To the east of the Franks between the Harz, the Elbe and the Saale lay the kingdom of the Thuringi, the origin of whom is not clear. The Heruli also had a powerful kingdom, probably in the basin of the Elbe, and to the east of them were the Langobardi. The Warni apparently now dwelt in the regions about the mouth of the Elbe, while the whole coast from the mouth of the Weser to the west Scheldt was in the hands of the Frisians.
By this time all the country east of the lower Elbe seems to have been Slavonic. In the north, perhaps in the province of Schleswig, we hear now for the first time of the Danes. Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, endeavoured to form a confederacy with the Thuringi, Heruli and Warni against Clovis in order to protect the Visigoths in the early years of the 6th century, but very shortly afterwards the king of the Heruli was slain by the Langobardi and their existence as an independent power came to an end.
In the Thuringian kingdom was destroyed by the Frankish king Theodoric, son of Clovis, with whom the Saxons were in alliance. During the 6th and 7th centuries the Saxons were intermittently under Frankish supremacy, but their conquest was not complete until the time of Charlemagne. Shortly after the middle of the 6th century the Franks were The Saxons and the Franks. In the Langobardi, who by this time had moved into the Danube basin, invaded Italy and were followed by those of the Saxons who had settled in Thuringia.
Their lands were given by the Frankish king Sigeberht to the north Suebi and other tribes who had come either from the Elbe basin or possibly from the Netherlands. About the same time Sigeberht was defeated by the Avars, and though the latter soon withdrew from the Frankish frontiers, their course was followed by a movement of the Slavs, who occupied the basin of the Elster and penetrated to that of the Main.
By the end of the 6th century the whole basin of the Elbe except the Saxon territory near the mouth had probably become Slavonic. To the east of the Saxons were the Polabs Polabi in the basin of the Elbe, and beyond them the Hevelli about the Havel. To the east of the Warnabi were the Liutici as far as the Oder, and beyond that river the Pomerani. To the south of the Oder were the Milcieni and the Lusici, and farther east the Poloni with their centre in the basin of the Vistula. The lower part of the Vistula basin, however, was in possession of Prussian tribes, the Prussi and Lithuani.
The Warni now disappear from history, and from this time the Teutonic peoples of the north as far as the Danish boundary about the Eider are called Saxons. The conquest of the Frisians by the Franks was begun by Pippin Pepin of Heristal in and practically completed by Charles Martel, though they were not entirely brought into subjection until the time of Charlemagne.
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The great overthrow of the Saxons took place about and by the end of the century Charlemagne had extended his conquests to the border of the Danes. By this time the whole of the Teutonic part of Germany had been finally brought under his government. Philologie 2nd ed. When Clovis, or Chlodovech, became king of a tribe of the Salian Franks in , five years after the fall of the Western empire, the region afterwards called Germany was divided into five main districts, and its history for Divisions of Germany.
In the north-east, dwelling between the Rhine and the Elbe, were the Saxons q. In the south-west the Alamanni occupied the territory afterwards called Swabia q. Clovis was descended from Chlogio, or Clodion, who had ruled over a branch of the Salian Franks from to , and whose successors, following his example, had secured an influential position for their tribe. Having obtained The wars of Clovis.
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When in , or soon afterwards, the Alamanni were defeated, they were confined to what was afterwards known as Swabia, and the northern part of their territory was incorporated with the kingdom of the Franks. Clovis had united the Salian Franks under his rule, and he persuaded, or compelled, the Ripuarian Franks also to accept him as their king; but on his death in his kingdom was divided, and the Ripuarian, or Rhenish, Franks as they are sometimes called, together with some of the Alamanni, came under the rule of his eldest son Theuderich or Theodoric I.
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This was the first of the many partitions which effectually divided the kingdom of the Franks into an eastern and a western portion, that is to say, into divisions which eventually became Germany and France respectively, and the district ruled by Theuderich was almost identical with that which afterwards bore the name of Austrasia. In Theuderich killed Hermannfried, king of the Thuringians, a former ally, with whom he had quarrelled, conquered his kingdom, and added its southern portion to his own possessions. His son and successor, Theudebert I. After his death in , however, the Frankish power in Germany sank to very minute proportions, a result due partly to the spirit of tribal independence which lingered among the German races, but principally to the paralysing effect of the unceasing rivalry between Austrasia and Neustria.
From the Alamanni were ruled by a succession of dukes who soon made themselves independent; and in a duke of the Bavarians, who exercised his authority without regard for the Frankish supremacy, is first mentioned. In Thuringia, which now only consisted of the central part of the former kingdom, King Dagobert I. The Saxons for their part did not own even a nominal allegiance to the Frankish kings, whose authority on the right bank of the Rhine was confined to the district actually occupied by men of their own name, which at a later date became the duchy of Franconia.
During these years the eastern border of Germany was constantly ravaged by various Slavonic tribes. King Dagobert sent troops to repel these marauders from time to time, but the main burden of defence fell upon the Saxons, Bavarians and Thuringians. The virtual independence of these German tribes lasted until the union of Austrasia and Neustria in , an achievement mainly due to the efforts of Pippin of Heristal, who soon became the actual, though not the nominal, ruler of the Frankish realm.
Pippin and his son Charles Martel, who was mayor of the palace from to , renewed the struggle with the Germans and were soon successful in re-establishing the central power which the Merovingian kings had allowed to slip from their grasp. The ducal office was abolished in Thuringia, a series of wars reduced the Alamanni to strict dependence, and both countries were governed by Frankish officials. Bavaria was brought into subjection about the same time; the Bavarian law, committed to writing between and , strongly emphasizes the supremacy of the Frankish king, whose authority it recognizes as including the right to appoint and even to depose the duke of Bavaria.
The Saxons, on the other hand, succeeded in retaining their independence as a race, although their country was ravaged in various campaigns and some tribes were compelled from time to time to pay tribute. The rule of Pippin the Short, both before and after his coronation as king, was troubled by constant risings on the part of his East Frankish or German subjects, but aided by his brother Carloman, who for a time administered this part of the Frankish kingdom, Pippin was generally able to deal with the rebels.
After all, however, even these powerful Frankish conquerors had but imperfect success in Germany. When they were present with their formidable armies, they could command obedience; when engaged, as they often were, in The Saxons remain independent. One of the chief causes of their ill-success was the continued independence of the Saxons.
Ever since they had acquired the northern half of Thuringia, this warlike race had been extending its power. They were still heathens, cherishing bitter hatred towards the Franks, whom they regarded as the enemies both of their liberties and of their religion; and their hatred found expression, not only in expeditions into Frankish territory, but in help willingly rendered to every German confederation which wished to throw off the Frankish yoke.
Hardly any rebellion against the dukes of the Franks, or against King Pippin, took place in Germany without the Saxons coming forward to aid the rebels. This was perfectly understood by the Frankish rulers, who tried again and again to put an end to the evil by subduing the Saxons. They could not, however, attain their object. An occasional victory was gained, and some border tribes were from time to time compelled to pay tribute; but the mass of the Saxons remained unconquered.
This was partly due to the fact that the Saxons had not, like the other German confederations, a duke who, when beaten, could be held responsible for the engagements forced upon him as the representative of his subjects. A Saxon chief who made peace with the Franks could undertake nothing for the whole people. As a conquering race, they were firmly compact; conquered, they were in the hands of the victor a rope of sand.
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It was during the time of Pippin of Heristal and his son and grandson that the conversion of the Germans to Christianity was mainly effected. Some traces of Roman Christianity still lingered in the Rhine valley and in southern Christianity in Germany.
Germany, but the bulk of the people were heathen, in spite of the efforts of Frank and Irish missionaries and the command of King Dagobert I. Rupert, bishop of Worms, had already made some progress in the work of converting the Bavarians and Alamanni, as had Willibrord among the Thuringians when St Boniface appeared in Germany in He founded or restored bishoprics in Bavaria, Thuringia and elsewhere, and in presided over the first German council.
When he was martyred in Christianity was professed by all the German races except the Saxons, and the church, organized and wealthy, had been to a large extent brought under the control of the papacy. The old pagan faith was not yet entirely destroyed, and traces of its influence may still be detected in popular beliefs and customs. But still Christianity was dominant, and soon became an important factor in the process of civilization, while the close alliance of the German church with the papacy was followed by results of the utmost consequence for Germany.
The reign of Charlemagne is a period of great importance in the history of Germany. Under his rule the first signs of national unity and a serious advance in the progress of order and civilization may be seen. The long struggle, The work of Charlemagne. The armies of Charlemagne contained warriors from all parts of Germany; and although tribal law was respected and codified, legislation common to the whole empire was also introduced. The general establishment of the Frankish system of government and the presence of Frankish officials helped to break down the barriers of race, and the influence of Christianity was in the same direction.
With the conversion of the Saxons the whole German race became nominally Christian; and their ruler was lavish in granting lands and privileges to prelates, and untiring in founding bishoprics, monasteries and schools. Measures were also taken for the security and good government of the country. Campaigns against the Slavonic tribes, if sometimes failing in their immediate object, taught those peoples to respect the power of the Frankish monarch; and the establishment of a series of marches along the eastern frontier gave a sense of safety to the neighbouring districts.
The tribal dukes had all disappeared, and their duchies were split up into districts ruled by counts q. Some of the results of the government of Charlemagne were, however, less beneficial. His coronation as Roman emperor in , although it did not produce at the time so powerful an impression in Germany as in France, was fraught with consequences not always favourable for the former country. The tendencies of the tribe to independence were crushed as their ancient popular assemblies were discouraged; and the liberty of the freemen was curtailed owing to the exigencies of military service, while the power of the church was rarely directed to the highest ends.
The reign of the emperor Louis I. The mild nature of Louis I.
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Although not yet a single people, the German tribes had now for the first time a ruler whose authority was confined to their own lands, and from this time the beginnings of national life may be traced. For fifty years the main efforts of Louis were directed to defending his kingdom from the inroads of his Slavonic neighbours, and his detachment from the rest of the Empire necessitated by these constant engagements towards the east, gradually gave both him and his subjects a distinctive character, which was displayed and emphasized when, in ratifying an alliance with his half-brother, the West-Frankish king, Charles the Bald, the oath was sworn in different tongues.
Important as is the treaty of Verdun in German history, that of Mersen, by which Louis and Charles the Bald settled in their dispute over the kingdom of Lothair, second son of the emperor Lothair I. Louis the German and his successors.
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The additional territory which Louis then obtained gave to his dominions almost the proportions which Germany maintained throughout the middle ages. They were bounded on the east by the Elbe and the Bohemian mountains, and on the west beyond the Rhine they included the districts known afterwards as Alsace and Lorraine. His jurisdiction embraced the territories occupied by the five ancient German tribes, and included the five archbishoprics of Mainz, Treves Trier , Cologne, Salzburg and Bremen. There was, however, no cohesion in the restored empire, the disintegration of which, moreover, was hastened by the ravages of the Northmen, who plundered the cities in the valley of the Rhine.
Arnulf himself was recognized as German or East-Frankish king, although his actual authority was confined to Bavaria and its neighbourhood. He was successful in freeing his kingdom for a time from the ravages of the Northmen, but was not equally fortunate in his contests with the Moravians.
During these wars feudalism made rapid advance in Germany. The different peoples compelled to attend to their own defence appointed dukes for special military services see Duke ; and these dukes, chosen often from members Feudalism in Germany. In Saxony, for example, we hear of Duke Otto the Illustrious, who also ruled over Thuringia; and during the early years of the 10th century dukes appear in Franconia, Bavaria, Swabia and Lorraine.