(Gothonles, Gotones, Guttones, in Tacitus and Pliny), a German people, originally dwelling along the Baltic sea between the Vistuila and the Oder. Their native name, Gutthinda, is preserved in the Fragments of bishop Ulphilas. The later form, Gothi, does not occur until the time of Caracalla. At the beginning of the 3d century they are spoken of as a powerful nation in the regions of the lower Danube, where the Getae and Scvthians of former times bad lived, and the, name of Getae or Scythian is sometimes applied to them. The different tribes composing this people were:
1. The Gothi Minores or Moesogoths, who became permanently established in Mesia, and devoted themselves to agricultural pursuits (Jornandes, 51, 52);
2. Gothi Tetraxitae, Ostrogoths of the Palus Mseotis (Procop. Bell. Goth. 4);
3. Taifalae, in Dacia, a branch of the Visigoths (Ammian. Marcell. 17:13; 31:3; Eutrop. 8:2);
6. Sciri and Turcilingi;
some writers include also the Alans and Vandals among the Goths. The nation of the Goths was divided into two principal groups; the Ostrogoths, who occupied the sandy steppes of the East, and the Visigoths, who inhabited the more fertile and wooded countries of the West. Zosimus and Ammianus Marcellinus frequently mention the Greutingi or Grutingi and the Thervingi or Tervingi, concerning whom different opinions are entertained by modern writers. They were, perhaps, the leading tribes among the Ostrogoths and Visigoths respectively. The language of the Goths resembled the ancient dialect of the Franks very closely. They wore beards, and suffered their yellow hair to grow long. The royal dignity among them was hereditary.
The occupation of Dacia by this people took place during the reign of the emperor Philip (A.D. 244-249), and was immediately followed by aggressive wars against the Romans, in which Mcesia, Macedonia, and Greece suffered from their incursions, and. the armies of the emperor Decius were twice defeated and destroyed. Between 253 and 269 they ravaged the coasts of Europe and Asia Minor with a fleet of which they had become possessed. Pityus, Trapezus, Chalcedon, Nicomedia, Nicaea, Prusa, Apamea; and Cius fell before their assaults: Cyzicus was destroyed; and the coast of Greece, from the south of Peloponiesus to Epirus and Thessaly was ravaged, Illyricum in particular being literally ransacked. In 269 Crete and Cyprus were swept by their destructive powers and Cassandrea and Thessalonica were besieged; but in that year the emperor Claudius defeated them in three great battles, which earned for him the name of Gothicus, and broke the barbarian power. A period of comparative quiet, interrupted by few and unimportant expeditions, now ensued in the history of the Goths. In 272 the emperor Aurelian ceded to them the province of Dacia. In 332 they followed their king, Araric, across the Danube, but were defeated, and concluded a peace which lasted until the family of Constantine vacated the imperial throne. In 375 vast swarms of Huns and Alans poured out of Asia and drove back the Ostrogoths upon the Visigoths, which latter people thereupon obtained permission to settle in Thrace, at that time lying desolate, the condition being imposed by the emperor Valens that they should embrace Christianity. Insolent usage, which they were called upon to endure at the hands of Roman officers, soon drove them into rebellion, however, and in the war which ensued they completely defeated the army of Valens in 378, and killed the emperor himself by burning a cottage which he had entered in his flight. From that time they exercised an important influence over the affairs of Constantinople, and were for a time regularly engaged in the service of the Roman empire. The application of the Ostrogoths. for admission into the territories of the empire, when threatened by the Huns, was denied, and they were compelled to seek refuge in the mountains until after the defeat of the Huns in 453, when they obtained a settlement in Pannonia and Slavonia. In 396 the Visigoths, led by Alaric, invaded and devastated Greece, till the arrival of the Roman general Stilicho, in the following year, compelled their retreat. In 400 they invaded Italy, but were defeated. A treaty was thereupon made between Alaric and Stilicho, which transferred the services of the former to the Western emperor, Honorius. A second invasion, occasioned by the delay of the Romans to meet the demands of Alaric for pay, and a western province as a home for his nation, took place 408-410. In 408 Rome was subjected to a severe blockade, from which it relieved itself by the payment of a heavy ransom. Refusal to comply with Alaric's demands led to a second siege, in which Ostia was occupied, Rome unconditionally surrendered, and the empire transferred to Attalus, but soon restored to Honorius. In 410 an assault upon the Visigoths, made with imperial sanction, provoked the storming and sack of the city, Aug. 24-30. After the death of Alaric the Visigoths established a new kingdom in Southern Gaul and Spain, which reached its highest prosperity during the latter half of the 5th century, but was soon afterwards harassed by the Franks, in Gaul, and wholly overthrown about two centuries later by thed Saracens.
After the overthrow of the Huns the Ostrogoths in Pannlonia became so powerful that the Eastern empire was obliged to purchase peace with them by large sums of money. Their king, Widemir, led his hosts into Italy, but they eventually joined the Visigoths in the West. Other bands, under various leaders, traversed the Eastern empire, and were finally settled between the Lower Danube and Mount Haemus, in the very heart of the empire. In 487 king Theodoric, after protracted disputes with the emperor Zeno, marched upon Constantinople, whereupon that monarch, to save his capital, authorized the Goths to invade Italy and expel the usurper Odoacer. The enterprise was undertaken in 488, and completed in 493, at which time Odoacer was assassinated, and all his strongholds were in the possession of his adversary. Theodoric remained undisputed master of Italy during a prosperous reign of thirty-three years; but on his death his kingdom was attacked by foreign enemies, and became the prey of the Eastern empire, and the Ostrogoths ceased to be an independent people. Christianity was introduced among the Goths about the middle of the 3d century, by prisoners taken in their wars, and there is evidence that a continuous tradition of orthodox Christianity existed from that time among the tribes who bordered on the Euxine. A Gothic bishop, Theophilus, was present in 325 at the Council of Nice, and even earlier Athanasius (De Incarne. Verb. § 51 sq.; Migne, 25:187 sq.; Neander, Church History, Engl. transl. 3"179) alludes to the influence of Christianity over Gothic (?) barbarians, while Chrysostom (Ep. 14; Migne, 52, 618) and Procopius (Bell. Goth. 4:4; ed. Bonn. 2:475) both speak of applications made to the emperor for a successor to recent Gothic bishops. The propagation of Christianity among the Visigoths was carried forward principally by bishop Ulphilas (q.v.), whose work, beginning in 348, was successful enough from the very first to excite the hostility of the heathen and call forth persecution. Ulphilas and many of his converts fled across the Danube and settled in the neighborhood of Nicopolis. The particular form of teaching adhered to by Uphilas was that of Arianism, which had already taken deep root, and was yet more firmly established when Fridigern, who had rebelled against the king, Athanaric, consented to become a Christian and an Arian in order that he might secure the support of the Roman emperor, and when, as already related, the Visigoths were obliged to take refuge against the Huns in the territories of the empire ruled over by the Arian, Valens.
Subsequently efforts were put forth to win them to Catholicism, especially by Chrysostom, who became patriarch of Constantinople in 398, but with little result. The Goths continued to be fanatical Arians, and became even violent persecutors after their settlement in Gaul and Spain, until the stubborn resistance of the Catholic party was strengthened by the accession of the Franks, and the Gothic king, Recared, solemnly passed over to the Catholic faith at the third Synod of Toledo in 589.
The Ostrogoths, though Arians, were not fanatical adherents of that creed, and Theodoric especially manifested a tolerant spirit towards the Catholics. Chrysostom's missionaries were zealously employed among these tribes, and achieved noteworthy successes. In the Crimea the Catholic Unilas was bishop of the Tetraxite Goths, and established a connection with Constantinople which remained unbroken until the 6th century. The district of Gotia, on the Cimmerian Bosphorus, was a diocese connected with the Byzantine Church in the Middle Ages, and the surname of Gotia was borne by the bishop of Capha as late as the 18th century.
In closing this article a few words respecting the culture of the Goths are required. The introduction of Christianity, and contact with the civilized subjectus of Rome, did much to raise them above other German tribes in point of civilization. Ulphilas, in the 4th century, formed a new alphabet out of those of the Greeks and Romans, which was generally adopted by the German peoples, and is essentially the same as that still in use in Germany and known among us as the "black-letter" alphabet. His translation of the Scriptures into the Gothic language is, in the fragments which still survive, the most ancient document of the German language' now extant. No other monuments of the Gothic language of considerable importance have been preserved. The Visigoths had a code of written laws, which was probably the first existing among German tribes, and the authorship of which is usually ascribed to their king, Euric, of the 5th century.
Ancient Sources. — Tacitus, Germania; Procopius, Bell. Goth.; Jornandes, De Rebus Geticis; Idacius of Lamego, Chronicon; Isidor. Hispal. Hist. Goth.; Cassiodorus, Varia et Chron.
Modern Literaature. — Eisenschmidt, De Origine Ostrogoth. et Visigothorum (Jena, 1835); Zahn, Ulfila's Gothische Bibelubelrsetze (Weissenfels, 1805); Aschbach, Gesch. d. Westgothen (Frankfort-on-the- Main, 1827); Manso, Gesch. d. Ostgothen in italien (Breslau, 1824);
Wilhelm, Germanien u. seine Bewohner (Naumburg, 1823); Von Werbse, Volker u. Volkerbundnisse d. Alten Deutschl. (Hanover, 1825); Zeuss, D. Deutschen u. Nachbarstamme; Forbiger, Handb. d. Alten Geographie (Leipsic, 1848, volume 3); Duncker, Origg. Germani; Kopke, Anfange d. Konigthums bei d. Gothen (Berlin, 1859); Richter, D. Westromische Reich, A.D. 375-388 (ibid. 1865); Bernhardt, Gesch. Roms, A.D. 253-313 (ibid. 1867); Krafft, Gesch. d. Germ. Volker, 1:1 (ibid. 1854); Waitz, Leben u. Lehre d. Ulfila (Hanover, 1840, 4to); Lembke, Gesch. v. Spanien (Hamburg, 1831, volume 1); Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Pallmann, Gesch. d. Volker wanderung, 1, pages 62-85; Bessell, in Ersch and Gruber's Encyklop. s.v. Gothen and Leben d. Ulfilas u. Bekehrung d. Gothen, etc. (Gottingen, 1860); comp. J. Grimm, Gesch. d. Deutschen Sprache.
See also Smith, Dict. of Greek and Roman Geography, s.v.; Gothi, in Herzog Real-Encyklop. s.v.; Kurtz, Manual of Christ. Hist. Engl. transl. 1:§ 76.