Before France and Germany and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering
Sell Us Your Item
For a $4.04 Gift Card
Trade in
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading Before France and Germany on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World [Paperback]

Patrick J. Geary
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Buy New
$44.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
Only 6 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
In Stock.
Want it Tuesday, July 15? Choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $18.91  
Hardcover --  
Paperback $44.99  

Book Description

February 25, 1988 0195044584 978-0195044584
From the twilight of the Roman Empire emerged the kingdoms of Merovingian Europe (c. 400-700 AD), which were, in turn, the basis for the nations of medieval and modern Europe. Professor Geary draws on the latest archaeological and historical findings to elucidate one of the least understood periods of European history. This text is aimed at both survey and graduate courses on medieval history, which invariably take the Merovingian period as their starting point. The other available works on this subject are widely acknowledged to be either inadequate or out of date. This concise synthesis of the latest scholarship of Merovingian specialists, whose work appears almost exclusively in highly specialized German or French monographs, will also be welcomed by scholars seeking to keep abreast of the current historiography of this important transitional period in European history.

Frequently Bought Together

Before France and Germany: The Creation and Transformation of the Merovingian World + Early Medieval Europe, 300-1000: Third edition (History of Europe (Palgrave Paperback)) + A History of the Franks (Penguin Classics)
Price for all three: $91.27

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


"Clear and concise survey."--James Grier, Yale University

"An excellent guide to the Merovingian world, especially for my beginning graduate students!"--Coor, University of Arkansas

"A history of the transformation of the Roman provincial world....All archaelogists will be grateful to the author for this large and beautifully produced work, since there has been no comparable publication...Geary is a gifted synthesizer."--Classical World

"A marvelous synthesis and competent survey of Northern Europe after the German tribes entered the Roman Empire...Geary wrote this clearly and simply which makes it valuable for both an undergraduate and graduate audience."--Louis Haas, Duquesne University

"Full of insights, related in clear and concise form, in a manner likely to appeal to and enlighten undergraduates. It will arouse a new interest in a period relatively neglected, even by medievalists."--Karen Nicholes, State University of New York, Oswego

"This is a reliable and readable synthesis that makes good sense of recent research."--T. N. Bisson, Harvard University

"A fine and important book. Geary really does know the literature in all the relevant languages. He is not merely a gifted synthesizer; he is one of the research scholars in the field. I would adopt it; I have been waiting for such a survey."--Edward Peters, University of Pennsylvania

"An excellent survey of the Merovingian period. The...integration of perspectives from political, social, and religious history along with material culture and archaeology explains Merovingian civilization clearly and ...brings the Merovingians to life."--Karen Gould, University of Texas at Austin

"The first book of its kind in English...very good. It steers a sensible course through minefields of controversy."--Thomas F.X. Noble, University of Virginia

"A very revealing yet succinct account of a topic long considered confused if not irrelevant. Geary's synthesis is based upon firm control of early medieval sources and modern scholarship."--Harry Rosenberg, Colorado State University

About the Author

Patrick J. Geary is at University of California, Los Angeles.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 25, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195044584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195044584
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Frank Exploration of The Merovingian Dynasty June 20, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
During the fifth century, the country we know as France was overrun by a horde of German speaking barbarians called the Franks. After subjugating the Gallo-Roman population, the Franks somehow ended up speaking French and wearing berets. Or so I was taught in high school.
What is wrong with this picture? Generally when a country is conquered, the victors impose their language and culture on the vanquished, not the other way around. Most history books devote about two paragraphs to this period of French history.
If you have ever wondered how a group of plain, down to earth, barbarians could have produced a guy by the name of Charlemagne, Patrick J. Geary has the answer. (Hint: The barbarians were relatively few in number, and the Gallo-Roman aristocracy was never really conquered.) Geary's book is heavy reading in places, but it explores in depth the complex relationship between the Franks and the Gallo-Romans. Much that is confusing about European history can be cleared up by reading this book.
Was this review helpful to you?
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening September 15, 2002
Geary's work is an enlightening look at the transformation from the Roman to the medieval in the transalpine Roman provinces. Geary easily dispels the myth of barbarian invasions and the "fall" of Rome. A complex and weary narrative is turned into a simple and intersting one. Geary does not waste his time (and ours) in pointless name-dropping. He gets right down to the core of the social, economic, and political story. Additionally, Geary quietly, but effectively, addresses one of the major controversies in early medieval studies: what was the economic impact of the Germanic migrations? This book is a must have for anyone interested in the classical or medieval periods and goes a long way to clearing up a lot of misconceptions.
Was this review helpful to you?
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique; Narrow Focus August 6, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In his own words, Geary's purpose was "not to launch some new theory about the origins of European civilization, but to make available the vast literature on late antiquity and the early Middle Ages which has, for a variety of reasons, seldom been presented in a manner accessible to a broader audience, particularly to an English-reading one."
Understanding that the intent was to synthesize a much larger body of work, it is important to also understand that Geary's focus is laser-beam tight on the Merovingian dynasty within the Frankish kingdoms of the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries. For those without some familiarity to the period, I would suggest reading a couple of chapters from a more general work such as "Medieval Europe" (Hollister & Bennett) even if just not to be surprised when the early Carolingians start showing up on the page. (Geary assumes you'll instantly know who "Pippin" was.)
My one reservation about the book lies in the torrent of names that take up about forty pages towards the end. That is probably a curse of writing about Merovingians in the 8th century, period, but I found it impossible to keep my Nantechildis separate from my Flaochad while keeping a mental finger on Clothar II, Grimoald, and Childebert (along with many more).
Otherwise, I found the book quite engaging, particularly with respect to the early merger of the Franks into Roman-Gallo society and its reporting on the differing roles and influences that the bishops, monks, and eventually the Roman Benedictines assumed and exercised within the early Frankish kingdoms.
Was this review helpful to you?
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Late Antiquity to Mediaeval Europe in a Nutshell November 25, 2004
The transformation of the Roman Empire of the West into the barbarian kingdoms and thence into Mediaeval Europe was a process of interaction and assimilation between Rome and the barbarians during which both refashioned the other.

Geary examines the Roman and barbarian worlds before the 5th century AD. In the West, the Roman world was faced with depopulation of rural areas, low tax revenues, and the stratification of society as occupations became hereditary - the distinction between free labourers and slaves all but vanished while the senatorial aristocracy enjoyed vast agricultural holdings. The barbarian 'tribes', somewhat loose confederations of peoples, vacillated between fighting against and for the Empire, while absorbing by one means or another the material benefits Rome could provide. Thus the Visigoths entered the Eastern Empire as foederati, or allies, after which followed a period of turbulent relations - in AD 410 they sacked Rome; three years the Visigoths were an official Roman army in Gaul.

After this overview, the emphasis is on the kingdom of the Franks (consisting of large parts of what are now France, Germany, Switzerland and the Low Countries) and the interaction amongst the Frankish barbarians and the Gallo-Roman aristocracy, in particluar the role played by the Church through the bishops (largely an aristocratic preserve) and different monastic traditions. The appearance of the Franks and their expansion of their authority was not a direct displacement of the Roman world, rather a gradual merging of two societies. Despite the disappearance of the political power of the Empire in the West, the lives of the Gallo-Roman aristocracy, with their vast wealth, changed slowly.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars After Rome
This is a book that lists a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean a lot of details about the most important Germanic successor kingdom after the fall of the Roman Empire. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Marcel Dupasquier
5.0 out of 5 stars A detailed, wide-ranging exploration of the post-Antiquity world
I have owned this book only a few weeks and have already started rereading it. I am pretty well educated in the history of Europe from Charlemagne through the end of the 12th... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Abrubacca
5.0 out of 5 stars After Rome Fell
Before France and Germany contains information about what happen after Rome fell and before the individual nations starting forming. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Karen
3.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Yet Harrowing..
The book is a survey based primarily on primary sources of classical and translated works since Geary states that his mission was to address the issue of a huge lack of material... Read more
Published on October 11, 2011 by Comicfairy
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book!
A good book about a time of transition between the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages. The author writes well. Read more
Published on May 16, 2011 by Paulo de Vissec
4.0 out of 5 stars Speaking Frankly
The subtitle is more accurate than the title proper: "before France and Germany" could apply to everything up to the Treaty of Verdun, but Geary stops before the Carolingians take... Read more
Published on April 20, 2011 by Caleb Hanson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
As a lay reader, I really enjoyed it. The arguments were nuanced and very well developed
Published on March 19, 2010 by Mic Hael G. Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars history buff
I thoroughly enjoyed this little book. It has the best synopsis of the decline of the Roman Empre that I have ever read. Read more
Published on July 9, 2009 by David A. Storm
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and comprehensive introduction to the period
Text is a dense but engaging and intellectually rewarding survey of the Merovingian world. Concise at 230 pp. Read more
Published on May 27, 2009 by C. Abernathy
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy going for a "primer," but excellent work
The author makes the point that the Romans, being completely self-involved, tended to see all the non-Roman world in Roman terms. Read more
Published on February 15, 2009 by Michael K. Smith
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

Books on Related Topics (learn more)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category