CHAPTER LXXIII.-TRIBES OF THE NORTH.
The opening paragraphs of
Modern History relate to the Barbarian Nations.
The warlike tribes that
for several Centuries had
beaten against the northeastern frontiers of the
Roman Empire at last burst through the barriers which the Caesars had set against them
and swept the Old Civilization into ruins.
Peninsular Europe became the spoil of the
invaders. The immense populations of barbarism, long heaped up on the further banks
of the Rhine and the Danube, suddenly diffused themselves as a spreading flood over all
the better parts of the West. It may prove
of interest to take at least a cursory survey of
the barbarians, as it respects their ethnology,
institutions, and general history.
The warlike peoples by whom the Empire
of the Romans was subverted belonged to
three different races: the Germanic, the Slavic,
and the Scythic. Whether the first two groups
may be traced to a common Teutonic origin is
a question belonging to the ethnologist rather
than to the historian. It is sufficient to note the fact that in the fifth century the Germanic
and Slavic tribes were already so clearly discriminated as to constitute different groups of
population. As to the Scythic or Asiatic
invaders they were manifestly of a distinct
stock from the Teutonic nations, whom they
drove before them into the confines of the
1. The Germans. To this family belonged
the Goths, with their two divisions of "Visi" or
Western, and "Ostro" or Eastern Goths; the
AIIemannian confederation, consisting of several tribes, the Suevi being the chief; the
Marcomanni, the Quadi, the Hermunduri, the
Heruli, the Gepidae, the Vandals, the Lombards, the Franks, the Angles, the Saxons,
the Burgundians, and the Bavarians.
Of these many and populous tribes, among
the most important were the Goths. Their
origin has never been definitely ascertained.
The first historical contact between them and
the Romans was in the year A. D. 250, when
the Emperor Decius was called to confront
them on the Danube. They had, however,
been previously mentioned both by Pliny and
Ptolemy. By some authors they have been