June 2nd-16th 455AD - The Vandal Sack of Rome
Although Alaric’s Goths had entered Rome in 410, the Vandal sack of the city was far more damaging materially and to the prestige of the Western Roman state. It also brought the concept of Vandalism, into the world.
After taking Carthage in 439, the Vandal kingdom in Africa had been a major threat to the Roman Empire. The emperor Valentinian III had allied with the Vandals in the 440’s, when under pressure from the Huns, and betrothed his daughter Eudocia to the Vandal prince Huneric. However, when Valentinian was murdered in 455, the Vandal king Genseric launched an assault on Rome in retaliation.
The sack of the city was a coordinated fortnight of plunder and looting, rather than destruction. This has been partly attributed to Pope Leo I’s intervention, who offered the Vandals entry to the city to avoid a siege. Though little of the city was razed, much treasure was taken back to Africa, including the gilded bronze from the roof of the temple of Saturn. Along with the moveable treasure the Vandals also took valuable hostages, such as Eudocia, and parts of Rome’s population as slaves.
Whilst the Gothic entry into Rome has a more prominent place in history, it was the Vandal occupation and plunder of the city that had a more lasting.