In 375 AD the Huns (a tribe that came from Asia) invaded the Germanic territories and the
Germanic tribes escaped to the South and fled into the Roman Empire. The Romans were
unable to stop the invasion of the barbarians.
GERMANIC TRIBES ON
THE BORDERS OF THE
THE FIRST INVASIONS
In the Western
In 376 AD the Visigoths defeated the Romans in Adrianople and they settled down inside the
Empire: first they settled down near Italy and then in the southwest of Gaul.
At the beginning of the 5th century the Sueves, the Vandals and the Alans crossed the river
Rhine, they came into the Roman Empire and they settled down in Hispania.
THE SECOND WAVE OF INVASIONS
In 476, the Ostrogoths deposed the last western Emperor, Romulus Augustulus and the Western
Empire disappeared: it broke up in different Germanic kingdoms.
The Eastern Empire survived under a new name the Byzantine Empire. This Empire survived until
SETTLED DOWN IN
Present Germany, near
the Baltic SEa
West of Hispania
Centre and South of Hispania.
Later expelled to the North of
Near the Caucasus, present
South of Gaul and Hispania
Present West of Germany
Near River Rhine
Between present Germany and
Burgundy and Eastern France
Eastern France (present Alsace)
Present Austria, near the Danube
North of the Italian Peninsula
-POLITICS: elective monarchy (an assembly of noblemen chose the kings.) When a
king died, they elected a new one.
-LAW: customary law (no written laws. Their law was based on custom)
-ECONOMY: main activities: agriculture and stockbreeding, more primitive than
the Romans. Subsistence economy (they produced almost all they needed), little
trade (they frequently used barter: exchange of products for other products)
-RELIGION: Some peoples were pagans (polytheistic) and some were Arians
(heresy of Christianity that denied the divine nature of Jesus Christ)
-CULTURE: lower than Roman culture. Precious metal work was their only
At the beginning, the Germanic peoples didn´t mix with the Romans (intercultural marriages
were forbidden...), but as time went by the higher culture of the Romans prevailed. The two
communities intermingled, the Germanic became Christians and they learnt Latin (although
some words of the Germanic languages were incorporated to Latin).
With respect to the Roman Empire, the Germanic Kingdoms ‘ period was a time of
regression: cities declined, trade collapsed and society ruralized.