The Burgundian Kingdom of the sixth century occupied dangerous territory. Caught between powerful neighbors, it was doomed to attack, and the Burgundians vanished into the mists of time, consigned to the annals as just another victim of history. Thus forgotten, Burgundian society of the fifth and sixth century has often been overlooked. While it had many traditional Germanic characteristics, it also successfully integrated both Roman culture and societal institutions. The result was an amalgamated Romano-Burgundian kingdom that had laws for all and tolerated two forms of Christianity. In this, the Burgundians, particularly the kingdom of Gundobad, provided a brief foreshadowing of the culture that would eventually emerge from the intermixing of Gallo-Romans, Christians and Germans.
The story of the Burgundians has usually been interspersed throughout more generalized accounts of the Germanic migrations or the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Most often, the Burgundians of the fifth and sixth centuries have been portrayed as bit players in the history of the Merovingian Franks, particularly by Merovingian partisans such as Gregory of Tours.
This blog will focus on the history of the Burgundians from the time a people identified by that name emerged from Scandinavia until they were permanently rendered subjects of the Merovingian Franks in the early sixth century. It will discuss the historical interpretations of the origins of the Burgundians as well as attempt to fit the "Burgundian story" into advances made in more recent scholarship regarding interpretations of Germanic society, the Fall of Rome and other contentious subjects.
Off we go.....