The Early Middle Ages in Western Europe
When the army is on the march, [we order] that it should be the business of the count to proclaim by edict in his county that each man in lieu of 60 solidi should do military service, and that they should come to the assembly at the place where it is commanded. The count himself should have an eye to how they have been equipped, that is, lance, shield, a bow with two strings, and twelve arrows. Each of them should have these. . . . and they should come on the day of the announced assembly and there they shouldshow how they have been equipped. They should have breastplates, helmets and be armed for the season, that is in the summer time.
The Capitulary of Aachen, quoted in Hans Delbrück, The History of the Art of War, Trans. Walter Renfroe ( Westport, Conn., 1982), 3, p. 59. Charlemagne issued this decree in 806.
With the frontier defenses of the Western Roman Empire all but gone by 455, the German tribes were free to move into Roman territory almost at will. Any resistance more often came from Germans already settled there than from the remnants of the Roman military. The Germans were few in number compared to the Romanized population in place. They did not displace the Romans but rather mingled with them, except in Britain where the Angles and Saxons drove out a large part of the Romanized Britons. The Germans took over a large share of the cultivated land in the regions they occupied, but the Roman patricians maintained a significant portion of their property. Accordingly there were two types of wealthy landholders -- German, still largely barbarian, and Roman, still sophisticated and cultured. In both populations the differences between the wealthy landholders and the ordinary freemen became greater. Since only some of the German freemen were granted landholdings, the remainder was forced to become their tenants. The widening social distinctions were crucial for the creation of feudalism.