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Barbarian migrations (Völkerwanderung)

Migration A–Z


  1. Walter Pohl

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm572

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Pohl, W. 2013. Barbarian migrations (Völkerwanderung). The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Völkerwanderung, migration of peoples, is a name coined in the 16th century for the period between about 375 and about 568 in which the Roman empire in the west was substituted by the “barbarian” kingdoms of the Goths, Vandals, Burgundians, Franks, Lombards, and others (Pohl 2002). The term still evokes ideas of tribes on the move, Huns and Germans who emerge from barbarian countries, raid Roman territories and destroy ancient civilization. Recent research indicates that these old views are at best simplifications for a complex process of immigration, integration, social and political change. But controversial debates are still going on about the extent and impact of “barbarian” migrations (Heather 2005; Ward-Perkins 2005; Goffart 2006; Noble 2006; Pohl 2008).


  • archaeology;
  • empire;
  • imperialism;
  • social change;
  • cultural diversity;
  • cross-cultural