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A short outline of events after the Goths' entry into the ERE in 376 AD:

http://www.gordondoherty.co.uk/writeblog/timelineofthegothicwar

Some say this struggle was the catalyst for the Western Empire's fall. There is a plausible chain reaction theory to back that up (autonomous Goths living in empire post-382->Alaric->Visigothic identity->overreliance on 'foederati'), but I wondered what other people thought?
 

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I'll study the site this weekend. Looks interesting.

Have you read Michael Kulikowski's "Rome's Gothic Wars"? I vaguely remember that I liked it, but that was years ago.

 

Goth.jpg.0568fccb33e128e4ce0953c6ab41216a.jpg

 

I still have a difficult time grasping the supposed division of the Goths into the two groups: Visigoths and Ostrogoths. I found this response below to the debate interesting, but not completely convincing:

https://www.quora.com/Why-did-the-Goths-split-into-the-Visigoths-and-the-Ostrogoths

 

Quote
John Martin
John Martin, MA History and Anthropology, Belarusian State University
Updated Mar 8, 2018 · Author has 176 answers and 211.7k answer views
 
 

There was no such “split” between the Goths. The Goths were one people but were ruled by two noble families: The Balts and the Amals. When they emigrated out of Poland into Ukraine the Goths separated and followed their noble families. The ones who belonged to the Balt family eventually settled in what is now the forested area of Moldova and Romania and the Goths led by the Amals settled in what is now the steppes of Ukraine. The Goths were also known as Thervings and Greuthungs. The Thervings (or forest people) were ruled by the Balti family and the Greuthungs (or ground or steppe farmers) were ruled by the Amali.

It was the Byzantine writers that gave the names “wisi” and “ostro” to designate their settlement areas. Wisi = western = Goths or the ones near Moldova and Romania and Ostro = East = Goths who settled in Ukraine. However, the Goths never called themselves “Visigoths” or “Ostrogoths.” It was only until much later that they adopted these terms in order to rule Western Europe.

By the way, the Lombards, Burgundians, Vandals, and several smaller tribes, such as, Gepids, Heruli, Rugi, were all brother or cousin tribes to the Goths. They all spoke the same language and had similar or same customs.

A similar opinion about the separation of the Goths into two groups:

https://www.ancient.eu/Goths/

Quote

They were later defined by Cassiodorus and categorized as "Visigoths" (western Goths) and "Ostrogoths" (eastern Goths), but they did not originally refer to themselves by these designations. The claim that the Visigoths were originally ruled by a family named Balthi (or Balts) and the Ostrogoths by the illustrious Amal family seems to have some truth to it but is thought to have been embellished upon by Cassiodorus or, perhaps, Jordanes.

 

Any thoughts?

 

guy also known as gaius

Edited by guy

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Hello Guy (Gaius 😉),

Thanks for the reply.

Yes I have a copy of Kulikowski - it's one of my staple books on this topic. Re the division of the Goths, Jordanes - in writing his Getica (Origins of the Goths) in the 6th c AD - complicates matters by conflating and confusing the history of the people. The Amal and Balti families are more likely to have been much later (possible 5th or even 6th century) dynasties than he claims. Peter Heather dissects Jordanes brilliantly in this volume:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Romans-332-489-Oxford-Historical-Monographs/dp/0198202342 (see pages 19 and 59)

512EFHtirrL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Removing the Amal/Balthi confusion clears the matter up quite considerably. What does that leave us with?

The most solidly-attestable Gothic starting point is their time north of the Danube in the 3rd/4th centuries AD, when they existed in many tribal groupings, the two largest of which were the Thervingi (in an area roughly corresponding to modern-day Romania) and the Greuthingi (around the Crimea region). When the Huns arrived from the steppe and began throwing their weight around, a large proportion - possible a majority - of these Gothic tribes fled into the Roman Empire seeking a mutually beneficial treaty with Eastern Emperor Valens.

What followed (the Gothic War) is covered in my timeline, but it is only after the war subsided that the Visigothic 'identity' began to arise amongst the Goths now settled in Roman territory. Essentially, this grouping would have been a mish-mash of Thervingi, Greuthingi, Taifali, Alans and even some mercenary Huns too - basically everyone who crossed the river in 376 AD and survived the subsequent Gothic War.

The Ostrogothic identity arose within the Gothic people who chose not to cross the river in 376 AD. These people - again a mish-mash of tribes (some Thervingi, some Greuthingi etc etc) - fell under the Hunnic yoke at first before forging their identity after the Huns faded away (~453 AD).

The origins of the terms Visigoth and Ostrogoth are disputed. I'm not convinced by Kulikowski's West/East theory. The term 'Vesi' in the Gothic language supposedly meant 'worthy' and 'Ostro' roughly means 'shining' (like dawn and very likely linked to the Germanic goddess, Ostara). Ostro came to eventually (long after antiquity) mean East in English. Worthy and Shining sound more like terms a people would call themselves, as opposed to Western and Eastern. That's my thinking on it anyway.

Sorry if you knew most of that - but I found it helped me to express it!

Edited by Gordopolis

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I appreciate the information and insight. Maybe some of our more knowledgeable contributors can add something to the discussion as your research far exceeds anything I might know or understand.

 

 

guy also known as gaius

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The Goths were not quite a single people. They were a group of tribes that shared common cultural links and origins (they were supposed to have migrated from a northern land, often thought of as Sweden). The fact is the Goths were never exclusive. They were quite happy to include foreigners among them especially those who liked a good fight. Jordanes wrote a history of the Goths, the Res Gaetica, which was itself a summary of an earlier lost work by Cassiodorus. Clearly Jordanes' work has to be taken with some caution but it reveals a number of tribes with leaders vying for control, and notably, Valens gave permission for certain tribes to settle in Roman territory whilst others simply took the opportunity to cross the Danube with them.

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And here's a third post on the time-period - looking at the challeneg of piecing together the rather fragmented history following the retirement of the main chronicler, Ammianus Marcellinus:

 

A Gap in History - picking up the pieces after the chronicles of Ammianus Marcellinus https://historytheinterestingbits.com/2018/07/31/guest-post-a-gap-in-history-by-gordon-doherty/

g3.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Gordopolis

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