History of the Barbarian Kingdoms
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Our digital history of the Barbarian Kingdoms focuses on the polities established by various Germanic and migratory Asian peoples in Western Europe and North Africa after the demise of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. These kingdoms arose from border confrontations with the Rome that overwhelmed the Empire with migrants, both invited and otherwise, though it denied the barbarians the opportunity to assimilate into the Empire. Many of these barbarian kingdoms began as local warlord armies with no particular territorial claim, and strengthened into kingdoms with their involvement in the many civil wars of the region, and especially with the collapse of Roman authority.
The barbarian kings derived much of their strength from their relationship with Rome. Most styled themselves as dominus noster (“our lord”) and assumed the praenomen Flavius, both practices of previous Roman emperors, and subordinated themselves to the political dominance of the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. In this fashion, they emulated many aspects of the late Roman imperial administration until the old system gradually dissolved in the political turmoil of the times. But the difference lay in their scale, as the Barbarian Kingdoms controlled smaller territories that involved less complex governance. Lacking imperial sponsorship, Classical culture and the living standards of the Roman Empire declined. Charlemagne, king of the Franks, was crowned emperor in 800, marking the end of the Barbarian Kingdoms, as only the Frankish kingdom emerged from the network of polities that followed the decline of Rome.
That said, here’s our assortment… please enjoy! When you’re done perusing a map, click the ⇠ back arrow link in the upper left of your screen (not the < link), and you’ll be back here. Any problems, please get in touch at [email protected]