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Local history AD - 800 AD

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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Local history AD - 800 AD
    Posted: 13-Jun-2005 at 08:44
Part Two:

Written historical evidence over the emergence of a distinct Germanic culture in the area of todays Germany, is of course predominantly be found in Roman sources.
If the "Germanisation" of Middle-Germany was the product of migration of Germanic tribes from Northern Europe, or the progressive development of people, indigenous to the area since the arrival of mankind in Central Europe, or if both these factors contributed, is disputed amongst historians.
Fact is, the various conflicts of Germanic tribes with the Roman Empire, most noted was the invasion of the Cambers and Teutons in 120 BC, brought Germanic tribes into a greater historical context.
Caesar deals with his German adventures in De Bello Gallico, but the most important historical source about the Germanic tribes, their people, culture, customs and religion, is Tacitus Germania (De origine et situ Germanorum, About the origin and the distribution of the Germans). Although Tacitus writes with the snobbish arrogance of a learned and civilised Roman, who looks down on a Barbarian people, it is an invaluable record of the Germanic societies in the first century AD.

According to Tacitus, the area around Hagen, was settled by a number of Germanic tribes, the Usipetes, Sicambri, Chatti, Marsi, Bructeri and Tencteri, although it is almost impossible to say which one was the dominant local tribe, as Tacitus geographical description are notoriously imprecise, and the tribal territories shifted during numerous tribal conflicts on a regular basis.




Local Germanic tribes

Hagen was never part of the Roman Empire, the river Rhine , about 75km to the West of Hagen formed the eastern border of the Roman province of Germania Inferior, with its capital Colonia Agrippina.
There is evidence that a number of local tribes, namely the Bructeri took part in Arminius revolt that with the defeat of three Roman legions in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD virtually ended all Roman ambitions to occupy territories east of the Rhine.
That doesnt mean that the local area was "terra incognita" to the Romans, a number of Roman finds in Hagen prove that there was intensive cultural exchange. Roman coins from Augustus and Constantine the Greats reign have been discovered, and two burial urns that contained Roman Bronze jewellery.
One can presume that the local Germanic tribes traded extensively with the Roman province, or that the occasional Roman punitive expedition ventured out, to discipline the unruly Germanic tribes that had endangered the Roman border.

During the 3rd century the names of the local tribes gradually disappear, their identity and territory having been absorbed into the emerging Frankish empire.

Although traces of the early Germanic settlers are very sparse around Hagen, one has to presume that life in the local area wasnt very different from better recorded Germanic settlements.
It was still a purely agricultural society, with where farmers in permanent settlements cultivated various grains and livestock, although the occasional first specialised craftsman appeared, smiths, potters and carpenters.
Settlements were still very small, villages with no more than 200 people, who lived in typical Germanic wooden long-houses, which housed the entire family, slaves and the cattle.
The burned remains of such farmstead from the 2nd/3rd century were found near Hagen.




Typical Germanic longhouse

A typical Germanic house was up to 10m long and about 6m wide.The floor was usually covered with wood or stone. Along the inside of the wall run a bench, covered with furs.
The roof was covered with reeds and supported by wooden poles. The outer walls consisted of woven branches covered with clay, inbetween wooden stakes.
The house was usually surrounded by a wooden fence, as was the entire settlement.


Far more frequent and imposing as these occasional traces of domestic life, are the remains of Wallburgen, earth-walled fortifications, of which no less than five can be found around Hagen.



Reconstruction of a typical Germanic "Wallburg"

These fortifications are possibly part of a larger system of defensive structures that protected the area from invasions. Each Wallburg was built with direct intervisibility to the next one, in order to establish an early warning system.

The largest of these fortifications in our area was the Sigiburg, located on a hilltop overlooking the river Ruhr.



Location of the "Sigiburg", now with a memorial tower dedicated to Kaiser Wilhelm I.



The fortifications of the Sigiburg were a mixture of earthen walls with a stone core, possibly crowned with a wooden palisade , and stonewalls, built from the local sand stone, and a number of ditches. The total fortified area was more than 14ha.


At the beginning of the 7th century the Saxons from Northern Germany invaded and settled the local area and incorporated the existing Wallburgen into their defensive system during the long war against the Franks.

The Western Franks under Karl Martell from 718-738, and Pippin the Short from 743 -753 undertook a number of campaigns against the Saxons, who however at first successfully resisted the attempt to be incorporated into the West-Frankish kingdom and to be Christianised.

In 775 Charlemagne succeeded where his forefathers had failed.
An large Frankish army marched from the Cologne area to Hagen and besieged the Sigiburg which had been strengthened to be one of the most important fortifications of the Saxons under their leader Widukind.
The Sigiburg fell after a short siege and the area around Hagen became part of the Frankish Kingdom.
Saxon resistance in Northern Germany continued till 782 and virtually ended with the massacre of 4.000 Saxons in Verden ( in todays Lower Saxony)




Charlemagne accepts the submission of Widukind, Saxon chief


Edited by Komnenos
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  Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jun-2005 at 21:37

Tacitus is an interesting Roman writer.  I thought his Latin was quite difficult at times.  It was like putting together a puzzle in places.  In my upper level Latin class we read Tacitus' Annals, Book IV.  We were going to read Germania, but we could not find a good enough edition with commentary.  One of my professors remarked that Tacitus' work on the Germans can be considered one of the first real anthropological studies.

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  Quote eaglecap Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Jun-2005 at 21:40
This is far more interesting than current events- give me time I will add something.
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