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efreysson
01-22-2016, 01:27 PM
One of my long-term plans is to write a fantasy series, basically depicting fantasy Rome vs fantasy Germanic tribes, from the perspective of the Germans. My interest started with watching a bunch of documentaries about the Roman wars, but those don't go into the kinds of details I need.

Religious rites, trade, subsistence, social structure, weapons, approach to war, slavery, daily life . . . Basically how their lives were.

I know the tribes didn't leave their own written records, but historians must have pieced a picture together by now. Is there a good overall guide to European tribal life, or am I going to have to read ten different books?

AW Admin
01-22-2016, 07:11 PM
There's not a lot, frankly. Also, you need to pick a more specific geographic area other than Germanic Tribes.

The languages aren't even all cognates.

We've got Classical writers (Caesar, Tacitus, etc.) but nothing written by the peoples themselves until late (c. 8th century, at the earliest).

There's some decent archaeological work. To start see:

Wolfram, Herwig. The Roman Empire and Its Germanic Peoples. UC Press, 2005.

The bibliography is pretty good. Also see, for interactions between Rome and the tribes:

Heather, Peter. The Fall of the Roman Empire. Also see his Empires and Barbarians.

Katharine Tree
01-22-2016, 08:13 PM
Everyday Life of the Barbarians: Goths, Visigoths, and Vandals (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=everyday+life+of+the+goths) by Malcolm Todd
Everyday Life in Prehistoric Times (http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Prehistoric-Marjorie-C-H-B-Quennell/dp/B000NPRTWY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453478902&sr=8-1&keywords=everyday+life+in+prehistoric+times) by Marjorie & CHB Quennell

You can also watch episodes of the British show Time Team which dig up Iron Age sites, if you can get them.

My area of greater expertise is pre-Roman Britain, where people lived in roundhouses with stone foundations and traded with Rome. I have no idea if German tribes lived similarly. I do know that the Saxon hordes which eventually invaded and which culturally dominated the area for a long time tended to live in wooden longhouses and use wooden and leather tools, which have degraded completely, leaving no archaeological record except post-hole shadows in the ground. That's one reason it's called the Dark Ages. There's practically no archaeological record. So I worry that your Germanic tribes might have been living the same way during the height of the Roman Empire, and again, no record.

benbenberi
01-23-2016, 04:13 AM
Patrick J. Geary, The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe (http://smile.amazon.com/Myth-Nations-Medieval-Origins-Europe/dp/0691114811)

Despite the title, it's really about the Germanic and other "barbarian" tribes of Europe in the time of the Roman empire.

Alessandra Kelley
01-23-2016, 04:53 PM
Terry Jones and Alan Ereira wrote a book, Barbarians, and I think there might be a TV show to go with it too, all about Everybody Else around the Romans.

It's pretty withering towards the Romans. The details about Everybody Else are fascinating.

I would also look into art and archeology books as more illuminating and less biased than anything based on Roman field reports.

WriterFantasyNights
01-23-2016, 08:41 PM
I would recommand the Cambridge History Series of the Roman Empire as it covers a lot of details indepth about the Germanic tribes/Gallic Tribes.

Read Eagles at War by Ben Kane which also illustrates the Chersuci's perspective to free their land. The thing to note is that the Germanic tribes did manage to defeat the Romans in some wars which led to the decline of the Empire. Search for the Marcomanni wars and you will see that they were starting to become professionalized like the Romans. So when Attila's hordes ravaged across Europe, they joined the Romans in that time. Also you would be writing the Romans in their glory I believe. The other thing is the Germanic tribes weren't just one whole confederation, they were separate tribes living in areas of their own time. The Boii, the Casturgi, the Cherscui, Alammani, Marcommani, etc. Its a whole bunch of tribes. They did share most of the same cultures that were day. You would need to do research in the Roman Empire as well its wars with the Germanic tribes.

Check out some of the army books that the Germanic tribes had, and you will find some neat illustrations to give you an idea of this.

By the way, does anyone know any books on the Tang Dynasty, everyday books on their life, custom, army and cultures?

Quillandink
01-24-2016, 12:37 AM
If you go to your preferred online retail seller and type in the search engine 'osprey Germanic' you will see plenty of books on this period such as

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Barbarians-Against-Rome-Germanic-Spanish/dp/1841760455/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453580612&sr=8-1&keywords=osprey+germanic

Osprey do lots of military books on the Germans in this period. Expensive in terms of length, they have a tendency to be pragmatic but have lots of pictures and illustrations.

As to religion and way of life, there is a wealth of books on the Celts also such as

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ancient-Celts-Barry-Cunliffe/dp/0140254226/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453581140&sr=1-10&keywords=celts

I'm sure your local library must have books on the iron age.

AW Admin
01-24-2016, 07:04 AM
As to religion and way of life, there is a wealth of books on the Celts also such as

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ancient-Celts-Barry-Cunliffe/dp/0140254226/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453581140&sr=1-10&keywords=celts

I'm sure your local library must have books on the iron age.

The Celts are not Germanic.

blacbird
01-24-2016, 07:40 AM
One of my long-term plans is to write a fantasy series, basically depicting fantasy Rome vs fantasy Germanic tribes, from the perspective of the Germans.

This sounds more like a historical series than a fantasy series. Of which there's nothing bad about. But if you're going to delve into fantasy, you kind of need to postulate a mysterious Germanic tribe that had magical abilities, encountered by the Romans. In which case, you may need less research than you think you do.

caw