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Old December 18th, 2011, 05:54 AM   #1

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Decline of Western Roman Empire - The Great Migration


The following tribes had been allied to/attacked the late Western Roman Empire at some point or the other (Please add if I've missed any major tribe).

1.Which of these tribes would you say was the most powerful?
2.Which of these hurt Rome the most?
3.Any reason why there was a sudden Germanic invasion at ~200-400 AD? 10-15 tribes invading Roman territory in ~200 years was not something you would call a normal invasion? I believe there was no other instance in history where there was such a migration.

I've also tried to list their origins (when they came into scene/when their name was heard first) and the time they had vanished from history/merged. Please correct if they are wrong.

1.Ostrogoth
2.Visigoth
3.Huns
4.Slavs
5.Lombards
6.Burgundy
7.Franks
8.Saxons
9.Vandals
10.Alamanni
11.Celts
12.Roxolani
13.Sarmatians
14.Gepids
**********************************
Ostrogoth -> Arrived ~291 AD. Vanished ~ 553 AD.
Visigoth -> Arrived ~369 AD.Vanished ~ 721 AD.
Huns -> Arrived ~370 AD.Vanished ~ 469 AD.
Slavs -> Arrived ~(500-600) AD.Vanished ?
Lombards -> Arrived ~100 AD.Vanished ~774 AD.
Burgundy -> Arrived ~369 AD? Vanished ~534 AD.
Franks -> Arrived ~238 AD? Vanished ? (Became the Kingdom of France)
Saxons -> Arrived ~(100-200) AD. Vanished ? (Became Anglo-Saxons/Kingdom of Essex,Sussex,Wessex,Middlesex created)
Vandals -> Arrived ~120 BC. Vanished ~554 AD.
Alamanni -> Arrived ~213 AD? Vanished ~496 AD.
Celts -> Arrived ~517 BC. Vanished ~ ?
Roxolani -> Arrived ~100 BC. Vanished ~350AD ?
Sarmatians -> Arrived ~700 BC? Vanished ~(300-500AD)?
Gepids -> Arrived ~ 100 AD? Vanished ~567 AD.
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Old December 18th, 2011, 10:33 AM   #2

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15. Suevi
16. Picts
17. Heruli
18. Alans
19. Scirii
20. Rugii
21. Berbers
22. Saxons

... and dozens more.


Well I would say that the huge scale of this event is directly related to the huege scale of the Roman Empire.

Sompe people consider that if the frontier were, for example, between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, the invasions wouldn't take place. It doesn't matter at all. In close contact with the RE, barbarians copied the RE in military and culture, and also experienced a growing sophistication both economically and socially. Wherever the frontier were, such growing dangerous peoples would have rise in contact with the RE. Their economies were so closely related to that of the RE, that problems into the RE would cause problems into the barbarian world.

This is a classical rule that can be seen everywhere, China, India, Middle East, the Roman Empire... When the core area experiences problems, marginal areas are disturbed too. Usually, this means a lack of enough resources for barbarians, who looks into the Empires the richness that they need. If the core area is healthy, invasions declines and can dealed easilly by the empires.

The early invasions of the 2th century probably were symptons of early problems in the Empire, which can be proved by the growing crisis symptons in the most developed areas of the RE like Italy and Hispania. The later invasions can be both, the proves of disarticulated economies in the area (Roman-Barbarian) and the weakness of the RE in order to deal with the invasions.
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Old December 18th, 2011, 01:07 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Keviv View Post
The following tribes had been allied to/attacked the late Western Roman Empire at some point or the other (Please add if I've missed any major tribe).

1.Which of these tribes would you say was the most powerful?
2.Which of these hurt Rome the most?
3.Any reason why there was a sudden Germanic invasion at ~200-400 AD? 10-15 tribes invading Roman territory in ~200 years was not something you would call a normal invasion? I believe there was no other instance in history where there was such a migration.

I've also tried to list their origins (when they came into scene/when their name was heard first) and the time they had vanished from history/merged. Please correct if they are wrong.

1.Ostrogoth
2.Visigoth
3.Huns
4.Slavs
5.Lombards
6.Burgundy
7.Franks
8.Saxons
9.Vandals
10.Alamanni
11.Celts
12.Roxolani
13.Sarmatians
14.Gepids
**********************************
Ostrogoth -> Arrived ~291 AD. Vanished ~ 553 AD.
Visigoth -> Arrived ~369 AD.Vanished ~ 721 AD.
Huns -> Arrived ~370 AD.Vanished ~ 469 AD.
Slavs -> Arrived ~(500-600) AD.Vanished ?
Lombards -> Arrived ~100 AD.Vanished ~774 AD.
Burgundy -> Arrived ~369 AD? Vanished ~534 AD.
Franks -> Arrived ~238 AD? Vanished ? (Became the Kingdom of France)
Saxons -> Arrived ~(100-200) AD. Vanished ? (Became Anglo-Saxons/Kingdom of Essex,Sussex,Wessex,Middlesex created)
Vandals -> Arrived ~120 BC. Vanished ~554 AD.
Alamanni -> Arrived ~213 AD? Vanished ~496 AD.
Celts -> Arrived ~517 BC. Vanished ~ ?
Roxolani -> Arrived ~100 BC. Vanished ~350AD ?
Sarmatians -> Arrived ~700 BC? Vanished ~(300-500AD)?
Gepids -> Arrived ~ 100 AD? Vanished ~567 AD.
I'd say that the Alans crippled the East really badly, especially during the battle of Adrianople, the Vandals sacked Rome, and the Franks created an exterior power. The Huns ravaged the lands, and the Lombards moved into the Italian peninsula. The Saxons began to push the Romans out of Britannia, and the Alamanni fought the Romans alone the Rhine. I'd say that they all played a huge part.

The Saxons and the Franks gained the most power in the future. As well as the Magyars, which you didn't mention, and the Slavs. The Saxons could be found throughout most of Germany, England, and even into Slavic lands. The Magyars established a very powerful Kingdom in Europe, and the Slavs established a few. The Franks established two powerhouses: The Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of France.

Frank81 made great points for the cause of Barbarian Invasions, I'd listen to his opinions on that.
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Old December 19th, 2011, 06:36 AM   #4

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The barbarians did not cause the decline of the Western Empire. They merely exploited it.
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Old December 19th, 2011, 07:31 AM   #5

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The barbarians did not cause the decline of the Western Empire. They merely exploited it.
Exactly.

The Empire declines, this leads to smaller tax revenues, which leads to decline in military capabilities, which leads to weaker frontier troops, which decreases the cost of invading the empire. This serves as an incentive for invasion.

By the early 5th century the Roman civilization had declined to an extend that made it possible for any tribe living in the frontiers of the Empire to simply invade it at will. The Roman state did not have the resources required to assemble armies to protect the civilians agaist the invaders. We do not have records of large scale defeats for the century after Adrianople when the western empire collapsed. The only major battle in the period resulted in a Roman victory.

Overall the barbarian invasions were a natural consequence of the collapse of classical mediterranean civilization as the social-economic-military collapse of the mediterranean created a vacuum that attrated the surrounding populations, which included the Germanics in the 5th century and the Arabs in the 7th century.

Last edited by Guaporense; December 19th, 2011 at 07:36 AM.
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Old December 19th, 2011, 07:36 AM   #6

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Originally Posted by Mischef_Managed View Post
I'd say that the Alans crippled the East really badly, especially during the battle of Adrianople
Crippled badly? They killed 15,000 soldiers. So? Rome had lost dozens of times as many men in previous wars and Rome continued to grow in power in previous centuries. What Adrianople showed was that Rome was no longer capable of replacing losses at the end of the 4th century CE. In other words, by that time the military strenght that Rome was capable of mobilizing was just the bare minimum required to maintain the frontiers. Losses would mean that the borders would stay unprotected. Further decline of military potential would result into the collapse of the Empire. Which was what actually happened.

So it was a sympton of the dramatic decline of ancient civilization.
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Old December 19th, 2011, 07:51 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Keviv View Post
The following tribes had been allied to/attacked the late Western Roman Empire at some point or the other (Please add if I've missed any major tribe).

1.Which of these tribes would you say was the most powerful?
2.Which of these hurt Rome the most?
I think you missed the arabs of the 7th century. They were perhaps the single tribe that damaged classical civilization to the greatest extent. Such that today all the areas of the Roman Empire that were turned into muslian lands are today third world, while all other parts of the Roman Empire recovered after several centuries, became developed and formed the basis of our modern Western civilization.

One might say that the arabs were more advanced than the non-arab parts of the former roman empire during the early middle ages, but that lasted only temporarily and by the 13th century while the European parts of the Roman Empire had recovered their past levels of population the Asian and African parts of the Roman Empire only reached again the Roman levels of population density in the 19th century.

Quote:
3.Any reason why there was a sudden Germanic invasion at ~200-400 AD? 10-15 tribes invading Roman territory in ~200 years was not something you would call a normal invasion? I believe there was no other instance in history where there was such a migration.
There never was in all of human history a process of migration of many tribes into a declining empire as during the decline and fall of the roman empire. That's because there never was in human history a process of decline and collapse of a civilization of the same order of magnitude as the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire is registered in the artic ice caps, where levels of metal pollution (measured in copper, silver, lead, tin, etc) reached peak levels in the 1st century and declined dramatically afterwards. Hemispheric levels of pollution only occured again after a thousand years and we do not have any other comparable decline in the levels of metal pollution as during the 700 years from 100 CE to 800 CE.

In that context the implosion of Graeco-Roman civilization lead to a vacuum that attracted all the neighboring populations of the Roman Empire into sacking the dying cities of the once prosperous Roman civilization.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 09:21 PM   #8

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Originally Posted by Frank81 View Post
15. Suevi
16. Picts
17. Heruli
18. Alans
19. Scirii
20. Rugii
21. Berbers
22. Saxons

... and dozens more.


Well I would say that the huge scale of this event is directly related to the huege scale of the Roman Empire.

Sompe people consider that if the frontier were, for example, between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, the invasions wouldn't take place. It doesn't matter at all. In close contact with the RE, barbarians copied the RE in military and culture, and also experienced a growing sophistication both economically and socially. Wherever the frontier were, such growing dangerous peoples would have rise in contact with the RE. Their economies were so closely related to that of the RE, that problems into the RE would cause problems into the barbarian world.

This is a classical rule that can be seen everywhere, China, India, Middle East, the Roman Empire... When the core area experiences problems, marginal areas are disturbed too. Usually, this means a lack of enough resources for barbarians, who looks into the Empires the richness that they need. If the core area is healthy, invasions declines and can dealed easilly by the empires.

The early invasions of the 2th century probably were symptons of early problems in the Empire, which can be proved by the growing crisis symptons in the most developed areas of the RE like Italy and Hispania. The later invasions can be both, the proves of disarticulated economies in the area (Roman-Barbarian) and the weakness of the RE in order to deal with the invasions.
Thanks mate..When you talk about the Core area experiencing problems, do you mean the internal power struggle? Cause' otherwise it was the Barbarian attacks that had caused the Roman empire to lose rich areas such as egypt to the vandals which further lead to an economic collapse..
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 09:30 PM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mischef_Managed View Post
I'd say that the Alans crippled the East really badly, especially during the battle of Adrianople, the Vandals sacked Rome, and the Franks created an exterior power. The Huns ravaged the lands, and the Lombards moved into the Italian peninsula. The Saxons began to push the Romans out of Britannia, and the Alamanni fought the Romans alone the Rhine. I'd say that they all played a huge part.

The Saxons and the Franks gained the most power in the future. As well as the Magyars, which you didn't mention, and the Slavs. The Saxons could be found throughout most of Germany, England, and even into Slavic lands. The Magyars established a very powerful Kingdom in Europe, and the Slavs established a few. The Franks established two powerhouses: The Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of France.

Frank81 made great points for the cause of Barbarian Invasions, I'd listen to his opinions on that.
Thanks Mischef.. The question running in my mind is, 'There were barbarian tribes throughout the centuries of rule of the Roman empire. Why did they choose to attack the empire in the late 4-5 century all at once? Was it a weak ruler at the centre they saw? Was it lack of will on Rome's part to hold the territories they once prided? Or was it the power struggle and killings amongst Romans themselves that had given the Barbarians an opportunity?
I wouldn't say lack of troops as Augustus had lesser number of troops that some of the emperors in Late WRE (though they were more efficient than the Germanic troops that was the Roman army in the later centuries),

What was lacking in the late western Roman Emperors that was seen in Justinian , the Byzantine emperor who had similar problems but was able to emulate the Old Roman ambitions and capture parts of the west!! Was it a general like Belisarius who was missing to the Late WRE?
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 09:35 PM   #10

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Originally Posted by Guaporense View Post
Exactly.

The Empire declines, this leads to smaller tax revenues, which leads to decline in military capabilities, which leads to weaker frontier troops, which decreases the cost of invading the empire. This serves as an incentive for invasion.

By the early 5th century the Roman civilization had declined to an extend that made it possible for any tribe living in the frontiers of the Empire to simply invade it at will. The Roman state did not have the resources required to assemble armies to protect the civilians agaist the invaders. We do not have records of large scale defeats for the century after Adrianople when the western empire collapsed. The only major battle in the period resulted in a Roman victory.

Overall the barbarian invasions were a natural consequence of the collapse of classical mediterranean civilization as the social-economic-military collapse of the mediterranean created a vacuum that attrated the surrounding populations, which included the Germanics in the 5th century and the Arabs in the 7th century.
I kinda agree that the Barbarians exploited and fastened the decline. But what do we term as decline? Is it territorial decline or is it economic decline or is it a decline in military power? Which triggered the barbarians to see the Roman empire as weaker than before?
From what you have said, I see you have mentioned it is these three-social,economic,military together...I believe you are talking about advent of christianity/Internal Civil wars/Lack of a strong military? Again, the same problems had existed for Justinian. But he was able to capture part of Roman WE back?
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