Paul Halsall

Introduction to the Medieval World

Class 7: Formation of the Germanic States
Assigned Reading:

I.      Introduction

Church provides continuity in the West with Classical World
but for a long time that was pretty tenuous.

The new factor was the Germanic input.
Modern states often derive names from these tribes
-England, Sweden, France/Frankreich, Germany/Deutschland/
 Allemagne, Denmark
Western Middle Ages are a fusion of Roman and Germanic

II.     Western Europe

A.      Geography and Climate in the Dark Ages
        Rivers - Main means of communications
        Mountains - Provide Natural Borders
        Climate- Probably good btw 400-1200

B.      Ethnography
        -Lots of empty space
        -Original Population - Basques?
        -Celts - all over the West, Often romanized
        -Italic peoples - Italy
        -Greeks in the South
        -In the East - Germans, plus a whole mix of others,
        e.g.. Vlachs, Albanians

C.      Population

        1.      Demography
                -Mortality - disease/infanticide/war
                -Nuptiality - importance of Women

        2.      Disease - Plague c. 560-750
                Bacterial and viral infections untreatable
                Medicine in a primitive state

        3.      Population declined in early middle ages

III.    Germans

A.      Source: Tacitus' Germania
        A moral comparison with roman decadence
        Discuss Reading - Tierney

B.      Origins -Around the Baltic See

C.      Society
        -Tribes - really loose confederations

D.      Migrations - To the East
        The, under pressure of the Huns, to the West

E.      Contact with Rome
        -The Rhine Frontier
        -Barbarian attitudes to Rome

F.      Goths - Formed around Crimea

IV.     The Germans Move into Roman Empire

A.      Rome's need for soldiers - Feodorati

B.      Adrianople 378/ Sack of Rome 410 - Alaric

C.      Absolute numbers quit small
        [recap why Rome so week in the West - decline of cities,
        withdrawal of governing classes into Villas.

V.      Ostrogoths and Italy

A.      Sources: Lots - Byzantine Authors, Papal Documents.

B.      Odacavar 476

C.      Theodoric 496-526
        -Arianism and Catholicism
        -Dualistic government
        -Preservation of classical civilization

D.      Justinian's Attacks 533-48
        took advantage of Ostrogothic disunity

E.      The Lombards

F.      Italian Disunity - Lombards, Papacy, Byzantines
        and later the Germans all ruled bits of it.

VI.     Visigoths and Spain

A.      Sources: Visigoth Law codes, St. Isidore

B.      Other Tribes in Spain - Suevi

C.      Arianism

D.      Kingdom of Toulouse until 507

E.      Move into Spain beginning 466 - Toledo

F.      Reccared - Conversion to Catholicism 587
        Visigothic dress and customs disappeared

G.      Visigothic Law -  Written in Latin
        Uric's Law Code 476 - shows a process of fusion

H.      Cooperation with Bishops
        Visigoths' status in Spain

I.      711 - Muslim Conquest

J.      The Asturias survive

VII.    Vandals

-Sack of Rome 410
-Take Nth Africa in Early 5th Century
-Move to North Africa - persecution of Catholics
-Defeated by Justinian - Disappeared

VIII.   Franks and Gaul

A.      Origins of Franks - Unknown
        Invented a descent from the Trojans
        Based in northern Gaul, Belgium, Rhine

B.      Other Tribes in France - Visigoths/Burgundians

C.      Other Tribes in Germany
        Franks controlled what is now Germany and France

D.      Merovingians - the first Race of Kings
        Mythical founder - Merovechus - Long Haired Kings

E.      Clovis 481-
        Defeated Kingdom of Soissons (Roman.
        Married Clothilde - Conversion 506
        Gregory of Tours describes his reign.
        Discuss Reading - Tierney

F.      Clovis worked with old Gallo-Roman nobility
        But Roman Admin. system failed
        No trace of Roman taxation in Gregory of Tours

G.      Relations with the Church - Tries to define kingship

H.      Last great Merovingian was Dagobert 629-30

I.      Les Rois fainente - disposed of by the Carolingians

IX.     Anglo-Saxons

A.      Source: Bede

B.      Britain - Romanized Celts but Rome with draws 400

C.      Anglo-Saxon Origins
        Not Romanized
        Not Christian (better than being Arian in the long run.

D.      Migrations - Slow migrations
        Celts called Welsh - Story of King Arthur
        Origin of Brittany

E.      Formation of England -Heptarchy by 7th century
        Northumbria -  Bernicia/Deira

F.      Conversion to Christianity
        From North - Northumbria -
        St. Columba/Iona 583, St. Aidan 635

        From Rome - Ethelbert King of Kent, had a Frankish wife
        called Bertha - St. Augustine 597.

        Did Christianity strengthen king or not?

        Position of Women - convents provide women with power
        e.g.. Abbess Hilda of Whitby - Double Monasteries

        Synod of Whitby 633/4 - unites Christianity in England
        Canterbury and York

G.      Anglo Saxon Culture
        -Venerable Bede 673-735
        -St. Boniface 680-755

X.      German Effect on Western Europe

Simplification of civilization

A.      Law
        -Territorial law with personal law
        -Replacement of Principle with particular law
        Our sources are romanized
        Concern with criminal acts - no police force
        Wergild, Ordeals
        -Discuss Readings on Law - Tierney

B.      Idea of the State
        -Rome a Res Publica not a Res Privitata
        -State as personal property of the Ruler
        shown in divisions
        -Taxation Issues - Again personal
        -Principles of inheritance
        -Much of next millennia to be spent in
        re-establishing these sort of ideas
        One Early attempt was Charlemagne

C.      Population's Lifestyle
        -End of Roman style farms with slaves
        -Move to free peasantry - but with labor dues

XI.     The Pirenne Thesis

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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