In AD 375-76 the western Gothic peoples, living in the region of southern and eastern Romania, were driven across the River Danube by the invasion of the Huns and were granted lands on the Danube frontier by the Romans. But they rebelled because of harsh treatment by Roman officials and, at Adrianople in 378, their cavalry defeated the Roman legions. After a migration through the Balkans and Greece, they were led westwards by Alaric (395-410) and their confederation was joined by other Goths, soldiers and slaves in Italy. They pillaged Rome itself in 410, but refrained from destroying the city as they had been converted from paganism to the Arian creed of Christianity before their migration. The confederation came to be known as the Visigoths.

Under Ataulf the Visigoths were persuaded to move westwards again and joined the Roman army against the Vandals and Alans in Hispania (Spain and Portugal today) in AD 416-418, and 422. As federates they were then granted lands in 418 in south-western France, where they established a kingdom with its capital at Toulouse, which was to reach to the rivers Loire and Rhône. After around 460 they began to extend their control into Spain once more and made piecemeal settlements there. King Euric (466-484) declared himself independent of Rome and became the most powerful ruler in the west. But the Visigoths were defeated by the Franks at Vouillé in 507, and largely expelled from Gaul, except for Septimania on France's western Mediterranean coast around Narbonne.

Related galleries