Genseric The Vandal

Genseric The Vandal also known as Geiseric was a 5th century king of the Vandals and Alans. He reigned for 50 years becoming one of the more powerful kings of all time. His main adversary was the Western Roman Empire.


He also fought numerous times against the Eastern Roman Empire too. At the height of his empire he controlled much of the Mediterranean Sea area and North Africa.

Early years

Genseric The Vandal was born sometime around 389 C.E. He was the illegitimate and second son of King Godigisel of the Hasdingi Vandals. The Hasdingi Vandals were a southern portion of the Vandal tribe and lived in Hispania Baetica (present-day Spain).

Genseric The Vandal was trained in military tactics at a young age. His military schooling would pay big rewards later in his life as King of the Vandals.

Genseric The Vandal’s father died in 406 C.E. in the Battle of Mainz while warring against the Franks. At this time Genseric The Vandal’s half-brother Gunderic was elected king. While Gunderic was in power, Genseric The Vandal became the second most powerful person in the Vandal Empire.

Throughout Gunderic’s reign the Vandals helped the Alans in their struggle against the Visigoths. In 428 C.E. Gunderic passed away and the kingship was awarded to Genseric The Vandal.

King of the Vandals

After Genseric The Vandal was made king he decided to move his tribe out of Hispania Baetica. His tribe had suffered from years of attacks by the vicious Visigoth tribes.

As they were moving to new land the Vandals were attacked by a big army of Suebi soldiers. He defeated the Suebi army at Merida and their leader drowned in the Guadiana River while trying to escape.

Genseric The Vandals Conquests

One of his first moves as king was to correspond with the Roman governor of North Africa named Boniface. He transported his people and army which may have been as many as 80,000 to North Africa. Here he fought several battles for Boniface against the weaker Western Roman Empire army.

He took over lands in Morocco and Algeria. In 430 C.E. Genseric The Vandal had a change of heart and turned on Boniface. He continued onward with his plundering of the Western Roman Empire. He laid a 14 month siege on the city of Hippo Regius. During the siege St. Augustine died. The takeover convinced Roman Emperor Valentinian III to propose a treaty in 435 C.E.

The treaty with Valentinian III documented that Genseric The Vandal reigned over the territories he had won in battle.

But he was forced to pay a tribute to the Roman Empire and promise not to attack Carthage. In 439 C.E. Genseric The Vandal broke the treaty and plundered Carthage. A new treaty was signed in 442 C.E. which made the Vandals the masters of Africa.

He continued forward with his army and strong navy of nearly 500 sailing vessels. He played havoc along the waters of the Mediterranean Sea capturing numerous areas including Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Islands.

In 455 C.E. he set his sights on Rome after the murder of Roman Emperor Valentinian III. Pope Leo I pled with Genseric The Vandal not to savage the city of Rome. He moved his army into Rome and spared the city from major destruction.

However, he did take most of the gold, silver, and other valuable items from the city including the former wife of Valentinian III, Eudoxia and her daughter. One daughter named Eudocia would later marry Genseric The Vandals son Huneric.

In 468 C.E. the two Roman Empire combined to attack Genseric The Vandal. Emperor Basilicus and Majorian were defeated soundly by Genseric The Vandal at the Battle of Cape Bon. Genseric The Vandal would die in 477 C.E. but his empire collapsed under the rule of his Huneric.

Important fact about Genseric The Vandal

  • Generic The Vandal was born an illegitimate son to King Godigisel of the Hasdingi Vandals.
  • He was anointed king in 428 C.E. after the death of his half-brother Gunderic.
  • Genseric The Vandal moved his tribe of people from Hispania Baetica to North Africa in 429 C.E. at the request of Roman governor Boniface.
  • He signed several treaties with the Western Roman Empire Emperor Valentinian III.
  • Genseric The Vandal broke the treaties and continued to plunder Roman territories in North Africa and the Mediterranean.
  • He controlled territory that included Sicily, Carthage, Corsica, Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands.
  • He invaded Rome in 455 C.E. but at the request of Pope Leo I he did not attack Roman citizens. He did steal gold, silver, and other valuable items.
  • During his reign Genseric The Vandal made ordinary citizens pay less taxes than the rich. He gave freedom to Catholics but made his internal staff convert to Arianism.


  1. Genseric The Vandal was instrumental in invading Roman territory under which Western Roman Empire Emperor?

Valentinian III

  1. The Hasdingi Vandals were originally from which region in present-day Spain?

Hispania Baetica

  1. Who paid the most taxes under his rule?

Wealthy families and Catholic clergy

  1. Who pleaded with Genseric The Vandal not to harm Roman citizens during the sack of Rome in 455 C.E.?

Pope Leo I