From the 2nd century bc to the 5th century ad northern Germanic and Celtic tribes, constantly pressed by new migrations from the north and east, were in contact with the Romans, who controlled southern and western Europe. The writings of Romans Julius Caesar and Cornelius Tacitus describe these encounters and provide almost the only accounts of life among these so-called barbarian peoples. In general, the Romans denounced the Germans for heavy drinking, relentless fighting, and atrocities such as human sacrifice. But Romans also commended the virtue of Germanic women as well as the overall absence of any avarice among the tribes.
In 101 and 102 bc the Cimbri and the Teutons were defeated by Roman general Gaius Marius as they were about to invade Italy. The Suevi and other tribes in Gaul (modern-day France), west of the Rhine, were subdued by Julius Caesar around 50 bc. The Romans tried several times to extend their rule to the Elbe River, but their efforts were halted at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in ad 9. The Rhine and Danube rivers became the boundaries of Roman territory, connected by a line of fortifications, or limes, that extended from Colonia (Cologne) to Bonna (Bonn) to Augusta Vindelicorum (Augsburg) to Vindobona (Vienna). Most of the peoples within Roman Germany were gradually assimilated as auxiliary Germanic troops by the empire, often employed against Germanic raiders from outside the limes.
In the 2nd century the Romans prevented confederations of Franks, Alamanni, and Burgundians from crossing the Rhine into the empire. By the 4th and 5th centuries, however, the population pressures outside the empire proved too much for the weakened Romans. The Huns, sweeping in from Asia, set off waves of migration, during which the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, Franks, Lombards, and other Germanic tribes poured into and eventually overran the empire. "Germany" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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