On This Day
439 – The Vandals, led by King Gaiseric, take Carthage in North Africa.
The Vandals were a large East Germanic tribe or group of tribes that first appear in history inhabiting present-day southern Poland. Some later moved in large numbers, including most notably the group which successively established kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula and then North Africa in the 5th century.
The traditional view has been that the Vandals migrated from southern Scandinavia to the area between the lower Oder and Vistula rivers during the 2nd century BC and settled in Silesia from around 120 BC. They are associated with the Przeworsk culture and were possibly the same people as the Lugii. Expanding into Dacia during the Marcomannic Wars and to Pannonia during the Crisis of the Third Century, the Vandals were confined to Pannonia by the Goths around 330 AD, where they received permission to settle from Constantine the Great. Around 400, raids by the Huns forced many Germanic tribes to migrate into the territory of the Roman Empire, and fearing that they might be targeted next the Vandals were pushed westwards, crossing the Rhine into Gaul along with other tribes in 406. In 409 the Vandals crossed the Pyrenees into the Iberian Peninsula, where their main groups, the Hasdingi and the Silingi, settled in Gallaecia (northwest Iberia) and Baetica (south-central Iberia) respectively.
After the Visigoths invaded Iberia in 418, the Iranian Alans and Silingi Vandals voluntarily subjected themselves to the rule of Hasdingian leader Gunderic, who was pushed from Gallaecia to Baetica by a Roman-Suebi coalition in 419. In 429, under king Genseric (reigned 428–477), the Vandals entered North Africa. By 439 they established a kingdom which included the Roman province of Africa as well as Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Malta and the Balearic Islands. They fended off several Roman attempts to recapture the African province, and sacked the city of Rome in 455. Their kingdom collapsed in the Vandalic War of 533–4, in which Emperor Justinian I’s forces reconquered the province for the Eastern Roman Empire.
Renaissance and early-modern writers characterized the Vandals as barbarians, “sacking and looting” Rome. This led to the use of the term “vandalism” to describe any senseless destruction, particularly the “barbarian” defacing of artwork. However, modern historians tend to regard the Vandals during the transitional period from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages as perpetuators, not destroyers, of Roman culture.
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Born On This Day
1605 – Thomas Browne, English physician and author (d. 1682)
Sir Thomas Browne (/braʊn/; 19 October 1605 – 19 October 1682) was an English polymath and author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including science and medicine, religion and the esoteric. Browne’s writings display a deep curiosity towards the natural world, influenced by the scientific revolution of Baconian enquiry. Browne’s literary works are permeated by references to Classical and Biblical sources as well as the idiosyncrasies of his own personality. Although often described as suffused with melancholia, his writings are also characterised by wit and subtle humour, while his literary style is varied, according to genre, resulting in a rich, unique prose which ranges from rough notebook observations to polished Baroque eloquence.
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