Roumania Past and Present eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 315 pages of information about Roumania Past and Present.

[Footnote 111:  Vol. iv. pp. 258-262.]

III.

The reader will remember that even in the wars between the Romans and Dacians other barbarian tribes took part.  Of these the Quadi, Marcomanni, and Sarmatians continued to harass the successors of the first-named, and even to make irruptions into the Empire.  The Sarmatians especially were very formidable, and from time to time they settled in Dacia during the occupation of the Goths, giving both them and the Romans much trouble.  They were encountered by more than one Roman army, and were driven back into and through Dacian territory; but at length, about A.D. 375, Valentinian defeated them with great slaughter, and we cease to hear of them in connection with Roumanian history.

With the Gepidae, that branch of the Goths who defeated Attila, it was otherwise.  After the withdrawal of the Huns[112] they took possession of Northern Dacia, and managed to obtain such a firm hold on the country, that it was actually known to some of the older historians as ‘Gepidia.’  There is, however, nothing of interest in their history.  Sometimes they were at war with their more powerful southern neighbours; anon they formed alliances with them on advantageous terms, and aided them to keep other tribes in check.  The Roman Empire was now split into its Eastern and Western divisions, and it was with the Byzantines that the Gepidae made their treaties.  These, however, were capable of rendering them little effectual service at periods of grave danger, and when (about 550 A.D.) the Lombards, a warlike tribe who are believed to have migrated southwards from the shores of the Baltic, in combination with an Asiatic horde, the Avari, made inroads into their territory, the Gepidae were quite incapable of making head against them.  We have said that the latter nation contracted treaties, offensive and defensive, with the Eastern Empire, but it must not be supposed that either the emperors or the barbarians were very constant in their attachments.  At one time we find some particular tribe in alliance with the emperors of the East, assisting them to keep back new assailants; at another they entered the armies of the Eastern emperors, to help them in their attacks upon their Western rivals; then, again, it is two tribes associated to root out and exterminate a horde in possession; and shortly afterwards it may be that the tribes who were allied are arrayed against each other.  About the time named, the Lombards and Avari, as we have said, made inroads into the territories of the Gepidae, the first-named being under the lead of a brave and fierce leader, Alboin, and in a very short period (between 550 and 567 A.D.) they managed not only to defeat the Gepidae, but so completely to break their power, that some writers speak of them as being annihilated.  Then it was that the Emperor Justinian (527-565), fearing them as opponents, and

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