Monday, May 23, 2016

where have all the Gepids gone?

If you're like me, you've thought a lot over the years about the barbarian invasions into Europe, in the early centuries of the Common Era.

I'm currently reading a recent book on the history of the Silk Road(s), and came across this sentence:

"As if this were not bad enough, in the middle of the fifth century, having flushed forward a hotch-potch of tribes—Terevingian Goths, Alans, Vandals, Suevi, Gepids, Neurians, Bastarnians and others besides—the Huns themselves appeared in Europe, led by the most famous figure of late antiquity: Attila."

This is not the first time that I've seen mention of the Gepids, in similar lists.  I always quickly moved on.

This time I headed over to Wikipedia, and, as always, there is just enough information there to sufficiently plug this knowledge gap. Here's the link, for those with nothing else to do:

For the rest of you, here's what you need to know today:

"The Gepids' participation in the Huns' campaigns against the Roman Empire brought them much booty, contributing to the development of a rich Gepid aristocracy."

So, they were a real deal at the time, and, apparently, Attila liked his Gepid allies.

After Attila died ("unexpectedly", which was probably to be expected), the traditional Civil War broke out and the Gepids chose the right side, which allowed them to establish a Gepid 'kingdom' (of modest size), near today's Belgrade.

Things were looking good for those Gepids, for about 100 years.  You can almost hear Gepid fathers telling their wide-eyed children, "don't ever forget that you are a Gepid, and you should be damn proud."

In 552, they suffered a 'disasterous' defeat by the Lombards (the Wikipedia page for the Battle of Asfeld is pretty spare, considering how momentous it was for Gepid history), and many moved into northern Italy.

Around 630, an invading force of Byzantines "attacked a Gepid feast, capturing 30,000 Gepids". I was at the Portland Bernie rally with 28,000 happy people, so I can begin to imagine how that day was a 'disappointment'. 

But I digress.

That, apparently, is one of the last reliable historical references.   Their 'kingdom' (which actually has a name: "Gepedia") lives on only in Wiki-pedia - kind of ironic, don't you think?  Today, seems curiously disassociated from Gepids.

What do we take from all this?  If the Gepids were assimilated into the Byzantine sphere, Gepid DNA must still be part of the European stew.  They are described as "white, tall and blond-haired," so obviously not in MY stew, but look around you.

Gepids walk among us, and frequently appear in commercials.