1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Teutonic Peoples
TEUTONIC PEOPLES, a comprehensive term for those populations of Europe which speak one or other of the various Teutonic languages, viz., the English-speaking inhabitants of the British Isles, the German-speaking inhabitants of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Switzerland, the Flemish-speaking inhabitants of Belgium, the Scandinavian-speaking inhabitants of Sweden and Norway and practically all the inhabitants of Holland and Denmark. To these we have to add small German and Flemish-speaking communities in Italy and France and somewhat larger German and Swedish populations in Russia. Outside Europe we have to include also the very numerous populations in America, Africa, Australasia, &c., which have emigrated from the same countries. The statement that the Teutonic peoples are those which speak Teutonic languages requires a certain amount of qualification on one side. In the British Isles, especially Ireland, there is (in addition to the Celtic-speaking elements) a considerable population which claims Celtic nationality though it uses no language but English; and further all Teutonic communities contain to a greater or less degree certain immigrant (especially Semitic) elements which have adopted the languages of their neighbours. On the other hand there does not appear to be any considerable population anywhere which claims Teutonic nationality without using a Teutonic language. We know indeed that France, Spain, Italy, &c., contained within historical times large populations which were Teutonic both by origin and by language, but these have now been completely absorbed. Similarly, there is no doubt that the inhabitants of England and of the German-speaking regions of the Continent are descended very largely from peoples which two thousand years ago spoke non-Teutonic languages. Yet on the whole the definition given above may be accepted as generally true for the present time.
It is to be observed that the term "Teutonic" is of scholastic and not of popular origin, and this is true also of the other terms ("Germanic," "Gothic," &c.) which are or have been used in the same sense. There is no generic term now in popular use either for the languages or for the peoples, for the reason that their common origin has been forgotten. In Tacitus's time, however, when the area occupied by the Teutonic peoples was, of course, considerably less than now, a consciousness of their relationship to one another was fully retained. He cites native poems which declared that the Inguaeones, Hermiones and Istaeuones - the three main branches of the Germani (see below) - were sprung from three sons of a certain Mannus (perhaps " Man "), who was himself the son of the god Tuisto the son of Earth; and in a Frankish document at least four centuries later we hear again of three brothers named Erminus, Inguo and Istio, from whom many nations were descended. In English documents also we find eponymous national ancestors grouped together in genealogical trees, and there is reason to believe that the common origin of the various Teutonic peoples was remembered to a certain extent until comparatively late in the middle ages.
The linguistic characteristics of the various Teutonic peoples have been dealt with under Teutonic Languages. In regard to physical features they present at the present time very many varieties both of stature and of pigmentation, though on the whole they are probably the tallest and fairest of European peoples. These characteristics are noted by a number of ancient writers in language which seems to show that they must at that time have been at least as pronounced as among any of the present Teutonic peoples. Moreover, the tallness and dolichocephaly which now specially mark the more northern peoples of the group appear very prominently in cemeteries of the migration period in Switzerland and other neighbouring countries. On the whole, however, the skeletons found in German and Scandinavian tombs dating even from the earliest period do not show any very remarkable differences from those of the present day. But whether we are justified in speaking of a Teutonic race in the anthropological sense is at least doubtful, for the most striking characteristics of these peoples occur also to a considerable extent among their eastern and western neighbours, where they can hardly be ascribed altogether to Teutonic admixture. The only result of anthropological investigation which so far can be regarded as definitely established is that the old Teutonic lands in northern Germany, Denmark and southern Sweden have been inhabited by people of the same type since the neolithic age, if not earlier.
The results of investigations in prehistoric archaeology are treated in the articles Germany and Scandinavian Civilization. As no Teutonic inscriptions are extant from before the 3rd or 4th centuries, it cannot be stated with absolute certainty what types of objects are characteristic of Teutonic civilization in the bronze and earliest iron ages. Yet throughout the bronze age it is possible to trace a fairly well-defined group of antiquities covering the basin of the Elbe, Mecklenburg, Holstein, Jutland, southern Sweden and the islands of the Belt, and archaeologists have conjectured with much probability that these antiquities represent the early civilization of the Teutonic peoples. The civilization was, of course, not wholly of native growth. Strong foreign influence, first Aegean and later Etruscan, can be distinguished; but the types introduced from the south have generally undergone considerable modification and expansion. The somewhat surprising degree of wealth and artistic skill of which many of even the earliest antiquities give evidence is probably to be explained by the importance of the amber trade. Both in eastern and in western Germany the objects found are of somewhat different types and seem to point to a lower standard of civilization. What peoples inhabited these regions can only be conjectured, but there is a certain amount of evidence from place-names - not altogether satisfactory - that the Celtic peoples at one time extended eastwards throughout the basin of the Weser. With the beginning of the iron age (perhaps c. 500-400 B.C.) Celtic influence becomes apparent everywhere. By this time, however, the great Celtic movement towards the south-east had probably begun, so that the Teutonic peoples were now cut off from direct communication with the centres of southern civilization.
1. History. - The first recognition that the inhabitants of Germany, Holland, &c., were a people distinct from their Celtic neighbours dates from about the middle of the 1st century B.C., when Caesar's conquest of Gaul rendered a knowledge of northern Europe more generally accessible to the Romans. Certain notices relating to individual Teutonic tribes come down from still earlier times. Thus there can be little doubt that the Cimbri and their allies, who invaded Illyricum, Gaul and Italy in the last years of the preceding century, were for the most part of Teutonic nationality. The Bastarnae also, who in the 3rd century B.C. invaded and settled in the regions between the Carpathians and the Black Sea, are said by several ancient writers to have been Teutonic by origin, though they had largely intermarried with the native inhabitants. Again, individual travellers from the time of Pytheas onwards had visited Teutonic countries in the north. In none of the early records, however, do we get any clear indication that the Teutonic peoples were distinguished from the Celts. From the time of Caesar onwards the former were known to the Romans as " Germani," a name of uncertain but probably Gaulish origin. It is said to have been first applied to certain Belgic tribes in the basin of the Meuse, who may formerly have come from beyond the Rhine.
At the beginning of our era the Teutonic peoples stretched from the Rhine to the Vistula. Before Caesar's arrival in Gaul they had advanced beyond the former river, but their further progress in this direction was checked by his campaigns, and, though both banks of the river were occupied by Teutonic tribes throughout the greater part of its course, most of these remained in definite subjection to the Romans. The easternmost Teutonic tribe was probably that of the Goths, in the basin of the Vistula, while the farthest to the south were the Marcomanni and Quadi, in Bohemia and Moravia. These latter districts, however, had been conquered from the Boii, a Celtic people, shortly before the beginning of our era. Towards both the south and west the Teutonic peoples seem to have been pressing the Celts for some considerable time, since we are told that the Helvetii had formerly extended as far as the Main, while another important Celtic tribe, the Volcae Tectosages, had occupied a still more remote position, which it is impossible now to identify. How far the Teutonic peoples extended northwards at this time cannot be determined with certainty, but it is clear that they occupied at least a considerable part of the Scandinavian peninsula.
It has already been mentioned that the Teutonic peoples of this period seem to have been fully conscious of their common origin. What exactly the grouping into Inguaeones, Hermiones and Istaeuones was based upon can only be conjectured, though probably its origin is to be sought rather in religion than in political union. The name of the Hermiones, who are defined as " central " or " interior " peoples, is probably connected with that of the Irminsul, the sacred pillar of the Old Saxons. The Inguaeones again are defined as being " next to the ocean "; but the name can be traced only in Denmark and Sweden, where we find the eponymous hero Ing and the god Yngvi (Frey) respectively. It is likely that the name really belonged only to the peoples of the southern Baltic. Very probably there were many tribes which did not regard themselves as belonging to any of these groups. Tacitus himself records a variant form of the genealogy (see above), according to which Mannus had a larger number of sons, who were regarded as the ancestors of the Suebi, Vandilii, Marsi and others (see Suebi, Vandals). In two at least of these cases we hear of sanctuaries which were resorted to by a number of tribes. It is not to be doubted that such religious confederations were favourable to the existence of political unions. Generally speaking, however, each tribe formed a political unit in itself, and the combinations brought together from time to time in the hands of powerful kings were liable to fall to pieces after the first disaster.
For a few years at the beginning of the Christian era the part of Germany which lies west of the Elbe was under Roman government; but after the defeat of Varus (A.D. 9) the Rhine and the Danube formed in general the frontiers of the empire. Roman influence, however, made itself felt both by way of trade and especially by the employment of German soldiers in the auxiliary forces. In the age of national migrations - from the 4th to the 6th century - the territories of the Teutonic peoples were vastly extended, partly by conquest and partly by arrangement with the Romans. These movements began in the east, where we find the Goths ravaging Dacia, Moesia and the coast regions as early as the 3rd century. In the following century the Vandals settled in Pannonia (western Hungary), while the Goths occupied Dacia, which had now been given up by the Romans, and subsequently took possession also of large territories to the south of the lower Danube.
The 5th century was the time of the greatest national movements. In 4069 the Vandals and other tribes invaded Gaul from the east and subsequently took possession of Spain and north-western Africa. Immediately afterwards the Visigoths invaded Italy and captured Rome; then turning westwards they occupied southern Gaul and Spain. The southern Suebic peoples, the Alamanni and Bavarians, extended their frontiers as far as the Alps probably about the same time. Not much later a considerable portion of northern Gaul fell into the hands of the Franks, and before the middle of the century the eastern part was occupied by the Burgundians. Several of these movements were due, without doubt, to pressure from the Huns, an eastern people who had conquered many Teutonic tribes and established the centre of their power in Hungary. Their empire, however, speedily broke up after the death of their king Attila in 453. The chief events of the latter part of the century were the conquest of the eastern part of Britain by the Angli, the invasion of Italy by the Ostrogoths and the complete subjugation of northern Gaul by the Franks. By this time, with the exce p tion of Brittany and the southern part of the Balkan peninsula, practically the whole of southern and western Europe was under Teutonic government.
It is customary to attribute this great expansion partly to the increasing weakness of the Romans and partly to pressure of population in Germany. Both explanations may contain a certain amount of truth; but there is no doubt that the military strength of the Teutonic nations was far more formidable now than it had been in the time of the early empire. Not only is it clear, both from literary and archaeological evidence, that they were better armed (see below), but also their power was much more concentrated. Thus during the 1st century we hear of about a dozen different tribes in and around the lower part of the basin of the Rhine. In later times, with one or two possible exceptions, these were all included under the general term Franci, and by the end of the 5th century all had become subject to one king. Similar processes can be traced elsewhere, e.g. among the Alamanni and in the northern kingdoms. Their effect, of course, must have been to provide the kings with greater wealth and with larger permanent bodies of armed men. The motive force towards extension of territories was supplied by military ambition; especially we have to take account of the growth of a warlike spirit in the North, which was constantly driving young warriors to seek their fortunes in the service of continental princes. Where the movement was really of a migratory character it may generally be ascribed to external pressure, in particular from the Huns and the Avars.
The first half of the 6th century saw the subjugation of the Burgundian and Visigothic portions of Gaul by the Franks and the recovery of Africa by the Romans. This latter event was soon followed by the overthrow of the Ostrogothic kingdom; but not many years later Italy was again invaded by the Langobardi (Lombards), the last of the great Teutonic migrations. By this time the extension of Teutonic dominion towards the south and west had brought about its natural sequel in the occupation of the old Teutonic lands in eastern Germany, including even the basin of the Elbe, by Slavonic peoples. Before the end of the century Bohemia also and Lower Austria, together with the whole of the basins of the Drave and the Save, had become Slavonic countries.
The story of the succeeding centuries may briefly be described as in general a process of return to the ethnographical conditions which prevailed before the migration period. The Franks and the Langobardi remained in Gaul and Italy, but they gradually became denationalized and absorbed in the native populations, while in Spain Teutonic nationality came to an end with the overthrow of the Visigothic kingdom by the Moors, if not before. Yet throughout the west and south-west the Teutonic frontier remained from fifty to two hundred miles in advance of its position in Roman times. In south-eastern Europe also the Teutonic elements were swallowed up by the native and Slavonic populations, though a small remnant lingered in the Crimea until probably the 17th century. On the other hand the political consolidation of the various continental Teutonic peoples (apart from the Danes) in the 8th century led to the gradual recovery of eastern Germany together with Lower Austria and the greater part of Styria and Carinthia, though Bohemia, Moravia and the basins of the Vistula and the Warthe have always remained mainly Slavonic. In the British Isles the Teutonic element, in spite of temporary checks, eventually became dominant everywhere. Lastly, from the very beginning of the 9th century bodies of Scandinavian warriors began to found kingdoms and principalities in all parts of Europe. The settlers, however, were not sufficiently numerous to preserve their nationality, and in almost all cases they were soon absorbed by the populations (Teutonic, Celtic, Latin or Slavonic) which they had conquered. Their settlements in Greenland and Canada likewise came to an end, but Iceland, which was formerly uninhabited, remained a Scandinavian colony. The permanent expansion of the Teutonic peoples outside Europe did not begin till the 16th century.
2. Form of Government. - From the evidence at our disposal it is difficult to determine how far the Teutonic peoples were under kingly government in early times. Tacitus speaks of tribes which had kings and tribes which had not, the latter apparently being under a number of principes. On nearer examination, however, it appears that kingship was intermittent in some tribes, while in others, which had no kings, we find mention of royal families. All such cases were perhaps peculiar to the western peoples; in the east, north and centre we have no evidence for kingless government. Further, while Tacitus represents the power of Teutonic kings in general, with reference no doubt primarily to the western tribes, as being of the slightest, he states that among the Goths, an eastern people, they had somewhat more authority, while for the Swedes he gives a picture of absolutism. It is quite in harmony with these statements that many Northern and probably all the Anglo-Saxon kingly families traced their origin to the gods. The Swedes, indeed, and some of the eastern peoples seem to have regarded their kings themselves as at least semi-divine (see below, § Religion). As the west was the side most open to foreign influence during the Roman period, it is likely that the form of government which prevailed here was less primitive than the other, especially as we know that kingship had by this time died out among the Gauls. In later times we very frequently find a number of " kings," generally belonging to one family, within the same tribe; and it is not improbable that the early principes were persons of similar position. The kingless state may therefore have arisen out of kingship through divisions of the royal power or through failure on the part of the leading men to agree on a head acceptable to all. On the other hand the conditions of the migration period were doubtless favourable to monarchical government, and from this time onwards kingship appears to have been universal, except among the Old Saxons and in Iceland.
The concilium or tribal assembly figures largely in Tacitus's account of the Germani, and he represents it as the final authority on all matters of first-rate importance. Further, Tribal it was here that the principes were chosen, serious charges brought against members of the tribe and youths admitted to the rights of warriors. The duties of opening the proceedings and maintaining order belonged not to the king but to the priests, from which we may probably infer that the gathering itself was primarily of a religious character and that it met, as among the Swedes in later times, in the immediate neighbourhood of the tribal sanctuary. Such religious gatherings were no doubt common to all Teutonic peoples in early times, but it may be questioned whether among the eastern and northern tribes they were invested with all the powers ascribed to them by Tacitus. After his time tribal assemblies are seldom mentioned, and though we hear occasionally, both in England and elsewhere, of a concourse of people being present when a king holds court on high days or religious festivals, there is no evidence that such concourses took part in the discussion of state affairs. Indeed, considering the greatly increased size of the kingdoms in later times, it is improbable that they were drawn from any except the immediately adjacent districts. When we hear of deliberations now they are those of the king's council or court, a body con xxvr. 22 a sisting partly of members of the royal family and partly of warriors old and young in the personal service of the king. Such bodies of course had always existed (see below) and exercised at all times a powerful influence upon the kings, frequently even forcing them into war against their own wishes. That they appear more prominently now than in earlier times is due to the fact that owing to the increased size of the kingdoms, they had become both more numerous and more wealthy. The principle of representation for the unofficial classes, i.e. for those not under the immediate lordship of the king, scarcely begins before the 13th century.
Of all the institutions of the Teutonic peoples probably none exercised a greater influence on their history than the comitatus. From Caesar we learn that it was customary at tribal assemblies for one or other of the chiefs to propose an expedition. He had generally no difficulty in gathering a following, and those who embraced his service were held bound to accompany him to the end, any who drew back being regarded as traitors. Incidents illustrative of this custom are of frequent occurrence in early history and tradition. Moreover, kings and other distinguished persons kept standing bodies of young warriors, an honour to them in time of peace, as Tacitus says, as well as a protection in war. Chiefs of known prowess and liberality attracted large retinues, and their influence within the tribe, and even beyond, increased proportionately. The followers (called by Tacitus comites, in England " thegns," among the Franks antrustiones, &c.) were expected to remain faithful to their lord even to death; indeed so close was the relationship between the two that it seems to have reckoned as equivalent to that of father and son. According to Tacitus it was regarded as a disgrace for a comes to survive his lord, and we know that in later times they frequently shared his exile. Perhaps the most striking instance of such devotion was that displayed at the battle of Strassburg in 357, when the Alamannic king Chonodomarius was taken prisoner by the Romans, and his two hundred comites gave themselves up voluntarily to share his captivity. In return for their services the chief was expected to reward his followers with treasure, arms and horses. If he were a king the reward might take the form of a grant of land, or of jurisdiction over a section of the population subject to him - in early times a village, in later, perhaps, a considerable district. Further, since the grantees as a rule naturally sent their sons into the service of their own lords, such grants tended to become hereditary, and in them we have the origin of the baronage of the middle ages. The origin of the earls or counts, on the other hand, is to be found in the governors of large districts (Tacitus's principes), who seem at first generally to have been members of the royal family, though later they were drawn from the highest barons.
3. Social Organization. - As far back as the time of Tacitus we hear of three social classes, viz. nobles, freemen and freedmen. The same classes are met with in later times, though occasionally one of them disappears, e.g. the nobility among the Franks and the freedmen (as a distinct class) in the AngloSaxon kingdoms, except Kent. Each of these classes was, to a large extent at least, hereditary and had separate rights and privileges of its own. Among the chief of these must be reckoned the wergeld or " man-price." When homicide took place vengeance was regarded as a sacred duty incumbent on the relatives, and sometimes at least the lord also, of the slain man; but, as in the case of any other injury, compensation could be made by a fixed payment. From the evidence of later custom it is probable that the normal payment for a freeman was a hundred head of cattle. The sums paid for members of the other classes were more variable; for the freedman, however, they were always lower, and for the noble higher, sometimes apparently three or four times as high. Similar gradations occur in the compensations paid for various injuries and insults, in fines and, among some tribes, in the value attached to a man's oath. There is a good deal of uncertainty in regard to both the exact position and the numbers of the nobles and freedmen of Tacitus's age. It is probable, however, that the latter, like the liti or lati of later times, consisted not only of manumitted slaves but also of whole communities which had forfeited their liberty through unsuccessful warfare or other causes. In addition to these classes there was also a considerable population of slaves, who had no legal status or wergeld and were regarded as the property of their masters. In general, however, their lot seems to have struck the Romans as favourable, since they were not attached to their masters' households but lived in homes of their own, subject to fixed payments in corn, live stock and clothing.
Groups of family and kindred occupy a prominent position in the accounts of Teutonic society given by Caesar and Tacitus. It was regarded as a universal duty to afford protection to one's kinsmen, to assist them in the redress of wrongs and to exact vengeance or compensation in case of death. Hence to have a numerous kindred was a guarantee of security and influence. The large amounts fixed for the wergelds of nobles and even of freemen were paid no doubt, as in later times, not only by the slayer himself, but by every member of his kindred in proportion to the nearness or remoteness of his relationship; and in like manner they were distributed among the kindred of the slain. The importance of the kindred, however, was not limited to purposes of mutual protection. It appears also in the tenure of land, and according to Tacitus the tribal armies were drawn up by kindreds. As to the nature of these organizations the evidence is not altogether consistent. It is clear that agnatic succession prevailed among the princely families of the Cherusci, and the general account given in the Germania seems to imply that this type of organization was normal. On the other hand there are distinct traces of cognation not only in Tacitus's works but also in Northern traditions and more especially in the Salic law. On the whole it seems not unlikely that at the beginning of the Christian era the Teutonic peoples of the continent were in a state of transition from cognatic to agnatic organization.
All the usual forms of marriage were known, including marriage by capture and marriage by purchase. The latter appears most prominently in Kent and among the Old Saxons, Langobardi and Burgundians. In other nations, e.g. the Franks, we find the payment of a very small sum, which is often regarded as symbolic and as a relic of real purchase. Yet this explanation is open to question owing to the very early date at which the regulation appears, and to the fact that in the case of widows the sum specified had to be paid to relatives of the widow herself on the female side, and by preference to those of a younger generation. Again, Tacitus states that the presents of arms and oxen given by the bridegroom at marriage were made to the bride herself and not to her guardian, and such appears to have been the case in the North also from early times. It is not certain, therefore, that marriage by purchase was a universal and primitive Teutonic custom. Of the actual ceremonies practised at marriage not very much is known. It was preceded, however, by a formal betrothal and accompanied by a feast. Moreover, even among those peoples with whom purchase prevailed it was customary for the bridegroom to present the bride with a " morning-gift," which in the case of queens and princesses often took the form of considerable estates. There is no doubt that the marriages of heathen times were often of a kind which could not be permitted after the adoption of Christianity. Among these may be mentioned marriages with brothers' widows and stepmothers, the latter especially in England. Polygamy was known, but limited, both in early and late times, to persons of exceptionally high position, while of polyandry there is hardly any trace. Indeed, the sanctity attached to marriage seems to have struck the Romans as remarkable. On the other hand strife between persons connected by marriage appears to have been of extremely frequent occurrence, and no motive plays a more prominent part in Teutonic traditions.
4. State of Civilization. - It is a much disputed question whether the Teutonic peoples were really settled agricultural communities at the time when they first came into contact with the Romans, shortly before the beginning of our era. That agriculture of some kind was practised is clear enough from Caesar's account, and Strabo's statement to the contrary must be attributed to ignorance or exaggeration. But Caesar himself seems to have regarded the Germani as essentially pastoral peoples and their agriculture as of quite secondary importance, while from Tacitus we gather that even in his time it was of a somewhat primitive character. For not only was the husbandry co-operative, as in much later times, but apparently the ploughlands were changed from year to year without any recognition of a two-course or three-course system. Caesar, moreover, says that the clans or kindreds to whom the lands were allotted changed their abodes also from year to year - a statement which gives a certain amount of colour to Strabo's description of the Germani as quasi-nomadic. Yet there is good reason for believing that this representation of early Teutonic life was by no means universally true. We have evidence, both archaeological and linguistic, that the cultivation of cereals in Teutonic lands goes back to a very remote period, while the antiquity even of the ox-plough is attested by the rock-carvings at Tegneby in Bohuslan (Sweden), which are believed to date from early in the bronze age. Further, that the tribes were not normally of a migratory character, as Strabo seems to imply, is shown by the existence of sanctuaries of immemorial age and by frontier ramparts such as that raised by the Angrivarii against the Cherusci. It would seem that Julius Caesar encountered the Germani under somewhat abnormal conditions. Several of the tribes with which he came into collision had been expelled from their own territories by other tribes, and we are expressly told that Ariovistus's troops had not entered a house for fourteen years. Further, there is satisfactory evidence that the basin of the Rhine, perhaps also a considerable area beyond, had been conquered from Celtic peoples not very long before - from which it is probable that western Germany was still in a more or less unsettled condition. Indeed Caesar himself seems to have regarded the prevalence of the military spirit as the chief hindrance to the development of agriculture. From this time onwards it was from the west mainly that Roman civilization made its way into Germany; but in earlier ages, as we have already noticed, there are more abundant traces of civilization in the basin of the Elbe than in the districts farther to the west. Hence it is not so surprising as might at first sight appear that the remote Aestii, a non-Teutonic people settled about the mouth of the Vistula, are represented by Tacitus as keener agriculturists than any of the other inhabitants of Germany.
All ancient writers emphasize the essentially warlike character of the Germani. Yet Tacitus seems to represent their military equipment as being of a somewhat primitive type. Swords, helmets and coats of mail, he says, were seldom to be seen; in general they were armed only with huge shields, unwieldy spears and darts. Here again he appears to be thinking of the western tribes; for elsewhere he states that some of the eastern peoples were armed with short swords and round shields - which probably were of comparatively small size, like those used in later times. This latter type of equipment prevailed also in the North, as may be seen, e.g. from the figures of warriors on the inscribed golden horn found at Gallehus (Jutland) in 1734. The favourite method of attack was by a wedge formation (known later in the North as svinfylking), the point being formed by a chosen band of young warriors. Certain tribes, such as the Tencteri, were famous for their horsemen, but the Germani in general preferred to fight on foot. Sometimes also we hear of specially trained forces in which the two arms were combined. Naval warfare is seldom mentioned. The art of sailing seems to have been unknown, and it is probable that down to the 3rd century the only peoples which could truly be described as seafaring were those of the Baltic and the Cattegat.
There is no doubt that Roman influence brought about a considerable advance in civilization during the early centuries of our era. The cultivation of vegetables and fruit trees seems to have been practically unknown before this period, and almost all their names testify to the source from which they were derived. We may notice also the introduction of the mill in place of the quern which hitherto had been in universal use. In all such cases the tribes subject to the Romans, in the neighbourhood of the Rhine, were probably the chief channel by which Roman influence made its way, though account must also be taken of the fact that considerable numbers of warriors from remoter districts were attracted to serve in the Roman armies. Great improvements took place likewise in armour and weapons; the equipment of the warriors whose relics have been found in the Schleswig bog-deposits, dating from the 4th and 5th centuries, appears to have been vastly superior to that which Tacitus represents as normal among the Germani of his day. Yet the types, both in armour and dress, remained essentially Teutonic - or rather Celtic-Teutonic. Indeed, when in the course of time uniformity came to prevail over the greater part of Europe, it was the Teutonic rather than the Roman fashions which were generalized.
The antiquity of the art of writing among the Teutonic peoples is a question which has been much debated. Tacitus says that certain marks were inscribed on the divining chips, but it cannot be determined with certainty whether these were really letters or not. Writing The national type of writing, generally known as Runic, must have been fully developed by the 4th century, when some of its letters were borrowed by Ulfilas (Wulfila) for his new alphabet (see Goths: § C.). Indeed, by this time it was probably known to most of the Teutonic peoples, for several of the inscriptions found in Jutland and the islands of the Belt can hardly be of later date. As to the source from which it was derived opinions still differ, some thinking that it was borrowed from the Romans a century or two before this time, while others place its origin much farther back and trace it to one of the ancient Greek alphabets. Many of the earliest inscriptions read from right to left, and the βονετp04»Sov type is also met with occasionally. It is clear both from literary and linguistic evidence that the character was chiefly used for writing on wood, but the inscriptions which have survived are naturally for the most part on metal objects - in Sweden, Norway and England also on monumental stones. In Germany very few Runic inscriptions have been found, and there is nothing to show that the alphabet was used after the 8th century. In England also it seems not to have lasted much longer, but inscriptions are far more numerous. On the other hand, in Scandinavian countries it continued in use through the greater part of the middle ages - in Gotland till the 16th century; indeed, the knowledge of it seems never to have wholly died out. In the course of time, however, it underwent many changes, and the earliest inscriptions must have been unintelligible for over a thousand years until they were deciphered by scholars within the last half century. The Roman alphabet first came into use among the western and northern Teutonic peoples after their adoption of Christianity.
5. Funeral Customs. - Icelandic writers of the 12th and 13th centuries distinguished between an earlier " age of burning " and a later " age of barrows," and the investigations of modern archaeologists have tended in general to confirm the distinction, though they have revealed also the burial-places of times antecedent to the age of burning. Throughout the stone age inhumation appears to have been universal, many of the neolithic tombs being chambers of considerable size and constructed with massive blocks of stone. Cremation makes its appearance first in the earlier part of the bronze age, and in the latter part of that age practically displaces the older rite. In the early iron age there is less uniformity, some districts apparently favouring cremation and others inhumation. The former practice is the one recognized by Tacitus. In the national migration period, however, it fell into disuse among most of the continental Teutonic peoples, even before their conversion, though it seems to have been still practised by the Heruli in the 5th century and by the Old Saxons probably till a much later period. It came into Britain with the Anglo-Saxon invaders and continued in use in certain districts perhaps until nearly the close of the 6th century. In Scandinavian lands the change noted by Icelandic writers may be dated about the 5th and 6th centuries, though inhumation was certainly not altogether unknown before that time. After the 6th century cremation seems not to have been common, if we may trust the sagas, but isolated instances occur as late as the 10th century. It is to be observed that cremation and the use of the barrow are not mutually exclusive, for cremated remains, generally in urns, are often found in barrows. On the other hand inhumation below the surface of the ground, without perceptible trace of a barrow, seems to have been the most usual practice during the national migration period, both in England and on the continent. A special form of funeral rite peculiar to the North was that of cremation on a ship. Generally the ship was drawn up on land; but occasionally we hear, in legendary sagas, of the burning ship being sent out to sea. Large ships containing human remains have sometimes been found in barrows of the viking age. Arms and ornaments are frequently met with, sometimes also horses and human remains which may be those of slaves, the belief being that the dead would have all that was buried with him at his service in the life beyond. Usage, however, seems to have varied a good deal in this respect at different times and in different districts.
6. Religion. - The conversion of the Teutonic peoples to Christianity was a gradual process, covering some seven centuries. The first to accept the new religion seem to have been the Goths, beginning about the middle of the 4th century, and the Vandals must have followed their example very quickly. In the course of the 5th century it spread to several other nations, including the Gepidae, Burgundians, Rugii and Langobardi. In all these cases the Arian form of Christianity was the one first adopted. The first conversion to the Catholic form was that of the Franks at the end of the 5th century. The extension of Frankish supremacy over the neighbouring Teutonic peoples brought about the adoption of Christianity by them also, partly under compulsion, the last to be converted being the Old Saxons, in the latter half of the 8th century. The conversion of England began in S97 and was complete in less than a century. In the north, after several attempts during the 9th century which met with only temporary success, Christianity was established in Denmark under Harold Bluetooth, about 94 0 -9 60, and in Norway and Sweden before the end of the century, while in Iceland it obtained public recognition in the year 1000. Many districts in Norway, however, remained heathen until the reign of St Olaf (1014-1028), and in Sweden for half a century later.
The subsequent religious history of the various Teutonic peoples will be found elsewhere. Here we are concerned only with the beliefs and forms of worship which prevailed before the adoption of Christianity. For our knowledge of this subject we are indebted chiefly to Icelandic literary men of the 12th and 13th centuries, who gave accounts of many legends which had come down to them by oral tradition, besides committing to writing a number of ancient poems. Unfortunately Icelandic history is quite unique in this respect. In the literatures of other Teutonic countries we have only occasional references to the religious rites of heathen times, and these are generally in no way comparable to the detailed accounts given in Icelandic writings. Hence it is often difficult to decide whether a given rite or legend which is mentioned only in Icelandic literature was really peculiar to that country alone or to the North generally, or whether it was once the common property of all Teutonic peoples.
A number of gods were certainly known both in England and among many, if not all, the Teutonic peoples of the continent, as well as in the North. Among these were Odin (Woden), Thor (Thunor) and Tyr (Ti); so also Frigg (Frig), the wife of Odin (see Frigg, Odin, Woden, Thor, Tyr). Some scholars have thought that Balder, the son of Odin, was once known in Germany, but the evidence is at least doubtful. Heimdallr, the watchman of the gods and Ullr, the stepson of Thor, as well as Hoenir, Bragi and most of the other less prominent gods. were also probably peculiar to the North, though Ullr at least was known in Denmark. Some of these deities may originally have been quite local. Indeed, such may very well have been the case with Frey, the chief god of the North after Thor and Odin. Tradition at all events uniformly points to Upsala as the original home of his cult. But it is probable that both he and his sister Freyia were really specialized forms of a divinity which had once been more widely known. Their father, Niiir6r, the god of wealth, who is a somewhat less important figure, corresponds in name to the goddess Nerthus (Hertha), who in ancient times was worshipped by a number of tribes, including the Angli, round the coasts of the southern Baltic. Tacitus describes her as " Mother Earth," and the account which he gives of her cult bears a somewhat remarkable resemblance to the ceremonies associated in later times with Frey. This family of deities were collectively known as Vanir, and are said to have once been hostile to the Aesir, to whom Odin belonged. Their worship was generally connected with peace and plenty, just as that of Odin was chiefly bound up with war. Gefion was another goddess who may represent a later form of Nerthus. In her case tradition points distinctly to a connexion with Denmark (Sjaelland). On the other hand, the portraiture of Ska61, the wife of Nior6r, seems to point to a Finnish or Lappish origin. The rest of the northern goddesses are comparatively unimportant, and only one of them, Fulla, the handmaid of Frigg, seems to have been known on the continent.
Some of the deities known to us from German and English sources seem also to have been of a local or tribal character. Such doubtless was Fosite, to whom Heligoland was sacred. Saxnot (Seaxneat), from whom the kings of Essex claimed descent, was probably a god of the Saxons. Holda, who is known only from the folklore of later times, appears to have been a German counterpart of Nerthus. Ing, who is connected with Denmark in Anglo-Saxon tradition, was in all probability the eponymous ancestor of the Inguaeones (see above). His name connects him, too, with the god Frey, who was also called Yngvifreyr and Ingunarfreyr, and he must at one time have been closely associated with Nerthus. The relationship of Ing to the Inguaeones is paralleled by that of Irmin to the Hermiones (see above). He may be the deity whom Tacitus called " Hercules." Some of these eponymous ancestors may be regarded as heroes rather than gods, and classed with such persons, as Skioldr, the eponymous. ancestor of the Danish royal family, who is not generally included in the Northern pantheon. But the line of division between the human and the divine is not very definite. The royal family of Norway claimed descent from Frey, and many royal families, both English and Northern, from Woden (Odin). Indeed, several legendary kings are described as sons of the latter. Sometimes, again, the relationship is of a conjugal character. Skioldr, though hardly a god himself, is the husband of the goddess Gefion. So we find Freyia's priest described as her husband and Frey's priestess as his wife, and there is no reason for regarding such cases as exceptional.
If it is not always easy to distinguish between gods and heroes, there is still greater difficulty in drawing a line between the former and other classes of supernatural beings, such as the " giants " (O.N. ilitnar, A.S. eotenas). Here again we have intermarriage. Ska61, the wife of Nior6r, and Ger6r, the wife of Frey, were the daughters of the giants Thiazi and Gymir respectively, though SkaNi is always reckoned as a goddess. Loki also was of giant birth; but he is always reckoned among the gods, and we find him constantly in their company, in spite of his malevolent disposition. In general it may be said that the giants were regarded as hostile to both gods and men. Often they are represented as living a primitive life in caves and desolate places, and their character is usually ferocious. But there are exceptions even among the male giants, such as Aegir, whom we find on friendly terms with the gods. It is worth noting also that some of the leading families of Norway are said to have claimed descent from giants, especially from Thrymr, the chief opponent of Thor. In such cases there may be some connexion between the giants and the semi-civilized (Finnish or Lappish) communities of the mountainous districts. This connexion is more clear in the case of Thorger6r HOlgabruor, who is known chiefly from the extreme veneration paid to her by Haakon, earl of Lade (+995). According to one story she was the daughter of HOlgi, the eponymous king of Halogaland (northern Norway); according to another she was the wife of HOlgi and daughter of Gusi, king of the Fins. She ought perhaps to be regarded rather as a goddess than as a giantess, but she is never associated with the other. deities.
Another class of supernatural beings was that of the dwarfs. They were distinguished chiefly for their cunning and for skill in working metals. More important than these from a religious point of view were the elves (O.N. alfar, A.S. ylfe), who certainly received worship, at all events in the North. They are almost always spoken of collectively and generally represented as beneficent. In some respects, e.g. in the fact that they are often said to inhabit barrows, they seem to be connected with the souls of the dead. In other cases, however, they are hardly to be distinguished from spirits (the Icel. landvaettir, &c.), which may be regarded as genii locorum. In addition to the above there were yet other classes of supernatural beings (see Norns and Valkyries). Mention, however, must be made here of the fylgiur and hamingiur of Northern belief. These are of two kinds, though the names seem not always to be clearly distinguished. Sometimes the fylgia is represented as a kind of attendant spirit, belonging to each individual person. It may be seen, generally in animal form, in visions or by persons of second sight, but to see one's own fylgia is a sign of impending death. In other cases the fylgiur (or perhaps more correctly the hamingiur) apparently belong to the whole family. These generally appear in the form of maidens.
Human beings, especially kings and other distinguished persons, were not infrequently honoured with worship after death. In Sweden during the 9th century we have trustworthy record of the formal deification of a dead king and of the erection of a temple in his honour. In general the dead were believed to retain their faculties to a certain extent in or near the place where they were buried, and stories are told of the resistance offered by them to tomb-robbers. It would seem, moreover, that they were credited with the power of helping their friends (and likewise of injuring other people) very much in the same way as they had done in life. Hence the possession of the remains of a chief who had been both popular and prosperous was regarded as highly desirable.
The blessings which kings were expected to bestow upon their subjects, in life as well as after death, were partly of a supernatural character. Chief among them was that of securing the fertility of the crops. The prevalence of famine among the Swedes was attributed to the king's remissness in performing sacrificial functions; and on more than one occasion kings are said to have been put to death for this reason. Under similar circumstances Burgundian kings were deposed. In connexion with this attribution of superhuman powers, we may mention also the widespread belief that certain persons had the faculty of " changing shape," and especially of assuming the forms of animals.
Besides the various classes of beings to the worship of which we have already referred, we hear occasionally also of sacred animals. Tacitus tells of horses consecrated to the service of the gods, and of omens drawn from them, and we meet again with such horses in Norway nearly a thousand years later. In the same country we find the legend of a king who worshipped a cow. Besides the anthropomorphic " giants, " mentioned above, Northern mythology speaks also of theriomorphic demons, the chief of which were Midgar6sormr, the " worldserpent," and Fenrisulfr, a monster wolf, the enemies of Thor and Odin respectively. These beings are doubtless due in part to poetic imagination, but underlying this there may be a substratum of primitive religious belief. In contrast with later Scandinavian usage Tacitus states that the ancient Germans had no images of the gods. But he does speak of certain sacred symbols which he defines elsewhere as figures of wild beasts. One of the chief objects of veneration among the Cimbri is said to have been a brazen bull.
Figures of animals, however, were not the only inanimate things regarded in this way. The Quadi are said to have considered their swords divine. More important than this was the worship paid, especially in the North, to rocks and stone cairns, while springs and pools also were frequently regarded as sacred in all Teutonic lands. But, on the whole, there is perhaps no characteristic of Teutonic religion, both in early and later times, more prominent than the sanctity attached to certain trees and groves, though it is true that in such cases there is often a doubt as to whether the tree itself was worshipped or whether it was regarded as the abode of a god or spirit. The sanctuaries mentioned by Tacitus seem always to have been groves, and in later times we have references to such places in all Teutonic lands. One of the most famous was that in or beside which stood the great temple of Upsala. Here also must be mentioned the Swedish Vardtrad or " guardian tree," which down to our own time is supposed to grant protection and prosperity to the household to which it belongs. One of the most striking conceptions of Northern mythology is that of the " world-tree," Yggdrasil's Ash, which sheltered all living beings (see Yggdrasil). The description given of it recalls in many respects that of a particularly holy tree which stood beside the temple at Upsala. For the idea we may compare the Irminsul, a great wooden pillar which appears to have been the chief object of worship among the Old Saxons, and which is described as " universalis columna quasi sustinens omnia." The Northern sanctuaries of later times were generally buildings constructed of wood or other materials. A space apparently partitioned off contained figures of Thor or Frey and perhaps other gods, together with an altar on which burned a perpetual fire. In the main body of the temple were held the sacrificial feasts. The presiding priest seems always to have been the chief to whom the temple belonged, for there is no evidence for the existence of a special priestly class in the North. In England, however, the case was otherwise; we are told that the priests were never allowed to bear arms. There is record also of priests among the Burgundians and Goths, while in Tacitus's time they appear to have held a very prominent position in German society. Among all Teutonic peoples from the time of the Cimbri onwards we frequently hear also of holy women whose duties were concerned chiefly with divination. Sometimes, indeed, as in the case of Veleda, a prophetess of the Bructeri, during Vespasian's reign, they were regarded practically as deities. After the adoption of Christianity, and possibly to a certain extent even before, such persons came to be regarded with disfavour - whence the persecutions for witchcraft - but it is clear from Tacitus's works and other sources that their influence in early times must have been very great. In the North the sanctuaries called horgar seem to have been usually under the charge of the wives and daughters of the household. But there is some evidence also for the existence of special priestesses at certain sanctuaries.
Of religious ceremonies the most important was sacrifice. The victims were of various kinds. Those offered to Odin (Woden) were generally, if not always, men, from the time of Tacitus onwards. Human sacrifices to Thor and the other gods are not often mentioned. Of animals, which were consumed at the sacrificial banquets, we hear chiefly of horses, but also of oxen and boars. At human sacrifices, however, dogs and hawks were often offered with the men. At all sacrifices it seems to have been customary to practise divination; in connexion with human sacrifice we have record of this rite from the time of the Cimbri. One barbarous custom which was regarded as a sacrifice was the dedication of an enemy's army to the gods, especially Odin. This custom, which is likewise known to have prevailed from the earliest times, involved the total destruction of the defeated army, together with everything belonging to them. In general the chief sacrificial festivals seem to have taken place at fixed times in the year, one in early or mid-autumn, another at mid-winter and a third during the spring. Sacrifices on an exceptionally large scale were held at Upsala and Leire every nine years, at the former place about the time of the spring equinox, at the latter in the early part of January. Besides these fixed festivals sacrifices could of course be offered in all time of public or private need. In the latter case resort was very frequently had also to sorcery and necromancy.
Mention has been made above of the belief that the dead retained a conscious existence in or near the place where they were buried, and that they were able to confer blessings upon their friends. Beside this belief, however, we find another which seems hardly to be compatible with it, viz., that the souls of the dead passed to the realm of Hel, who in Northern mythology is represented as the daughter of Loki. Again, those who had fallen in battle were supposed to go to Valhalla, where they became warriors in Odin's service. This last belief seems to have been connected at one time with the practice of cremation. In conclusion it must be mentioned that even the life of the gods was not to be for ever. A day was to come when Odin and Thor would fall in conflict with the wolf and the world-serpent, when the abode of the gods would be destroyed by fire and the earth sink into the sea. But the destruction was not to be final; in the future the gods of a younger generation would govern a better world. How far these beliefs were common to the Teutonic peoples as a whole cannot be determined with certainty. Some scholars hold that they were peculiar to the mythology of Norway and Iceland and that they arose at a late period, largely through Christian influence. But a serious objection to this view is presented by the fact that very similar ideas in some respects were current among the ancient Gauls.
(H. M. C.)