Germanic people of obscure origin (possibly Scand.; perhaps Swed.); their movement seems to have been slowly southeastward through Eur.; in the 1st c. AD they occupied the cen. part of the Vistula basin; ca. 150 they moved to Silesia; by the end of the 2d c. they inhabited a large area N of the Black Sea, where they came into contact with the declining power of the Roman* Empire. The Ostrogoths (apparently meaning eastern Goths) reached Asia Minor in the 4th c. and as far west as It. toward the end of the 5th c. The Visigoths (evidently meaning valiant Goths; also called West Goths) ranged as far west as Sp. in the 5th c.
On the death of Theodoric* 526, his daughter Amalasuntha became regent for her son Athalaric (516534). On the latter's death she became coruler with her cousin Theodahad. Amalasuntha was murdered ca. 535. Theodahad was killed by a Goth 536 and was replaced by Witigis in fall 536. In 540 the Goths offered the throne to Belisarius (ca. 505565), who entered Ravenna with Byzantine forces; Witigis was taken prisoner to Constantinople, and Belisarius refused the throne. In fall 541 Gothic chiefs chose Totila king; he was mortally wounded in battle with Narses* in summer 552. When Teias, last Ostrogoth king of It. (July 552early 553) was killed in battle with Narses, the Ostrogoths disappeared from significant hist.
Goths were in touch with Christianity at least as early as 276, when captives they took in Cappadocia included Christians. Audius (see Audians) was miss. among the Goths in the 4th c., but it was not till the time of Ulfilas* that Christianity was formally est. among them. Tr. of the Bible into Gothic was an important factor in their conversion (see Bible Versions, I). Arianism* got a foothold among the Goths, since Ulfilas was consecrated bp. among them by Arian Eusebius* of Nicomedia.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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