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Age of Antiquity » 200 BC/BCE » 200 BC/BCE

Early German Settlements

When: 200 BC/BCE
Where: Germania, Europe

The racial customs maintained by early German settlements played a large part in shaping the destinies of western Europe. Tribes had settlements in central and northern parts of Europe; the occupied territory ran from the Scandinavian peninsula down to the Danube River, with the Rhine on the west and the Vistula River on the east. Many have wondered why this is the land occupied, as it is rough with mountains, forests, and swamps.

Early Germans learned how to cope with hunger and coldness. Cattle, game, ducks, chicken, swine, and horse meat provided sustenance; men hunted with weapons crafted by metal smiths.

Women provided their families via farming, leather tanning, weaving linen, and creating vessels of earthenware. Although they were hardy and vigorous race, the Germans lived to advance their race: the weak were left to die, while the strong and courageous prospered.

Surprisingly, entertainment and hospitality where almost limitless - visitors to German households were never turned away. Drinking and gambling were common; it was not unusual for some poor sod to lose all his possessions and end up a slave at the end of the game.

Villages consisted of separate houses surrounded by open spaces. Constructed of wood, these homes were meant for summer use. In the winter, the people retreated to underground bunkers insulated with manure.

Religious beliefs were centered around several gods, spirits, witches, and worship of their ancestors. Occasionally animals and/or humans were sacrificed to the gods.

Priests were highly respected, frequently presiding over public assemblies. Germans from noble families become chieftains, who preserved order in the village. In times of war, chieftains were chosen based on past experience and the number of victories achieved. It was considered disgraceful to warriors if, during a battle, the chieftain is lost, and they survive unscathed. Many would rather give themselves up as prisoners rather than return to their village without their leader.

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History Fact of the Month
Did you know ...

The Origin of Valentine's Day?

Valentines day dates back to Roman times, when a holiday called The Feast of Lubercus was celebrated to protect shepherds and their flocks from wolves. During this time of year, goddess Juno Februata was honored by pairing boys and girls and denoting them 'partners' for a year.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 497 AD, in an effort to replace pagan holidays with Christian tradition. Although the pairing ritual was banished, romance remains the distinctive attribute of this holiday.

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