Barbarian communities were a group of peoples, in ancient times, of different origins, often on the move, in conquest and migration across the continents displacing or assimilating natives in their rush for resources. They were marked with no dominant cultural orientation apart from a towering force of will and versatility often seeking power and controllership of resources. The fiercest being the Vikings, Tautens, Norse, Goths and the Celts. These groups are hailed for the eventual collapse of Greek and Roman cultural dominance in global spheres. The alien cultures that diluted Greek cultural supremacy were Egyptians, Carthagians, Romans, Phoenicians Etruscans and the Kurdish which were essentially barbaric (Palmira et.al, p. 81).
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Contribution of barbarians to the history of world civilizations
Barbarians brought down kingdoms setting populations free and promoting a spirit of individualism and a unique sense of pride and glory in achievement, further, they promoted progress of humanity as the ‘life age’ and ‘soul ages’.Their dominance promoted humanistic progress in various perspectives as human freewill, death was viewed as inevitably part of active life particularly with the Vikings, which have survived among elitist leadership cultures (Palmira et.al, p. 86). Barbarian hierarchical society influenced consequent societal structures persisting to date.
As peoples of all times grapple with environmental challenges of all times, Barbarians exhibiting strong survival traits tended to influence all aspects of lifestyles through the ages (Palmira et.al p. 121). Marriage patterns, punishment of offenders and clemency as well as the patronization of slaves and subjects in kingships. Great leaders of the Classical and postclassical era as Napoleon, Alexander and Caesar seemed to ape various models of barbarism. Barbarians contributed to advancement on housing structures, sports and recreation, trade, war and armament.
Individual barbarians led the way with great inspiration, charm and personal magnetism (Palmira et.al, p. 22), they were Alaric the Goth who captured Rome in 410 C.E, Attila the Hun who dominated Europe in the 5th century C.E, Boadicea ruled ancient England in the 1st century C.E, Charlemagne the Frankish King, Charles Martel of the Kingdom of Austrasia hailed for the Battle of Tours (732 C.E) and many others. They particularly contributed many spirit conceptions and explanation of human existence.
Clovis (466-511 C.E) reigned an empire form the Rhine banks to the Atlantic, Genseric of ancient Vendal raided Rome between 455- 477 C.E, Gundahar, Burgundian King reigned in ancient S.W Germany till his defeat by Attila, Arminius reigned the Teutonic territories, 9 C.E, Odoacer a Herulian king accounted for the end of the Roman empire, Stilicho of Vendal hailed for the heinous attack of the Goths in 402 C.E during a ‘Good Friday’ celebration,Theoderic of the Ostrogoths who established treaties with the Germans after the fall of the roman Empire are examples of remarkable barbarians. In addition, Vercingetorix, intruded into Julius Caesar’s territory at Gaul, 58 B.C.E, (currently France), Vortigen a German warlord ruled Britain with the aid of the Saxon mercenaries.
Barbarians’ greatest contributions to world history
Most remarkable influences of the Barbarians in culture today include Holiday practices, Mathematics, and literature. (Stearns et.al, pg 89).
Most holidays evolved through time from barbarian festivals, one in case being the widely observed Christian celebrations of x-mass, new year as well as the adornments, decorations and practices that accompany such events.
Mathematical system contributions are notable with the Celtic and Teutonic barbarians, which have persisting influence today. Unlike the Arabic system, they contributed a system rooted on the base-12 other than base-10. This system is behind the popular use of 24 hour system day, 360 degrees circle among other such uses in ‘dozens’ and complex astronomical calculations as detailed by (Palmira et.al, p. 87). Moreover, certain names of numbers like ‘eleven’ and ‘twelve’ emerged from barbarian usages.
Epic stories as Beowulf and Mabinogion tales, the documentaries of King Arthur, the sayings of Havamal, the poetry of Eddas and many fairy tales of Europe are recollections of the teachings and wisdom of the barbarians (Stearns et.al, p. 21).
Barbarians have left a tradition and a legacy to mankind through the ages largely due to the intriguing nature of life in human society. Religions, lifestyles, fashions of wisdoms have often changed with the changing times and circumstances. This clash of civilizations shall always remain a part and parcel of active life.
- Palmira B, Jewsbury G, Hackett Neil J, Edgar R and Barbara M, Civilizations Past and Present, Volume 1 Primary Source Edition: To 1650 11TH Edition, Longmans: U.S.A, 2005.
- Stearns P, Grieshaber P, Gosch, Erwin and Stephen S. Documents in World History, Volume I, 5TH Edition, Longman: U.S.A, 2008.