The Germans are a Germanic people, which as an ethnicity emerged during the Middle Ages. From the multi-ethnic Holy Roman Empire, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) left a core territory that was to become Germany.
The area of modern-day Germany in the European Iron Age was divided into the (Celtic) La Tène horizon in Southern Germany and the (Germanic) Jastorf culture in Northern Germany.
The Germanic peoples during the Migrations Period came into contact with other peoples; in the case of the populations settling in the territory of modern Germany, they encountered Celts to the south, and Balts and Slavs towards the east.
The Limes Germanicus was breached in AD 260. Migrating Germanic tribes commingled with the local Gallo-Roman populations in what is now Swabia and Bavaria. The migration-period peoples who would coalesce into a "German" ethnicity were the Saxons, Franci, Thuringii, Alamanni and Bavarii. By the 800s, the territory of modern Germany had been united under the rule of Charlemagne. Much of what is now Eastern Germany became Slavonic-speaking (Sorbs and Veleti), after these areas were vacated by Germanic tribes (Vandals, Lombards, Burgundians and Suebi amongst others) which had migrated into the former areas of the Roman Empire.
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