Weather and Nation Building

Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum 1.1:

“The Northern region, the farther removed it is from the heat of the sun, and the more frigid it is with a snowy chill, so much the more salutary it is for the bodies of humans, and so much more fit for begetting children. In just the opposite way, every southern region abounds more with disease and is less suited to supporting human life the closer it is to the heat of the sun. And so it happens that such great masses of people are born under the northern pole as far east as the Tanais all the way to the west, and though each of those places may be called by their own particular local names, the whole may be called in one general word Germany, although the Romans, when they occupied the two provinces beyond the Rhine, referred to an upper and a lower Germany.

From this well-peopled Germany, therefore, innumerable bands of captives were abducted by the southern peoples and sold. Further, because that region gives birth to more people than it is able to feed, many tribes set out from their homes and afflicted indeed the countries of Asia, but chiefly Europe, which shared a border with them. All of the uprooted cities throughout all of Illyricum and Gaul are witnesses to this, but the greatest testament are the wretched cities of Italy, which experienced the savagery of nearly all of those tribes. The Goths, the Vandals, the Rugi, the Heruli and the Turcilingi, and various other fierce and barbaric nations sprang forth from Europe. In the same way, the tribe of the Winili – that is, the Lombards – which afterward ruled happily in Italy, drew its origin from the peoples of Germany, and although other causes are assigned for their migration, they arrived from the island which is called Scandinavia.”

Septemtrionalis plaga quanto magis ab aestu solis remota est et nivali frigore gelida, tanto salubrior corporibus hominum et propagandis est gentibus coaptata; sicut econtra omnis meridiana regio, quo solis est fervori vicinior, eo semper morbis habundat et educandis minus est apta mortalibus. Unde fit, ut tantae populorum multitudines arctoo sub axe oriantur, ut non inmerito universa illa regio Tanai tenus usque ad occiduum, licet et propriis loca in ea singula nuncupentur nominibus, generali tamen vocabulo Germania vocitetur; quamvis et duas ultra Rhenum provincias Romani, cum ea loca occupassent, superiorem inferioremque Germaniam dixerint.

Ab hac ergo populosa Germania saepe innumerabiles captivorum turmae abductae meridianis populis pretio distrahuntur. Multae quoque ex ea, pro eo quod tantos mortalium germinat, quantos alere vix sufficit, saepe gentes egressae sunt, quae nihilominus et partes Asiae, sed maxime sibi contiguam Europam afflixerunt. Testantur hoc ubique urbes erutae per totam Illyricum Galliamque, sed maxime miserae Italiae, quae paene omnium illarum est gentium experta saevitiam. Gothi siquidem Wandalique, Rugi, Heruli atque Turcilingi, necnon etiam et aliae feroces et barbarae nationes e Germania prodierunt. Pari etiam modo et Winilorum, hoc est Langobardorum, gens, quae postea in Italia feliciter regnavit, a Germanorum populis originem ducens, licet et aliae causae egressionis eorum asseverentur, ab insula quae Scadinavia dicitur adventavit.

Leave a Reply