Article

Germans

John Frederick Drinkwater

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics


Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.2831

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Germans (Germani), after the *Celts the second major linguistic and cultural grouping encountered by the Graeco-Roman world in northern Europe. It was the Romans' failure, between 12 bce and 9ce, to absorb the Germanic peoples west of the Elbe that compelled them to centre the defence of their western empire on the Rhine (*Rhenus) and upper Danube (*Danuvius). Sporadic German raiding in the 1st and 2nd cent. ce developed into prolonged trouble in the 3rd cent. with the emergence of the Frankish and Alamannic threat to Gaul and Italy, and with the application of Gothic pressure on the lower and middle Danube. The relative pacification of the *Goths in the 260s and 270s (see heruli) left the *Franks and the *Alamanni as Rome's most important Germanic enemies down to the last quarter of the 4th cent., after which large-scale Gothic settlement south of the Danube unbalanced imperial foreign and domestic politics. The early 5th cent. saw the Goths sweep from Thrace through the Balkans into Italy, thence to Spain and back to Gaul. *Vandals, Sueves, and *Burgundians also crossed the Rhine in force.

Article.  704 words. 

Subjects: Historical Geography ; Ancient Roman History

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