The Gepids ( _la. Gepidae, _an. Gifðas ("
Beowulf", " Widsith") - possibly from *"Gibiðos", "givers" cite web | title = Jordanes in Latin and English | author = Yeat, Theedrich ("tr.") | url = http://www.harbornet.com/folks/theedrich/Goths/Goths1.htm | accessdate = 2008-03-03] or "gepanta", see below) were an East Germanic Gothic tribe most famous in history for defeating the Hunsafter the death of Attila. The state of the Gepids was commonly known as Gepidia [ Jordanes, " Getica", [http://www.ucalgary.ca/~vandersp/Courses/texts/jordgeti.html#XII XII.74] : "Haec Gotia, quam Daciam appellavere maiores, quae nunc ut diximus Gepidia dicitur" ("This Gothia, which our ancestors called Dacia, we now call Gepidia.").] or Kingdom of the Gepids, whose territory is composed of parts of modern day Romania, Hungaryand Serbia.
The Gepids were first mentioned around 260 AD, when they participated with the Goths in an invasion in
Dacia, where they were settled in Jordanes' time, the mid 6th century. Their early origins are reported in Jordanes' "Origins and Deeds of the Goths", where he claims that their name derives from their later and slower migration from Scandinavia:
You surely remember that in the beginning I said the Goths went forth from the bosom of the island of
Scandzawith Berig, their king, sailing in only three ships toward the hither shore of Ocean, namely to Gothiscandza. One of these three ships proved to be slower than the others, as is usually the case, and thus is said to have given the tribe their name, for in their language gepanta means slow.. (xvii.94-95) [cite web | title = Jordane's Origins and Deeds of the Goths
publisher = Northvegr | date = 2007 |url = http://www.northvegr.org/lore/jgoth/009.php | accessdate = 2008-03-03]
The first settlement of the Gepids were at the mouth of the
VistulaRiver, which runs south to north from the Polish Carpathian mountains.
These Gepidae were then smitten by envy while they dwelt in the province of Spesis on an island surrounded by the shallow waters of the Vistula. This island they called, in the speech of their fathers, Gepedoios (perhaps "Gibið-aujos", meaning "Gepid waterlands" ); but it is now inhabited by the race of the Vividarii, since the Gepidae themselves have moved to better lands.
Their first named king,
Fastida, stirred up his quiet people to enlarge their boundaries by war and overwhelmed the Burgundians, almost annihilating them in the 4th century, then fruitlessly demanded of the Goths a portion of their territory, a demand which the Goths successfully repulsed in battle. Like the Goths, the Gepids were converted to Arian Christianity.
Then in 375 they had to submit to the Huns along with their
Ostrogothoverlords, becoming the favored Hun vassals. Under their king, Ardaric, Gepid warriors joined Attila the Hun's forces in the Battle of Chalons(the "Catalaunian fields") in Gaul (451). On the eve of the main encounter between allied hordes, the Gepids and Franksmet each other, the latter fighting for the Romans and the former for the Huns, and seem to have fought one another to a standstill, with 15,000 dead reported by Jordanes, the main source for the events.
Such loyalties were personal bonds among kings, and after Attila's death of a drunken nosebleed in 453, the Gepids and other people allied to defeat Attila's horde of would-be successors, who were dividing up the subjugated peoples like cattle, and led by Ardaric, they broke the Hunnic power in the Battle at the River Nedao in 454:
...a most remarkable spectacle, where one might see the Goths fighting with pikes, the Gepidae raging with the sword, the
Rugiibreaking off the spears in their own wounds, the Suevifighting on foot, the Huns with bows, the Alani drawing up a battle-line of heavy-armed and the Heruliof light-armed warriors. (Jordanes, l.259)
After the victory they finally won a place to settle in the Carpathian Mountains.
The Gepidae by their own might won for themselves the territory of the Huns and ruled as victors over the extent of all Dacia, demanding of the Roman Empire nothing more than peace and an annual gift as a pledge of their friendly alliance. This the Emperor freely granted at the time, and to this day that race receives its customary gifts from the Roman Emperor. (Jordanes, l.262)
Not long after the battle at the Nedao the old rivalry between the Gepids and the
Ostrogothsspurred up again and they were driven out of their homeland in 504 by Theodoric the Great.
They reached the zenith of their power after 537, settling in the rich area around
Belgrade. For a short time, the city of Sirmiumwas the center of the Gepid State and the king Cunimundminted golden coins in it. [http://elchem.ihtm.bg.ac.yu/HtDocs/AD/Mitrovica/CivitasStDemetrii.htm] Dead link|date=March 2008 In 546 the Byzantine Empireallied themselves with the Lombardsto expel the Gepids from this region. In 552 the Gepids suffered a disastrous defeat from Alboinin the Battle of Asfeldand were finally conquered by the Lombards in 567.
Alboin had a drinking-cup made from the skull of Cunimund, which occasioned his death later in Italy, at the hands of an assassin sent by Rosamund, Cunimond's daughter. [The episode is told in
Procopius, in Paulus Diaconusand in Andreas Agnellus]
Many Gepids followed Alboin to Italy (see Paulus Diaconus), but many remained. In 630,
Theophylact Simocattareported that the Byzantine Army entered the territory of the Avarsand attacked a Gepid feast, capturing 30,000 Gepids (they met no Avars). Recent excavation by the TiszaRiver at Szolnokbrought up a Gepid nobleman from an Avar period grave who was also wearing Turkic-Avar pieces next to the traditional Germanic clothes in which he was buried.
Archeological sites in Romania
In Vlaha, Cluj County,
Romania, a necropolis was discovered in August 2004 with 202 identified tombs dated to the 6th century AD. 85% of the discovered tombs were robbed in the same period. The remaining artifacts are ceramics, bronze articles and an armory. Also in Romania, at Miercurea Sibiului, there is another necropolis with rich artifacts. Other necropolis in Romania are:
Moreşti, Mureş County
Noşlac, Alba County
Brateiu, Sibiu County
Şeica Mică, Sibiu County
* Royal necropolis at Apahida
Turda: the richest Germanic tomb found in Romania is here. The "Franziska" tomb was found in a Roman site and dated to the 5th century AD. Gepid treasures were also found at Someşeniand Şimleul Silvaniei.
Kings of the Gepids
Fastida, fl. c. 250
Ardaric, fl. c. 454
Trapstila, fl. 488
Trasericus, fl. 505
Gelemund, fl. c. 549
Thurisind, fl. 552
Cunimund, fl. 560s
* [http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~vandersp/Courses/texts/jordgeti.html Jordanes] : e-text
* [http://mek.oszk.hu/03400/03407/html/33.html "The Kingdom of the Gepids"] , in: Lászlo Makkai and András Mócsy, editors, 2001. "History of Transylvania", II: István Bóna, "From Dacia to Erdöelve: Transylvania in the period of the Great Migrations (271-896)"
* [http://www.mnir.ro/ro/colectii/tezaur/apahida/apahida-foto.html Apahida Artefacts]
* [http://www.historyonmaps.com/ColourSamples/cbig/Gepidak.jpgMap of Gepidia]
* [http://www.euratlas.net/PHA/history_europe/europe_map_0500.html Map of Gepid Kingdom]
* [http://indoeuro.bizland.com/project/chron/europe3.gifKingdom of the Gepids - location map]
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