Where did the Visigoths come from?
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Who were the Visigoths?

Danube River
Danube River

The Visigoths, like other German peoples, were originally Indo-European. Their language, Gothic, was closely related to German. We first hear of them when they are living in Poland around 100 BC. Soon after that, some of them, along with their relatives the Ostrogoths, seem to have decided to migrate to the south, very gradually and slowly. Probably bad weather at home made it impossible to feed everyone, and so some people left looking for food, or possibly somebody else pushed the Goths out.

How to speak Gothic

The Visigoths slowly moved south through Slovakia, but stopped when they came up against the Roman Empire, because they could not beat the Roman army. The Visigoths settled along the north side of the Danube river, took up farming and trading with the Romans, and lived there more or less peacefully for several hundred years. Their name, "Visigoths", means the "Nearer Goths," because they lived closer to the Romans than the Ostrogoths did. Then in the 300s AD, like their cousins the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths began to be pushed southward by new invaders, the Huns.

Learn by doing: try to speak a little Gothic!
More on the Visigoths
More about the Ostrogoths
More about the Huns

Bibliography and further reading about the Visigoths:

Europe in the Iron Age
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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