Vandals Reputation

(Were the Vandals as bad as some people have indicated?)

Do Vandals Deserve Their Reputation?

Any references to vandalism and we think of such synonyms as, ransacker, marauder, pillager, plunderer, looter, destroyer, despoiler, etc.; however, such derogatory terms may not be justified. The word is based on the Vandal Germanic tribesmen, who invaded the Roman empire in the year 477 A.D. under their king, Genseric.

  • The word "vandalism" apparently was not applied until the year 1794, when it was coined by a French bishop, Gregoire de Blois, when describing the "inhuman goriness and cultural savagery of the French Revolution".
  • The Vandals were an ancient Germanic tribe of Jutland who migrated to the Oder River valley about the fifth century B.C.
  • They were related to the Angles and the Saxons.
  • During the second and third centuries B.C., they settled along the Danube River.
  • They went into Gaul (now France) in 406 A.D., invaded Spain in 409 A.D., and fought in the latter country against both the Romans and the Germanic Visigoths.
  • Genseric became king in 482, and the Vandals moved to Africa the following year, defeating the Romans there.
  • By 439, they conquered Carthage, a Roman colony at that time.
  • The Vandal navy ruled the western Mediterranean Sea, and they looted and plundered various parts of Italy; including Rome.
  • The plundering of Rome by the Vandals

  • The Vandals plundered Rome for 14 days.
  • They carried off gold, silver, and jewels from the emperor's palace; but these spoils of wars were primarily the loot taken by the Romans themselves in their earlier conquests.
  • The Vandals also took back with them a few thousand slaves, as was the custom in those days, as well as the empress and her two daughters, as hostages.
  • One of the daughters, Eudoxia, was married to the king's son Humneric.
  • On the other hand, the Vandals did not slaughter or create a "bloodbath" nor were they cruel to the Roman citizens.
  • Rape by Vandal soldiers was forbidden, on pain of death, if they did do it.
  • There is no record of any public building being destroyed by the Vandals.
  • The great works of stone, which the Vandals and the Goths respected, had either already been defaced or were to be defaced and shattered later by the degenerate descendants of the Romans.
  • How mild the Vandals' stopover in Rome can be seen by the fact that barely a week after the plunderers left for home, the Romans were again enjoying their circus, in all of its splendid barbarity.
  • The looting that the Vandals did was in keeping with the unwritten rights of what every military victor has done for centuries; they took away any valuables or booty.
  • What the Vandals did NOT do is to their everlasting credit

  • They forbade utterly any cruelty towards the civilian population; especially, toward women and children.
  • They would not permit the desecration of shrines nor the destruction of cultural monuments.
  • These statements are verified by Bishop Salvianus of Marseilles, who wrote in A.D. 450:
  • "If anyone under the Goths and Vandals leads a debauched life, it is a Roman. For the Goths and Vandals set such stock by moral cleanliness and uprightness that not only are they chaste but—and here I say something new, unbelievable and unheard of—they have chastened the Romans, too. Shame on you Roman people, shame on your way of living, for only those of your towns are free from vice where the barbarians hold sway."

  • On another occasion, he wrote:
  • "Where Goths are ruling, only the Romans are depraved; but where Vandals rule, the Romans, too, are not allowed to practice vice."

—From "Vandals Don't Deserve Reputation" by John Wardle
as seen in Spotlight, August 9, 1982, page 13.

Pointing to a page about the Vandals The vandal- list of words.