Barbarians and the Roman Empire

To the Romans, anyone who is not a citizen of Rome or does not speak Latin is a Barbarians.

There were five major barbarian tribes which are the Huns, Franks, Vandals, Saxons, and Visigoths (Goths)- and they all did not like Rome.

The word barbarian was used originally by the Greeks to refer to any non-Greek; Egyptians, Persians, Indians, Celts, Germans, Phoenicians, Etruscans, Macedonians, Carthaginians, Vikings Goths – all are known as barbarians.

It means “babbler” in ancient Greek. They were known to always invade and pillaging and generally unleashing their fury on the more “civilized” Greeks and Romans.


  • The barbarians are called the name because they are believed to be uncivilized and lack manners according to the Greek stand of definition, also because they don’t speak Latin.
  • Some of the famous Barbarian Leaders are; Arminius, Boudica, Alaric, Attila the Hun, Genseric, Odoacer, Clovic, Theodoric.
  • The native Berbers of North Africa were among the many people called “Barbarian” by the early Romans. The name of the region, Barbary, comes from the Arabic word Barbar, meaning the “Land of the barbarians”.
  • In the middle ages most of the Germanic tribes gave up their pagan beliefs and became Christians. The Germanic tribes in a short description;

Goths :

It is known that one of the most powerful, organized and competent groups of barbarians were the Goths. The Visigoths and the Ostrogoths were the two major divisions that the Goths had.

On the 24 August 410, the people of Rome were sacked by the people of Goths.

An attack was launched against the city of Rome by the Visigoths led by King Alaric Mediolanum in 286 replaced Rome as the capital of the Western Roman Empire.

Afterwards Ravenna in 402 replaced Mediolanum as the capital of the Western Roman Empire.

Vandals :

A powerful kingdom was established in North Africa by the Vandals but this was after a major migration to the Iberian Peninsula from Northern Europe. In History, it was recorded that a peace treaty between Rome and Vandals was formed in 442 AD. Thereafter, Rome was attacked by the Vandals in 455. This happened because the agreement became null and void. Another major event happened in 455 AD, Rome was sacked by the Vandals and for straight two weeks, the city was in turmoil and state of unrest.

Huns :

We know that the Huns were warriors who move from one place to another and originated from the east.

Their leader, Attila, led the fight against the Ostrogoths. They also made an invasion on the Roman Empire at the Eastern region.

France also called Roman Gaul became a territory under Huns after it was captured by them.

Then in 452 a major invasion was carried by the people of Huns on the Italian. A great loot occurred in Italy but they didn’t take Rome.

Franks :

They are also known as the Germans that dwelt in a place referred to as France in our present world.

The Franks became prominent just after the Western Roman Empire collapsed. They also invaded the Roman Empire though majorly around the border.

Saxon :

A lot of Roman properties were taken in Great Britain as the Emperor could not send help to the Romans in Great Britain.

These set of people were called Barbarians by the Romans: Thracians, Parthians, Picts, Lombards, the Celts and the Burgundians.

  • Some of the weapons the barbarians used to take down Rome are; Battle Axe, Chainmail, Long sword, Celtic chariot, Falcata, Recurve bow, Siege towers and Battering Rams.


  • The Romans uses one tribe of the Germanic tribes to defeat the other and they had allies differently amongst them.
  • Many barbarians joined the Roman army and a lot of their cultures and way of life was absorbed by the Romans as they conquer them.
  • Despite the fact that Romans talk bad about the Greeks, they never called them Barbarians.


  • Question: Why are they called Barbarians?
    Answer: Because they are non-Romans.
  • Question: What characterizes barbarians according to Greeks?
    Answer: Non-Latin speakers, uncivilized and lack of manners.
  • Question: Which of the Germanic tribes did the present day France get her name?
    Answer: The Franks
  • Question; Which of the Germanic tribes is the most powerful and organized?
    Answer: The Goths