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Before this the Germanic tribes had been continually at variance; no tie bound them together; even the common language failed to produce unity.On the other hand, the so-called Lautverschiebung , or shifting of the consonants, in German, separated the North and South Germans.Nor was German mythology a source of union, for the tribal centres of worship rather increased the already existing particularism. Since the eighth century most probably the designations Franks and Frankish extended beyond the boundaries of the Frankish tribe.It was not, however, until the ninth century that the expression theodisk (later German Deutsch ), signifying "popular," or "belonging to people" made its appearance and a great stretch of time divided this beginning from the use of the word as a name of the nation.Even Theodoric the Great thought of uniting the discordant barbarian countries with the aid of the leges gentium into a great confederation of the Mediterranean.Although in these Mediterranean countries the Roman principle finally prevailed, being that of a more advanced civilization, still the individualistic forces which contributed to found these states were not wasted.From this Gallic system of clientship there developed, in Frankish times, the conception of the "lord's man " ( homagium or hominium ), who by an oath swore fealty to his suzerain and became a vassus , or gasindus , or homo .The result of the growth of this idea was that finally there appeared, throughout the kingdom, along with royalty, powerful territorial lords with their vassi or vassalli , as their followers were called from the eighth century.
By the end of the ninth century the feudal system had bound together the greater part of the population.The commanders of these military colonies gradually became administrative functionaries, and the colonies themselves grew into peaceful agricultural village communities.For a long time political expressions, such as Hundreds , recalled the original military character of the people.The work of uniting Germany was not begun by a tribe living in the interior but by one on the outskirts of the country.The people called Franks suddenly appear in history in the third century.
After Arminius had fought for German freedom in the Teutoburg Forest the idea that the race was entitled to be independent gradually became a powerful factor in its historical development.