Where did the Germanic tribes come from/location/religion

Germanic peoples

The Germanic peoples are of great importance in understanding the history of Europe. These people originating in northern Europe, they invaded the Western Roman Empire ended up falling, ushering in the Middle Ages in the century V . Thus the Germans managed to gain greater territories and increase their power. Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

Next, we will talk more about the Germanic peoples , their very interesting characteristics, their history and their social organization.

The origin of the Germanic peoples

The origin of the Germanic peoples is found on both sides of the Baltic Sea, on the shores of the Scandinavian Peninsula, present-day Denmark, and the north coast of present-day Germany.

From here, they expand to the south always in search of a better climate and more fertile areas in which to cultivate and raise livestock, and to the north where they have no opponents who can stop them.

Although it seems that the ancient Greeks came into contact with these peoples, this contact was more due to travelers, and there was no commercial or other relationship between the two civilizations. It was the Romans who had the most contact, and not exactly peaceful.

Between 113 and 101 BC, Rome suffered a series of invasions by Germanic tribes, the result of their migrations to southern Europe.

These migrations, probably due to the pressure exerted by other tribes on the displaced tribes , put the Roman troops in serious trouble, although they also acted as a catalyst for a profound reform of the Roman military institution , carried out by Gaius Mario (victor against the Cimbrios and that, in the end, he would become a dictator).

Such reform would have repercussions on the military evolution of the Republic, and would greatly contribute to Roman military greatness.

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After the Gallic War, the territories of logical expansion of the Empire passed through Germania. The defeat of the Teutoburg Forest (9 AD) closed the gates of Germania to the Romans.

In this confrontation, a coalition of Germanic tribes led by the leader Arminio defeated and exterminated three Roman legions. They say that the Emperor Augustus wept bitterly, for many years, the defeat, crying out “ Publius Quintilio Varus, give me back my legions! ”(Varus was the defeated general in the Teutoburg Forest). Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

The impact of the defeat was such that the numbers of the exterminated legions (the XVII, XVIII and XIX) were eliminated and never again used.

Starting from Teutoburg, a border ( limes ) was established that left Germania outside the area of ​​interest of the Roman Empire. From then on, the only work of the legions with respect to the Germans would be containment, abandoning any desire for conquest.

But centuries later, it would be the pressure exerted by various Germanic peoples that would spill over the border.

In some cases, the Romans fought against these peoples with varying results, and in another they made a pact with them, providing them with lands in exchange for protection against other tribes, in the form of an alliance.

These invasions, starting in the third century AD, sank the Western Empire, and transformed Europe, giving rise to kingdoms that preceded modern states.

For example, the Franks settled in ancient Gaul, eventually giving way to the Kingdom of France.

With the barbarian invasions, the Germans came into contact with Christianity, a religion they adopted.

This process of adoption first passed through the ruling classes, clearly willing to fit in with the local nobility of the conquered areas, but it ended up reaching all layers and strata of society.

This also led to a loss of the original Germanic religion and cultural values, and in areas with the greatest intermingling with the Romans, to dilute what the Germans were originally to give rise to an entirely new society. Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

Location of the Germanic peoples Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

Germanic peoples settled around the coasts of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea in approximately 500 BC . They coexisted at the same time as the Greeks , who did not know of their existence, and also in that of the Roman Empire , who knew them by the mobilization of the Germans caused by attacks by the Huns .

Towards the V century began the invasions of Germanic tribes on the Roman Empire . At first the Romans used the Germans as warriors in their fight against more distant peoples, this allowed the Germans to settle inside the Empire. The migrations of these barbarian peoples (that’s what the Romans called all those who did not belong to the Empire) escaped imperial control, migrating entire towns with armies of thousands of people. The Germans created small kingdoms in the European territory, these kingdoms are known as the Roman-Germanic kingdoms and consolidated through agreements .

Establishment of the various Germanic peoples as federated in the territory of the Roman Empire  :

  • Visigoths : this group settled in the territory of present-day Spain, after the Franks expelled them from their territory. This kingdom in the eighth century disappears intohands of Muslims .
  • Franks : this group settled in Gaul, they were among the first to build a strong and stable kingdom in medieval Europe.
  • Vandals: This group crosses the border of the European continent and they settle in North Africa.
  • Ostrogoths: These settle in the territory of present-day Italy, near the capital of the Empire, Rome.
  • Anglos: they settle on the island of Britain, in the east of present-day Great Britain.

Those are the most important Germanic peoples for the time. None of these impose their language on the dominated population, but rather they learn Latin and write the laws in this language. They sought to maintain the administrative structure of the Roman Empire, the leaders of these communities convert to Christianity, we see how Germanic and Roman cultures intermingle. When the Empire disappears, these independent kingdoms take its place. Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

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Political organization of the Germanic peoples

Here we focus on the Germanic peoples before their invasion of the Roman Empire. We know about the organization of the first Germans by Tacitus that by the first century writes about them . The Germanic peoples choose the kings for their nobility and the chiefs for their courage in war, there is a warrior aristocracy in these peoples. The leaders of these towns had to be generous with the community, this is reflected in the importance of the distribution of the booty after the wars and in the realization of great banquets.

The community as a whole is governed by the assembly in which the leaders and free men participate, who are owners of the land within the town’s territory. This assembly also functions as a court of justice, although another form of conflict resolution is direct revenge , in these towns it is normal for disputes to be resolved violently. Germanic peoples people are warriors, where the struggles and achievements are constant . The defeated peoples take the customs and laws of the victors. Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

As these towns grow, their organization becomes more complex. On the other hand, the figure of the council appears, which gave its advice to the king in the judicial part and administration of resources . This council was made up of many members of the noble class mostly.

In addition, there was a lower noble class that was made up of dukes , who acted as heads of some towns whom they themselves had subjected. Counts and bishops were also part of this group , who were directly at the service of the king in matters that had to do with the government.

Social organization of the Germanic peoples

In speaking of the social organization of the Germans should refer to the Icelandic sagas of the thirteenth century , these sagas tell stories of the Germanic people who occupied Iceland to the tenth century This town was isolated from Europe thus keeping its original organization. The sagas, which for the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges anticipate the cinema and the novel, are prose stories that relate only actions, describe the disputes between domestic units and the functioning of the Assembly and the forms of exchange such as gifts and gifts. banquets.

The social organization of the Germanic peoples was related to family kinship. It had the following characteristics:

  • There were tribes made up of families , who dedicated themselves to working the land in a community way.
  • The Germans had an assembly of warriors , also known as free men, who decided matters related to the tribe, as well as proposals from the chiefs and judicial acts.

  • Fidelity was something extremely important that free men had to demonstrate to their bosses, who gave them rewards and also their protection. This fidelity had to be nurtured by the leaders, since the men were free to give their fidelity to other leaders.
  • Among the Germans there was what is known as customary law , which consisted of oral laws that became culture with use. Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

Economy of the Germanic peoples Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

The economic base of the Germans was in agriculture, served by means of small land holdings and large estates . The latter consisted of a large piece of land belonging to a single person of the noble class, while the small properties were worked by their own owners. There was also dependent work at the hands of servants, but these were taken as part of the family and worked alongside free people.

Another aspect that contributed to the economy of the Germans was livestock , which occurred in farms and villas where the owner was the one who took care of them and took advantage of them, especially sheep and cattle, although horses were also of great value. utility.

Religion of the Germanic peoples

The religion of the Germans was influenced by the Scandinavian culture, which was based mainly on Norse mythology , but also had the influence of other cultures, such as Germanic mythology and also a part of Christianity . Therefore, the Germans developed a polytheistic form of worship . The most important Germanic gods were Thor , Odin , Loki, and Frey. These had human form and unimaginable powers. Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

On the other hand, the religion of the Germans was based on the actions of people, rather than on sacred writings. The background of the religion of the Germanic peoples is marked by heroic actions. The Germans took their gods as protectors. The territory in which they lived was very important for Germanic mythology, which was marked by the great mountains, the cold and the bravery of the seas, in all parts of the territory there were altars for the gods.

Culture of the Germanic peoples Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

  • Architecture : the architecture style of the Germans was late Roman and Byzantine , but with a particular touch of this culture that made it different, as in their churches. On the other hand, the Germans tended to mix wood with stone, but also with mud, which was useful in military constructions, where they included moats and circular walls. These round buildings became popular in the medieval era for the construction of towers, castles and buttes.
  • Sculpture : stone sculpture in buildings such as churches was a great idea from the Germans. In addition, they were also used in reliefs, capitals and even sarcophagi. They also used materials such as marble and ivory to carve their sculptures in a Byzantine style. On the other hand, the art of carving text or lines on stone, known as lithic carving, was something common among the Germans, which served to create the runes.
  • Literature  ¹⁰ ⁾ : The Germans made use of the oral tradition, so scarce written documents of the first Germanic peoples. The Germans wrote poetry, which was deeply influenced by the Romans. This form of poetry was characterized by having alliterative verses. But they also used literature to tell mythological stories and reproduce their own history as in the Icelandic Sagas. Later, with the influence of Christianity , literature turned towards religious themes.

Contributions of the Germanic peoples

The great contributions that the Germanic peoples transmitted to the new civilizations are some of the following: Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

  • The Germans created a compendium of judicial and legal laws that were based on local customs , which meant always deciding based on actions that have been taken in similar cases and that have brought good results. This was later given the common law name.
  • Equality was implemented between the leaders of the people and the people , which gave protection to both parties showing that they had rights in common, which should be respected.
  • The Germans fought to protect family solidarity , something that became common in medieval societies. Although they were considered as barbarians and without any level of civilization, the truth is that the Germans gave great importance to caring for the family.
  • The oath was something that was practiced among the Germans, which implied giving a guarantee to others that their word would be kept.
  • They created a law of compensation , where the offender had to monetarily replace the same amount that he had damaged or stolen. Where did the Germanic tribes come from?

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