Re: [gothic-l] Population Size
- 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...
----- Original Message -----
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.
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> Knowing that Chindasvith executed about 700 nobles in order toassert his power, could they be something like 10% of the nobility?
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 ofGoth 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