33 Lesser-Known Visigoths Facts Based On Roman History

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 12, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Mar 21, 2022
Visigoth facts will engage you by providing many different historical facts

The Visigoths were one of the numerous Germanic tribes that constantly threatened the Roman Empire in the first half of the first millennium CE.

The Visigoths were not the only goths who existed during Roman rule. The other well-known Gothic people were known as the Ostrogoths.

According to Roman historians of that period, the German Visigoths were a mixture of mainly two distinct tribes; the Ostrogoths or the Eastern Goths and the Visigoths or the Western Goths. It's believed that the Visigoths made their way toward Roman territory in the fourth century CE, after losing their homeland to the Huns.

Keep reading to learn more exciting facts about the Visigoths.

The Origin And History Of Visigoths

The Visigoths most likely became an independent entity after separating from other western tribes living in the parts of the northeast of the Roman Empire.

When the Roman Empire was essentially at its peak in the third and fourth centuries CE, they began facing disturbances toward the east of their empire.

The leading cause of worry came from a ferocious Central Asian nomadic group who were known as the 'Huns.' 

Because of the Huns, the other East-European tribes came looking for shelter in Roman lands.

After pleading with the Roman Emperor Valens, the Visigoths were given permission to settle in Roman lands for military aid. 

Initially, the Visigoths made the area next to the Danube River their home. 

However, due to regular ill-treatment of the Visigoths by the Roman citizens and their local representatives, the Visigoths soon turned from a farming community into a vicious warrior class of people.

When matters turned worse, Emperor Valens waged war against the Visigoths. 

In 378 CE, however, the Romans were defeated at the battle of Adrianople, and the emperor was killed.

The Romans had no choice but to make peace with the Visigoths in 382 CE.

The architect of this peace treaty was Emperor Theodosius I, who tried to convert the Visigoths to the type of Christian religion that Rome adhered to. 

Emperor Theodosius found it challenging to fulfill this task as the Romans followed Christianity of the Nicene Creed. In contrast, the Visigoths were followers of Arian Christianity.

After the passing of Theodosius, the Visigoths started revolting again and, in turn, made Alaric I their king.

Slowly, the Visigoths made themselves independent of the Romans, and in 475 CE, the Visigoth King Euric made their independence official.

When the Western Roman Empire ended a year later, in 476 CE, the Eastern Roman Emperor recognized both the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths, among other Germanic tribes, as the legitimate successors of the Romans.

By the middle of the seventh century CE, the Italian Romans and the Visigoths of Spain had united to become a single entity under the Catholic Church.

Culture, Customs, And Traditions Of Visigoths

The Goths were, in the very beginning, a settled population. They peopled the lands next to the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. Their chief profession was that of farming. The Goths would also indulge in hunting activities to fulfill their food requirements.

According to historian Peter Heather, the Goths were much ahead of their time in agriculture, politics, and commerce. 

In the Gothic political system, the existence of a single king was not known until the end of the fourth century.

The Goths were ruled by chieftains, who were chosen by the representatives of the leading clans.

Their skill in the art of falcon rearing, horse riding, and archery was well-known in other regions. 

One of the main items they traded in was animal fur, which was always in high demand.

When the Goths first came into contact with the Romans, they were followers of indigenous religious traditions. 

In the fourth century CE, a Christian missionary named Ulfilas traveled to Goth lands from the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Constantinople, and helped in the conversion of the Goths.

Weapons Used By Visigoths

The Visigoths had the unique ability to learn the craft of weaponry from their allies and enemies.

While going into battle, Visigothic warriors wore battle armors to protect themselves.

One of the remarkable features of Visigothic warriors was that each soldier wore a different costume and carried a different set of weapons. 

In other words, there was no standard uniform or style that the Visigothic soldiers had to follow.

When they went out to battle, the opposition forces used to get intimidated by their appearance.

Since the Visigoths spent a lot of time fighting the Roman Army from the outset of the fourth century CE, most of the weapons they carried were similar to those used by the Roman Army.

The Visigoths were a people always on the move, so it was only natural that they picked up the customs of the various populations that they encountered on their way to the central parts of the Roman Empire. 

When we look at the weaponry of the Goths, we find spears, swords, lances, javelins, and pikes.

Generally, the typical Goth warrior used to carry a sword, to be used in close combat, and a spear-like weapon, which was used to engage with enemies at a distance.

The different kinds of weapons that the Goth warrior carried made them effective killers on the battlefield.

Migration And Territory Of Visigoths

Historians have not been able to reach a consensus regarding the original homeland of the Visigoths.

Some believe that they had their base in Dacia (modern-day Romania), and once the Huns came from their east to ravage their lands, they began moving west.

With time, the Visigoths kept pushing west until they reached Italy in the fifth century CE.

From Italy, they moved towards Spain, and it is here that they established the Visigoth Kingdom.

Around this time, a portion of the tribe shifted to Gaul (present-day France) and served under the leadership of the Ostrogoths. 

The Visigothic Kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal) lasted from the fifth century CE to the eighth century CE.


Q. What did the Visigoths look like?

A. Visigoth men generally kept long hair and wore a Roman-style tunic. Women wore a garment called the amiculum.

Q. Who were the Visigoths, and why are they important?

A. The Visigoths were Germanic people who migrated from Eastern Europe in the fifth century CE and eventually succeeded the Romans as rulers of Spain and France.

Q. Who were the Huns, who were the Goths?

A. The Huns were a nomadic warrior tribe with Central Asian origins. They were prolific invaders in the fourth and fifth centuries.

They ravaged many parts of Europe and Asia during this time. The Goths were a mixture of several tribes, chiefly the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths. They were instrumental in bringing about the downfall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century CE.

Q. What are the Visigoths known for?

A. The Visigoths are known for attacking the Roman Empire in the fifth century, leading to the famous sack of the city of Rome in 410 CE. They went on to replace the Romans in Spain and France.

Q. Where are the Visigoths today?

A. The descendants of the Visigoths live in modern Spain, Portugal, and France.

Q. What language did Visigoths speak?

A. They spoke a Germanic language known as Gothic, part of the Indo-European language family.

Q. Are Hispanics Visigoths?

A. The Visigoths ruled Spain for more than 200 years. So, it would not be incorrect to assume that the Hispanics share the bloodline of the Visigoths.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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