The Visigoths were the western branch of the Goths, a Germanic tribe that had originally inhabited the coastal region of the Baltic Sea. The word “Visigoth” means “Goths from the West”. Between the 2nd and 3rd century AD they migrated south, to the region near the Black Sea. In the 4th century, they separated from the original tribe and moved southwest, to the Balkans, where they allied themselves to the Romans, with whom they fought against barbaric tribes that threatened the Empire eastern borders. However, the Visigoths, under chief Alaric I, attacked and looted Rome and, by 420 they had marched across southern France and invaded Spain under Athaulf. Theodoric I made an alliance with Rome to fight against the Huns, whom they defeated at the Battle of Chalons in 451. When the Franks conquered the Gaul, the Visigoths that lived in southern France were forced to migrate into Spain, where, by 555, they had founded a kingdom under Athanagild, with the court at Toledo. Although they were Arian Christians, they converted to Catholicism under Hermenegild.
Like the rest of the Germanic tribes that had invaded the Western Roman Empire, the Visigoths were very warlike people. The weapons they used in battles were the spear, which consisted of a leaf-shaped steel blade attached to the end of a long wooden shaft; the sword, which was made of a long double-edged straight steel blade and a wooden hilt; bows and arrows. To protect themselves from hacking and impaling weapons, they wore a bronze helmet and used a round, wooden shield, covered with leather with ornamental signs and figures on it.
They were of medium height, with either blond or red hair and blue eyes.