The Info List - Genseric

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Huneric Gento

Father Godigisel

Religion Arianism

(c. 400[citation needed] – January 25, 477), also known as Gaiseric or Geiseric (Latin: Gaisericus; reconstructed Vandalic: *Gaisarīks), was King of the Vandals
and Alans
(428–477) who established the Vandal Kingdom
Vandal Kingdom
and was one of the key players in the troubles of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
in the 5th century. During his nearly 50 years of rule, he raised a relatively insignificant Germanic tribe to the status of a major Mediterranean power. After he died, they entered a swift decline and eventual collapse. Succeeding his brother Gunderic at a time when the Vandals
were settled in Baetica, Roman Hispania
(modern Andalusia, Spain), Genseric successfully defended himself against a Suebian attack and transported all his people, around 80,000, to Northern Africa
Northern Africa
in 428. He might have been invited by the Roman governor Bonifacius, who wished to use the military strength of the Vandals
in his struggle against the imperial government. Genseric
caused great devastation as he moved eastward from the Strait of Gibraltar across Africa. He turned on Bonifacius, defeated his army in 430, and then crushed the joint forces of the Eastern and Western empires that had been sent against him. In 435 Genseric
concluded a treaty with the Romans under which the Vandals
retained Mauretania
and part of Numidia
as foederati (allies under special treaty) of Rome. In a surprise move on October 19, 439, Genseric
captured Carthage, striking a devastating blow at imperial power. In a 442 treaty with Rome, the Vandals
were recognized as the independent rulers of Byzacena
and part of Numidia. Seizing Sicily
in 440 AD and later the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, Corsica, and Malta, Genseric’s fleet soon came to control much of the western Mediterranean. His most famous exploit, however, was the capture and plundering of Rome in June 455. Subsequently, the King defeated two major efforts by the Romans to overthrow him, that of the emperor Majorian
in 460 and that led by Basiliscus
at the Battle of Cape Bon
Cape Bon
in 468. After dying in Carthage
at the age of 77, Genseric
was succeeded by his son Huneric.


1 Early life and accession 2 Africa 3 Consolidation and later life 4 Media adaptions 5 See also 6 References 7 Footnotes 8 Further reading

Early life and accession[edit] Genseric
was an illegitimate son of King Godigisel; he is assumed to have been born near Lake Balaton[citation needed] (Hungary) around 400. After his father's death in battle against the Franks
during the Crossing of the Rhine
Crossing of the Rhine
406 AD, Genseric
became the second most powerful man among the Vandals, after the new king, his half-brother Gunderic. After Gunderic's death in 428, Genseric
was elected king. He immediately began to seek ways of increasing the power and wealth of his people, who then resided in the Roman province of Hispania
Baetica in southern Hispania. The Vandals
had suffered greatly from attacks from the more numerous Visigothic federates, and not long after taking power, Genseric
decided to leave Hispania
to this rival Germanic tribe. In fact, he seems to have started building a Vandal fleet even before he became king. In 428 Genseric
was attacked from the rear by a large force of Suebi
under the command of Heremigarius who had managed to take Lusitania.[1] This Suebi
army was defeated near Mérida and its leader Hermigario drowned in the Guadiana
River while trying to flee.[1] Africa[edit]

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Sacking Rome, a painting by Karl Briullov

Taking advantage of a dispute between Boniface, Roman governor of North Africa, and Aetius, Genseric
ferried all of his people (80,000 according to Procopius
in his History of the Vandalic
Wars; however, it is believed that this was a large exaggeration and the number was probably closer to 20,000[2][3]) across to Africa in 429. Once there, he won many battles over the weak and divided Roman defenders and quickly overran the territory now comprising modern Morocco
and northern Algeria. His Vandal army laid siege to the city of Hippo Regius (where Augustine
had recently been bishop — he died during the siege), taking it after 14 months of bitter fighting. A peace between Gaiseric and the Roman Emperor Valentinian III
Valentinian III
was concluded on 11 February 435, and in return for recognizing Genseric
as king of the lands he and his men had conquered the Vandals
would desist from attacks on Carthage, pay a tribute to the Empire, and send his son Huneric
as a hostage to Rome.[4] On October 19, 439, noting that the forces of the Western Empire were heavily involved in Gaul, Genseric
took possession of Carthage, probably through some treachery. Stewart Oost observes, "Thus he undoubtedly achieved what had been his purpose since he first crossed to Africa."[5] The Romans were caught unaware, and Genseric
captured a large part of the western Roman navy docked in the port of Carthage. The Catholic
bishop of the city, Quodvultdeus, was exiled to Naples, since Genseric
demanded that all his close advisors follow the Arian form of Christianity. Nevertheless, Genseric
gave freedom of religion to the Catholics, while insisting that the regime's elite follow Arianism. The common folk had low taxes under his reign, as most of the tax pressure was on the rich Roman families and the Catholic clergy. Added to his own burgeoning fleet, the Kingdom of the Vandals
now threatened the Empire for mastery of the western Mediterranean Sea. Carthage, meanwhile, became the new Vandal capital and an enemy of Rome for the first time since the Punic Wars. With the help of their fleet, the Vandals
soon subdued Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica
and the Balearic Islands. Genseric
strengthened the Vandal defenses and fleet and regulated the positions of Arians and Catholics. In 442, the Romans acknowledged the Carthaginian conquests, and recognized the Vandal kingdom as an independent country rather than subsidiary to Roman rule. The area in Algeria
that had remained for the larger part independent of the Vandals
turned from a Roman province into an ally. For the next 30 years, Genseric
and his soldiers sailed up and down the Mediterranean, living as pirates and raiders. One legend has it that Genseric
was unable to vault upon a horse because of a fall he had taken as a young man; so he assuaged his desire for military glory on the sea. Consolidation and later life[edit]

Pope Leo the Great attempts to persuade Genseric, prince of Vandals, to abstain from sacking Rome. (miniature ca. 1475)

In 455, Roman emperor Valentinian III
Valentinian III
was murdered on orders of Petronius Maximus, who usurped the throne. Genseric
was of the opinion that these acts voided his 442 peace treaty with Valentinian, and on May 31, he and his men landed on Italian soil and marched on Rome, where Pope Leo I
Pope Leo I
implored him not to destroy the ancient city or murder its inhabitants. Genseric
agreed and the gates of Rome were thrown open to him and his men.[6] Maximus, who fled rather than fight the Vandal warlord, was killed by a Roman mob outside the city. Although history remembers the Vandal sack of Rome as extremely brutal — making the word vandalism a term for any wantonly destructive act — in actuality the Vandals
did not wreak great destruction in the city; they did, however, take gold, silver and many other things of value. He also took with him Empress Licinia Eudoxia, Valentinian's widow, and her daughters, Eudocia and Placidia. Many important people were taken hostage for even more riches.[6] Eudocia married Genseric's son Huneric
after arriving in Carthage. They had been betrothed earlier as an act of solidifying the treaty of 442. In 468, Genseric's kingdom was the target of the last concerted effort by the two halves of the Roman Empire. They wished to subdue the Vandals
and end their pirate raids. Genseric
defeated the eastern Roman fleet commanded by Basiliscus
off Cap Bon. According to Procopius, the total invasion force consisted of 100,000 men with a fleet drawn from the whole of the eastern Mediterranean.[7] Genseric sent a fleet of 500 Vandal ships against the Romans, losing 340 ships in the first engagement, but succeeded in destroying 600 Roman ships in the second. The Romans abandoned the campaign and Genseric
remained master of the western Mediterranean until his death, ruling from the Strait of Gibraltar
Strait of Gibraltar
all the way to Tripolitania.[8] Following up the Byzantine defeat, the Vandals
tried to invade the Peloponnese
but were driven back by the Maniots
at Kenipolis with heavy losses.[9] In retaliation, the Vandals
took 500 hostages at Zakynthos, hacked them to pieces, and threw the pieces overboard on the way to Carthage.[9] In 474, Genseric
made peace with the Eastern Roman Empire, and on January 25, 477, he died at Carthage. Media adaptions[edit]

was played by Götz Otto
Götz Otto
in the 2010 miniseries Augustine: The Decline of the Roman Empire. Named Geiseric, he was played by Richard Brake
Richard Brake
in the 2016 miniseries Barbarians Rising In Kentaro Miura's popular dark fantasy manga Berserk the character of Skull Knight is said to have been a King Gaiseric, however the character has similarites with both the Genseric
and Charlemagne.

See also[edit]

?Battle of Agrigentum (456)


Diesner, Hans-Joachim (1966). Das Vandalenreich. Aufstieg und Untergang. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.  Antiquité Tardive - L'Afrique vandale et byzantine. Turnhout: Brepols. 2002–2003.  Miles &, Merrills (2010). The Vandals. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.  Conant, Jonathon (2012). Staying Roman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 


^ a b Cossue (28 November 2005). "Breve historia del reino suevo de Gallaecia (1)". Celtiberia.net. Retrieved 11 August 2010.  ^ Merrills and Miles, The Vandals, 2012 ^ Conant, Staying Roman, 2014 ^ Thomas Hogdkins, Italy
and Her Invaders, second edition (Oxford, 1892), vol. 2 pp. 244-249 ^ Stewart Oost, Galla Placidia
Augusta: A biographical essay (Chicago: University Press, 1968), p. 259 ^ a b J.B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire (London: Macmillan, 1889), vol. 1 p. 235f ^ Procopius, De Bello III.6.1. Translated by H.B. Dewing, Procopius (Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1979), vol. 2 p. 55 ^ Priscus, fragment 42; Candidus, fragment 2. Both translated by Colin D. Gordon, The Age of Attila: Fifth Century Byzantium and the Barbarians (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1966), p. 120f ^ a b Greenhalgh and Eliopoulos, Deep into Mani: Journey into the Southern Tip of Greece, p. 21

Further reading[edit]

Gibbon, Edward (1896–1902). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. New York: Macmillan.  Goffart, Walter (1980). Barbarians and Romans, A.D. 418-584 : the Techniques of Accommodation. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05303-0.  Gwatkin, H.; Whitney, J., eds. (1957). The Cambridge Medieval History. Cambridge: Macmillan.  O'Donnell, James J. (1985). Augustine. Boston: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-6609-X.  Mills, Andrew (2010). The Vandals. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 1405160683. 

Regnal titles

Preceded by Gunderic King of the Vandals 428–477 Succeeded by Huneric

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 10640208 LCCN: n89624336 GND: 11869