Roman vs. Germans Essay
Overview- For this assignment I was asked to write a five paragraph essay comparing the lives of the Romans and the Germans. The other skill that we were practicing was writing a five paragraph essay. Here it is!
At the fall of the Roman Empire there was a new group trying to make their way into the Roman borders. They were known as the Germans. The Germans were attracted by Rome’s wealth and culture and hoped to live peacefully inside the borders, but the Romans viewed them as enemies and fought to keep them off of their land for many years. Finally by 300 A.D the Empire began its fall and could not keep the Germans out. The Germans and Romans lived very different lives. They had a very different system of laws, they had a much different way in battle, and their lives in their villages was extremely different. It will eventually create great conflict between the two groups of people.
The Germans lived a very different lifestyle than the Romans. The Germans lived in small villages, surrounded by pastures and farmland. They lived in long thatched roof huts, their animals lived in one side of the hut, which helped to warm the hut during cold winters, and the family lived in the other half of the hut. The only furniture they had were wooden tables and benches that lined the walls. They lived within extended families, including parents, children, grandparents all living together and helping out with the chores needed to sustain their household. German villagers made a living by herding cattle, which provided food and clothing. They also traded cattle for Roman vessels, jewelry, and table articles. They were an agrarian society. They grew barley, rye, wheat, beans, and peas. Most of the farming was done by the women, children, or enslaved people. When women were not farming or cooking, they spun wool and made cloth on an upright loom, which they then used to make their clothing. Unlike the Germans the Romans lived in cities. The wealthy lived in a domus or house. These were more grand than the simple dwellings in which the Germans lived. They were constructed with marble walls, colored stone floors, a furnace and windows made of small glass panes. Pipes brought water to all floors so the inhabitants could bathe in their own homes. The poor lived in a building called an island. It was generally six stories high and each island covered one entire city block. The ground floor was a workshop. There was no running water or furnace and sometimes there weren’t even windows. One had to climb a ladder to the upper floors. The higher the floor, the lower the rent. Romans were all educated until they were twelve then it depended on if they could pay for it or not if they would go back to school, unlike the Germans who only learned to read and write if they chose to. The Romans were a much more civilized group of people then the Germans, that is why their lifestyles were so different.
The Romans and Germans laws and government were very different. The Romans believed that law came from the emperor, but the Germans believed that the law came from the people. German rulers could not change a law without approval from the people. The Romans had a group of about three hundred men called senators, they proposed laws, discussed ways to deal with other countries, and approved public contracts for building roads and temples.The Germans based their laws on the customs of their ancestors, while the Romans wrote down their laws. The Germans memorized them and then passed them from generation to generation. Too much drinking in the German villages caused reckless fighting, which made problems in the villages. Germans wanted to prevent the fights from becoming blood feuds or fights between the families. If the original fighter sought revenge, the feud could go on for generations. To keep this from happening, the Germans held courts, judges listened to each side and tried to find a settlement that would bring peace to the village. They chose who was guilty or innocent in different ways. One was by oath-taking. People accused of crimes would declare their innocence by oath. Then they would be defended by oath-helpers or people who swore that the accused was telling the truth, it was thought that if they lied they would be punished by the gods. Another way to tell guilt or innocence was by ordeal, or a severe trial. The accused had to walk barefoot over hot coals or put their arms in boiling water, the burns of the innocent were supposed to heal within three days. There was also ordeal by water. The accused was tied hand and foot and thrown into a lake or river, the Germans viewed water as a sign of purity. If the person sank to the bottom they were innocent, if they floated they were guilty. A person who was guilty was not always punished physically, instead courts could impose fines called wergeld. The exact amount of payment varied. Unlike the Germans the Romans laws were standard around the Empire and they had one ruler. The German laws were not all fair, but they brought peace to the village.
The German and Roman armies were very different, with only one major similarity. The German army was divided into clans, or groups based on family ties. In the beginning the soldiers gave their loyalty to the clan, but later they gave it to a military leader called a chieftain. Unlike the Roman army, which was divided into legions. Each legion was comprised of approximately five-thousand legionaries or soldiers, which was then broken up into groups of sixty to one-hundred-twenty legionaries. The German chieftains gave their men leadership, a chance for wealth, and weapons, they also kept peace among their men. In battle the chieftains fought for victory and the soldiers fought for their chieftains. While the Romans had a plan for battle, the Germans had no battle plan. Instead each band of warriors fought on their own, the bands made surprise raids on their enemies. They would charge wildly on foot and on horseback, screaming and shouting loudly to frighten their enemies. The one similarity between the two armies is that they were both set on conquering new ground and expanding their territory. That is why the two armies were so much different.
Over time the Germans will become more of a Romanized group of people. They will begin to build cities and become more advanced in their architecture. They will move from a predominantly agrarian society to incorporating trading of goods into their economy. The Germans were a more primitive society early on, however they progressed to becoming a very civilized group with successful kings and armies able to rule and protect an educated and thriving economic society throughout the ages.