Unit 1 – The Fall of the Roman Empire and the Early Middle Ages

    1. The High Roman Empire.
    2. The crisis of the Lower Roman Empire (284-476).
    3. An era of invasions. The Germanic peoples.
    1. Origins and expansion.
    2. Political, economic and social organisation.
    3. Religion, culture and art.
    1. Origins and expansion.
    2. Political, economic and social organisation.
    3. Culture and art.

Glosary – Unit 1

Here you have the glossary of unit 1 so you can practice how to define historical terms as we have done in the classroom.

  • Roman Empire.
  • Pax Romana.
  • Constantine the Great.
  • Theodosius the Great.
  • Eastern Roman Empire.
  • Western Roman Empire.
  • Byzantine Empire.
  • Constantinople.
  • Justinian I the Great.
  • Orthodox Christianity.
  • Basileus.
  • Iconoclastic Wars.
  • Western Schism.


  • Franks.
  • Battle of Vouillé.
  • Battle of Poitiers.
  • Charles Martel.
  • Pepin (Pippin) the Short.
  • Charlemagne.
  • Treaty of Verdun.
  • Manorial system.

REMEMBER: you must always begin with WHAT or WHO, and then give another 3 answers. They should occupy about 2,5-3 lines each in your notebooks.

And question number 1 in every single of my tests is “Define the following terms”, so you better improve your definition skills.


The Barbarians seen by the Romans

You can download a printable version of the text and the questions here:

The Barbarians seen by the Romans


“They transact no public or private business without being armed. It is not, however, usual for anyone to wear arms till the state has recognized his power to use them. Then in the presence of the council one of the chiefs, or the young man’s father, or some kinsman, equips him with a shield and a spear. These arms are what the “toga” is with us, the first honour with which youth is invested. […]

It is an honour as well as a source of strength to be thus always surrounded by a large body of selected youths; it is an ornament in peace and a defence in war. And not only in his own tribe but also in the neighbouring states it is the renown and glory of a chief to be distinguished for the number and valour of his followers, for such a man is courted by embassies, is honoured with presents, and the very prestige of his name often settles a war.

When they go into battle, it is a disgrace for the chief to be surpassed in valour, a disgrace for his followers not to equal the valour of the chief. And it is an infamy and a reproach for life to have survived the chief, and returned from the field. To defend, to protect him, to ascribe one’s own brave deeds to his renown, is the height of loyalty. The chief fights for victory; his vassals fight for their chief. […]

They are not easily persuaded to plough the earth and to wait for the year’s produce as to challenge an enemy and earn the honour of wounds. No, they actually think it tame and stupid to acquire by the sweat of toil what they might win by their blood.”

 Tacitus, Germania


Answer the following questions in your notebook

  1. Look in the dictionary the underlined words and those you do not understand.
  2. How does Tacitus depict the Barbarians? Is it a good or bad opion? Does he admire them, or despise them?
  3. What was the role of war and military action in the life of the Germanic peoples?