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The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature
M. C. HowatsonM. C. Howatson


A Germanic people who left their original homes in Scandinavia and settled on the south coast of the Baltic Sea, then gradually moved further south until they became the western neighbours of the Visigoths. They attacked the Roman provinces in the third and fourth centuries ad. On 31 December 406 they crossed the Rhine near Mogontiacum (Mainz) together with Alans and Suebi, moved on to devastate Gaul, and in 409 invaded Spain. Here too they caused great destruction, but subsequently made apparently permanent settlements. However, in 429 most of them crossed over into Africa under Gaiseric (see Carthage), who built a fleet and controlled the western Mediterranean; in 455 he captured Rome and carried off many works of art. The last Vandal king, Gelimer, was defeated by a Roman army under Belisarius in 533 and subsequently captured and taken to Constantinople.