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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Was selected for his queen by the Longobard king


The

Saxons had made themselves such thorough masters of England and the lowlands of Scotland, that the native Celto-Roman population was driven into Wales and Cornwall. The latter had become Christians under the Empire, and they looked with horror upon the paganism of the Saxons. During the early part of the sixth century, they made a bold but brief effort to expel the invaders, under the lead of the half-fabulous king Arthur (of the Round Table), who is supposed to have died about the year 537. The Angles and Saxons, however, not only triumphed, but planted their language, laws and character so firmly upon English soil, that the England of the later centuries grew from the basis they laid, and the name of Anglo-Saxon has become the designation of the English race all over the world.

Along the northern coast of Germany, the Frisii and the Saxons who remained behind, had formed two kingdoms and asserted a fierce independence. The territory of the latter extended to the Hartz Mountains, where it met that of the Thuringians, who still held Central Germany southward to the Danube. Beyond that river, the new nation of the Bavarians was permanently settled, and had already risen to such importance that Theodolind, the daughter of its king, Garibald, was selected for his queen by the Longobard king, Authari.

East of the Elbe, through Prussia, nearly the whole country was occupied by various Slavonic tribes. One of these,

the Czechs, had taken possession of Bohemia, where they soon afterwards established an independent kingdom. Beyond them, the Avars occupied Hungary, now and then making invasions into German territory, or even to the borders of Italy; Denmark and Sweden, owing to their remoteness from the great theatre of action, were scarcely affected by the political changes we have described.

[Sidenote: 570.]

Finally, the Alemanni, though defeated and held back by the Franks, maintained their independence in the south-western part of Germany and in Eastern Switzerland, where their descendants are living at this day. Each of all these new nationalities included remnants of the smaller original tribes, which had lost their independence in the general struggle, and which soon became more or less mixed (except in England) with the former inhabitants of the conquered soil.

The Eastern Empire was now too weak and corrupt to venture another conflict with these stronger Germanic races, whose civilization was no longer very far behind its own. Moreover, within sixty years after the Migration came to an end, a new foe arose in the East. The successors of Mahomet began that struggle which tore Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor from Christian hands, and which only ceased when, in 1453, the crescent floated from the towers of Constantinople.

Nearly all Europe was thus portioned among men of German blood, very few of whom ever again migrated from the soil whereon they were now settled. It was their custom to demand one-third--in some few instances, two thirds--of the conquered territory for their own people. In this manner, Frank and Gaul, Longobard and Roman, Visigoth and Spaniard, found themselves side by side, and reciprocally influenced each other's speech and habits of life. It must not be supposed, however, that the new nations lost their former character, and took on that of the Germanic conquerors. Almost the reverse of this took place. It must be remembered that the Gauls, for instance, far outnumbered the Franks; that each conquest was achieved by a few hundred thousand men, all of them warriors, while each of the original Roman provinces had several millions of inhabitants. There must have been at least ten of the ruled, to one of the ruling race.


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