.

Western Europe

The main posterity in Western Europe, on History, Arts and local toponyms, comes from the kingdom left by the Visigoths given its longevity.
See the article Posterity of the Goths in Europe Western.

Eastern Europe

The question essentially arises from excavations on archaeological cultures.

The treasure of the Goths was found in 1837 in Bucharest by a peasant. It is one of the things the Visigoths left behind when they fled from the Huns. The famous brooches with the effigy of eagles are among them. The eagle was the symbol par excellence of the Goths since the time when they had lived on the shores of the Black Sea. There were also plenty of others.

Previous Post
Next Post