The Vandals are a distinct ethnic group that have occupied the coasts of the western Mediterranean Sea for over 1500 years. They are the last remnants of the many different ancient Germanic peoples that once dominated the Eastern European heartland. For most of their history, the Vandals have had a close association with Rome, at first engaging in open hostility before both sides developing a mutual respect for each other. At this stage, the Vandals settled into their current homeland centred around Hippo Regius along the coast of northwestern Africa, with a large diaspora developing across Europe, with the largest of these populations being present in Latium. In 1967, the Vandals secured their independence, which they have maintained to this day.
Helping maintain the Vandals' continued presence as a distinct people despite over a millennium of foreign overlordship is the Vandals' noted abilities for creativity, which has allowed them to gain considerable skills in adaptability. This trait has become a defining one for the Vandal people, many of which have become renowned around the world for their considerable artistic skills and achievements.
The people have their origins as a group of nomads who roamed the areas of what is now Poland and Sweden, before developing into one of the many different peoples who terrorized the Roman Empire with their raids. During the Collapse of the Fifth Century (where the Roman State effectively split into Western (Rome) and Eastern (Byzantium) halves), the Vandals intensified their conflict with Rome, eventually defeating the Romans in north Africa and carving an effective kingdom for themselves centred around Carthage in 429 (legally speaking, the territory still belonged to Rome, but in practice it was controlled by the Vandals). After that point, the Vandals used this position to engage in piracy all over the Mediterranean, causing Roman (and Byzantine) power in the region to wane considerably. The Vandals then famously sacked the city of Rome in 455, upon which the Vandals turned into their capital, establishing the Vandals as the preeminent power in the Western Mediterranean.
In 480, as part of his wars with the Germans, the Western Roman Emperor, Julius Nepos, wrested control of Rome away from the Vandals, forcing them to flee back to their original capital in Hippo Regius. Nepos' victory was the first in a reversal of fortune for the Vandals against the Romans, as Rome won a naval victory off Caralis in 483. This helped set the stage for a short-lived reunion between Rome and Byzantium (534-570), as two combined forces to defeat the Germanic invaders with the goal of facilitating an effective reunion. To this end, the Vandalic Kingdom was swiftly invaded and conquered in 527 by a combined Roman-Byzantine force led by Belisarius, ending the Kingdom's effective independence. Following the loss of their kingdom, the Vandals sought refuge in Rome, intensifying reunion negotiations and allowing the Vandals to strike a deal with the Romans- they could maintain their way of life and limited autonomy under their king as long as they submitted to Roman suzerainty. This began the process of reconciliation between the two peoples, where it evolved to the current state where the two peoples have mutual respect for each other.
The reconciliation proved crucial, as in 700, the Arabs defeated the Byzantines in several battles and took over north Africa. This began a period of over 1200 years of foreign rule in north Africa, with varying degrees of respect paid to the Vandal people. It is said that these differences is what inspired the Vandals to apply their artistic principles to governing, with the Vandal government gaining a reputation for trickery. One of the more famous examples occurred in 1704, when an Ottoman vizier and his army were led to a Vandal ambush because the Vandals changed the road signs leading to Hippo Regius.
In 1950, following the Peace of Poznan, the Soviet Union gained control of north Africa and tried to oppress the Vandal people. The Vandals then engaged in years of unconventional psychological warfare with the Soviets (including a 1962 incident where the Vandals left the carcasses of 400 brown bears on the steps of the Kremlin), which was successful in securing the Vandals' independence in 1967.
Since independence, the Vandalic Kingdom has become known for their reclusive nature, as the Vandals have outright refused to join any alliance. It does maintain considerable diplomatic relations worldwide, particularly with Rome, and was one of the signatories to the Treaty of Buffalo in 2017.
The Vandal kingdom is a constitutional monarchy governed by a legislative assembly, called the Thing. The Vandal kingdom is thus divided into several different counties, or hundreds, each of which elects a representative to the Thing. Each representative has absolute rule over their hundred, except in areas designated by the Vandal constitution as "cities", in which case the representatives of the constituent hundreds must make decisions in their own "mini-Thing". From amongst the representatives of the Thing, a monarch is then elected, with their role being oversight over the debates and provide the tie-breaking vote if need be. All representatives serve for life, unless the members of their district ask for a recall election. Recalls can only be done if a petition calling for one is successful in gaining enough signatures for 2% of the population, upon which a majority-rules vote with universal suffrage is held one month later.
The Vandals are best known as a society that takes considerable pride in artistic merits and achievements, a mentality that has helped it produce hundreds of world-renowned talents across many different fields of art and entertainment. Historically, the Vandals have always been patrons of the arts, often elevating those who show particular skill at creativity and originality on the highest social pedestals. Because of their commitment to creativity and artistry, the Vandals are known for their tendency to buck trends and go against conventions in many different fields, even in fields like economics, politics and law enforcement.
"Vandal" as a term
Following the Vandals' sack of Rome in 455, legends grew that the sack was so bold and so destructive that the Vandals gained a reputation for wantonly brazen desecration, leaving little in their wake. Thus, "vandal" soon evolved into a term used to describe anyone that destroys someone else's property out of willful ignorance.
During the Medieval period, the Vandals themselves rarely distanced themselves from the term, often using it to their advantage against any foreign power that sought to eradicate them. In this case, the Vandals' reputation was enough to scare the powers away from attacking them outright, mostly out of fear for the destruction the Vandals would wrought in retaliation.
In more recent times, since the Vandalic Kingdom's independence, there has been a greater pushback against the use of "vandal" as a term for desecration, with many Vandal scholars and writers insisting that it is a racial slur. These thinkers assert the term creates the negative stereotype that the Vandal people are "violent and ignorant", with many Vandals suggesting that this stereotype has caused them to be looked at with incorrect suspicion by foreign employers and law enforcement agencies.
Schutze die Vandalen
The most vocal purveyors of the concept of "vandal" as an ethnic slur is the activist group Schütze die Vandalen ("Protect Vandal lives"), abbreviated to "SDV". The group was formed in 1985 after Melissa Schubert, the daughter of a Vandal expat who lived in Great Zimbabwe, was shot and killed by shopkeeper Charles Willens when he spotted graffiti along his storefront with the 17-year-old standing nearby. No evidence ever appeared that Schubert- who never got into any trouble at all- was responsible for the graffito, but Willens managed to escape conviction by asserting that "the graffiti was a product of vandalism", and since Schubert was a Vandal, local authorities simply believed Willens. In 1992, Willens himself was gunned down by SDV activists in retaliation, although the group ascribed those actions to those of "rogue elements".
Since then, the SDV have been known for their outspoken criticism of even the smallest of slights against the Vandals as a people, as well as any incident where a Vandal expat is killed by police or denied a job, regardless of whether the officials in question had legitimate reasons for doing so. Some acts of terrorism have been done in the SDV's name or by SDV members, although no evidence has ever been produced to suggest the group as a whole orders or even condones these acts.
Within Vandal circles, the SDV is polarizing, with Vandal people deeply divided on supporting the group. Although many Vandals appreciate the work the SDV does, there are many others who believe the group's confrontational attitude is the wrong approach, with many others believing the SDV's approach is hypocritical, as a confrontational attitude and the violent nature of some of its members is ironic for a group whose mission it is to eradicate the stereotype that the Vandals themselves are violent. The SDV counters this by saying that the group itself has never been shown to actively promote violence, and asserts that any violence that may arise from its members is "targeted", unlike the stereotype that claims Vandals engage in "violence against innocents".
Main article: Vandal superhero
The most famous aspect of Vandal unconventionality is their law enforcement effort, centred around the concept of "superheroes". Instead of each jurisdiction having to rely on different teams of law enforcement officers to co-ordinate together and solve various crimes, high profile crimes are tasked to highly-trained, high skill individuals who are mostly known for their creative and unorthodox practices. The reason for the usage of superheroes is due to Vandalic criminals' own tendencies for creative and unorthodox practices which often confound "regular" police techniques, necessitating the usage of individuals trained to think in ways the criminals do.