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Migration Period

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2nd to fifth century simplified migrations. See also map of the world in AD 820.

The Migration Period, also called Barbarian Invasions or Völkerwanderung, is a name given by historians to a human migration which happened in the period of roughly AD 300700 in Europe[a][1] That was the period at the end of Ancient history and the beginning of the Middle Ages.


The migration included the Goths, Vandals, and Franks, among other Germanic, Bulgar and Slavic tribes.[2] The migration may have been influenced by attacs of the Huns in the east and connected to the Turkic migration in Central Asia, population pressures, or climate changes. The migration period also included groups of Angles, Saxons, Frisians and some Jutes to Britain.[3]

Migrations would continue well beyond 1000 AD, successive waves of Slavs, Alans, Avars, Bulgars, Hungarians, Pechenegs, Cumans, and Tatars changed the ethnic makeup of Eastern Europe.[4] Western European historians, however, tend to stress the migrations most relevant to Western Europe.

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  1. Precise dates given may vary; often cited is 410, the sack of Rome by Alaric I and 751, the accession of Pippin the Short and the establishment of the Carolingian Dynasty.


  1. Climate Change and Human Mobility: Challenges to the Social Sciences, eds. Kirsten Hastrup, Karen Fog Olwig (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), p. 29
  2. John Bagnell Bury, A History of the Later Roman Empire: From Arcadius to Irene (395 A.D. to 800 A.D.) (London; New York: Macmillan and Company, 1889), p. 31
  3. Peter Hunter Blair; Simon Keynes, An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 10
  4. Lucy Mallows, Transylvania (Chalfont St. Peter: Bradt Travel Guides, 2008), p. 18

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