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ancient Germanic tribe. They originated in N Jutland and, along with other Germanic peoples, settled in the valley of the Oder about the 5th cent. B.C. They appeared in Pannonia and Dacia in the 3d cent. A.D., apparently under imperial aegis. In the early 5th cent., the Vandals began a migration that was to take them farther than any other Germanic people. They invaded (406) Gaul, where the Franks, as allies of Rome, refused them permission to settle. In 409 they crossed the Pyrenees to Spain. After meeting opposition there, they concluded a peace with Roman Emperor Honorius, who recognized their right to the land, subject to imperial authority. While in Spain, however, they continued to fight the Romans and Visigoths and were able to develop their maritime power. In 428, Gunderic, the Vandal king, died and was succeeded by his brother, GaisericGaiseric
or Genseric
, c.390–477, king of the Vandals and Alani (428–77), one of the ablest of the barbarian invaders of the Roman Empire. He led (429) his people from Spain into Africa, possibly at the request of Boniface, and quickly subdued a large
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, whose leadership carried the tribe to its greatest heights. Pressed by the Goths, and taking advantage of unsettled conditions in Africa, the Vandals crossed (429) to that continent and defeated the Roman general Boniface. The tradition that they came at Boniface's invitation is probably false. By 435 the Vandals controlled most of the Roman province of Africa, and in 439 they took Carthage. Their vessels made pirate attacks on ships in the Mediterranean, and they went on plundering expeditions to Sicily and S Italy. In 442, Valentinian III recognized Gaiseric as an independent ruler, and Vandal migration ceased. The next years were spent in building a powerful kingdom. Their fleet controlled the Mediterranean, and even the Eastern Empire felt their power. In 455, Rome was sacked by Gaiseric's troops, and Empress Eudoxia and her two daughters were taken as hostages. The Vandals were Arian Christians, and, especially under Gaiseric and his son, Hunneric, they harshly persecuted Orthodox Christianity. The Roman emperors Marjorian and Leo I made attempts to destroy Vandal power, but Zeno was forced to make peace (476) with Gaiseric. After the death (477) of Gaiseric, however, the Vandals declined quickly as a dominant power. In 533, Justinian IJustinian I
, 483–565, Byzantine emperor (527–65), nephew and successor of Justin I. He was responsible for much imperial policy during his uncle's reign. Soon after becoming emperor, Justinian instituted major administrative changes and tried to increase state
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 sent against them an army under BelisariusBelisarius
, c.505–565, Byzantine general under Justinian I. After helping to suppress (532) the dangerous Nika riot (see Blues and Greens), he defeated (533–34) the Vandals of Africa, and captured their king.
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, which after meeting weak resistance, captured Carthage. With this overwhelming defeat the Vandals ceased to exist as a nation. The Vandals were not an artistic people, and they left no monuments of their reign. The modern use of their name is probably derived from the fear and hatred felt toward them by African Catholics and a reminiscence of the sack of Rome.


See J. B. Bury, The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians (1928, repr. 1967); J. M. Wallace-Hadrill, The Barbarian West, 400–1000 (3d ed. 1967).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a group of tribes of eastern Germans.

The Vandals originally lived in the Scandinavian Peninsula. At the turn of the first century B.C. they resettled on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, and by the third century A.D. they had moved to the Danube. In 335 they were settled in Pannonia as Roman foederati. At the beginning of the fifth century the Vandals (together with the Alani) moved westward; over several years they laid waste to Gaul, and in 409 they settled in Spain. Subsequently, after being pushed to the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula, the Vandals, led by their king, Genseric (who ruled from 428 to 477), crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in 429. In the course of ten years (meeting support from slaves and colonists) they conquered the Roman province of Africa (in 439 they captured Carthage), where they established their own kingdom. From here the Vandals carried out devastating raids on the islands and coasts of the western Mediterranean Sea (in 455 they plundered Rome itself).

On part of the territory of North Africa the Vandals confiscated the landholdings of the Roman magnates and divided them up among themselves. This speeded up the disintegration of the clan-tribal system and furthered the coming of age of elements of the feudal system among the Vandals. During the years 533-534 the Vandal kingdom, weakened by differences between the aristocracy, which had enriched itself, and the rank-and-file soldiers, was conquered by Byzantium; the Vandals were absorbed into the local population.


Diligenskii, G. G. Severnaia Afrika v IV-V vv. Moscow, 1961.
Diesner, H.-J. Das Vandalenreich. Leipzig, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


East German people known for their wanton destruction (533). [Ger. Hist.: Payton, 705]
See: Evil


5th-century sackers of Rome and its art. [Ital. Hist.: Espy, 168]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"By the Saturday morning, the vandals had come in and kicked in the blocks.
The Old Vandals mark the annual Jamboree celebrations to bring together all past students of Commonwealth Hall of the University of Ghana, to get together and plan for the progress and future of the Hall, while reminiscing about their past lives as students of the great all-male Hall of the University of Ghana.
According to Ughamadu, 'The fire was ignited when some vandals were scooping fuel from the pipeline.
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Mr Gummerson said: "It's really disheartening when everyone is trying to make the cricket club nice and you've got mindless vandals."
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A North Wales Police spokesman said: "Vandals have caused damage to the ticket machine at Alyn Waters Country Park, Gwersyllt.
"February is the time of year that we start getting people inquiring about landscaping, lawn care, and grass cutting," stated the owner, Todd Vandal. "I think it has something to do with the bitter cold and the desire for winter to get over already, so we can get back to summer."
After the second vandal attack, Councillor Martin White had said: "How very sad some people are.
"There are so many problems with vandals on the canal network through Birmingham and the wider West Midlands," he told the Sunday Mercury.
The team here, which includes volunteers, work really hard to provide a good service for people living with dementia and to see that hard work damaged by vandals is really difficult.