Visigoths, or West Goths, a Germanic group that invaded the Roman Empire in the fourth century A.D.. They arose about 370, when the Goths split into two groups. For a century they had been settled peacefully in Dacia (Romania). The invasion of eastern Europe by the Huns and their conquest of the Ostrogoths in 375, however, led the Visigoths to seek sanctuary within the Roman Empire in 376. In 378, following mistreatment by Roman authorities, the Visigoths rebelled and defeated the Romans at Adrianople, killing Emperor Valens. Under Alaric, the Visigoths next invaded Greece and Italy, and in 410 they sacked Rome.
After the death of Alaric, the Visigoths migrated to Gaul and then passed on to Spain, where they settled and set up a kingdom. They were Arian Christians but in about 600 adopted the Roman Catholic faith. In 711 the Visigothic kingdom, under Roderick, was destroyed by the Moors. The Visigoths have disappeared as a people but a few Spanish words are of Visigothic origin.