Famous Men of the Middle Ages
Genseric the Vandal
King from 427-477 A.D.
The Vandals were another wild and fierce tribe that came from the shores of the Baltic
and invaded central and southern Europe in the later times of the Roman Empire.
In the fifth century some of these people occupied a region in the south of Spain. One of
their most celebrated kings was name Genseric (Gen'-ser-ic). He became king in 427,
when he was but twenty-one years of age. He was lame in one leg and looked as if he
were a very ordinary person.
Like most of the Vandals, he was a cruel and cunning man, but he had great ability in
many ways. He fought in battles even when a boy and was known far and wide for his
bravery and skill as a leader.
About the time that Genseric became king, the governor of the Roman province in the
north of Africa, on the Mediterranean coast, was a man called Count Boniface. This
Count Boniface had been a good and loyal officer of Rome; but a plot was formed against
him by Aetius, the general who had fought Attila at Chalons. The Roman emperor at the
time of the plot was Valentinian III. He was then too young to act as ruler, so the affairs
of government were managed by his mother Placidia (Pla-cid'-i-a).
Aetius advised Placidia to dismiss Boniface and call him home from Africa. He said the
count was a traitor, and that he was going to make war against Rome. At the same time
he wrote secretly to Count Boniface and told him that if he came to Rome the empress
would put him to death.
Boniface believed this story, and he refused to return to Rome. He also sent a letter to
Genseric, inviting him to come to Africa with an army.
Genseric was greatly delighted to receive the invitation from Boniface. He had long
wanted to attack Rome and take from her some of the rich countries she had conquered,
and now a good opportunity offered. So he got ready a great army of his brave Vandals,
and they sailed across the Strait of Gibraltar to Africa.
They soon gained possession of that part of the African coast on which they had landed,
and marched into other parts of the coast and captured towns and cities. By this time
Boniface had learned all about the wicked plot of Aetius. He now regretted having
invited the Vandals to Africa and tried to induce them to return to Spain, but Genseric
"Never," he said, "shall I go back to Spain until I am master of Africa."