By Sidney Painter
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Extra info for A History of the Middle Ages 284–1500
R that the functions of government among the Germans were extremely limited. Government provided leadership in war, and a means of settling quarrels without a bloody feud. For the rest it left the people to their own devices. Hence the Germans did have a tradition of personal freedom--of having a very small amount of government. They were wild fierce warriors, impatient of restraint of any kind. Their love of freedom, one may even say of license, was to play an important part in the development of Western civilization.
But this position was maintained only by steady effort, and sometimes the Arabs won great victories. In 782 the Arabs once again reached the shore of the Bosporus, and the Empress Irene (78o-8oz) was obliged to buy them off. Moslem pirate fleets were the terror of the Mediterranean. In 904 a Moslem pirate admiral captured the great city of Thessalonica, plundered it, and carried off 20,000 captives. In general, however, the Byzantine armies were able to confine the Arab activities to raids into the border themes, and the interior provinces of Asia Minor were rich, flourishing, and prosperous.
Frankish troops were heavily relied on to help control the Alemans on the upper Rhine. The same general policy was used along the upper Danube, bands of Germans being hired to reinforce the Roman border garrisons. By far the most formidable of the German neighbors of the Empire were the Goths. They were divided into two groups. The Visigoths lived along the lower reaches of the Danube, while the vast Ostrogoth state stretched from the Dniester to the Don. The Goths had developed a rather more advanced political organization than the other Germanic peoples: they were united under kings.
A History of the Middle Ages 284–1500 by Sidney Painter