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The Dark Ages and the Middle Ages

Throughout its history the Roman State was surrounded by barbarian peoples who lived beyond the borders of its dominion, and sometimes their incursions were dangerous indeed. As early as the second century b c, a Roman army had been defeated by a people they identified as Teutoni or Teutons. At this period the Teutons were primitive enough. Their principal garment seems to have consisted of a short tunic formed of two pieces of leather sewn together. Later it was made of wool or linen. Under the tunic were worn breeches or baggy trousers, which in Roman eyes was the very mark of the barbarian.

Naturally, the Teutons were influenced by their contacts with Rome, and they gradually adopted something resembling Roman costume but made, in general, of coarser materials such as hemp. By the end of the first century ad, another northern tribe, the Goths (originally of Scandinavian origin), had settled in what was, until 1945, East Prussia, and they, too, threatened the Roman civilization.

As Ostrogoths they pushed eastward into what is now Russia; as Visigoths they pushed westward into Spain and other regions, sacking Rome under their great leader Alaric in the fifth century; and as Langobards or Lombards they firmly established themselves in northern Italy. From the descriptions of such Roman historians as Sidonius Apollinaris we know that they wore sleeved tunics of linen, edged with fur, and became gradually Romanized. New waves ofinvasion from the east threatened the Teutonic tribes themselves.

Conclusion

In France the Gauls had adopted not only Roman dress and customs but the Latin language. Like the Britons they had (in the upper classes at least) become completely Romanized. But Gaul was successfully invaded by the Franks (i.e. the Teutons) from across the Rhine, and by the fifth century A d the Frankish dynasty of the Merovingians had established itself over the greater part of the country.

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