The Goths were a nomadic East Germanic people known for its raids and battles against the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries. They played a pivotal role in the downfall of the Western Roman Empire.
The origin of the Goths is still unclear. Most believe that their homeland was in Southern Scandinavia, possibly the island of Gotland. It seems that by the middle of the 2nd century, the Goths had settled near the Danube River and Black Sea in Central and South-eastern Europe. During the late 4th century, an onslaught by the Huns into their territory compelled the Goths to move west and invade the Roman Empire. At this point, the Goths were split into two major groups: the Visigoths (Goths of the west) and the Ostrogoths (Goths of the east). There was also a smaller group called the Crimean Goths, based in Crimea, whose culture and language survived well into the Middle Ages.
The Vandals were another Germanic tribe which took part in the sacking of Rome. Some of them settled in northern Africa.
The Goths had a legendary impact on Europe as the destroyers of Rome: Gothic architecture was a derogatory term for an architectural style perceived as "barbaric", though it had no actual connections to the Goths. Gothic fiction is a 19th to 20th century term for horror fiction.
Scholars of the Swedish Empire imagined the Goths as a glorious tribe, and founders of Sweden. Modern scholars have a more critical view, which recognizes the Goths' possible Scandinavian origin, with less romanticism.
- 1 Toulouse. The capital of the Visigothic Kingdom for much of the 5th century before falling to the Franks in 507.
- 2 Ravenna. The Ostrogothic capital for 60 years, many of Ravenna's finest buildings and architecture were built during this era. These include the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, the Palace of Theoderic, and Mausoleum of Theodoric.
- 3 Barcelona. The centre of Catalonian culture was a temporary capital of the Visigoths during the early 6th century. The Museum of the History of Barcelona has exhibitions on the city's Gothic past.
- 4 Pavia. The final capital of the Ostrogoths and the last stronghold of resistance against the Byzantine Empire. Many Ostrogothic artifacts are found in the civic museums of Pavia.
- 5 Braga. Under Visigothic rule from the middle of the 6th century to early 8th century, the only architecture from the period remaining is the Chapel of São Frutuoso.
- 1 Carolina Rediviva (Uppsala, Sweden). Uppsala University's library contains the famed 6th century Silver Bible (Codex argenteus) – the best-preserved text written in the extinct Gothic language, named a UNESCO Memory of the World in 2011.
- 2 Gotlands Museum (Visby, Sweden). A museum of Gotland's prehistory, with some of the scarce evidence for the Goths' probable origin on Gotland.