The Germanic tribes are thought to date from the Nordic Bronze Age or the Pre-Roman Iron Age. From southern Scandinavia and north Germany, they expanded south, east and west from the 1st century BC, coming into contact with the Celtic tribes of Gaul as well as Iranian, Baltic, and Slavic tribes in Central and Eastern Europe. Under Augustus, Rome began to invade Germania. In 9 AD, three Roman legions led by Varus were defeated by the Cheruscan leader Arminius. By 100 AD, when Tacitus wrote Germania, Germanic tribes had settled along the Rhine and the Danube (the Limes Germanicus), occupying most of the area of modern Germany. However, Baden Württemberg, southern Bavaria, southern Hessen and the western Rhineland had been conquered and incorporated into Roman provinces: Raetia, Germania Superior, and Germania Inferior.
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In the 3rd century a number of large West Germanic tribes emerged: Alemanni, Franks, Chatti, Saxons, Frisii, Sicambri, and Thuringii. Around 260, the Germanic peoples broke into Roman-controlled lands. After the invasion of the Huns in 375, and with the decline of Rome from 395, Germanic tribes moved farther southwest. Simultaneously several large tribes formed in what is now Germany and displaced or absorbed smaller Germanic tribes. Large areas known since the Merovingian period as Austrasia, Neustria, and Aquitaine were conquered by the Franks who established the Frankish Kingdom, and pushed farther east to subjugate Saxony and Bavaria. Areas of what is today the eastern part of Germany were inhabited by Western Slavic tribes of Sorbs, Veleti and the Obotritic confederation.
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