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The Visigoths and Ostrogoths were branches of the nomadic tribes of Germanic peoples referred to as the Goths. The Visigoths separated from the Ostrogoths in the 4th century AC, and settled agriculturists in Dacia. In 376 A.D., Visigoths migrated from the Baltic area to the Danube River, pressed by the advancing Huns. They were offered entrance into Rome territory on peaceful terms by the Emperor Valens. However, the Romans did not provide the Visigoths with enough food and provisions as a famine struck. The Visigoths rose up against the Romans and crushed their main army at the Battle of Adrianople in 378 A.D. As the Roman Empire became more unstable, they found it more difficult to stop the Visigoths and other barbarian tribes. This culminated in the Visigothic sacking of Rome in 410 A.D., under the rule of Alaric I. Saint Augustine chronicled this horrific defeat, and the shockwave it sent throughout the world, intellectually and physically, in his major work, City of God."

Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths gained control over Rome when they deposed Romulus Augustulus, the last emperor, in 476 A.D. However, they were later defeated by the Ostrogoths under the command of Theoderic, on orders from the Byzantine ruler Zeno.

The Visigoths eventually moved to settle South Western Gaul (France) with Tolouse as their capital, but were defeated by the Franks under Clovis and henceforward had their territory in Spain with Toledo as their capital. They later converted to Roman Catholic whilst in Spain under King Reccared, having before been Arian.

The Visigothic Kingdom in Spain fell to the Islamic Moors in AD 711. Their last king was Roderick.

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