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The Romans encountered great problems on how to fight back the frequent invasions of various tribes that threaten its peace, order, and wealth. Among these groups were the Burgundians or a group of aggressive and powerful people from the East Germanic tribe. Based on studies, this tribe originally settled in mainland Scandinavia and moved to Bornholm, a Baltic Island. Afterwards, they traveled to Bornholm, and they explored the Vistula basin, which is near modern-day Poland. Some members of the tribe relocated to the west and crossed the Rhine in 406 AD. Afterwards, they remained in the Rhine Valley and formed their own independent kingdom. On the other hand, a few Burgundians chose to stay in their homeland in the Oder-Vistula basin. Here, they established a contingent in the Hunnic army of Attila in 451 AD where it is charted on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History.

Burgundian and Christianity

A number of Burgundians who settled in the east decided to adopt the Arian practice of Christianity in place of their old beliefs called Germanic polytheism. When they imbibed the teachings of Arianism, this sparked suspicion between the Catholic Church of the Western Roman Empire and the Burgundians. Nevertheless, King Gundobad (a Burgundian) fostered a good personal relationship with the Bishop of Vienne named Avitus. Even the son of Gundobad was a Catholic, and several Burgundians decided to convert including a number of females in the ruling family.

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‘Kingdom of the Burgundians in around 500’

Historical Background

According to Roman scholars including Pliny and Tacitus, minimal information was available about the origins of the Germanic tribes from the east portion of the Elbe River and the Baltic Sea. However, Pliny mentioned the Burgundians, along with the Goths, Vandals and other eastern Germanic tribes.

Claudius Ptolemy wrote that that the Burgundians lived in various places including the Vistula Rivers, Suevus, the southern part of coast-dwelling tribes, and the northern portion of Luii. Jordanes, another writer, also noted that the Burgundians who were once in the Vistula basin were nearly annihilated by the King of the Gepids, during the 3rd century.

In the latter part of the 3rd century, it was discovered that the Burgundians lived on the east portion of the Rhine river banks. They also confronted the Roman Gaul with the hopes of dwelling in this place. There were also accounts of the defeat of the Burgundians in Gaul, with Emperor Probus gaining victory after the battle.

As for Ammaianus Marcellinus were the Romans’ descendants. However, the Romans barely gave any accounts of the Burgundians migrating from Poland. Yet, other Vandals were noted as moving westward during this period. Thus, there were some doubts regarding the connection between the western and eastern Burgundians.

About 40 years later, this tribe of people nomads the Burgundians appeared once again. The northern tribes successfully crossed the river Rhine, and they made their way through the Germanic migrations. Included in the crossing were the Suevi, Vandals, Alans, and a few Burgundians. A percentage of Burgundians set off westwards while the other half remained in their Oder-Vistula homeland.

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2 thoughts on “Burgundians

  1. Just interested for family history.thx

  2. They must have been amazing people. I am very glad to say that I am a descendent of the Burgundians. You are more than welcome to email me anytime using my email address below.
    Thanks for the information. Typed it out and will sure read it well.
    Much thanks.

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