The Birth of the Middle Ages, 395-814

By H. St. L. B. Moss | Go to book overview
Save to active project


THE ruin of Justinian's handiwork was nowhere seen so speedily as in northern Italy. A few years after his death the Lombards burst into the plains that lie between Alps and Po, and in a short time had possessed themselves of the district. From their original home in the Elbe region they had travelled across Europe by stages. By the end of the fifth century they were the ruling power in Hungary, and soon afterwards, by crushing the Heruls, they became Rome's neighbours on the Danube. Their conversion to Arian Christianity, and the introduction of more settled conditions, led to an increase in the royal power, as was usually the case with German peoples when thus exposed to Roman influences. But the culture which they acquired here was very slight; a century later they appeared to the Romans to be typical 'barbarians'. Their king, though absolute, was little more than a war-leader chosen for a single campaign. They possessed no magistrates or constitution; the blood-feud still reigned supreme, and the real bond of society was the clan. Since their departure from the Elbe they had rarely remained settled on the same land for more than one generation, and their agriculture was consequently primitive, since even in Hungary they had left the field-work to be done by slaves and subject peoples, while they themselves plundered the territory of their neighbours.

Hitherto the Lombards and Gepids had been the leading forces on the Danube frontier, and Justinian had, in Rome's customary fashion, retained Sirmium, the key-point of the district, for the Empire by playing off one people against the other. The entry of the Avars, a fierce tribe of Asiatic origin, broke up this situation. Using the Lombards as their catspaw, they destroyed the Gepid kingdom, taking most of the territory and booty for themselves. The Lombards were now in sorry plight; their independence was threatened by the Avars, and the hoped-for increase of land was not forthcoming. In desperation they embarked upon what was to prove the final stage of their migration. In 568,


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Birth of the Middle Ages, 395-814


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 294

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?