Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in /home/linweb28/c/ on line 31
The Vandals: Conquerors of the Roman Empire –

The Vandals: Conquerors of the Roman Empire

Wednesday , 10, May 2023 Leave a comment

Years ago, reading Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, this passage on the Vandals excited my imagination:

 “The Vandals, who in twenty years had penetrated from the Elbe to Mount Atlas, were united under the command of their warlike king; and he reigned with equal authority over the Alani, who had passed within the term of human life from the cold of Scythia to the excessive heat of an African climate. The hopes of the bold enterprise had excited many brave adventurers of the Gothic nation, and many desperate provincials were tempted to repair their fortunes by the same means which had occasioned their ruin.”

The idea of a wandering tribe of barbarians who journeyed from Sweden to Carthage in North Africa is one of the great treks in history. I went so far as to get Procopius’ History of the Vandal Wars (Harvard Loeb Press). I immediately bought Torsten Cumberland Jacobsen’s A History of the Vandals a few years back.

Pen and Sword has been publishing some interesting military histories and one that caught my attention is Simon MacDowall’s The Vandals (Conquerors of the Roman Empire). This book came out in 2016, only four years after Jacobsen’s. This is a slender hardback at 190 pages including index.

MacDowall covers the history but goes more into the military aspect than Jacobsen’s book. MacDowall covers traditional ancient Germanic warfare, the introduction to using cavalry as the Goths and Vandals moved east into Pannonia.

He covers the feud between the Goths and Vandals that went on for hundreds of years. He thinks he has pin-pointed a devastation of the Vandals by the Goths when north of the Danube.

MacDowall points out some interesting things. At first, the Vandals lost just about every battle they fought. Then under Gaiseric, they won all their battles. There was a transformation of the Vandals as they became a totally mounted force by the time they left Spain for North Africa.

The Vandals in North Africa were a force lacking balance. They did not have the heavy infantry to back up the cavalry as other Germanic tribes had in their homelands.

The reconquest of North Africa by the East Roman by Belisarius is given a blow by blow account of the battles. King Gelimer of the Vandals could have won but lost his nerve at a critical moment. Some space is given to what happened to the Vandals. The men were recruited in the East Roman Army and sent East. The women ended up marrying East Roman soldiers and made trouble with a serious mutiny.

If you have an interest in Late Antiquity as I do, pick up Simon MacDowall’s The Vandals. Hamilton Books has an edition of Robert Graves’ Count Belisarius. MacDowall has written a companion book on the Franks.

Please give us your valuable comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *