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Author Topic: GERMANIC TRIBES  (Read 2141 times)
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« on: November 30, 2007, 05:49:06 pm »

Nowadays a less simplistic view is taken.

The gradual emergence of a distinctly German nation was a process which took hundreds of years. The German nation essentially grew out of a number of German tribes such as the Franks, the Saxons, the Swabians and the Bavarians. These old tribes have of course long since lost their original character, but their traditions and dialects live on in their respective regions.

Those ethnic regions are not, however, identical to the present states (Lšnder), most of which were only formed after the Second World War in agreement with the occupying powers. In many cases the boundaries were drawn without any consideration for old traditions. Furthermore, the flows of refugees and the massive postwar migrations, but also the mobility of the modern industrial society, have more or less blurred the ethnic boundaries.

Much of what is known about the Germanic people comes from historical accounts written by two Roman authors: Commentaries (51 BC) by Julius Caesar and Germania (98 AD) by Cornelius Tacitus.

By comparing the two writings, it is possible to trace the evolution of Germanic society in the intervening period.

In Caesar's time, land tenure did not involve private property; instead, fields were divided annually among clans.

By the time of Tacitus, however, land was distributed annually to individuals according to social class. The basic sociopolitical unit was the pagus (clan). In Caesar's period, some pagi had military leaders as chiefs, but only during wartime. By Tacitus's time, however, several pagi, at least, had full-time, elected chiefs. These leaders did not have absolute power but were limited by a council of nobles and an assembly of fighting men. Military chiefs had groups (comitium) of men who swore allegiance to them in both peace and war.
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