Author Topic: Germanic tribal life.  (Read 4624 times)

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Germanic tribal life.
« on: January 02, 2012, 09:32:20 AM »
My current WIP is set in the Teutoburg forest, and as I mostly only have knowledge about the Roman life of that time, I wondered if anyone might know a bit more about the Germanic tribes of that time. Roughly the time of the Battle of the Teutoburg forest with Armenius and Varus.

Any advice or links would be very helpful. I've exhausted Wikipedia. Still need some info on the names of their weapons and clothes.

I'll also post a couple of questions here now and then as they pop up. Like this one:

1) Would 'hovel' suffice for the home of a Germanic warrior? Or is there another, more discriptive name for it?
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2012, 09:48:27 AM »
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,644913,00.html

http://www.livius.org/te-tg/teutoburg/teutoburg01.htm

http://search.about.com/r.htm?q=germanic%20tribes

http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/battleswarsto1000/p/Roman-Empire-Battle-Of-The-Teutoburg-Forest.htm

http://www.rollintl.com/roll/germanics.htm  (good maps on this one)

http://www.kalkriese-varusschlacht.de/index.php?menuid=185&getlang=en (describes the dwellings)

 :) :) :)
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Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2012, 09:56:43 AM »
Wow. Are you sure you're not a computer. One of those almost human ones?  ;D

Thanks, Sio. Will check it out.
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heidi52

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2012, 10:18:25 AM »
Ask and you shall receive...

Pretty amazing!  ;D 

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2012, 10:19:49 AM »
Ask and you shall receive...

Pretty amazing!  ;D 

Yip. Good to see you hanging around, Heidi. Happy new year.  :)
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heidi52

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2012, 10:22:02 AM »
Yip. Good to see you hanging around, Heidi. Happy new year.  :)
Thanks Joe. Happy 2012 to you, expect to see great things this year for you.

I'm hooked, what can I say.  ::)

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2012, 10:22:57 AM »
Thanks, Heidi. You too.
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2012, 10:23:18 AM »
http://news.softpedia.com/news/3-Things-About-Germanic-Tribes-78452.shtml

item #3 talks about weapons

http://odinsvolk.ca/GermanicPeoples.htm -- all your tribes!
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Offline C.M.

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2012, 10:28:26 AM »
Hovel calls to my mind an image of a round house of only one room with a conical roof. This was probably more common in Gaul. The Germans were prone to a longhouse, a rectangular building entered via one of the short sides. A longhouse might have interior partitions dividing it into several rooms. A longhouse could come in almost any size from as little as eight feet on a short side to as big as 50 feet on a short side. Then as now, the size of the house was directly proportional to the wealth of the owner. Poor Germans might include both a house and a barn in the same building with an internal wall to keep the animals out of the home, the house and barn entered via opposite ends of the building.


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Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2012, 10:32:50 AM »
Thanks, Sio.

I already figured out which tribes to use. There were a few tribes that fought with Armenius against the Romans, so I had to go with one of them.
The MC wakes up amongst the dead and is carried off by one of the other tribes to their village, where the entire story plays out.

Names are also set.  :)

I've found some info on the trees that grow there (Spruce and Beech), but nothing on smaller plants.
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Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2012, 10:34:43 AM »
Longhouse - that's the word I was looking for. Thanks, C.M.

I read recently that most of the people let the animals live inside their houses. I guess that was the real poor people.
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2012, 10:51:55 AM »
The remnants of houses were in an oval and later in a rectangular shape. They had a double-span interior. It was mainly the dark traces of the support logs in the light, sandy soil which remained. Similar houses existed at that time in today’s Westphalia and the Netherlands. Small rectangular structures of pillars indicate that there might have been storehouses which belonged to the residential houses.


At the time of the Varus Battle, at the beginning of the 1st century AD, the Germanic tribes lived in the region between the rivers Elbe and Weser in loose village-like settlements. These consisted of dispersed, single farmsteads. They were a lot different to today’s densely built-up villages.


A Germanic farmstead was composed of a rectangular residential house, as mentioned above, where humans and animals lived in separated areas. In addition to this, there were various storehouses and adjoining buildings. The arable farm land, the areas used for animal litter and wintertime forage, and the woodland used both as a close and night-time pasture were situated nearby. During the day, the cattle would graze further away at the edge of the forest.
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Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2012, 10:55:23 AM »
So would each person have his or her own livestock and crops, or did everyone farm collectively on one side of the village?
As I understand it each person had their own animals to care for, but I'm not sure about crops.
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Offline C.M.

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2012, 11:31:33 AM »
There was an older theory that animals and crops were owned communally, but this theory is no longer widely accepted. Each man or family owned his own animals and crops. There was very little, if any, fencing and pasturage. Rather, the animals were allowed to roam and intermingle under the watchful gaze of a shepherd or cowherd. Each animal was marked, similar to more modern cow branding, so that everyone knew who owned which animals. The marking method was probably a unique cut made into the animal's ears. Some interbreeding inevitably occurred, but the offspring probably belonged to whoever owned the mother. Without DNA, paternity was probably difficult to establish. Pigs were often allowed to run semi-wild in the forest where they ate acorns and such. At butchering time, they were hunted rather than systematically rounded up. Farm fields may not have been formally owned, but the community allocated land to each individual for each man to use as he wished and the individual kept whatever produce came from his allocated land.

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Re: Germanic tribal life.
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2012, 12:46:04 PM »
One of the reasons why they would share parts of their living quarters with their livestock was for warmth. Large animals like cow and horses and their litter, give off a good deal of heat.
I know a lot of old houses in Europe were built with 2 levels: the human living quarters directly over the animals.

Provided lot's of aromatherapy too.