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While in this way the secular aristocracy grew into a power, at the same time the Church was equally strengthened by feudalism.The Christian Church during this era -- a fact of the greatest importance -- was the guardian of the remains of classical culture.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 them the world-embracing empire of Rome was overthrown and the way prepared for the national principle.It was not until after the fall of the Western Empire that a great Frankish kingdom became possible and the Franks, no longer held in check by the Roman Empire, were able to draw together the tribes of the old Teutonic stock and to lay the foundation of a German empire.
In each of the tribes after this the duke rose to supremacy over his fellow tribesmen.
With this culture the Church was to endow the Germans.
Moreover it was to bring them a great fund of new moral conceptions and principles, much increase in knowledge, and skill in art and handicrafts.
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.