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Re: [gothic-l] Population Size

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  • 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 1 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 2 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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