(Genseric the Vandal)


Genseric was the leader of the Vandals, a barbarian tribe that succeeded in gaining control of huge areas of formerly Roman territory, immediately preceding the collapse of the Western Empire. By the time Genseric was crowned king of the Vandals, in 428 A.D., Rome had already been sacked by the Visigoths, and had lost its territories in Britain and Gaul, but it still held Western Africa, and most islands in the Mediterranean. Due to treachery within the Roman Government, Genseric was allowed to cross over from Spain into Africa, in 429 and immediately proceeded to conquer Roman territory in Africa, including the city of Hippo. The famous Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo died during the siege. He was first allied, with, then later opposed by Boniface, the Roman governor of Africa, but Rome was not powerful enough to withstand the Vandals. Unlike the Visigoths, who were semi-civilized and nominally Christian, the Vandals were utterly merciless, and pillaged Christian churches, and took Roman citizens as slaves. Rome tried to appease Genseric by ceding his holding by treaty, but he continued his conquests and over the next decade captured the city of Carthage, and made raids upon Sicily. He also built a pirate fleet and terrorized the entire Mediterranean.

Still the Roman government did nothing to effectively resist Genseric. But worse was to come. Due to political struggles inside Rome, the weak Emperor Valentinian III had been deposed, and his widow Eudoxia sought revenge by inviting Genseric to come to Rome and restore her family to the throne. He came to Rome, but only to pillage and ruin the city, before returning to his base in Africa. Five years after the sack of Rome, a new emperor did rise to resist Geneseric. Majorian sent a fleet against him, but was rebuffed. By this point it was clear that the Western Empire was utterly incapable of dealing with the menace so the Eastern Emperors, First Leo, then Zeno, raised armies to march against the Vandals, but they all were rebuffed. Genseric maintained all of his holdings in Africa, and lived to see the complete collapse of the Western Empire in 476, a year before his own death.

Key events during the life of Genseric:

Declared king of the Vandals.
Led followers into Africa, captured large territory.
Besieged city of Hippo.
Northern Africa ceded to Vandals by treaty.
Besieged city of Carthage.
Conquered and ransacked Island of Sicily.
Invited to conquer Rome by deposed Empress Eudoxia.
Defeated expedition sent against him by Majorian.
Defeated expedition sent against him by Zeno.
Made peace with Zeno, having won control of Roman Africa, Sicily, Sardina, and Corsica

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
The Vandal Horde  in  Old Time Tales  by  Lawton B. Evans
End of the Empire of the West  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Genseric the Vandal in  Famous Men of the Middle Ages  by  John H. Haaren
Barbarians Rule in Rome  in  The Story of Europe  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Downfall of Rome  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris
Genseric the Vandal Sacks Rome  in  European Hero Stories  by  Eva March Tappan

Image Links

The Vandals in Rome
 in Greatest Nations - Rome

Athenian Ship of War
 in Back Matter

Short Biography
Count Boniface Roman General in charge of African Provinces.
Augustine of Hippo Greatest Christian theologian of the Middle Ages. Wrote Confessions and City of God.
Valentinian III Weak Roman Emperor who failed to oppose Genseric.
Eudoxia Empress. Widow of Valentinian III. Invited Genseric to conquer Rome.
Majorian Roman Emperor who tried to oppose Genseric.
Leo Emperor of the East, who outfitted a navy against Geneseric.
Zeno Followed Leo as Emperor of the East. Also tried to oppose Genseric.