), king of the Vandals, and the most terrible of any of the barbarian invaders of the empire.
He was the bastard son of Godigisdus (Procop. Bell. Vand.
1.3) or Modigisdus (Hist. Miscell.
14), king of the Vandal settlers in Spain, and left, in conjunction with his brother Gontharis or Gonderic. in possession of the throne. His life divides itself into two parts : 1st, the conquest of Africa (A. D. 429-439); 2nd, the naval attacks on the empire itself (A. D. 439-477).
1. The Conquest of Africa (A. D. 429-439）
In May A. D. 429 (Idatii Chronic.
), at the invitation of Bonifacius [BONIFACTIUS), Genseric crossed the straits of Gibraltar, at the head of 50,000 men, to take possession of the Roman provinces in the north of Africa. Joined by the Moors and the Donatists, of whom the fornier disgraced his march by their savage licentiousness, and the latter by their fanatical cruelties, lie ravaged the whole country with frightful severity. Of the two chief cities, Hippo fell before him.
After the death of Augustin, and the flight of Bonifacius, in 431, and the capture of Carthage, in October 439, the whole province was divided amongst the Vandals, and every city, except Carthage, dismantled. (Procop. Bell. Vand.
1.3, 5; Chronicles
of Idatius, Prosper, Marcellinus; Victor Vitensis, ap. Ruinart.)
2. The Naval Attacks on the Empire itself (A. D. 439-477).
The fleets of Genseric were the same terror to the coasts of the Mediterranean as those of Carthage had been six centuries before, and as those of the Normans were four centuries afterwards. In June 455, invited by the empress Eudocia to aid her against the usurper Maximus, Genseric sailed to Ostia; and, although somewhat mitigated by the supplications of Pope Leo, who again interceded for his country at the gates of Rome [ATTILA], he attacked and sacked the city for fourteen days and nights, and returned, carrying with him the statues from the Capitol, the vessels of the Temple of I Jerusalem from the Temple of Peace, and thousands of captives--amongst them the empress and her daughters, whose sufferings have become famous through the alleviation which they received from the Christian charity of Deogratias, bishop of Carthage.
In the same invasion were destroyed Capua, Nola, and Neapolis. (Procop. Bell. Vand.
1.4, 5; Jornandes, Reb. Get.
100.45; Chronicles of Idalius,
&c.; Hist. Miscell.
Twice the empire endeavored to revenge itself, and twice it foiled: the first was the attempt of the Western emperor Majorian (A. D. 457), whose i fleet was destroyed in the bay of Carthagena.
The second was the expedition sent by the Eastern emperor Leo, under the command of Heraclius, Marcellinus, and Bantiscus (A. D. 468), which was also baffled by the burning of the fleet off Bona.
After this securing all his conquests, and finally making peace with Zeno, the Eastern emperor. he died A. D. 477. at a great age, leaving in his will instructicis that his kinadomn should always desceend in the li le of the eldest rualle i heir. (Procop. Bell. Vand.
In person Genseric was of short stature, and lame, from a fall from his horse; of few words, austere life, fierce, covetous, and cunning. (J.ornandes, Reb. Get.
In religion he shared the Arianism of all the Gothic tribes; and in the cruelties exercised under his orders against his Catholic subjects he exhibited the first instance of persecution carried on upon a large scale by one body of Christians against another. (Victor Vitensis, ap. Ruinart.) Of his general cruelty, the most notable instance is the cold-blooded murder of 500 Zacynthian nobles, in revenge for his repulse at Taenarus. (Procop. Bell. Vand.
1.22.) So also his cruelties to Gonderic's widow and sons. (Prosp. A. D. 442.)
The story of the murder of Gonderic himself was disputed by the Vandals. (Procop. Bell. Vand.
1.4.) His skill in generalship is indicated by the ingenious concealment of the fewness of his forces in by giving his commanders the name of Chiliarchs. (Ib.
The two most striking personal anecdotes recorded of him are, first, the interview with Majorian, when not discovering his imperial guest, through the disguise which he had assumed, Genseric was startled by the spontaneous clashing of the arms in the arsenal, and took it to be caused by an earthquake (ib.
7); the second, his answer to the pilot, who asked him, as they left the port of Carthage, on one of his marauding expeditions, where they should go ? " Against whomsoever God's anger is directed." (Ib.
His name long remained as the glory of the Vandal nation. (Procop. Bell. Vand.
But his career in Africa was shorn of its natural effects by the reconquest of that province under Belisarius.
In works of art, the city of Rome lost more by his attack than by that of any other of the barbarian invaders. (Comp. Gibbon, 100.33, 36.)