Today the word vandal means a person that destroys without purpose. Yet originally the word was the name of a tribe of barbarians that were active 1,600 years ago. It was the original Vandals who gave the modern word its meaning.

As the might of Rome fell into decay, the barbarians swarmed over the borders. Most tribes were content with bribes or gifts of land. The Vandals were not.

Scorning all gifts they were offered by the Romans, the Vandals were only interested in plundering and destruction. In the early 5th century the Vandals swept through Gaul, leaving a trail of ruin behind them. Then they marched into Spain. Here they wrought havoc and bloodshed for twenty years.

The Vandal fighting force crossed to Africa to raid new lands. Here the Vandals captured a fleet and crossed to Italy. Their next act was to sack Rome.

Everywhere they went, the Vandals behaved atrociously. The Romans had become used to uncultured barbarians, but the Vandals were different. Most barbarians enjoyed luxury. They could be won over with treasure or soft living. The Vandals seemed to delight in destroying beautiful objects. They would destroy works of art and books for no reason. For nearly a century the Vandals roamed and destroyed almost at will.

In AD 533 the Vandals were finally smashed by the Byzantines. Their career of destruction was over.