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					<b>Barbarian Invaders<b>

Around the year 200 AD, nomadic tribes on the great grass steppes of
Central Asia began migrating toward China, India, Persia, and Europe. The
reasons for this migration are not fully understood. The largest group of
nomads was the Huns. Their small stature and small ponies belied a fierce
and determined ruthlessness. They terrified other tribes they encountered
in their migrations, causing something like a domino effect. Moving west,
the Huns displaced the Goths living northwest of the Black Sea, for
example, who pushed south over the Danube into the Balkans lands ruled by
the Eastern Roman Empire. More Huns moved toward the German plains,
encouraging other Germanic tribes to cross the Rhine.

The Western Roman Empire was already weakened by this time from sporadic
raids and invasions across the Rhine and Danube. Germanic tribes with
growing populations coveted the sparsely occupied lands in Gaul and the
benefits of being within the Roman Empire. By 400 the Roman army was
already 30 to 50 percent German mercenaries. In desperation, some
barbarian groups were enlisted into the Roman army as entire units to
help defend against other groups. This was especially popular during
civil wars of the fourth century, when pretenders to the throne in Rome
needed to raise armies quickly. These barbarian units did not have the
loyalty and discipline of the legions and kept their own leaders. This
stopgap measure backfired when whole barbarian armies revolted. The Rhine
and Danube frontiers dissolved and Germanic tribes moved into Gaul, the
Balkans, and even Italy itself. The fighting was nearly incessant along
the shrinking frontier and the number of loyal Roman troops continually

The last legions in Britain were withdrawn for service in Gaul in 410,
abandoning that province forever. Saxon raids increased and became actual
invasions. The Jutes, Frisians, and Angles, other Germanic tribes from
the north German coast, joined the Saxons. Together they overwhelmed the
Romano-British culture and took possession of what is today England

The Eastern Roman Empire suffered through the loss of most of the Balkans
but was able to deflect or bribe the barbarians before they could attack
Constantinople. The invaders in this area were the Goths, who had become
much more civilized through their contact with the Eastern Empire than
had the Germanic tribes along the Rhine. The Goths came as settlers
primarily, not conquerors.

During the fifth century Rome was sacked several times and the Western
Empire ceased to exist effectively. Italy was repeatedly invaded and
ravaged. In 476 the last recognized Roman emperor was killed. Italy and
the old Roman Empire were now occupied by Germanic tribes. Despite a
general wish by the barbarians to preserve the stability and order of the
past Roman civilization, only vestiges of it survived the turmoil and
devastation that followed the invasions. Most of Europe fell back into a
much more primitive and barbaric period.

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