53 Facts About Germanic peoples


Germanic peoples were historical groups of people that once occupied Central Europe and Scandinavia during antiquity and into the early Middle Ages.

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The Romans named the area belonging to North-Central Europe in which Germanic peoples lived Germania, stretching East to West between the Vistula and Rhine rivers and north to south from Southern Scandinavia to the upper Danube.

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In discussions of the Roman period, the Germanic peoples are sometimes referred to as Germani or ancient Germans, although many scholars consider the second term problematic, since it suggests identity with present-day Germans.

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The very concept of "Germanic peoples" has become the subject of controversy among contemporary scholars.

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Some scholars call for its total abandonment as a modern construct since lumping "Germanic peoples" together implies a common group identity for which there is little evidence.

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The wars reordered the Germanic frontier, and afterwards, new Germanic peoples are heard of such as the Franks, Goths, Saxons, and Alemanni.

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The Germanic peoples shared a native script from around the first century or before, the runes, which was gradually replaced with the Latin script, although runes continued to be used for specialized purposes thereafter.

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Traditionally, the Germanic peoples have been seen as possessing a law dominated by the concepts of feuding and blood compensation.

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Roman sources state that the Germanic peoples made decisions in a popular assembly but that they had kings and war-leaders.

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The ancient Germanic-speaking peoples probably shared a common poetic tradition, alliterative verse, and later Germanic peoples shared legends originating in the Migration Period.

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Later scholars of the Romantic period, such as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, developed several theories about the nature of the Germanic peoples that were highly influenced by romantic nationalism.

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Etymology of the Latin word, from which Latin and English Germanic peoples are derived, is unknown, although several different proposals have been made for the origin of the name.

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In modern English, the adjective Germanic peoples is distinct from German, which is generally used when referring to modern Germans only.

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Germanic peoples relates to the ancient Germani or the broader Germanic peoples group.

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Linguistics provided a new way of defining the Germanic peoples, which came to be used in historiography and archaeology.

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For clarity, Germanic peoples, when defined as "speakers of a Germanic language", are sometimes referred to as "Germanic-speaking peoples".

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Today, the term "Germanic peoples" is widely applied to "phenomena including identities, social, cultural or political groups, to material cultural artefacts, languages and texts, and even specific chemical sequences found in human DNA".

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Such scholars argue that most ideas about Germanic peoples culture are taken from far later epochs and projected backwards to antiquity.

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Germanic peoples nevertheless argues for some sense of shared identity between the Germani, noting the use of a common language, a common runic script, various common objects of material culture such as bracteates and gullgubber and the confrontation with Rome as things that could cause a sense of shared "Germanic" culture.

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Germanic peoples classified the Cimbri and Teutons, peoples who had previously invaded Italy, as Germani, and examples of this threat to Rome.

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New archaeological finds have tended to show that the boundaries between Germanic peoples were very permeable, and scholars now assume that migration and the collapse and formation of cultural units were constant occurrences within Germania.

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All Germanic peoples languages derive from the Proto-Indo-European language, which is generally thought to have been spoken between 4500 and 2500 BCE.

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The ancestor of Germanic peoples languages is referred to as Proto- or Common Germanic peoples, and likely represented a group of mutually intelligible dialects.

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The late Jastorf culture occupied so much territory that it is unlikely that Germanic peoples populations spoke a single dialect, and traces of early linguistic varieties have been highlighted by scholars.

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The only pre-Roman inscriptions that could be interpreted as Proto-Germanic peoples, written in the Etruscan alphabet, have not been found in Germania but rather in the Venetic region.

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East Germanic peoples speakers dwelled on the Baltic sea coasts and islands, while speakers of the Northwestern dialects occupied territories in present-day Denmark and bordering parts of Germany at the earliest date when they can be identified.

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Germanic peoples languages are traditionally divided between East, North and West Germanic peoples branches.

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The modern prevailing view is that North and West Germanic peoples were encompassed in a larger subgroup called Northwest Germanic peoples.

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The leading theory for the origin of Germanic peoples languages, suggested by archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence, postulates a diffusion of Indo-European languages from the Pontic–Caspian steppe towards Northern Europe during the third millennium BCE, via linguistic contacts and migrations from the Corded Ware culture towards modern-day Denmark, resulting in cultural mixing with the earlier Funnelbeaker culture.

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Category of evidence used to locate the Proto-Germanic peoples homeland is founded on traces of early linguistic contacts with neighbouring languages.

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In 63 BCE, Ariovistus, king of the Suevi and a host of other Germanic peoples, led a force across the Rhine into Gaul to aid the Sequani against their enemies the Aedui.

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From 250 onward, the Gothic Germanic peoples formed the "single most potent threat to the northern frontier of Rome".

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Germanic peoples followed his victory there with another on the marshy terrain at Abrittus, a battle which cost the life of Roman emperor Decius.

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Greuthungi, a Gothic group in modern Ukraine under the rule of Ermanaric, were among the first Germanic peoples attacked by the Huns, apparently facing Hunnic pressure for some years.

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The Franks ruled a multilingual and multi-ethnic kingdom, divided between a mostly Romance-speaking West and a mostly Germanic peoples-speaking east, that integrated former Roman elites but remained centered on a Frankish ethnic identity.

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The term is sometimes applied as early as the Stone Age, Bronze Age, or the earlier Iron Age, but it is more generally restricted to the time period after the Germanic peoples languages had become distinct from other Indo-European languages.

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The body of myths among the North Germanic-speaking peoples is known today as Norse mythology and is attested in numerous works, the most expansive of which are the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda.

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Notable topics that provide insight into the matter of East Germanic peoples paganism include the Ring of Pietroassa, which appears to be a cult object, and the mention of the Gothic by Jordanes.

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However, elements of religious practices are discernable throughout the textual record associated with the ancient Germanic peoples, including a focus on sacred groves and trees, the presence of seeresses, and numerous vocabulary items.

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Germanic peoples began entering the Roman Empire in large numbers at the same time that Christianity was spreading there, and this connection was a major factor encouraging conversion.

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Germanic peoples speakers developed a native script, the runes, and the earliest known form of which consists of 24 characters.

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Precise date that Germanic peoples speakers developed the runic alphabet is unknown, with estimates varying from 100 BCE to 100 CE.

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The religious aspect [of Germanic peoples names] seems to be an inherited, Indo-European trace, which the Germanic peoples languages share with Greek and other Indo-European languages.

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Some stylistic aspects of later Germanic peoples poetry appear to have origins in the Indo-European period, as shown by comparison with ancient Greek and Sanskrit poetry.

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Originally, the Germanic-speaking peoples shared a metrical and poetic form, alliterative verse, which is attested in very similar forms in Old Saxon, Old High German and Old English, and in a modified form in Old Norse.

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Early ideas about Germanic peoples law have come under intense scholarly scrutiny since the 1950s, and specific aspects of it such as the legal importance of sibb, retinues, and loyalty, and the concept of outlawry can no longer be justified.

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Germanic peoples warriors fought mostly on foot, in tight formations in close combat.

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When Germanic peoples expanded into Northern Gaul in the 4th and 5th centuries CE, they brought this village-based agriculture with them, which increased the agricultural productivity of the land; Heiko Steuer suggests this means that Germania was more agriculturally productive than is generally assumed.

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The shape and decoration of Germanic peoples ceramics vary by region and archaeologists have traditionally used these variations to determine larger cultural areas.

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The earliest known gold objects made by Germanic peoples craftsmen are mostly small ornaments dating from the later 1st century CE.

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Early Germanic peoples clothing is shown on some Roman stone monuments such as Trajan's Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, and is occasionally discovered in finds from in moors, mostly from Scandinavia.

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Rather than mine and smelt non-ferrous metals themselves, Germanic peoples smiths seem to have often preferred to melt down finished metal objects from Rome, which were imported in large numbers, including coins, metal vessels, and metal statues.

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Use of genetic studies to investigate the Germanic peoples past is controversial, with scholars such as Guy Halsall suggesting it could represent a hearkening back to 19th-century ideas of race.

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