Feudal Germany

Feudal Germany

Feudal Germany

Feudal Germany

Excerpt

Ancient Germany, the Germany of the time of Caesar and Tacitus and of the Roman Empire, was a square bounded on the north by the North Sea and the Baltic, on the east by the Oder and the mountains of Bohemia, on the south by the Danube, and on the west by the Rhine. In the fourth and fifth centuries, under the tremendous pressure of the migrations (Völkerwanderung), the German race surged southward over the Danube and westward across the Rhine, the vanguard tribes penetrating far into and settling within the Roman Empire, where the first barbarian kingdoms were established in Italy, in Gaul, in Spain, and even in Africa. Germany, like an overturned vessel, saw her nations seeping away out of the motherland and ever flowing toward the west and the south. There was real danger in the fifth century of the German race being lost to history through absorption and assimilation by the deeply Romanized and more highly civilized populations of Italy, Gaul, and Spain. By the end of the sixth century both nations of the Goths, the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Lombards, and half of the Frankish nation had abandoned the ancient Heimland forever. Only five important tribes yet remained there. The East Franks were in the valleys of the lower Rhine and Meuse; the Saxons in North Germany with the small Thuringian tribe wedged in between them and the Franks; the ancient Suevi, now called Swabians, were spread over the angle made by the upper waters of the Danube and the Rhine and were settled even upon the flanks of the Alps and the Jura; the Bavarians lay along the middle Danube between the Lech and the Inn rivers and bridged the great stream.

But as the Germans had enlarged their borders toward the south and west there had been a corresponding shrinkage along the east and northeast. For when the Goths and Vandals and Lombards had moved out of their ancient seat be-

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