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Around 270 A.D. the Romans start to lose their grip on Germania Inferior, the northern-most province of the Roman Empire. New peoples such as the Germanic peoples, the Franks and the Saxons seize this opportunity to settle in the regions. The Roman authorities try to restore the rule of law and order from Rome. They conclude pacts with the newly settled peoples who benefit from the Roman facilities in exchange for young men to help guard the borders. These soldiers are paid in money and goods.
In the late ‘80s, an observant hiker noticed that the arable land, also known as the Stamelberg, was raised above the Meuse meadows, making it an attractive place for a settlement. The Stamelberg, in contrast to the Meuse meadows, isn’t known for being the most fertile stretch of land. This fact and the construction of a water treatment plant was ample reason to perform an archaeological dig. Before long, entire huts, traces of posts belonging to large buildings, furnaces and fencing were found. All these finds pointed at the existence of a Frankish settlement belonging to the fifth century Merovingian royal house. The inhabitants of this Frankish settlement on top of the Stamelberg are likely to have played a major role in the downfall of the Roman Empire. The Stamelberg was situated on the border of the Roman Empire. The inhabitants of the Frankish settlement could have been either mercenaries in the Roman army or enemies of the Roman army or even both. They were chaotic times in which the Franks fought both alongside and against the Romans.
“It must have been just as hard for the barbarians involved to have known whether they were fighting for or against the Roman empire as it is for modern-day historians” (E. James, The Franks, Oxford 1988)
If you would like more information on the Franks of Gennep, we advise you to pay a visit to the museum Het Petershuis in Gennep.