Page:Western Europe in the Middle Ages.djvu/45

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THE MAKING OF EUROPE

traditional date of the fall of the Empire in the West. The emperor at Constantinople could find no remedy for this situation except to send a new group of Germans, the Ostrogoths, against the usurper. The Ostrogoths, under their great leader Theodoric, were successful, but the Empire gained little, for Theodoric promptly created a kingdom for himself in Italy. Last of all, the Franks began to occupy Gaul, while the Angles and Saxons started the slow conquest of Britain.

The occupation of the Western provinces by the Germans caused less material damage than might have been expected. Almost everywhere the imperial government succeeded in keeping some sort of connection with the leaders of the occupying forces. German kings were made generals in the Roman army, given honorary tides such as consul or patrician, or even adopted into the imperial family. These were not mere face-saving devices, since they kept the Germans from treating their new possessions as conquered territory. The Romans in the West preserved their law, as much of their local government as they desired, and most of their property. The Germans had to be given land, but the West, with its thin population, had land to spare, and few of the old inhabitants had to be completely dispossessed. There was a considerable amount of pillaging and violence while the Germans were moving through the Empire, but once they had settled down they were not hostile to the Romans. There had never been any deep-rooted racial or cultural antagonism between Roman and German. Intermarriages had been and continued to be common, and the Germans had great respect for Roman civilization, as far as they understood it. They had come into the Empire to enjoy it, not to destroy it; they had not the slightest idea of wiping out the old way of life and substituting a new Germanic culture in its place.

And yet the coming of the Germans did mark the end of Roman civilization in the West. In some regions, especially along the Rhine and upper Danube, the Germans settled so thickly that the