Topics: EUROPE - Europe .300-700: Migration Period

Europe .300-700: Migration period

The Migration period, also called the Barbarian Invasions or Völkerwanderung (German: wandering of the peoples), was a period of human migration that occurred roughly between the years 300 to 700 CE in Europe, marking the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. These movements were catalyzed by profound changes within both the Roman Empire and the so-called 'barbarian frontier'. Migrating peoples during this period included the Goths, Vandals, Bulgars, Alans, Suebi, Frisians, and Franks, among other Germanic and Slavic tribes.

Migrations of peoples, although not strictly part of the 'Migration Age', continued beyond 1000 CE, marked by Viking, Magyar, Moorish, Turkic and Mongol invasions, and these also had significant effects, especially in Eastern Europe.


The migration movement may be divided into two phases: the first phase, between 300 and 500 A.D., largely seen from the Mediterranean perspective of Greek and Latin historians, with the aid of some archaeology, put Germanic peoples in control of most areas of the former Western Roman Empire (See also: Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Burgundians, Alans, Langobards, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Suebi, Alamanni, Vandals). The first to formally enter Roman territory — as refugees from the Huns — were the Visigoths in 376. Tolerated by the Romans on condition that they defend the Danube frontier, they rebelled, eventually invading Italy and sacking Rome itself in 410, before settling in Iberia and founding a kingdom there that endured 300 years. They were followed into Roman territory by the Ostrogoths led by Theodoric the Great, who settled in Italy itself.

In Gaul, the Franks, a fusion of western Germanic tribes whose leaders had been strongly aligned with Rome, entered Roman lands more gradually and peacefully during the 5th century, and were generally accepted as rulers by the Roman-Gaulish population. Fending off challenges from the Allemanni, Burgundians and Visigoths, the Frankish kingdom became the nucleus of the future states of France and Germany. Meanwhile, Roman Britain was more slowly invaded and settled by Angles and Saxons.

The second phase, between 500 and 700 AD, saw Slavic tribes settling in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in eastern Magna Germania, and gradually making it predominantly Slavic. The Bulgars, a now-Slavicized people possibly of Mongolic origin who had been present in far Eastern Europe since the 2nd century, conquered the eastern Balkan territory of the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century. The Lombards, a Germanic people, settled northern Italy in the region now known as Lombardy.

During the early Byzantine–Arab Wars, the Arab armies attempted to invade Southeastern Europe via Asia Minor in the second half of the 7th century and the early 8th century, but were eventually defeated at the siege of Constantinople by the joint forces of Byzantium and the Bulgars in 717-718. During the Khazar–Arab Wars, the Khazars stopped the Arab expansion into Eastern Europe across the Caucasus. At the same time, the Moors (consisting of Arabs and Berbers) invaded Europe via Gibraltar, conquering Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) from the Visigothic Kingdom in 711, before being halted by the Franks at the Battle of Tours in 732. These battles largely fixed the frontier between Christendom and Islam for the next three centuries. During this time, however, the Muslims were successful in conquering Sicily and parts of southern Italy from the Christians, although never consolidating it.

During the 8th to 10th centuries, not usually counted as part of the Migration Period but still within the Early Middle Ages, new waves of migration, first of the Magyars and later of the Turkic peoples, as well as Viking expansion from Scandinavia, threatened the newly established order of the Frankish Empire in Central Europe.

Source: Wikipedia

Europe .300-700: Migration period
2nd to 5th century simplified migrations. See also map of the world in 820 A.D. Source: Wikipedia