Great Migration

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Spangenhelm from the 6th century, imported from Eastern Roman workshops

In historical research is used as a so-called mass migration in the strict sense migration mainly Germanic groups in central and southern Europe in the period from onset of Huns to Europe circa 375/376 until the arrival of the Lombards in Italy referred to the 568th The migration period falls in late antiquity and forms a link between classical antiquity and the European early Middle Ages for the history of the northern Mediterranean region as well as western and central Europe , as they can be assigned to both epochs.

The migration of the peoples of late antiquity, however, does not represent a uniform, self-contained process. Rather, different factors played a role in the migration movements of the mostly heterogeneously composed groups, with many aspects of the migration of peoples being assessed very differently in recent historical and archaeological research. Central to the discussion are the questions whether the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire was the result or rather the cause of the "migrations" and whether "peoples" actually wandered around at that time or rather warrior associations were looking for booty and supplies ( annona ). In modern research, the term “migration” is used more and more critically, since according to today's assessment the image of “migrating peoples” is not tenable and many scholars are now considered refuted (see also ethnogenesis ) or the idea of ​​migration as a “research myth” “Is discarded.

Mainly, but not exclusively, affected by the events was the western half of the Roman Empire , which had been de facto divided since 395 . Since 382, ​​more and more contractual arrangements ( foedera ) have been made between the Roman imperial government and groups such as the Visigoths , which resulted in the settlement of these warriors on Roman territory. In the internal conflicts that plagued Westrom since 395, such combat units were used more and more often. Also francs were settled on Roman soil and took over as foederati among other tasks of the Border Guard in the northeast of Gaul . After the Rhine crossing in 406 and the penetration of the Vandals and Suebi into the Western Empire, a possible collapse of the Roman administrative order in Europe became apparent for the first time in Gaul.

Westrom sank into long civil wars , the course of which caused the movements of the warrior associations at least in part, as they were prominently involved in the fighting. At the same time, the authority of the imperial government in Ravenna declined, and more and more political power - Roman and Germanic - military, whom today's scholars often refer to as warlords . In connection with this process, the end of the Western Roman Empire came in 476/80 , while the Eastern Roman Empire survived the 5th century largely intact. On the soil of the disintegrated western empire, Germanic-Romanic successor empires emerged in the 5th and 6th centuries, which were to decisively shape the culture of Europe in the Middle Ages.

General overview

The term Great Migration

The term “Völkerwanderung” first appeared in German at the end of the 18th century. The German dictionary lists the treatise History of the Germans by Michael Ignaz Schmidt from 1778, which speaks of the "so-called migration of nations". Friedrich Schiller used it as a fixed epoch designation in 1790/92 in his essay “About Migration, Crusades and the Middle Ages”, and it quickly became popular in the 19th century. The problem is that the term “mass migration” is on the one hand a term for an epoch, but on the other hand it also denotes certain developments that are said to have taken place during this period. In essence, the concept formation goes back to the humanist Wolfgang Lazius , who published his work De gentium aliquot migrationibus in 1557 .

Outside the German-speaking world is still, however, rather the military aspect of this era, in conjunction with the "invasion of the barbarians ", highlighted ( barbarian invasions - now increasingly also migration period - invasion (s) barbare (s) , invasioni barbariche ).

For the older research, which was shaped by the emerging nationalism of the 18th and 19th centuries, it seemed a matter of course for a long time that the migration movements of late antiquity were the migrations of peoples in search of a new home. They had entered the Roman Empire by force in order to conquer settlement areas there. This view has proven to be very resistant to other readings and is therefore still widespread outside of the specialist field. According to the prevailing assessment of most historians and archaeologists today, however, the theory of “migrating peoples” is scientifically unsustainable.

It is also crucial how the term “ people ” is defined. It is true that during this time there were trains from various more or less large groups; However, these were usually composed heterogeneously and are now viewed by many historians as ethnically mixed mercenary armies with a baggage train , which were usually called into the empire by the Romans themselves to be used against internal and external enemies. There can therefore be no talk of a uniform process of “migration” of entire peoples; Most experts now consider this still very popular idea to be a “myth” that goes back to 19th century nationalism . In this respect, the term “mass migration” and the historical image associated with it for a long time are problematic.

There is also no compelling reason to understand the Migration Period as a radical turning point, as the end of antiquity was a much more complex process. The so-called migration of peoples was only one aspect, especially since many elements of ancient culture (sometimes in a different form) persisted after the 6th century.


Map of the Germanic tribes between 50 and 100

The Germanic “tribes” ( gentes , nationes ) of the migration period did not represent constant units or communities of descent according to today's dominant research opinion, even if the Roman sources suggest this in part. Rather, for example, Gothic associations also joined Rugier or Heruler ; Individual individuals and entire groups could change their affiliation repeatedly (but not at will). Modern research has shown that similarities in language, clothing or weapons alone are hardly meaningful for an ethnic classification. The method that has been used more and more in recent years to make migrations traceable through DNA analyzes has also been criticized for this reason, as it is less objective than its representatives assume and overestimates the importance of genes for ethnic identity.

In this context, the complex process of ethnogenesis is important in recent research . The emergence of ethnic identities ( ethnicity ) in late antiquity or the beginning of the early Middle Ages is no longer understood as a biological category today. Rather, identities arise in a changeable social process in which several factors play a role. During the Migration Period, various groups could join forces under a new leader (see King of the Army ), whereby it was usually sufficient to loyally serve the association. However, the influential approach of the “Vienna School” around Herwig Wolfram and Walter Pohl has come under fire in the meantime. Wolfram and Pohl no longer use the term ethnogenesis themselves in their more recent work, but instead emphasize the concept of identity, which is increasingly playing a role in research.

Nevertheless, the research discussion of the last decades has shown that the term “migration of peoples”, according to the prevailing view of most experts, is misleading insofar as in late antiquity no “peoples”, but often only warrior groups accompanied by a convoy “migrated”, most of which were also ethnic were heterogeneous: The old idea, dating back to antiquity, that an ethnically uniform group had broken out of its "original home", remained a homogeneous association on the migration and had settled elsewhere at the end of its migration, is considered an outdated and refuted theory . Rather, modern research has shown that the identity of a gens was usually different at the end of this process than at the beginning. A late antique gens was more of a legal community that varied greatly in size and ethnic composition. A connecting element could be a traditional core ( Reinhard Wenskus ), which was represented, for example, by the management group of an association. Otherwise, for example, the tribal legends (see Origo gentis ), who often topically traced the origin of the respective gens back to mythical founders and an alleged Scandinavian homeland, probably created cohesion . However, unlike in the past, these traditions are mostly viewed with great skepticism by modern research. Other researchers emphasize that many gentes were, at least initially, foederati in Roman service, i.e. mercenary armies that had only assumed a common identity over the years and, in particular, were deployed in the seemingly endless civil wars that the Westrom in the 5th Century plagued. It was also these internal conflicts that, by neglecting the limites, made the looting of the Roman frontier provinces possible.

The fall of West Rome

Transformation process

There is no general answer to what role the developments of the Migration Period played in the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire , a problem that has been discussed again and again in research. The main disagreement in research is whether the migrations were the cause or rather the consequence of the disintegration of the empire . What is certain is that in the late 4th and 5th centuries Rome was no longer able to defend its borders as efficiently as before. However, the establishment of the Germanic kingdoms (regna) on the soil of the western empire in the 5th and 6th centuries can no longer be explained as easily as it was often assumed in the past, and was often a gradual process. The popular idea that Germanic tribes forcibly invaded the empire in order to establish their own empires as conquerors is now viewed by most experts as either an inadmissible simplification or simply wrong.

The assessment of the French ancient historian André Piganiol , who after the Second World War in his work L'Empire chrétien (published 1947) stated that Roman civilization was downright murdered by the Teutons, is no longer tenable in view of recent research. In older research, especially in the first half of the 20th century, many historians from the Romansh and Anglo-Saxon regions used such formulations, not least because of the military conflicts at the time with the modern German nation-state, which was seen as the direct successor of the Teutons . Conversely, many German national historians, especially during the time of National Socialism , invoked the alleged “Germanic legacy” of the migration period and claimed that in late antiquity the Roman Empire fell into decadence and was therefore overrun and inherited by vital, powerful people from Northern Europe been.

Since the 1970s, more recent research has emphasized the aspect that late antiquity (and thus also the period of the Great Migration) underwent a process of transformation in which the “ barbarians ” also played their part. It is true that today hardly any expert takes the view (which is still very popular among the public) that the Roman Empire was conquered by attacking Teutons. However, the transformation process was associated with violence and a significant material decline, which has recently been emphasized again by some research.

The Huns as the trigger?

According to some of these researchers, the fall of West Rome was primarily initiated by the Huns, whose appearance in the 4th century forced many people to leave their homeland and immigrate to the Roman Empire , which was ultimately unable to cope with this pressure. In their opinion, the Eastern Roman Empire , which was actually the first target of the Hunnic and Gothic attacks, was able to survive the migration period intact, in contrast to the Western Empire, because the attackers did not succeed in crossing from Europe to the rich Asian Minor and Oriental provinces - this was mainly due to the almost impregnable walls of Constantinople .

This hypothesis, which is more strongly oriented towards traditional ideas, is vehemently doubted by many scholars, who assess the role of the Huns differently and who compare Attila with other late antique warlords such as Geiseric . They do not deny that there were decisive warlike events and destruction, but see the features of the mostly Germanic warrior groups not as the cause, but rather as a result of the weakness of the western empire, which primarily succumbed to internal conflicts in which the foederati became involved. These were basically mercenaries who were primarily concerned with secure supplies from the Roman state. It was only as a result of the gradual collapse of the Western Roman government in the course of civil wars that the leaders of these associations filled the power vacuum and founded their own regna . Since the movements of the associations took place in the context of internal Roman conflicts and not independently of them, it is only logical that after the definitive end of Western Rome around the middle of the 6th century, there were no more migrations.

Military aspects

In the West it would have to be clarified, among other things, how much substance of the classical-ancient culture was still present in the 5th and 6th centuries, especially since a Germanic-Romance symbiosis often took place on the European mainland. The Roman policy of playing Teutons against Teutons in the battles of the 5th century (like the Visigoths in Hispania against the Vandals or later the Ostrogoths in Italy against Odoacer ) had only moderate success, because the respective victor was then again in one better negotiating position with the Roman government. A decisive role in the dissolution of West Rome was played less by the barbarians in the regular Roman army than by the Germanic foederati : With the loss of rich provinces (especially North Africa ), West Rome lost the financial basis to maintain its own troops, which led to further defeats and the led to increased recruitment of (cheap) foederati , which were then used not least in Roman civil wars. In the end, these warriors let themselves be controlled less and less by the increasingly weaker imperial government, eventually largely replaced the regular western Roman troops and then established effectively independent empires after the collapse of the empire. However, they formally accepted the sovereignty of the (Eastern) Roman emperor until at least the 6th century, in order to give their rule additional legitimation. The highly costly Gothic Wars of Emperor Justinian once again made it clear that around 550 imperial interventions in the west were still to be expected, but at the same time made clear the limits of the military resources of Eastern Europe.

The Germanic-Romanesque Regna

Perhaps the most important achievement of the Roman statehood was the emergence of post-Roman successor empires on the periphery and on the soil of the empire: Goths in Italy (where the Lombards later invaded) and Hispania , Vandals in North Africa , Franks and Burgundians in Gaul ; the small empires of the Anglo-Saxons in Britain play a special role in this in a certain way. As a rule, these empires seem to have emerged when the gradual collapse of the western Roman central government created a power vacuum in many places, which was filled by the leaders and active groups of warriors outside the empire. These contributed significantly to the development of Europe in the Middle Ages.

Without the example and influence of the late ancient Roman empire, these empires, which in many ways directly linked to the late ancient Roman Empire , would have been unthinkable. In any case, the Germanic tribes of the Migration Period generally endeavored to participate in Roman culture or to make use of its achievements and not to destroy them, as the example of Visigoth Spain and Ostrogoth Italy shows (see below). According to recent research, the warriors initially took the place of the imperial troops and tried to preserve the superior Roman structures as far as possible. The medievalist Patrick J. Geary said:

"The Germanic world was perhaps the greatest and most enduring creation of the military and political genius of the Romans."

- Patrick Geary: The Merovingians . Munich 1996, p. 7.

On the other hand, the integration of the Teutons was often made more difficult by the different Christian denominations: The foreign warriors who invaded the empire, if previously heathen, accepted the Christian faith very quickly, but often in the form of Arianism : this was increasingly considered the most important characteristic around to distinguish a "barbaric" warrior from a Roman soldier.

In terms of numbers, the immigrant Germanic warriors were far inferior to the Romans. Even if mostly only estimates are possible, as the ancient and medieval authors often tended to exaggerate, 20,000 to 30,000 warriors were probably the limit - it was no coincidence that this was roughly the maximum size armies could reach under the logistical conditions of the 5th century; In addition, there was often a train made up of the soldiers' wives and children. Often the associations were much smaller. This also speaks against the assumption that the warrior groups invaded the Roman Empire as conquerors. Rather, the Germanic associations formed a negligibly small minority compared to the Roman provincial population; they filled the void left by the disappearance of the western Roman army. As a rule, they went over to a (at least conditional) policy of cooperation with the civilian elites, since their goal was to use the superior late Roman state and tax system. The main administrative posts were therefore also held by the Romans under Germanic rule. It therefore seems appropriate to speak of Germanic-Romanic or post-Roman empires. Of these regna only the empires of the Franks, Lombards, Anglo-Saxons and Visigoths survived for a long time.


  • 375: Death of Emperor Valentinian I . Probably around this time (exact dating is problematic) the Huns subjugated the Alans and the Greutungian Goths .
  • 376: Flight of the Danube Goths from the Huns and admission to the Roman Empire. Soon after, the Goths rise against the Romans.
  • August 9, 378: Battle of Adrianople . Emperor Valens and with him a large part of the eastern court army fall.
  • 380: Settlement of the three peoples confederation in Pannonia by Emperor Gratian .
  • 382: Treaty of the Goths. Emperor Theodosius I settled larger groups of Goths on the lower Danube.
  • 395: So-called division of the empire of 395 ; Huns raids into the Sassanid Empire and the Roman Orient provinces. Gothic foederati mutinied under Alaric and plundered the Balkans.
  • 402: Transfer of the Western Roman court to Ravenna .
  • 405: Radagaisus invades the western empire with a large army. The western Roman army master Stilicho defeats the invaders in August 406.
  • 406/07: Rhine crossing from 406 . Temporary collapse of the Roman Rhine border. Vandals , Suebi and Alans roam Gaul plundering. In Britain the usurper Constantine III rises . Withdrawal of the last units of the Roman field army from the island: beginning of decades of civil wars in the Western Roman Empire.
  • 408: Stilicho is overthrown and killed.
  • 409: Vandals, Suebi and Alans move on to Hispania.
  • 410: At the end of August Rome is conquered by the Visigoths under Alaric.
  • 418: Settlement of the Visigoths in Aquitaine.
  • 429: The Vandals and Alans cross to Africa under Geiseric , until 439 Carthage falls . 442 the Western Roman government recognizes the loss factually (but not de iure ).
  • 436: Destruction of the Burgundian Empire on the Middle Rhine by the Western Roman army master Aëtius , who settles the remains of the warrior group 443 in Sapaudia .
  • Around 440/41: Sections of the Saxons and other Germanic groups that had crossed to Britain as federates rebelled and began to take their lands.
  • 451: Campaign of the Hun Attila against Aëtius. Battle of the Catalaunian fields and Attila's retreat from Gaul. In 452 the Huns invade Italy, but are ultimately forced to withdraw. After Attila's death in 453, the Huns split up.
  • 455: With the murder of Valentinian III. the rule of the Theodosian dynasty ends. It comes to the sack of Rome by Geiseric.
  • 456: Visigoth warriors defeat the Suebi on an imperial order.
  • 468: The Visigoth Eurich breaks the treaty with Rome and begins an aggressive policy of expansion. Most of Hispania as well as the southwest of Gaul become Visigothic. In the same year there is a failed invasion of the Vandal Empire by western and eastern Roman troops.
  • 472: In the course of the power struggle between Ricimer and Anthemius , Rome is sacked a third time.
  • 475: Julius Nepos closes a foedus with the Visigoths, which leaves almost all of southern Gaul to them.
  • 476: Romulus Augustulus , the last Western Roman emperor in Italy, is deposed by the Germanic military leader Odoacer . Julius Nepos, who fled Italy in 475, stayed in Dalmatia until 480. In Gaul, the Gallo-Roman enclave established by Aegidius held its own until 486.
  • 486/87: Destruction of the kingdom of Syagrius by the Franks under Clovis I. The Franconian Empire takes shape.
  • 489: The Ostrogoth Theodoric invades Italy on behalf of the Eastern Emperor and establishes his own empire there from 493.
  • 507: The Visigoth king Alaric II is defeated by the Franks, who now occupy the south-west of Gaul.
  • 533/34: Conquest of the Vandal Empire by the Eastern Roman general Belisarius . The Burgundian Empire fell to the Franks in 534.
  • 535–552: Gothic war in Italy. Emperor Justinian aims to recapture large parts of the former western empire.
  • 554: Justinian abolishes the Western Roman court and the senatorial cursus honorum .
  • 568: Incursion of the Lombards into northern Italy. End of the Migration Period.

Germanic migrations before the invasion of the Huns

The conventional reconstruction of the so-called mass migrations of the second to fifth centuries
Northwestern Gaul and the Rhine and Danube borders of the Roman Empire at the time of Emperor Julian († 363)

Even before the actual migration of peoples began, there had been migration movements by Germanic groups in the non-Roman Barbaricum . The population east of the Rhine and north of the Danube aspired to share in Roman prosperity, and Germanic warriors were faced with the choice of either venturing into risky raids or serving Rome instead. In addition to military conflicts, there were therefore also peaceful contacts. Trade was carried out on the Rhine border established under Tiberius and Germanic tribes often served in the imperial army in order to gain Roman citizenship.

However, we often only know about many migrations beyond the Roman horizon from reports that were mostly passed down orally, which were later recorded in writing and are often mythically transfigured. Probably the best known of these origin stories, a so-called Origo gentis , is the Gothic story (or Getica ) of the Jordanes from the 6th century. Contrary to his statement that the Goths came from Scandinavia, according to today's knowledge they either moved from the area on the Vistula towards the Black Sea in the 2nd century AD or only in the 3rd century as part of an ethnogenesis on the Danube originated. According to the traditional interpretation, the Goths caused the first major migration and pushed the Vandals and Marcomanni to the south and the Burgundians to the west. These population shifts were one of the triggers for the Marcomannic Wars , in which Rome the Germanic peoples found it difficult to master. In the 50s and 60s of the 3rd century, when Rome was struggling with the symptoms of the imperial crisis and the defense was weakened by civil wars, Gothic and Alemannic groups plundered the soil of the empire again and again.

In today's research, however, it is controversial how extensive and significant these migrations were. There are many indications that the new tribal associations of the Franks, Alamanni, Saxons etc. did not form until around 200 AD as part of an ethnogenesis in the immediate vicinity of the Roman provinces. While this view is shared by most researchers today with regard to the associations mentioned, in the case of the Goths, as I said, it is disputed whether they immigrated to the Danube region or only formed on site.

Around 290 the Goths probably divided into Terwingen / Visigoten and Greutungen / Ostrogoten. The Greutungen / "Ostrogoths" settled in the Black Sea region of today's Ukraine . The Terwingen / "Visigoths" initially settled on the Balkan Peninsula , in the area north of the Danube in what is now Transylvania . The Terwingen came into direct contact with Rome, and there were even military conflicts, which were not decisive. In 332, the Danube Goths received the status of foederati , so they had to provide Rome with weapons aid guaranteed by treaty. The Gothic procession is of particular interest because the subsequent development had lasting consequences for the Goths in particular: The Huns' invasion around 375 (see below) not only drove many Goths out of their new homeland, but also created one through the subsequent transfer of the Goths into empire Process underway, as a result of which, according to researchers such as Peter Heather, Rome had to struggle for survival (other researchers such as Guy Halsall, Michael Kulikowski or Henning Börm, however, attach far less importance to the processes).

Around the same time as the Goths, the Lombards migrated from the Lower Elbe to Moravia and Pannonia . Minor incursions into Roman territory were either repulsed during this time or ended with minor border corrections. Further to the west, the tribal confederation of the Alemanni broke through the Roman border fortifications, the Upper German-Raetian Limes , and settled in the so-called Dekumatland after the Romans had cleared the area ( Limesfall ). Many gentes were also deliberately settled as allies on the borders of the empire and formed buffers to more hostile-minded tribes (see Foederaten ).

Rome had learned from the Germanic invasions and the civil wars of the 3rd century and embarked on extensive military reforms in the early 4th century. It was important that since the founding of the Persian Sassanid Empire one had to reckon with constant threats at several borders; the fierce battles with the Persians tied strong Roman forces and thus made the Germanic invasions of the 3rd century possible in the first place, according to some researchers. In order to be able to meet this strategic dilemma, so the assumption of many researchers, the military efficiency of the empire had to be improved. The emperors Diocletian and Constantine the Great , who privileged Christianity in the empire ( Constantine Turn ) , therefore expanded the movement army ( comitatenses ) , took back the borders in the north on the Rhine and Danube, had numerous fortresses built and thus once again secured the borders in north and east. The later emperor Julian was able to destroy a numerically superior Alemannic contingent in the Battle of Argentoratum in 357 . Despite the difficulties Rome had got into in the third century through the formation of large gentile associations like the Alamanni and Franks and the simultaneous wars with Persia, it was still able to cope with these advances militarily.

Before 378, the military initiative was usually on the Roman side. But with the invasion of the Huns, the threat situation changed suddenly, at least according to researchers like Peter Heather; at the same time, Rome had already achieved the utmost in terms of military capabilities and could therefore no longer react flexibly. This and the fact that the quality and size of the migratory gentes changed in the following years are traditionally considered to be the two most important characteristics of the migration of peoples, which distinguish it from the previous migration movements despite the relatively vague term.

The Migration Period

Map of Europe in late antiquity. The traditional, now controversial reconstruction of the “migrations” is indicated by arrows. The settlement areas of Germanic foederati within the Imperium Romanum are also recognizable .

The Huns and its consequences

“Hunorum gens monumentis veteribus leviter nota ultra paludes Maeoticas glacialem oceanum accolens, omnem modum feritatis excedit. [...] Hoc expeditum indomitumque hominum genus, externa praedandi aviditate flagrans inmani, per rapinas, finitimorum grassatum et caedes ad usque Halanos pervenit, veteres Massagetas ”

“The Huns, only rarely mentioned in old reports, live beyond the Mäotic Marshes to the Arctic Ocean and are wild beyond measure. [...] This vigorous, irrepressible race of men burns with terrible greed for the stolen property of others; plundering and murdering she attacked her border neighbors and penetrated as far as the Alans, the former massagers. "

- Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae , 31, 2, 1; 31, 2, 12.

The report of the Roman historian and former officer Ammianus Marcellinus , which he presents in the 31st book of his historical work, is the only coherent account of the invasion of the Huns . Ammianus, an otherwise very reliable reporter, only knew secondhand about the events that took place around 375 (the exact chronology for this time is unclear, so that the year 375 as a fixed date for the beginning of the Huns' invasion is not certain either) occurred outside the Roman field of vision in what is now Ukraine . Ammianus describes the Huns more as beasts than real people. He describes how the Huns first overthrew the Alans and then destroyed Ermanarich's Gothic abomination in what is now Ukraine, the Alans probably cooperating with the Huns.

But who the Huns were exactly and where they came from has not yet been clarified. The view, partly held in older research, that they are related to the Xiongnu mentioned in Chinese sources , is now rejected by the majority of modern researchers or at least viewed with skepticism, as there is also a long time lag between the appearance of the two groups. One can only speculate about the causes of the Hunnic migration. In the ancient sources their cruelty and lack of culture are consistently emphasized, whereby the term "Huns" was later generally used by Western authors to denote groups of people who emerged from the Central Asian steppe (like the term "Scythians" before). Some Christians even saw the sudden appearance of the Huns, who acted with great brutality and speed and used a new weapon with the composite bows, as a punishment from God.

It is certain that the Huns, who probably did not operate under unified leadership, triggered a flight of several Germanic and Sarmatian groups to southern and western Europe on their further march to the west , even if it is now very controversial how serious these events were. Most of the Greutungen came under their control, even if individual groups were able to evade access (and others later tried to do so again and again). The Hunnic pressure probably resulted in the flight of the majority of the Terwingian Goths - warriors with their families - on the Danube. Under their leader Fritigern , they asked the Roman emperor Valens , who ruled the east of the empire, for permission to enter Roman territory. Valens finally complied with this request, and so in 376 several thousand Terwingen and other refugees streamed across the Danube into the Roman Empire. However, the Roman side had apparently completely underestimated the number of refugees and also failed to disarm them. As a result of Roman neglect and incompetence, the supplies of food to the Goths stalled, and they were also badly treated. At the beginning of 377 they rose up against the Romans.

The following events did not initially appear seriously threatening. Valens nevertheless broke off a planned campaign against the Sassanids and gathered troops to take action against the Goths in Thrace . However, during operations in the summer of 377, the Romans realized that the Gothic revolt was not that easy to suppress. Valens went to Thrace himself in the spring of 378 and exchanged several officers. Valens' nephew and emperor in the west, Gratian , had also promised direct help, but he was bound by an invasion of the Alemanni; the related advance of Gratian was the last of a Roman emperor across the Rhine. On August 9, 378, the battle of Adrianople between the Goths and the Roman army took place in Thrace, in the European part of today's Turkey . Without any great need, Valens had gone into the open field with about 30,000 men, the best units of the eastern court army, without waiting for the approaching Gratian. However, the Terwingen had also received support in the form of the so-called three peoples confederation , which consisted of Greutungen, Alans and even of refugee Huns who had evaded the access of the main mass of the Huns. In addition, the Roman scouts had underestimated the strength of the enemy army, which was probably around 20,000 men. The Romans, exhausted from the march in the summer heat and, moreover, without adequate provisions, could do little against the agile enemy horsemen, while the Gothic infantry also made the Romans difficult. In the end, only around a third of the Roman soldiers escaped and Emperor Valens also fell. Far more serious was probably that with him several of the best Eastern Roman units had been destroyed and a large number of high and experienced Roman officers had died, including two army masters ; some researchers believe that the consequences soon became apparent.

Other historians, on the other hand, doubt whether the battle really deserves the importance it is traditionally assigned: They emphasize that it was not the western but the eastern Roman army that was affected. The fact that the Eastern Roman army was victorious in civil wars against the West only a few years later, as well as the fact that Eastern Rome, unlike Western Rome, outlived late antiquity, speak, according to these researchers, against the widespread assumption that Rome had a long-term perspective in Adrianople suffered decisive defeat against the Teutons. Ammianus, who wrote his work around 394, let it end with the Battle of Adrianople, which he significantly compared with the Battle of Cannae , after which Rome had also recovered.

From Adrianople to the sack of Rome 410: The Goths in the Roman Empire

Depiction of Theodosius I on a Roman coin

The Gothic Treaty of 382

Indeed, while the immediate aftermath of the Adrianople defeat was severe, it was by no means the beginning of the end of the empire. Thrace was initially largely open to the Goths, but they could not take advantage of the victory. Moreover, as I said, only the Eastern Roman field army was affected by the high losses, not the Western one. Gratian hurried over, but after a few months was forced to appoint a new emperor in the east of the empire. He decided on the Roman Flavius ​​Theodosius from Spain , whose father of the same name had already been a very successful general. Theodosius, who was supposed to make Christianity the state religion, proved to be an energetic emperor. In 379 he moved into quarters in Thessaloniki and carried out several operations against the Goths. However, the Roman offensive suffered from the lack of experienced soldiers and qualified officers, so that Theodosius was ultimately forced to resort to "barbaric" mercenaries. Gratian, who was able to settle parts of the Three Peoples Confederation in Illyria in 380 , sent experienced officers to the east, including Bauto and Arbogast the Elder . But it was the army master Flavius ​​Saturninus who was able to negotiate peace with the Goths in Thrace in October 382.

The Gothic Treaty , the content and meaning of which are very controversial in research, apparently provided that the Goths were allowed to settle on Reichsboden on the lower Danube. It is unclear whether they submitted and formally became members of the Reich, or whether the contract was a foedus with warriors formally foreign to the Reich . In any case, the Goths were denied the conubium , so they were not allowed to marry Roman citizens. The land they colonized continued to remain Roman territory, even if it was given autonomous status. In return, the Goths had to serve the emperor under their own commanders in times of war, but the high command fell to Roman officers. In the past, the treaty was often seen as the beginning of the end of the empire, as barbarians had never before been granted a semi-autonomous settlement area, and in relative proximity to the imperial headquarters. However, some of the more recent research emphasizes that the key points of the treaty did not go much further than previous federation agreements: Rome maintained its claim to leadership and benefited from the troops now available, which Theodosius was particularly interested in because it was difficult in the short term to draw in enough Romans for military service.

The disadvantages of this regulation also became noticeable later. However, the treaty cannot be interpreted as the beginning of the formation of Germanic regna on the soil of the empire, as often happened in older research.

The Goths as federates and as opponents of Rome

Gothic foederati were to play an important role in the military policy of Emperor Theodosius I, who after Gratian's death fought two bloody civil wars for power in the empire, in which he often resorted to non-Roman warriors. The fact that Theodosius pursued very tangible political and military goals and was not a “friend of the Gothic people”, as Jordanes reports, is testified by the high loss rates of Gothic troops on these campaigns. Finally, the integration policy pursued by the emperor with regard to the Goths failed: Even if Fravitta and others were loyal to Rome, other Goths were dissatisfied with the agreement. As early as 391 some of them had risen and could only with difficulty be subjugated by the Roman general Stilicho ; In 392 they renewed (?) The treaty of 382. In this context, the name Alaric appears for the first time in later sources , who supposedly came from the noble family of the Balthens and became the leader of the Visigoths, which were now slowly forming.

In the civil war between Theodosius and Eugenius in 394 the Goths again suffered very high losses, although it cannot be ruled out that Theodosius consciously sacrificed them in order to weaken a potential enemy. When Theodosius died unexpectedly in Milan at the beginning of 395, the Roman government evidently no longer felt bound to the foedus that he had formed with the Gothic warriors and dismissed them. The warriors then felt betrayed and rebelled. Embittered, Alaric marched against Constantinople with this predominantly, but by no means exclusively, Goths army in order to force a new treaty. The two following years were marked by a constant 'up and down', in which the army master Stilicho often appeared as an opponent of the Visigoths and Alaric got between the fronts of the worsening conflict between the imperial courts in West and East that came after the so-called division of the empire of 395 more and more went on a confrontational course. His goal was to secure a secure supply for his men from the Roman state and for himself a high post in the imperial army. The eastern imperial court apparently tried at times to play Stilicho and Alarich off against each other.

In 397 Alaric was appointed army master by the eastern emperor, and his men were initially settled in Epirus , but withdrew in 401, perhaps as an indirect consequence of the turmoil surrounding Gaina's attempted coup . They plundered the Balkans and Greece and finally invaded Italy, where they suffered a heavy defeat near Verona in 402. Like a few years before, Stilicho, the strong man in the West, who in fact managed the affairs of the empire alone, tried to use the Gothic warriors for his own purposes. Stilicho even planned a joint action against Ostrom, but then in 405/06 the Goth Radagaisus unexpectedly broke into Italy with a huge army. Stilicho had to gather troops in a hurry. With Hunnic support he succeeded in confronting and defeating Radagaisus and his polyethnic warriors' association, but he lost interest in Alaric. The latter responded by gathering his own troops on the Italian border and demanding a large amount of money and a new foedus from the Western Roman government in Ravenna . Stilicho gave in, especially since General Constantine had risen in Britain in 407 and crossed to Gaul, where the Rhine border had collapsed (see below). Alaric was again promised the office of army master, which he had speculated repeatedly in order to legitimize his position in the empire. In return, he and his men were supposed to fight the usurper Constantine in the name of the Western Roman government. Above all, the material wishes of the Goths for a secure supply by the Roman state should be fulfilled. But then Stilicho fell victim to a court intrigue. He was executed at the end of August 408, and most of his family and supporters were also killed.

The Sack of Rome 410

With the assassination of Stilicho, the ambitious but loyal general to the Western Roman emperor, one should have miscalculated in Ravenna: Entire associations of barbaric troops who had served under Stilicho went to the Goths, including the 12,000 warriors, which the general had taken over from the Radagaisus army into the imperial army. The weak Western Roman Emperor Honorius refused to keep the foedus closed by Stilicho or to close a new one, so that Alaric had to act and pulled a total of three times against Rome to enforce his demands. Rome had not been the capital of the empire for years, but it had not lost its importance as a symbol. In October 408 in Rome, where thirst and hunger prevailed, one could still buy oneself out for a huge sum. But neither the Roman senators nor the Bishop of Rome could induce the emperor in the safe Ravenna to negotiate with the Goths. Alaric reappeared in front of Rome in 409, was apparently allowed into the city and even appointed a counter-emperor by his grace in the form of Senator Priscus Attalus , who, however, could not fulfill Alaric's hopes and was deposed again in 410 after the comes Africae suspended the grain deliveries Carthage stopped and so caused a famine in Italy. At least the Goths succeeded in defeating the Roman general Sarus , a former competitor of Alaric for the leadership of the Goths. Finally, deprived of all options, Alaric saw only one way out. On August 24, 410 Rome opened the gates again (?) To him, and this time his starving men plundered the city for three days, whereby Alaric, like most Goths now Christian, is said to have insisted that the churches be spared and no blood was shed.

The sack of Rome, the first since the Gaul storm in 387 BC. BC, was mainly due to the rigid posture of Honorius. Obviously he had not fully recognized the gravity of the situation, and this time there was no Stilicho on hand to deal with the mutinous Goths. This was by no means about the destruction of Rome. Rather, the protracted negotiations make it clear that Alaric wanted to receive a secure supply for himself, his warriors and their families and probably also settlement land (?) And wanted to be recognized by Rome as a magister militum . Ultimately, he and his men wanted to force their integration into the Roman system. But the imperial policy, which was directed less against the Goths than against the growing influence of the high military at court, failed. Eight years later, however, the settlement of the Gothic warriors should even be seen as an opportunity to stabilize the empire (see below). Alaric also carried Honorius' half-sister Galla Placidia with him in 410 and tried to reach the strategically and economically important Carthage in order to create his own power base. However, this company failed. Alaric, who was still faced with a dilemma from which he saw no way out (in this respect, the sacking of Rome seems more like a kind of act of desperation), died a little later. The leadership of the Goths took over his brother-in-law Athaulf , who now left Italy to try to reach North Africa via Hispania.

The sack of the city of Rome was a shock to the entire Roman world, damaged the reputation of the Western Roman Empire and aroused end-time fears among Christians, while some pagans saw this as a just punishment for having turned its back on the ancient cults. The great Doctor of the Church Augustine of Hippo felt compelled to write his work De civitate Dei in order to show possible explanatory models. Orosius, on the other hand, tried in his work Historiae adversum paganos to prove that pagan Rome had suffered much worse blows of fate. The discourse taught had a profound and lasting effect. It therefore remains to be stated that the sacking of Rome had less real-political consequences than the history of ideas in the long term and has had a formative effect to this day.

The Rhine crossing of 406/07 and its consequences: The Goths in Aquitaine and the Vandals in North Africa

The Roman Empire at the time of Theodosius I's death in AD 395

The collapse of the Rhine border: invasions and usurpations

A few years before the sack of Rome, on December 31, 406, a large number of barbaric warriors crossed the Rhine near Mogontiacum (Mainz) , perhaps on the run from the Huns or due to food shortages, but perhaps also at the request of a Roman civil war party ( see Rhine crossing from 406 ). The three largest groups were the Vandals , Suebi and Alans . The Vandals themselves were divided into two subgroups, the Hasdingen and the Silingen, and around 400 they had their seat in the south of present-day Poland and in present-day Czech Republic; Large parts had already been settled as federates by Emperor Constantine the Great in Pannonia . In the winter of 401/02 they raided the Roman province of Raetia , parts of them joined the train of Radagaisus described above. The identity of the Suebi is more problematic because the term was used in older sources, but then disappeared around AD 150 and was not used again until later. Like the Vandals, however, they lived west of the Carpathian Mountains and are largely identical to the earlier Quads . The Iranian Alans had been driven from their old homeland by the Huns. Parts of them had also moved with Radagaisus in 405/06 and after his downfall had joined forces with vandal groups. The Suebi also joined and together they advanced into the interior of Gaul . Federated Franks, which had been settled here since the middle of the 4th century, opposed the attackers without success (see also Respendial ). The sources do not allow the invasion to be traced in every detail. However, the invaders apparently moved to the west and north of Gaul, and then turned south and southwest. In the scattered sources, the devastation of this train becomes abundantly clear, without the few Western Roman armed forces stationed on the Rhine being able to seriously do anything about it. However, the Rhine defense was restored a few years later. The Mainz military district (ducat) may not have been re-established until after the events of 406/07.

Solidus with the portrait of Constantine III.

The at least temporary collapse of the Rhine border 406/407 was probably foreseeable beforehand; the threat from looters increased steadily, because by 378 the Roman troops were too busy to carry out the traditional vengeance and deterrent campaigns across the Rhine. As early as 400, the seat of the Gallic prefecture , the supreme administrative authority of the Western Roman Empire alongside the Italian prefecture , was relocated from Trier to Arles . The success of the invaders was favored by the above-described battles Stilichos with Radagaisus and the Goths, so that Gaul was largely bared by troops. This fact explains Stilichos' attempt to win Alaric's Goths and with their help to restore order. With the death of the general in August 408, however, these plans were dashed. The usurper Constantine III. , the last of a whole series of British usurpers (see Marcus and Gratian ), crossed over to Gaul with the remnants of the British field army as early as 407 and thus temporarily secured his own sphere of influence. At the same time, the almost complete withdrawal of Roman troops from the island (it can be assumed that smaller units were left behind by Constantine III) encouraged the loss of Britain which soon followed. Picts and Irish tribes haunted the Roman province, which soon disintegrated into independent units. Angling and Saxons were then called for help, which ultimately resulted in a Germanic conquest, as these warriors mutinied around 440, although small Roman-British empires in what is now Wales and south-west England were able to hold out for a long time.

The usurpation of Constantine in 407 was probably related (as a cause or consequence) to the collapse of the Rhine border, which had also caused unrest in Britain. Constantine III achieved some notable successes; so he concluded treaties with barbarian tribes, which at least calmed the situation in Gaul and provided him with troops. Constantine, who mainly resided in Arles in southern Gaul, was defeated and executed in 411 by the new army master (and later co-emperor) Constantius , after Constantine's most important general Edobich had previously been defeated. In 413 the rebellion was finally put down. The chaos in Gaul increased even further after the Gallic nobleman Jovinus proclaimed himself emperor with the help of Alanic troops under Goar and the Burgundians under Gundahar , who soon afterwards established their own empire on the Middle Rhine.

Emperor Honorius seemed to have completely lost control of Gaul. Finally the usurper Maximus arose in Hispania , but he did not last long. The Goths under Athaulf, Alaric's successor, had withdrawn from Italy after the sack of Rome and were then courted by Jovinus. However, as in the case of Attalus, this alliance was short-lived; Athaulf soon dropped Jovinus again. Athaulf married Honorius' sister Galla Placidia in Narbonne in 414 , who had previously fallen into the hands of the Goths during the sack of Rome in 410, but was murdered in 415. Nevertheless, this episode deserves attention, because Athaulf, under whom the " broadening " of the Visigoths probably came to an end, is said to have even declared at the wedding that he wanted to replace the Romania with a Gothia , but has now realized that barbarism the Goths make this impossible. Whether these words are authentic or not, the Goths evidently longed for a secure supply recognized by Rome. This was the main reason why Athaulf wanted to marry into the Theodosian dynasty ; his son, who died early, was given the programmatic name Theodosius and should probably have made claims to the imperial throne. But Athaulf's plan to approach Honorius failed due to the resistance of other military officers, among whom Flavius ​​Constantius was now the most powerful.

The settlement of the Visigoths in Aquitaine

Solidus Constantius' III. who successfully waged war against various usurpers and invaders

Honorius' general Constantius, a former follower of Stilichos, had shown himself to be a talented general in the war against the usurper Constantine. He eliminated his opponents one after another and thus rose to become the real ruler in Ravenna. It soon became clear, however, that pacification of the western empire could only be achieved with additional troops. So the Western Roman government turned to the Visigoths again. Since the end of 415 Wallia has been its leader , who initially wanted to continue the war against the Romans and even translate it to North Africa, but at the beginning of 416 had to capitulate to Constantius. In this context, Galla Placidia returned, who then married Constantius on January 1, 417 against her will. In a certain way, he became part of Stilicho's legacy. The Goths became (again) Roman foederati and Constantius immediately used them to fight the Vandals and Alans that had invaded Hispania, which the Visigoths did with some success in the following two years.

In 418 the Visigoths were settled in Aquitaine , in the south-west of Gaul. Details are not known about either the foedus of 416 or that of 418 and must rather be filtered out from scattered sources. Numerous points are therefore controversial in modern research. Presumably a submission ( deditio ), which did not turn the warriors into Romans, was followed by an official contract ( foedus ): The Visigoths were settled in the Garonne Valley from Toulouse to Bordeaux . It is particularly controversial whether the Goths were supplied by the hospitalitas system , as was otherwise customary in the late Roman army, i.e. whether they were allocated land, or whether they only received a share of the tax revenue and the annona . As well as the exact terms of the contract, the effects of the settlement are also controversial. Even if the Visigoths were to pursue an independent policy again and again later, mainly due to the weakness of the Western Roman government, which finally led to the de facto independence of the Visigothic sphere of influence around 470 (so-called Tolosan Empire ), they stabilized the situation in Gaul in Sense of the Ravennatic government. The settlement probably took place in cooperation with the Gallo-Roman upper class, especially since the Goths only made up a negligibly small proportion of the population in relation to the Roman civilian population, which is also true for all Germanic gentes of the migration period.

The Vandals in Hispania and their conquest of the western Roman province of Africa

In the meantime, the Vandals and most of the Suebi and Alans 409 had fled from Gaul to Hispania . An important source for the events on the Iberian Peninsula is the chronicle of Bishop Hydatius of Aquae Flaviae . In it he expressed his horror at the devastation that went hand in hand with the invasion. In 411 the invaders were able to obtain a treaty from the government in Ravenna, the contents of which Hydatius has handed down. According to this, parts of the Vandals and the Suebi should settle in the northwest of the Spanish peninsula, the Alans in Lusitania and the Carthagena, the Silingian Vandals in the Baetica . When in 416 (as already described) the Visigoths, now as the federates of Rome, set about freeing Hispania from the invaders, they destroyed most of the Silingen and Alans who had settled in the south. Their remnants joined the Vandal King Gunderich . He proved to be a talented leader, so that the Vandals and Alans grew together into a much more homogeneous group. While the Suebi remained in the northwest ( Kingdom of the Suebi ), the Vandals and Alans marched south. In 422 they defeated a Roman army and captured the important Roman naval base Carthago Nova ; soon afterwards they tried very successfully as pirates.

Flavius ​​Constantius died in 421 shortly after he had been promoted to co-emperor. When Honorius died in 423, there was initially another civil war in the empire, at the end of which in 425 little Valentinian III. ascended the western Roman throne. The three powerful Roman generals Flavius ​​Felix , Bonifatius and Aëtius competed for control , which opened up further leeway for the non-imperial warrior groups.

After Gunderich's death in 428 his half-brother Geiserich , one of the most capable Germanic leaders of the Great Migration Period, took over the leadership of the Vandals. Jordanes has handed down a brief sketch by Geiseric in his Gothic story, although it is questionable how close this comes to reality, especially since it was made some time after the death of the Vandal King. However, we do not have any vandalism self-testimony, and Geiserich was certainly a purposeful and sometimes with extreme brutality acting power man. In order to secure his power, he later had the Gunderichs murdered. He was also a capable politician and a military man, because the following events also demonstrate some logistical prowess: In 429 the vandals and groups who had joined them, all in all about 80,000 people, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and crossed to North Africa. Their destination was the rich province of Africa , the granary of Western Rome and one of the most urbanized regions in the entire empire. As already reported, the Visigoths had the same goal after the conquest of Rome and failed. Whether Geiserich succeeded in the logistically very difficult operation because he received support from a Roman civil war party is disputed (see below). The Vandals moved from Ceuta almost 2000 km to the east, taking several Roman cities, in the middle of 430 they stood before Hippo Regius . The city's bishop, Augustine , the famous doctor of the church and philosopher, died during the siege. The Vandals then reached the area around Carthage , which at that time was one of the largest cities of the empire and an important naval base. However, Geiseric did not yet succeed in capturing Carthage.

Nevertheless, the procession of the vandals is a remarkable achievement, but different versions are circulating in the sources about the exact background. In the context of his histories (or war stories ), the historian Prokopios of Caesarea , who lived in the 6th century, reports that the vandals were invited as federates by the Roman commander in Africa , Bonifatius , because he was in dispute with Flavius ​​Felix in Ravenna have. In modern research this explanation is often rejected, since Boniface, as soon as they were on the rise, fought the Vandals with the means at his disposal and similar accusations were already made to Stilicho. In addition, the relationship between Ravenna and Boniface in 429 may have calmed down, and the scarce contemporary sources make no mention of an invitation from the Vandals. Other researchers, on the other hand, consider it fundamentally plausible that there was a connection between the logistically very difficult crossing of Geiseric and the internal Roman conflicts.

Either way, the military resources of West Rome in Africa were no longer sufficient to effectively counter the vandals. Since Carthage was also able to hold out, a treaty between Vandals and Westrom was concluded in Hippo Regius in 435, the details of which are unknown to us. The already occupied part of Africa was apparently left to the vandals. In 439, however, Geiseric seized the opportunity and attacked Carthage in a coup d'état, seizing the fleet stationed there and effectively cutting off Rome from the grain from Africa. In 442, the Western Roman government recognized this de facto loss in a treaty, although de iure did not give up the claim. The richest province of West Rome was officially in the hands of Germanic tribes, who also built up a considerable sea power. On this point the Vandals represent a significant exception in the context of the Germanic gentes , as well as in the treatment of the native population.

The Huns and the end of the empire in the west

The Huns on the Danube and the rise of Aëtius

Although the Huns had crossed the Don around 375 and defeated the Alans and the Gothic Greutungen, the sources for the next decades are extremely thin, although it is known that they repeatedly undertook raids. However, for a long time the Huns do not seem to have operated under unified leadership or even pursued a targeted policy. The Hunnic groups were subordinate to different chiefs. Admittedly, they were capable of coordinated military actions, as the incursion of Hunnic groups into the Sassanid Empire and the Roman Orient provinces in the summer of 395 shows. In the winter of the same year, major Hunnic associations devastated the Roman Balkan provinces. Nevertheless, at this point in time it is not possible to speak of a Hun Empire in the actual sense, because a closed form of organization cannot be recognized.

The first historically and by name really tangible Hunnic leader (because the historicity of the Hun leader Balamir [Balamber] is not certain) was Uldin ; around 400 he ruled over most of the Huns in today's Romania. At this time, the Eastern Roman army master Gainas had tried in Constantinople against Emperor Arcadius to achieve a position similar to Stilicho in the west. This symbolizes, on the one hand, the strong role played by the army masters (which, however, could be brought under control far more effectively in the east in the 5th century than in the west) and, on the other hand, the importance of the barbaric foederati in the empire. Shortly afterwards, however, there were riots, loyal troops drove Gainas out, who fled across the Danube, where, according to hostile tradition, he threw off everything Roman and allegedly even ordered human sacrifice . He himself was defeated and killed by Uldin at the end of the year 400; his head was brought to Constantinople in January 401. Uldin, whose sphere of influence in the west probably extended as far as today's Hungary, concluded an alliance with Stilicho in 406 to stop the train of the Goth Radagaisus (see above). Despite the considerable size of Uldin's sphere of influence, he never ruled over all the Huns (and neither did Attila, see below). Already in the winter of 404/405 Uldin attacked eastern Roman territory, in 408 he repeated this, but was repulsed and died shortly afterwards.

Peter J. Heather assumes that the largest Hunnic association moved west again around 405 and thus triggered the Rhine crossing of 405/06; however, this is doubted by other researchers who find no evidence for this in the sources. In any case, after the Huns in some cases encountered resolute resistance from other barbaric groups, a supraregional Hunnic center of rulership in the eastern Carpathian region seems to have slowly developed, although details about it are practically unknown. Initially, this was an advantage for the Roman Empire. Because with it the Huns stabilized the Roman Danube border, since there was now hardly any uncontrolled looting. Hunnic warriors in Roman service are repeatedly mentioned in the sources. 425 attacked thousands of Huns in the civil war between Valentinian III. and the usurper Johannes. Allegedly, the Romans ceded Pannonia to the federated Huns in 427 , but this is very controversial. After barely comprehensible rulers like Charaton , the brothers Oktar and Ru (g) ​​a ruled over the Huns along the Danube around 430 . After Oktar's death in 430, Rua assumed sole rule and seems to have organized Hunnic rule much more tightly than before. In 433 the Western Roman general Flavius ​​Aëtius, who fled to the Huns, concluded an agreement with Rua and received Hunnic troops, with whose help he prevailed in a civil war against his rival Sebastianus and thus became the most important man in Western Rome . In the following years, too, Aëtius repeatedly used Hunnic auxiliary troops: With their help, in 436 he destroyed the Burgundian empire on the Middle Rhine, which is the historical core of the Nibelungenlied . The contemporary sources record that the Burgundians were in fact completely wiped out, which is probably an exaggeration, because Aëtius settled the remnants of their warrior band in the Sapaudia in 443 (the location of which is uncertain; probably today's Savoy ), much like he did parts of the resettled Alans that had remained in Gaul ( e.g. in Aremorica and in the Orléans area ). Otherwise the power-conscious Aëtius tried to secure Gaul for Westrom. He took action against the Franks who settled on the Rhine as well as against the rebellious Bagauden who operated in Gaul (under Tibatto ) and Hispania (under Basilius ).

Rua died in 434. He may have been murdered by his nephews Bleda and Attila , who now ruled a large part of the European Huns.

The rule of Attila

Although the person of Attila was and is a powerful (albeit negatively traditional) post-fame in European history, many details about him are in the dark. Little is known about Attila's early years in particular. After he and his brother Bleda came to power (434), they continued the course taken by their uncle Rua of consolidating the "Hunnic Empire". For example, they demanded the extradition of Hunnic refugees and tribute payments from the Eastern Roman emperor, on which the Huns were dependent. An understanding was reached with Constantinople in the Treaty of Margus (dating disputed, but probably still 434) (which turned out to be in favor of the Huns), but 441 and 442 military actions by both brothers were directed against the Eastern Roman Empire, among other things to take the cities Singidunum and Sirmium led by the Huns.

With the assassination of Bleda (444/45), Attila gained control over the Huns in the Danube region, although it should be emphasized that Attila was never master of all Huns either. In order to stabilize his rule over the loosely built Hun Empire and to secure urgently needed financial resources, Attila repeatedly undertook campaigns in the following years, which were mainly directed against the East. In 447, after the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II had refused the tribute , the Huns advanced deep into the Balkans and as far as Greece. The peoples who Attila had to achieve in the army included the Gepids and the Goths , who were under Hunnic rule. Soon afterwards, the Eastern Roman emperor was forced to make peace with Attila, with huge payments being made to the Huns. The Huns were urgently dependent on these Roman payments, as this was the only way to bind the top leaders of the tribes subject to the Huns. If there were no military successes and tributes, this also destabilized the power of the respective Hun ruler.

Solidus, who celebrated the wedding of Valentinian III. and Licinia Eudoxias , daughter of the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II ; on the back the three of them were shown in wedding attire

Meanwhile, the Western Roman government could be quite satisfied. The hegemony of the Huns over a large number of Germanic tribes reduced the risk of invasion, at least as long as Ravenna was on good terms with the Hun ruler. This was guaranteed by Aëtius, who had enjoyed excellent contacts with Rua and who also continued this policy towards Attila. The price for this, however, was the disempowerment of Emperor Valentinian III. , since his master and patricius had been the actual lord of the western empire since 435 at the latest and pushed Augustus to the edge.

In Constantinople, of course, they were not prepared to finance Attila in the long term. 448/9 a Byzantine embassy to Attila was sent, which is also a native of Thrace Priscus belonged. He later published his notes, only fragments of which have survived. Nevertheless, they provide unique insights into life at Attila's court, who resided in a magnificent wooden palace on the Tisza plain. Priskos also reports of a failed attempt by the Eastern Roman court to murder Attila.

However, after the new Eastern Roman emperor Markian refused to continue the payments agreed under Theodosius II (which Theodosius had already temporarily suspended) to the king of the Huns, Attila moved west. In the Western Roman Empire, meanwhile, was the sister of Emperor Valentinian III. , Justa Grata Honoria , was punished for power struggles at court and (allegedly) breaking a vow of chastity and was married against her will. Now Honoria Attila asked through an intermediary for help against the all-powerful Aëtius and, according to Jordanes , who lived a century after the events, also made him an offer of marriage. The contemporary Priskos also reports of Honorias calling for help to Attila, but not of an offer of marriage:

Somebody reported that Attila was preparing an attack on the imperial court in Rome because Honoria, Valentinian's sister, had called him to help. Because Honoria, who herself had been endowed with the badge of imperial dignity, had been caught in a secret affair with a certain Eugenius, the curator domus Augustae , who was executed for his outrage while she was losing her imperial rank and was married to Herculanus, a consular who was so mild in character that he was not trusted to strive for empire or plan an overthrow. Since she found her situation unbearable and a terrible disaster, she sent the eunuch Hyacinthus to Attila to offer him money so that he could avenge her marriage. She also sent her ring to the barbarian as a pledge. The latter made himself ready to move against the western empire and planned how he could first seize Aëtius, since he assumed that he would not be able to achieve his goal without eliminating it.

Some modern research tends to give little credence to this note. However, it is quite possible that Attila was in contact with opposition circles at the Western Roman imperial court, although the truth of the matter cannot be conclusively clarified. After all, the Huns had militarily intervened in internal Roman conflicts as early as 425 and 433. Attila, who always endeavored to communicate on an equal footing with western and eastern currents, now allegedly demanded Honoria as a woman and with her perhaps also a share in the empire, in order to demonstrate his equality of rank, perhaps even his supremacy. What is certain is that Attila's attack was directed less against the Roman Empire than against Aëtius, who then organized the resistance.

Approximate extent of the Hun Empire under Attila and dependent tribes

In the spring of 451 Attila invaded Gaul with a strong army which, in addition to the Huns, included countless warriors from peoples subject to or tributary to the Huns. However, Attila's diplomatic efforts to persuade the Vandals to enter the war were unsuccessful, but only led to the vacillating Visigoths, mortal enemies of the Vandals, joining Aëtius. The Huns moved as far as Orléans, which Attila had besieged. At the same time, Aëtius moved towards him with the remnants of the regular Western Roman army and several allied gentes , including the Visigoths, above all Franks, Sarmatians and Alans. The battle on the Catalaunian fields near Troyes in June 451, which has not been precisely localized to this day , ended in a draw, but Attila had to withdraw. During the battle, Aëtius may have even deliberately let the Visigoths, who held the right wing of the Romans and whose rex Theodoric I fell in battle, bleed in order to weaken a potential future enemy. In any case, according to Jordanes, the general is said to have feared that the Goths would remove Roman rule once the Huns were eliminated. But it is also possible that Theodoric's successor Thorismund was a personal enemy of the army master and therefore withdrew.

It is true that the important ancient historian John Bagnell Bury has already denied the battle its often ascribed world historical significance. Nevertheless: Aëtius and his allies could not defeat the Huns, but they could be forced to withdraw. However, the blood toll of the Western Roman army also seems to have been immense, and Attila was still strong enough to invade Italy the following year. There he achieved some successes, for example Aquileia was conquered, but these were not decisive either. Weakened by hunger and epidemics in the army, Attila withdrew again. In this context, the image is sometimes conveyed that Pope Leo the Great had induced the Huns to retreat through his actions. However, Eastern Roman auxiliaries and changes in the east were decisive. There, Emperor Markian had ordered attacks on Hunnic territory in return for the final recognition of his empire by Aëtius and Valentinian III. The coordinated offensive, even if it was perhaps not agreed, did not fail to have its effect and contributed significantly to the Hunnish defeat in Italy. Attila then allegedly prepared a campaign against the Eastern Empire, but he died in 453 during his marriage to the princess Ildico . According to Johannes Malalas , Aëtius had him poisoned, who was also suspected to be the mastermind behind the almost simultaneous murder of the Visigoth Thorismund.

Attila's sudden death acted like a beacon. Most of the subjugated peoples threw off the Hunnic yoke, the attempt of the sons of Attila to preserve the kingdom of their father ended with their defeat in the battle of Nedao 454, where the Ostrogoths still fought on the Hunnic side. Soon after, however, they turned against the Huns, whose empire was falling faster than it was established. The head of Attila's son Dengizich was even exhibited in Constantinople in 469. The remnants of the Huns dispersed, but some still served in the Eastern Roman military in the 6th century. Aëtius had apparently secured his position of power and now demanded the engagement of his son to an emperor's daughter, but he could only enjoy his victory over the Huns for a short time: In September 454 he was won by Valentinian III. murdered by hand. Shortly afterwards, in March 455, the emperor was also assassinated. A stabilization of the internal conditions in the Western Roman Empire should then no longer succeed.

The last years of West Rome: shadow emperors and the Ricimer regime

The death of Aëtius was fatal for Westrom. Even though he had not been able to enforce the will of Ravenna in the western empire across the board, he had at least secured Italy and large parts of Gaul for the empire and successfully waged war. The extremely ambitious Aëtius was certainly part of the problem, like many influential military men, for the imperial authority waned more and more and his position of power lacked legitimacy. But with his death and the Valentinians the sign should have come for several federates to expand their sphere of influence at the expense of Western Rome. In the last two decades of its existence, Westrom was to be ruled by "shadow emperors", some of whom had only been in office for a few months and could no longer stabilize the western empire.

In the fight against Attila most of the regular Western Roman troops apparently perished, so that the government in Ravenna became more and more dependent on foederati . To make matters worse, barbarians now not only formed the core of the Roman army, but also increasingly advanced to the top positions in the army. The latter, however, says little about their loyalty, because men of non-Roman origin were also able to render loyal service to the emperor, as numerous examples show ( e.g. Flavius ​​Victor , Bauto , Stilicho , Fravitta ), and almost all of them strove to conform to the Roman way of life. It is important to distinguish between those barbarians who put themselves in the service of Rome as soldiers and those who plundered the borders. Much more devastating was that, analogous to the decline of imperial power in the West, the power of the high military almost inevitably increased and the reputation of the empire deteriorated. In fact, both "barbarians" like Stilicho and "Romans" like Constantius, Bonifatius, Aëtius and Belisarius had private troops ( bucellarii ). Even if no Germanic army master ever reached for the imperial purple himself (this was not possible for the Germans due to their Arian creed ), they exerted an enormous influence in the West from the late 4th century onwards. In general, the strong position of power of the army masters in the western empire was problematic. In contrast, the civilian apparatus in the east succeeded in controlling the army masters much better. Emperor Leon I ended the last serious attempt by a barbarian army master, in this case Alanen Aspar , to influence imperial policy. The emperor in Constantinople benefited from the fact that during the 5th century relations with the New Persian Sassanid Empire , Rome's great rival in the east, were more peaceful than ever. Even if there was fighting in the Balkans after Attila's death, for example with the Ostrogoths who were now forming and who soon controlled parts of Pannonia, this hardly affected the stability of the Eastern Empire, whose richest provinces remained unmolested. Unlike the west of Rome, the east could therefore still afford to finance the necessary armies and even repeatedly, albeit in vain, support the emperor in Ravenna with money and troops.

Solidus of Petronius Maximus

In the meantime, however, the West could not calm down. In 455 Rome was conquered and sacked for the second time in 45 years , this time by the Vandals. Their rex Geiserich apparently looked at his 442 with Valentinian III. concluded contract with the death of the emperor as expired; the engagement of his son Hunerich, which had already been decided, to the daughter of Valentinian, Eudocia , was thus also invalid, which considerably worsened relations between Carthage and Westrom. In Rome in May 455, when the vandal fleet, which had threatened Sicily years earlier , appeared in front of the mouth of the Tiber, Petronius Maximus , who had married the widow of Valentinian, Licinia Eudoxia , against her will, ruled Rome . This is said to have called Geiserich for help. Petronius Maximus had little real power and was killed on May 31 either by Burgundian soldiers or by the angry people. Three days later the vandals invaded the city and systematically plundered it, but hardly in a wild destructive rage, as the term vandalism suggests today, even if the conquest of 455 did not fail to have an impact on contemporaries. The Vandals not only departed with rich booty, but also transferred Valentinian's widow, two of his daughters and numerous high-ranking personalities to Carthage. Geiseric also stole the insignia of the empire, the ornamenta palatii . Soon afterwards he claimed Sicily for himself, after all, a daughter of Valentinian, Eudocia, was now married to Geiserich's son Hunerich, and also demanded that Eudocia's brother-in-law, Olybrius , should become the new Western Emperor.

Emperor Avitus on a tremissis

Now the time of the rapid change of emperors began, in which either Germanic warlords or army masters were involved several times . It all started with the army master Eparchius Avitus , who came from a distinguished Gallic family and was a follower of Petronius Maximus, who was now promoted to emperor with Visigoth support. The Visigoths took effective action against the Suebi, who speculated on the expansion of their empire in Hispania. General Flavius ​​Ricimer , son of a Suebian prince and a Gothic princess, asserted himself against the Vandals in Sicily and Corsica in 456 . Ricimer was raised to the rank of master by Avitus. However, when the mood in Italy shifted to the disadvantage of Avitus and the emperor in Constantinople refused to recognize him, Ricimer turned against his patron and defeated him in October 456 at Placentia. Avitus stepped back and died shortly afterwards under unclear circumstances.

Ricimer, now appointed Patricius by the Eastern Roman emperor , had the comes domesticorum Majorian proclaimed emperor. This was also recognized by the East and took active action against the Goths in Gaul, who seized the opportunity and wanted to profit from the turmoil in the western empire. The army master Aegidius appointed by Majorian also operated very successfully against the Franks on the Rhine and recaptured Lyon , which was occupied by the Burgundians . Arles , the seat of the civil administration of Gaul and Hispania, could be held against the Visigoths, who saw themselves hardly bound by their federation agreement and also expanded into Hispania. But Majorian finally managed to come to an understanding with the Burgundians and Visigoths. In 460 the emperor personally went to Hispania with an army; it was the last time an emperor set foot on the Iberian Peninsula. Majorian appears in the sources, for example in Sidonius Apollinaris , as an energetic and purposeful emperor who, as the last Western Roman emperor (with the exception of Anthemius ), really wanted to regain the initiative. For example, he planned an invasion of Africa in 461, as the vandals continued to block grain deliveries to Italy. However, when 460 vandal ships in Hispania destroyed the Roman invasion fleet ( Battle of Cartagena ), the emperor had to abandon the plan. Shortly thereafter, Majorian was arrested and murdered on Ricimer's orders, perhaps not primarily because of the unsuccessful operation, which was probably only a pretext for the coup , but possibly also because of the emperor's independent actions. Ricimer acted again as emperor-maker and raised the Senator Libius Severus to the new Augustus .

However, Majorian's assassination resulted in Aegidius, the Gallic army master and friend of the murdered man, refusing to recognize the new emperor. When Ricimer wanted to depose him, Aegidius rebelled, but was forced by an offensive by the Visigoths to evade to northern Gaul, where he was able to hold onto parts of the field army and Frankish allies and establish his own sphere of power in the Soissons area . The small Gallo-Roman enclave even held out beyond the end of the western empire: After the death of Aegidius (464 or 465), an unknown officer named Paulus took over command (who may also operate on his own account), then the Son of Aegidius, Syagrius . 486/87, the enclave of Frankish expansion fell under Clovis victim. In Trier, on the other hand, comes Arbogast the Younger , evidently a Romanized Franconian, was able to assert himself against the Franks until after 475; the city probably fell to the Rhenish Franks in the 480s.

Tremissis of Anthemius

Libius Severus did not stay on the throne for long either: he was murdered in 465. During the following year and a half Ricimer no longer bothered to appoint an emperor, but negotiated with the East. The general and aristocrat Anthemius then arrived from Constantinople in 467 and took over the imperial office. Anthemius had been provided with troops and a great deal of money by the Eastern Emperor; he allied himself with Ricimer and appointed Marcellinus, a second army master. The goal was to finally get rid of Geiseric, whose position in Carthage made stabilization of West Rome impossible. While the Roman defense against the Teutons in Gaul and Noricum crumbled more and more and finally actually collapsed, Anthemius turned to the Vandals and in 468 planned a large-scale invasion of Africa in cooperation with Ostrom to regain this important province. But this plan failed, the great Roman fleet was set on fire by the Vandals off Carthage.

What ensured the survival of the Vandal Empire shook the power base of the Western Roman emperor in a lasting and decisive manner. In Gaul, the Visigoths, Burgundies and Franks spread at the expense of West Rome, only the Auvergne and Provence could be held. Above all, the Visigoth Eurich (II.) Now broke the contract ( foedus ) with Westrom and advanced to southern Gaul and Hispania. An otherwise unknown Breton (or British?) Leader named Riothamus is said to have supported the Romans in their defensive struggle, but was defeated by the Visigoths. When Anthemius fell out with Ricimer, the end was in sight; civil war broke out: Ricimer besieged the emperor in Rome, in July 472 Anthemius was murdered by a nephew of Ricimer, the Burgundy Gundobad . He was succeeded by Olybrius , Geiserich's candidate. Apparently Ricimer was now betting on an alliance with the vandals, but soon afterwards he too died. It is traditionally rated very negatively in research and far less differentiated than, for example, Stilicho and Aëtius. Certainly he had his own interests in mind, but at the same time he tried to pool the few remaining resources of West Rome and use them to defend Italy. In the end, however, this was not enough, only four years later the last emperor in Italy was deposed.

The "Fall of West Rome"

Olybrius, the candidate promoted by Geiserich and the last emperor by Ricimer's grace, died in early November 472, only a few months after the death of the army master and patricius . The army master's office did not remain vacant for long. Ricimer succeeded his above-mentioned nephew Gundobad as patricius et magister militum , who had the official Glycerius elevated to emperor in March 473 . However, the Eastern Roman Emperor Leon I refused him recognition and instead favored the army master of Dalmatia, Julius Nepos . He was a nephew of Marcellinus, the general Majorian had once used as a counterweight to Ricimer. Nepos landed in Portus in June 474 and entered Rome shortly afterwards. Glycerius, who had previously been able to repel a Visigoth attack on Italy, saw the hopelessness of the situation and resigned to end his life as Bishop of Salona. Gundobad went to Gaul and ascended the Burgundian royal throne.

Tremissis of Julius Nepos

In 474, the new Eastern Roman rulers, Leon II and Zenon, formed a foedus with Geiseric, with which the vandal attacks on Italy stopped for the time being and his position was also recognized by Eastern Europe; however, some of the treaty is dated to 476. Meanwhile, Julius Nepos was faced with a difficult situation. The Empire had now completely lost Hispania to the Suebi and Visigoths. In Gaul, the latter had besieged Clermont-Ferrand , where the aforementioned Sidonius Apollinaris helped organize the defense, and in 471 destroyed the last major western Roman army division under the leadership of Anthemiolus . In 473 Arles and Marseilles fell , but the Goths encountered bitter resistance in both Auvergne and the Spanish Ebro Valley. Already de facto loss of Auvergne recognized the Emperor 475 in a contract with the Visigoth king Euric also de jure and pulled the Heermeister Ecdicius off from Gaul. The assignment, however, destroyed the trust that was just emerging between the emperor and the Gallo-Roman aristocracy. Shortly thereafter, the army master Flavius ​​Orestes , a former court official of Attila, rose against Nepos, chased him out of Ravenna and put his own little son Romulus on the western Roman throne. The Romans gave the little emperor the nickname "Augustulus" (little Augustus). It became more and more obvious that the western empire represented only a shadow of earlier power and that the government in Ravenna had at best Italy itself under control.

In 476 the Italian army, which was now almost completely barbarized and claimed settlement land in Italy , rose against Orestes under the leadership of Odoacer , son of the Skiren prince Edekon . He was beaten and killed in August 476; At the beginning of September, Odoacer took Ravenna. The victor, however, was generous towards Romulus: on September 4, 476, he allowed him to abdicate and granted him a cash payment; possibly this Romulus is identical with a person of the same name who still lived under the rule of the Goths. Odoacer, who also assumed the title of king, no longer bothered to raise a new western emperor, but sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople, which abolished the western empire. The Western Roman court and the Senate, however, remained. Odoaker asked (unsuccessfully) about the local Augustus to patricius to be raised and ruled in the tradition of men like Ricimer. He further dated according to consular years and minted up to 480 coins with the portrait of Julius Nepos, then with the Zenon. Nevertheless, he never achieved the permanent recognition of the Eastern Roman emperor. Rather, he mobilized the Rugians (who had already founded their own empire north of the Danube under their King Flaccitheus around 470) against the usurper, but Odoacer destroyed their empire in 487/88. He also did not neglect the security of Italy, his general Pierius took care of the relocation of the Roman population of the threatened Noricum to Italy.

The year 476 is often seen in cultural memory as the "end of Rome". However, this view can only claim very limited validity. On the one hand, the last recognized Western Roman emperor, Julius Nepos, ruled in exile in Dalmatia until 480. On the other hand, it is questionable whether the contemporaries were really aware of the importance of this "epoch date". Because the idea of ​​the entire empire continued to exist, only the emperor in Constantinople was now the only legitimate emperor. In the following two centuries there was also no lack of attempts to renew the Western Roman Empire, and moreover the Western court with its offices as well as the Western Roman government of Italy remained, now without an Augustus of his own . The ideal primacy of the Eastern Roman emperor continued to be recognized and respected by the Germanic rulers for decades.

Only Marcellinus Comes , an east Roman chronicler, presented to 520 the year 476 as the end date of the Western Roman Empire. This idea perhaps he took over from another source, but it reflects mainly the eastern standpoint resist at this time, but hardly the western senatorial aristocracy which also survived the end of the western empire: at least in Italy and southern Gaul, the old elites, according to sources around 500, were of the opinion that they still lived in a Roman Empire. Apparently the eastern emperors only propagated the idea of ​​the fall of the western empire around 520 and emphasized above all the lack of a western emperor in order to be able to justify their own claims to these areas. This topic is still controversial in research. The traditional and still popular idea that the Teutons who invaded the empire were responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire is in any case extremely simplistic and is rejected by the majority of experts today. Rather, several problem complexes played a role. Conversely, the fact that Eastern Rome survived the 5th century speaks against the assumption that the late Roman system failed because of fundamental structural problems; rather, the causes must be specifically sought in Western Rome. The thesis, which is often found in older research, that the end of antiquity with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus is no longer tenable.

What is certain is that the process of disintegration of the western empire, which began with the end of the Theodosian dynasty in 455 at the latest, has rapidly accelerated since the failure of the major offensive against Geiseric in 468. The underfunded Western Roman army, which had been weakened by the civil wars that had already started in the 4th century, was no longer in a position to effectively guarantee the defense of the borders in the 5th century (although the problem was less a lack of loyalty among the troops than an empty one There were cash registers and therefore missing pay payments). The Gallic army, for example, effectively dissolved with the rebellion of Aegidius. For decades it was not possible to get the escalating power struggles and civil wars under control in the western empire, as a result of which the defense of the borders was neglected, while the leeway for the foederati in the empire increased.

The loss of the rich provinces of Africa and Gaul resulted in enormous tax losses for the central Western Roman government. Above all, the loss of the provinces in North Africa, vital for supplying Rome, could no longer be compensated for; Ravenna therefore ran out of money to maintain the troops, which resulted in further territorial losses. The sphere of influence of the western Roman government melted away more and more until only the heartland Italy (along with the Alpine region) remained. With the decline of imperial power, the influence of the Western Roman army masters increased; However, these lacked legitimacy and the power to integrate, so that the chain of civil wars did not break off. In the end, the resources of West Rome were exhausted, and the empire itself had become a plaything for ambitious generals who could rely on their own retinue. After the army masters had initially ruled through shadow emperors, Odoacer drew the only logical conclusion to rule without an emperor of his own, as the western empire now had a rather destabilizing effect. When the Eastern Roman Augustus Zenon finally sent the Eastern Gothic foederati under the Amal Theodoric to Italy in 488 in order to overthrow Odoacer, the Goth Theodoric relied on his own warriors and drew his authority equally from his office as Eastern Roman patricius and magister militum as from his own Position as a gothic rex .

From Empire to Regna : The Germanic Empire Formations in the West

The Ostrogoths in Pannonia and Italy

As already mentioned, the Greutungian Goths ("Ostrogoths") were hit hardest by the Huns around 375. Even if some groups were able to evade the Hunnic grip, the majority of Greutungen came under Hunnic rule. Gothic even seems to have been one of the lingua franca in Attila's Huns and several Gothic names (though probably not originally used) are attested for the Huns. At the end of Attila's reign, three brothers appear as leaders of the Greutungian warriors living under Hunnic rule: Valamir , Thiudimir and Vidimir from the Amal family .

Had the Ostrogoths now forming - the name goes back to Jordanes or Cassiodorus , whereby the name Ostrogothae , which appears in the sources, was later reinterpreted as a geographical name, similar to the case of the Terwingen ( Vesegothae = Visigoths) - initially in the battle of Nedao In 454 they still fought on the side of the sons of Attila, they soon turned against their old masters and finally established their own domain in Pannonia. There were battles with both Eastern Roman troops and other barbarian tribes. The preliminary climax was reached with the victory of the Ostrogoths in the Battle of the Bolia 469, in which a coalition of Suebi, Gepids , Skiren and probably Rugians was defeated. Thiudimir's son, Theodoric (who was later called "the Great" and became a legendary figure as Dietrich von Bern ) had spent some time as a hostage in Constantinople. When he returned to Pannonia, his father installed him as a ruler. Attempts to achieve a high position in the Eastern Empire failed, not least because another Ostrogoth, Theoderich Strabo , the leader of the Gothic federates in Thrace, had been appointed army master by Emperor Leon.

Although Leon's successor Zenon wanted to build the Amaler Theodoric as a counterweight, Theoderich Strabo was able to assert himself. The historian Malchus of Philadelphia describes the events in great detail in his (only fragmentary) historical work. However, Theoderich Strabo was killed in a riding accident in 481. Only now was the way free for Amal Theodoric, who was able to considerably strengthen his following by accepting warriors from the ranks of the deceased. He was not only made army master, but was even allowed to hold the prestigious consulate in 484 . In 487, however, a confrontation arose, which Zeno cleverly resolved: he instructed the Amal to end Odoacer's rule in Italy; Theodoric was appointed patricius by him and should therefore replace Odoacer as the de facto head of government in Ravenna. Theodoric's Ostrogoths set out in the autumn of 488, but parts of them stayed behind and Rugier and others also joined the trek. The break-in in Italy occurred in the late summer of 489. Odoacer was defeated several times, but withdrew to the heavily fortified Ravenna. In 493 Odoacer surrendered after a compromise was negotiated, according to which he should participate in the Gothic rule. Shortly afterwards, Theodoric broke his promise and killed him on a flimsy pretext. Theodoric carried out a brief but bloody purge that was supposed to secure the Gothic rule over Italy for the time being.

Maximum expansion of the Ostrogoth Empire in Italy and the Balkans

Theodoric's legal status - did he formally rule as patricius et magister militum in the tradition of a Ricimer , or should he be regarded as a king in his own right? - has long been controversial in research. At any rate, in Italy he pursued a very clever policy of equalization between Gothic foederati and Italians. He used the highly efficient late Roman administrative apparatus and left it to the distinguished Roman Liberius to settle the Goths in Italy. Liberius performed this difficult task with great sensitivity, without putting too much strain on the existing ownership structure. In general, Theodoric brought in numerous members of the old senatorial leadership, such as the aforementioned Cassiodorus, not least in order to win them over. On the other hand, Theodoric paid attention to a separation between Goths and Romans in order to preserve as much as possible the identity of the exercitus Gothorum (the Gothic army association, which itself was admittedly not homogeneous). The relationship was strained by the fact that the Goths were Arian, but the population of Italy were Catholic Christians. Theodoric promoted the late antique culture in the Ostrogoth Empire, although the philosopher Boethius was also executed during his reign . Given the continued existence of most of the Roman court and administrative offices and the Senate, some researchers argue that Theodoric and his successors ruled less over their own Ostrogothic empire than over the rump of the Western Roman Empire.

In 497/98 Theodoric of Constantinople was (again) officially recognized as the emperor's “governor”, ​​but relations later deteriorated again. Theodoric pursued a broad alliance policy, in which the neighboring regna should also be involved. Ultimately, however, this strategy did not have much success, because the Franks were to beat the Visigoths hard in 507 and gain control of most of Visigoth Gaul, especially in the north. Ostrogoth troops then occupied parts of southern Gaul, and in 511 Theodoric was even recognized as king of the Visigoths, although this connection was extinguished with his death.

After Theodoric's death in 526, a period of battles for the throne began. The reigning regent Amalasuntha tried to relax the strained relationship with Constantinople. However, the opposition to her cousin and co-regent Theodahad had her murdered in 535. This provided the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian with a welcome pretext to attack the Ostrogoth Empire. His general Belisarius , who had already smashed the Vandal Empire in North Africa in 533/34 (see below), conquered Sicily and southern Italy. The Gothic War , which dragged on for years , for which Prokopios of Caesarea is the most important source, led to the devastation of large areas of Italy and resulted in the economic decline of the previously prosperous country. Even the Franks interfered and invaded northern Italy, where they raged terribly. Another center of the fighting was the city of Rome, which changed hands several times. The stubborn resistance of the Goths, who reassembled several times (see e.g. Totila ), was not broken until 552, although individual Gothic nests of resistance persisted for some time. But even after that the country did not come to rest, because the Lombards invaded as early as 568 (see below).

The Visigoth Empire

The Tolosan Empire of the Visigoths around the year 500

The foundation for the Visigothic empire with the capital Tolosa ( Toulouse ), after which the first phase of this empire (418-507) is also called the Tolosan Empire , consisted of the federated land granted to the Visigoths in Aquitaine in 418 by the western Roman state (see above ). In the period that followed, the Visigoths tried again and again to expand their sphere of influence; but they followed Aetius' call to fight the Huns. A turning point was the reign of Eurich , who ascended the throne in 466 through fratricide. He broke the foedus with Westrom and pursued a far more expansive policy: In the north the Visigoths advanced as far as the Loire, in the south they soon subjugated most of Hispania (except for the kingdom of the Suebi in the north-west, which lasted into the 6th century could), in the east they won the Auvergne with the Treaty of 475 after they had already taken the important cities of Arles and Marseilles and in 471 the last intact Roman army in Gaul had been crushed.

It is remarkable how the Romansh population behaved. In the sources it is mentioned that in the Gallic cities many men let their hair grow long and wore trousers, thus adopting the barbarian markings, which the Western Roman emperors even forbade slaves in times of crisis. Some Romans entered the service of the Visigoths and in some cases even commanded Visigoth military units. Since the number of Visigoths (as in the other realms of Germanic gentes ) was negligibly small in relation to the Romansh population, this policy of cooperation is not surprising. The Arian Eurich hardly intervened in the existing property relations and did not carry out any religious persecution. The Catholics of southern Gaul were only forbidden from appointing new bishops, probably in order to support the anti-Gothic resistance.

Euric died in 484, his son Alaric II fell under Clovis in 507 in the fight against the expanding Franks (see below). As a result of this defeat almost all of Gothic Gaul was lost, only the region around Narbonne ( Septimania ) could be held, also through the intervention of the Ostrogoths under Theodoric the Great (see above). This resulted in a complete reorientation of the Visigoths to Hispania, where they made Toledo their new capital in the 6th century (hence the Toledan Empire ). As part of the restoration policy of Emperor Justinian, the eastern Romans also occupied areas in the south of the Iberian Peninsula ( Spania ) around 550 , where they were able to hold out until the early 7th century. The internal relations of the Visigoth Empire were determined by frequent conflicts between various noble families fighting for kingship, while the denominational problem persisted.

King Rekkeswinth's votive crown from the
Guarrazar treasure

King Leovigild , an important ruler, promoted the codification of the law and subjugated the Suebi. He tried in vain to overcome the religious antagonism between Arians and Catholics. The royal family stuck to Arianism, although the greater part of the imperial population was Catholic. The heir to the throne, Hermenegild , converted to Catholicism and rebelled in vain against his father (though possibly not primarily for religious reasons). Only Leovigild's younger son and successor Rekkared I solved the conflict. He converted to the Catholic faith in 587 and achieved the conversion of the Visigoths in 589 at the 3rd Council of Toledo . The rule of Leovigilds and Rekkareds was of decisive importance for the Visigoth Empire. Although rebellions and power struggles between rival noble families continued after Rekkared's death in 601, the Visigothic empire had consolidated during the reign of these two rulers. Culturally, the empire experienced a heyday from the late 6th century, the most notable representative of which was Isidore of Seville . Much more of ancient knowledge was preserved in the monastery schools than, for example, with the Franks, which gave the Visigothic empire considerable cultural radiance.

The end for the Visigoths came as a surprise: The Muslim Arabs and Berbers advancing west on the coast of North Africa at the beginning of the 8th century (see Islamic Expansion ) crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and destroyed King Roderich's army of Goths in the battle of the Río Guadalete in July 711 ; the king himself fell in battle. This sealed the downfall of the Visigoth Empire. In the north-east of the peninsula the Goths offered resistance until around 719, while the part of the empire north of the Pyrenees was conquered by the Muslims in 719–725. The conquered Visigoths came to terms with the new masters and partially converted to Islam. Only later did Visigoth nobles rebel in Asturias, from where the Reconquista was initiated. The kings of the new Christian kingdom of Asturias saw themselves as the successors of the Visigoth kings and thus laid claim to their former dominion.

The Vandal Empire in North Africa

The Vandal Empire in the Roman province of Africa (largely congruent with today's Tunisia and parts of Algeria and Libya; the Balearic Islands, Corsica and Sardinia also belonged to their area of ​​rule) represents an exception in the Germanic empires founded in the west. On the one hand, the Vandals after the conquest of Carthage 439 over a considerable fleet, by means of which they controlled the western Mediterranean largely and even were advancing to Greece, on the other hand, it concluded in its territory partially persecution of the Catholic majority population, although this is usually referred to the bishop posts. The Vandal kings stuck to their Arian Christianity and were always anxious to promote and spread it (this differentiated them from the Arian Ostrogoths). When Geiseric's successor, Hunerich , approved the occupation of the bishopric of Carthage after 20 years of vacancy, he made sure in return in Constantinople that Arian services could be held there. But there were also deportations of Catholic clergy, about which we are informed primarily through the work of Victor von Vita , who of course has perhaps exaggerated some of the measures. The vandal kings apparently did not give up hope of reaching an understanding with the Catholics in their empire, because in February 484 religious talks took place, but they were fruitless. King Thrasamund , who was highly educated and promoted Roman culture in the empire, shifted his efforts to the argumentative level without making a breakthrough (see also Fulgentius von Ruspe ). The tensions persisted, but the Eastern Romans did not succeed in their conquest to make substantial capital out of it.

In terms of foreign policy, the vandal empire was consolidated after the successful defense against the Roman operation as a whole (see above), and there was no immediate danger of invasion, especially after recognition by the East. From then on, the vandals had to primarily take care of the defense against the "Moors", i.e. the indigenous Berber tribes , some of which had formed their own smaller kingdoms on the soil of the Roman provinces in North Africa (including the Empire of Masties and Masuna around Altava ), and by no means always in contrast to the Romanized population. On the other hand, the Vandal kings, who bore the title rex Vandalorum et Alanorum ("King of the Vandals and Alans") and therefore, remarkably, did not also see themselves as rulers of the North African Romans, also drew Moorish auxiliary troops, while the ship's crews were mainly recruited from provincial Romans. Economically and culturally, the Vandals, who had expropriated many of the Roman Catholic landowners (although by no means nationwide), enjoyed the amenities of rich Roman North Africa, which by no means fell into disrepair under the rule of the Vandals, but continued to flourish. Trade flourished, and education in late antiquity was continued among the elites. The Vandals apparently enjoyed the high Roman standard of living and used, for example, the theaters and the Roman circus. The accusation, partly raised by the sources and often adopted by older research, that the vandals were thereby softened, is, however, in the opinion of most historians today, completely unfounded.

The end of the Vandal Empire began with the usurpation of Gelimer , who overthrew King Hilderic , who sympathized with Ostrom, in 530. The Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I took the opportunity to intervene rather hesitantly in 533. From Prokopios' report we know that in Constantinople, for example, the praefectus praetorio John the Cappadocian did not agree with the emperor's decision because he felt the action was too great a risk. In the end, however, a relatively small invasion contingent was put on the march under the magister militum Belisarius, which was initially only intended to achieve the reinstatement of Hilderich. Gelimer had this killed. Belisarius landed with almost 15,000 men and surprisingly won in the battles of Ad Decimum and Tricamarum (late 533) the victory over Gelimer, who had previously set up a contingent of 5,000 elite soldiers to suppress a revolt in Sardinia. Gelimer fled, but was soon captured and taken to Constantinople, where he had to take part in the triumphal procession, but was otherwise allowed to lead a comfortable life on an estate. Vandalized troops were enlisted in the imperial army and served in Justinian's battles against the Persians (see Roman-Persian Wars ). The Vandal Empire became Roman again and remained so until it was conquered by the Arabs in the second half of the 7th century.

The Franconian Empire

Many Franks , an amalgamation of various Germanic tribes, were settled in Toxandria in 358 , which is in what is now Flanders. The Roman-Franconian relationship was heavily influenced by military confrontations, although Franconian groups also acted partly as Roman allies or foederati . In 388 Franks devastated the region around Cologne , but were repulsed by Roman troops (see Gennobaudes , Marcomer , Sunno ). Even Stilicho took action against Frankish warriors, their Föderatenvertrag counter stood then 407 according to the invading Vandals, Alans and Suevi, but were defeated. In the next few years, Franconian groups took advantage of the confused situation in Gaul and expanded, albeit not under unified leadership, in the Moselle and Lower Rhine area; they were only stopped by the army master Aëtius, who concluded a new foedera with several Franconian reges . In the alliance with Aëtius, the beginning of the formation of the Merovingian empire in northeast Gaul took place. After the death of Aëtius, Franks crossed the Rhine in large numbers, taking advantage of internal Roman conflicts. Mainz was among other things sacked; Cologne and (probably not until the 480s) Trier followed later. The north of Gaul split up into a number of smaller Frankish domains, while the south was controlled by Visigoths, Burgundy and finally Ostrogoths (in Provence).

Signet ring with the portrait of Childerich I and the inscription CHILDIRICI REGIS

The Sal-Franconian minor king or warlord Childerich I residing in Tournai , whose magnificently decorated grave was discovered in 1653, probably helped the Roman general Aegidius , who had risen against the army master Ricimer and his puppet emperor Libius Severus, to ward off the Visigoths. However, research also suggests that both rivals were in Gaul (the exercitus Gallicanus ) for control of the remnants of the last western Roman army .

Childerich fought, perhaps with the Roman commander Paulus , against Saxon looters who had invaded Gaul and were led by a certain Adovacrius . However, the details are unclear; A fundamental rivalry between Franks and Gallo-Romans is also quite possible. Aegidius established his own domain in the Soissons area; after his death, his son Syagrius soon followed him (see above). With Childerich, the Franconian family of the Merovingians also becomes historically tangible, and in the following years they drove the Franconian expansion very successfully. Childerich's son Clovis destroyed the Frankish petty empires of Ragnachars and Chararichs and was able to unite most of the Frankish warriors under his rule. 486/87 Clovis conquered the kingdom of Syagrius, whereupon the remaining Roman soldiers in northern Gaul seem to have joined him. In 507 he defeated the Visigoths at the Battle of Vouillé and drove them almost entirely from Gaul; only the Mediterranean coast remained Gothic for the time being. Clovis also took action against Alemannic groups who, after the collapse of Roman rule in Gaul, pushed across the Rhine and advanced further east as far as Noricum (perhaps in two Alemannic Wars). He entered into an alliance with the Burgundians and married a Burgundian princess. Clovis was probably originally a pagan (a minority of researchers assume, however, with Ian Wood that he was an Arian), but converted to Christianity at an unspecified point in time (but probably towards the end of his rule). It was crucial that he opted for the Catholic creed and thus avoided problems that sometimes arose in the other regna between the non-Roman warriors and the Roman civilian population. Clovis's skilful, but also unscrupulous approach secured the Franks a dominant position in Gaul and laid the foundation for the most successful Germanic-Romance empire for which Clovis is still often (and completely anachronistically) celebrated as the founder of France.

Merovingian fibula

After Clovis's death in 511, rule in the empire was divided among his sons according to the Roman model, but this had no effect on the idea of ​​unity. The Franks continued their aggressive expansion policy in the period that followed: in 531 they destroyed the Thuringian Empire , in 534 the Burgundian Empire was conquered and integrated into the Franconian Empire ; the Ostrogoths were forced to hand over the Gaulish Mediterranean coast a little later when they were attacked by the east. Theudebert I. even intervened in northern Italy and is said to have even thought of marching against Constantinople. Apparently he was aiming for an emperor-like position and documented his self-image, among other things, by minting gold coins with his name, otherwise a privilege of the Roman emperor. Around 560 the empire was once again united under a single rex , after which it was not for many decades. In the interior, the Franks used the Gallo-Roman upper class and bishops for administrative tasks and also used the system of Roman civitates, which were particularly (not only) widespread in southern Gaul . The Frankish rule was not felt to be oppressive by many Gallo-Romans. Gregory of Tours , who came from an old family of senators and whose history is an important source for this period, even tried to bring Franconian history into harmony with Roman history, and saw himself as subject to both the Merovingians and the Eastern Roman emperors. There is much to suggest that Clovis is not a Germanic conqueror, but a defender of Roman or Romanesque Gallia , who filled the power vacuum after the collapse of the Western Roman government. Because of the diverse continuities, some historians advocate counting the entire Merovingian period as late antiquity.

From the middle of the 7th century, the Merovingians were only supposed to rule formally, after the reges had been disempowered in a similar way to the former Western Roman emperors. The real power was now evidently mostly with the house warriors , which finally led to the replacement of the Merovingians by the Carolingians in 751 .

The Burgundy Empire

The Burgundy Empire

After the empire of the Burgundians on the Middle Rhine had been smashed by the Western Roman army master Aëtius in 436 and their remains had been settled in the Sapaudia in 443 , they established a new empire as Roman federates in the region on Lake Geneva . The relationship between the Burgundians and the Western Roman government was ambivalent, even though the Burgundian kings were always concerned about their legitimation. Unlike many other Germanic federations, however, the Burgundians adhered to their contractual obligations in principle and opposed invaders on several occasions. Burgundian troops fought against the Huns under Aëtius and took part, for example, in the offensive against the Suebi in Hispania in the 50s of the 5th century. In 457 the Burgundians, taking advantage of the confused conditions in Gaul after the death of Aëtius, took Lyons and the surrounding region. In the following year they vacated the city, which only finally passed into their possession in 469 and from then on served as the main residence of the Burgundian kings. In the Auvergne they fought against the Visigoths, again on behalf of the Romans. In the 70s and 80s they waged war against the Alemanni. Under King Gundobad , who was a Western Roman army master in the time before his accession to the throne and entered into an alliance with the Franks, the Burgundian Empire reached almost as far as the Mediterranean in the south, and probably into the Lake Constance region in the northeast.

With the establishment of the federal empire in Sapaudia, the Romanization process of the Burgundians increased, the Burgundy kings even allowed the conubium , i.e. the marriage between Burgundians and provincial Romans. The surprisingly great adaptability of the Burgundians is probably one reason why almost no Burgundian self-testimonies have survived and the assimilation of the already very small Burgundian population was very rapid. The Gallo-Roman ruling class, which came to terms with the Burgundians (see Avitus von Vienne , for example , when the Gallo-Roman Sidonius Apollinaris also made disdainful comments on the "stinking barbarians"), apparently saw them as a guarantor of the existing order, although the Burgundian conquest of the land was rather insidious passed. Only after the deposition of the western Roman child emperor Romulus Augustulus in 476 did the Burgundian king take over all rights of rule in this area. Probably in order to be able to legitimize himself vis-à-vis his Roman subjects, however, he had the Eastern Roman emperor confirm his rank as magister militum . A distinctive feature of the Burgundian royal rule was, in the case of inheritance, the furnishing of other family members with their own rule rooms without the rule being divided; in addition to Lyon, Geneva and Vienne functioned as residences. The Lex Gundobada serves as an important source, providing important insights into the internal structure of the empire.

In terms of religious politics, there were no discernible disputes between Arians and Catholics in the Burgundian Empire, although the Burgundians had adopted Christianity in the Arian denomination. The royal family seems to have tended to Catholicism very soon. In any case, it is not known for all Burgundian kings that they were Arians, although they claimed ecclesiastical sovereignty over the Arian church in their empire.

In the 20s of the 6th century, the Merovingian Franks began to conquer Burgundy, which then rose in 534 in the Franconian regnum . The name " Burgundy ", on the other hand, has had an astonishing history of influence over the centuries.

The Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain

Reconstruction of an ornate helmet (7th century) found in the tomb of Sutton Hoo

With the withdrawal of the last units of the field army at the beginning of the 5th century, the Roman province of Britain was exposed to the attacks of the Picts and Scots almost without protection (see above). The field army had the island under Constantine III. probably completely cleared, but it is difficult to imagine that at least a minimum of garrison troops were not left behind, since the island as a whole was not given up in 407/8. The few associations are likely to have only disbanded in the course of time, when the island was effectively left to its own devices, which is why there was an uprising in Britain in 409. The Roman administrative order gradually collapsed, and regional authorities took over defense tasks in their place. The administrative tasks were then taken over by the few civitates (Britain was much less urbanized than other provinces). The pagan historian Zosimos , who wrote a New History around 500 and followed a template by Olympiodorus of Thebes , even reports that Emperor Honorius told the civitates of Britain that they should defend themselves in the future. In any case, the western Roman government in Ravenna did not appoint any new magistrates for the island, but Bishop Germanus of Auxerre visited Britain in 429 and 444. A last call for help from the British Romans around the year 446 to the army master Aëtius is in the work of Gildas about the “ decline of Britain "Handed down:

“The barbarians drive us into the sea, the sea drives us back to the barbarians; so we drown or are massacred. "

- Gildas, De excidio Britanniae 20. Translation after Postel (2004), p. 97.

Due to the extremely poor sources, the following events in Britain are only known in general terms: In order to be able to counter the danger posed by barbarian tribes, the Romans in Britain called for help at some point between 410 and 440 Saxon federations (some researchers, such as Guy Halsall, assume, however, that this was done earlier). The Saxons had already caused difficulties for the Romans as pirates in the 3rd century, now they have been accepted as allies. However, they soon rose up against the Romans (for reasons not precisely known) - Gallic chronicles suggest this happened around 440. Also Jutes and fishing were now on the island and established themselves there (see Anglo-Saxons ). However, archaeological research has been able to show that Germanic tribes from what is now northern Germany and southern Denmark infiltrated into Roman Britain in small numbers at the end of the 4th century and that the conquest of the land proceeded rather insidiously, especially since the Germanic tribes hardly translated into Britain in large numbers . Recent research suggests that many Romanized Celts sided with the victorious Germanic newcomers and adopted their language and way of life.

Britain around 600

According to the 6th-century chronicler Gildas, a "haughty tyrant" ( superbus tyrannus ) was responsible for the Roman cities of Britain calling the Saxons into the country. According to the church historian Beda Venerabilis , who wrote in the 8th century , the Saxons had been hired as mercenaries by the Romano-British ruler Vortigern and landed on the coast of Britain in three ships under the brothers Hengest and Horsa . This type of legend of origin (see Origo gentis ) is also widespread among the Goths and Lombards, but there are hardly any historical reports about Britain from this period. Yet the few sources show that there was by no means a complete collapse of the civil order. Rather, before and after the Saxon invasion, small Roman-British kingdoms emerged, research speaks of Sub-Roman Britain , which resisted the Anglo-Saxons. The Germanic military leaders were initially opposed to Romano-Celtic ones. The battle of Mons Badonicus , which probably took place around 500 and in which a coalition of the Roman British under a historically inconceivable Ambrosius Aurelianus (see Arthurian legend ), is to be classified in this context . The victory probably resulted in a temporary Anglo-Saxon "settlement freeze". Nevertheless, the British were eventually pushed to the outskirts of the island, for example to the north, as well as Wales and south-west England; Parts of the population fled to the mainland to Aremorica, in what is now Brittany . The Anglo-Saxons themselves operated under no uniform leadership and also waged war among themselves. It was not until the 7th century that they formed larger kingdoms (see heptarchy ), which lasted until the Viking invasion in the 9th century.

Britain, which due to its geographical location has a special role in the context of the migration of peoples, experienced a certain "barbarization", the Latin language was less and less cultivated. The last Latin inscriptions were placed in Wales in the 6th century. Archaeologist Bryan Ward-Perkins even believes that the island's standard of living has fallen back to prehistoric levels. Christianity on the island also experienced a setback, although many details are controversial due to the inadequate sources: On the one hand, Ireland's mission seems to have originated in Britain in the 5th century, and on the other, Pope Gregory the Great had around 600 Christian missionaries to what is now England (Canterbury) dispatch. Since then, important religious and cultural impulses have primarily come from Ireland . The Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons by the Irish-Scottish missionaries did not achieve a breakthrough until the 7th century.

The Longobards in Italy and the end of the Great Migration

The myth of origin of the Longobards ( Origo gentis ) is handed down in the so-called Origo Gentis Langobardorum . According to this, the god Wodan once helped the Lombards to victory over the Vandals, while they themselves supposedly came from Scandinavia. As is so often the case with such sources, historical references can hardly be reconstructed. In the 1st and 2nd centuries, however, the Lombards are attested by Roman sources on the lower Elbe, otherwise they are little mentioned, and even archaeological research does not allow their hiking trails to be reconstructed. Longobard groups probably moved along the middle Elbe to Bohemia by the 5th century . Around 500 they came into the focus of late antique historiography after they had taken possession of the abandoned Rugiland around 488 . Paulus Diaconus , who wrote a history of the Lombards on the basis of older sources in the 8th century (see Secundus von Trient ), reports that the Lombards then owed tribute to the Heruli , but were then able to defeat them.

The realm of the Avars

The Lombards now came into contact with the East . In connection with Justinian's Gothic War , the Lombard rex Audoin , who had previously conquered Eastern Gothic possessions in Pannonia with his warriors, entered into an alliance with the Emperor in Constantinople. This was beneficial for both sides, as the Romans needed troops to break the Ostrogothic resistance in Italy, while the Lombards, in turn, received protection against the expansive Gepids . In 552 the Eastern Roman general Narses went to Italy, accompanied by a few thousand Longobard foederati under Alboin , Audoin's son. Narses, however, was forced to send the allegedly completely undisciplined Lombards back, and shortly afterwards Alboin triumphed over the Gepids. Paulus Diaconus reports on an episode that seems more legendary than historical, according to which Alboin killed the son of the Gepid King and then went to see the Gepid King, Turisind , on his own to restore peace . Alboin, who came to power around 560, was now planning to destroy the Gepid Empire. To this end, he formed an alliance with the Avars , an equestrian people from Central Asia who had only recently appeared in East Central Europe, who soon afterwards established a powerful empire in the Danube region and even oppressed the Eastern Roman Empire. In 567 Alboin defeated the Gepids without the Avars ever having to intervene. Alboin killed Kunimund , the King of the Gepids , with his own hands, allegedly having a drinking cup made from the dead man's skull. Alboin married Rosamunde , the daughter of the Gepid King, who was later apparently involved in Alboin's murder.

The old assumption that the Lombards now had to flee from the Avars is mostly rejected today. In 568, Alboin took advantage of his strengthened position and moved with the Lombards and parts of other gentes from the Carpathian region (which Herwig Wolfram aptly characterized as a gentile conurbation) to northern Italy. Despite the ravages of the Gothic War, the old core province of the empire still offered the tempting prospect of rich booty and was therefore attractive to Alboin, who had to provide booty for his men. The story that the Lombards were summoned by Narses, who meanwhile had fallen out with the emperor, is, however, in the opinion of many researchers, to be regarded as unhistorical. The Eastern Roman resistance was weak, especially since there were relatively few troops in Italy anyway. Several cities, including Milan, surrendered. Pavia, on the other hand, did not open its gates until after three years of siege and became the main residence of the Lombards. Independently operating warrior groups even advanced into southern Italy and Franconian territory. Ravenna, Rome and the seaside cities like Genoa , however, were able to hold out and initially remained under imperial control. The sources emphasize the alleged brutality of the partly pagan, partly Arian Lombards; several large landowners fled their estates. In Cividale del Friuli , shortly after the invasion began, Alboin had set up a ducat under the direction of his nephew, des dux Gisulf . The ducat was evidently based on the late Roman military system, and Alboin actually linked the existing administrative system with the longobard military order of the farae . This form of rulership organization was soon to become formative for the Lombards, especially since after the assassination of Alboin in 572 the central royal power soon declined.

The founding of the Lombard Empire in 568 was the last formation of rule in late antiquity on western Roman soil, mainly carried by Germanic warriors, and, according to traditional belief, marked the end of the great migration period. With this, the genesis of the early medieval political constellation of Western and Central Europe was largely completed, because around this time the Bavarians can also be identified for the first time. A little later the Slavs penetrated into many formerly Germanic areas as well as the Roman Balkans, where they settled permanently after 580 (see Landing of the Slavs in the Balkans ).

The loosely organized Lombard dominion in northern Italy as well as in Benevento and Spoleto splintered into several ducats after Alboin's death, which from then on pursued their own politics. In the period that followed, there were repeated conflicts with the Eastern Romans and Byzantines, who were able to hold out in central and southern Italy for a long time. Only the kings Authari and Agilulf succeeded in regaining new authority for the kingship. In the course of the 7th century the empire expanded again and the Lombards finally gave up their Arian creed. Liutprand , who ascended the throne in 712, was a Catholic and was even able to exercise his power against the duces of Spoleto and Benevento. The end for the Longobard Empire came with the conquest by the Franks in 774 under Charlemagne . Ideally, however, her regnum also had an impact in the Holy Roman Empire , as the coronation of several Roman-German kings with the “crown of the Lombards” shows. The name Lombardy reminds of them to this day.


The Mediterranean area at the time of Emperor Justinian I († 565)

According to the traditional view, the Lombard invasion of Italy marks the end of the great "great migration". Thus a political order arose on the soil of the lost western empire, which lasted in large parts into the high and late Middle Ages and which was to shape the modern world of states. After the disintegration of the Carolingian rule, the West and East Franconian Empire, the nucleus of France and Germany, developed from the Franconian Empire. During the Reconquista, the Visigoth Empire was supposed to create identity for the Spaniards, while the Anglo-Saxons played a decisive role in shaping the image of the later Kingdom of England, just as the Lombard Empire was to be of less importance for Italy. In most of the regna that emerged , in which Latin or vernacular vulgar Latin finally gained the upper hand (except in the special case of Britain), the new masters quickly and largely, but in very different ways, came to terms with the local population. It should be noted that the Germanic warriors and their families almost everywhere represented a tiny minority compared to the Roman or Roman civil population; Northern Gaul was probably an exception.

Nevertheless, this should not hide the sometimes dramatic changes at the end of late antiquity, which were often associated with acts of violence against the population. Although there was still a Roman Empire in the east with an emperor at its head, whose claim to leadership was initially generally respected, after Justinian's death (565), Ostrom no longer intervened to the same extent in the west, albeit the last Byzantine base in Italy only fell in 1071. The period from the early 7th century in the Eastern Empire was characterized by a permanent defensive struggle against Persians and Arabs, Avars and Slavs, which tied up almost all forces. The exarchate should also be seen as a defensive measure. The now almost completely Graecised Eastern Roman Empire was transformed under Herakleios into the medieval Byzantine Empire.

In the west, the Roman army and the Roman administrative system were already in the 5th / 6th centuries. Century disappeared. Here there were complex changes in the system of rule as well as in the social and economic structure (see also the explanations in the article Late Antiquity ). Despite the dramatic loss of ancient cultural assets (especially in the West), which is not necessarily related to the armed conflicts of that time, many cultural elements were preserved in the regna , although the level of education and literary production fell significantly overall. Above all, the economy was now organized much less complex than in Roman times, which led to significantly lower surpluses and a declining quality of material culture: Long-distance trade decreased noticeably during the migration period, and economic production in the Regna was less based on the division of labor than in roman time. In the medium term, this led to the disappearance of the old civil elites, who had been the most important providers of ancient education.

The church organization also changed, since the influence of the bishops increased in many places compared to the late Roman period. The church now functioned as an important carrier of ancient (Christian tradition) education, which was well below the ancient level, but also absorbed other influences. In the area of ​​law, the Germanic peoples oriented themselves to Roman law , just as they tried to adapt to the Roman way of life. Some Germanic rulers, who perhaps drew their authority mainly from an army kingship , adopted the Roman emperor name Flavius (such as Theodoric the Great) and often used the Roman elites for administrative tasks, with the church playing an important role as a connecting force . Often “Germanic” did not represent a contrast to “Roman”, especially since the Germanic peoples only made up a fraction of the population in the regna . In many ways, the new monarchies were more closely related to the Roman Empire than to Germanic traditions - all the more so now that it is increasingly doubted that there was a pre-Roman Germanic kingdom at all. On the other hand, there were educated people who came to terms with the new masters in the West, as the examples of Bishop Avitus of Vienne , the doctor Anthimus or the poet Venantius Fortunatus show.

For modern research, which in the last decades has paid increasing attention to the period between the 4th and 8th centuries, more and more new questions arise, for example with regard to the problem of continuity (see also the explanations in the Pirenne thesis ). The change of rulership was partly fluid: In the Franconian Empire, for example, the people were no longer subordinates of the emperor, but of the king (even if Augustus in Constantinople was often addressed as dominus noster in the late 6th century ). The Roman civil service was partially taken over, as well as the administrative structures. The late Roman institutions also continued to function for a while, until finally no adequately trained staff could keep up. The members of the old Roman provincial elite now often preferred a career in the church. On the other hand, there were still comites that administered the civitates until the comes finally became the “count”. In Gaul, the Franks also opposed Alemannic looters and defended the cities: Gallia eventually became Francia . After a while, new offices emerged at the Germanic rulers, such as the maior domus ( house manager ) in the Merovingian Empire. The tendency towards the consolidation of aristocratic structures, which had already progressed in late Roman times, became increasingly clear, which is reflected, for example, in the contrast between the large landowners and the peasants tied to the clod. Society soon split into free (which included the Germanic nobles and the Roman upper class), semi-free and unfree. As a result, the number of slaves increased, but several questions of detail are controversial. So the development in the individual regna was quite different. Above all, many evaluations of the older research that characterized late Roman society as generally declining have been revised by modern research. Nevertheless, the population in the cities of the west decreased overall. In some regions, for example in Britain and in parts of the Danube region, the urban culture typical of antiquity even almost completely disappeared. In the artistic field, however, new forms dominated (see primer , Germanic animal style ). In addition, the funeral culture changed, among other things. In this way, novels can also be buried in a Germanic, ie “barbaric” manner.

In general, there are different approaches to explaining and assessing the changes in the Mediterranean world in the transition from late antiquity to the early Middle Ages . To this end, the European Science Foundation with transformation of the Roman World even has its own research project launched. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear: the Germanic regna were no less a part of the late Roman world than the empire itself.


The following explanations are limited to the most important sources. In general, reference is made to the notes in the text and in the articles Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages . A more recent and relatively comprehensive collection of sources with a German translation is available in two volumes with the work of Goetz, Patzold, Welwei (2006/07), which also contains further information.

The most important narrative source from the Huns to 378 is the work of Ammianus Marcellinus , which is also the last great Latin historical work of antiquity. Only fragments of the important works by Olympiodorus of Thebes and Priscus have survived, but they contain important information. The works of Malchus of Philadelphia and John of Antioch have also only survived in fragments . The heathen Zosimos wrote a new story around 500 , which, despite the recourse to some good sources, is sometimes very flawed and partly colored. Prokopios of Caesarea described in detail the wars of Justinian against the Vandal and Ostrogoth empires in the 6th century. Also Agathias and Theophylact Simocatta report on the events in the former western empire, although qualitatively not come close to Prokopios. Jordanes , using a now-lost Gothic history of Cassiodorus , is our primary source on the history of the Goths (especially the Ostrogoths), although much of the information is problematic. The work Ten Books, Stories of Gregory of Tours (up to 591), is of great importance not only, but above all for the history of the Franks . Paulus Diaconus wrote a similar story of the Lombards. Otherwise, many chronicles (such as that of Marcellinus Comes , the so-called Gallic Chronicle and, above all, that of Hydatius von Aquae Flaviae ) offer important, but often only very brief information.

In addition, various church histories , speeches and letters received (such as that of Sidonius Apollinaris ) contain a wealth of information, albeit of very different quality and credibility. Legal texts as well as inscriptions, coins and, above all, archaeological findings are of great importance.

  • Ammianus Marcellinus: The Roman Empire before the end . Translated by Otto Veh , introduced and explained by Gerhard Wirth . Artemis-Verlag, Munich / Zurich 1974, ISBN 3-7608-3514-7 (only German translation).
  • Roger C. Blockley : The fragmentary classicizing historians of the later Roman Empire . 2 vols., Liverpool 1981, 1983.
    (Blockley's counting of the fragments, which often deviates from the usual numbering, was not included in the article.)
  • Hans-Werner Goetz , Steffen Patzold , Karl-Wilhelm Welwei : The Teutons in the Migration Period. Excerpts from the ancient sources about the Germanic peoples from the middle of the 3rd century to the year 453 AD . Selected sources on German history in the Middle Ages, Freiherr-vom-Stein commemorative edition. Part I. Darmstadt 2006; Part II. Darmstadt 2007 (Latin, Greek, German).
  • Colin D. Gordon: The Age of Attila: Fifth-Century Byzantium and the Barbarians . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 1960 (source excerpts in English translation; online version ).


The 2nd edition of the Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA) contains important overview, personal and factual articles with additional literature and information on research ; The supplementary volumes of the Real Lexicon must also be taken into account. In addition, reference is made to the articles in the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity , in the Lexikon des Mittelalter and in the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire . Important overview works are also the Cambridge Ancient History (Vol. 13 and 14) and the New Cambridge Medieval History (Vol. 1). Older works are not mentioned here, but some of them are still of value; this applies especially to the material-rich works of Ludwig Schmidt . Special literature is also listed in the notes.

  • Thomas S. Burns: Barbarians within the Gates of Rome. A Study of Roman Military Policy and the Barbarians (ca. 375-425) . Indiana University Press, Bloomington / Ind. 1994.
    (Detailed and important military history account of the events from 375 to the early 5th century.)
  • Henning Börm : Westrom. From Honorius to Justinian. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2013; 2nd Edition. Stuttgart 2018, ISBN 978-3170332164 .
    (Current representation that blames civil wars, in which barbaric
    warlords and their warriors took part, for the dissolution of Roman rule in the west, not external attacks . Cf. also review in H-Soz-u-Kult .)
  • Helmut Castritius : The Vandals . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-17018870-9 .
    (Important account of the Vandals and their founding of the empire. However, it is problematic for laypeople that, although sources are listed in the notes, attention is not drawn there to the discussion of modern research. See also the review by H-Soz-u-Kult .)
  • Alexander Demandt : History of Late Antiquity. The Roman Empire of Diocletian to Justinian 284 -. 565 AD . Beck, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-406-44107-6 (abridged version of: Die Spätantike , 1989; 2nd, fully revised and expanded edition. Ibid 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-57241-8 ).
    (Easily legible overview work on late antiquity; published with annotation as Die Spätantike [2nd edition 2007].)
  • The Lombards. The end of the Great Migration . Published by the Rhineland Regional Council / Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2008.
  • Eugen Ewig : The Merovingians and the Franconian Empire . 5th edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3170221604 .
    (Standard work on the Franconian Empire, however obsolete in individual questions.)
  • Patrick J. Geary : European Peoples in the Early Middle Ages. To the legend of the becoming of the nations . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-596-60111-8 .
    (Critical view of the long common view of the late ancient ethnic groups as homogeneous structures, instead depiction of the processes as a complex interaction of heterogeneous groups and factors.)
  • Wolfgang Giese : The Goths (= Kohlhammer Urban pocket books . Volume 597). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-17-017670-6 .
    (Easily readable summary based on the latest research.)
  • Hans-Werner Goetz , Jörg Jarnut , Walter Pohl (Eds.): Regna and Gentes: The Relationship between Late Antique and Early Medieval Peoples and Kingdoms in the Transformation of the Roman World . Brill, Leiden et al. 2003
    (anthology with important contributions to the individual empire formations.)
  • Walter A. Goffart : Barbarians and Romans AD 418-584. The Techniques of Accommodation . Princeton University Press, Princeton 1980, ISBN 0-691-10231-7 .
    (A very influential book that offers new, if not undisputed explanations for the emergence of the Germanic empires.)
  • Walter A. Goffart: Barbarian Tides: The Migration Age and the Later Roman Empire . University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 2006.
  • Guy Halsall: Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2007.
    (Readable, up-to-date and quite detailed presentation of the migration period, including the latest research, but almost without taking into account the processes in the Eastern Mediterranean. Review at Sehepunkte .)
  • Peter J. Heather : The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History . Macmillan, London 2005.
    (Easy to read account of the end of the Western Roman Empire. Heather emphasizes the violent and destructive aspect of the Migration Period.)
  • Peter J. Heather: Goths and Romans, 332-489 . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1991.
    (Important account of the relationship between Romans and Goths up to the end of the 5th century.)
  • Dirk Henning: Periclitans res Publica: Empire and elites in the crisis of the Western Roman Empire 454 / 5–493 AD . Steiner, Stuttgart 1999.
    (Treats the last few years of Western Rome and the relationship of the empire to the social elite in great detail.)
  • Reinhold Kaiser : The Burgundy . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 2004, ISBN 3-17-016205-5 .
    (Easily legible and up-to-date presentation of the Burgundy.)
  • Michael Kulikowski: Imperial Tragedy. From Constantine's Empire to the Destruction of Roman Italy, AD 363-568 . Profile Books, London 2019.
    (Summary, which is particularly intended as an alternative to the work of Heather.)
  • Otto Mannen-Helfen : The world of the Huns . 1978, ND Wiesbaden 1997.
    (Standard work on the history and culture of the Huns, albeit in parts no longer up-to-date and in some cases incomplete. The German version is preferable to the American original, as it contains important additions.)
  • Jochen Martin : Late Antiquity and Migration of Nations . 4th edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-486-49684-0 .
    (4th volume in the Oldenbourg-Grundriss-der-Geschichte series with very brief descriptions, research trends and extensive bibliography; however, some are outdated.)
  • Mischa Meier : History of the Great Migration. Europe, Asia and Africa from the 3rd to the 8th centuries. CH Beck, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3406739590 .
    (The current and most comprehensive presentation of the Great Migration Period.)
  • Mischa Meier: Face the Great Migration. Individual scope for action in the 5th century AD. Verlag Antike, Heidelberg 2016, ISBN 978-3-938032-99-2 .
  • Mischa Meier (Ed.): They created Europe . CH Beck, Munich 2007.
    (Informative presentation of the time from Constantine to Charlemagne based on biographical sketches, written by mostly well-known researchers.)
  • Wilfried Menghin : The Lombards . Theiss, Stuttgart 1985.
  • Andy Merrills, Richard Miles: The Vandals . Blackwell, Oxford-Malden / MA 2010.
  • Walter Pohl : The Great Migration . 2nd Edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 2005, ISBN 3-17-018940-9 .
    (Scientifically sound introduction from the Kohlhammer series. Currently probably the best overview work.)
  • Walter Pohl (Ed.): Kingdoms of the Empire . Brill, Leiden et al. 1997.
  • Verena Postel : The origins of Europe. Migration and Integration in the Early Middle Ages . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2004.
    (Introduction to the Migration Period with consideration of the most important gentes .)
  • Rome and the barbarians. Europe at the time of the Great Migration . Hirmer, Munich 2008.
    (Exhibition catalog with numerous specialist articles.)
  • Klaus Rosen : The Great Migration . 2nd Edition. CH Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-47980-4 .
    (Beck Wissen. Concise but easy to read overview.)
  • Philipp von Rummel , Hubert Fehr: The migration of people . Theiss, Stuttgart 2011.
    (current introduction)
  • Sebastian Scholz : The Merovingians. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-17-022507-7 .
    (current overview work)
  • Christopher A. Snyder: An Age of Tyrants: Britain and the Britons, AD 400-600 . University Park / PA 1998.
    (Summary of the situation in Britain between 400 and 600.)
  • Matthias SpringerGreat Migration. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). 2nd Edition. Volume 32, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2006, ISBN 3-11-018387-0 , pp. 509-517.
  • Ernst Stein: History of the late Roman Empire . Vol. 1. Vienna 1928.
    (Older, but detailed illustration close to the source.)
  • Roland Steinacher: Rome and the barbarians. Peoples in the Alpine and Danube region (300-600). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2017.
  • Roland Steinacher: The vandals. The rise and fall of a barbarian empire. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2016, ISBN 978-3-608-94851-6 .
    (Quite a comprehensive and up-to-date overview, which understands the Vandals as Roman barbarians .)
  • Timo Stickler : The Huns . Munich 2007, ISBN 3-406-53633-6 .
    (Concise but legible and informative presentation that also includes the latest research results.)
  • Edward A. Thompson : Romans and Barbarians . Madison / Wisconsin 1982.
  • Bryan Ward-Perkins: The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2005.
    (Very haunting, but not uncontroversial account in which Ward-Perkins emphasizes the destructive effect of the Germanic invasions.)
  • Reinhard Wenskus : Tribal formation and constitution. The emergence of the early medieval gentes . 2nd edition Cologne 1977.
    (Basic work on the ethnogenesis of the Germanic gentes , although this model is in part criticized in modern Anglo-American research.)
  • Chris Wickham : Framing the Early Middle Ages. Europe and the Mediterranean 400-800 . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2005.
    (The current basic social and economic history of this period.)
  • Herwig Wolfram : The Roman Empire and its Germanic Peoples: A narrative of origin and arrival. Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2018.
    (Heavily revised and expanded new edition of Wolfram's book Das Reich und die Germanen .)
  • Herwig Wolfram: The Empire and the Teutons . Siedler, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-88680-168-3 .
    (Good general and richly illustrated overview.)
  • Herwig Wolfram: History of the Goths . CH Beck, Munich 1979; 5th edition 2009 [published as Die Goten ].
    (Basic representation of the Goths.)

Web links

Wiktionary: Migration of peoples  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations


  1. General Springer (2006), who also refers to alternative definitions outside the communis opinio . All epoch boundaries are ultimately just a construct and primarily based on convention. See also Stefan Krautschick: On the emergence of a date. 375 - Beginning of the Great Migration . In: Klio 82, 2000, pp. 217–222 as well as Stefan Krautschick: Hunnensturm and Germanenflut: 375 - Beginning of the migration? In: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 92, 1999, pp. 10-67.
  2. See von Rummel / Fehr (2011), pp. 98 ff.
  3. See e.g. Meier (2007).
  4. Vol. 26, Col. 514, here online .
  5. On Migration, Crusades and the Middle Ages
  6. Springer (2006), p. 509 f.
  7. A brief summary of e.g. Rosen (2003), p. 28 ff.
  8. See Pohl (2005) and Rummel / Fehr (2011); brief overview of popular science also in Mischa Meier : Wandering peoples? In: Damals 7 (2016), pp. 16–19.
  9. Halsall (2007) has more of the wandering warrior groups in the geographic area.
  10. See also Roland Steinacher: Migration of the Barbarians? On the origin and meaning of the epoch term 'migration of peoples' up to the 19th century. In: Felix Wiedemann, Kerstin P. Hofmann, Hans-Joachim Gehrke (eds.): From the wandering of the peoples. Migration narratives in ancient studies. Berlin 2017, pp. 67–95.
  11. See also von Rummel / Fehr (2011), p. 7 f.
  12. ^ Walter Pohl : Telling the Difference: Signs of Ethnic Identity . In: Walter Pohl, Helmut Reimitz (eds.): Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of Ethnic Communities, 300-800 . Leiden et al. 1998, p. 17 ff.
  13. Cf. Martin P. Evison: All in the Genes? Evaluating the Biological Evidence of Contact and Migration . In: DM Hadley, JD Richards (eds.): Cultures in Contact. Turnhout 2000, pp. 277-294.
  14. See introductory Walter Pohl: Ethnicity of the early Middle Ages as an interdisciplinary problem. In: The Middle Ages. Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung 4 (1999), pp. 69–75.
  15. See also Peter Stachel: Identity. Genesis, inflation and problems of a concept that is central to contemporary social and cultural studies. In: Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 87 (2005), pp. 395–425.
  16. Reinhard Wensku's work is fundamental to this: Tribal formation and constitution. The emergence of the early medieval gentes . 2nd edition, Cologne / Vienna 1977. The approach of Wenskus was then further developed by Herwig Wolfram and his student Walter Pohl. In summary and with more recent literature: Pohl (2005), p. 13 ff.
  17. Cf. the overview in Michael Kulikowski: Barbaric identity. Current research and new interpretive approaches. In: M. Konrad, C. Witschel (ed.): Roman legionary camps in the Rhine and Danube provinces - nuclei of late antique-early medieval life? Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Munich 2012, pp. 103–111.
  18. Cf. Roland Steinacher: On the formation of identity in early medieval communities. Overview of the historical research status. In: Irmtraud Heitmeier, Hubert Fehr (Ed. :): The beginnings of Bavaria. From Raetien and Noricum to the early medieval Baiovaria. St. Ottilien 2012, pp. 73–124.
  19. Springer (2006), p. 511 f., Who briefly reports on some fundamental research problems.
  20. A general overview is offered by Alheydis Plassmann : Origo gentis. Establishment of identity and legitimacy in early and high medieval origin narratives (= Orbis mediaevalis. Imaginary worlds of the Middle Ages 7) . Berlin 2006. See also the various works by Herwig Wolfram and Walter Pohl. It should be noted that Wolfram's theses did not go unchallenged. Walter Goffart , for example, expresses himself more skeptically than Wolfram with regard to the conclusions that late written records allow, especially with regard to the reconstruction of an originally origo gentis that was originally passed down orally : The legends of origin in their present form are less written down from old tribal legends than later, strong constructions influenced by Greco-Roman ethnography .
  21. Börm (2013), p. 114 ff.
  22. ^ Goetz, Jarnut, Pohl (2003); Pohl (1997).
  23. On the frequently politically motivated reception, see the brief explanations in Rosen (2003), pp. 109–121.
  24. The destructive aspect of this epoch was recently emphasized by Heather (2005), especially Ward-Perkins (2005). On the other hand, see Goffart (1980) and Goffart (2006) as well as the older works by Peter Brown . In general, see the comprehensive book series Transformation of the Roman World (so far 14 vols.).
  25. ^ Peter J. Heather: The Huns and the end of the Roman Empire in Western Europe . In: The English Historical Review 110, 1995, pp. 4-41, and Heather (2005). In contrast, however, for example Halsall (2007) and Börm (2013).
  26. Halsall (2007); Börm (2013).
  27. Springer (2006), p. 514.
  28. Pohl (2005), p. 31 f .; Rosen (2003), pp. 99-101.
  29. See Springer (2006).
  30. Briefly summarizing Rosen (2003), p. 22 ff. For the Germanic peoples, see introductory: Germanen, Germania, Germanische Altertumskunde . Edited by Heinrich Beck et al. (Special print from vol. 11 of the RGA). Berlin 1998; Walter Pohl: The Teutons . 2nd edition, Munich 2004; Bruno Bleckmann : The Teutons . Munich 2009.
  31. On the Getica see the critical analysis by Arne Søby Christensen: Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths. Studies in a Migration Myth . Copenhagen 2002; see also Herwig Wolfram: Some thoughts on the Gothic Origo gentis . In: Henrik Birnbaum et al. (Ed.): Festschrift Alexander Issatschenko . Lund 1978, pp. 487–499, quotation ibid. P. 496: "The origin of the Goths from 'overseas' currently stands and falls solely with the possibility of justifying Getica historically" . Wolfram (1979) [resp. (2001)] fundamental. Also see Volker Bierbrauer: Archeology and History of the Goths from 1. – 7. Century . In: Early Medieval Studies . 28: 51-171 (1994); Heather (1991). A fragment of a Greek historical work from the 3rd century published in 2014 (probably written by Dexippos ) mentions a Gothic leader named Ostrogotha for the years around 250. What this means for the reconstruction of the origins of the Ostrogoths is still unclear.
  32. See for example Karl Christ : History of the Roman Empire . 4th edition Munich 2002, p. 336 ff .; summarizing Rosen (2003), pp. 43–45.
  33. Wolfram (1979), p. 41 ff.
  34. Later the separation of the two groups was interpreted as a simple geographical division, the former became the Visigoths , the latter the Ostrogoths . This representation is, however, grossly simplistic, because both parts of the Greutungen and members of other gentes actually took part in the ethnogenesis of the Visigoths. Likewise, the Ostrogoths emerging from the majority of Greutungen were not an ethnically homogeneous association. See article Goths . In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). Vol. 12 (1998), pp. 402-443, especially pp. 428 ff .; on the names of the gods see also Arne Søby Christensen: Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths . Copenhagen 2002, p. 197 ff .; Heather (1991), pp. 331-333.
  35. Different now Henning Börm : A Threat or a Blessing? The Sasanians and the Roman Empire . In: Carsten Binder, Henning Börm, Andreas Luther (eds.): Diwan. Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Duisburg 2016, pp. 615–646.
  36. Heather (2005), p. 82.
  37. Martin (2001), p. 166.
  38. ^ Translation by Otto Veh (1974), pp. 708, 711.
  39. Stefan Krautschick: Hun Storm and Germanic Flood: 375 - Beginning of the Great Migration? In: Byzantinische Zeitschrift 92, 1999, pp. 10–67, here pp. 12–14.
  40. Ammian 31, 3. Maenchen-Helfen (1978) is still fundamental to the Huns, on this ibid., P. 16 ff. See also the article Hunnen . In: RGA 15 (2000), pp. 246-261; Christopher Kelly: Attila The Hun. Barbarian Terror and the Fall of the Roman Empire . London 2008; Attila and the Huns . Published by the Historisches Museum der Pfalz Speyer. Stuttgart 2007; Stickler (2007). Many individual questions are controversial about Ermanarich's Gotenreich, see for example Arne Søby Christensen: Cassiodorus, Jordanes and the History of the Goths . Copenhagen 2002, p. 158 ff .; Heather (1991), pp. 87 f .; Wolfram (1979), pp. 98-102. The death of Ermanarich himself was discussed in many epics in the Middle Ages.
  41. For a summary, see Christopher Kelly: Attila The Hun. Barbarian Terror and the Fall of the Roman Empire . London 2008, p. 29ff .; Stickler (2007), p. 21ff. For example, Étienne de la Vaissière: The Steppe World and the Rise of the Huns advocates a political-cultural continuity (but not a completely identical identity) . In: Michael Maas (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila . Cambridge 2014, p. 175ff.
  42. ^ In summary, Peter J. Heather: The Huns and the end of the Roman Empire in Western Europe . In: English Historical Review 110, 1995, pp. 4-41 and Heather (2005), pp. 146 ff .; see also article Huns . In: RGA 15 (2000), p. 247 f.
  43. Orosius , Historiae adversum paganos , 7, 33.
  44. The most prominent proponent of a position which attaches vital importance to the Hunnic advance is currently Peter J. Heather; the opposite position is represented by Guy Halsall, among others.
  45. The best source for the following events up to 378 is again Ammianus and his report in the 31st and last book of his history. See Heather (1991), p. 122 ff., And Wolfram (1979), p. 137 ff.
  46. Ammian 31, 5 ff. At the time, see Heather (1991), p. 142.
  47. Apparently Valens feared that his nephew Gratian, who had already proven himself in the war, would demand too much fame for himself if he would help his uncle to overthrow the Goths. For the following development see Ammian 31, 12 f. See also Burns (1994), p. 28 ff. And Heather (1991), p. 142 ff.
  48. Heather (1991), pp. 84 ff.
  49. Burns (1994), p. 33.
  50. Ammian 31: 13, 19.
  51. Wolfram (1979), p. 150 ff.
  52. On Theodosius, who was later called the Great, see Hartmut Leppin : Theodosius the Great . Darmstadt 2003, on the development after Adrianopel ibid., P. 35 ff. Cf. also Burns (1994), p. 43 ff .; Heather (1991), p. 147 ff.
  53. ↑ In summary: Heather (1991), p. 157 ff .; Wolfram (1979), p. 153 ff. See Halsall (2007), p. 180 ff., Who argues explicitly against the communis opinio .
  54. ^ But see Martin (2001), p. 166 f.
  55. See Hartmut Leppin: Theodosius the Great . Darmstadt 2003, p. 45 ff., Especially p. 50 f .; Burns (1994), p. 73 ff. See also Halsall (2007), p. 184 f.
  56. Getica , 29, 146.
  57. ↑ In summary and with references to sources: Heather (1991), p. 193 ff. And Wolfram (1979), p. 159 ff.
  58. To the following Burns (1994), p. 183 ff .; Heather (1991), p. 199 ff. (With good maps); Wolfram (1979), p. 164 ff.
  59. Stilicho was not the first army master who had influenced the imperial business. But in the 5th century, the long line of weak emperors was to encourage this process even further. See the detailed description in Alexander Demandt : Magister militum. In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Supplementary volume XII, Stuttgart 1970, Sp. 553-790.
  60. On the Radagaisuszug see Heather (2005), p. 194 f. and Wolfram (1979), pp. 202-204, who emphasizes the importance of this episode in connection with Visigothic ethnogenesis.
  61. Allegedly 4000 gold pounds ( Zosimos , 5, 29, who relied on his source Olympiodoros of Thebes ). The western Roman imperial court had previously resided in Milan for a long time, but due to the unsafe situation, they had finally moved to Ravenna, which is considered impregnable.
  62. On development after Stilicho's death: Burns (1994), p. 224 ff .; Heather (2005), p. 220 ff .; Wolfram (1979), p. 184 ff. The background to Stilicho's murder was perhaps, among other things, an increasingly anti-Germanic attitude at the imperial court in Ravenna, after the Goth Gainas had already tried in vain to have a leading political role in the Eastern Empire . In more recent research, however, this motif is usually no longer ascribed great importance; the antipathy at court was directed less against the Germans than against the supremacy of the military; Börm (2013), pp. 45–51.
  63. Zosimos 5: 39-41.
  64. Wolfram (1979), pp. 187 f.
  65. Wolfram (1979), pp. 188 f.
  66. On his reign, cf. now Chris Doyle: Honorius. The Fight for the Roman West AD 395-423. London / New York 2019.
  67. Cf. the informative biographical sketch Mischa Meier : Alarich and the conquest of Rome in 410. The beginning of the “migration of the peoples” . In: Meier (2007), pp. 45–62, especially p. 52 ff.
  68. On the conquest of Rome 410 and the related reception see now Henriette Harich-Schwarzbauer, Karla Pollmann (ed.): The fall of Rome and its resurrections in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Berlin / Boston 2013; Mischa Meier , Steffen Patzold: August 410 - A fight for Rome . Stuttgart 2010; see. also Hans Armin: The Fall of Rome. Literary processing by pagans and Christians . In: Johannes Oort, Dietmar Wyrwa (Hrsg.): Heiden and Christians in the 5th century . Leuven 1998, p. 160 ff.
  69. On the crossing of the Rhine see: Goffart (2006), pp. 73 ff .; Heather (2005), pp. 194 ff .; Peter J. Heather: Why Did the Barbarian Cross the Rhine? . In: Journal of Late Antiquity 2 (2009), pp. 3-29; Stein (1928), p. 381 ff. See also Michael Kulikowski: Barbarians in Gaul, Usurpers in Britain . In: Britannia 31 (2000), pp. 325-345 (who put forward the thesis that the break-in could also have occurred in 405/06).
  70. On the vandals, see Castritius (2007), esp. P. 46 ff. (Sometimes quite critical of the sources); Merrills / Miles (2010); Steinacher (2016) and Konrad Vössing : The Kingdom of Vandals. Darmstadt 2014. In addition, attention should be drawn to the article in the RGA: Wandalen . In: RGA 33 (2006), p. 168 ff.
  71. ^ Art. Sweben . In: RGA 30 (2005), p. 184 ff. Ibid. P. 192 ff. (On the term Sueben [Sweben]) and p. 202 ff. (On the following events), each with references to sources and literature.
  72. Heather (2005), pp. 206–209, with maps and detailed source analysis.
  73. Heather (2005), pp. 209 ff., 236 ff .; Stein (1928), p. 383 ff .; CE Stevens: Marcus, Gratian, Constantine . In: Athenaeum 35 (1957), pp. 316-347.
  74. Cf. Evangelos Chrysos: The Roman rule in Britain and its end. In: Bonner Jahrbücher 191 (1991), pp. 247–276, here pp. 260ff.
  75. Pohl (2005), p. 86 ff. However, many detailed questions are very controversial, not least because of the inadequate sources.
  76. On the usurpation of Constantine III. and of Jovinus see John F. Drinkwater: The Usurpers Constantine III (407-411) and Jovinus (411-413) . In: Britannia 29 (1998), pp. 269-298; Kay Ehling: On the history of Constantine III . In: Francia 23 (1996), pp. 1-11; Ralf Scharf: Iovinus - Emperor in Gaul . In: Francia 20 (1993), pp. 1-13. On the Burgundians: Kaiser (2004), on intervention for Jovinus and empire building: ibid., P. 26 ff.
  77. Wolfram (1979), p. 192 f.
  78. Wolfram (1979), pp. 196-202.
  79. ^ Orosius, Historiae adversum paganos , 7, 43.
  80. Wolfram (1979), p. 194 f. On the military operations of Constantius see also Burns (1994), p. 250 ff.
  81. Wolfram (1979), p. 204 f.
  82. Heather (1991), p. 221 f.
  83. The latter is primarily assumed by Walter Goffart: Goffart (1980), p. 103 ff .; Goffart (2006), p. 119 ff. See also Burns (1994), especially p. 263 ff .; Heather (1991), pp. 221 ff .; Pohl (2005), p. 58 ff .; Pohl (1997), passim; Wolfram (1979), pp. 208 ff .; Herwig Wolfram: The permanent settlement of the Goths on Roman soil. An endless story . In: Mitteilungen des Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 112 (2004), pp. 11–35.
  84. Burns (1994), p. 263 f .; Ward-Perkins (2005), p. 54 f. assessed the settlement much more negatively.
  85. ↑ In general, the rule of thumb is that only every fourth or fifth member of a gens was able to carry weapons himself, the rest of the association consisted of the families of the warriors. Later in North Africa, however, the vandals were to move decisively away from this "pattern of cooperation" with the local population.
  86. Steinacher (2016) is fundamental to the vandals. On the following: Castritius (2007), p. 58 ff.
  87. ^ Hydatius, Chronica 49.
  88. ↑ In summary Wolfram (1990), p. 234 f.
  89. Castritius (2007), p. 76 ff .; Uwe Walter: Geiserich and the African Vandal Empire . In: Meier (2007), pp. 63-77.
  90. Getica , 33, 168.
  91. On the figures (which are not uniform in the sources) see, for example, the discussion in Castritius (2007), p. 78 f.
  92. Castritius (2007), p. 86 ff .; Wolfram (1990), p. 237 f.
  93. Prokopios, Bella 3, 3.
  94. Castritius (2007), p. 68; but see Alexander Demandt: The late antiquity . 2nd edition, Munich 2007, p. 184.
  95. Wolfram (1990), p. 238.
  96. ^ Heather (2005), p. 268.
  97. Börm (2013), pp. 67-70; Steinacher (2016), p. 92f.
  98. Castritius (2007), p. 93 ff .; Walter: Geiserich . In: Meier (2007), p. 70 ff .; Wolfram (1990), p. 239 f.
  99. See the explanations in the chapter From the Empire to Regna .
  100. ↑ In summary (but not without controversy) Peter J. Heather: The Huns and the end of the Roman Empire in Western Europe . In: English Historical Review 110, 1995, pp. 4–41, here p. 9.
  101. ↑ In summary: Huns . In: RGA 15 (2000), p. 249; Peter J. Heather: The Huns and the end of the Roman Empire in Western Europe. In: English Historical Review 110, 1995, pp. 4-41, here pp. 10 f. But see also Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 22, which assumes a relative sense of community.
  102. ↑ On this in detail Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 38 ff.
  103. Claudian , In Rufinum ff 2, 26th
  104. Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 43 ff.
  105. ^ Dieter Timpe: Gainas . In: RGA 10 (1998), pp. 317-321. The person des Gainas subsequently provided a good projection surface for anti-barbaric propaganda.
  106. Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 44 f.
  107. ^ Orosius, Historiae adversum paganos , 7, 37, 3.
  108. Art. Huns . In: RGA 15 (2000), p. 250. See also Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 53 ff., Who emphatically emphasizes the lack of sources of this time with regard to the Huns.
  109. Chronicle of Marcellinus Comes , anno 427.
  110. Perhaps he now finally ceded Pannonia to them, but this is also not certain: Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 63 f.
  111. Demandt (1998), p. 122 f .; Stein (1928), p. 472 ff.
  112. Art. Huns . In: RGA 15 (2000), p. 250; see also Kaiser (2004), p. 31 f .; Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 60 ff. However, some researchers also assume that the Huns mentioned, who destroyed the Burgundian Empire in 436, may have been federations operating independently, cf. Timo Stickler: Aëtius . Munich 2002, p. 183.
  113. Kaiser (2004), p. 38 ff.
  114. Bruno Bleckmann : Attila, Aetius and the "end of Rome". The collapse of the Western Roman Empire . In: Meier (2007), pp. 93-110; Christopher Kelly: Attila The Hun. Barbarian Terror and the Fall of the Roman Empire . London 2008, p. 70 ff .; Heather (2005), p. 300 ff .; Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 69 ff .; Michael Maas (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila. Cambridge 2014; Klaus Rosen: Attila. Munich 2016; Gerhard Wirth : Attila. The Huns and Europe . Stuttgart et al. 1999 (partly quite speculative).
  115. Chronicle of Marcellinus Comes, anno 441; Priskos , fragment 1b.
  116. Chronicle of Marcellinus Comes, anno 447; Priscus, fragment 3.
  117. Jordanes, Romana , 331.
  118. Cf. Bleckmann: Attila . In: Meier (2007), p. 102, who emphasizes that Attila would have taken over with an attack on both halves of the empire.
  119. Priscus, fragment 8.
  120. Jordanes , Getica , 224.
  121. Priskos , frg. 17 (Blockley). See Börm (2013), p. 81 ff.
  122. Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 98, called it simply court gossip. But see Bleckmann: Attila . In: Meier (2007), p. 102 f. and Börm (2013), p. 86 ff.
  123. Bleckmann: Attila . In: Meier (2007), p. 103 f.
  124. Castritius (2007), p. 104.
  125. Jordanes, Getica , 41, 216.
  126. ^ JB Bury: History of the Later Roman Empire . Vol. 1. New York 1958 (ND from 1923), p. 293 f.
  127. Maenchen-Helfen (1978), pp. 97-106.
  128. ↑ In summary, Heather (2005), p. 340 f.
  129. Walter Pohl offers an excellent overview: The Gepids and the gentes on the central Danube after the collapse of the Attila Empire . In: Herwig Wolfram, Falko Daim (ed.): The peoples on the middle and lower Danube in the fifth and sixth centuries . Vienna 1980, pp. 239-305.
  130. Art. Huns . In: RGA 15 (2000), p. 252 .; Heather (2005), p. 351 ff .; Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 107 ff.
  131. Demandt (1998), p. 126 f .; Heather (2005), p. 369 ff .; Stein (1928), pp. 517-519.
  132. Börm (2013), pp. 89-93.
  133. For the following cf. Börm (2013), p. 94ff .; Heather (2005), p. 375 ff.
  134. Wolfgang Kuhoff : The temptation of power. Late Roman army masters and their potential reach for the empire . In: Silvia Serena Tschopp, Wolfgang EJ Weber (Hrsg.): Power and communication . Berlin 2012, pp. 39–80.
  135. ^ Brian Croke: Dynasty and Ethnicity. Emperor Leo I and the Eclipse of Aspar . In: Chiron 35 (2005), pp. 147-203.
  136. On the battles with the Goths and the formation of the Ostrogoth Empire in the Balkans, see above all Heather (1991), p. 240 ff .; Wolfram (1979), p. 307 ff.
  137. For the following see, inter alia, Demandt (1998), pp. 141 ff .; Stein (1928), p. 540 ff.
  138. Castritius (2007), p. 103 ff.
  139. Stein (1928), p. 552 f.
  140. On the situation of Gaul in the 5th century see the collection of essays John Drinkwater, Hugh Elton (Ed.): Fifth-Century Gaul: A Crisis of Identity? . Cambridge 1992.
  141. ^ Kaiser (2004), p. 49.
  142. Wolfram (1979), p. 217 f.
  143. Castritius (2007), p. 113 ff., Who does not assume that a formal peace treaty has been concluded.
  144. Gregory of Tours , Decem libri historiarum , 2, 11 f .; 2, 18; 2, 27.Cf. also Halsall (2007), p. 266 ff. And David Frye: Aegidius, Childeric, Odovacer and Paul . In: Nottingham Medieval Studies 36 (1992), p. 1 ff. On the person of Aegidius, see also Henning (1999), p. 81 ff.
  145. ^ Michael Kulikowski: Marcellinus of Dalmatia and the Fall of the Western Empire . In: Byzantion 72 (2002), pp. 177-191.
  146. Castritius (2007), p. 118 f.
  147. a b Wolfram (1979), p. 219 ff.
  148. Stein (1928), p. 582 f.
  149. For these two see the brief overview in Martin (2001), pp. 168, 171 f.
  150. Demandt (1998), p. 148.
  151. ↑ On this: Demandt (1998), p. 145; Heather (2005), p. 425 f .; Kaiser (2004), p. 52; Stein (1928), p. 584.
  152. Martin (2001), p. 45.
  153. Karl field: Barbarian citizens: the Isaurians and the Roman Empire . Berlin 2005, p. 325 ff.
  154. Wolfram (1979), p. 222 ff.
  155. Wolfram (1979), p. 226.
  156. Henning (1999), p. 174 f.
  157. ↑ In summary: Wolfram (1990), p. 264 ff.
  158. See Eugippius , Vita Severini , which is a very important source. See also Heather (2005), pp. 407 ff.
  159. See on this the classic essay by Brian Croke: AD 476. The manufacture of a Turning Point . In: Chiron 13 : 81-119 (1983). Bleckmann, on the other hand, recently emphasized the importance of 476: Attila . In: Meier (2007), p. 109 f.
  160. See Börm (2013), pp. 118–128.
  161. Rosen (2003), p. 79 f.
  162. Cf. lastly Jonathan Arnold: Theoderic and the Roman Imperial Restoration . Cambridge 2014.
  163. Brief research discussion in Martin (2001), p. 168 f.
  164. See also Goffart (2006), especially p. 23 ff .; Wolfram (1990), p. 271 ff. Alexander Demandt: Der Fall Roms offers an overview . Munich 1984.
  165. See Börm (2013), pp. 114–117.
  166. Demandt (1998), p. 149 f.
  167. Maenchen-Helfen (1978), p. 260 ff.
  168. Jordanes (or rather his main source Cassiodorus , from whose lost Gothic history Jordanes largely drew his knowledge) gives in his Getica the impression that the Amalers had a family tree going back far into the past, which is nothing more than a learned construction : Peter J. Heather: Cassiodorus and the Rise of the Amals. Genealogy and the Goths under Hun Domination . In: Journal of Roman Studies 79 (1989), pp. 103-128.
  169. For the following see: Heather (1991), p. 240 ff .; Pohl (2005), p. 126 ff .; Wolfram (1979), p. 321 ff.
  170. Jordanes, Getica , 54, 277-279.
  171. On Zenon's Gothic policy and the subsequent development, see especially Heather (1991), p. 272 ​​ff.
  172. See Wolfram (1979), p. 346 ff. In summary, also Pohl (2005), p. 132 f.
  173. On Theoderich see now Hans-Ulrich Wiemer : Theoderich der Große. King of the Goths, ruler of the Romans. Munich 2018. See also Antonio Carile (ed.): Teoderico ei Goti fra Oriente e Occidente . Ravenna 1995; Wilhelm Enßlin : Theodoric the Great . 2nd edition, Munich 1959 (rich in material, but no longer up to date). For Ostrogothic rule in Italy see for example Patrick Amory: People and Identity in Ostrogothic Italy, 489–554 . Cambridge 1997 (although Amory sometimes represents quite provocative theses).
  174. The details are, however, controversial, see Pohl (2005), pp. 137–140.
  175. See Börm (2013), pp. 129–139. See also Jonathan J. Arnold: Theoderic and the Roman Imperial Restoration. Cambridge 2014.
  176. ^ On Theodoric's policy in Italy: Wolfram (1979), p. 353 ff.
  177. Brief summary in Pohl (2005), pp. 147–151; more detailed: Wolfram (1979), p. 415 ff.
  178. For the history of the Visigothic Empire, see for example: Gerd Kampers: History of the Visigoths . Paderborn 2008; Roger Collins: Visigothic Spain 409-711 . Oxford 2004; Alberto Ferreiro: The Visigoths in Gaul and Spain AD 418-711: A Bibliography . Leiden 1988 (bibliography); Luis Garcia Moreno: Prosopografia del reino visigodo de Toledo . Salamanca 1974; Luis Garcia Moreno: Historia de España Visigoda . Madrid 1989; Wolfram (1979), p. 207 ff.
  179. On the downfall of the Suebenreich see just Kampers, Geschichte der Westgoten , p. 180 ff.
  180. Wolfram (1979), p. 225; on the change especially in Gaul see Bernhard Jussen: About 'bishopric rule' and the procedures of political-social rearrangement in Gaul between antiquity and the Middle Ages . In: Historische Zeitschrift 260 (1995), pp. 673-718.
  181. Wolfram (1979), p. 231 ff.
  182. Giese (2004), pp. 140 ff.
  183. Giese (2004), p. 148 f.
  184. Postel (2004), p. 219 ff. Ibid. P. 219: “ The Visigoth regnum became a Spanish empire. "
  185. For a brief summary of the following time, see Kampers, Geschichte der Westgoten , pp. 188 ff. And 311 ff. (On the culture of the Visigothic Empire); Giese (2004), p. 151 ff.
  186. Wolfram (1990), p. 387 f.
  187. Castritius (2007), p. 124 f.
  188. Castritius (2007), p. 127.
  189. Castritius (2007), p. 159.
  190. Postel (2004), p. 196. The Berbers later offered the Eastern Romans and (initially) the Arabs some fierce resistance.
  191. Castritius (2007), pp. 137-139.
  192. Castritius (2007), p. 100 f.
  193. See the important collection of essays Andy H. Merrill (ed.): Vandals, Romans and Berbers. New Perspectives on Late Antique North Africa . Aldershot 2004.
  194. Prokopios, Bella 3:10 .
  195. On the conquest of the Vandal Empire and the aftermath of the Eastern Romans, see Castritius (2007), p. 159 ff.
  196. On the Franks see among others Reinhold Kaiser: The Roman legacy and the Merovingian empire . 3rd edition, Munich 2004; Sebastian Scholz: The Merovingians. Stuttgart 2015; Ian N. Wood : The Merovingian Kingdoms . London 1994 (each with further literature). For early history see Ulrich Nonn: Die Franken . Stuttgart 2010; Erich Zöllner: History of the Franks up to the middle of the sixth century . Munich 1970.
  197. Cf. Eugen Ewig: The Franks and Rome (3rd – 5th centuries). An attempt at an overview . In: Rheinische Vierteljahrsblätter. Volume 71, 2007, pp. 1-42.
  198. ^ Sulpicius Alexander , Historia , excerpt from Gregor von Tours , Historiae , 2.9.
  199. Article Franconia . In: RGA 9 (1995), p. 417.
  200. On the Alamanni see the comprehensive and current account of Drinkwater: John F. Drinkwater: The Alamanni and Rome 213–496. Caracalla to Clovis . Oxford 2007.
  201. For the history of the event see Sebastian Scholz: The Merowinger. Stuttgart 2015, p. 35ff .; Ian N. Wood: The Merovingian Kingdoms . London 1994, p. 38 ff.
  202. For Clovis see now Matthias Becher : Clovis I. The Rise of the Merovingians and the End of the Ancient World. Munich 2011.
  203. On the Thuringians see Heike Grahn-Hoek: Stamm and Reich of the early Thuringians according to the written sources . In: Journal of the Association for Thuringian History 56, 2002, pp. 7–90.
  204. Kaiser (2004), p. 73 f.
  205. Matthias Springer: Theudebert I . In: RGA 30 (2005), pp. 455-459.
  206. Bernhard Jussen: About 'bishopric' and the procedures of political-social reorganization in Gaul between antiquity and the Middle Ages . In: Historische Zeitschrift 260 (1995), pp. 673-718.
  207. ^ Bernhard Jussen: Clovis and the peculiarities of Gaul . In: Meier (2007), pp. 141–154, here 152.
  208. ^ So Patrick J. Geary : The Merovingians . Munich 2007.
  209. For the following see Kaiser (2004), p. 38 ff.
  210. Kaiser (2004), p. 49 ff.
  211. ^ Kaiser (2004), p. 49 f .; Postel (2004), pp. 116-118.
  212. Postel (2004), p. 115 f. For the modalities of the settlement see Kaiser (2004), p. 82 ff.
  213. ^ Kaiser (2004), p. 115 f.
  214. Kaiser (2004), pp. 152–157.
  215. ↑ On this Kaiser (2004), p. 176 ff.
  216. See Peter Salway: A History of Roman Britain. Oxford 2001, p. 323ff.
  217. Cf. in summary Evangelos Chrysos: The Roman rule in Britain and its end. In: Bonner Jahrbücher 191 (1991), pp. 247-276.
  218. Michael E. Jones: The End of Roman Britain . Ithaca / NY 1996; Snyder (1998).
  219. ^ Zosimos, 6, 10, 2. Cf. also Edward A. Thompson : Zosimus 6.10.2 and the letters of Honorius . In: Classical Quarterly 32 (1982), pp. 445-462. According to some researchers (e.g. David Mattingly ) the emperor did not refer to Britain, but to the Grossium landscape in Italy.
  220. ^ Source overview in Snyder (1998), p. 29 ff. (Written) and 131 ff. (Archaeological).
  221. ^ For a current overview, see Nicholas J. Higham, Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon World. New Haven 2013, pp. 103ff.
  222. Postel (2004), pp. 95 ff .; Christian Uebach: The landings of the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings and the Normans in England . Marburg 2003, p. 19 ff. Bruno Krüger (Ed.): Die Germanen - History and culture of the Germanic tribes in Central Europe , Berlin 1983, Volume 2. pp. 450–452, 476–485.
  223. ^ Beda, Historia ecclesiastica , 1, 15.
  224. Brief overview with literature. ( Memento from May 27, 2012 in the web archive ) In general, see also David Dumville: Sub-Roman Britain: History and Legend. In: History 62, 1977, pp. 173-192; Snyder (1998).
  225. On the “historical background” of the legend and the later deformation cf. now also Guy Halsall: Worlds of Arthur: Facts and Fictions of the Dark Ages. Oxford 2013.
  226. ↑ For a summary, see Pohl (2005), p. 92 f.
  227. Current overview of the Anglo-Saxons now at Henrietta Leyser: A Short History of the Anglo-Saxons. London / New York 2017 and Nicholas J. Higham, Martin J. Ryan: The Anglo-Saxon World. New Haven 2013. See also James Campbell (Ed.): The Anglo-Saxons . London et al. 1982 (several NDe); Frank M. Stenton: Anglo-Saxon England . 3rd edition Oxford 1971.
  228. Ward-Perkins (2005), pp. 117 ff.
  229. Origo gentis Langobardorum 1.
  230. For the Lombards see introductory: Exhibition catalog Die Langobard (2008); Jörg Jarnut: History of the Longobards . Stuttgart 1982; Menghin (1985); Peter Erhart, Walter Pohl (ed.): The Longobards: Rule and identity . Vienna 2005.
  231. ^ Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum , 1, 20; see also Prokopios, Bella , 6, 14.
  232. ↑ In summary, Pohl (2005), p. 193.
  233. Prokopios, Bella , 8, 33.
  234. Prokopios, Bella , 8, 25 ff.
  235. ^ Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum , 1, 23 f.
  236. To the Avars is fundamental: Walter Pohl: The Avars . 2nd edition Munich 2002.
  237. Menghin (1985), pp. 85 f .; Pohl: The Avars . 2002, p. 56 f .; Pohl (2005), p. 193 ff.
  238. Pohl (2005), p. 197.
  239. Wolfram (1990), p. 399 f.
  240. Matthias Hardt offers a good overview of the early Bavarians: The Bavarians . In: Goetz, Jarnut, Pohl (2003), pp. 429-461.
  241. ↑ In general on the early Slavs cf. now especially Florin Curta: The Making of the Slavs . Cambridge 2001 and Florin Curta: Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500–1250 . Cambridge 2006, p. 39 ff. See also Gottfried Schramm: A dam breaks. The Roman Danube border and the invasions of the 5th – 7th centuries Century in the light of names and words . Munich 1997 (partly out of date).
  242. For a summary of the development according to Alboin, see: Wolfram (1990), p. 404 ff.
  243. For "post-Roman Europe" see Chris Wickham : The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 . London 2009 and the cultural history of Juliet Smith: Europe after Rome . Oxford 2005; see. also Reinhold Kaiser: The Mediterranean World and Europe in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Frankfurt am Main 2014 (each with further literature). On economic and social history in general, see also the important account by Wickham (2005).
  244. ^ John F. Haldon: Byzantium in the Seventh Century . 2nd edition Cambridge 1997.
  245. See generally Wickham (2005).
  246. ↑ In detail on culture: Friedrich Prince : From Konstantin zu Charlemagne. Development and change of Europe . Düsseldorf / Zurich 2000.
  247. This is based on Stefanie Dick: The myth of the "Germanic" kingship. Studies on the organization of rule among the Germanic barbarians up to the beginning of the migration period . Berlin 2008.
  248. See also the article Continuity Problems . In: RGA 17 (2000), pp. 205-237.
  249. Martin (2001), p. 195 f. General (but only on the founding of the East Germanic empire): Gideon Maier: Officials and rulers in Romania Gothica . Stuttgart 2005.
  250. Brief summary in Martin (2001).
  251. See with more recent literature: Sebastian Brather : Völkerwanderungszeit . In: RGA 32 (2006), pp. 517-522.
  252. ^ Goetz, Jarnut, Pohl (2003); Thomas FX Noble (Ed.): From Roman Provinces to Medieval Kingdoms . London / New York 2006; Pohl (1997).
  253. Research problems briefly discussed by Martin (2001), cf. also the corresponding entries in the RGA.
  254. See generally Anton Scharer , Georg Scheibelreiter (ed.): Historiography in the early Middle Ages . Munich / Vienna 1994.
  255. The East Germans . 2nd edition Munich 1941 (ND Munich 1969). See, among other things, his work on the Lombards and Vandals.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on October 28, 2007 in this version .