army represent the independent Kingdom of the Gepids – a Hunnic
successor state that lasted from the defeat of the Huns at the Battle of
the River Nedao in 454AD to their final conquest by the Longbards and
their Avar allies in 567AD.
Gepids were a tribe of the Goths that emigrated through north-eastern
Europe in the early centuries AD. By the time of the Hunnic invasions in
the late 4thC the Gepids were living in the Carpathian basin and appear
to have been subject to the more numerous and powerful Ostrogoths. Along
with the Ostrogoths they were conquered by and assimilated into the
Hunnic Empire. Gepids fought fiercely as allies of the Huns at the
Battle of Chalons in 451AD where, according to Jordanes, they engaged
the Roman’s Frankish allies and fought them to a bloody standstill.
the decades of Hunnic rule the Gepids enjoyed the trust of their masters
and rose in power. Gepid settlements spread eastwards and Gepid Kings
sat at the court of Attila. Hunnic cultural nfluence was strong; the
Gepids followed the Hunnic practice of skull deformation for example.
Following the death of Attila his successors fell to squabbling amongst
themselves and the Gepids found they were well placed to lead the Goths
and other subject tribes in rebellion. The Gepid King Ardaric eventually
defeated Attilla’s son Ellac and drove the Huns out of the Carpathian
basin. He established the Kingdom of the Gepids, or Gepidia, a region
roughly equivalent to modern Romania and the old Roman province of Dacia.
The Kingdom of the Gepids was bounded by the Eastern Roman Empire to the
south and by other Germanic states to the west – Ostrogoths, Langobards,
and Heruls. Surrounding mountains bounded the kingdom to the north and
east – beyond which were the Huns, Alans and other nomadic groups.
Gepids fought against and were defeated by their old enemies the
Ostrogoths, under Theoderic the Great, in the first decade of the 6thC
and were driven to the south and eastern parts of their domain. They
re-settled themselves in the area around Belgrade and established their
capital at the old Illyrian city of Sirmium in modern Serbia, having
captured it from the Byzantines.
this set-back the Gepids remained firmly in control of the lower Danube
region. In 539AD they were to affect a crossing of the Danube and
inflict a bloody defeat on a Byzantine army capturing the towns of Dacia
Ripensis and gaining control of a substantial Roman population. However,
their chief enemies remained their western neighbours the Langobards –
with successive Langobard and Gepid Kings feuding against each other
throughout the mid 6thC. Initially the Gepids sought aid from the
Byzantines, in return for the promise that they would restore
territories previously captured by the Gepids including Sirmium. With
the help of Byzantine troops the Gepids succeeded in keeping the
Langobards at bay until 567AD when the Byzantines reneged on the treaty,
effectively allowing the Langobards and their Avar allies to defeat the
Gepid King Cunimund and bringing to an end an independent Gepidia.