Learn more about Goths

Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the Germanic tribes. For the late 20th century subculture, see Goth subculture. For other uses of Gothic, see Gothic (disambiguation).
Invasion of the Goths: a late 19th century painting by O. Fritsche, is a highly romanticized portrait of the Goths as cavalrymen.

The Goths (Gothic: Image:Gothic g.pngImage:Gothic u.pngImage:Gothic t.pngImage:Gothic a.pngImage:Gothic n.pngImage:Gothic s.png [ Unicode: 𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌰𐌽𐍃], Gutans) were an East Germanic tribe who according to their own traditions left Scandinavia, settled close to the Vistula mouth (in present day Poland), and from the 2nd century settled Scythia, Dacia and Pannonia. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, they harried the Byzantine Empire and later adopted Arianism. In the 5th and 6th centuries, dividing into the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, they established powerful follower-states of the Roman Empire in Iberia and Italy.


[edit] History

The only source for early Gothic history is Jordanes' Getica (published 551), a condensation of the lost twelve-volume history of the Goths written in Italy by Cassiodorus around 530. Jordanes may not even have had the work at hand to consult from, and this early information should be treated with caution. Cassiodorus was well placed to write of Goths, for he was an essential minister of Theodoric the Great, who apparently had heard some of the Gothic songs that told of their traditional origins. Another source is Procopius' de bello gothico, describing the Gothic War of AD 535-552.

According to Jordanes, the Goths originated in Scandinavia (Scandza). Their more specific place of origin was possibly Gotland or Götaland in present day Sweden. They would have become separated from related tribes, the Gutar (Gotlanders) and the Götar (Geats, referred to as Gautigoths and Ostrogoths by Jordanes), who are sometimes included in the term Goths<ref>E.g. Microsoft Encarta (on Swedish history), translations from Old Norse, Anglo-Saxon or Latin and the Primary Chronicle and modern scholarly works on Germanic tribes.</ref> in about the 1st century (but the Gutasaga leaves open the possibility of prolonged contact). They migrated south-east along the Vistula during the 2nd century (Jordanes' Gothiscandza; see Wielbark culture), settling in Scythia, which they called Oium "waterlands", from the 2nd century (see Chernyakhov culture). According to legendary accounts, the capital of this kingdom was Árheimar, at the Dniepr.
One of the floor mosaics excavated at the Great Palace of Constantinople and dated to the reign of Justinian I. It is presumed to represent a conquered Gothic king.

Though many of the fighting nomads who followed them were to prove more bloody, the Goths were feared because the captives they took in battle were sacrificed to their god of war, Tyz,<ref>The one-Handed Tyr</ref> and the captured arms hung in trees as a token-offering. Their kings and priests came from a separate aristocracy<ref>According to Cassiodorus/Jordanes.</ref> and their mythic kings of ancient times were honored as gods.

In the 3rd century, the Goths split into two groups, the Tervingi or Visigoths ("West Goths"), and the Greuthungi or Ostrogoths ("East Goths"). The Visigoths launched one of the first major "barbarian" invasions of the Roman Empire from 263, sacking Byzantium in 267.<ref>Hermannus Contractus, quoting Eusebius, has "263: Macedonia, Graecia, Pontus, Asia et aliae provinciae depopulantur per Gothos".</ref> A year later, they suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Naissus and were driven back across the Danube River by 271. This group then settled north of the Danube and established an independent kingdom centered on the abandoned Roman province of Dacia.

Both the Ostrogoths and Visigoths became heavily Romanized during the 4th century by the influence of trade with the Byzantines, and by their membership in a military covenant centered in Byzantium to assist each other militarily. They converted to Arianism during this time. Hun domination of the Ostrogoth kingdom began in the 370s, and under pressure of the Huns, Visigothic king Fritigern in 376 asked Valens (then Emperor of Eastern Rome) to be allowed to settle with his people on the south bank of the Danube. Valens permitted this, and even helped the Goths cross the river, probably at the fortress of Durostorum, but following a famine the Gothic War (377–382) erupted, and Valens was killed at the Battle of Adrianople.

The Visigoths under Alaric I sacked Rome in 410. Honorius granted the Visigoths Aquitania, where they defeated the Vandals and by 475 ruled most of the Iberian peninsula.

The Ostrogoths in the meantime freed themselves of government of the Huns following the Battle of Nedao in 454. At the behest of emperor Zeno, Theoderic the Great from 488 conquered all of Italy. The Goths were briefly reunited under one crown in the early sixth century under Theodoric the Great, who became regent of the Visigothic kingdom following the death of Alaric II at the Battle of Vouillé in 507. Procopius, writing at this time, interpreted the name Visigoth to mean "western Goths", and the name Ostrogoth as "eastern Goth" which corresponded to the current distribution of the Gothic realms.

The Ostrogothic kingdom persisted until 553 under Teia, when Italy briefly fell back under Byzantine control, until the conquest of the Langobards in 568. The Visigothic kingdom lasted longer, until 711 under Roderic, when it had to yield to the Umayyad invasion of Andalusia.

[edit] Origins

Explaining the origins of the Goths, Jordanes recounted:

The same mighty sea has also in its arctic region, that is in the north, a great island named Scandza, from which my tale (by God's grace) shall take its beginning. For the race whose origin you ask to know burst forth like a swarm of bees from the midst of this island and came into the land of Europe. [...] Now from this island of Scandza, as from a hive of races or a womb of nations, the Goths are said to have come forth long ago under their king, Berig by name. As soon as they disembarked from their ships and set foot on the land, they straightway gave their name to the place. And even to-day it is said to be called Gothiscandza. Soon they moved from here to the abodes of the Ulmerugi, who then dwelt on the shores of Ocean, where they pitched camp, joined battle with them and drove them from their homes.

In the 1st century, Tacitus<ref>Germania, 43.</ref> located the Gothones south of the Mare Suebicum (Suevicum), the Baltic Sea:

Beyond the Lygians dwell the Gothones, under the rule of a king; and thence held in subjection somewhat stricter than the other German[ic] nations, yet not so strict as to extinguish all their liberty. Immediately adjoining are the Rugians and Lemovians upon the coast of the ocean, and of these several nations the characteristics are a round shield, a short sword and kingly government.
The stone circle was one of the Scandinavian burial traditions used by the Goths in Pomerania

Pliny the Elder calls them the Gutones. According to him, they were a major Germanic people, being one of five.<ref>Natural History, Book 4, Chapter 28</ref> He also states<ref>Op. Cit. Book 37, Chapter 11</ref> that the explorer, Pytheas of Massilia (4th century BC) encountered them in his northern expedition to an "estuary" we know to have been the Baltic from Pliny's reference to amber washed up on the beaches. A date earlier than the 1st century is thus supported. Strabo also<ref>Geography, Book 7, Chapter 1, Section 3</ref> mentions that Marbod, after a pleasant sojourn with Augustus, took command of nearly all the tribes in Germania, including the Boutones.<ref>attested as Boutonas in the accusative case, and Latinized to Butones</ref> which are generally interpreted as an error for Goutones, Latinized to Gutones. For the Scandinavian Goths, we have Ptolemy, who mentions the Goutai as living in the south of the island of Skandia.

Due to the central role that the Goths have played in history, their origins have been discussed for a long time. Although no alternative theory has been proposed for the appearance of Germanic tribes in today's northern Poland, some historians have expressed doubts that the Goths originated in Scandinavia. This is due to the fact that, disregarding Jordanes, the earliest unambiguous literary evidence for the Goths (Tacitus and Pliny the Elder) puts them at the Vistula in 1st century. Some claim that there is no conclusive evidence for a migration at the time of Christ's birth, and therefore claim that the origin in Scandinavia should be taken as a topos.<ref>cf. Christensen, Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths, Copenhagen 2002.</ref>

On the other hand, the German scholar Wenskus has pointed out that if Jordanes had wanted to invent a fictive past for the Goths, he would have claimed that they were descended from a prestigious location such as Troy or Rome. He would not have placed their origins in the barbaric North. Moreover, he was writing for fellow Goths who were familiar with their traditions. Besides Jordanes' account, there is both linguistic and archaeological support for the Scandinavian origin.

[edit] Archaeology

The green area is the traditional extent of Götaland and the dark pink area is the island of Gotland. The red area is the extent of the Wielbark Culture in the early 3rd century, and the orange area is the Chernyakhov Culture, in the early 4th century. The purple area is the Roman Empire

In today's Poland, the earliest material culture identified with the Goths is the Wielbark Culture,<ref>The Goths in Greater Poland</ref> which replaced the local Oksywie culture in the 1st century. This replacement happened when a Scandinavian settlement was established in a buffer zone between the Oksywie culture and the probably Vandal Przeworsk culture<ref>[Andrzej Kokowski "Archäologie der Goten" 1999 (ISBN 83-907341-8-4) </ref>.

However, as early as the late Nordic Bronze Age and early Pre-Roman Iron Age (ca 1300 BC–ca 300 BC), this area had influences from southern Scandinavia.<ref>Gothic Connections</ref> In fact, the Scandinavian influence on Pomerania and today's northern Poland from ca 1300 BC (period III) and onwards was so considerable that this region is sometimes included in the Nordic Bronze Age culture.<ref>Dabrowski 1989:73</ref>

During the period ca 600 BC–ca 300 BC the warm and dry climate of southern Scandinavia (2-3 degrees warmer than today) deteriorated considerably, which not only dramatically changed the flora, but forced people to change their way of living and to leave settlements.

The Goths are believed to have crossed the Baltic Sea sometime between the end of this period, ca 300 BC, and 100, and in the traditional province of Ostrogothia, in Sweden, archaeological evidence shows that there was a general depopulation during this period.<ref>Oxenstierna 1945</ref> The settlement in today's Poland probably corresponds to the introduction of Scandinavian burial traditions, such as the stone circles and the stelae, which indicates that the early Goths preferred to bury their dead according to Scandinavian traditions. The Polish archaeologist Tomasz Skorupka states that a migration from Scandinavia is regarded as a matter of certainty:

Despite many controversial hypotheses regarding the location of Scandia (for example, in the island of Gotlandia and the provinces of Västergotland and Östergotland), the fact that the Goths arrived on today's Polish land from the North after crossing the Baltic Sea by boats is certain.<ref>Jewellery of the Goths</ref>

However, the Gothic culture also appears to have had continuity from earlier cultures in the area,<ref>The Goths in Greater Poland</ref> suggesting that the immigrants mixed with earlier populations, perhaps providing their separate aristocracy. The Oxford scholar Heather suggests that it was a relatively small migration from Scandinavia.<ref>Heather 1996:25.</ref> This scenario would make their migration across the Baltic similar to many other population movements in history, such as the Anglo-Saxon Invasion, where migrants have imposed their own culture and language on an indigenous one. The Willenberg/Wielbark culture shifted south-eastwards towards the Black Sea area from the mid-2nd century. It was the oldest part of the Wielbark culture, located west of the Vistula and which had Scandinavian burial traditions, that pulled up its stakes and moved.<ref>Jewellery of the Goths</ref> In Ukraine , they imposed themselves as the rulers of the local, probably Slavic, Zarubintsy culture forming the new Chernyakhov Culture (ca 200–ca 400).

There is archaeological and historical evidence of continued contacts between the Goths and the Scandinavians during their migrations.

[edit] Linguistics

According to at least one theory, there are closer linguistic connections between Gothic and Old Norse than between Gothic and the West Germanic languages (see East Germanic languages and Gothic). Moreover, there were two tribes that probably are closely related to the Goths and remained in Scandinavia, the Gotlanders and the Geats, and these tribes were considered to be Goths by Jordanes (see Scandza).

The names Geats, Goths and Gutar (Gotlanders) are three versions of the same tribal name. Geat was originally Proto-Germanic *Gautoz (plural *Gautaz) and Goths and Gutar were *Gutaniz. *Gautoz and *Gutaniz are two ablaut grades of a Proto-Germanic word (*geutan) with the meaning "to pour" (modern Swedish gjuta, modern German giessen, Gothic giutan) designating the tribes as "pourers of semen", i.e. "men, people".<ref>Andersson (1996).</ref> Gapt, the earliest Gothic hero, recorded by Jordanes, is generally regarded as a corruption of Gaut.

A second but perhaps less strong theory connects the people with the name of the river flowing through their homeland, the Göta älv, which drains Lake Vänern into the Kattegat. In prehistoric times it had a stronger flow than now. The "man" interpretation, however, fits a general Indo-European naming analogy; e.g., Dutch, Deutsch, man, human, etc., and was preferred by Jordanes, who viewed the Goths as pouring forth from Scandinavia. The Wolfram source below also contains a discussion.
The Mausoleum of Theodoric in Ravenna, the only significant relic of true Gothic architecture.

The Indo-european root of the pour derivation would be *gheu-d- as it is listed in the American Heritage Dictionary (AHD). *gheud-is a centum form. The AHD relies on Julius Pokorny for the same root (p. 447).

At some time in prehistory, consonant changes according to Grimm's Law created a *g from the *gh and a *t from the *d. This same law more or less rules out *ghedh-, root of English good in the sense of goodman, as has been suggested by some. The *dh in that case would become a *d instead of a *t. When and where the ancestors of the Goths assigned this name to themselves and whether they used it in Indo-european or proto-Germanic times remain unsolved questions of historical linguistics and prehistoric archaeology.

According the rules of Indo-European ablaut, the full grade, *gheud-, might be replaced with the zero-grade, *ghud-, or the o-grade, *ghoud-, accounting for the various forms of the name. The use of all three grades suggests that the name derives from an Indo-European stage; otherwise, it would be from a line descending from one grade.

A compound name, Gut-þiuda, the "Gothic people", appears in the Gothic Calendar (aikklesjons fullaizos ana gutþiudai gabrannidai). Besides the Goths, this way of naming a tribe is only found in Sweden. <ref>See Suiones and Suiþioð.</ref>

Etymologically, the name of the Goths identical to that of the Gutar, the inhabitants of Gotland, an island in the Baltic Sea. The number of similarities that existed between the Gothic language and Old Gutnish, made the prominent linguist Elias Wessén consider Old Gutnish to be a form of Gothic. The most famous example is that both Gutnish and Gothic used the word lamb for both young and adult sheep. Still, some claim that Gutnish is not closer to Gothic than any other Germanic dialect.

The fact is that virtually all of those phonetic and grammatical features that characterize the North Germanic languages as a separate branch of the Germanic language family (not to mention the features that distinguish various Norse dialects) seem to have evolved at a later stage than the one preserved in Gothic. Gothic in turn, while being an extremely archaic form of Germanic in most respects, has nevertheless developed a certain number of unique features that it shares with no other Germanic language (see Gothic language).

However, this does not exclude the possibility of the Goths, the Gotlanders and the Geats being related as tribes. Similarly, the Saxon dialects of Germany are hardly closer to Anglo-Saxon than any other West Germanic language that hasn't undergone the High German consonant shift (see Grimm's law), but the tribes themselves are definitely identical. The Jutes (Dan. jyder) of Jutland (Dan. Jylland, in Western Danmark) are at least etymologically identical to the Jutes that came from that region and invaded Britain together with the Angles and the Saxons in the 5th century AD. Nevertheless, there are no remaining written sources to associate the Jutes of Jutlandia with anything but North Germanic dialects, or the Jutes of Britain with anything but West Germanic dialects. Thus, language is not always the best criterion for tribal or ethnic tradition and continuity.

The Gotlanders (Gutar) themselves had oral traditions of a mass migration towards southern Europe, written down in the Gutasaga. If the facts are related, that would be a unique case of a tradition that survived in more than a thousand years and that actually pre-dates most of the major splits in the Germanic language family.

[edit] Symbolic meaning

The Goths' relationship with Sweden became an important part of Swedish nationalism, and until the 19th century the view that the Swedes were the direct descendants of the Goths was common. Today Swedish scholars identify this as a cultural movement called Gothicismus, which included an enthusiasm for things Old Norse.

In Medieval and Modern Spain, the Visigoths were thought to be the origin of the Spanish nobility (compare Gobineau for a similar French idea).

Somebody acting with arrogance would be said to be "haciéndose de los godos" ("making himself to come from the Goths"). Because of this, in Chile, Argentina and the Canary Islands, godo was an ethnic slur used against European Spaniards, who in the early colony period would feel superior to the people born locally (criollos).

This claim of Gothic origins led to a clash with the Swedish delegation at the Council of Basel, 1434. Before the assembled cardinals and delegations could undertake the theological discussions, they had to decide how to sit during the proceedings. The delegations from the more prominent nations were to sit closest to the Pope, and there were also disputes about who was to have the finest chairs and who was to have their chairs on mats. In some cases they compromised so that some would have half a chair leg on the rim of a mat. In this infected conflict, the bishop of Växjö, Nicolaus Ragvaldi claimed that the Swedes were the descendants of the great Goths, and that the people of Västergötland (Westrogothia in Latin) were the Visigoths and the people of Östergötland (Ostrogothia in Latin) were the Ostrogoths. The Spanish delegation then retorted that it was only the lazy and unenterprising Goths who had remained in Sweden, whereas the heroic Goths, on the other hand, had left Sweden, invaded the Roman empire and settled in Spain.<ref>Ergo 12-1996.</ref>

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes


[edit] References

  • Andersson, Thorsten. (1996) "Göter, goter, gutar" in Journal Namn och Bygd, Uppsala.
  • Bell-Fialkoff, A.: The Role of Migration in the History of the Eurasian Steppe, London: Macmillan, 2000.
  • Bradley, Henry. The Goths: from the Earliest Times to the End of the Gothic Dominion in Spain, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1888.
  • Dabrowski, J. (1989) Nordische Kreis un Kulturen Polnischer Gebiete. Die Bronzezeit im Ostseegebiet. Ein Rapport der Kgl. Schwedischen Akademie der Literatur Geschichte und Alter unt Altertumsforschung über das Julita-Symposium 1986. Ed Ambrosiani, B. Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien. Konferenser 22. Stockholm.
  • Findeisen, Joerg-Peter: Schweden - Von den Anfaengen bis zur Gegenwart, Regensburg: Verlag Friedrich Pustet, 1998.
  • Oxenstierna, Graf E.C. : Die Urheimat der Goten. Leipzig, Mannus-Buecherei 73, 1945 (later printed in 1948).
  • Heather, Peter: The Goths (Blackwell, 1996)
  • Hermodsson, Lars: Goterna - ett krigafolk och dess bibel, Stockholm, Atlantis, 1993.
  • Kaliff, Anders: Gothic Connections. Contacts between eastern Scandinavia and the southern Baltic coast 1000 BC – 500 AD. 2001.
  • Mastrelli, Carlo Alberto in Volker Bierbauer et al, I Goti, Milan: Electa Lombardia, Elemond Editori Associati, 1994.
  • Nordgren, I.: Goterkällan - om goterna i Norden och på kontinenten, Skara: Vaestergoetlands museums skriftserie nr 30, 2000.
  • Nordgren, I.: The Well Spring of the Goths : About the Gothic peoples in the Nordic Countries and on the Continent (2004)
  • Rodin, L. - Lindblom, V. - Klang, K.: Gudaträd och västgötska skottkungar - Sveriges bysantiska arv, Göteborg: Tre böcker, 1994.
  • Schaetze der Ostgoten, Stuttgart: Theiss, 1995. Studia Gotica - Die eisenzeitlichen Verbindungen zwischen Schweden und Suedosteuropa - Vortraege beim Gotensymposion im Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm 1970.
  • Tacitus: Germania, (with introduction and commentary by J.B. Rives), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.
  • Wenskus, Reinhard: Stammesbildung und Verfassung. Das Werden der Frühmittelalterlichen Gentes (Köln 1961).
  • Wolfram, Herwig: History of the Goths. New and completely revised from the second German edition. Translated by Thomas J. Dunlap. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988. LC number D137.W6213 1987 940.1.

[edit] External links

ar:قوط bg:Готи br:Goted ca:Got (poble germànic) cs:Gótové cy:Gothiaid da:Goter de:Goten et:Goodid el:Γότθοι eo:Gotoj es:Godo eu:Godo fi:Gootit fr:Goths gl:Godos got:𐌲𐌿𐍄𐌰𐌽𐍃 he:גותים hr:Goti hu:Gótok it:Goti ja:ゴート族 ko:고트족 la:Gothi lt:Gotai lv:goti nds:Goten nl:Goten no:Gotere pl:Goci pt:Godos ro:Goţi ru:Готы sk:Góti sr:Готи sv:Goter tr:Gotlar uk:Готи zh:哥特人


Personal tools
what is world wizzy?
  • World Wizzy is a static snapshot taken of Wikipedia in early 2007. It cannot be edited and is online for historic & educational purposes only.