Step into the Dark Side

When you hear the word Goth, it is probable that you envision someone dressed in black, who is depressed and withdrawn, with an occasional violent outburst and an artistic edge.  While there may be a bit of truth to this picture, the real Goths are a lot different than you might think.

In order to gain a better understanding of the Goths and their culture, it is insightful to examine its roots.  However, this is no easy task, as the words “Gothic” and “Goth” have taken on several unrelated meanings.  These terms may refer to a type of architecture, popular in Western Europe during the 12th to 16th centuries.  These terms may also refer to the name of the Germanic Visigoth tribes that overthrew the Roman Empire and thus triggered the association of goths as barbarians or uncivilized people.  In addition, these terms have also been given to a horror/mystery genre, dark and gloomy in nature.  In modern times, the Goth movement derived out of the punk rock scene and although the music scene faded, the Goth subculture survived.  With all these different interpretation of what Gothic means and who the Goths are, it would be fair to assume that the Goth culture and its associations are grounded in the Germanic tribes, who paved the way for the emergence of Medieval Europe and were indeed involved in impacting battles.

Gothic Suit of Armor:

Gothic Suit of Armor

The Goths are believed to have migrated from Scandza (Scandinavia) to a place, which they named Gothiscandza after themselves, in the 3rd century.  From there, they invaded a land on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea and subdued the inhabitants there, as well as the neighboring Vandals.  They then made their way to the coast of the Black Sea and ravaged the Balkan Peninsula and Anatolia.  By the 4th century, the Goths had conquered other areas and ruled the area from the Black Sea to the Baltic Sea.  However, all good things must come to an end and in the late 4th century, Goth territory was invaded by the Huns.  Many Goths were captured and forced to join the ranks of the Huns, but there was a group that escaped and fled across the Danube River, where they revolted against the Roman Empire and won a huge victory at the Battle of Adnanople.  Shortly after this, the Goths were converted from paganism to Christianity, which played a significant role in their art and culture.

In the 5th and 6th centuries, the Goths split into two tribes- the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths.  The Ostrogoths joined the army of the Huns, but quickly revolted and settled in Italy.  Italy was soon invaded by the Eastern Roman Empire and the Ostrogoths became powerless to resist their force.  While the Ostrogoths were battling, the Visigoths were also taking on conquests in other countries.  These battles lasted until the 8th century, when a kingdom was established in what is modern day Spain and Portugal.  The Gothic influence remained strong until the Middle Ages, where it began to trail off.

Gothic Breastplate:

Gothic Breastplate

As you can now see, the Goths were not those somber, emotional wrecks that are so often stereotyped.  They were a people of action and power, who were quite good at what they did.  And while their civilization is gone, their legacy and influence live on.  Check out our Gothic gear at:

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