he Rise of the Franks

he Rise of the Franks - he Rise of the Franks, 330-751 The...

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he Rise of the Franks, 330-751 The Mediterranean World in 451 We have seen that the Roman empire did not "fall" to murderous hordes of savage barbarians. The invaders who toppled the empire in the West were relatively few in numbers, were Christians who had long contact with the Romans and had become sophisticated and partially Romanized by that contact. The Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, and Vandals actually tried to restore and preserve much of Roman imperial culture and its institutions. But Justinian's reconquest overthrew some of these kingdoms and weakened others. It was the least advanced and Romanized Germanic tribes that formed the foundation of medieval European society, and the most important of these were the Franks. 1. Early history of the Franks The Franks inhabited the delta lands at the mouths of the Rhine and Scheldt rivers. In about 350, they became Roman federati and were allowed to occupy lands south of the Rhine, in what is now the southern Netherlands and northern Belgium. It would appear that sea level varies over time, and the higher or lower water level has a great
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effect upon low-lying lands such as those the Franks inhabited. At the height of the Roman empire, the sea-level was low and this particular region was rich in agricultural products and active in trade and commerce between the Romans and the Germanic tribes. As time passed, however, the sea began to encroach, and the area became a great marsh not unlike the bayou country of southwestern Louisiana. Like the Cajuns of that region, the Franks were hunters and trappers and supplied recruits for the Roman armies of the period. They were not sophisticated or highly organized, like the Ostrogoths or Visigoths. They were still pagan, worshipping generally the same gods as many of the other Germanic tribes -- Thor, god of thunder; Wotan, the sky god; Tew, the warrior god; and so forth. They were grouped in tribes, each ruled by a chieftain selected from a family that claimed to be descended from Wotan. The kings were both rulers and priests, and were also the richest of their tribe. They surrounded themselves with large households, composed of slaves and free retainers. As the empire weakened, the many small tribes that constituted the Frankish nation began to expand from the marshes that were their home. One group pushed southward along the Scheldt river in what is now northern France and the other reached the same are by expanding from the sea-coast. The latter group, called the "Salian Franks" (from "sal," "salt" or "sea"), eventually came to be regarded as the ancestors of the French nation, and their laws and customs of ("Salic law") were considered as the basis of French law (this will become an important matter later on). In about 430,
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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he Rise of the Franks - he Rise of the Franks, 330-751 The...

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