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Population Size

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  • faltin2001
    We touched earlier on the question of population sizes in Spain in and the share of Visigoths. W. Pohl in Die Völkerwanderung , 2002 (p. 64) estimated that
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 4, 2004
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      We touched earlier on the question of population sizes in Spain in
      and the share of Visigoths. W. Pohl in "Die Völkerwanderung", 2002
      (p. 64) estimated that the native Spanish population amounted to at
      least 10 million when the Visigoths arrived, while the number of
      Visigoths are in most estimates set at 100,000 (Kazanski) to 200,000.
      If we assume the middle, i.e. 150,000 that would of course mean that
      they constituted 1.5% of the total population of Spain. To
      extrapolate from there is I think impossible. Somebody argued that
      they were better provided for than most, thus giving them a better
      chance to multipy, on the other hand they constituted the army which
      suggests that they may have suffered larger casualties, i.e. in
      507AD, when their army was reportedly greatly decimated. Similarly in
      711AD they are said to have suffered great casulaties.

      Cheers

      Dirk
    • Denis Glenard
      Knowing that Chindasvith executed about 700 nobles in order to assert his power, could they be something like 10% of the nobility? If that is a fair
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 4, 2004
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        Knowing that Chindasvith executed about 700 nobles in order to assert his power, could they be something like 10% of the nobility?
        If that is a fair assumption, what would have been the ratio of Goth noblemen / Goth population ? This could be an indication of the size, although of course not anything set in stone...

        Brgds,

        Denis GLENARD
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: faltin2001
        To: gothic-l@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, June 04, 2004 6:34 PM
        Subject: [gothic-l] Population Size


        We touched earlier on the question of population sizes in Spain in
        and the share of Visigoths. W. Pohl in "Die Völkerwanderung", 2002
        (p. 64) estimated that the native Spanish population amounted to at
        least 10 million when the Visigoths arrived, while the number of
        Visigoths are in most estimates set at 100,000 (Kazanski) to 200,000.
        If we assume the middle, i.e. 150,000 that would of course mean that
        they constituted 1.5% of the total population of Spain. To
        extrapolate from there is I think impossible. Somebody argued that
        they were better provided for than most, thus giving them a better
        chance to multipy, on the other hand they constituted the army which
        suggests that they may have suffered larger casualties, i.e. in
        507AD, when their army was reportedly greatly decimated. Similarly in
        711AD they are said to have suffered great casulaties.

        Cheers

        Dirk



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      • faltin2001
        ... assert his power, could they be something like 10% of the nobility? Hi Denis, I am not sure how certain this number is, but we know that Chindasvinth
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 7, 2004
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          --- In gothic-l@yahoogroups.com, "Denis Glenard" <denisglenard@y...>
          wrote:
          > Knowing that Chindasvith executed about 700 nobles in order to
          assert his power, could they be something like 10% of the nobility?




          Hi Denis,

          I am not sure how certain this number is, but we know that
          Chindasvinth killed off a large part of the Visigothic nobility.
          Entire families are said to have been exterminated by his (and his
          son's) orders. Both Chindasvinth and Reccesvinth were keen to promote
          integration between Goths and Romans which naturally let to
          resistence which they had to overcome. Chindasvinth in particular
          distrusted the Visigothic nobles who had killed their kings in fast
          succession throughout the 6th century.






          > If that is a fair assumption, what would have been the ratio of
          Goth noblemen / Goth population ? This could be an indication of the
          size, although of course not anything set in stone...
          >



          I cannot really answer this, but for estimating the original size of
          the Visigoths I think it is usefull to look at Roman army sizes and
          the capabilities of the countryside to support a migrating
          population. Firstly, the idea that the Visigoths were one single
          group or tribe, as somebody early advocated and sought to contrast
          them from Alamanni and others, is wrong. Instead, Wolfram (History of
          the Goths) pointed out that the Visigoths that entered Gaul in Spain
          in the 5th century were a conglomerate of different peoples, to which
          Roman sources usually refered only as 'populi' i.e. the peoples or by
          listing a series of names. The royal clan of these 'populi' called
          themselves 'Vesi' and from this we get the idea that all of them were
          Vesi (or later Visigoths). In fact, many of these 'populi' were
          likely of non-Germanic extraction and even those who called
          themselves Vesi will have included non-Germanic ethnic groups that
          had joined them in the Carpathians and elsewhere.

          It has been suggested earlier these these Vesi numbered some 500,000
          people. I think any plausiblity check would object to such a high
          number of people roaming across Europe at one time. The peoples that
          included the Vesi had entered the Roman empire as refugees and even
          in modern terms a refugee crisis of half a million people is almost
          impossible to handle.

          Instead, these 'populi' will have amounted to a much smaller group
          and the size may be derived from Roman army strength. Thus, a legion
          consisted of about 4000 to 5000 men. The entire Roman army consisted
          of something like 30 legions at its height of power. If the Exercitus
          Visigothorum could field 4 or 5 legions that would have been a
          massive army at the time. Hence, we may think of about 20,000 to
          25,000 warriors constitued together by these 'populi', with Sarmatian
          Taifali and Alani contributing the cavalry and the Germanic Vesi
          perhaps much of the core infantry.

          Now, if we assume that the total population of these 'populi' was
          100,000, 50% of which would be women and of the 50,000 males there
          would again 50% constituted by children and eldery we arrive at an
          army strenght of some 5 legions. Again, 5 legions were a massive
          almost incredibly strong army in the 5th century and I think it is an
          acceptable strength for the Exercitus Visigothorum and it indicates a
          total population size of about 100,000.

          If the population size was really 500,000, this would imply an army
          of some 125,000 warriors, i.e. 25 federate Roman legions, which is
          entirely implausible. Now, how many of these 100,000 were of Germanic
          Vesi origin is anybody's guess. The Vesi certainly held the political
          power so they may have been the most numerous. Hence, lets say about
          half of the 100,000 were Vesi and the remaining 50,000 belonged to
          the various other 'populi' including Taifali etc., but also the
          various late-joiners from the Roman peasantry, bagaudae, slaves and
          miners.


          Cheers
          Dirk
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