Week 7 - Barbarian Culture & Society

Week 7 - Barbarian Culture & Society - Rome...

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Rome "falls" after the midterm--that's the History 111 tradition! So on Monday we'll look at the barbarian invasions of the Roman Empire (with very special effects you won't believe!). We'll look at the collapse of unified Roman government in the west and the formation of barbarian kingdoms. (The Frankish kingdom in Gaul is our main focus for the next few weeks). We'll look at reactions to the sack of Rome in 410 AD by the Visigoths as well as the aftermath and results--including the big question of whether Rome "fell" or not. This week's assignment asks you to draw some conclusions about specific features of Frankish society based on specific laws in the Salic code. Keep in mind that the main purpose of this system of law was to make compensations for crimes which would preserve the victims' honor and prevent blood feuds. The fines of the wergeld were a substitute for revenge: instead of “an eye for an eye” or “a life for a life” there was a FINE for an eye or a FINE for a life. (This didn't mean that murderers weren't punished, either! But it did spare the victims' family the SHAME and disgrace of being victims of crime.) There was a real danger in the Germanic tribal societies that any and every crime would lead to blood feuds. So many blood feuds, so little time! Barbarian tribes and kingdoms would have exterminated themselves if not for measures preventing blood feuds and tribal wars (to preserve the honor of whole tribes). This is not a system of law based on concepts of civil rights, the protection of individuals' rights, or any notion of a STATE. No state! That's one of the hardest things to grasp about the Germanic kingdoms. There were tribal loyalties to chieftains, warlords, & kings, but those were PERSONAL rational law and
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Week 7 - Barbarian Culture & Society - Rome...

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