Vandals 4: What Happened to the Vandals?

When it came to religion, Vandal king Hilderic was the most tolerant towards the Catholic Church and is known for granting religious freedom to adherents. As for going to war with others, he was not concerned with this aspect of ruling the Vandals and left this task to a relative named Hoamer. Unfortunately, he suffered a loss against the Moors.

Because of Hoamer’s failure, the royal family that identified with the Arians led a revolt. In 530, Hilderic’s cousin, Gelimer became king. As a result, Hilderic, Hoamer and their relatives were tossed into prison. Hilderic was eventually deposed and murdered in 533.

Over the years, many different interests have attempted to make claims to the Vandal throne. For example, Byzantine Emperor Justinian I waged a war to restore Huneric (who had ruled from 477 to 484) to the Vandal throne. A large number of Vandal army and navy were sent to Sardinia to extinguish the rebellion. Gelimer’s brother, Tzazo, led the soldiers. However, this had an ill effect on protecting land located close to Carthage. The armies of the Eastern Empire, who were commanded by Belisarius, took the opportunity to advance on land that was unguarded.

Gelimer rushed to pull together an army to defend against Belisarius. Their meeting is known as the Battle of Ad Decimum. At first, the Vandals were coming closer to a victory, but they suffered a significant loss. Gelimer’s brother Ammatas and nephew Gibamund were killed in the fight. Without the support of his family, he lost the courage to continue and decided to flee. Although the Vandals left behind continued to fight, Belisarius was able to swiftly take Carthage. This wouldn’t be the first time that the two leaders would meet.

In 533, Gelimer and Belisarius entered the Battle of Tricamarum , about 20 miles away from Carthage. The Vandals put forth a strong effort, but fell back when Gelimer’s brother Tzazo was killed in battle. This allowed Belisarius to make his way to Hippo , the second city of the Vandal Kingdom. In 534, Gelimer had no choice but to surrender to the Romans. This act marked the end of the Kingdom of the Vandals.

With the fall of the Vandals, North Africa became a Roman province once more. The Vandals were banished from their land. The majority of the expelled went to Saldae (located close to northern Algeria). It is there that they started to assimilate into the Berber culture.

Other Vandals were placed into imperial service. Some fled to the two Gothic kingdoms , Ostrogothic and Visigothic. A handful of Byzantine soldiers that soldiers settled in north Algeria and Tunisia took some of the Vandal women as their wives. The best Vandal warriors were used as cavalry regiments that had been separated into five different groups. They became known as Vandali Iustiniani, and the men were placed on the Persian frontier. Some of the warriors were allowed to privately serve Belisarius. Historians note that their ethnicity washed out in the variety of cultures they became a part of after leaving North Africa.