Capital from the Visigothic church of San Pedro de la Nave, province of Zamora
In August 410, the imperial city of Rome was sacked by the army led by Alaric the Goth. It was an event that came to symbolize the decline and fall of the western Roman empire, and after Alaric’s death his followers established the first Germanic state inside the old imperial frontiers: the Visigothic kingdom of Aquitaine.
Over the next three centuries, Gothic kings ruled at different times over southern France, Italy and Spain, as the unity imposed by the Roman empire gave way to the divided kingdoms and peoples whose fluctuating fortunes shaped medieval Europe.
David Gwynn, a reader in ancient and late antique history at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the author of The Goths: Lost Civilizations, explores the dramatic histories of those Gothic kingdoms, through the magnificent art and monuments which have survived and the extensive writings of those who lived under Gothic dominion.
Far from representing a dark age of barbarism, Ostrogothic Italy and Visigothic Spain were thriving centers of culture, only to be cut short by the reconquests of the eastern emperor Justinian and the rising power of Islam. Yet the legacy of the vanished Gothic kingdoms endured, even when superseded by the Frankish empire of Charlemagne, and the Goths played an essential role in the transformation from the ancient to the medieval world that laid the foundations for modern Europe.