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The Burgundians were an East Germanic people who most likely lived at the Vistula river and migrated westwards during the Völkerwanderung, or Germanic migrations. Burgundians next lived in the Brandenburg-Berlin area (the area of the main tribe of the Suebi, the Semnoni) and gradually were pushed to the Rhineland.

In the 5th century, a large group of Burgundians became Roman foederati, auxiliaries in the Roman army. They fought with Aetius and a confederation of other Germanic peoples in the defeat of Attila at the Catalaunian Fields (modern day Chalons)in 451. Later, they settled in Lugdunensis, known today as Lyons and an area that grew to include much of the Rhineland area around the city of Worms in Germany. They were spread over southwestern Gaul; that is, Northern Italy, Western Switerland, Eastern France.

At first allies with Clovis's Franks against the Visigoths in the early 6th century, the Burgundians were eventually conquered by the Franks in 554 A.D. The Burgundian kingdom was made part of the Merovingian kingdoms; the Burgundians themselves were by and large absorbed as well.

One of the earliest Germanic Law Codes, the Lex Gundobada or Lex Burgundionum, was recorded by Gundobad, the best-known of the Burgundian kings, who died in 516. The Lex Gundobada was a record of Burgundian customary law and is typical of the many Germanic law codes from the period. The Lex Romana Burgundionum was Gundobad's contribution towards providing laws for his Roman subjects as well as the Burgundians. Finally, King Sigismund, who died 523/4 wrote down the "Prima Contitutio".

The name of the Burgundians has since remained connected to the area of modern France that still bears the name of Burgundy. Between the 6th and 20th centuries, the boundaries and political connections of this area changed frequently; none of those changes had anything to do with the original Burgundians.