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The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century, perhaps best known for their sack of Rome in 455. Although they were not notably more destructive than other invaders of ancient times, Renaissance and Early Modern writers who idealized Rome tended to blame the Vandals for its destruction. This led to the coinage of "vandalism", meaning senseless destruction, particularly the defacing of artworks that were completed with great effort.

The Goth leader Theodoric the Great, king of the Ostrogoths and regent of the Visigoths, was allied by marriage with the Vandals as well as with the Burgundians and the Franks under Clovis I. Like the Goths, the Vandals, whose influence can best be judged in their longest-lasting kingdom in North Africa, were continuators rather than violaters of Roman culture in Late Antiquity.[1]


Etymology and modern use

In modern usage, a "vandal" is someone who engages in senseless destruction. This usage is a result of the Vandals' sack of Rome under King Genseric in 455. The Vandals may not have been any more destructive than other invaders of ancient times, but writers who idealized Rome often blamed them for its destruction. For example, English Enlightenment poet John Dryden wrote, Till Goths, and Vandals, a rude Northern race,/ Did all the matchless Monuments deface.[2]

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