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The Germans left northern Europe in search of warmer climates and better grazing land. They were attracted by Rome’s wealth and culture.
Layout of a typical German village
At first, they could not read or write, because their language had no alphabet. Gradually, they began to use Roman letters to write their own language.
FIERCE FIGHTERS - The Germans were fierce fighters. They were divided into clans based on family ties. They had no special battle plan. It was an all-out fight of man against man.
The drightenwas the warlord of a clan, in charge of waging raids on other tribes. The chieftains provided their men with leadership, weapons, and adventure in return for loyalty (and credit for brave deeds).
The German’s love of battle was closely linked to their religion. Warriors who died in battle were carried by spirits into the hall of Wodan, called Valhallawhere they would feast and fight forever.
Brewing/Vinting - Many barbarians spent their winters preparing ale, mead, and wine for the coming year.
Gaming – Dicing was a popular diversion during the winter months
Feats of Skill - Glima was a form of wrestling in which two men wearing belts would try to throw the other out of a large circle.
Climbing, archery and axe-throwing were common events
Lapidary - Some barbarians skilled in jewelry-making would spend the better part of the winter months making brooches, pins, armbands, necklaces, and ankle bracelets.
Germans who were accused of a crime would profess their innocence in an oath, and that oath would be defended by an oath-helper who swore the accused was telling the truth.
The Germans believed that the law came from the people, requiring public approval for any changes.Hospitality
Sometimes guilt or innocence would be decided byordeal, a severe trial,
German courts wanted to keep drunken fights from becoming blood feuds for revenge.
A person who was judged guilty was not always punished physically. Courts could impose fines called wergeld. The legal system did not treat all people fairly.
In the late 300s the Huns, led by Attila, or “Little Daddy,” attacked both the Ostrogoths (East Goths) and the Visigoths (West Goths). After the Huns conquered the East Goths, the West Goths asked the Roman emperor for protection.
The Goths were a Germanic people who lived in the Balkan Peninsula of Europe.
In 410, led by Alaric, they captured and looted Rome and continued on to Gaul and then to Spain, ending the Roman rule in Spain and driving out the Vandals.
The West Goths rebelled against the Romans and defeated them at the Battle of Adrianople in 378.
In 476, a German general named Odoacer took control and ruled the western empire in his own name for almost 15 years.
In 455, the Vandals attacked and burned Rome, but spared the lives of the Romans.
The East Goths, led by Theodoric, took Italy, killed Odoacer, and set up their own kingdom.
By 550, the Roman Empire in the West had faded away, replaced by six major and a great many minor Germanic kingdoms.