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The Early Germans (The Peoples of Europe) Paperback – 24 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2nd Edition edition (24 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405117141
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405117142
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.1 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 877,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


This book delivers on its claim to be an overview of what is currently known about the early Germanic tribes and their impact on the declining classical civilizations. It is a good, up–to–date overview of the Germanic impact on Western civilization.


The text is clear and compact, the maps, figures and photographs are apt and profuse, thoroughly efficient work is rounded off with a thoughtful chapter on the treatment of the German past from antiquity to present.


This very readable and most handsomely produced book provides a general introduction to the social structure, trade, customs, religion and craftsmanship of the Germanic peoples in northern Europe until about the end of the Roman Empire.

Medium Aevum

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

For many centuries Germanic peoples occupied much of northern and central Europe. From the fourth century onward migrant groups extended their power and influence over much of western Europe and beyond to North Africa. In so doing, they established enduring states in France, Spain, Italy and Britain. This illustrated book makes use of archaeological and literary sources to outline the ethnogenesis and history of the early Germanic peoples. It provides an overview of current knowledge of these peoples, their social structure, settlements, trade, customs, religion, craftsmanship and relations with the Roman Empire.

In this second edition, the author incorporates important new archaeological evidence and reports on advances in historical interpretation. In particular, he offers new insights into developments in central and eastern Europe and the implications for our understanding of migration and settlement patterns, ethnicity and identity. Ten new plates have been added featuring significant new sites discovered in recent years.

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The heartland of the immense area of northern Europe occupied by the early Germanic peoples was the great expanse of lowland which extends from the Netherlands to western Russia. Read the first page
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ebbe Tøfting Hove on 26 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book helps to dissolve at least two popular myths about the early Germans: First, they were not an unarticulated bunch, and secondly, they did not consider themselves Germans. Professor Todd explains in this short and well-structured volume how these myths came about. The Germans had a lot of bad press, and did not produce written accounts of themselves apart from stories of the individual tribes, so for centuries the Roman version persevered. The oldest known use of the word "Germans" is from Poseidonus in the second century BC, to distinguish them from the Celts and the Scythians. The Romans continued to use this term, but the people they refer to did not consider themselves as one people, but instead as Goths, Franks, Langobards and so on.
"The Early Germans" is divided in two main parts. The first is an account of the landscape, the society and its institutions, the customs, the trade, diplomacy and religion. Much of this knowledge derives from archeological sites, and Professor Todd makes expert use of the diffuse material available in this field. The second part describes the different tribes. Some tribes are known almost by name only, while others migrated to the south and west and created kingdoms and realms in the old Roman lands.
This book is part of Blackwell's "The People of Europe" series and is highly recommended. If you want to read more about the German tribes in the same series, you should try Edward James: The Franks, Peter Heather: The Goths and Neil Christie: The Lombards. There is also a volume on the Vandals, but is it rather hard to come by. "The Early Germans" tells its story in 285 pages with lots of maps and illustrations, and the editors should be complimented for a presentation with a good and readable typeset.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
110 of 111 people found the following review helpful
An Essential Introductory Text 16 Jun. 2001
By Tim O'Neill - Published on
Format: Paperback
Todd's book has become the standard introduction to the history and archaeology of the early Germanic peoples in English. In a remarkably clear and concise work, Todd manages a comprehensive overview of much of the main evidence regarding the Germanic tribes which goes a long way to correcting the popular conception that they were the filthy grunting savages seen in the opening sequence of the movie 'Gladiator'.
In the first part of the book he covers most of the important aspects of the culture of these tribes, covering the physical landscape of forest and marshland in which they lived, their general social structure, trade and diplomacy with Rome, burial customs, art, technology and (of course) warfare. He draws on both literary and archaeological sources of information and uses both judiciously to present a concise picture of these complex and warlike peoples.
Part Two gives brief but useful summaries of the history of the major tribes who took part in the 'Age of Migrations' from the Third to the Seventh Centuries AD. He presents information on the Goths, Seubi, Vandals, Franks, Alemanni, Burgundians, Gepids, Lombards, Thuringians, Bavarians and the Scandinavian tribes, with mentions of many other minor peoples. Each of these is little more than a useful sketch ranging from four to forty pages each (consider that Herwig Wolfram's 'History of the Goths' checks in at over 600 densely packed pages), but each of these is enough to introduce the essential information about each these peoples and direct the interested reader to more extensive information. It also shows that these tribes differed from each other culturally and, to an extent, linguistically and that what is true about the Germanics in the First Century may not be so in the Sixth.
The book is well illustrated with maps, diagrammes, photos of artefacts (both Germanic and Roman) and line drawings and its bibliography, while not comprehensive, is an excellent jumping off point for the reader who wishes to know more.
While the Celts have become a topic of keen interest in recent years, with a plethora of books on them ranging from fine academic works through coffee table books to arrant New Age nonsense, the ancient Germanics are, in a way, the neglected peoples of the ancient world. Given that England was established by Germanic tribes and that they were in many ways the successors of the Roman world, it is a little surprising that these vibrant, warlike and artistic 'barbarians' are not far better known and understood in the English-speaking world.
An excellent book for both the undergraduate student and the general reader. Along with his 'The Northern Barbarians' I can recommend this work very highly.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Early Germans 24 Feb. 2006
By Thomas Stadtmiller - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read many books re: this subject, but they have treated the subject in a picemeal manner. This book combines many aspects of those other works into one general history. I liked it very much and have read it three times already!

I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in early Europe and/or an interest in things relating to German history.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Good Read 27 July 2006
By Jeremy Mattern - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Todd's work is an absolute must for German scholors and enthusiasts. It makes an excellent companion to Tacitus and many of the book's sitations are in German. I did not find the language to be at all cumbersome, finishing in only a few days. Excellent begining to any serious study of Germany and its people.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Single best introduction 4 Jan. 2003
By Rick A. Riedlinger - Published on
Format: Paperback
Todd's book is the single best introduction to the subject of Germanic peoples I have found. It contains an accurate summery of the current state of scholarship and is an easy read.

If you can have only one book on the subject, this should be it.
The latest edition of this book is ISBN 1405117141.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A not very useful survey 29 May 2010
By Michael K. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback
The growing number of volumes in the "Peoples of Europe" series are generally quite useful to students of early medieval history; at less than 300 pages, they do well as surveys. This one, unfortunately, is one of the less readable efforts. Todd is interested in the Germanic tribes and their migrations from the early Roman Empire up to about 700 A.D., but he wanders from a chronological coverage of all the multitude of Germanic peoples (who never thought of themselves as "Germans" in the first place), to a topical one (chapters on economy and agriculture, social institutions, burial practices, trade and diplomacy, art and technology, etc), to a geographical survey divided into sections on Goths, Vandals, Franks, Burgundians, Gepids, Lombards, and (oddly) Scandinavians. It's a confusing book to read, with various groups appearing (naturally) in each other's chapters. Todd also mentions in passing specialized information or rival interpretations of the sources that he apparently assumes everyone knows -- which is a bad assumption in a survey of this kind. While there's useful stuff here, I would not suggest this as a first resource for someone new to the field. Instead, I would recommend the separate books in this series by James on the Franks, Heather on the Goths, and Christie on the Lombards -- and Heather's latest, _The Fall of the Roman Empire_ (2006), over all of them.
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