Gepids

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Polities in South-Eastern Europe c. 520 AD; post - Huns & before the Byzantine Invasion of Gothic Italy.

The Gepids (Latin: Gepidae, Gipedae) were an East Germanic tribe. They were closely related to, or a subdivision of, the Goths.

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 Battle of Nedao in 454. The Gepids then founded a kingdom centered in Sirmium, known as Gepidia,[1] 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). [2] An Old English form of their name is recorded in Widsith, as Gefþ-, alongside the name of the Wends.[3]

Early history[edit]

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

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.[4]

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)[5]

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.

Their first named king, Fastida, enlarged their boundaries by war and overwhelmed the Burgundians, almost annihilating them in the 4th 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[edit]

Kingdom of the Gepids

 

 

454–562
 

The Kingdom of the Gepids in its largest extent
Capital Sirmium[6]
Government Monarchy
History
 -  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.[7]

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).[citation needed] 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.

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.[8] The Gepids were finally overrun by the Avars in 567.

list of Gepid kings

Archeological sites[edit]

Gold ring with the inscription Omharus found at Apahida.

In Vlaha, Cluj County, Romania, a necropolis was discovered in August 2004 with 202 identified tombs dated to the 6th century AD.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Other necropolises in Romania are:

Gepid treasures were also found at Someșeni and Şimleul Silvaniei.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  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.").
  2. ^ "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."Yeat, Theedrich (tr.). "Jordanes in Latin and English". Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  3. ^ recorded in the dative plural, Gefþum; interpreted as "Gifþe or Gifþas". R. G. 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.
  4. ^ Arne Søby Christensen: Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths. Studies in a Migration Myth. Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen, Kopenhagen 2002
  5. ^ "Jordane's Origins and Deeds of the Goths". Northvegr. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  6. ^ http://www.dekanski.com/AD/Mitrovica/CivitasStDemetrii.htm
  7. ^ http://www.dekanski.com/AD/Mitrovica/CivitasStDemetrii.htm
  8. ^ 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

References[edit]

External links[edit]