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Barbarian Kingdoms: Herulii

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The Heruli (spelled variously in Latin and Greek) were an East Germanic tribe who migrated from Scandinavia to the Black Sea in the third century. They were part of the series of raids and incursions carried out by Gothic groups in the Balkans and Greece from the 250s.

In 267, together with the Goths they sacked and razed Byzantium, Sparta and Athens. They were defeated by the Romans in 269 at or near Naissus (modern Niš in present-day Serbia). In the 4th century, they were subjugated by the Ostrogoths and later the Huns. Breaking free from the Huns after the Battle of Nedao in 454, they established their own kingdom and joined Odoacer, the commander of the Imperial foederati troops who deposed the last Western Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus in 476 AD. In 508 they were defeated by the Lombards and are reported to have migrated back to Scandinavia. Their name is related to earl (see erilaz) and was probably an honorific military title.