Word Origin & History
1660s, "willful destroyer of what is beautiful or venerable," from Vandals, name of Gmc. tribe that sacked Rome in 455 under Genseric, from L. Vandalus (pl. Vandali), from the tribe's name for itself (O.E. Wendlas), from P.Gmc. *Wandal- "Wanderer."
"There does not seem to be in the story of the capture of Rome by the Vandals any justification for the charge of willful and objectless destruction of public buildings which is implied in the word 'vandalism.' It is probable that this charge grew out of the fierce persecution which was carried on by [the Vandal king] Gaiseric and his son against the Catholic Christians, and which is the darkest stain on their characters." ["Encyclopedia Britannica," 13th ed., 1926]