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Barbarian Europe

Karol Modzelewski

European culture has been greatly influenced by the Christian Church and Greek and Roman culture. However, the peoples of Europe’s remote past, whom the Greeks, Romans, and their medieval heirs called the «barbarians», also left their mark. Closely examining ancient and medieval narratives and the codifications of laws, this thoughtfully conducted comparative study sheds light on the illiterate societies of the early Germanic and Slavic peoples. The picture that emerges is one of communities built on kinship, neighborly, and tribal relations, where decision making, judgement, and punishment were carried out collectively, and the distinction between the sacred and profane was unknown.
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Author’s Note Regarding the Translations of the Primary Sources


I have always translated the sources myself, both out of necessity and faithfulness to my profession. To avoid some of the pitfalls of double translation, the translator of the English edition of my book has drawn from existing English translations of the medieval and ancient sources. The following is a list of the sources of the translations used in this book. The reader should be aware, however, that while I am by no means an expert in the English language, I have found many instances where I did not agree with the translators and so have made some alterations to the texts.

Adam of Bremen: History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen. Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Francis J. Tschan. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959.

Anglo-Saxon Missionaries in Germany (The): Being the Lives of Ss. Willibrord, Boniface, Sturm, Leoba, and Libuin, together with the Hodoeporicon of St. Willibald and a selection from the correspondence of St. Boniface. Translated and edited by C. H. Talbot. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1954.

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