The History of Sicily

The Barbarians

The Vandals, an eastern Germanic tribe originally from Scandinavia, first invaded Spain and North Africa. In 468 A.D., under Genseric, they invaded Sicily, holding the island for 8 years, when Odoacre (433-493), another Germanic chieftain, took it from them. Odoacre was now in control of Italy. As such, he posed a threat to the Eastern Empire, whose emperor, Zeno (425-493), made a pact with the Ostrogoth leader Theodoric (454-526) to wrest Italy from Odoacre and put it under imperial control. In return, Theodoric would become king of all Italy.

When the two barbarians reached a stalemate, they agreed to rule the kingdom jointly, but Theodoric was not above treachery and, at a banquet held in 493 in Ravenna, he sliced through Odoacre’s body with one stroke of his sword, then had his family and all of senior lieutenants murdered. Establishing his capital at Ravenna, Theodoric was now sole master of all Italy.

In 533 A.D., the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (482-565) sent an army under Belisarius (505-565) to take Sicily back for the Empire, as part of a plan to recapture all of Italy, including Rome. Belisarius’s victory ensured Byzantine control of the island until the ninth century.