Burgundians

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The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm
Bornholm
Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...

, whose old form in Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 still was Burgundarholmr (the Island of the Burgundians), and from there to mainland Europe. However, Agathias
Agathias
Agathias or Agathias Scholasticus , of Myrina , an Aeolian city in western Asia Minor , was a Greek poet and the principal historian of part of the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian I between 552 and 558....

 (ca 530-582/594 AD) mentions Hunnic Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 Burugundi (Βουρουγουνδοι) and Ultizurs, stating that they are near relatives of Bulgar Cotrigurs
Kutrigurs
The Kutrigurs , first mentioned in 539/540, were a horde of equestrian nomads later known as part of the Bulgars that inhabited the Eurasian plains during the Dark Ages. They came into existence when the Eurasian Avars conquered half of the Hunno-Bulgars, whilst the remaining group, who were free ...

 and Utigurs, to tell of their destruction.

In Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar
Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar
Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar or The Saga of Thorstein, Viking's Son is a legendary saga taking place in the 7th century and it is about the father of Frithjof the Bold. It begins in Norway and Sweden but continues into exotic places such as India. It is not one of the more famous sagas, but it is...

(The Saga of Thorstein, Viking's Son), Veseti settled in an island or holm, which was called Borgund's holm, i.e. Bornholm. Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

's translation of Orosius uses the name Burgenda land. The poet and early mythologist Viktor Rydberg
Viktor Rydberg
Abraham Viktor Rydberg was a Swedish writer and a member of the Swedish Academy, 1877-1895...

 (1828–1895), (Our Fathers' Godsaga) asserted from an early medieval source, Vita Sigismundi
Sigismund of Burgundy
Sigismund was king of the Burgundians from 516 to his death. He was the son of king Gundobad, whom he succeeded in 516. Sigismund and his brother Godomar were defeated in battle by Clovis' sons and Godomar fled. Sigismund was taken by Chlodomer, King of Orléans, where he was kept as a prisoner. He...

, that themselves retained oral traditions about their Scandinavian origin.

Tribal origins



The Burgundians' tradition of Scandinavian origin finds support in place-name evidence and archaeological evidence (Stjerna) and many consider their tradition to be correct (e.g. Musset, p. 62). Possibly because Scandinavia was beyond the horizon of the earliest Roman sources, including Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 (who only mentions one Scandinavian tribe, the Suiones), Roman sources do not mention where the Burgundians came from, and the first Roman references place them east of the Rhine (inter alia, Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

, XVIII, 2, 15). Early Roman sources considered them simply another East Germanic tribe.

About 250, the population of Bornholm
Bornholm
Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...

 (the island of the Burgundians) largely disappeared from the island. Most cemeteries ceased to be used, and those that were still used had few burials (Stjerna, in Nerman 1925:176).

In the year 369, the Emperor Valentinian I
Valentinian I
Valentinian I , also known as Valentinian the Great, was Roman emperor from 364 to 375. Upon becoming emperor he made his brother Valens his co-emperor, giving him rule of the eastern provinces while Valentinian retained the west....

 enlisted the aid of the Burgundians in his war against another Germanic tribe, the Alamanni
Alamanni
The Alamanni, Allemanni, or Alemanni were originally an alliance of Germanic tribes located around the upper Rhine river . One of the earliest references to them is the cognomen Alamannicus assumed by Roman Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 to 217 and claimed thereby to be...

 (Ammianus, XXVIII, 5, 8-15). At this time, the Burgundians were possibly living in the Vistula
Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

 basin, according to the mid-6th-century historian of the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

, Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

. Sometime after their war against the Alamanni, the Burgundians were beaten in battle by Fastida
Fastida
Fastida was a king of the Gepidae of the 3rd century. His battle against the Visigoths resulted in defeat, and was chronicled in Getica by Jordanes. He is the first Gepidic king whose name survives.- External links :* *...

, king of the Gepids and were overwhelmed and almost annihilated.

Approximately four decades later, the Burgundians appear again. Following Stilicho
Stilicho
Flavius Stilicho was a high-ranking general , Patrician and Consul of the Western Roman Empire, notably of Vandal birth. Despised by the Roman population for his Germanic ancestry and Arian beliefs, Stilicho was in 408 executed along with his wife and son...

's withdrawal of troops to fight Alaric I
Alaric I
Alaric I was the King of the Visigoths from 395–410. Alaric is most famous for his sack of Rome in 410, which marked a decisive event in the decline of the Roman Empire....

 the Visigoth in AD 406-408, the northern tribes crossed the Rhine and entered the Empire in the Völkerwanderung, or Germanic migrations. Among them were the Alans
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

, Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

, the Suevi, and possibly the Burgundians. A part of Burgundians migrated westwards and settled in the Rhine Valley
Rhine Valley
The Rhine Valley is a glacial alpine valley, formed by the Alpine Rhine , i.e. the section of the Rhine River between the confluence of the Anterior Rhine and Posterior Rhine at Reichenau and its mouth at Lake Constance....

. Another part of Burgundians stayed behind in their previous homeland in Oder-Vistula interfluvial to form a contingent in Attila's Hunnic army by 451.

Conversion to Christianity


Somewhere in the east the Burgundians had converted to the Arian
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 form of Christianity from their native Germanic polytheism. Their Arianism proved a source of suspicion and distrust between the Burgundians and the Catholic Western Roman Empire. Divisions were evidently healed or healing circa AD 500, however, as Gundobad
Gundobad
Gundobad was King of the Burgundians , succeeding his father Gundioc of Burgundy. Previous to this, he had been a Patrician of the Western Roman Empire in 472–473, succeeding his uncle Ricimer.- Early life :...

, one of the last Burgundian kings, maintained a close personal friendship with Avitus
Avitus of Vienne
Alcimus Ecdicius Avitus was a Latin poet and archbishop of Vienne in Gaul.Avitus was born of a prominent Gallo-Roman senatorial family in the kinship of Emperor Avitus.-Life:...

, the bishop of Vienne. Moreover, Gundobad's son and successor, Sigismund
Sigismund of Burgundy
Sigismund was king of the Burgundians from 516 to his death. He was the son of king Gundobad, whom he succeeded in 516. Sigismund and his brother Godomar were defeated in battle by Clovis' sons and Godomar fled. Sigismund was taken by Chlodomer, King of Orléans, where he was kept as a prisoner. He...

, was himself a Catholic, and there is evidence that many of the Burgundian people had converted by this time as well, including several female members of the ruling family.

Early relationship with the Romans


Initially, the Burgundians seem to have had a stormy relationship with the Romans. They were used by the Empire to fend off other tribes, but also raided the border regions and expanded their influence when possible.

First Kingdom


In 411, the Burgundian king Gundahar
Gunther
Gunther is the German name of a semi-legendary king of Burgundy of the early 5th century...

 or Gundicar set up a puppet emperor, Jovinus
Jovinus
Jovinus was a Gallo-Roman senator and claimed to be Roman Emperor .Following the defeat of the usurper known with the name of Constantine III, Jovinus was proclaimed emperor at Mainz in 411, a puppet supported by Gundahar, king of the Burgundians, and Goar, king of the Alans...

, in cooperation with Goar
Goar
Goar was a leader of the Alans in 5th-century Gaul. He led his followers over the Rhine during the multi-tribe invasion of Gaul in 406, but quickly joined the Romans, and subsequently played a role in the internal politics of Gaul.-Invasion of Gaul:Goar is first mentioned in Gregory of Tours's...

, king of the Alans
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

. With the authority of the Gallic emperor
Gallo-Roman culture
The term Gallo-Roman describes the Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire. This was characterized by the Gaulish adoption or adaptation of Roman mores and way of life in a uniquely Gaulish context...

 that he controlled, Gundahar settled on the left (Roman) bank of the Rhine, between the river Lauter
Lauter
Lauter may refer to:In towns:*Lauter, Saxony, town in the district of Aue-Schwarzenberg, Saxony, Germany*Lauter, Bavaria, village in the district of Bamberg, Bavaria, GermanyIn rivers:*Lauter , tributary to the Baunach, Germany...

 and the Nahe
Nahe
The Nahe River is a river in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, Germany, a left tributary to the Rhine. It has also given name to the wine region Nahe situated around it....

, seizing Worms
Worms, Germany
Worms is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on the Rhine River. At the end of 2004, it had 85,829 inhabitants.Established by the Celts, who called it Borbetomagus, Worms today remains embattled with the cities Trier and Cologne over the title of "Oldest City in Germany." Worms is the only...

, Speyer
Speyer
Speyer is a city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities...

, and Strassburg. Apparently as part of a truce, the Emperor Honorius
Honorius (emperor)
Honorius , was Western Roman Emperor from 395 to 423. He was the younger son of emperor Theodosius I and his first wife Aelia Flaccilla, and brother of the eastern emperor Arcadius....

 later officially "granted" them the land. (Prosper, a. 386)

Despite their new status as foederati
Foederati
Foederatus is a Latin term whose definition and usage drifted in the time between the early Roman Republic and the end of the Western Roman Empire...

, Burgundian raids into Roman Upper Gallia Belgica
Gallia Belgica
Gallia Belgica was a Roman province located in what is now the southern part of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, northeastern France, and western Germany. The indigenous population of Gallia Belgica, the Belgae, consisted of a mixture of Celtic and Germanic tribes...

 became intolerable and were ruthlessly brought to an end in 436, when the Roman general Aëtius
Flavius Aëtius
Flavius Aëtius , dux et patricius, was a Roman general of the closing period of the Western Roman Empire. He was an able military commander and the most influential man in the Western Roman Empire for two decades . He managed policy in regard to the attacks of barbarian peoples pressing on the Empire...

 called in Hun mercenaries who overwhelmed the Rhineland kingdom (with its capital at the old Celtic Roman settlement of Borbetomagus/Worms) in 437. Gundahar was killed in the fighting, reportedly along with the majority of the Burgundian tribe. (Prosper; Chronica Gallica 452; Hydatius; and Sidonius Apollinaris)

The destruction of Worms and the Burgundian kingdom by the Huns became the subject of heroic legends that were afterwards incorporated in the Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

—on which Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

 based his Ring Cycle—where King Gunther (Gundahar) and Queen Brünhild hold their court at Worms, and Siegfried
Sigurd
Sigurd is a legendary hero of Norse mythology, as well as the central character in the Völsunga saga. The earliest extant representations for his legend come in pictorial form from seven runestones in Sweden and most notably the Ramsund carving Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) is a legendary hero of...

 comes to woo Kriemhild. (In Old Norse sources the names are Gunnar, Brynhild, and Gudrún as normally rendered in English.) In fact, the Etzel of the Nibelungenlied is based on Attila the Hun
Attila the Hun
Attila , more frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his reign he was one of the most feared...

.

Second Kingdom



For reasons not cited in the sources, the Burgundians were granted foederati status a second time, and in 443 were resettled by Aëtius in the region of Sapaudia. (Chronica Gallica 452) Though the precise geography is uncertain, Sapaudia corresponds to the modern-day Savoy
Savoy
Savoy is a region of France. It comprises roughly the territory of the Western Alps situated between Lake Geneva in the north and Monaco and the Mediterranean coast in the south....

, and the Burgundians probably lived near Lugdunum, known today as Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

. (Wood 1994, Gregory II, 9) A new king Gundioc or Gunderic, presumed to be Gundahar's son, appears to have reigned from his father's death. (Drew, p. 1) The historian Pline tells us that Gonderic reigned the areas of Saône, Dauphiny, Savoie and a part of Provence. He set up Vienne
Vienne, Isère
Vienne is a commune in south-eastern France, located south of Lyon, on the Rhône River. It is the second largest city after Grenoble in the Isère department, of which it is a subprefecture. The city's population was of 29,400 as of the 2001 census....

 as the capital of the kingdom of Burgundy. In all, eight Burgundian kings of the house of Gundahar ruled until the kingdom was overrun by the Franks in 534.

As allies of Rome in its last decades, the Burgundians fought alongside Aëtius
Flavius Aëtius
Flavius Aëtius , dux et patricius, was a Roman general of the closing period of the Western Roman Empire. He was an able military commander and the most influential man in the Western Roman Empire for two decades . He managed policy in regard to the attacks of barbarian peoples pressing on the Empire...

 and a confederation of Visigoths and others in the battle against Attila
Attila the Hun
Attila , more frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his reign he was one of the most feared...

 at the Battle of Châlons
Battle of Chalons
The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains , also called the Battle of Châlons sur Marne, took place in AD 451 between a coalition led by the Visigothic king Theodoric I and the Roman general Flavius Aëtius, against the Huns and their allies commanded by their leader Attila...

 (also called "The Battle of the Catalaunian Fields") in 451. The alliance between Burgundians and Visigoths seems to have been strong, as Gundioc and his brother Chilperic I accompanied Theodoric II
Theodoric II
Theodoric II was King of Visigoths from 453 to 466.Theoderic II, son of Theodoric I, obtained the throne by killing his elder brother Thorismund...

 to Spain to fight the Sueves in 455. (Jordanes, Getica, 231)

Aspirations to the Empire


Also in 455, an ambiguous reference infidoque tibi Burdundio ductu (Sidonius Apollinaris
Sidonius Apollinaris
Gaius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius or Saint Sidonius Apollinaris was a poet, diplomat, and bishop. Sidonius is "the single most important surviving author from fifth-century Gaul" according to Eric Goldberg...

 in Panegyr. Avit. 442.) implicates an unnamed treacherous Burgundian leader in the murder of the emperor Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
Flavius Petronius Maximus was Western Roman Emperor for two and a half months in 455. A wealthy senator and a prominent aristocrat, he was instrumental in the murders of the Western Roman magister militum, Flavius Aëtius, and the Western Roman Emperor Valentinian III...

 in the chaos preceding the sack of Rome by the Vandals
Vandals
The Vandals were an East Germanic tribe that entered the late Roman Empire during the 5th century. The Vandals under king Genseric entered Africa in 429 and by 439 established a kingdom which included the Roman Africa province, besides the islands of Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics....

. The Patrician Ricimer
Ricimer
Flavius Ricimer was a Germanic general who achieved effective control of the remaining parts of the Western Roman Empire, during the middle of the 5th century...

 is also blamed; this event marks the first indication of the link between the Burgundians and Ricimer, who was probably Gundioc's brother-in-law and Gundobad
Gundobad
Gundobad was King of the Burgundians , succeeding his father Gundioc of Burgundy. Previous to this, he had been a Patrician of the Western Roman Empire in 472–473, succeeding his uncle Ricimer.- Early life :...

's uncle, (John Malalas, 374)

The Burgundians, apparently confident in their growing power, negotiated in 456 a territorial expansion and power sharing arrangement with the local Roman senators. (Marius of Avenches)

In 457, Ricimer overthrew another emperor, Avitus
Avitus
Eparchius Avitus was Western Roman Emperor from July 8 or July 9, 455 to October 17, 456. A Gallic-Roman aristocrat, he was a senator and a high-ranking officer both in the civil and military administration, as well as Bishop of Piacenza.A representative of the Gallic-Roman aristocracy, he...

, raising Majorian
Majorian
Majorian , was the Western Roman Emperor from 457 to 461.A prominent general of the Late Roman army, Majorian deposed Emperor Avitus in 457 and succeeded him. Majorian was one of the last emperors to make a concerted effort to restore the Western Roman Empire...

 to the throne. This new emperor proved unhelpful to Ricimer and the Burgundians. The year after his ascension, Majorian stripped the Burgundians of the lands they had acquired two years earlier. After showing further signs of independence, he was murdered by Ricimer in 461.

Ten years later, in 472, Ricimer–who was by now the son-in-law of the Western Emperor Anthemius
Anthemius
Procopius Anthemius was Western Roman Emperor from 467 to 472. Perhaps the last capable Western Roman Emperor, Anthemius attempted to solve the two primary military challenges facing the remains of the Western Roman Empire: the resurgent Visigoths, under Euric, whose domain straddled the Pyrenees;...

–was plotting with Gundobad to kill his father-in-law; Gundobad beheaded the emperor (apparently personally). (Chronica Gallica 511; John of Antioch, fr. 209; Jordanes, Getica, 239) Ricimer then appointed Olybrius
Olybrius
Anicius Olybrius was Western Roman Emperor from April or May 472 to his death. He was in reality a puppet ruler, put on the throne by the Roman general of Germanic descent Ricimer, and was mainly interested in religion, while the actual power was held by Ricimer and his nephew Gundobad.-Family and...

; both died, surprisingly of natural causes, within a few months. Gundobad seems then to have succeeded his uncle as Patrician and king-maker, and raised Glycerius
Glycerius
Glycerius was a Western Roman Emperor from 473 to 474. Elevated by his Magister militum, Gundobad, Glycerius’ elevation was rejected by the court at Constantinople, and he was ousted by Julius Nepos. He later served as the bishop of Salona in the early Catholic Church.-Rise to power:Sources on...

 to the throne. (Marius of Avenches; John of Antioch, fr. 209)

In 474, Burgundian influence over the empire seems to have ended. Glycerius was deposed in favor of Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos
Julius Nepos was Western Roman Emperor de facto from 474 to 475 and de jure until 480. Some historians consider him to be the last Western Roman Emperor, while others consider the western line to have ended with Romulus Augustulus in 476...

, and Gundobad returned to Burgundy, presumably at the death of his father Gundioc. At this time or shortly afterward, the Burgundian kingdom was divided between Gundobad and his brothers, Godigisel, Chilperic II, and Gundomar I. (Gregory, II, 28)

Consolidation of the Kingdom


According to Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

, the years following Gundobad's return to Burgundy saw a bloody consolidation of power. Gregory states that Gundobad murdered his brother Chilperic, drowning his wife and exiling their daughters (one of whom was to become the wife of Clovis
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

 the Frank
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, and was reputedly responsible for his conversion). This is contested by, e.g., Bury, who points out problems in much of Gregory's chronology for the events.

C.500, when Gundobad and Clovis were at war, Gundobad appears to have been betrayed by his brother Godegisel, who joined the Franks; together Godegisel's and Clovis' forces "crushed the army of Gundobad." (Marius a. 500; Gregory, II, 32) Gundobad was temporarily holed up in Avignon, but was able to re-muster his army and sacked Vienne, where Godegisel and many of his followers were put to death. From this point, Gundobad appears to have been the sole king of Burgundy. (e.g., Gregory, II, 33) This would imply that his brother Gundomar was already dead, though there are no specific mentions of the event in the sources.

Either Gundobad and Clovis reconciled their differences, or Gundobad was forced into some sort of vassalage by Clovis' earlier victory, as the Burgundian king appears to have assisted the Franks in 507 in their victory over Alaric II
Alaric II
Alaric II, also known as Alarik, Alarich, and Alarico in Spanish and Portuguese or Alaricus in Latin succeeded his father Euric on December 28, 484, in Toulouse. He established his capital at Aire-sur-l'Adour in Aquitaine...

 the Visigoth.

During the upheaval, sometime between 483-501, Gundobad began to set forth the Lex Gundobada (see below), issuing roughly the first half, which drew upon the Lex Visigothorum. (Drew, p. 1) Following his consolidation of power, between 501 and his death in 516, Gundobad issued the second half of his law, which was more originally Burgundian.

Fall of the Second Kingdom


The Burgundians were extending their power over southeastern Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

; that is, northern Italy, western Switzerland, and southeastern France. In 493 Clovis
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

, king of the Franks, married the Burgundian princess Clotilda
Clotilde
Saint Clotilde , also known as Clothilde, Clotilda, Clotild, Rotilde or Chroctechildis, was the second wife of the Frankish king Clovis I...

 (daughter of Chilperic), who converted him to the Catholic faith.

At first allied with Clovis'
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

 Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 against the Visigoths in the early 6th century, the Burgundians were eventually conquered by the Franks in 534 after a first attempt in the battle of Vézeronce
Battle of Vézeronce
The Battle of Vézeronce took place on June 25, 524 close to Vézeronce-Curtin in Isère. It was part of the Burgundian War initiated by the four successors of the Frankish king Clovis I: Childebert I, Chlodomir, Chlothar I, and Theuderic I....

. The Burgundian kingdom was made part of the Merovingian kingdoms, and the Burgundians themselves were by and large absorbed as well.

Burgundian laws


The Burgundians left three legal code
Legal code
A legal code is a body of law written by a governmental body, such as a U.S. state, a Canadian Province or German Bundesland or a municipality...

s, among the earliest from any of the Germanic tribes.

The Liber Constitutionum sive Lex Gundobada (The Book of the Constitution following the Law of Gundobad), also known as the Lex Burgundionum, or more simply the Lex Gundobada or the Liber, was issued in several parts between 483 and 516, principally by Gundobad, but also by his son, Sigismund. (Drew, p. 6-7) It was a record of Burgundian customary law and is typical of the many Germanic law codes from this period. In particular, the Liber borrowed from the Lex Visigothorum (Drew, p. 6) and influenced the later Lex Ribuaria. (Rivers, p. 9) The Liber is one of the primary sources for contemporary Burgundian life, as well as the history of its kings.

Like many of the Germanic tribes, the Burgundians' legal traditions allowed the application of separate laws for separate ethnicities. Thus, in addition to the Lex Gundobada, Gundobad also issued (or codified) a set of laws for Roman subjects of the Burgundian kingdom, the Lex Romana Burgundionum (The Roman Law of the Burgundians).

In addition to the above codes, Gundobad's son Sigismund later published the Prima Constitutio.

Origin of Burgundy



The name of the Burgundians has since remained connected to the area of modern France that still bears their name: see the later history of Burgundy. Between the 6th and 20th centuries, however, the boundaries and political connections of this area have changed frequently; none of those changes have had anything to do with the original Burgundians. The name Burgundians used here and generally used by English writers to refer to the Burgundiones is a later formation and more precisely refers to the inhabitants of the territory of Burgundy which was named from the people called Burgundiones. The descendants of the Burgundians today are found primarily among the west Swiss
Swiss (people)
The Swiss are citizens or natives of Switzerland. The demonym derives from the toponym of Schwyz and has been in widespread use to refer to the Old Swiss Confederacy since the 16th century....

 and neighbouring regions of France.

See also


  • Nibelung
    Nibelung
    The German Nibelungen and the corresponding Old Norse form Niflung is the name in Germanic and Norse mythology of the royal family or lineage of the Burgundians who settled at Worms....

     (later legends of the Burgundian kings).
  • King of Burgundy
    King of Burgundy
    The following is a list of the Kings of the two Kingdoms of Burgundy, and a number of related political entities devolving from Carolingian machinations over family relations.- Kings of the Burgundians :...

  • Duchy of Burgundy
    Duchy of Burgundy
    The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

  • Franche-Comté
    Franche-Comté
    Franche-Comté the former "Free County" of Burgundy, as distinct from the neighbouring Duchy, is an administrative region and a traditional province of eastern France...

  • Dauphiné
    Dauphiné
    The Dauphiné or Dauphiné Viennois is a former province in southeastern France, whose area roughly corresponded to that of the present departments of :Isère, :Drôme, and :Hautes-Alpes....

     (Dauphiny)
  • East Germanic tribes
    East Germanic tribes
    The Germanic tribes referred to as East Germanic constitute a wave of migrants who may have moved from Scandinavia into the area between the Oder and Vistula rivers between the years 600 and 300 BC. Later they went to the south...

  • List of Germanic tribes