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Danube river, winding between green forests

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, in what is now Slovakia and Romania. They 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, new invaders, the Huns, started to push both the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths further south – into the Roman Empire.

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:

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