chapter  3
32 Pages

Tribal Europe before the Eighth Century: The Germans and the Celts

The Germanic tribes originated in Scandinavia in the second millennium BC, and then gradually moved south-west. The Germans considered themselves members of their individual tribes and lacked a collective ethnic consciousness of themselves as Germans as distinct from Romans and Celts. The Germans borrowed little of the Romans' agricultural technique. The Germans tended to settle in the sand dunes, leaving the more fertile heavy clay soils of the river valleys to the Romans and Celts until the early eighth century. Although the economy of tribal Europe was more complex than was once thought, the Germans were not town dwellers before their final push into the Roman Empire. This chapter examines how individual tribes migrated into the Empire and established kingdoms. It discusses the government, society and culture in the 'successor states' of the sixth and seventh centuries, making comparisons between tribes where appropriate and noting how the later Germanic law codes reflect changes from their predecessors.