Where did the Germanic peoples come from?
Where did they create kingdoms in Europe?
The Germanic peoples
During the 5th
and the 6th centuries, successive Germanic invasions put an end
to the political unity of the Roman Empire. As a result, different
kingdoms were created.
peoples carne from the coasts of the Baltic Sea, from the forests in
southern Scandinavia to the marshy areas in northern Germany and
present-day Denmark. These peoples moved southwards, attracted
by the splendour of Rome, in search of fertile lands and a
The German peoples
were organised in tribes. The maximum authority was heid by the
assembly of warriors and freemen. The assembly chose the chief, who
made the final decisions about peace and war.
These peoples lived
in big wooden houses; they were engage to stock breeding and itinerant
agriculture, therefore, were forced to move constantly. They were
called barbarians (foreigners) by the Romans, who thought that their
customs and way of life were inferior to their own.
The Germanic kingdoms
From the 5th
century onwards, the Germans founded several kingdoms in Roman territories.
The most important ones were the Frankish, Visigothic, Burgundian, Anglo-Saxon,
Suevi and Vandal kingdoms.
Main Germanic Kingdoms
held the power in Germanic kingdoms. At first, he was chosen by the
noblemen. However, in the course of time, royalty became hereditary. As
a consequence, many kings were overthrown and even killed by members of their
own families. The Council advised the king on government issues and
helped him to carry out justice. The Dukes had the military power in
certain territories and leadership in some subjugated areas.
How were Germanic societies organised?
An agrarian economy
rural peoples. Most of the population consisted of peasants,
engaged in animal grazing and working the land.
Most of the land
was in the hands of the main Roman and Germanic families. There were
also small land-owners. Monasteries owned vast territories because they
received donations in exchange for prayers said by the monks.
in the cities decreased, commercial activity started to slow
down and currency almost disappeared.
The new society: relationships between the Germans and the Romans
Germans were the
minority within the population. In the beginning, the Romans and
Germans maintained their own laws, customs and religion. But in the
course of time, both societies started to blend and the Germans adopted
Roman institutions and laws, Latin and even the Christian religion.
the Germanic people also contributed to such blending. In the least
romanised areas, the German heritage had more influence. For
example, modern languages such as English and German have a
Art and culture in the Germanic Kingdoms
manifestations from the Germanic peoples have been preserved. In
architecture, some small Visigothic churches remain, built with a sculpted
block of large stones. Their most important contribution was the art of gold
and silver smithery.
monasteries were founded during Germanic times. These were buildings where
a community of monks lived. Daily life was organised according to a
rule, a set of obligations. One of the main rules was the one adopted by
Saint Benedict in 530. Monasteries were places of prayer, but they were
also cultural centres because they had a school and a scriptorium, the
place where manuscripts were copied.
Middle Ages and Byzantium
Slavs and Visigoths