They are first recorded in 6th-century historiography as having been allied with the Goths in the invasion of Dacia in c. 260. In the 4th century, they were incorporated into the Hunnic State. Under their leader Ardaric, the Gepids united with other Germanic tribes and defeated the Huns at the Battle of Nedao in 454. The Gepids then founded a kingdom centered on Sirmium, known as Gepidia, which was defeated by the Lombards a century later. Remnants of the Gepids were conquered by the Avars later in the 6th century, and both Gepids and Avars were eventually conquered and assimilated by the Slavs in the late 6th and during the 7th century.
Jordanes reports that their name is from gepanta, an insult meaning "sluggish, stolid" (pigra). An Old English form of their name is recorded in Widsith, as Gefþ-, alongside the name of the Wends.
The history of the Gepids prior to the 5th century cannot be traced with any reliability. They are mentioned in the Augustan History, a work purporting to date to the early 4th century, but which is more commonly placed in the early 6th by philologists. The history of the Gepids is then given by Jordanes and Procopius as part of the history of the Goths. The account of Jordanes in particular cannot be taken as entirely historical, and it is not clear if the Gepids existed as a group prior to the 3rd century.
According to Jordanes, their name has a mocking meaning of "sluggards" because they were latecomers in the southward migration of the Goths:
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)
The settlements of the Gepids at that time would have been at the mouth of the Vistula River, corresponding to the archaeological Wielbark culture. In the 3rd century (around 260 AD), according to Jordanes, the Gepids would have caught up with the Goths and participated in their invasion of Dacia.
Around the mid 2nd century AD, there was a significant migration by Germanic tribes of Scandinavian origin (Rugii, Goths, Gepidae, Vandals, Burgundians, and others) towards the south-east, creating turmoil along the entire Roman frontier. The 6th century Byzantine historian Procopius noted that the Goths, Gepidae and Vandals were physically and culturally identical, suggesting a common origin. These migrations culminated in the Marcomannic Wars, which resulted in widespread destruction and the first invasion of Italy in the Roman Empire period. Their first named king, Fastida, enlarged their boundaries by war and overwhelmed the Burgundians, almost annihilating them in the 3rd century. Then in 375, they became subjects of the Huns. Under King Ardaric, Gepidan warriors joined Attila the Hun's forces in the Battle of Chalons (the "Catalaunian fields") in Gaul in 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.
After Attila's death in 453, the Gepids and other people allied to defeat Attila's successors. Led by Ardaric they broke the Hunnic power in the Battle at the River Nedao in 454.
Kingdom of the Gepids
|Kingdom of the Gepids|
The Kingdom of the Gepids in its largest extent
|-||Battle of Nedao||454|
|-||Battle of Asfeld||562|
|Today part of||Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, Ukraine|
The kingdom of the Gepids, or Gepidia, was established after the final defeat of the Huns in 454. 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.
Gepids reached the zenith of their power after 537, settling in the rich area around Singidunum (today Belgrade). For a short time, the city of Sirmium (today Sremska Mitrovica) was the center of the Gepid State and the king Cunimund minted golden coins in it.
In 546 the Byzantine Empire allied themselves with the Lombards, and in 552 the Gepids suffered a disastrous defeat from Alboin, king of the Lombards, in the Battle of Asfeld, after which Alboin had a drinking-cup made from the skull of Cunimund.
The Gepids were finally overrun by the Avars in 567. Many Gepids followed Alboin to Italy in 568 (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.
- list of Gepid kings
- Ardaric, fl. c. 454
- Trapstila, fl. 488
- Trasericus, fl. 505
- Elemund, fl. c. 549
- Thurisind, fl. 552
- Cunimund, fl. 560s
For they all have white bodies and fair hair, and are tall and handsome to look upon...
In Vlaha, Cluj County, Romania, a necropolis was discovered in August 2004 with 202 identified tombs dated to the 6th century AD. Eighty-five percent 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 necropolises in Romania are:
- Moreşti, Mureş County
- Noșlac, Alba County
- Brateiu, Sibiu County
- Șeica Mică, Sibiu County
- Timişoara Freidorf site
- Apahida necropolis
- Turda: the richest Germanic tomb found in Romania is here. The "Franziska" tomb was found in a Roman site and dated to the 5th century AD.
- 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.").
- Jordanes. "Goths" (in Latin and English). Yeat, Theedrich tr. Harbour net. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
For undoubtedly they too trace their origin from the stock of the Goths, but because, as I have said, gepanta means something slow and stolid, the name Giped arose as a spontaneous taunt. I do not believe the name itself is very far from wrong, for they are slow of thought and too sluggish for quick movement of their bodies.
- Recorded in the dative plural, Gefþum; interpreted as "Gifþe or Gifþas". RG Latham, 'On the Gepidae', Transactions of the Philological Society (1857), 1–9. Latham also suggests Gapt, the variant given by Jordanes of Gaut, the eponymous ancestor of the Goths, as the eponymous ancestor of the Gepidae.
- Arne Søby Christensen: Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths. Studies in a Migration Myth. Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen, Kopenhagen 2002
- "Jordane's Origins and Deeds of the Goths". Northvegr. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- "History of Europe: The Germans and Huns". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
- "Ancient Rome: The barbarian invasions". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
- "Germanic peoples". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
- "Germany: Ancient History". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
- Procopius. History of the Wars. Book III. II
- Which occasioned his death later in Italy, at the hands of an assassin sent by Rosamund, Cunimund's daughter; as told in Procopius, in Paulus Diaconus and in Andreas Agnellus
- Procopius. History of the Wars. Book III. II
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (January 2012)|
- Jordanes: e-text
- "The Kingdom of the Gepids", in: Lászlo Makkai and András Mócsy, editors, 2001. History of Transylvania, II: István Bóna, "From Dacia to Erdöelve: Transylvania in the period of the Great Migrations (271-896)"
- Apahida Artefacts
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