The iron tools used by the Celts were stronger than the earlier wooden, bronze and stone tools had been so the Celts were able to clear more land for farming than any other culture which had lived in central Europe before them. As they were able to cultivate larger areas there was more food available which caused the populations to increase. This led to overcrowding so that some families had to find somewhere else to live.

The early Celts of the Hallstatt culture looked for farming land along the rivers Danube and Rhine in today’s Austria and Germany. From there they spread out north and west and by the 6th century BC they had started to settle in the lands now called France, Belgium and Spain. Some other Celts had crossed the English Channel and started colonising the British Isles. Other tribes also made it over the Alps to settle in northern Italy.

However, the Celts of the La Tene period spread further East. By 358 BC, some Celts were living as far east as the Carpathian Mountains and 50 years later others had settled in Moravia. In 278 BC, 20 000 Celtic families called Galitians went to Asia Minor to assist their ally Bithynia in the war against the Syrians. After the fight, these Celts kept living there and started a big colony. This area is still known as Galatia.
The Gauls were a tribal and agricultural society. They were ruled by kings, but individual kings reigned only over small areas. Occasionally a single powerful king could gain the allegiance of several kings as a kind of "over-king," but on the whole the Gauls throughout Europe were largely an ethnic continuity rather than a single nation.

Brennus, d. 279 B.C., Gallic leader. He was in command of the band of Gauls (or Galatians) who invaded Greece in 279 B.C. At first halted at Thermopylae, he later turned and took the pass into Doris. He was wounded in an unsuccessful attack on Delphi and is supposed to have committed suicide on the northward retreat after the Gauls were attacked by the Thessalians.

The army was initially led by Cambaules, who led them as far as Thrace, where they stopped. When they decided to advance again in 279 BC, they split their forces into three divisions.

  the Athenian general Calippus, learned that the Gauls had reached Phthiotis and Magnesia, sent their cavalry and light infantry to meet them at the river Spercheios and oppose their crossing. They broke down the bridges and camped on the bank, but that night Brennus sent 10,000 men to cross further downriver, where the river formed a marshy lake. The Gauls were strong swimmers, some of them using their shields as floats, and the river was shallow enough for the tallest to wade across. The Greeks retreated to the main army, while Brennus forced the locals to rebuild the bridges to allow the rest of his forces to cross.

The Gauls attacked the Greeks at Thermopylae, but were initially forced to retreat by their better armed opponents. Brennus sent 40,000 infantry and 800 cavalry under Combutis and Orestorius back over the Spercheius to invade Aetolia
He led 40,000 men, hidden until the last minute by fog, over the pass, and defeated the Greeks. The Athenian fleet evacuated the survivors, and Brennus marched for Delphi, not waiting for Acichorius and the rest of the army to catch up.
  The night that followed was frosty, and in the morning the Greeks attacked them from both sides. Brennus was wounded and the Gauls fell back, killing their own wounded who were unable to retreat. That night a panic fell on the camp, as the Gauls divided into factions and fought amongst themselves. They were joined by Acichorius and the rest of the army, but the Greeks forced them into a full-scale retreat. Brennus took his own life, by drinking neat wine 
The Gauls who escaped this defeat settled on the Hellespont in the country around Byzantium, where they founded the kingdom of Galatia

Beginning of the war - campaign against the Helvetii

By 61 BC, the Helvetii were well on their way in the planning and provisioning for a mass migration under the leadership of Orgetorix. The Helvetii were being menaced by encroachments of their northeastern neighbours, Germanic tribes and Gallic/Celtic rivals among the Sequani.
During this time the Romans in Gallia Narbonensis were also gaining and taking political advantages and fomenting trade disputes.
Via council and parley, the Helvetic chieftain Orgetorix made negotiations with the ambitious Sequani and the Roman dominated Aedui.
The Sequani were beginning to resent and regret the abundances of unruly Germanic warbands and their huge encampments of dependents. The Aedui were loath to obey the Roman spur any longer than they must and they were keen to revisit their former days at council.
The parley for the trek was successful and Orgetorix was granted passage, and with the trek ratified by council, an army was called up and provisioned for.
During this process, Orgetorix had also succeeded in making a personal alliance with the Sequanii chieftain Casticus and Dumnorix, chieftain of the Aedui. He accomplished this by way of marital arrangements and host exchange of family members. For three whole years the Helvetii planned and prepared themselves. Emissaries were sent out to various Gallic tribes assuring safe passages and alliances.
According to his Gallic rivals, these political successes and displays of diplomacy were alleged to be in personal benefit of Orgetorix alone and this was greatly amplified by Roman intrigues and impositions. Again the accord was strained as the Aedui were brought to bay by their 'protective' overlords.
In 58 BC The Roman proconsul and general Julius Caesar pushed his army into Gaul.  But the Arverni tribe, under Chieftain Vercingetorix, still defied Roman rule. Julius Caesar was checked by Vercingetorix at a siege of Gergorvia, a fortified town in the center of Gaul.Caesar's alliances with many Gallic tribes broke. Even the Aedui, their most faithful supporters, threw in their lot with the Arverni, but the ever loyal Remi (best known for its cavalry) and Lingones sent troops to support Caesar. The Germans of the Ubii also sent cavalry, which Caesar equipped with Remi horses. Caesar captured Vercingetorix in the Battle of Alesia, which ended the majority of Gallic resistance to Rome. As many as a million people (probably 1 in 5 of the Gauls) died, another million were enslaved, 300 tribes were subjugated and 800 cities were destroyed during the Gallic Wars. The entire population of the city of Avaricum (Bourges) (40,000 in all) were slaughtered. During Julius Caesar's campaign against the Helvetii (present-day Switzerland) approximately 60% of the tribe was destroyed, and another 20% was taken into slavery.

In 49 BC the Senate ordered Caesar to hand over his army to their control. He refused. Instead Caesar advanced on Italy but paused at the line that divided France (Gaul) and Italy - the River Rubicon. Roman law said that a governor was not allowed to leave his province. Caesar ignored this law, crossed the Rubicon and  advanced to confront his enemies in Rome. The Senate considered this to be a treasonable offence but there was little they could do. Caesar had a very powerful and experienced army and his opponents were fragmented. Pompey was killed in Egypt in 48 BC. For the next three years he picked off his enemies one by one whether they were in North Africa, the Middle East or Europe.
Caesar now pursued Pompey to Greece. Although outnumbered, Caesar crushed the forces of his enemy but not before Pompey escaped to Egypt. Following Pompey to Egypt, Caesar was presented with his rival's severed head as a token of friendship. Before leaving the

region, Caesar established Cleopatra as his surrogate ruler of Egypt. Caesar defeated his remaining rivals in North Africa in 47 BC and returned to Rome with his authority firmly established.
Caesar continued to consolidate his power and in February 44 BC, he declared himself dictator for life. This act, along with his continual effort to adorn himself with the trappings of power, turned many in the Senate against him. Sixty members of the Senate concluded that the only resolution to the problem was to assassinate Caesar. 
March 15, 44 BCE death of  Julius Caesar         

   By the year 14 AD, Caesar’s successor, Augustus, had partitioned Gaul into the two administrative provinces of Narbonensis and Gallia Comata.  Narbonensis, which was situated along the Mediterranean coast, was referred to as ‘The Province’.  It roughly covered the area of today's Provence.To the north, Gallic Comata, was subsequently subdivided into the three imperial provinces of Belgica, Lugdunensis and Aquitania.  The name ‘Gallic Comata’, meaning ‘Long-Haired Gaul’, was given as a disparagement of the northern Gauls’ craving for wine and their barbaric ways.  

Between 69 and 96 AD, Rome recognized that the Rhine River would be at the limit of its expansion of north- eastern Gallia Comata.  As a consequence, It was decided that Rome would merely hold the region between the middle Rhine and upper Danube.  This area, known as the Agri Decumates [Ten Cantons], covered the region of the Black Forest.  It was considered sufficient to secure communications between the Roman garrisons that had been permanently established on both rivers.  The Ten Cantons were attached to Germania Superior [Upper Germany].
The north-eastern boundaries, established by the Romans, dichotomized the inhabitants as to Germanic and Romance language speakers. 
As Roman rule solidified, the people of Narbonensis and western Gallia Comata assimilated both the Roman language [Latin] and Roman civilization.  The territory subjugated by Caesar adopted to the Roman methods of agriculture and urbanization at a slower pace than was the case in the south.  In both regions, the development of the urban areas followed the Roman model with senate houses, temples and forums.  A large trade sprang up between the imperial provinces and Rome itself.

Following Rome’s conquest of the Gaulois came to accept Roman law.To serure their borders, the Roman emperors allowed the
Salique Franks, a Germanic tribe, to settle within Gaule as Roman allies. Similar concessions were made to the Visigoths and the Bourgondes. 

During the second century AD, Christians arrived in Gaul. 







Early Christianity (generally considered as Christianity before 325) spread from Jerusalem throughout the Roman Empire and beyond reaching as far as India. At first, this development was closely connected to centers of Hebrew faith, in the Holy Land and the Jewish diaspora. Jesus and his first followers were Jews, or Jewish Proselytes, which historians refer to as Jewish Christians.
















 The Goths had come from the shores of the Baltic Sea and settled on this Roman territory, and the Romans had not driven them back.

For a long time the Goths were at war with another tribe of barbarians called Huns. Sometimes the Huns defeated the Goths and drove them to their camps in the mountains. Sometimes the Goths came down to the plains again and defeated the Huns.

At last the Goths grew tired of such constant fighting and thought they would look for new settlements. They sent some of their leading men to the Emperor Valens to ask permission to settle in some country belonging to Rome.  The messengers said to the emperor:

"If you will allow us to make homes in the country south of the Danube we will be friends of Rome and fight for her when she needs our help."

The emperor at once granted this request. He said to the Gothic chiefs:

"Rome always needs good soldiers. Your people may cross the Danube and settle on our land. As long as you remain true to Rome we will protect you against your enemies."

These Goths were known as Visigoths, or Western Goths. Other tribes of Goths who had settled in southern Russia, were called Ostrogoths, or Eastern Goths.

After getting permission from the Emperor Valens a large number of the Visigoths crossed the Danube with their families and their cattle and settled in the country now called Bulgaria.

In course of time they became a very powerful nation, and in the year 394 they chose as their king one of the chiefs named Alaric
Soon they got ready a great army. With Alaric in command, they marched through Thrace and Macedonia and before long reached Athens. There were now no great warriors in Athens, and the city surrendered to Alaric. The Goths plundered the homes and temples of the Athenians and then marched to the state of Elis, in the southwestern part of Greece. Here a famous Roman general named Stilicho besieged them in their camp. Alaric managed to force his way through the lines of the Romans and escaped. He marched to Epirus. This was a province of Greece that lay on the east side of the Ionian Sea. Arcadius, the Emperor of the East, now made Alaric governor of this district and a large region lying near it. The whole territory was called Eastern Illyricum and formed part of the Eastern Empire.

ALARIC now set out to make an attack on Rome, the capital of the Western Empire. As soon as Honorius, Emperor of the West, learned that Alaric was approaching, he fled to a strong fortress among the mountains of North Italy. His great general Stilicho came to his rescue and defeated Alaric near Verona. But even after this Honorius was so afraid of Alaric that he made him governor of a part of his empire called Western Illyricum and gave him a large yearly income.
Honorius, however, did not keep certain of his promises to Alaric, who consequently, in the year 408, marched to Rome and besieged it. The cowardly emperor fled to Ravenna, leaving his generals to make terms with Alaric. It was agreed that Alaric should withdraw from Rome upon the payment of 5,000 pounds of gold and 30,000 pounds of silver.

When Honorius read the treaty he refused to sign it. Alaric then demanded that the city be surrendered to him, and the people, terrified, opened their gates and even agreed that Alaric should appoint another emperor in place of Honorius.

This new emperor, however, ruled so badly that Alaric thought it best to restore Honorius. Then Honorius, when just about to be treated so honorably, allowed a barbarian chief who was an ally of his to make an attack upon Alaric. The attack was unsuccessful, and Alaric immediately laid siege to Rome for the third time. The city was taken and Alaric's dream came true. In a grand procession he rode at the head of his army through the streets of the great capital.

Then began the work of destruction. The Goths ran in crowds through the city, wrecked private houses and public buildings and seized everything of value they could find. Alaric gave orders that no injury should be done to the Christian churches, but other splendid buildings of the great city were stripped of the beautiful and costly articles that they contained, and all the gold and silver was carried away from the public treasury.

In the midst of the pillage Alaric dressed himself in splendid robes and sat upon the throne of the emperor, with a golden crown upon his head.

While Alaric was sitting on the throne thousands of Romans were compelled to kneel down on the ground before him and shout out his name as conqueror and emperor. Then the theaters and circuses were opened, and Roman athletes and gladiators had to give performances for the amusement of the conquerors. After six days of pillage and pleasure Alaric and his army marched through the gates, carrying with them the riches of Rome.

Alaric died in 410 on his way to Sicily, which he had thought to conquer also. He felt his death coming and ordered his men to bury him in the bed of the river Busento and to put into his grave the richest treasures that he had taken from Rome. Alaric was succeeded in the command of the Gothic army by his brother-in-law, Ataulf, who married Honorius' sister Galla Placidia three years late.

Balti dynasty

In 412 Athaulf led the Visigoths from Italy and went into S Gaul and N Spain.They increased their territories in Spain (which was evacuated by the Vandals), acquired Aquitaine, and extended their influence to the Loire valley, making Toulouse their capital. Two years later he married the Roman princess Galla Placidia (sister of the emperor Honorius), who had been seized at Rome. Driven from Gaul, he retreated into Spain early in 415 and was in that year assassinated at Barcelona while he bathed. 
Sigeric, the brother of Sarus, immediately became king—for a mere seven days, when he was also murdered and succeeded by Wallia in 418 

 The Romans had ordered King Wallia to move his people from the Iberia to Gaul . Wallia resolved to make peace with Rome. In exchange for peace, in 418, Emperor Honorius granted the Visigoths the region of Aquitania as well as the city of Toulouse (in Gallia Narbonensis at the border of Aquitania). The Visigoths chose the prestigious and wealthy Palladia Tolosa as the capital of their kingdom, thus ending Roman rule in Toulouse.

In 435 the Romans had to fight against the Franks, who plundered Cologne and Trier.  Theodoric saw the chance to conquer Narbo Martius (in 436) to obtain access to the Mediterranean Sea and the roads to the Pyrenees. Theodoric was defeated in 438  


King Rua died in 434 AD and was succeeded by Attila and his brother Bleda. The two co ruled peacefully for the next seven years until in 441 the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius halted the annual payments of gold. This was the opportunity Attila was waiting for, Attila had his brother killed and decided on a policy of national expansion.
he Huns crossed the Danube and invaded the Balkan provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire. The Huns ravaged and destroyed the country side burning every town and city in their path to the ground. Near the capital of the Eastern Empire Constantinople, the Huns utterly destroyed the Roman army sent against them at the battle of Gallipoli.Theodosius had no choice but to buy off Attila and his horde, but the price of peace would be high. The Eastern Empire was to pay a huge tribute of 700 lbs of gold annually, Attila also demanded a ransom for each Roman citizen held in his custody and the immediate return of his own subjects from Roman territory. The Romans were also forbidden to sign treaties with known enemies of the Huns or interfere with Hunnic trade along the Danube river.
Theodosius knew that a humiliating and expensive peace was still far better than a war he could not win. With every pound of gold that crossed the Danube, Attila became more powerful and intimidating while the Eastern Romans more weak and humiliate.
The Western Roman Empire offered no assistance to their Eastern cousins, Attila's childhood friend Aetius had risen in the ranks to become Emperor Valentinian's second in command and master General of all Roman armies of the west. Because of Aetius's friendship with Attila a strong alliance with the Huns protected the western half of the empire.
In the year 447AD After raising a new army and strengthening his borders, Theodosius refused to pay the annual tribute to the Huns. In response Attila and his army once again crossed the Danube into the Eastern Roman Empire. Attila had given specific orders that everything in their path was to be destroyed and no living thing spared, the Eastern Romans were to pay dear for this latest insult. Theodosius sent the Eastern Roman army to stop Attila, but the Romans were once again completely destroyed at the battle of Marcianopolis.
With no Roman forces left to oppose them the Huns ranged south to pillage Greece. Attila had now conquered most of the Balkan region of the Eastern Empire and turned his army northwest towards the Eastern capitol of Constantinople. Outside the gates of the great city the Hunnic army made camp, the inhabitants were terrified and Theodosius had no choice but to sue for peace.
The terms offered to Theodosius were very harsh, Attila demanded an immediate payment of 7,000 lbs of gold and 1,000 lbs to be paid annually. To raise the 7,000 lbs up front, Theodosius emptied the treasury, stripped every statue and monument of its wealth and even went so far as to confiscate gold from the citizens of the city itself. With Attila's wagons overflowing with 
riches, the Huns crossed the Danube and returned home.Since becoming king in 434 AD, Attila had united the warring Hunnic tribes into an unstoppable war machine. Attila's empire now stretched along the borders of the East and Western Roman Empires including all the barbarian tribes in between. Just one single word from Attila could make kingdoms crumble and empires tremble. With his invincible armies Attila was to become the most powerful man on the face of the earth.
In 450 AD, The Eastern Emperor Theodosius was killed when falling from a horse. His successor Marcian, took a hard line stance on Attila's encroachments against the Eastern Empire and also refused to pay the annual tribute.  Attila chose to ignore the actions of the new Eastern Emperor, events in the Western half of the Empire had caught his attention. 
Honoria, the sister of the Western Emperor Valentinian, objected to her brother's choice for her husband. Honoria secretly wrote to Attila and enclosed a gold ring, Attila accepted this gift assuming she waSWs proposing to him and demanded that the western Roman province of Gaul would make a suitable dowry. Valentinian's refusal of Attila's request would result in the Huns crossing the Rhine and invading  the Western Roman Empire


 When Attila crossed the Rhine in 451 AD, he threatened an Empire in name only. The Western Roman Empire had suffered under the constant attacks by all the known barbarian tribes of the era, with the capital city of Rome itself being sacked by the Visigoth's in 410 AD.  
Attila invaded the Roman province of Gaul with a large army of Huns and dependent barbarian tribes subject to his rule. The Hunnic advance sacked and destroyed some of the greatest cities in all the Roman Empire. The Huns advanced unopposed deep into central Gaul and put the walled city of Orleans under siege.
The Roman General Aetius worked frantically to build a coalition of barbarian tribes to stand with Rome against the Huns. The barbarians had no interest in allying themselves with their long-time enemy, but they did have a common hatred for the Huns and at the time the Romans seemed to be the lesser of the two evils. 
Just as Attila and his army were about to launch their final assault to take Orleans, Aetius and the relief army arrived. The Huns did not expect any opposition and were caught completely by surprise. Attila immediately ordered his troops to abandon the siege and withdrawal to more open country. Aetius and the allied army followed close behind never losing contact with their foe. On the Catalonian plains near Chalons, the Huns turned and prepared for battle.
The two commanders now spent the day arranging their troops, the once childhood friends now stared one another down across the open battle field. Both armies were quite large for fifth century standards. Attila's army numbering 300,000 men ( 200,000 Huns, 60,000 Ostrogoths and 40,000 Gepidae totalling some 200,000 cavalry and 100,000 infantry ) would be countered by Aetius's Roman - Gothic army numbering 260,000 men ( 120,000 Visigoths, 90,000 Romans and 50,000 Alans comprising 150,000 cavalry and 110,000 infantry ).

Attila formed up his forces on a broad front, on his right wing stood the Gepidae under King Adaric, on the left  King Valamir and his Ostrogoths, Attila and his Hunnic troops commanded the center. Aetius placed his least reliable troops the Alans under King Sangiban in the center, in the hopes they would absorb and slow down the Hunnic attack as much as possible. The Visigoths under King Theodoric were positioned on the right wing while the Romans formed the left flank of the allied army.
Over looking the battle field on both the Huns left and the allied right flank, was a dominating ridge which both Attila and Aetius sought to gain for their army. Attila sent the Ostrogoths along with Hunnic forces from his center to take the mountain summit, at the same time Aetius ordered the Visigoths to seize this important feature. 
King Theodoric sent in Visigothic forces lead by his son the Crown Prince Thorismund who reached the summit before the Ostrogoths. Holding the high ground, the Visigoths easily repelled the Huns and their Ostrogothic levies as they attempted to claim this strategic prize.
Attila's army was thrown into confusion by the failure to take the high ground. Attila's Germanic subjects had never witnessed an attack by the Huns to fail, an eerie silence dawned over the Hunnic side of the battle field. Attila knew he had to act quickly to take their minds of this set back and immediately ordered his fearsome Huns to attack the Alan's holding the center of the allied line. 
The Hunnic charge was able to drive back but not break through the allied center. As the Alans slowly began to give ground Attila ordered his Huns to turn inward and strike at the Visigoths from their rear, it was during this assault that King Theodoric was killed. 
Prince Thorismund, still holding the summit, ordered his forces to charge down the slope towards their beleaguered country men catching the unsuspecting Huns in their right flank. The Visigoths assault struck hard at the enemy driving both the Ostrogoths and Huns before them. It was at this moment that Aetius ordered the Romans to advance across the battle field to threaten Attila's right flank held by the Gepidae.
Things were beginning to go bad for the Huns. The allied center had bent but not broken and Attila's left flank was falling back under the weight of renewed Visigothic attacks. Attila also knew the Gepidae on his right wing could not hold the Roman legions bearing down on them. Attila therefore decided to withdrawal his Huns to the safety of their wagons leaving the Gepidae and the remainder of the Ostrogoths to fight a rear guard action to make good the Huns escape.
The Romans and Visigoths continued to press hard on the retreating Huns and their Germanic subjects until the coming of nightfall called off the pursuit. Both Aetius and Attila anticipated that the battle would resume the next day but when morning dawned, both armies were to weak and disorganized to continue. Attila's army successfully escaped and re-crossed the Rhine returning to their homelands along the Danube.
Loses at Chalons were considerable for both sides. The Romans and her allies suffered 80,000 casualties (45,000 Visigoths, 25,000 Alans and 10,000 Romans). Attila and his Germanic subjects suffered more severe casualties numbering 115,000 (60,000 Huns, 40,000 Ostrogoths and 15,000 Gepidae).
Although suffering his first defeat, Attila's Empire was still very powerful and he quickly restored his army to full strength. In 452 AD Attila turned his attention once again towards the Western Roman Empire, crossing the alps and invading Italy. The city of Aquileia was the first to feel Attila's wrath as it was wiped from the face of the earth, so much so that twenty years later the site was still uninhabited. 
Northern Italy was utterly devastated, Aetius could not persuade the Alans and Visigoths to come to the defence of Italy as they had done a year earlier in protecting Gaul. Attila razed all the towns and cities in his path to the ground continuing  south towards the eternal city of Rome itself. it appeared that nothing could stop Attila from destroying the entire country.

All Rome awaited the coming of the Hunnic king in absolute terror. The Romans had no legions within Italy to put against Attila, this was truly Rome's darkest hour. The holy pontiff Pope Leo, took it upon himself and went out from the terrified city to meet with Attila. 
After entering the Hunnic camp, Pope Leo began lecturing Attila to repent the sins he had committed against humanity and warned him of the absolute power of God's wrath if he did not turn back and leave Italy immediately. Incredibly, after their meeting Attila agreed to spare Rome and turned his army back for home.
Attila lead his army out of Italy not so much as to Pope Leo's threats and influence, but more probable that Attila's position was weaker than the Romans realized. There had been a severe famine in Italy the year before Attila's invasion and the Hunnic troops were having a hard time living off the land. The Huns were running low on supplies and a devastating plague was sweeping through Attila's army. 
Also while Attila was in Italy, the Eastern Roman Emperor Marcian, had sent a Roman army across the Danube to strike at the heartland of Attila's Empire. Along with the defeat suffered by the Huns the previous year at Chalons and the fact that all the Hunnic wagons were overloaded with plunder anyway, Pope Leo's visit was an opportunity for Attila to end his Italian campaign as the victor, and return home.
Unlike Attila's crushing victories in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire, in the last two successive campaigns the Huns proved incapable of bringing the Western Roman's to their knees. 
In 452 AD, the night before Attila was preparing to invade Italy once again, Attila took a new bride. The wedding day was spent in heavy drinking which lasted long into the night, Attila eventually retired to bed in a drunken stupor. The next morning it was discovered that during the night Attila had suffered a nose bleed and had choked to death on his own blood. 
Attila's Empire quickly disintegrated without his iron rule. In 454 AD all the Germanic subjects within the Hunnic Empire rebelled against there overlords. Attila's sons could not deal with the crisis at hand and began warring against one another. Almost overnight the word Hun disappeared from the language of the people it once terrified.

The Roman administration finally collapsed as remaining troops were withdrawn southeast to protect Italy. Between 455 and 476 the Visigoths, the Burgundians, and the Franks assumed power in Gaul. However, certain aspects of the ancient Celtic culture continued after the fall of Roman administration and there was a remnant of the Empire for ten more years.


The Dark Ages begin at the time of the fall of Rome, in 476 A.D. Rome's rule had lasted eight hundred years. In the place of Rome, barbarian kingdoms arose and ruled the West. The Dark Ages were to rule over Europe until about 1000 A.D., with the birth of the Middle Ages and a recovery from artistic darkness as the lost knowledge of the Greeks and Romans was rediscovered.
In Europe, the Germans dominated through tribes such as: Alamanni, Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Gepids, Goths, Lombards and Vandals. These peoples wandered across Europe in an incohesive manner. Our English language is derived from these peoples, including some of our words, which recall these tribes, such as "vandal" meaning a destroyer and "frank", meaning honest and forthright.
These barbarian tribes destroyed many of the buildings and works of art that survived from Roman times. Only in monasteries, cathedrals and palace schools was knowledge preserved and there were very few monasteries left. Many of the old arts and crafts of western Europe were destroyed during the Dark Ages. During the Dark Ages, population decreased and economic life became more primitive.
In the Middle Ages most people lived on a manor . It was a village with a castle, a church and some land around it. The king gave land to his most important noblemen and bishops . They promised to give the kingsoldiers for his armies.The lowest people of society were the peasants . They didn't have their own land, but they got land from the lords . The lords also gave them protection . In return, the peasants had to fight for them. This was called the feudal system.Peasants worked on the land and produced the goods that the lord needed. But they did not lead a very nice life. They had to pay a lot of taxes and give the lord much of what they harvested . The peasants did not even "belong“ to themselves. When they did something wrong, they were often punished by their lord or by the church. Some peasants were good craftsmen . They built the things that everybody needed. They made cloth , jewellery and, very often, repaired things that were broken.


Each tribe of the Franks had its own king. The greatest of all these kings was Chlodwig, or Clovis, as we call him, who became ruler of his tribe in the year 481, just six years after Theodoric became king of the Ostrogoths. Clovis was then only sixteen years of age. But though he was so young he proved in a very short time that he could govern as well as older men. He was intelligent and brave. No one ever knew him to be afraid of anything even when he was but a child. His father, who was named Childeric (chil’-der-ic), often took him to wars which the Franks had with neighboring tribes, and he was very proud of his son’s bravery. The young man was also a bold and skillful horseman. He could tame and ride the most fiery horse.

In 486, Clovis began his campaign to expand his rule by wiping out the remnants of Roman control in Gaul. In 496, the Allemanni, an alliance of warriors from Germany, gathered together and invaded Gaul.

At this time, the Franks worshipped in the gods of Norse mythology. In fact, Clovis belonged to a family allegedly descended from Wotan, the highest of these gods. In light of this impressive lineage, it seemed no wonder that Clovis did not initially desire to embrace Christianity. The very crux of his rule had depended thus far on the Frankish belief in the Pagan gods, and he had no reason to throw this away for what he probably perceived as a foreign Roman deity. But God had plans for Clovis, and He prepared the king of the Franks for the acceptance of an even greater power. This process began with the influence of Clovis’s wife, Clothilde. She was the niece of the King of Burgundy, and more importantly, a strong believer in the one, true God. Many times she attempted to convince her husband of the truth of Christianity, but he still maintained his belief in the gods of his people. But all of this changed when Clovis fought the forces of the king of the Allemanni. When the battle began to turn against the Franks, Clovis prayed, not to the gods he had worshipped since his youth, but to the God of his wife, the Christ. He swore he would devote his life to God and become a believer if God would help him vanquish his enemies. According to historians, the Alemanni immediately fell under a deadly fear, and soon their king was killed, prompting their surrender. Awed by this incredible display, Clovis finally chose to become a believer in the God of his wife, the God of the Bible.

When Clovis became king of the Franks a great part of Gaul still belonged to Rome. This part was then governed by a Roman general, named Syagrius (sy-ag’-ri-us). Clovis resolved to drive the Romans out of the country, and he talked over the matter with the head men of his army.
“My desire,” said he, “is that the Franks shall have possession of every part of this fair land. I shall drive the Romans and their friends away and make Gaul the empire of the Franks.”

At this time the Romans had a great army in Gaul. It was encamped near the city of Soissons (swah-son’) and was commanded by Syagrius. Clovis resolved to attack it and led his army at once to Soissons. When he came near the city he summoned Syagrius to surrender. Syagrius refused and asked for an interview with the commander of the Franks. Clovis consented to meet him, and an arrangement was made that the meeting should take place in the open space between the two armies. When Clovis stepped out in front of his own army, accompanied by some of his savage warriors, Syagrius also came forward. But the moment he saw the king of the Franks he laughed loudly and exclaimed:
“A boy! A boy has come to fight me! The Franks with a boy to lead them have come to fight the Romans.”
Clovis was very angry at this insulting language and shouted back:
“Ay, but this boy will conquer you.”
Then both sides prepared for battle. The Romans thought that they would win the victory easily, but they were mistaken. Every time that they made a charge upon the Franks they were beaten back by the warriors of Clovis. The young king himself fought bravely at the head of his men and with his own sword struck down a number of the Romans. He tried to find Syagrius and fight with him; but the Roman commander was nowhere to be found. Early in the battle he had fled from the field, leaving his men to defend themselves as best they could.
The Franks gained a great victory. With their gallant boy king leading them on they drove the Roman’s before them, and when the battle was over they took possession of the city of Soissons.

Battle of Vouillé and aftermath
Alaric endeavoured strictly to maintain the treaty which his father had concluded with the Franks. The Frankish king Clovis I, however, desired to obtain the Gothic province in Gaul and he found a pretext for war in the Arianism of Alaric. The intervention of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths and father-in-law of Alaric, proved unavailing. The two armies met in 507 at the Battle of Vouillé, near Poitiers, where the Goths were defeated and their king, who took to flight, was overtaken and slain, it is said, by Clovis himself. As a consequence of their defeat the Visigoths lost all their possessions in Gaul to the Franks, except Septimania (i.e. the western region of Gallia Narbonensis, which includes the contemporary Arles and the Provence). Alaric was succeeded by his illegitimate son, Gesalec, because his legitimate son Amalaric was still a child.
Clovis afterwards conquered all the other Frankish chiefs and made himself king of all the Franks.
He then went to reside at the city of Paris, which he made the capital of his kingdom.

He died there A.D. 511.