Migration Age


published on 15 July 2010
Routes of the Barbarian Invaders (US Military Academy)

The Migration Period, also called the Barbarian Invasions or German: Völkerwanderung (wandering of the peoples), was a period of human migration that occurred roughly between 300 to 700 CE in Europe, marking the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages. These movements were catalyzed by profound changes within both the Roman Empire and the so-called 'barbarian frontier'. Migrating peoples during this period included the Huns, Goths, Vandals, Bulgars, Alans, Suebi, Frisians, and Franks, among other Germanic and Slavic tribes.

The migration movement may be divided into two phases: The first phase, between 300 and 500 CE, put Germanic peoples in control of most areas of the former Western Roman Empire. The first to formally enter Roman territory — as refugees from the Huns — were the Visigoths in 376. Tolerated by the Romans on condition that they defend the Danube frontier, they rebelled, eventually invading Italy and sacking Rome itself in 410 CE, before settling in Iberia and founding a kingdom there that endured 300 years. They were followed into Roman territory by the Ostrogoths led by Theodoric the Great, who settled in Italy itself. In Gaul, the Franks, a fusion of western Germanic tribes whose leaders had been strongly aligned with Rome, entered Roman lands more gradually and peacefully during the 5th century, and were generally accepted as rulers by the Roman-Gaulish population. Fending off challenges from the Allemanni, Burgundians and Visigoths, the Frankish kingdom became the nucleus of the future states of France and Germany. Meanwhile, Roman Britain was more slowly invaded and settled by Angles and Saxons.

Remove Ads


The second phase, between 500 and 700 CE, saw Slavic tribes settling in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in eastern Magna Germania, and gradually making it predominantly Slavic. The Bulgars, a now-Slavicized people possibly of Turkic origin who had been present in far Eastern Europe since the 2nd century CE, conquered the eastern Balkan territory of the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century CE. The Lombards, a Germanic people, settled northern Italy in the region now known as Lombardy. Migrations of peoples, although not strictly part of the 'Migration Age', continued beyond AD 1000, marked by Viking, Magyar, Moorish, Turkic and Mongol invasions, and these also had significant effects, especially in Central and Eastern Europe.

About the Author

Jan van der Crabben
Jan is the Founder and CEO of Ancient History Encyclopedia, leading the non-profit company and its team to best fulfil its mission. He is passionate about history, education, and web technology.

Remove Ads


Help us write more

We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Each article costs us about $50 in history books as source material, plus editing and server costs. You can help us create even more free articles for as little as $5 per month, and we'll give you an ad-free experience to thank you! Become a Member

Recommended Books


Cite This Work

APA Style

Crabben, J. V. D. (2010, July 15). Migration Age. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Migration_Age/

Chicago Style

Crabben, Jan V. D. "Migration Age." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified July 15, 2010. https://www.ancient.eu/Migration_Age/.

MLA Style

Crabben, Jan V. D. "Migration Age." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 15 Jul 2010. Web. 17 Mar 2018.

Remove Ads


Add Event


Visual Timeline
  • 167 CE
    Marcomanni sack Aquileia.
  • 257 CE - 263 CE
    The Goths raid Greece.
  • 267 CE
    The Goths sack Athens, Corinth, Sparta, and Argos.
  • 300 CE - 700 CE
  • 367 CE
    Picts, Scots, Saxons, and Franks attack the Roman Empire.
  • 372 CE
    Huns conquer the Ostrogoths.
  • 376 CE
    The Visigoths are fleeing the Huns, entering the Eastern Roman Empire.
  • 376 CE
    The Goths cross the Danube.
  • 378 CE
    The Goths defeat Emperor Valens is near Adrianople.
  • 402 CE
    Ravenna becomes the capital of the Western Roman empire.
  • 406 CE
    Vandals, Suevi, and Alans invade Gaul.
  • 410 CE
    Alaric of the Visigoths sacks Rome.
  • 418 CE
    Visigoths settle in Aquitaine.
  • 429 CE
    Vandals cross Spain to the Maghreb.
  • 450 CE
    Angels and Saxons settle Britain.
  • 451 CE
    Aetius defeats Attila of the Huns at the Catalaunian Fields, together with Rome’s allies.
  • 455 CE
    Vandals sack Rome.
  • 462 CE
    Visigoths expand into Spain.
  • 480 CE
    Julius Nepos, the last Western Roman emperor, dies. This is the `unofficial' end of the Western Roman Empire.
  • 486 CE
    Clovis of the Franks defeats the Romans in Gaul. Founding of the Frankish kingdom.
  • 488 CE - 493 CE
    Theodoric the Great of the Ostrogoths conquers Italy.
  • 503 CE
    Clovis converts to Christianity.
  • 507 CE
    Clovis defeats the Visigoths and drives them into the Iberian peninsula.
  • 533 CE - 534 CE
    The Vandal War launched by Emperor Justinian I, aimed a reconquering Africa from the Vandals.
  • 534 CE
    Justinian of the Byzantine Empire conquers the Vandal kingdom in Africa.
  • 535 CE - 554 CE
    The Gothic War launched by Emperor Justinian I, aimed at reconquering Italy from the Goths.
  • 536 CE - 562 CE
    The Byzantine Empire conquers Italy.
  • 554 CE
    Byzantine Empire conquers southern Iberia.
  • 568 CE - 582 CE
    Lombards invade northern Italy.
  • 571 CE
    Visigoths conquer Cordoba.
Remove Ads



Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week:

Remove Ads


Timeless Travels

Timeless Travels Digital Magazine