Where did the Visigoths come from?

Quatr.us answers questions: an online encyclopedia of history and science

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
Quatr.us home

Copyright 2012-2015 Karen Carr, Portland State University. This page last updated September 2015.

About - Contact - Privacy Policy - What do the broom and the mop say when you open the closet door?