Germanic peoples

Germanic peoples

Overview
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European
Proto-Indo-Europeans
The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language , a reconstructed prehistoric language of Eurasia.Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics...

 ethno-linguistic
Ethnolinguistics
Ethnolinguistics is a field of linguistics which studies the relationship between language and culture, and the way different ethnic groups perceive the world. It is the combination between ethnology and linguistics. The former refers to the way of life of an entire community i.e...

 group of Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

an origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

.

Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture
Corded Ware culture
The Corded Ware culture , alternatively characterized as the Battle Axe culture or Single Grave culture, is an enormous European archaeological horizon that begins in the late Neolithic , flourishes through the Copper Age and culminates in the early Bronze Age.Corded Ware culture is associated with...

 on the North German plain
North German plain
The North German Plain or Northern Lowland is one of the major geographical regions of Germany. It is the German part of the North European Plain...

, the Germanic peoples expanded into southern Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 and towards 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 ....

 river during the Nordic Bronze Age
Nordic Bronze Age
The Nordic Bronze Age is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian pre-history, c. 1700-500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia. Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of...

, reaching the lower Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 by 200 BCE. In the 2th century BCE, the Teutons
Teutons
The Teutons or Teutones were mentioned as a Germanic tribe by Greek and Roman authors, notably Strabo and Marcus Velleius Paterculus and normally in close connection with the Cimbri, whose ethnicity is contested between Gauls and Germani...

 and the Cimbri
Cimbri
The Cimbri were a tribe from Northern Europe, who, together with the Teutones and the Ambrones threatened the Roman Republic in the late 2nd century BC. The Cimbri were probably Germanic, though some believe them to be of Celtic origin...

 clashed
Cimbrian War
The Cimbrian War was fought between the Roman Republic and the Proto-Germanic tribes of the Cimbri and the Teutons , who migrated from northern Europe into Roman controlled territory, and clashed with Rome and her allies...

 with Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

.
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Encyclopedia
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European
Proto-Indo-Europeans
The Proto-Indo-Europeans were the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language , a reconstructed prehistoric language of Eurasia.Knowledge of them comes chiefly from the linguistic reconstruction, along with material evidence from archaeology and archaeogenetics...

 ethno-linguistic
Ethnolinguistics
Ethnolinguistics is a field of linguistics which studies the relationship between language and culture, and the way different ethnic groups perceive the world. It is the combination between ethnology and linguistics. The former refers to the way of life of an entire community i.e...

 group of Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

an origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

.

Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture
Corded Ware culture
The Corded Ware culture , alternatively characterized as the Battle Axe culture or Single Grave culture, is an enormous European archaeological horizon that begins in the late Neolithic , flourishes through the Copper Age and culminates in the early Bronze Age.Corded Ware culture is associated with...

 on the North German plain
North German plain
The North German Plain or Northern Lowland is one of the major geographical regions of Germany. It is the German part of the North European Plain...

, the Germanic peoples expanded into southern Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 and towards 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 ....

 river during the Nordic Bronze Age
Nordic Bronze Age
The Nordic Bronze Age is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian pre-history, c. 1700-500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia. Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of...

, reaching the lower Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 by 200 BCE. In the 2th century BCE, the Teutons
Teutons
The Teutons or Teutones were mentioned as a Germanic tribe by Greek and Roman authors, notably Strabo and Marcus Velleius Paterculus and normally in close connection with the Cimbri, whose ethnicity is contested between Gauls and Germani...

 and the Cimbri
Cimbri
The Cimbri were a tribe from Northern Europe, who, together with the Teutones and the Ambrones threatened the Roman Republic in the late 2nd century BC. The Cimbri were probably Germanic, though some believe them to be of Celtic origin...

 clashed
Cimbrian War
The Cimbrian War was fought between the Roman Republic and the Proto-Germanic tribes of the Cimbri and the Teutons , who migrated from northern Europe into Roman controlled territory, and clashed with Rome and her allies...

 with Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

. By the time of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

, a group of Germans led by the Suebi
Suebi
The Suebi or Suevi were a group of Germanic peoples who were first mentioned by Julius Caesar in connection with Ariovistus' campaign, c...

an chieftain Ariovistus
Ariovistus
Ariovistus was a leader of the Suebi and other allied Germanic peoples in the second quarter of the 1st century BC. He and his followers took part in a war in Gaul, assisting the Arverni and Sequani to defeat their rivals the Aedui, after which they settled in large numbers in conquered Gallic...

 were expanding into 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...

, until stopped by Caesar at the Vosges
Battle of Vosges (58 BC)
The Battle of Vosges was fought between the Germanic tribe of the Suebi under the leadership of Ariovistus against six Roman legions under the command of Gaius Julius Caesar in 58 BC. This encounter is the third major battle of the Gallic Wars. Germanic tribes crossed the Rhine, seeking a home in...

 in 58 BCE. Subsqeuent attempts by Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 to annex territories east of the Rhine were abandoned, after the Cherusci
Cherusci
The Cherusci were a Germanic tribe that inhabited parts of the northern Rhine valley and the plains and forests of northwestern Germany, in the area between present-day Osnabrück and Hanover, during the 1st century BC and 1st century AD...

an prince Arminius
Arminius
Arminius , also known as Armin or Hermann was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest...

 annihilated three Roman legions at the Battle of the Teutoburg forest
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place in 9 CE, when an alliance of Germanic tribes led by Arminius of the Cherusci ambushed and decisively destroyed three Roman legions, along with their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus.Despite numerous successful campaigns and raids by the...

 in 9 CE. At the time, German soldiers were massively recruited into the Roman Army
Roman army
The Roman army is the generic term for the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the kingdom of Rome , the Roman Republic , the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine empire...

, notably forming the personal bodyguard of the Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

. In the east, 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...

 that had migrated from Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 to the lower 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 ....

 pushed southwards, pressing the Marcomanni
Marcomanni
The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribe, probably related to the Buri, Suebi or Suevi.-Origin:Scholars believe their name derives possibly from Proto-Germanic forms of "march" and "men"....

 to invade
Marcomannic Wars
The Marcomannic Wars were a series of wars lasting over a dozen years from about AD 166 until 180. These wars pitted the Roman Empire against the Marcomanni, Quadi and other Germanic peoples, along both sides of the upper and middle Danube...

 Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 in 166 CE. Meanwhile, the Germans had through influence from Italic scripts devised their own Runic alphabet
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

. By the 3th century, 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....

 ruled a vast area
Oium
Oium or Aujum was a name for an area in Scythia, where the Goths under their king Filimer settled after leaving Gothiscandza, according to the Getica by Jordanes, written around 551...

 north of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 from where they either through crossing the lower Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 or traveling by sea, raided the Balkan Peninsula and Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 as far as Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

. Meanwhile, the growing confederations of 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...

 and Alemanni broke through the lines and settled along the the Rhine frontier, continuously infiltrating 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...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, while Saxon pirates ravaged the coasts of Britain
Britain
Britain may refer to:* United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a state in western Europe* Great Britain, the largest island in the British Isles* Britain, Virginia, an unincorporated village in Loudoun County, Virginia, USA...

. After the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 in the 4th century invaded the territories of the Gothic King Ermanaric
Ermanaric
Ermanaric was a Greuthungian Gothic King who before the Hunnic invasion evidently ruled an enormous area north of the Black Sea. Contemporary historian Ammianus Marcellinus recounts him as a "most warlike man" who "ruled over extensively wide and fertile regions"...

, which at it's peak evidently stretched between the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 and the Volga river
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

, and from the Black
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 to the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, thousands of Goths fled into the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, where they inflicted a massive defeat upon the Romans at the Adrianople
Battle of Adrianople
The Battle of Adrianople , sometimes known as the Battle of Hadrianopolis, was fought between a Roman army led by the Roman Emperor Valens and Gothic rebels led by Fritigern...

 and Sacked Rome
Sack of Rome (410)
The Sack of Rome occurred on August 24, 410. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a...

 under Alaric
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....

 in 410. Meanwhile, several Germanic tribes were converted to 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...

 Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 by the missionary Wulfila, who devised an alphabet
Gothic alphabet
The Gothic alphabet is an alphabet for writing the Gothic language, created in the 4th century by Ulfilas for the purpose of translating the Christian Bible....

 to translate the Bible into the Gothic language
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

.

Having defeated the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 at Chalons
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...

 and Nedao
Battle of Nedao
The Battle of Nedao, named after the Nedava, a tributary of the Sava, was a battle fought in Pannonia in 454. After the death of Attila the Hun, allied forces of the Germanic subject peoples under the leadership of Ardaric, king of the Gepids, defeated the Hunnic forces of Ellac, the son of Attila,...

, migrating Germanic tribes invaded the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

 and transformed it into Medieval Europe. By the year 500, the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 were in Britain
Britain
Britain may refer to:* United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a state in western Europe* Great Britain, the largest island in the British Isles* Britain, Virginia, an unincorporated village in Loudoun County, Virginia, USA...

, and the 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...

 controlled northeastern 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...

. The Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 were in the Rhône
Rhône
Rhone can refer to:* Rhone, one of the major rivers of Europe, running through Switzerland and France* Rhône Glacier, the source of the Rhone River and one of the primary contributors to Lake Geneva in the far eastern end of the canton of Valais in Switzerland...

 valley with the Visigoths as their western neighbours. Ruled by Theodoric
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, Ostrogoths were established in Italy
Ostrogothic Kingdom
The Kingdom established by the Ostrogoths in Italy and neighbouring areas lasted from 493 to 553. In Italy the Ostrogoths replaced Odoacer, the de facto ruler of Italy who had deposed the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire in 476. The Gothic kingdom reached its zenith under the rule of its...

, while the Vandal
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....

 leader Gaiseric had Sacked Rome
Sack of Rome (455)
The sack of 455 was the second of three barbarian sacks of Rome; it was executed by the Vandals, who were then at war with the usurping Western Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus....

 and founded kingdom
Vandal Kingdom
The Vandal Kingdom was a kingdom in North Africa established by the Vandals, an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin. Having crossed the Rhine in 407, the Vandals settled in southern Spain, modern day Andalusia, until pushed out by the Visigoths...

 in Africa. In 507, the Visigoths were expelled
Battle of Vouillé
The Battle of Vouillé or Vouglé was fought in the northern marches of Visigothic territory, at Vouillé, Vienne near Poitiers , in the spring of 507 between the Franks commanded by Clovis and the Visigoths of Alaric II, the conqueror of Spain.Clovis and Anastasius I of the Byzantine Empire agreed...

 by the Franks from most of their Gallic possessions, and thereafter ruled a state
Visigothic Kingdom
The Visigothic Kingdom was a kingdom which occupied southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula from the 5th to 8th century AD. One of the Germanic successor states to the Western Roman Empire, it was originally created by the settlement of the Visigoths under King Wallia in the province of...

 in Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

. In 568, the Lombard
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 leader Alboin
Alboin
Alboin was king of the Lombards from about 560 until 572. During his reign the Lombards ended their migrations by settling in Italy, the northern part of which Alboin conquered between 569 and 572...

 entered Italy, and founded an independent kingdom which in 774 was overthrown by Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, who was crowned Emperor of the Romans
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 in 800 CE. In the 8th century, North Germanic seamen expanded
Viking expansion
The Vikings sailed most of the North Atlantic, reaching south to North Africa and east to Russia, Constantinople and the Middle East, as looters, traders, colonists, and mercenaries...

 all over Europe, founding important states in Russia
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 and France
Duchy of Normandy
The Duchy of Normandy stems from various Danish, Norwegian, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Viking and Anglo-Danish invasions of France in the 9th century...

, while colonizing the Atlantic as far as North America
Norse colonization of the Americas
The Norse colonization of the Americas began as early as the 10th century, when Norse sailors explored and settled areas of the North Atlantic, including the northeastern fringes of North America....

. Subsequently, Germanic languages became dominant along many European countries but in Southern
Southern Europe
The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 the Germanic elite eventually adopted the native Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 or Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 dialects. All Germanic peoples were eventually converted from Paganism
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

 to Christianity
Germanic Christianity
The Germanic people underwent gradual Christianization in the course of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. By the 8th century, England and the Frankish Empire were Christian, and by AD 1100 Germanic paganism had also ceased to have political influence in Scandinavia.-History:In the 4th...

.

Modern Germanic peoples are represented primarily by Scandinavians
Scandinavians
Scandinavians are a group of Germanic peoples, inhabiting Scandinavia and to a lesser extent countries associated with Scandinavia, and speaking Scandinavian languages. The group includes Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, and additionally the descendants of Scandinavian settlers such as the Icelandic...

, Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

, Dutchmen
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

, Englishmen
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 and others who still speak languages derived from the ancestral Germanic dialects.

Germanic



The Latin ethnonym
Ethnonym
An ethnonym is the name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms and autonyms or endonyms .As an example, the ethnonym for...

 "Germani" seems to be attested in the Fasti Capitolini inscription for the year 222 BCE, DE GALLEIS INSVBRIBVS ET GERM(aneis), where it may simply refer to "related" peoples, namely related to the Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

. Furthermore, since the inscriptions were erected only in 17 to 18 BCE, the word may be a later addition to the text. Another early mentioning of the name, this time by Poseidonios (writing around 80 BCE), is also dubious, as it only survives in a quotation by Athenaios (writing around 190 CE); the mention of Germani in this context was more likely inserted by Athenaios rather than by Poseidonios himself.

The writer who apparently introduced the name "Germani" into the corpus
Text corpus
In linguistics, a corpus or text corpus is a large and structured set of texts...

 of classical literature is Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

. He uses Germani in two slightly differing ways:

First, Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

was a geographical area of land on the east bank of the Rhine from Gaul, and outside Roman control. This usage of the word is the origin of the modern concept of Germanic languages, but it was not defined strictly by language. Under other classical authors this sometimes included regions of Sarmatia
Sarmatia
Sarmatia or Sarmatian can refer to:* the land of Sarmatians, western Scythia as described by many classical authors, such as Herodotus in the 5th century BC* Sarmatian languages, part of Scythian languages...

 as well as an area under Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 control on the west bank of the Rhine. Also, at least in the south there were Celtic peoples still living east of the Rhine and north of the Alps. Caesar, Tacitus and others did note differences of culture which could be found on the east of the Rhine. But all of these cultural notes were around the theme that this was a wild and dangerous region, less civilised than Gaul, and requiring of military vigilance in Rome and Gaul.

On the other hand, Caesar uses the term Germani, for a very specific tribal grouping in northeastern Belgic 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...

, west of the Rhine, the largest part of which were the Eburones
Eburones
The Eburones , were a Belgic people who lived in the northeast of Gaul, near the river Meuse and the modern provinces of Belgian and Dutch Limburg, in the period immediately before it was conquered by Rome. They played a major role in Julius Caesar's account of his "Gallic Wars", as the most...

, making clear that he was using the name in the local way. These are the so-called Germani Cisrhenani
Germani cisrhenani
Germani Cisrhenani is a Latin term which refers to that part of the tribal people known as Germani who lived to the west of the Rhine river. Cisrhenane, the English form of the word, means "this side of the Rhine"...

. 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...

 suggests that this was the original way the word "Germani" was used – as the name of a single tribal nation, ancestral to the Tungri
Tungri
The Tungri were a tribe, or group of tribes, who lived in the Belgic part Gaul, during the times of the Roman empire. They were described by Tacitus as being the same people who were first called "Germani" , meaning that all other tribes who were later referred to this way, including those in...

 (who lived in the same area as the earlier Germani reported by Caesar), and not a whole race (gentis). He also suggested that two large Belgic tribes neighbouring Caesar's Germani, the Nervii
Nervii
The Nervii were an ancient Germanic tribe, and one of the most powerful Belgic tribes; living in the northeastern hinterlands of Gaul, they were known to trek long distances to engage in various wars and functions...

 and the Treveri
Treveri
The Treveri or Treviri were a tribe of Gauls who inhabited the lower valley of the Moselle from around 150 BCE, at the latest, until their eventual absorption into the Franks...

, liked to call themselves Germanic in his time, in order not to be associated with Gaulish indolence. Caesar described this group of tribes both as Belgic Gauls, and Germani. Gauls are associated with Celtic languages, and the term Germani is associated with Germanic languages, but Caesar did not mention language. He did not describe these tribes as recent immigrants, saying that they had defended themselves some generations ago from the invading Cimbri
Cimbri
The Cimbri were a tribe from Northern Europe, who, together with the Teutones and the Ambrones threatened the Roman Republic in the late 2nd century BC. The Cimbri were probably Germanic, though some believe them to be of Celtic origin...

 and Teutones, thereby distinguishing them from the neighbouring Aduatuci
Aduatuci
The Aduatuci or Atuatuci were, according to Caesar, a Germanic tribe formed in east Belgium descended from the Cimbri and Teutones, who are tribes thought to have originated in the area of Denmark. They were allowed to settle in the region by local tribes...

, who he did not call Germani, but who were descended from Cimbri and Teutones. But he also indicated that the Germani were seen as having ancestry over the Rhine. It has been claimed, for example by Maurits Gysseling, that the placenames of this region show evidence of an early presence of Germanic languages, already in the 2nd century BCE. Celtic culture and language was however clearly influential also, as can be seen in the tribal name of the Eburones, their kings' names, Ambiorix
Ambiorix
Ambiorix was, together with Catuvolcus, prince of the Eburones, leader of a Belgic tribe of north-eastern Gaul , where modern Belgium is located...

 and Cativolcus
Cativolcus
Cativolcus or Catuvolcus was king of half of the country of the Eburones, a people between the Meuse and Rhine rivers, united with Ambiorix, the other king, in the insurrection against the Romans in 54 BC; but when Julius Caesar in the next year proceeded to devastate the territories of the...

, and also the material culture
Material culture
In the social sciences, material culture is a term that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations. Studying a culture's relationship to materiality is a lens through which social and cultural attitudes can be discussed...

 of the region. (In these early records of apparent Germanic tribes, tribal leader names of the Cimbri
Cimbri
The Cimbri were a tribe from Northern Europe, who, together with the Teutones and the Ambrones threatened the Roman Republic in the late 2nd century BC. The Cimbri were probably Germanic, though some believe them to be of Celtic origin...

 and Sigambri, and tribal names such as Tencteri and Usipetes
Tencteri and Usipetes
The Tencteri and Usipetes were an ancient Germanic tribe, or tribes, located on the eastern bank of the lower Rhine in the 1st century BC. They are known primarily from Julius Caesar's account of his campaigns against them in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico.Tacitus mentions the Tencteri and...

, are also apparently Gaulish, even coming from the east of the Rhine.)

The etymology of the word "Germani" is uncertain. It may have been a Gaulish exonym for "neighbour", comparable to the modern English word "germane". This can be compared to Old Irish gair, Welsh ger, "near", Irish gearr, "cut, short" (a short distance), from a proposed Proto-Celtic
Proto-Celtic language
The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the reconstructed ancestor language of all the known Celtic languages. Its lexis can be confidently reconstructed on the basis of the comparative method of historical linguistics...

 root *gerso-s. Another celtic possibility is that the name meant "noisy". If on the other hand the name had a Germanic origin, then it has been proposed that the etymology could be "spear men". Old English "gar" and Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 "ger" are examples of the early Germanic word meaning spear, comparable also to Old Irish (Celtic
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

) "gae". Some etymological sources consider this theory obsolete, but another proposal from Germanic would be "greedy men".

The term Germani therefore, was a term which probably originally applied to a specific group of tribes in northeastern Gaul who may not have spoken a Germanic language, and whose links to Germania are unclear. Apparently, the Germanic tribes did not have a single self-designation ("endonym
Exonym and endonym
In ethnolinguistics, an endonym or autonym is a local name for a geographical feature, and an exonym or xenonym is a foreign language name for it...

") that included all Germanic-speaking people but excluded all non-Germanic people. Non-Germanic peoples (primarily Celtic, Roman, Greek, the citizens of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

), on the other hand, were called *walha
Walha
Walhaz is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word, meaning "foreigner", "stranger", "Roman", "Romance-speaker", or "Celtic-speaker". The adjective derived from this word can be found in , Old High German walhisk, meaning "Romance", in Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning "Romano-British" and in...

-
(this word lives forth in names such as Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, Welsh, Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

, Walloons
Walloons
Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon...

, Vlachs
Vlachs
Vlach is a blanket term covering several modern Latin peoples descending from the Latinised population in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. English variations on the name include: Walla, Wlachs, Wallachs, Vlahs, Olahs or Ulahs...

 etc.). Yet, the name of the Suebi
Suebi
The Suebi or Suevi were a group of Germanic peoples who were first mentioned by Julius Caesar in connection with Ariovistus' campaign, c...

— which designated a larger group of tribes and was used by Caesar somewhat indescriminantly when describing Germanic tribes east of the Rhine — was possibly a Germanic word which was used to describe a broad classification of Germanic speakers (*swē-ba- "authentic").

Teutonic, Deutsch



Trying to identify a contemporary vernacular term and the associated nation with a classical name, Latin writers from the 10th century onwards used the learned adjective teutonicus (originally derived from the Teutones) to refer to East Francia ("Regnum Teutonicum") and its inhabitants. This usage is still partly present in modern English; hence the English use of "Teutons" in reference to the Germanic peoples in general besides the specific tribe of the Teutons
Teutons
The Teutons or Teutones were mentioned as a Germanic tribe by Greek and Roman authors, notably Strabo and Marcus Velleius Paterculus and normally in close connection with the Cimbri, whose ethnicity is contested between Gauls and Germani...

 defeated at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae
Battle of Aquae Sextiae
The Battle of Aquae Sextiae took place in 102 BC. After a string of Roman defeats , the Romans under Gaius Marius finally defeated the Teutones and Ambrones.-The battle:...

 in 102 BCE.

The generic *þiuda- "people" occurs in many personal names such as Thiud-reks
Theodoric
Theodoric is a widespread Germanic given name. First attested in the 5th century, it became widespread in the Germanic-speaking world, not least due to its most famous bearer, Theoderic the Great, king of the Ostrogoths....

and also in the ethnonym of the Swedes from a cognate of Old English Sweo-ðēod and Old Norse: Sui-þióð (see e.g. Sö Fv1948;289). Additionally, þiuda- appears in Angel-ðēod ("Anglo-Saxon people") and Gut-þiuda ("Gothic people"). The adjective derived from this noun, *þiudiskaz, "popular", was later used with reference to the language of the people in contrast to the Latin language
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 (earliest recorded example 786). The word is continued in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 Deutsch
Deutsch (disambiguation)
Deutsch is the German language word for German . Deutsche are Germans, while [eine] Deutsche/[ein] Deutscher is [a] German...

(meaning German), English "Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

", Dutch Duits and Diets (the latter referring to the historic name for Dutch or Middle Dutch
Middle Dutch
Middle Dutch is a collective name for a number of closely related West Germanic dialects which were spoken and written between 1150 and 1500...

, the former meaning German), Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 tedesco (meaning German), Swedish/Danish/Norwegian tysk (meaning German) and Middle Low German
Middle Low German
Middle Low German is a language that is the descendant of Old Saxon and is the ancestor of modern Low German. It served as the international lingua franca of the Hanseatic League...

 dudesch meaning both Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 and the whole of Dutch/German/Low German, as well its descendant, modern Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

 dütsch, meaning only Standard High German.

Classification



By the 1st century CE, the writings of Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

, Tacitus and other Roman era writers indicate a division of Germanic-speaking peoples into tribal groupings centred on:
  • the rivers Oder
    Oder
    The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

     and 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 ....

    /Weichsel (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...

    ),
  • the lower Rhine river (Istvaeones
    Istvaeones
    The Istvaeones, also called Istaevones, Istriaones, Istriones, Sthraones, Thracones, Rhine Germans and Weser-Rhine Germans , were a West Germanic cultural group or proto-tribe...

    ),
  • the river Elbe
    Elbe
    The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

     (Irminones
    Irminones
    The Irminones, also referred to as Herminones or Hermiones, were a group of early Germanic tribes settling in the Elbe watershed and by the 1st century AD expanding into Bavaria, Swabia and Bohemia...

    ),
  • Jutland
    Jutland
    Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

     and the Danish islands (Ingvaeones).


The Sons of Mannus
Mannus
Mannus is a Germanic mythological figure attested by the 1st century AD Roman historian Tacitus in his work Germania. According to Tacitus, Mannus is the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones.-Tacitus' account:Tacitus explicitly...

, Istvaeones
Istvaeones
The Istvaeones, also called Istaevones, Istriaones, Istriones, Sthraones, Thracones, Rhine Germans and Weser-Rhine Germans , were a West Germanic cultural group or proto-tribe...

, Irminones
Irminones
The Irminones, also referred to as Herminones or Hermiones, were a group of early Germanic tribes settling in the Elbe watershed and by the 1st century AD expanding into Bavaria, Swabia and Bohemia...

, and Ingvaeones are collectively called West Germanic tribes
West Germanic tribes
The West Germanic tribes were Germanic peoples who spoke the branch of Germanic languages known as West Germanic languages.They appear to be derived from the Jastorf culture, a Pre-Roman Iron Age offshoot of the Nordic Bronze Age culture....

. In addition, those Germanic people who remained in Scandinavia are referred to as North Germanic. These groups all developed separate dialects, the basis for the differences among Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 down to the present day.

The division of peoples into West Germanic, East Germanic, and North Germanic is a modern linguistic classification. Many Greek scholars only classified Celts and Scythians in the Northwest and Northeast of the Mediterranean and this classification was widely maintained in Greek literature until Late Antiquity. Latin-Greek ethnographers (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...

, Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

, and Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

) mentioned in the first two centuries the names of peoples they classified as Germanic along the Elbe, the Rhine, and the Danube, the Vistula and on the Baltic Sea. 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...

 mentioned 40, Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 69 peoples.

Classical ethnography
Ethnography
Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

 applied the name Suebi
Suebi
The Suebi or Suevi were a group of Germanic peoples who were first mentioned by Julius Caesar in connection with Ariovistus' campaign, c...

to many tribes in the 1st century, apparently partly replacing the word "Germanic". After the Marcomannic wars the Gothic name steadily gained importance. For the end of the 5th century the Gothic name can be used – according to the historical sources – for such different peoples like 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....

 in 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...

, Iberia
Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula , sometimes called Iberia, is located in the extreme southwest of Europe and includes the modern-day sovereign states of Spain, Portugal and Andorra, as well as the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, 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....

 in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, the Gepids along the Tisza and the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, the Rugians
Rugians
"Rugi" redirects here. For the Romanian villages by this name, see Păltiniş, Caraş-Severin and Turcineşti.The Rugii, also Rugians, Rygir, Ulmerugi, or Holmrygir were an East Germanic tribe migrated from southwest Norway to Pomerania around 100 AD, and from there to the Danube River valley...

, Sciri
Scirii
The Scirii were an East Germanic tribe of Eastern Europe, attested in historical works between the 2nd century BC and 5th century AD.The etymology of their name is unclear...

 and Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

, even the Iranian 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 —...

. Though speaking Germanic languages, these peoples were sometimes classified as Scyths and often said to descend from the ancient Getae
Getae
The Getae was the name given by the Greeks to several Thracian tribes that occupied the regions south of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria, and north of the Lower Danube, in Romania...

 (most important: Cassiodor/Jordanes, Getica around 550).

Origins




Regarding the question of ethnic origins, evidence developed by archaeologists and linguists suggests that a people or group of peoples sharing a common material culture dwelt in a region defined by the Nordic Bronze Age
Nordic Bronze Age
The Nordic Bronze Age is the name given by Oscar Montelius to a period and a Bronze Age culture in Scandinavian pre-history, c. 1700-500 BC, with sites that reached as far east as Estonia. Succeeding the Late Neolithic culture, its ethnic and linguistic affinities are unknown in the absence of...

 culture between 1700 BCE and 600 BCE. The Germanic tribes then inhabited southern Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

 and Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, but subsequent Iron Age cultures of the same region, like Wessenstedt
Wessenstedt
Wessenstedt is located in the Lüneburg Heath, is a quarter of Natendorf having about 150 inhabitants and belongs to Altes Amt Ebstorf of district Uelzen, Lower Saxony....

 (800 to 600 BCE) and Jastorf
Jastorf culture
The Jastorf culture is an Iron Age material culture in what is now north Germany, spanning the 6th to 1st centuries BC, forming the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south...

, are also in consideration. The change of Proto-Indo-European
Pie
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients....

 to Proto-Germanic has been defined by the first sound shift (or Grimm's law
Grimm's law
Grimm's law , named for Jacob Grimm, is a set of statements describing the inherited Proto-Indo-European stops as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC...

) and must have occurred when mutually intelligible dialects or languages in a Sprachbund
Sprachbund
A Sprachbund – also known as a linguistic area, convergence area, diffusion area or language crossroads – is a group of languages that have become similar in some way because of geographical proximity and language contact. They may be genetically unrelated, or only distantly related...

 were still able to convey such a change to the whole region. So far it has been impossible to date this event conclusively.

The precise interaction between these peoples is not known; however, they are tied together and influenced by regional features and migration patterns linked to prehistoric cultures like Hügelgräber, Urnfield, and La Tene. A deteriorating climate in Scandinavia around 850 BCE to 760 BCE and a later and more rapid one around 650 BCE might have triggered migrations to the coast of Eastern Germany and further towards the Vistula. A contemporary northern expansion of Hallstatt drew part of these peoples into the Celtic hemisphere, including nordwestblock
Nordwestblock
The Nordwestblock , is a hypothetical cultural region, that several 20th century scholars propose as a prehistoric culture, thought to be roughly bounded by the rivers Meuse, Elbe, Somme and Oise and possibly the eastern part of England during the Bronze and Iron Ages The Nordwestblock (English:...

 areas and the region of Elp culture
Elp culture
The Elp culture is a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the Netherlands having earthenware pottery of low quality known as "Kümmerkeramik" as a marker...

 (1800 BCE to 800 BCE).

At around this time, this culture became influenced by Hallstatt
Hallstatt culture
The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Central European culture from the 8th to 6th centuries BC , developing out of the Urnfield culture of the 12th century BC and followed in much of Central Europe by the La Tène culture.By the 6th century BC, the Hallstatt culture extended for some...

 techniques for extracting bog iron
Bog iron
Bog iron refers to impure iron deposits that develop in bogs or swamps by the chemical or biochemical oxidation of iron carried in the solutions. In general, bog ores consist primarily of iron oxyhydroxides, commonly goethite...

 from the ore
Ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

 in peat bogs, ushering in the Pre-Roman Iron Age
Pre-Roman Iron Age
The Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe designates the earliest part of the Iron Age in Scandinavia, northern Germany, and the Netherlands north of the Rhine River. These regions feature many extensive archaeological excavation sites, which have yielded a wealth of artifacts...

.

Early Iron Age




Archeological evidence suggests a relatively uniform Germanic people were located at about 750 BCE from the Netherlands to the Vistula and Southern Scandinavia. In the west the coastal floodplains were populated for the first time, since in adjacent higher grounds the population had increased and the soil became exhausted. At about 250 BCE, some expansion to the south had occurred and five general groups can be distinguished: North Germanic in southern Scandinavia, excluding Jutland; North Sea Germanic, along the North Sea and in Jutland; Rhine-Weser Germanic, along the middle Rhine and Weser; Elbe Germanic, along the middle Elbe; and East Germanic, between the middle Oder and the Vistula. This concurs with linguistic evidence pointing at the development of five linguistic groups, mutually linked into sets of two to four groups that shared linguistic innovations.

This period witnessed the advent of Celtic culture of Hallstatt
Hallstatt
Hallstatt, Upper Austria is a village in the Salzkammergut, a region in Austria. It is located near the Hallstätter See . At the 2001 census it had 946 inhabitants...

 and La Tene signature in previous Northern Bronze Age territory, especially to the western extends. However, some proposals suggest this Celtic superstrate was weak, while the general view in the Netherlands holds that this Celtic influence did not involve intrusions at all and assume fashion and a local development from Bronze Age culture. It is generally accepted such a Celtic superstratum was virtually absent to the East, featuring the Germanic Wessenstedt
Wessenstedt
Wessenstedt is located in the Lüneburg Heath, is a quarter of Natendorf having about 150 inhabitants and belongs to Altes Amt Ebstorf of district Uelzen, Lower Saxony....

 and Jastorf
Jastorf culture
The Jastorf culture is an Iron Age material culture in what is now north Germany, spanning the 6th to 1st centuries BC, forming the southern part of the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The culture evolved out of the Nordic Bronze Age, through influence from the Halstatt culture farther south...

 cultures. The Celtic influence and contacts between Gaulish and early Germanic culture along the Rhine is assumed as the source of a number of Celtic loanwords in Proto-Germanic.
Frankenstein and Rowlands (1978), and Wells (1980) have suggested late Hallstatt trade contact to be a direct catalyst for the development of an elite class that came into existence around northeastern France, the Middle Rhine region, and adjacent Alpine regions (Collis 1984:41), culminating to new cultural developments and the advent of the classical Gaulish La Tene Culture
La Tène culture
The La Tène culture was a European Iron Age culture named after the archaeological site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where a rich cache of artifacts was discovered by Hansli Kopp in 1857....

 The development of La Tene culture extended to the north around 200 to 150 BCE, including the North German Plain, Denmark and Southern Scandinavia:
In certain cremation graves, situated at some distance from other graves, Celtic metalwork appears: brooches and swords, together with wagons, Roman cauldrons and drinking vessels. The area of these rich graves is the same as the places where later (the first century CE) princely graves are found. A ruling class seems to have emerged, distinguished by the possession of large farms and rich gravegifts such as weapons for the men and silver objects for the women, imported earthenware and Celtic items.


The first Germani in Roman ethnography cannot be clearly identified as either Germanic or Celtic in the modern ethno-linguistic sense, and it has been generally held the traditional clear cut division along the Rhine between both ethnic groups was primarily motivated by Roman politics. Caesar described the Eburones
Eburones
The Eburones , were a Belgic people who lived in the northeast of Gaul, near the river Meuse and the modern provinces of Belgian and Dutch Limburg, in the period immediately before it was conquered by Rome. They played a major role in Julius Caesar's account of his "Gallic Wars", as the most...

 as a Germanic tribe on the Gallic side of the Rhine, and held other tribes in the neighbourhood as merely calling themselves of Germanic stock. Even though names like Eburones and Ambiorix
Ambiorix
Ambiorix was, together with Catuvolcus, prince of the Eburones, leader of a Belgic tribe of north-eastern Gaul , where modern Belgium is located...

 were Celtic and, archeologically, this area shows strong Celtic influences, the problem is difficult. Some 20th century writers consider the possibility of a separate "Nordwestblock
Nordwestblock
The Nordwestblock , is a hypothetical cultural region, that several 20th century scholars propose as a prehistoric culture, thought to be roughly bounded by the rivers Meuse, Elbe, Somme and Oise and possibly the eastern part of England during the Bronze and Iron Ages The Nordwestblock (English:...

" identity of the tribes settled along the Rhine at the time, assuming the arrival of a Germanic superstrate from the 1st century BCE and a subsequent "Germanization" or language replacement through the "elite-dominance" model. However, immigration of Germanic Batavians
Batavians
The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe, originally part of the Chatti, reported by Tacitus to have lived around the Rhine delta, in the area that is currently the Netherlands, "an uninhabited district on the extremity of the coast of Gaul, and also of a neighbouring island, surrounded by the...

 from Hessen in the northern extent of this same tribal region is, archeologically speaking, hardly noticeable and certainly did not populate an exterminated country, very unlike Tacitus suggested. Here, probably due to the local indigenous pastoral way of life, the acceptance of Roman culture turned out to be particularly slow and, contrary to expected, the indigenous culture of the previous Eburones rather seems to have absorbed the intruding (Batavian) element, thus making it very hard to define the real extents of the pre-Roman Germanic indigenous territories.

The Pytheas Trip


The first news about the Germanic world are contained in the lost Pytheas
Pytheas
Pytheas of Massalia or Massilia , was a Greek geographer and explorer from the Greek colony, Massalia . He made a voyage of exploration to northwestern Europe at about 325 BC. He travelled around and visited a considerable part of Great Britain...

 work. It is believed that Pytheas circumnavigated Northern Europe, and his observations about the geographical environment, traditions and culture of the Northern European populations were a central source of information to later historians, possibly the only source.
Authors such as Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, Pliny
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 and Diodorus cite Pytheas in disbelief, although Pytheas' observations are substantially correct.
Though Pytheas was not the first explorer of those lands (for example Himilco
Himilco
Himilco was the Carthaginian sailor a.k.a. Himilco the Navigator.Himilco may also refer to:* Himilco , Carthaginian soldier at Battle of Messene...

, Phoenicians
Massaliote Periplus
The Massaliote Periplus or Massaliot Periplus is the name of a now-lost merchants' handbook possibly dating to as early as the 6th century BC describing the sea routes used by traders from Phoenicia and Tartessus in their journeys around Iron Age Europe...

, Tartessians
Massaliote Periplus
The Massaliote Periplus or Massaliot Periplus is the name of a now-lost merchants' handbook possibly dating to as early as the 6th century BC describing the sea routes used by traders from Phoenicia and Tartessus in their journeys around Iron Age Europe...

), he was the first to describe these populations, and it is fair to say that much of the Germanic peoples' history enters into view through Pytheas.

Roman Empire period




Germanic expansions during early Roman times are known only generally, but it is clear that the forebears 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....

 were settled on the southern Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 shore by 100 CE.

The early Germanic tribes are assumed to have spoken mutually intelligible dialects, in the sense that Germanic languages derive from a single earlier parent language. No written records of such a parent language exist. From what we know of scanty early written material, by the 5th century CE the Germanic languages were already "sufficiently different to render communication between the various peoples impossible". Some evidence point to a common pantheon made up of several different chronological layers. However, as for mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 only the Scandinavian one (see Germanic mythology
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

) is sufficiently known. Some traces of common traditions between various tribes are indicated by Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

and the Volsunga saga
Volsunga saga
The Völsungasaga is a legendary saga, a late 13th century Icelandic prose rendition of the origin and decline of the Völsung clan . It is largely based on epic poetry...

. One indication of their shared identity is their common Germanic name for non-Germanic peoples, *walha
Walha
Walhaz is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word, meaning "foreigner", "stranger", "Roman", "Romance-speaker", or "Celtic-speaker". The adjective derived from this word can be found in , Old High German walhisk, meaning "Romance", in Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning "Romano-British" and in...

z
(plural of *walhoz), from which the local names Welsh
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

, Wallis
Valais
The Valais is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland in the southwestern part of the country, around the valley of the Rhône from its headwaters to Lake Geneva, separating the Pennine Alps from the Bernese Alps. The canton is one of the drier parts of Switzerland in its central Rhône valley...

, Walloon
Walloons
Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon...

 and others were derived. An indication of an ethnic unity is the fact that the Romans knew them as one and gave them a common name, Germani (this is the source of our German and Germanic, see Etymology above), although it was well known for the Romans to give geographical rather than cultural names to peoples. The very extensive practice of cremation deprives us of anthropological comparative material for the earliest periods to support claims of a longstanding ethnic isolation of a common (Nordic) strain.

In the absence of large-scale political unification, such as that imposed forcibly by the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 upon the peoples of Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, the various tribes remained free, led by their own hereditary or chosen leaders.

Collision with Rome



By the late 2nd century BCE, Roman authors recount, 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...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

 were invaded by migrating Germanic tribes. This culminated in military conflict with the armies of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, in particular those of the Roman Consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

. Six decades later, Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 invoked the threat of such attacks as one justification for his annexation of Gaul to Rome.

As Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 expanded to the Rhine and Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 rivers, it incorporated many Celtic societies into the Empire. The tribal homelands to the north and east emerged collectively in the records as Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

. The peoples of this area were sometimes at war with Rome, but also engaged in complex and long-term trade relations, military alliances, and cultural exchanges with Rome as well.

The Cimbri
Cimbri
The Cimbri were a tribe from Northern Europe, who, together with the Teutones and the Ambrones threatened the Roman Republic in the late 2nd century BC. The Cimbri were probably Germanic, though some believe them to be of Celtic origin...

 and Teutoni incursions into Roman Italy were thrust back in 101 BCE. These invasions were written up by Caesar and others as presaging of a Northern danger for the Roman Republic, a danger that should be controlled. In the Augustean period there was — as a result of Roman activity as far as the Elbe River — a first definition of the "Germania magna": from Rhine and Danube in the West and South to the Vistula and the Baltic Sea in the East and North.
Caesar's wars helped establish the term Germania. The initial purpose of the Roman campaigns was to protect Transalpine Gaul by controlling the area between the Rhine and the Elbe. In 9 CE a revolt of their Germanic subjects headed by the supposed Roman ally, Arminius
Arminius
Arminius , also known as Armin or Hermann was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest...

, (along with his decisive defeat of Publius Quinctilius Varus
Publius Quinctilius Varus
Publius Quinctilius Varus was a Roman politician and general under Emperor Augustus, mainly remembered for having lost three Roman legions and his own life when attacked by Germanic leader Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.-Life:His paternal grandfather was senator Sextus Quinctilius...

 and the destruction of 3 Roman legions in the surprise attack on the Romans at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place in 9 CE, when an alliance of Germanic tribes led by Arminius of the Cherusci ambushed and decisively destroyed three Roman legions, along with their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus.Despite numerous successful campaigns and raids by the...

) ended in the withdrawal of the Roman frontier to the Rhine. At the end of the 1st century two provinces west of the Rhine called Germania inferior
Germania Inferior
Germania Inferior was a Roman province located on the left bank of the Rhine, in today's Luxembourg, southern Netherlands, parts of Belgium, and North Rhine-Westphalia left of the Rhine....

 and Germania superior
Germania Superior
Germania Superior , so called for the reason that it lay upstream of Germania Inferior, was a province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany...

 were established. Important medieval cities like Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

, Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

, 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...

 and 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...

 were part of these Roman provinces.

The Germania
Germania (book)
The Germania , written by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus around 98, is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire.-Contents:...

by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus, an ethnographic work on the diverse group of Germanic tribes outside of the Roman Empire, is our most important source on the Germanic peoples of the 1st century.

Migration Period




During the 5th century CE, as the Western Roman Empire lost military strength and political cohesion, numerous Germanic peoples, under pressure from population growth and invading Asian groups, began migrating en masse in far and diverse directions, taking them to Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 and far south through present day Continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

 to the Mediterranean and northern Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. Over time, this wandering meant intrusions into other tribal territories, and the ensuing wars for land escalated with the dwindling amount of unoccupied territory. Wandering tribes then began staking out permanent homes as a means of protection. Much of this resulted in fixed settlements from which many, under a powerful leader, expanded outwards. A defeat meant either scattering or merging with the dominant tribe, and this continual process of assimilation was how nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

s were formed. In Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 the Jutes
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

 merged with the Danes
Daner
The Danes were a North Germanic tribe residing in modern day Denmark. They are mentioned in the 6th century in Jordanes' Getica, by Procopius, and by Gregory of Tours....

, in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 the Geats and Gutes merged with the Swedes. In England, the Angles
Angles
The Angles is a modern English term for a Germanic people who took their name from the ancestral cultural region of Angeln, a district located in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany...

 merged with the Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 and other groups (notably the Jutes
Jutes
The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time, the other two being the Saxons and the Angles...

), as well as absorbing some natives, to form the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

.

A direct result of the Roman retreat was the disappearance of imported products like ceramics and coins, and a return to virtually unchanged local Iron Age production methods. According to recent views this has caused confusion for decades, and theories assuming the total abandonment of the coastal regions to account for an archaeological time gap that never existed have been renounced. Instead, it has been confirmed that the Frisian graves had been used without interruption between the 4th and 9th century CE and that inhabited areas show continuity with the Roman period in revealing coins, jewellery and ceramics of the 5th century. Also, people continued to live in the same three-aisled farmhouse, while to the east completely new types of buildings arose. More to the south, in Belgium, archeological results of this period point to immigration from the north.

Role in the Fall of Rome



Some of the Germanic tribes are frequently credited in popular depictions of the decline of the Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

 in the late 5th century. Professional historians
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 and archaeologists
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 have since the 1950s shifted their interpretations in such a way that the Germanic peoples are no longer seen as invading a decaying empire but as being co-opted into helping defend territory the central government could no longer adequately administer. Individuals and small groups from Germanic tribes had long been recruited from the territories beyond the limes
Limes
A limes was a border defense or delimiting system of Ancient Rome. It marked the boundaries of the Roman Empire.The Latin noun limes had a number of different meanings: a path or balk delimiting fields, a boundary line or marker, any road or path, any channel, such as a stream channel, or any...

(i.e., the regions just outside the Roman Empire), and some of them had risen high in the command structure of the army. Then the Empire recruited entire tribal groups under their native leaders as officers. Assisting with defense eventually shifted into administration and then outright rule, as Roman government passed into the hands of Germanic leaders. Odoacer
Odoacer
Flavius Odoacer , also known as Flavius Odovacer, was the first King of Italy. His reign is commonly seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire. Though the real power in Italy was in his hands, he represented himself as the client of Julius Nepos and, after Nepos' death in 480, of the...

, who deposed Romulus Augustulus, is the ultimate example.

The presence of successor states controlled by a nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 from one of the Germanic tribes is evident in the 6th century – even in Italy, the former heart of the Empire, where Odoacer
Odoacer
Flavius Odoacer , also known as Flavius Odovacer, was the first King of Italy. His reign is commonly seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire. Though the real power in Italy was in his hands, he represented himself as the client of Julius Nepos and, after Nepos' death in 480, of the...

 was followed by Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, king of the Ostrogoths, who was regarded by Roman citizens and Gothic settlers alike as legitimate successor to the rule of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

.

Early Middle Ages


The transition of the Migration period
Migration Period
The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions , was a period of intensified human migration in Europe that occurred from c. 400 to 800 CE. This period marked the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages...

 to the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 proper takes place over the course of the second half of the 1st millennium. It is marked by the Christianization of the Germanic peoples and the formation of stable kingdoms
Germanic monarchy
Germanic kingship refers to the customs and practices surrounding kings among the pagan Germanic tribes of the Migration period and the kingdoms of the Early Middle Ages ....

 replacing the mostly tribal structures of the Migration period.

In continental Europe, this is the rise of Francia in the Merovingian period, eclipsing lesser kingdoms such as Alemannia. In England, the Wessex hegemony as the nucleus of the unification of England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Scandinavia is in the Vendel period and enters the extremely successful Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

, with expansion
Viking expansion
The Vikings sailed most of the North Atlantic, reaching south to North Africa and east to Russia, Constantinople and the Middle East, as looters, traders, colonists, and mercenaries...

 to Britain
Danelaw
The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the "Danes" held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. It is contrasted with "West Saxon law" and "Mercian law". The term has been extended by modern historians to...

, Ireland and Iceland
History of Iceland
-Early history:In geological terms, Iceland is a young island. It started to form about 20 million years ago from a series of volcanic eruptions on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge...

 in the west and as far as Russia and Greece
Varangians
The Varangians or Varyags , sometimes referred to as Variagians, were people from the Baltic region, most often associated with Vikings, who from the 9th to 11th centuries ventured eastwards and southwards along the rivers of Eastern Europe, through what is now Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.According...

 in the east.

The various Germanic tribal cultures begin their transformation into the larger nations of later history, English
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

, Norse
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 and German
Kingdom of Germany
The Kingdom of Germany developed out of the eastern half of the former Carolingian Empire....

, and in the case of Burgundy, Lombardy
Lombardy
Lombardy is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about one fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in this region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe...

 and Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 blending into a Romano-Germanic culture
Romano-Germanic culture
The term Romano-Germanic describes the conflation of Roman culture with that of various Germanic peoples in areas successively ruled by the Roman Empire and Germanic "barbarian monarchies"....

.

Post-migration ethnogeneses


The Germanic tribes of the Migration period had settled down by the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

, the latest series of movements out of Scandinavia taking place during the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

.
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....

 and 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....

 were linguistically assimilated to their Latin
Latin Europe
Latin Europe is a loose term for the region of Europe with an especially strong Latin cultural heritage inherited from the Roman Empire.-Application:...

 (Romance
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

) substrate populations (with the exception of the Crimean Goths
Crimean Goths
Crimean Goths were those Gothic tribes who remained in the lands around the Black Sea, especially in Crimea. They were the least-powerful, least-known, and almost paradoxically, the longest-lasting of the Gothic communities...

, who preserved their dialect into the 18th century).
Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 and Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 were assimilated into both Latin (French & Italian) and Germanic (German Swiss) populations.

The Viking Age Norsemen
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 split into an Old East Norse and an Old West Norse group, which further separated into Icelanders
Icelanders
Icelanders are a Scandinavian ethnic group and a nation, native to Iceland.On 17 June 1944, when an Icelandic republic was founded the Icelanders became independent from the Danish monarchy. The language spoken is Icelandic, a North Germanic language, and Lutheranism is the predominant religion...

, Faroese
Faroese people
The Faroese or Faroe Islanders are a Germanic ethnic group native to the Faeroe Islands. The Faroese are of mixed Norse and Gaelic origins.About 21,000 Faroese live in neighbouring countries, particularly in Denmark, Iceland and Norway....

 and Norwegians
Norwegians
Norwegians constitute both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway. They share a common culture and speak the Norwegian language. Norwegian people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in United States, Canada and Brazil.-History:Towards the end of the 3rd...

 on one hand, and Swedes and Danes on the other. In Great Britain, Germanic people coalesced into the Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon may refer to:* Anglo-Saxons, a group that invaded Britain** Old English, their language** Anglo-Saxon England, their history, one of various ships* White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, an ethnicity* Anglo-Saxon economy, modern macroeconomic term...

 or English people
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 between the 8th and 10th centuries.

On the European continent, the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 included all remaining Germanic speaking groups from the 10th century. In the Late Medieval to Early Modern period, some groups split off the Empire before a "German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

" ethnicity had formed, consisting of Low Franconian (Dutch, Flemish
Flemish people
The Flemings or Flemish are the Dutch-speaking inhabitants of Belgium, where they are mostly found in the northern region of Flanders. They are one of two principal cultural-linguistic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons...

) and Alemannic
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...

 (Swiss
Old Swiss Confederacy
The Old Swiss Confederacy was the precursor of modern-day Switzerland....

) populations.

The various Germanic Peoples of the Migrations period eventually spread out over a vast expanse stretching from contemporary European Russia to Iceland and from Norway to North Africa. The migrants had varying impacts in different regions. In many cases, the newcomers set themselves up as over-lords of the pre-existing population. Over time, such groups underwent ethnogenesis
Ethnogenesis
Ethnogenesis is the process by which a group of human beings comes to be understood or to understand themselves as ethnically distinct from the wider social landscape from which their grouping emerges...

, resulting in the creation of new cultural and ethnic identities (such as the 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...

 and Galloromans becoming French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

). Thus many of the descendants of the ancient Germanic Peoples do not speak Germanic languages, as they were to a greater or lesser degree assimilated into the cosmopolitan, literate culture of the Roman world. Even where the descendants of Germanic Peoples maintained greater continuity with their common ancestors, significant cultural and linguistic differences arose over time; as is strikingly illustrated by the different identities of Christianized Saxon subjects of the Carolingian Empire and pagan Scandinavian Vikings.

More broadly, early Medieval Germanic peoples were often assimilated into the walha
Walha
Walhaz is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word, meaning "foreigner", "stranger", "Roman", "Romance-speaker", or "Celtic-speaker". The adjective derived from this word can be found in , Old High German walhisk, meaning "Romance", in Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning "Romano-British" and in...

substrate cultures of their subject populations. Thus, the Burgundians
Burgundians
The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe which may have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the island of Bornholm, whose old form in Old Norse still was Burgundarholmr , and from there to mainland Europe...

 of Burgundy, 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....

 of Northern Africa, mainly Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, and the Visigoths of western France, eastern Iberia and again Northern Africa, lost some Germanic identity and became part of Romano-Germanic Europe. Likewise, the 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...

 of Western Francia
Western Francia
West Francia, also known as the West Frankish Kingdom or Francia Occidentalis, was a short-lived kingdom encompassing the lands of the western part of the Carolingian Empire that came under the undisputed control of Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald, as a result of the Treaty of Verdun of...

 form part of the ancestry of the French people
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

.
Examples of assimilation during the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

 include the Norsemen
Norsemen
Norsemen is used to refer to the group of people as a whole who spoke what is now called the Old Norse language belonging to the North Germanic branch of Indo-European languages, especially Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish and Danish in their earlier forms.The meaning of Norseman was "people...

 settled in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 and on the French Atlantic coast, and the societal elite in medieval Russia
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 among whom many were the descendants of Slavified Norsemen (a theory, however, contested by some Slavic scholars in the former
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, who name it the Normanist theory).

The Germanic settlement of Britain
Sub-Roman Britain
Sub-Roman Britain is a term derived from an archaeological label for the material culture of Britain in Late Antiquity: the term "Sub-Roman" was invented to describe the potsherds in sites of the 5th century and the 6th century, initially with an implication of decay of locally-made wares from a...

 resulted in Anglo-Saxon, or English, displacement of and cultural assimilation of the indigenous culture, the Brythonic speaking British culture causing the foundation of a new Kingdom, England. As in what became England, indigenous Brythonic Celtic culture in some of the south-eastern parts of what became Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 (approximately the Lothian and Borders
Lothian and Borders
Lothian and Borders is an area in south-east Scotland consisting of the East Lothian, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian areas along with the Scottish Borders....

 region) and areas of what became the Northwest of England (the kingdoms of Rheged
Rheged
Rheged is described in poetic sources as one of the kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd , the Brythonic-speaking region of what is now northern England and southern Scotland, during the Early Middle Ages...

, Elmet
Elmet
Elmet was an independent Brythonic kingdom covering a broad area of what later became the West Riding of Yorkshire during the Early Middle Ages, between approximately the 5th century and early 7th century. Although its precise boundaries are unclear, it appears to have been bordered by the River...

, etc.) succumbed to Germanic influence c.600—800, due to the extension of overlordship and settlement from the Anglo-Saxon areas to the south. Between c. 1150 and c. 1400 most of the Scottish Lowlands
Scottish Lowlands
The Scottish Lowlands is a name given to the Southern half of Scotland.The area is called a' Ghalldachd in Scottish Gaelic, and the Lawlands ....

 became English culturally and linguistically through immigration from England, France and Flanders and from the resulting assimilation of native Gaelic-speaking Scots. The Scots language
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

 is the resulting Germanic language still spoken in parts of Scotland and is very similar to the speech of the Northumbrians of northern England. Between the 15th and 17th centuries Scots spread into Galloway
Galloway
Galloway is an area in southwestern Scotland. It usually refers to the former counties of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire...

, Carrick
Carrick, Scotland
Carrick is a former comital district of Scotland which today forms part of South Ayrshire.-History:The word Carrick comes from the Gaelic word Carraig, meaning rock or rocky place. Maybole was the historic capital of Carrick. The county was eventually combined into Ayrshire which was divided...

 and parts of the Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands
The Highlands is an historic region of Scotland. The area is sometimes referred to as the "Scottish Highlands". It was culturally distinguishable from the Lowlands from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands...

, as well as into the Northern Isles
Northern Isles
The Northern Isles is a chain of islands off the north coast of mainland Scotland. The climate is cool and temperate and much influenced by the surrounding seas. There are two main island groups: Shetland and Orkney...

. The latter, Orkney and Shetland, though now part of Scotland, were nominally part of the Kingdom of Norway until the 15th century. A version of the Norse language
Norn language
Norn is an extinct North Germanic language that was spoken in Shetland and Orkney, off the north coast of mainland Scotland, and in Caithness. After the islands were pledged to Scotland by Norway in the 15th century, it was gradually replaced by Scots and on the mainland by Scottish...

 was spoken there from the Viking invasions until replaced by Scots.

The territory of modern Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 was divided between Germanic and Celtic speaking groups in the last centuries BCE. The parts south of the Germanic Limes came under limited Latin influence in the early centuries CE, but were swiftly conquered by Germanic groups such as the Alemanni after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

In Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, there is a long history of assimilation of and by the Sami people
Sami people
The Sami people, also spelled Sámi, or Saami, are the arctic indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden and Norway. The Sámi are Europe’s northernmost...

 and Finnic peoples
Finnic peoples
The Finnic or Fennic peoples were historic ethnic groups who spoke various languages traditionally classified as Finno-Permic...

, namely Finns and Karelians
Karelians
The Karelians are a Baltic-Finnic ethnic group living mostly in the Republic of Karelia and in other north-western parts of the Russian Federation. The historic homeland of Karelians includes also parts of present-day Eastern Finland and the formerly Finnish territory of Ladoga Karelia...

. In today's usage, the term 'Nordic peoples' refers to the ethnic groups in all of the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland...

.

Law




Common elements of Germanic society can be deduced both from Roman historiography
Roman historiography
Roman Historiography is indebted to the Greeks, who invented the form. The Romans had great models to base their works upon, such as Herodotus and Thucydides. Roman historiographical forms are different from the Greek ones however, and voice very Roman concerns. Unlike the Greeks, Roman...

 and comparative evidence from the Early Medieval period.

A main element uniting Germanic societies is kingship, in origin a sacral institution combining the functions of military leader, high priest, lawmaker and judge. Germanic monarchy was elective
Elective monarchy
An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected rather than hereditary monarch. The manner of election, the nature of the candidacy and the electors vary from case to case...

; the king was elected by the free men from among eligible candidates of a family (OE cynn) tracing their ancestry to the tribe's divine or semi-divine founder.

In early Germanic society, the free men of property each ruled their own estate
Estate (house)
An estate comprises the houses and outbuildings and supporting farmland and woods that surround the gardens and grounds of a very large property, such as a country house or mansion. It is the modern term for a manor, but lacks the latter's now abolished jurisdictional authority...

 and were subject to the king directly, without any intermediate hierarchy as in later feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

. Free men without landed property could swear fealty
Oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

 to a man of property who as their lord would then be responsible for their upkeep, including generous feasts
Symbel
Symbel and sumbl are Germanic terms for "feast, banquet".Paul C. Bauschatz in 1976 suggested that the term reflects a pagan ritual which had a "great religious significance in the culture of the early Germanic people"....

 and gifts. This system of sworn retainers was central to early Germanic society, and the loyalty of the retainer to his lord was taken to replace his family ties.

Early Germanic law
Early Germanic law
Several Latin law codes of the Germanic peoples written in the Early Middle Ages survive, dating to between the 5th and 9th centuries...

 reflects a hierarchy of worth within the society of free men, reflected in the differences in weregild
Weregild
Weregild was a value placed on every human being and every piece of property in the Salic Code...

. Among the Anglo-Saxons, a regular free man (a ceorl
Churl
A churl , in its earliest Old English meaning, was simply "a man", but the word soon came to mean "a non-servile peasant", still spelt ċeorl, and denoting the lowest rank of freemen...

) had a weregild of 200 shilling
Shilling
The shilling is a unit of currency used in some current and former British Commonwealth countries. The word shilling comes from scilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times where it was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere. The word is thought to derive...

s (i.e. solidi
Solidus (coin)
The solidus was originally a gold coin issued by the Romans, and a weight measure for gold more generally, corresponding to 4.5 grams.-Roman and Byzantine coinage:...

 or gold pieces), classified as a twyhyndeman "200-man" for this reason, while a nobleman commanded a fee of six times that amount (twelfhyndeman "1200-man"). Similarly, among 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...

 the basic weregild for a free man was 200 shillings, and the amount could be doubled or tripled according to the man's rank. Unfree serfs did not command a weregild, and the recompense paid in the event of their death was merely for material damage, 15 shillings in the case of the Alamanni, increased to 40 or 50 if the victim had been a skilled artisan.

The social hierarchy is not only reflected in the weregild due in the case of the violent or accidental death of a man, but also in differences in fines for lesser crimes. Thus the fines for insults, injury, burglary or damage to property differ depending on the rank of the injured party. They do not usually depend on the rank of the guilty party, although there are some exceptions associated with royal privilege.

Free women did not have a political station of their own but inherited the rank of their father if unmarried, or their husband if married. The weregild or recompense due for the killing or injuring of a woman is notably set at twice that of a man of the same rank in Alemannic law
Lex Alamannorum
The terms Lex Alamannorum and Pactus Alamannorum refer to two early medieval law codes of the Alamanni. They were first edited in parts in 1530 by Johannes Sichard in Basel.-Pactus Alamannorum:...

.

All freemen had the right to participate in general assemblies or things
Thing (assembly)
A thing was the governing assembly in Germanic and introduced into some Celtic societies, made up of the free people of the community and presided by lawspeakers, meeting in a place called a thingstead...

, where disputes between freemen were addressed according to customary law. The king was bound to uphold ancestral law, but was at the same time the source for new laws for cases not addressed in previous tradition. This aspect was the reason for the creation of the various Germanic law codes by the kings following their conversion to Christianity: besides recording inherited tribal law, these codes have the purpose of settling the position of the church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

 and Christian clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 within society, usually setting the weregilds of the members of the clerical hierarchy parallel to that of the existing hierarchy of nobility, with the position of an archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 mirroring that of the king.

In the case of a suspected crime, the accused could avoid punishment by presenting a fixed number of free men (their number depending on the severity of the crime) prepared to swear an oath
Oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

 on his innocence. Failing this, he could prove his innocence in a trial by combat
Trial by combat
Trial by combat was a method of Germanic law to settle accusations in the absence of witnesses or a confession, in which two parties in dispute fought in single combat; the winner of the fight was proclaimed to be right. In essence, it is a judicially sanctioned duel...

. Corporal or capital punishment for free men does not figure in the Germanic law codes, and banishment appears to be the most severe penalty issued officially. This reflects that Germanic tribal law did not have the scope of exacting revenge
Blood Feud
"Blood Feud" is the twenty-second and final episode of The Simpsons second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on July 11, 1991. In the episode, Mr. Burns falls ill and desperately needs a blood transfusion. Homer discovers Bart has Burns' rare blood type and urges...

, which was left to the judgement of the family of the victim, but to settle damages as fairly as possible once an involved party decided to bring a dispute before the assembly.

Traditional Germanic society was gradually replaced by the system of estates
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

 and feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 characteristic of the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 in both the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 and Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 England in the 11th to 12th centuries, to some extent under the influence of Roman law
Roman law
Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, and the legal developments which occurred before the 7th century AD — when the Roman–Byzantine state adopted Greek as the language of government. The development of Roman law comprises more than a thousand years of jurisprudence — from the Twelve...

 as an indirect result of Christianization, but also because political structures had grown too large for the flat hierarchy of a tribal society. The same effect of political centralization took hold in Scandinavia slightly later, in the 12th to 13th century (Age of the Sturlungs
Age of the Sturlungs
The Age of the Sturlungs or the Sturlung Era was a 42-44 year period of internal strife in mid 13th century Iceland. It may also have been the bloodiest and most violent period in Icelandic history...

, Consolidation of Sweden
Consolidation of Sweden
The consolidation of Sweden was a long process during which the loosely organized social system consolidated under the power of the king. The actual age of the Swedish kingdom is unknown...

, Civil war era in Norway
Civil war era in Norway
The Civil war era of Norwegian history is a term used for the period in the history of Norway between 1130 and 1240. During this time, a series of civil wars were fought between rival kings and pretenders to the throne of Norway. The reasons for the wars is one of the most debated topics in...

), by the end of the 14th century culminating in the giant Kalmar Union
Kalmar Union
The Kalmar Union is a historiographical term meaning a series of personal unions that united the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway , and Sweden under a single monarch, though intermittently and with a population...

. Elements of tribal law, notably the wager of battle
Trial by combat
Trial by combat was a method of Germanic law to settle accusations in the absence of witnesses or a confession, in which two parties in dispute fought in single combat; the winner of the fight was proclaimed to be right. In essence, it is a judicially sanctioned duel...

, nevertheless remained in effect throughout the Middle Ages, in the case of the Holy Roman Empire until the establishment of the Imperial Chamber Court in the early German Renaissance
German Renaissance
The German Renaissance, part of the Northern Renaissance, was a cultural and artistic movement that spread among German thinkers in the 15th and 16th centuries, which originated from the Italian Renaissance in Italy...

. In the federalist
Federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

 organization of Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, where cantonal
Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

 structures remained comparatively local, the Germanic thing survived into the 20th century in the form of the Landsgemeinde
Landsgemeinde
The Landsgemeinde or "cantonal assembly" is one of the oldest forms of direct democracy. The first historically documented assembly took place in 1294...

, albeit subject to federal law.

Warfare


Historical records of the Germanic tribes in Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

 east of the Rhine and west of the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 do not begin until quite late in the ancient period, so only the period after 100 BC can be examined. What is clear is that the Germanic idea of warfare was quite different from the pitched battles fought by Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. Instead the Germanic tribes focused on raids.

The purpose of these was generally not to gain territory, but rather to capture resources and secure prestige. These raids were conducted by irregular troops
Irregular military
Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used....

, often formed along family or village lines, in groups of 10 to about 1,000. Leaders of unusual personal magnetism could gather more soldiers for longer periods, but there was no systematic method of gathering and training men, so the death of a charismatic leader could mean the destruction of an army. Armies also often consisted of more than 50 percent noncombatants, as displaced people would travel with large groups of soldiers, the elderly, women, and children.

Large bodies of troops, while figuring prominently in the history books, were the exception rather than the rule of ancient warfare. Thus a typical Germanic force might consist of 100 men with the sole goal of raiding a nearby Germanic or foreign village. According to Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 sources, when the Germanic Tribes did fight pitched battles, the infantry often adopted wedge formations, each wedge being led by a clan head.

Though often defeated by the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, the Germanic tribes were remembered in Roman records as fierce combatants, whose main downfall was that they failed to unite successfully into one fighting force, under one command
Command (military formation)
A command in military terminology is an organisational unit that the individual in Military command has responsibility for. A Commander will normally be specifically appointed into the role in order to provide a legal framework for the authority bestowed...

. After the three Roman legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

s were ambushed and destroyed by an alliance of Germanic tribes headed by Arminius
Arminius
Arminius , also known as Armin or Hermann was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest...

 at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place in 9 CE, when an alliance of Germanic tribes led by Arminius of the Cherusci ambushed and decisively destroyed three Roman legions, along with their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus.Despite numerous successful campaigns and raids by the...

 in 9 AD, the Roman Empire made no further concentrated attempts at conquering Germania beyond the Rhine. Germanic tribes would eventually overwhelm and conquer the ancient world, giving rise to modern Europe and medieval warfare. For an analysis of Germanic tactics versus the Roman empire see tactical problems in facing the Gauls and the Germanic tribes
Roman infantry tactics
Roman infantry tactics refers to the theoretical and historical deployment, formation and maneuvers of the Roman infantry from the start of the Roman Republic to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The article first presents a short overview of Roman training. Roman performance against different...


Economy


Germanic settlements were typically small, rarely containing much more than ten households, often less, and were usually located at clearings in the wood. Settlements remained of a fairly constant size throughout the period. The buildings in these villages varied in form, but normally consisted of farmhouses surrounded by smaller buildings such as granaries and other storage rooms. The universal building material was timber. Cattle and humans usually lived together in the same house.

Although the Germans practiced both agriculture and husbandry, the latter was extremely important both as a source of dairy products and as a basis for wealth and social status, which was measured by the size of an individual's herd. The diet consisted mainly of the products of farming and husbandry and was supplied by hunting to a very modest extent. Barley and wheat were the most common agricultural products and were used for baking a certain flat type of bread as well as brewing beer.

The fields were tilled with a light-weight wooden plow, although heavier models also existed in some areas. Common clothing styles are known from the remarkably well-preserved corpses that have been found in former marshes on several locations in Denmark, and included woolen garments and brooches for women and trousers and leather caps for men. Other important small-scale industries were weaving, the manual production of basic pottery and, more rarely, the fabrication of iron tools, especially weapons.

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 describes the Germans in his Commentarii De Bello Gallico, though it is still a matter of debate if he refers to Northern Celtic tribes or clearly identified German tribes.

[The Germans] have neither Druids to preside over sacred offices, nor do they pay great regard to sacrifices. They rank in the number of the gods those alone whom they behold, and by whose instrumentality they are obviously benefited, namely, the sun, fire, and the moon; they have not heard of the other deities even by report. Their whole life is occupied in hunting and in the pursuits of the military art; from childhood they devote themselves to fatigue and hardships. Those who have remained chaste for the longest time, receive the greatest commendation among their people; they think that by this the growth is promoted, by this the physical powers are increased and the sinews are strengthened. And to have had knowledge of a woman before the twentieth year they reckon among the most disgraceful acts; of which matter there is no concealment, because they bathe promiscuously in the rivers and [only] use skins or small cloaks of deer's hides, a large portion of the body being in consequence naked.


They do not pay much attention to agriculture, and a large portion of their food consists in milk, cheese, and flesh; nor has any one a fixed quantity of land or his own individual limits; but the magistrates and the leading men each year apportion to the tribes and families, who have united together, as much land as, and in the place in which, they think proper, and the year after compel them to remove elsewhere. For this enactment they advance many reasons-lest seduced by long-continued custom, they may exchange their ardor in the waging of war for agriculture; lest they may be anxious to acquire extensive estates, and the more powerful drive the weaker from their possessions; lest they construct their houses with too great a desire to avoid cold and heat; lest the desire of wealth spring up, from which cause divisions and discords arise; and that they may keep the common people in a contented state of mind, when each sees his own means placed on an equality with [those of] the most powerful.

Religion




While the Germanic peoples were slowly converted to Christianity by varying means, many elements of the pre-Christian culture and indigenous beliefs remained firmly in place after the conversion process, particularly in the more rural and distant regions.

The Ostrogoths, Visigoths, and 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....

 were Christianized while they were still outside the bounds of the Empire; however, they converted to Arianism
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...

 rather than to orthodox Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, and were soon regarded as heretics
Christian heresy
Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

. The one great written remnant of the Gothic language
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 is a translation of portions of the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 made by Ulfilas
Ulfilas
Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila , bishop, missionary, and Bible translator, was a Goth or half-Goth and half-Greek from Cappadocia who had spent time inside the Roman Empire at the peak of the Arian controversy. Ulfilas was ordained a bishop by Eusebius of Nicomedia and returned to his people to work...

, the missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 who converted them. The Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 were not converted until after their entrance into the Empire, but received Christianity from 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...

 Germanic groups.

The 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...

 were converted directly from paganism
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

 without an intervening time as Arians
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...

. Several centuries later, Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 and Frankish missionaries and warriors undertook the conversion of their Saxon neighbours. A key event was the felling of Thor's Oak
Thor's Oak
The Donar Oak was a legendary oak tree sacred to the Germanic tribe of the Chatti, ancestors of the Hessians, and an important sacred site of the pagan Germanic peoples....

 near Fritzlar
Fritzlar
Fritzlar is a small German town in the Schwalm-Eder district in northern Hesse, north of Frankfurt, with a storied history. It can reasonably be argued that the town is the site where the Christianization of northern Germany began and the birthplace of the German empire as a political entity.The...

 by Boniface, apostle of the Germans, in 723.
Eventually, the conversion was forced by armed force, successfully completed by Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, in a series of campaigns (the Saxon Wars
Saxon Wars
The Saxon Wars were the campaigns and insurrections of the more than thirty years from 772, when Charlemagne first entered Saxony with the intent to conquer, to 804, when the last rebellion of disaffected tribesmen was crushed. In all, eighteen battles were fought in what is now northwestern Germany...

), that also brought Saxon lands into the Frankish empire
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

. Massacres, such as the Bloody Verdict of Verden
Bloody Verdict of Verden
The Massacre of Verden, Bloodbath of Verden, or Bloody Verdict of Verden was a massacre of 4,500 captive rebel Saxons in 782. During the Saxon Wars, the Saxons rebelled against Charlemagne's invasion and subsequent attempts to Christianize them from their native Germanic paganism...

, were a direct result of this policy.

In Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, Germanic paganism continued to dominate until the 11th century in the form of Norse paganism
Norse paganism
Norse paganism is the religious traditions of the Norsemen, a Germanic people living in the Nordic countries. Norse paganism is therefore a subset of Germanic paganism, which was practiced in the lands inhabited by the Germanic tribes across most of Northern and Central Europe in the Viking Age...

, when it was gradually replaced by Christianity.

Genetics


It has been suggested that the movements of Germanic peoples had a strong influence upon the modern distribution of the male lineage represented by the Y DNA haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 I1
Haplogroup I1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup I1 is a Y chromosome haplogroup occurring at greatest frequency in Scandinavia, associated with the mutations identified as M253, M307, P30, and P40. These are known as single nucleotide polymorphisms . It is a subclade of Haplogroup I. Before a reclassification in...

 as classed by geneticists which is currently believed to have arisen approximately 4,000 to 6,000 years ago from a single male (Most Recent Common Ancestor
Most recent common ancestor
In genetics, the most recent common ancestor of any set of organisms is the most recent individual from which all organisms in the group are directly descended...

) in Northern Europe, perhaps modern Denmark. Traces of this lineage appear in the areas the Germanic tribes were recorded as having invaded or migrated to.

Germanic antiquity in later historiography



After the disappearance of Germanic ethnicities (tribes) in the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

, the cultural identity of Europe was built on the idea of Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

 as opposed to Islam
Ummah
Ummah is an Arabic word meaning "community" or "nation." It is commonly used to mean either the collective nation of states, or the whole Arab world...

 (the "Saracens", and later the "Turks
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

"). The Germanic peoples of Roman historiography were lumped with the other agents of the "barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

 invasions", 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 —...

 and the Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

, as opposed to the civilized "Roman" identity of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

.

The Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 revived interest in pre-Christian Classical Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 and only in a second phase in pre-Christian Northern Europe. Early modern publications dealing with 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....

 culture appeared in the 16th century, e.g. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (Olaus Magnus, 1555) and the first edition of the 13th century Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

(Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

), in 1514. Authors of the German Renaissance
German Renaissance
The German Renaissance, part of the Northern Renaissance, was a cultural and artistic movement that spread among German thinkers in the 15th and 16th centuries, which originated from the Italian Renaissance in Italy...

 such as Johannes Aventinus
Johannes Aventinus
Johannes Aventinus was a Bavarian historian and philologist. He wrote Annals of Bavaria, a valuable record of the early history of Germany...

 discovered the Germanii of Tacitus as the "Old Germans", whose virtue and unspoiled manhood, as it appears in the Roman accounts of noble savage
Noble savage
The term noble savage , expresses the concept an idealized indigene, outsider , and refers to the literary stock character of the same...

ry, they contrast with the decadence of their own day.

The pace of publication increased during the 17th century with Latin translations of the Edda
Edda
The term Edda applies to the Old Norse Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, both of which were written down in Iceland during the 13th century in Icelandic, although they contain material from earlier traditional sources, reaching into the Viking Age...

 (notably Peder Resen's Edda Islandorum of 1665). The Viking revival
Viking revival
Early modern publications dealing with Old Norse culture appeared in the 16th century, e.g. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus and the first edition of the13th century Gesta Danorum , in 1514...

 of 18th century Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 finally establishes the fascination with anything "Nordic".
The beginning of Germanic philology
Germanic philology
Germanic philology is the philological study of the Germanic languages particularly from a comparative or historical perspective.The beginnings of research into the Germanic languages began in the 16th century, with the discovery of literary texts in the earlier phases of the languages. Early...

 proper begins in the early 19th century, with Rasmus Rask's Icelandic Lexicon of 1814, and was in full bloom by the 1830s, with Jacob Grimm
Jacob Grimm
Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm was a German philologist, jurist and mythologist. He is best known as the discoverer of Grimm's Law, the author of the monumental Deutsches Wörterbuch, the author of Deutsche Mythologie and, more popularly, as one of the Brothers Grimm, as the editor of Grimm's Fairy...

's Deutsche Mythologie
Deutsche Mythologie
Deutsche Mythologie is a seminal treatise on Germanic mythology by Jacob Grimm. First published in Germany in 1835, the work is an exhaustive treatment of the subject, tracing the mythology and beliefs of the Ancient Germanic peoples from their earliest attestations to their survivals in modern...

giving an extensive account of reconstructed Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology is a comprehensive term for myths associated with historical Germanic paganism, including Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon mythology, Continental Germanic mythology, and other versions of the mythologies of the Germanic peoples...

 and his Deutsches Wörterbuch
Deutsches Wörterbuch
Das Deutsche Wörterbuch / Deutsches Wörterbuch is one of the most important dictionaries of the German language...

of Germanic etymology.

The development of Germanic studies as an academic discipline in the 19th century ran parallel to the rise of nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 in Europe and the search for national histories for the nascent nation states developing after the end
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

 of the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. A "Germanic" national ethnicity offered itself for the unification of Germany
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

, contrasting the emerging German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 with its neighboring rivals, the Welsche
Walha
Walhaz is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word, meaning "foreigner", "stranger", "Roman", "Romance-speaker", or "Celtic-speaker". The adjective derived from this word can be found in , Old High German walhisk, meaning "Romance", in Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning "Romano-British" and in...

French Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 and the "Slavic" Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. The nascent German ethnicity
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 was consequently built on national myths of Germanic antiquity, in instances such as the Walhalla temple
Walhalla temple
The Walhalla temple is a hall of fame that honors laudable and distinguished Germans, famous personalities in German history — politicians, sovereigns, scientists and artists of the German tongue". The hall is housed in a neo-classical building above the Danube River, east of Regensburg, in...

 and the Hermann Heights Monument.

These tendencies culminated in Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism
Pan-Germanism is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify the German-speaking populations of Europe in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland , where "German-speaking" was taken to include the Low German, Frisian and Dutch-speaking populations of the Low...

, the aiming for the political unity of all of German-speaking Europe
German-speaking Europe
The German language is spoken in a number of countries and territories in West, Central and Eastern Europe...

 (all Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

) into a Teutonic nation state. Contemporary Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism
Romantic nationalism is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs...

 in Scandinavia placed more weight on the Viking Age
Viking Age
Viking Age is the term for the period in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, spanning the late 8th to 11th centuries. Scandinavian Vikings explored Europe by its oceans and rivers through trade and warfare. The Vikings also reached Iceland, Greenland,...

, resulting in the movement known as Scandinavism
Scandinavism
Scandinavism and Nordism are literary and political movements that support various degrees of cooperation between the Scandinavian or Nordic countries...

. The theories of race
Scientific racism
Scientific racism is the use of scientific techniques and hypotheses to sanction the belief in racial superiority or racism.This is not the same as using scientific findings and the scientific method to investigate differences among the humans and argue that there are races...

 developed in the same period identified the Germanic peoples of the Migration period as members of a Nordic race expanding at the expense of an Alpine race
Alpine race
The Alpine race is an historical racial classification or sub-race of humans, considered a branch of the Caucasian race. The term is not commonly used today, but was popular in the early 20th century.-History:...

 native to Central and Eastern Europe.

See also


  • Confederations of Germanic Tribes
    Confederations of Germanic tribes
    The following are some historical Germanic Confederations:*230 BC - Bastarnae, a mixture of Germanic tribes, at the Black Sea; they participated in the siege of Olbia in 220 BC....

  • List of Germanic peoples
  • Viking revival
    Viking revival
    Early modern publications dealing with Old Norse culture appeared in the 16th century, e.g. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus and the first edition of the13th century Gesta Danorum , in 1514...

  • Aryan race
    Aryan race
    The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

  • Nordicism
  • List of Germanic deities

Further reading



  • Beck, Heinrich and Heiko Steuer and Dieter Timpe, eds. Die Germanen. Studienausgabe. Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter 1998. Xi + 258 pp. ISBN 3-11-016383-7.
  • Collins, Roger. Early medieval Europe. 300–1000. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Macmillan 1999. XXV + 533 pp. ISBN 0-333-65807-8 *Geary, Patrick J. Before France and Germany. The creation and transformation of the Merovingian world. Oxford: Oxford University Press 1988. Xii + 259 pp. ISBN 0-19-504458-4.
  • Geary, Patrick J. The Myth of Nations. The Medieval Origins of Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press 2002. X + 199 pp. ISBN 0-691-11481-1.
  • Herrmann, Joachim. Griechische und lateinische Quellen zur Frühgeschichte Mitteleuropas bis zur Mitte des 1. Jahrtausends unserer Zeitrechnung. I. Von Homer bis Plutarch. 8. Jh. v. u. Z. bis 1. Jh. v. u. Z. II. Tacitus-Germania. III. Von Tacitus bis Ausonius. 2. bis 4. Jh. u. Z. IV. Von Ammianus Marcellinus bis Zosimos. 4. und 5. Jh. u. Z. Berlin: Akademie Verlag 1988–1992. I: 657 pp. ISBN 3-05-000348-0. II: 291 pp. ISBN 3-05-000349-9. III: 723 pp. ISBN 3-05-000571-8. IV: 656 pp. ISBN 3-05-000591-2.
  • Pohl, Walter. Die Germanen. Enzyklopädie deutscher Geschichte 57. München: Oldenbourg 2004. X + 156 pp. ISBN 3-486-56755-1.
  • Pohl, Walter. Die Völkerwanderung. Eroberung und Integration. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2002. 266 pp. ISBN 3-17-015566-0. Monograph, German.
  • Todd, Malcolm. The Early Germans. Oxford: Blackwell 2004. Xii + 266 pp. ISBN 0-631-16397-2.
  • Jürgen Udolph. Namenkundliche Studien zum Germanenproblem. DeGruyter, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-11-014138-8
  • Wolfram, Herwig
    Herwig Wolfram
    Herwig Wolfram is an Austrian historian. Professor emeritus at the University of Vienna, from 1983 until 2002 he was Director of the Austrian Institute for Historical Research ....

    . History of the Goths. Berkeley: University of California Press 1988. Xii + 613 pp. ISBN 0-520-05259-5
  • Wolfram, Herwig. The Roman Empire and its Germanic peoples. Berkeley: University of California Press 1997. XX + 361 pp. ISBN 0-520-08511-6.