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By H. W. C. Davis
Text in [square brackets] was added especially for this online publication by Ellopos
II - THE BARBARIAN KINGDOMS
The second group comprises the kingdoms which were founded in outlying provinces or comparatively late in time. The invaders of England, the Franks in Northern Gaul, the Alemanni and the Bavarians on the Upper Rhine and the Danube, the Lombards in Italy, the Vandals in Africa, never came completely under the spell of the past. The Vandals might have done so, but for their fanatical devotion to Arianism; for the province of Africa, in which they settled, was one of those which Roman statesmanship had most completely civilised. The Franks might have imitated the Visigoths and the Burgundians, if fortune had laid the cradle of their power in the valley of the Loire or the Rhone instead of the forests and marshes of the Netherlands. The Lombards and the Saxons showed no innate aversion to the ways and works of Rome; but they entered upon provinces which had already been impoverished and depopulated by the scourge of war.
Such races proceeded rapidly with the construction of a new social and political order, because the past was a sealed book to them. Roman law vanished from England so completely as to leave it doubtful whether the Saxons ever came to terms with the provincials; it was tolerated but not encouraged by the Franks; it was in great measure set aside by the Lombards; it seems to have been unknown to the Alemanni and Bavarians. We shall see in the sequel the importance of these facts. The future of Europe lay not with the Goths or with the Burgundians, but with more ignorant or less impressionable races who, rather by good fortune than by choice, escaped the vices in missing the lessons of Roman civilisation. The Franks and the Saxons, as we find them described by Gregory of Tours and the Venerable Bede, were far from resembling the noble savage imagined by Tacitus and other idealists. But they were trained for future empire in the hard school of a northern climate.
Cf. Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Ancient Rome * Ancient Greece * The Making of Europe
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