For a long time, the Romans fought the barbarians along their frontiers. Barbarians occasionally integrated themselves into the Roman Empire. In other instances, they engaged in conflicts and ultimately sacked Rome, which led to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.
Who were the Barbarians?
Romans used the term “barbarian” to describe ethnic groups living outside of the Roman Empire. Compared to the Romans, the barbarians had a different culture. They had various beliefs, different eating habits, and diverse clothing. They lacked the Romans’ degree of governance, education, and engineering.
Roman Invasions and Barbarian Peoples
There was more than one group of barbarians. The term “barbarian” was used to refer to a wide range of distinct ethnic groups that had little in common. Germanic tribes from Northern Europe made up a large portion of the groups that invaded and assaulted the Roman Empire.
The Goths were among the most formidable and well-organized tribes of barbarians. The Visigoths and the Ostrogoths were the two principal branches of the Goths. In the late 300s, the Visigoths occupied a large portion of Western Europe and fought Rome frequently. Rome was invaded by the Visigoths in 410, led by Alaric I.
The Vandals immigrated to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain) from Northern Europe and eventually made their way to North Africa, where they founded a significant kingdom. They signed a peace agreement with Rome in 442 AD, but when it was breached, they attacked Rome in 455 AD. Rome was captured by the Vandals in 455 AD, and they loot the city for two weeks.
The nomadic warriors known as the Huns originated in the east. The Huns attacked the Eastern Roman Empire after defeating the Ostrogoths under the direction of their leader Attila. After that, they made their way to capture much of Roman Gaul (France). The Huns occupied Italy in 452. They pillaged a large portion of Italy but left Rome unoccupied.
A number of Germanic tribes called the Franks settled in the area that is now France (the Franks are responsible for giving France its name). Around 300 AD, they started to invade Roman territory. Following the demise of the Western Roman Empire, the Franks rose to prominence and eventually formed one of the most important empires in Western Europe.
The Saxons left Western Europe and started to conquer Great Britain when Rome started to fall. As the Emperor was too frail to send the Romans in Great Britain assistance, they occupied numerous Roman settlements there.
The Celts, Thracians, Parthians, Picts, Lombards, and Burgundians were just a few of the various groups that the Romans labeled as barbarians.
Roman barbarians in the Ancient World: Interesting Facts
The word “barbarian” is derived from the Greek word “barbaros.”
The Romans often spoke poorly of and despised the Greeks, but they did not view them as barbarians.
Roman alliances with numerous barbarian tribes were frequent. They would use one tribe of barbarians to fight another.
A large number of barbarians joined the Roman Empire.
Rome assimilated numerous elements from the various barbarian cultures they vanquished.
Roman armies frequently employed males from barbarian tribes as soldiers.