The Goths were Germanic tribes that migrated to the regions north of the Danube in the first few centuries of the Roman Empire. Because of their close proximity to Roman territory, the Goths played an important role in the history of the later Roman empire. This book traces the history of the Goths from their first appearance in history in the first century A. D. to the fall of the Visigoth empire in Spain in 711.
THE TOMB OF THEODERIC, RAVENNA.
Tests little volume is, so far as I have been able to discover, the first English book expressly treating of the history of the Goths. Adequately to supply the strange deficiency in our literature indicated by this fact is a task that will require powers far greater than mine. Some day, perhaps, the story of the Goths will be told in English by a writer possessing the rare combination of literary skill and profound scholarship that will be needed to do it justice. But in the meantime I would fain hope that this brief sketch may be found to have a sufficient reason for its existence. I have made no attempt to write a brilliant narrative, well knowing that success in such an attempt is beyond my reach. My aim has been to relate the facts of the history as correctly as I could, and with the simplicity of language required by the plan of the series in which the work appears--a series intended not for scholars, but for readers in whom little knowledge of general history is to be presupposed.
If this volume should fall into the hand of scholars, it will perhaps be obvious that I have not neglected to read most of the original sources of the history; but it may be still more obvious that I have not the thorough familiarity with them that might justly be demanded if I claimed for my work any independent historical value. Remembering the dangers of "a little learning," I have endeavoured to escape them by refraining from expressing any views which have not the sanction of at least one modern scholar of repute. The prescribed plan of the work has, of course, not permitted me either to adduce arguments or to cite authorities in justification of the particular conclusions adopted.
Among the English writers to whom I am indebted, the first place belongs to Gibbon, whose greatness appears to me in a new light since I have tried to compare a small portion of his wonderful work with the materials out of which it was constructed. I also owe much to Mr. Hodgkin's "Italy and her Invaders," and to various articles by Mr. E. A. Freeman. Among foreign writers my principal guide has been Dahn; I have also made extensive use of the works of Bessell, Waitz, Aschbach, Manso, and Lembke. To mention the titles of books that have been merely consulted on special points seems to me to be unnecessary, and, unless elaborate explanations could be added, likely to be also misleading.
Some surprise may perhaps be occasioned by the date chosen for the accompanying map. My reason for selecting the year 485 rather than 526 is that, if only one map is to be given, the map representing the state of Europe at the culminating period of the Visigoth domination, is more useful for the illustration of Gothic history as a whole, than one relating to the later and intrinsically more interesting epoch.
LONDON, November 1887