How Goths Contributed to the Breakup of the Roman Empire

Last Updated: 19 May 2021
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Today our group will discuss how the Goths contributed to the breakup of the Roman Empire. We will do this by raising some questions and providing the answers for our theory. The Goths were an ancient Germanic Tribe that conquered Europe’s Roman Empire. Each of the Germanic tribes divided into several branches, the Saxons, the Vandals, the Franks and the Goths, The Goths consisted of two branches that contributed to the fall of Europe’s Roman Empire, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths. Geographic descriptions were often used to distinguish people living north of the Roman Empire, so the Goths were known as the forest people. The Goths originated from Sweden. The Western Gothic tribe, The Visigoths, first emerged as a distinct people, during the fourth century. The Eastern tribe, The Ostrogoths, migrated to Poland and developed as a distinct people over the following 300 years. There names are geographical and were used by each tribe to describe each other.

They were however, multi ethnic and cannot lay claimed to an exclusive heritage. The Goths were banished from their homeland after an attack from the Hun, and were desperate enough to camp on the Danube River, from which they crossed into the Roman Empire. They then sheltered from further attacks from the Hunnic invaders, and were offered farmland by the Valens the Emperor of Rome. Famine began to take its toll and in order to get food the Goths plundered the Roman farmlands to survive. Initially, the Ostrogoths were close allies of the Hun.

During the fourth and fifth century, the Ostrogoths emerged as serious rivals to Rome for control of the Danube River, but this became untenable after the arrival of the Hun Barbarians. This is a conflict all about the competition for space, the Hunnic had very defined roles for subordinate ethnic groups, and the Ostrogoths escaped the brutal Hunnic occupation and were received as settlers on Roman soil in Yugoslavia. It was a common belief that the Roman Empire would last forever, but in the third century barbarian invasions became severe which made the Empire weaken its western and northern frontiers.

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The combination of other factors such as imperial It was a common belief that the Roman Empire would last forever, but in the third century barbarian invasions became severe which made the Empire weaken its western and northern frontiers. The combination of other factors such as imperial incompetence, the size of the Empire, the uncontrollable abundance of slaves, the fall of the army, corruption within the senate, poorly equipped technology, Christianity, the rise of Islam along with the barbaric attacks deposed the last Roman emperor. Rome’s fall lead to the dark ages. The Roman rulers had no practical experience in engaging with the barbarians, in a peaceful manner. By offering to settle the Ostrogoth tribes the Romans could not assimilate new soldiers into the army as easily as they had planned. Since the people stopped participating in government and didn’t join the army, the Roman army became a club for barbarians from Germany, who lead disorganised attacks so the army was no longer the super power it was before. Many of the lands that Rome had conquered, claimed independence and broke free of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire fell because it was too widespread, leaving it exposed to constant attack from external groups. Perhaps the territories could have been given greater independence and autonomy allowing the occupiers a greater level of input into government and revenue collection. The Roman Empire in the end was eventually overrun by millions of barbarians from the north and east of Europe. It is believed to have happened two or three times in history that mass migrations of Barbarians took place across Europe, where tribes moved to settle in new territories.

The great migration proved too much for the Romans to stem. Their armies were designed to defeat other armies, not entire folks and people flooding toward them. The collapse of the Western European Empire in Rome was completed when Rome itself was conquered by the Visigoth Odoacer and his men in the year 476 AD. But what is generally referred to as “the fall of the Rome” doesn’t include the Eastern Europe Empire. This, with its centre Constantinople, managed to cling on for almost another thousand years until it was eventually conquered by the Turks under their leader Mohammed II in the year 1453 AD.

The roman emperor Valens allowed to settle with his people on the south bank of the Danube. Here, they hoped to find refuge from the Huns. Valens permitted this, as he saw in them “a splendid recruiting opportunity for his army”. However, a famine broke out and Rome was unwilling to supply them with food they were promised nor the land; open revolt ensued leading 6 years of plundering and destruction of an entire Roman army. The Battle at Adrianople in 378AD was the decisive moment of the war. The Roman forces were slaughtered and the emperor Valens was killed during the fighting. Adrianople shocked the Roman world and eventually forced the Romans to negotiate with and settle the barbarians within the Empire’s boundaries, a development with far reaching consequences for the eventual fall of Rome. After a big battle at Vouill? , the Franks, similar to the Hunnic tribes, took over most of southern France, forcing the Visigoths to move to Spain, where they founded a new capital city, the Visigothic kingdom of Toledo.

As a Roman outpost and during their long reign in Spain the Visigoths are responsible for the only new cities founded in Western Europe between the fifth and eighth centuries. They founded five new cities; Reccopolis, Victoriacum Luceo and Olite. All six of these cities were founded for military purposes and three of them in celebration of victory. By 600AD the Visigoths were the only Arians left in the Mediterranean area or anywhere else. Prolonged contact with the Roman population of the former empire ultimately led to conversion to Catholicism, in the late 6th century translating the bible into the Gothic language.

In Spain the central kingdom of Visigotha still survives, but the ancient kingdom of the Visigoths continued for well over 1,400 years and has finally passed because, like the Romans the Visigoths simply did not have the resources to maintain there colonies. There were five different tribes that may have merged into one dominant group that finally brought Rome down. They were all attacking various pieces of the Western and Roman Empire. It is clear there is a common destiny, which links the rise and fall of both the Roman and VisiGothic Empires.

Throughout history all human endeavour is defined by a beginning, middle and an end. In conclusion there were many factors that led to the eventual collapse of the Roman Empire, however, because of the reasons discussed previously and, because the Goths developed different types of military strategies the Romans had not previously encountered, which led to the defeat of the Empires Army, and eventually contributed to the ultimate collapse of Roman civilisation. Therefore our group strongly believes that the Goths were a major factor which finally caused the breakup of the Roman Empire.


  1. www. howstuffworks. com http://edhelper. com/ReadingComprehension_35_607. html
  2. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Theodosius_I http://authorama. com/story-of-mankind-27. html

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How Goths Contributed to the Breakup of the Roman Empire. (2018, Feb 24). Retrieved from

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