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The Burgundians were an East Germanic tribe who most likely lived at the Vistula river and migrated westwards into the Rhine Valley during the Völkerwanderung, or Germanic migrations.

During their period of dwelling in eastern Europe they are said to have come into contact with the Huns or other steppe peoples, from whom they absorbed certain cultural practices such as binding the heads of infants at birth.

The Rhineland Burgundians lived in an uneasy relationship with the imperial Roman government. Nominally Roman foederati, they periodically raided portions of eastern Gaul. In 411, their king, Gundaharius, set up a puppet emperor, Jovinus, in cooperation with Goar, king of the Alans. The Rhineland kingdom (with its capital at Worms) was destroyed by Huns in 437, perhaps under the authority of the Roman general Aetius. The refugees were settled by Aetius near Lugdunensis, known today as Lyon. They spread over southwestern Gaul; that is, northern Italy, western Switzerland, and eastern France. They fought alongside Aetius and a confederation of other Germanic peoples in the defeat of Attila at the Catalaunian Fields (modern day Châlons-en-Champagne) in 451.

At first allies with Clovis' Franks against the Visigoths in the early 6th century, the Burgundians were eventually conquered by the Franks in AD 534. 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, is a collection of the constitutions or laws issued by king Gundobad, the best-known of the Burgundian kings, whose reign began in 474 and 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.