During the first centuries of the first millenium AD, smaller barbarian tribes formed into larger, distinct groups and posed a potential threat to Rome and her provinces. In the fourth century, the westward advance of the Huns pushed other tribes toward the borders of the empire, which, unable to withstand the pressure, eventually fell. The tribes below were these principal barbarian peoples involved in the upheavals during this period.

Ostrogoths and Visigoths: originally from eastern Germany, they finally founded kingdoms in Italy and southern France and Spain.

Vandals: originated from eastern Europe, but ended up settling in Spain and North Africa.

Jutes, Angles, and Saxons: from the Jutland peninsula and north Holland, they invaded south and east Britain, where they settled in the fifth century.

Burgundians: migrated into the Rhine-Main area in about AD 400 and later established a kingdom; they subsequently settled on the Saone and the Rhone.

Alemanni: the second largest Germanic group, they established themselves on the Rhine.

Franks: by the fifth century they had moved from east of the Rhine to Gaul, where the Merovingian kingdom was formed.