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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Pushed the Vandals westward toward Bohemia


style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER VI.

THE INVASION OF THE HUNS, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.

(412--472.)

General Westward Movement of the Races. --Stilicho's Defeat of the Germans. --Migration of the Alans, Vandals, &c. --Saxon Colonization of England. --The Vandals in Africa. --Decline of Rome. --Spread of German Power. --Attila, king of the Huns. --Rise of his Power. --Superstitions concerning him. --His March into France. --He is opposed by Aetius and Theodoric. --The Great Battle near Chalons. --Retreat of Attila. --He destroys Aquileia. --Invades Italy. --His Death. --Geiserich takes and plunders Rome. --End of the Western Empire. --The Huns expelled. --Movements of the Tribes on German Soil.

[Sidenote: 412. MOVEMENT OF THE TRIBES.]

The westward movement of the Huns was followed, soon afterwards, by an advance of the Slavonic tribes on the north, who first took possession of the territory on the Baltic relinquished by the Goths, and then gradually pressed onward towards the Elbe. The Huns themselves, temporarily settled in the fertile region north of the Danube, pushed the Vandals westward toward Bohemia, and the latter, in their turn, pressed upon the Marcomanni. Thus, at the opening of the fifth century, all the tribes, from the Baltic to the Alps, along the eastern

frontier of Germany, were partly or wholly forced to fall back. This gave rise to a union of many of them, including the Vandals, Alans, Suevi and Burgundians, under a Chief named Radagast. Numbering half a million, they crossed the Alps into Northern Italy, and demanded territory for new homes.

Stilicho, exhausted by his struggle with Alaric, whose retreat from Italy he had just purchased, could only meet this new enemy by summoning his legions from Gaul and Britain. He met Radagast at Fiesole (near Florence), and so crippled the strength of the invasion that Italy was saved. The German tribes recrossed the Alps, and entered Gaul the following year. Here they gave up their temporary union, and each tribe selected its own territory. The Alans pushed forwards, crossed the Pyrenees, and finally settled in Portugal; the Vandals followed and took possession of all Southern Spain, giving their name to (V-)Andalusia; the Suevi, after fighting, but not conquering, the native Basque tribes of the Pyrenees, selected what is now the province of Galicia; while the Burgundians stretched from the Rhine through western Switzerland, and southward nearly to the mouth of the Rhone. The greater part of Gaul was thus already lost to the Roman power.

[Sidenote: 429.]

The withdrawal of the legions from Britain by Stilicho left the population unprotected. The Britons were then a mixture of Celtic and Roman blood, and had become greatly demoralized during the long decay of the Empire; so they were unable to resist the invasions of the Picts and Scots, and in this emergency they summoned the Saxons and Angles to their aid. Two chiefs of the latter, Hengist and Horsa, accepted the invitation, landed in England in 449, and received lands in Kent. They were followed by such numbers of their countrymen that the allies soon became conquerors, and portioned England among themselves. They brought with them their speech and their ancient pagan religion, and for a time overthrew the rude form of Christianity which had prevailed among the Britons since the days of Constantine. Only Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, Wales and Cornwall resisted the Saxon rule, as across the Channel, in Brittany, a remnant of the Celtic Gauls resisted the sway of the Franks. From the year 449 until the landing of William the Conqueror, in 1066, nearly all England and the Lowlands of Scotland were in the hands of the Saxon race.


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