VANDALS

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VANDALS ; according to some, a Sclavonic tribe, there being a remnant of an ancient race in Hungary, in the county of Eisenburg, still bearing this name, and consisting of 40,000 souls, who speak a very ancient Sclavonic dialect. According to others, the Vandals are considered to be a Germanic tribe, one of those whose migration caused the fall of the Roman empire. Their original country was probably in the north of Germany, between the Elbe and Vistula: the early Roman writers mention them very indistinctly. After the third century of the Christian era, they carried on wars, in connexion with the Burgundians, against the Romans on the Rhine. Under the emperor Aurelian (272), they settled in the western parts of Dacia, or Transylvania, and in part of the present Hungary. When they were driven from these regions by the Goths, Constantino the Great permitted them to settle in Pannonia, on condition that they would assist the Romans in their wars. It was a great mistake of the emperors, when the Reman troops had degenerated, to admit foreigners into their legions, and even to grant them the highest honors. The weakness of the Romans thus became more known to the barbarians ; and, in consequence, the latter were more disposed to undertake frequent incursions into the Roman em pire. That there were men of talent among the Vandals, is evident from the instance of Stilicho. (q. v.) In the year 406, the Vandals quitted Pannonia, and proceeded, together with the Alans and Suevi, to Gaul, where they committed great devastations: thence they invaded Spain, passing over the Pyrenees, divided with the Suevi the possession of Galicia and Old Castile, and established there an empire, to which the Alans, who had previously settled in Lusitania, but could not withstand the attacks of the Visigoths, submitted (420). Jealousy often gave rise to wars between the Vandals and the Suevi: the former, however, retained their power until they were compelled by the Romans to leave Galicia, and take refuge in Bsetica, the coast of the present kingdom of Grenada, The Romans made war against them even here, but were defeated (423); and the Vandals were now emboldened to undertake new enterprises, for which they soon found opportunities. Their king, at that time, was Genseric (Geiserich), a brave, enterprisiijg prince, one of the greatest men of his age, who, however, as he was the cause of devastating wars, and had quitted the Catholic church to join the Arian party, has not been justly represented by historians. Northern Africa was, at that time, subject to the Romans. The governor of this province, Boniface, who thought himself wronged by the emperor Valentinian III, invited the Vandals to Africa, promising to divide the province with them. Genseric embarked with all his people (427), in the ports of Andalusia, and went over to Africa. In the mean time, Boniface, having become reconciled to the emperor, would not perform his promise, and at last attempted to drive away the Vandals by force of arms. But he was conquered. Genseric gradually possessed himself of all that part of Africa which belonged to the Western empire, and there founded a powerful empire, to which he soon added the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Majorca and Minorca. His corsairs wers masters of the whole of the Mediterranean, and spread terror on the coasts of Italy. The empress Eudoxia, widow of Valentinian III, who had been compelled by Maximus, the murderer of her husband and usurper of the imperial throne, to marry him, was supposed to have invited the Vandals into Italy from the desire of revenge ; but the conduct of Genseric disproves this supposition; for he took the empress and her daughters prisoners. Genseric made his invasion in 455, actuated by love of plunder, and at the head of a powerful fleet. In Rome, no preparation had been made for defence : all fled, and the emperor Maximus was killed in the first confusion. The Vandals plundered Rome during fourteen days, and took possession of all the treasures and works of art which had been left by the Goths, (q. v.) A number of monuments and statues were shipped by them for Africa, together with several thousand of the most distinguished prise oners. On the passage, a ship ladenĀ® with the finest works of art was lost. Pope Leo met king Genseric at the head of a solemn procession, but could only prevail on him to spare the city from slaughter and conflagration. The savage fury with which the Vandals despoiled the most beautiful works of art, and destroyed the greater part, has given origin to the name of Vandalism. Disputes among the descendants of Genseric, in regard to the succession, caused the fall of the Vandal empire. Geiimer, a bold and ambitious general, dethroned the rightful king, Hilderic, a good prince, and had him murdered. Hilderic had been on friendly terms with the emperor Justinian. The latter declared war against Geiimer, under pretence of revenging Hilderic's death, but, in fact, for the purpose of subduing Africa. Justinian's great general, Belisarius, arrived in Africa with only 15,000 men (534), but was victorious over Geiimer in two battles, and forced him to surrender. Geiimer was carried to Constantinople in triumph; and with him the kingdom of the Vandals in Africa was destroyed, after having lasted 106 years.