Theory of roman law

Classified in History

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  • 3.1 Germanic invasions

The Western Roman Empire followed a different evolution to the Byzantine Empire, as the lands of Western Europe were occupied by peoples of Germanic origin.

  1. Germanic tribes

The Germanic people came from Central Asia and settled for centuries near the borders of the Roman Empire. They were nomadic people who did not build cities, as they mainly lived in villages and camps. They mainly worked in farming and were organised into tribes, led by a tribal chief who was elected by an assembly of free men. The leader was the military chief and ruled with the help of warriors, with whom he established pacts of loyalty.

An increase in population and the need to seek pastures

 for cattle caused the Germanic people to move to western Europe.

  1. Invasions

Some of the Germanic tribes that pushed the boundaries of the Roman Empire during the 3rd century took advantage of its weakness to settle there. These tribes settled in the territory of the Western Roman Empire.

Some held posts in the army and the Roman administration. Therefore, there were Germanic tribes that were quite Romanised, such as the Visigoths and Ostrogoths, and others that were very hostile, such as the Huns and the Vandals.

  • 3.2 The fall of the Western Roman Empire 

The Western Roman Empire managed to stay in place until the German chieftain Odoacer deposed the last emperor of Rome, Romulus Augustus, in ad 476.

Some of the most important Germanic kingdoms were:

  • The Burgundians, who settled in northeastern Gaul.

  • The Ostrogoths, who settles on the Italian Peninsula

  • The Franks, who settled in the northwestern Gaul.

  • The Visigoths, who settled in southern Gaul and Hispania.


  • 3.3 Characteristics of the Germanic kingdom  

They were monarchies: At first, kings were elected but over time the position became hereditary. Kings were weak and had little power as they were in the hands of an increasingly powerful warrior aristocracy.


Society was comprised of a majority Romanised population and a dominant minority Germanic population. Germanic laws were gradually introduced, so Roman law ceased

to be used, even though it was much more advanced.


After his overthrow, the western half of the empire disappeared and a series of kingdoms was formed in its place.

Some features of Roman culture were imposed: This was the case with the language, Latin, which remained but was adapted to different regional characteristics. Likewise, Christianity, which had spread throughout the Roman Empire, also spread among the Germanic tribes.


Economicall, the tendency towards ruralisation that started in the 3rd century increased. The basis of the economy was very rudimentary agriculture practised by peasants and slaves on large estates that belonged to an aristocratic minority. Meanwhile, cities and trade almost completely disappeared.


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