On This Day: June 2nd

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On the 2nd of June 455 the Vandals entered Rome and plundered the city for two weeks, this event is known as the Sack of Rome. The sack of 455 was the second of three sacks of Rome; it was conducted by the Vandals, who were then at war with the usurping Western Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus.

The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe, or group of tribes, who were first heard of in southern Poland, but later moved around Europe establishing kingdoms in Spain and later North Africa in the 5th century. They were believed to have originated from Southern Scandinavia however and to have migrated further into Southern Europe.

In the 440s, the Vandal king Genseric and the Roman Emperor Valentinian III, had betrothed their children, Huneric and Eudocia, to strengthen their alliance, reached in 442 with a peace treaty. In 455 Valentinian was killed, and Petronius Maximus rose to the throne. Petronius married Valentinian’s widow, Licinia Eudoxia, and had his son Palladius marry Eudocia; in this way Petronius was to strengthen his bond with the Theodosian dynasty. This move, however, damaged Genseric’s ambitions. The king of the Vandals claimed that the broken betrothal between Huneric and Eudocia was an invalidation of his peace treaty with Valentinian, and set sail to attack Rome.

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