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The Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117-38), showing the location of the Gepidae East Germanic tribe, then inhabiting the region around the mouth of the Visula (Vistula) river, Poland
Gepidia

The Gepids (Latin: Gepida; Old English: Gifð; possibly Proto-Germanic: *Gibiðaz, "giver"[1] or gepanta, see below) were an East Germanic Gothic tribe most famous in history for defeating the Huns after the death of Attila. The state of the Gepids was commonly known as Gepidia[2] or Kingdom of the Gepids, whose territory is composed of parts of modern day Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia.

Contents

History

The Gepids were first mentioned around 260 CE, when they participated with the Goths in an invasion in Dacia, where they were settled in Jordanes' time, the mid 6th century. Their early origins are reported in Jordanes' Origins and Deeds of the Goths, where he claims that their name derives from their later and slower migration from Scandinavia:

You surely remember that in the beginning I said the Goths went forth from the bosom of the island of Scandza with Berig, their king, sailing in only three ships toward the hither shore of Ocean, namely to Gothiscandza. One of these three ships proved to be slower than the others, as is usually the case, and thus is said to have given the tribe their name, for in their language gepanta means slow.. (xvii.94-95)[3]

Southeastern Europe, c. 550 AD, showing the Gepid Kingdom and its neighbors.

The first settlement of the Gepids were at the mouth of the Vistula River, which runs south to north from the Polish Carpathian mountains.

These Gepidae were then smitten by envy while they dwelt in the province of Spesis on an island surrounded by the shallow waters of the Vistula. This island they called, in the speech of their fathers, Gepedoios (perhaps Gibið-aujos, meaning "Gepid waterlands" [1]); but it is now inhabited by the race of the Vividarii, since the Gepidae themselves have moved to better lands.

Their first named king, Fastida, stirred up his quiet people to enlarge their boundaries by war and overwhelmed the Burgundians, almost annihilating them in the 4th century, then fruitlessly demanded of the Goths a portion of their territory, a demand which the Goths successfully repulsed in battle. Like the Goths, the Gepids were converted to Arian Christianity.

Then in 375 they had to submit to the Huns along with their Ostrogoth overlords, becoming the favored Hun vassals. Under their king, Ardaric, Gepid warriors joined Attila the Hun's forces in the Battle of Chalons (the "Catalaunian fields") in Gaul (451). On the eve of the main encounter between allied hordes, the Gepids and Franks met each other, the latter fighting for the Romans and the former for the Huns, and seem to have fought one another to a standstill, with 15,000 dead reported by Jordanes, the main source for the events.

Such loyalties were personal bonds among kings, and after Attila's death of a drunken nosebleed in 453, the Gepids and other people allied to defeat Attila's horde of would-be successors, who were dividing up the subjugated peoples like cattle, and led by Ardaric, they broke the Hunnic power in the Battle at the River Nedao in 454:

...a most remarkable spectacle, where one might see the Goths fighting with pikes, the Gepidae raging with the sword, the Rugii breaking off the spears in their own wounds, the Suevi fighting on foot, the Huns with bows, the Alani drawing up a battle-line of heavy-armed and the Heruli of light-armed warriors. (Jordanes, l.259)

After the victory they finally won a place to settle in the Carpathian Mountains.

The Gepidae by their own might won for themselves the territory of the Huns and ruled as victors over the extent of all Dacia, demanding of the Roman Empire nothing more than peace and an annual gift as a pledge of their friendly alliance. This the Emperor freely granted at the time, and to this day that race receives its customary gifts from the Roman Emperor. (Jordanes, l.262)

Not long after the battle at the Nedao the old rivalry between the Gepids and the Ostrogoths spurred up again and they were driven out of their homeland in 504 by Theodoric the Great.

They reached the zenith of their power after 537, settling in the rich area around Belgrade. For a short time, the city of Sirmium was the center of the Gepid State and the king Cunimund minted golden coins in it.[4] In 546 the Byzantine Empire allied themselves with the Lombards to expel the Gepids from this region. In 552 the Gepids suffered a disastrous defeat from Alboin in the Battle of Asfeld and were finally conquered by the Lombards in 567.

Alboin had a drinking-cup made from the skull of Cunimund, which occasioned his death later in Italy, at the hands of an assassin sent by Rosamund, Cunimond's daughter.[5]

Many Gepids followed Alboin to Italy (see Paulus Diaconus), but many remained. In 630, Theophylact Simocatta reported that the Byzantine Army entered the territory of the Avars and attacked a Gepid feast, capturing 30,000 Gepids (they met no Avars). Recent excavation by the Tisza River at Szolnok brought up a Gepid nobleman from an Avar period grave who was also wearing Turkic-Avar pieces next to the traditional Germanic clothes in which he was buried.

Archeological sites in Romania

In Vlaha, Cluj County, Romania, a necropolis was discovered in August 2004 with 202 identified tombs dated to the 6th century AD. 85% of the discovered tombs were robbed in the same period. The remaining artifacts are ceramics, bronze articles and an armory. Also in Romania, at Miercurea Sibiului, there is another necropolis with rich artifacts. Other necropolis in Romania are:

Kings of the Gepids

  • Fastida, fl. c. 250
  • Ardaric, fl. c. 454
  • Gunderit
  • Trapstila, fl. 488
  • Trasericus, fl. 505
  • Mundonus
  • Gelemund, fl. c. 549
  • Thurisind, fl. 552
  • Cunimund, fl. 560s

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b Yeat, Theedrich (tr.). "Jordanes in Latin and English". http://www.harbornet.com/folks/theedrich/Goths/Goths1.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-03.  
  2. ^ Jordanes, Getica, XII.74: Haec Gotia, quam Daciam appellavere maiores, quae nunc ut diximus Gepidia dicitur ("This Gothia, which our ancestors called Dacia, we now call Gepidia.").
  3. ^ "Jordane's Origins and Deeds of the Goths". Northvegr. 2007. http://www.northvegr.org/lore/jgoth/009.php. Retrieved 2008-03-03.  
  4. ^ http://elchem.ihtm.bg.ac.yu/HtDocs/AD/Mitrovica/CivitasStDemetrii.htm
  5. ^ The episode is told in Procopius, in Paulus Diaconus and in Andreas Agnellus

External links

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Simple English

The Gepids were an East Germanic Gothic tribe who became famous after defeating the Huns. The place where the Gepids lived was called Gepidia[1] or Kingdom of the Gepids. The place where the Gepids used to live contained some of Romania, Hungary and Serbia.

References

  1. Jordanes, Getica, XII.74: Haec Gotia, quam Daciam appellavere maiores, quae nunc ut diximus Gepidia dicitur ("This Gothia, which our ancestors called Dacia, we now call Gepidia.").

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