The Suebi or Suevi (from
Proto-Germanic*"swēbaz" based on the Proto-Germanicroot *"swē-" meaning "one's own" people,cite web | last=Peterson | first=Lena | title=Swābaharjaz | work=Lexikon över urnordiska personnamn | publisher=Institutet för språk och folkminnen, Sweden | url=http://www.sofi.se/images/NA/pdf/urnord.pdf | format=pdf | pages=page 16 | accessdate=2007-10-11 (Text in Swedish); for an alternative meaning, as "free, independent" see Citation | last=Room | first=Adrian | contribution=Swabia, Sweden | title=Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for 6,600 Countries, Cities, Territories, Natural Features and Historic Sites: Second Edition | publisher=McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers | date=2006 | location=Jefferson, North Carolina, and London | pages=363, 364 | id=ISBN 0786422483; compare Suiones.] from an Indo-European root *swe-, [cite web | last=Pokorny | first=Julius | authorlink=Julius Pokorny | title=Root/Lemma se- | work=Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch | publisher=Indo-European Etymological Dictionary (IEED), Department of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics, Leiden University | format=html | pages=pages 882-884 | url=http://www.indoeuropean.nl/cgi-bin/startq.cgi?flags=endnnnl&root=leiden&basename=%5Cdata%5Cie%5Cpokorny ( German languagetext); locate by searching the page number.cite web | first=Gerhard | last=Köbler | title=*se- | work=Indogermanisches Wörterbuch: 3. Auflage | date=2000 | format=pdf | pages=page 188 | url=http://www.koeblergerhard.de/germanistischewoerterbuecher/indogermanischeswoerterbuch/idgS.pdf (German language text); the etymology in English is in cite web | last=Watkins | first=Calvert | authorlink=Calvert Watkins | title=s(w)e- | work=Appendix I: Indo-European Roots | publisher=The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition | date=2000 | format=html | url=http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE509.html Some related English words are "sibling, sister, swain, self".] the third person reflexive pronoun) were a group of Germanic peoplesThe etymological sources list these ethnic names as also being from the same root: Suiones, Semnones, Samnites, Sabelli, Sabini, indicating the possibility of a prior Indo-European ethnic name, "our own people." The "American Heritage Dictionary" does not include ethnic names, but all the other sources make the connection.] who were first mentioned by Julius Caesarin connection with Ariovistus' campaign, c. 58 BC;cite book | first=Wolfgang | last=Menzel | authorlink=Wolfgang Menzel | coauthors=Mrs. George Horrocks (Translator); Edgar Saltus (Supplementary Chapter) | title=Germany from the Earliest Period: Volume I | publisher=Peter Fenelon Collier | location=New York | date=MDCCCXCIX | pages=page 89] Ariovistus was defeated by Caesar.
Some Suebi remained a periodic threat against the Romans on the
Rhine, until, toward the end of the empire, the Alamanni, including elements of Suebi, brushed aside Roman defenses and occupied Alsace, and from there Bavariaand Switzerland. Except for a pocket in Swabia, and migrants to Portugaland Spain, no more was heard of the Suebi.
Classification in classical sources
In the classical sources, the ethnonym "Suebi" is used with two different meanings: the specific tribe of Caesar's campaign, "dwelling on the Main", and "broadly, to cover a large number of tribes in central Germany." [cite book | first=R.W. | last=Chambers | title=Widseth: a Study in Old English Heroic Legend | pages=page 194, note on line 22 of Widsith | publisher=University Press | location=Cambridge | date=1912 Republished in 2006 by Kissinger Publishing as ISBN 1425495516.] The broad view is expressed in
Tacitus' "Germania", a basic written source for the Suebic peoples that states: [Section 8, translation by H. Mattingly.]
We must come now to speak of the Suebi, who do not, like the
Chattior Tencteri, constitute a single nation. They actually occupy more than half of Germany, and are divided into a number of distinct tribes under distinct names, though all generally are called Suebi.
For Tacitus, the Suebi comprise the
Semnones, who are "the oldest and noblest of the Suebi"; [Section 39.] the Langobardi;Section 40.] the seven tribes of Jutlandand Holstein: Reudigni, Aviones, Anglii, Varini, Eudoses, Suarini, Nuitones; the Hermundurion the Elbe; [Section 41.] three tribes along the Danube: Naristi, Marcomanni, Quadi; [Section 42.] the Marsigniand Buri. [Section 43.] Then there is a mountain range, and beyond that, in the drainage system of the Vistula, Tacitus places five tribes of the Lugiiincluding the Harii, Helvecones, Manimi, Helsiiand Naharvali;Section 43.] the Gothones, Rugii, Lemoviialong the Baltic Sea; all the states of the Suiones, located in peninsular Scandinavia; [Section 44.] and finally the non-Germanic Aestii,Section 45.] and the Sitones, beyond the Aestii along the Baltic yet "continuous with the Suiones". Says Tacitus then: "Here Suebia ends." [Section 46.]
But few clues to the identity of the Suebi are given by Tacitus . They can be identified by their fashion of the hair style called the "
Suebian knot", which "distinguishes the freeman from the slave"; [Section 38.] in other words, was intended as a badge of social rank. The same passage points out that chiefs "use an even more elaborate style."
For Tacitus, a second criterion for being Suebian is residence in a territory recognized as "Suebia," not identified by any linguistic coherence, apparently: Tacitus' modern editor Arthur J. Pomeroy concludes "it is clear that there is no monolithic 'Suebic' group, but a series of tribes who may share some customs (for instance, warrior burials) but also vary considerably." [cite journal | last=Pomeroy | first=Arthur J. | title=Tacitus' Germania | journal=The Classical Review: New Series | volume=44 | issue=1 | pages=pages 58–59 | date=1994 A review in English of cite book | first=Gunter | last=Neumann | coauthors=Henning Seemann | title=Beitrage zum Verstandnis der Germania des Tacitus, Teil II: Bericht uber die Kolloquien der Kommission fur die Altertumskunde Nord- und Mitteleuropas im Jahre 1986 und 1987 A German-language text.] The Suebia of Tacitus comprises the entire periphery of the
Baltic Sea, including within it tribes not identified as Suebi by modern historians: the Sitones, for instance, who must have resided where Lapland and Finlandwhere Finno-Ugrianhas been spoken since Antiquity. In addition, on the south shore of the Baltic are the Aestii, in the territory of modern-day Baltic languagespeakers, or where they have been ( Prussia), again equally as ancient as the Germanic-speakers.
A third criterion for "Suebi" simply involves sharing in the name "Suebi", which is "indeed genuine and ancient" Tacitus reports. [Section 2.]
Friedrich Maurer, [cite book | last=Maurer | first=Friedrich | title=Nordgermanen und Alemannen: Studien zur germanischen und frühdeutschen Sprachgeschichte, Stammes - und Volkskunde | location=Bern, München | publisher=A. Franke Verlag, Leo Lehnen Verlag | date=1942, 1952] based on the archaeological and literary analysis of Germanic tribes done earlier by
Gustaf Kossinna[cite book | last=Kossinna | first=Gustaf | authorlink=Gustaf Kossinna | title=Die Herkunft der Germanen | date=1911 | location=Leipzig | publisher=Kabitsch] and his own linguistic work with isoglosses, divided the Germanic folk of the first century BC through the fourth century AD into five "Kulturkreise" or "culture-groups": the North, Oder-Vistula, Elbe, Weser-Rhine and North-Sea Germanics. [The five-group concept of Maurer and Kossinna is summarized in English in Citation | first=Hans-Frede | last=Nielsen | contribution=Friedrich Maurer and the Dialectical Links of Upper German to Nordic | editor-last=Naumann | editor-first=Hans-Peter | title=Alemannien und der Norden | location=Berlin, New York | publisher=Walter de Gruyter | date=2003 | id=ISBN 3110178915] The Herminones comprising the Suebi (in the narrow sense), Hermunduriand others, were the Elbe group. Their linguistic descenants speak modern Upper German. These five groups formed in the Pre-Roman Iron Ageafter about 800 BC.
Proto Germanicto the Nordic Bronze Age, which he dates 1200-800 BC according to the information available to him then. The dates have changed a little and a Pre-Roman Iron Agehas been broken out since then to which some assign the Proto Germanic language. It ranged over a region forming a rough triangle, with vertices in south Scandinavia, the mouth of the Rhine riverand the mouth of the Vistula. In fact the Baltic Sea was known to the Romans as the " Mare Suebicum", a name which it no doubt inherited from times when the Suebi inhabited the shores of the Baltic and were probably one with the Suiones.
The Suebi eventually migrated south and west to reside for a while in the
Rhinelandarea of modern Germany, where their name survives in the historic region known as Swabia. The Suebi under Ariovistuswere invited into Gaulby the Sequanibut soon came to dominate them and were finally defeated by Julius Caesarin 58 BC.
The Suebi of Julius Caesar's "
De Bello Gallico" [Book IV, sections 1-3.] live in 100 cantons of arable land, of which each canton retains ownership, parceling farm lots to individuals to use for up to one year. They wear animal skins, bathe in rivers, and prohibit wine. They allow trade only to dispose of their booty and otherwise have no goods to export.
They are of a military disposition, drafting yearly 1000 men per canton for service of one year. With these troops they raid
Gaulon the other side of the Rhine riverfrequently, thus involving Gaul's protector, the Roman Republic, whose agent in the field is one of its greatest generals, Julius Caesar. Lacking a central government and disrespecting all authority, they rely on the services of war chiefs, who in the age of migrations will become Suebian kings.
As to their location, they live next to the
Cherusci, which places them between the Rhine riverand the middle Elberiver. Their innermost refuge is "Silva Bacenis", "Beech Wood", which various authors take to be some section of the Hercynian Forest, such as the Thuringian Forest, the HarzMountains or the Black Forest. In ancient times Germany was heavily forested and these three forests were more or less continuous. They could not have farmed the forests, however, leaving the Main Riverbottom and the upper Elbeas the only possibilities.
In addition to their first known incursion under
Ariovistusin 58 BC, the Suebi posed another threat in 55 BC. [Book IV sections 4-19.] The Germanic Ubii, who had worked out an alliance with Caesar, were complaining of being harassed by the Suebi. Caesar bridged the Rhine, the first known to do so, with a pile bridge, which though considered a marvel, only stood for eighteen days. The Suebi abandoned their towns closest to the Romans, retreated to the forest and assembled an army. Caesar moved back across the bridge and broke it down, stating that he had achieved his objective of warning the Suebi. They in turn stopped harassing the Ubii.
Cassius Dio's Suebi
Cassius Dio- who wrote in Greek, though a Roman - starts his account of the Suebi with Caesar's short stay over the Rhine in 55 BC. [cite web | first=Lucius Claudius Cassius | last=Dio | authorlink=Cassius Dio | coauthors=Earnest Cary (Translator) | title=Roman History | work=LacusCurtius | publisher=Bill Thayer | format=html | url=http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/39*.html | accessdate=2007-10-30 | pages=Book 39 section 48] In Dio it is the Sugambriwho retire to strongholds, but Caesar retreats on hearing that the Suebi were collecting an army to help the Sugambri.
A generation later, shortly before 29 BC the Suebi crossed the Rhine, only to be defeated by Gaius Carrinas who along with the young
Octavian Caesarcelebrated a triumph in 29 BC. [cite web | first=Lucius Claudius Cassius | last=Dio | authorlink=Cassius Dio | coauthors=Herbert Baldwin Foster (Translator) | title=Dio's Rome | work=Project Gutenberg | format=ascii text | url=http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10162/10162-8.txt | pages=Book 51 sections 21, 22] Shortly after they turn up fighting a group of Dacians in a gladiatorial display at Rome celebrating the consecration of the Julian hero-shrine. Dio says that they "dwell across the Rhine (though many cities elsewhere claim their name)" and that they were anciently called Celts: Earlier he had explained [Book 39 section 49. Many translators, however, avoid this subtlety by translating Celts as Germans.] "...very anciently both peoples dwelling on ether side of the river were called Celts."
A generation later, in 9 BC, consul
Nero Claudius Drususcrossed the Rhine and proceeded against the Germans, starting with the Chatti. He traversed country "as far as that of the Suebi" and then attacked the Cheruscito the north of the Suebi. He reached the Elbe. There is no evidence in Dio that he subdued the Suebi. Like Julius Caesar he withdrew to the Rhine shortly but "died on the way of some disease" with the wolves running howling through the camp. [cite web | first=Lucius Claudius Cassius | last=Dio | authorlink=Cassius Dio | coauthors=Earnest Cary (Translator) | title=Roman History | work=LacusCurtius | publisher=Bill Thayer | format=html | url=http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/55*.html| accessdate=2007-10-30 | pages=Book 50 section 1]
Florusgives a more detailed view of the operations of 9 BC. He reports that the Cherusci, Suebi and Sicambriformed an alliance by crucifying twenty Roman centurions, but that Nero Claudius Drususdefeated them, confiscated their plunder and sold them into slavery. [cite book | first=Lucius Annaeus | last=Florus | authorlink=Florus | title=Epitome of Roman History | pages=Book II section 30] Presumably only the war party was sold, as the Suebi continue to appear in the ancient sources.
Florus' report of the peace brought to Germany by Drusus is glowing but premature. He built "more than five hundred forts" and two bridges guarded by fleets. "He opened a way through the
Hercynian Forest", which implies but still does not overtly state that he had subdued the Suebi. "In a word, there was such peace in Germany that the inhabitants seemed changed ... and the very climate milder and softer than it used to be."
The peace did not outlast the year. After the death of Drusus the
Cherusciannihilated three legions at the Battle of Teutoburg Forestand thereafter "... the empire ... was checked on the banks of the Rhine."
Suetonius gives the Suebi brief mention in connection with their defeat in 9 BC. He says that the Suebi and
Sugambri"submitted to him and were taken into Gaul and settled in lands near the Rhine" while the other Germani were pushed "to the farther side of the river Albis." [cite web | first=Gaius Suetonius | last=Tranquillus | authorlink=Suetonius | title=The Life of Augustus | work=The Lives of the Twelve Caesars | publisher=Bill Thayer in LacusCurtius | pages=section 21 | format=html | url=http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/L/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Augustus*.html] He must have meant the temporary military success of Drusus, as it is unlikely the Rhine was cleared of Germans. Elsewhere he identifies the settlers as 40,000 prisoners of war, [cite web | first=Gaius Suetonius | last=Tranquillus | authorlink=Suetonius | title=The Life of Tiberius | work=The Lives of the Twelve Caesars | publisher=Bill Thayer in LacusCurtius | pages=section 9 | format=html | url=http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Tiberius*.html] only a fraction of the yearly draft of militia.
Straboin Book IV of his "Geography"—a text in Greek—says of the "Soēboi" that they live "beyond this whole river-country" (the Rhineland) and "excel all the others in power and numbers." [cite book | last=Strabo | title=Geographica | date=approximately 20 AD | pages=Book IV Chapter 3 Section 4] He also places them near the Hercynian Forest, [Book IV Chapter 6 Section 9.] which, in the words of Edward Gibbon, "overshadowed a greater part of Germany and Poland." [cite book | first=Edward | last=Gibbon | authorlink=Edward Gibbon | title=Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Chapter IX The page number depends on the edition, but the statement is marked with Note 5, which attributes the fact to Caesar.] In Book VII [Chapter 1 Section 3.] Strabo connects all the tribes between the upper Rhine, Danube and Elbe to the Soēboi: the tribes of the Coldui, including those in Bohemia, where the Marcomanniwere located; the Lugii, Zumi, Butones, Mugilones, Sibiniand Semnones, who were "a large tribe of the Suevi themselves." Some of these tribes were "inside the forest" and some "outside of it."
This passage is the first distinction between narrowly and broadly-conceived Suebi, but evem Strabo's broad conception is not as broad as Tacitus, for whom "the tribe of the Suevi ... extends from the Rhenus (Rhine) to the Albis (Elbe); and a part of them even dwell on the far side of the Albis, as, for instance, the Hermondori and the
Langobardi." These latter are portrayed as migrants living in small temporary huts and porting their belongings in wagons, living "off their flocks."
Pliny the Elderwrote a now lost "History of the German Wars" and consequently has little to say of the Germans in " Naturalis Historia", but as much of his military service was on the German frontier he is probably authoritative and is believed to have been a source for Tacitus, although the latter does not follow what Pliny does say exactly. Pliny divides the Germans into five "genera" or "kinds", including the Hermiones, containing the "gentes" or "tribes" of the Suebi, Hermunduri, Chattiand Cherusci. [Book IV section XIV.] Elsewhere in Pliny is only brief scattered mention.
Ptolemy, in a fairly extensive account of Greater Germany, ["Geography", Book II, chapter X.] makes use of the two meanings of Suebi as well.
The Suevi Langobardi are located north of the
Sugambri, who are on the Rhine, a location to the west of Strabo's, perhaps the source of Strabo's migrant wagoneers. To the east of the Longobardi, possibly the same as or continuous with the Suevi Langobardi, are the Suevi Angili, but these are in the interior to the south, extending as far north as the middle Elbe, upstream from the Chauci, later a constituent of the Saxons. To the east are the Suevi Semnones between the Elbe and a mysterious river apparently named after them, the Suevus, which empties into the Baltic between the Oderand the Elbe. And finally there is a tribe called just the Suevi, which appears to be on the Rhine east of the Ems, about where Swabiawas later located.
Though offering coordinates for rivers, towns and mountains, Ptolemy is imprecise in the location of peoples; certainly, some are repeated with different spellings. He leaves us to guess which towns are associated with which peoples. His list of some 94 towns makes it clear that Tacitus' view of Germanics as rustics is not quite accurate in fact, although it may have been in values.
Marcus Annaeus Lucanusgives the location and appearance of the Suebi: [cite book | first=Marcus Annaeus | last=Lucanus | authorlink=Marcus Annaeus Lucanus | coauthors=Susan H. Braund (Translator) | title=Civil War | publisher=Oxford University Press | year=1999 | id=ISBN 0192839497 | pages=page 23, Book II about line 50] "... let the Elbe and Rhine's unconquered head let loose from furthest north the blond ("flavi") Suebi; ... only ward off civil war." This locates the Suebi in a narrow sense and gives a variation on a theme of Tacitus, who asserted the Germans were entirely red-headed.
Tacitus' " Germania" is the main source for the earliest known Suebi (see above under "Classification in classical sources"). Tacitus mentions the sacrifice of humans practiced by the Semnonesin a sacred grove [Section 39.] and the murder of slaves used in the rites of Nerthuspracticed by the tribes of Schleswig-Holstein. [Section 40.] The chief priest of the Naharvalidresses as a woman and that tribe also worships in groves. The Hariifight at night dyed black. The Suionesown fleets of rowing vessels with prows at both ends.
The Suebi also are mentioned in the "Annales". After the defeat of 9 BC
Augustusdivided the Germans by making a separate peace with the Sugambriand Suebi under their king Maroboduus. This is the first mention of any permanent king of the Suebi. [Book II section 26.] Subsequently Augustus placed Germanicus, the son of Drusus, in charge of the forces of the Rhine and he after dealing with a mutiny of the troops proceeded against the Cherusciand their allies, breaking their power finally at the battle of Idistavisus, a plain on the Weser. All eight legions and supporting units of Gauls were required to do that. [Book II section 16.] Germanicus' zeal led finally to his being replaced (17 BC) by his cousin Drusus, Tiberius' son, as Tiberiusthought it best to follow his predecessor's policy of limiting the empire. Germanicus certainly would have involved the Suebi, with unpredictable results. [Book II section 26.] Arminius, leader of the Cherusciand allies, now had a free hand. He accused Maroboduus of hiding in the Hercynian Forestwhile the other Germans fought for freedom, and accused Maroboduus of being the only king among the Germans. The two groups "turned their arms against each other." The Semnonesand Langobardirebelled against their king and went over to the Cherusci. Left with only the Marcomanniand Herminius' uncle, who had defected, Maroboduus appealed to Drusus, now governor of Illyricum, and was given only a pretext of aid. [Book II sections 44-46.]
The resulting battle was indecisive but Maroboduus withdrew to Bohemia and sent for assistance to Tiberius. He was refused on the grounds that he had not moved to help Varus. Drusus encouraged the Germans to finish him off. A force of
Gothsunder Catualda, a Marcomannian exile, bought off the nobles and seized the palace. Maroboduus escaped to Noricumand the Romans offered him refuge in Ravennawhere he remained the rest of his life. [Book II sections 62-63.]
Closely related to the
Alamanniand often working in concert with them, the Suebi for the most part stayed on the right bank of the Rhineuntil December 31, 406, when much of the tribe joined the Vandalsand Alansin breaching the Roman frontier by crossing the Rhine, perhaps at Mainz, thus launching an invasion of northern Gaul.
The "northern Suebi" were mentioned in
569under Frankish king Sigebert Iin areas of today's Saxony-Anhalt. In connection to the Suebi, Saxonsand Lombards, returning from the Italian Peninsulain 573, are also mentioned.
Vandalsand Alansclashed with the Roman-allied Franksfor supremacy in Gaul, the Suebi under their king Hermericworked their way to the south, eventually crossing the Pyreneesand entering the Iberian Peninsulawhich was out of Imperial rule since the rebellion of Gerontius and Maximus in 409.
Passing through the Basque country, they settled in the Roman province of
Gallaecia, in north-western Hispania(modern Galicia and northern Portugal), swore fealty to the Emperor Honoriusand were accepted as " foederati" and permitted to settle, under their own autonomous governance. Contemporaneously with the self-governing province of Britannia, the kingdom of the Suebi in Gallaecia became the first of the sub-Roman kingdoms to be formed in the disintegrating territory of the Western Roman Empire. Suebic Gallaecia was the first kingdom separated from the Roman Empire to mint coins.
The Suebic kingdom in
Gallaeciaand northern Lusitaniawas established at 410and lasted until 584. Smaller than the Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy or the Visigothic kingdom in Hispania, it reached a relative stability and prosperity—and even expanded military southwards—despite the occasional quarrels with the neighbouring Visigothic kingdom. After the kingdom of the Suebi was conquered by the Visigoths in 585, Braulio of Zaragoza(590 - 651) depicted the region as "the edge of the west in an illiterate country where naught is heard but the sound of gales".
ettlement and integration in Iberia
The Germanic invaders settled mainly in the areas of
Braga(Bracara Augusta), Porto( Portus Cale), Lugo(Lucus Augusti) and Astorga (Asturica Augusta). Bracara Augusta, the modern city of Bragaand former capital of Roman Gallaecia, became the capital of the Suebi. Orosius, at that time resident in Hispania, shows a rather pacific initial settlement, the newcomers working their lands ["the barbarians, detesting their swords, turn them into ploughs", "Historiarum Adversum Paganos", VII, 41, 6.] or serving as bodyguards of the locals. ["anyone wanting to leave or to depart, uses these barbarians as mercenaries, servers or defenders", "Historiarum Adversum Paganos", VII, 41, 4.] Another Germanic group that accompanied the Suebi and settled in Gallaecia were the Buri. They settled in the region between the rivers Cávadoand Homem, in the area know as Terras de Bouro(Lands of the Buri). [Domingos Maria da Silva, "Os Búrios", Terras de Bouro, Câmara Municipal de Terras de Bouro, 2006. (in Portuguese)]
As the Suebi quickly adopted the local Hispano-Roman language, few traces were left of their Germanic tongue, but for their personal and land names, adopted by most of the Galicians. [Medieval Galician records show more than 1500 different Germanic names in use for over 70% of the local population. Also, in Galicia and northern Portugal, there are more than 5.000 toponyms (villages and towns) based on personal Germanic names (
Mondariz< *villa *Mundarici; Baltar < *villa *Baldarii; Gomesende< *villa *Gumesenþi; Gondomar < *villa *Gunþumari...); and several toponyms not based on personal names, mainly in Galicia (Malburgo, Samos < Samanos "Congregated", near a hundred Saa/Sá < *Sala "house, palace"...); and some lexical influence on the Galician languageand Portuguese language, such as:
lark" < protogermanic *laiwarikō "lark"
"brasa" "torch; ember" < protogermanic *blasōn "torch"
"britar" "to break" < protogermanic *breutan "to break"
"lobio" "vine gallery" < protogermanic *laubjōn "leaves"
"ouva" "elf" < protogermanic *albaz "elf"
"trigar" "to urge" < protogermanic *þreunhan "to urge"
"maga" "guts (of fish)" < protogermanic *magōn "stomach"]
Formation of a kingdom
The irruption of Visigoths in the Iberian Peninsula from
416sent from Aquitania by the Emperor of the West to fight the Vandalsand the Alansresulted into an ephemeral expansion of the Suebi Kingdom: at its heyday Suebic Gallaecia extended as far as Mérida and Seville, and suebic expeditión reached Saragossaand Lerida.
438Hermeric ratified the peace with the Hispano-Roman local population and, weary of fighting, abdicated in favour of his son Rechila, who proved to be a notable general, defeating Andevotus, "Romanae militiae ducem" [Isidorus Hispalensis HISTORIA DE REGIBUS GOTHORUM, WANDALORUM ET SUEVORUM, 85] , an later Vitus "magister utriusque militiae".
448, Rechiladied, leaving the crown to his son Rechiarwho had converted to Roman Catholicism circa 447. Soon, he married a daughter of the gothic king Theodoric I, and began a wave of attacks on the Tarraconense, still a roman province. By 456the campaigns of Rechiarclashed with the interests of the Visigoths, and a large army of Roman federates (Visigoths under the command of Theodoric II, Burgundiansdirected by kings Gundiocand Chilperic) crossed the Pyrenees into Hispania, and defeated the suebi near modern day Astorga. Rechiar was executed after being captured by his brother-in-law, the Visigothic king Theodoric II. The Suebic kingdom then became cornered in the northwest, in Gallaecia and northern Lusitania, and political division and civil war arose among several pretenders to the royal throne.
Twilight of the kingdom
In 561 king Ariamir called the catholic
First Council of Braga, which dealt with the old problem of the Priscillianismheresy. And eight years after, in 569, king Theodemir called the First Council of Lugo, [Ferreiro, 199 n11.] in order to increase the number of dioceses within his kingdom.
In 570 the Arian king of the Visigoths,
Leovigild, made his first attack on the Suebi. Between 572 and 574, Leovigild invaded the valley of the Douro, pushing the Suebi northwards. In 575 the Suebic king, Miro, made a peace treaty with Leovigild in what seemed to be the beginning of a new period of stability. Yet, in 583 Miro supported the rebellion of the Catholic Gothic prince Hermenegildand even engaged in military action against the Visigoths, with some success, but he was eventually overthrown. The kingdom could not survive Leovigild's response. First Andecain 585 and then Malaricwere defeated and the Suebic kingdom was no more.
Conversion to Arianism
The Suebi remained most pagan and their subjects Priscillianist until an Arian missionary named Ajax, sent by the Visigothic king Theodoric II at the request of the Suebic unifier
Remismund, in 466 converted them and established a lasting Arian church which dominated the people until the conversion to Catholicism in the 560s.
Conversion to Catholicism
Mutually incompatible accounts of the conversion of the Suebi to Catholicism are presented in the primary records:
* The minutes of the
First Council of Braga—which met on 1 May 561—state explicitly that the synod was held at the orders of a king named Ariamir. Of the eight assistant bishops, just one bears a Suebic name: Hildemir. While the Catholicism of Ariamir is not in doubt, that he was the first Catholic monarch of the Suebes since Rechiar has been contested on the grounds that his Catholicism is not explicitly stated. He was, however, the first Suebic monarch to hold a Catholic synod, and when the Second Council of Bragawas held at the request of king Miro, a Catholic himself, [St. Martin on Braga wrote in his [http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/martinbraga/formula.shtml Formula Vitae Honestae] "Gloriosissimo ac tranquillissimo et insigni catholicae fidei praedito pietate Mironi regi"] in 572, of the twelve assistant bishops five bears Suebic names: Remisol of Viseu, Adoric of Idanha, Wittimer of Ourense, Nitigis of Lugoand Anila of Tui.
* The "Historia Suevorum" of
Isidore of Sevillestates that a king named Theodemarbrought about the conversion of his people from Arianism with the help of the missionary Martin of Dumio. [Ferreiro, 198 n8.]
* According to the
Frankishhistorian Gregory of Tourson the other hand, an otherwise unknown sovereign named Chararic, having heard of Martin of Tours, promised to accept the beliefs of the saint if only his son would be cured of leprosy. Through the relics and intercession of Saint Martin the son was healed; Chararic and the entire royal household converted to the Nicene faith.Thompson, 83.]
* By 589, when the
Third Council of Toledowas held, and the Visigoth Kingdom of Toledo converses officially from Arianismto Catholicism, king Reccared Istated in its minutes that also "an infinite number of Suebi have converted", together with the Goths, which implies that the earlier conversion were either superficial or partial. In the same council 4 bishops from Gallaecia abjured of their Arianism. And so, the Suebic conversion is ascribed, not to a Suebe, but to a Visigoth by John of Biclarum, who puts their conversion alongside that of the Goths, occurring under Reccared I in 587–589.
Most scholars have attempted to meld these stories. It has been alleged that Chararic and Theodemir must have been successors of Ariamir, since Ariamir was the first Suebic monarch to lift the ban on Catholic synods; Isidore therefore gets the chronology wrong. [Thompson, 87.] [Ferreiro, 199.] Reinhart suggested that Chararic was converted first through the
relicsof Saint Martin and that Theodemir was converted later through the preaching of Martin of Dumio.Thompson, 86.] Dahn equated Chararic with Theodemir, even saying that the latter was the name he took upon baptism. It has also been suggested that Theodemir and Ariamir were the same person and the son of Chararic. In the opinion of some historians, Chararic is nothing more than an error on the part of Gregory of Tours and never existed. [Thompson, 88.] If, as Gregory relates, Martin of Dumio died about the year 580 and had been bishop for about thirty years, then the conversion of Chararic must have occurred around 550 at the latest. Finally, Ferreiro believes the conversion of the Suebi was progressive and stepwise and that Chararic's public conversion was only followed by the lifting of a ban on Catholic synods in the reign of his successor, which would have been Ariamir; Thoedemir was responsible for beginning a persecution of the Arians in his kingdom to root out their heresy. [Ferreiro, 207.]
The name of the Suebi also appears in
Norse mythologyand in early Scandinavian sources. The earliest attestation is the Proto-Norsename "Swabaharjaz" ("Suebian warrior") on the Rö runestoneand in the place name Svogerslev. Sváfa, whose name means "Suebian", [http://www.sofi.se/servlet/GetDoc?meta_id=1017 Peterson, Lena. (2002). "Nordiskt runnamnslexikon", at "Institutet för språk och folkminnen", Sweden.] ] was a Valkyriewho appears in the eddic poem " Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar". The kingdom "Sváfaland" also appears in this poem and in the " Þiðrekssaga".
*Ferreiro, Alberto. [http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?url_ver=Z39.88-2004&res_dat=xri:pao-us:&rft_dat=xri:pao:article:v530-1995-003-00-000009 "Braga and Tours: Some Observations on Gregory's "De virtutibus sancti Martini"."] "
Journal of Early Christian Studies". 3 (1995), p. 195–210.
*Thompson, E. A. "The Conversion of the Spanish Suevi to Catholicism." "Visigothic Spain: New Approaches". ed. Edward James. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-19-922543-1.
* [http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/hydatiuschronicon.html The Chronicle of Hydatius] is the main source for the history of the Suebi in Galicia and Portugal up to 468.
* [http://people.virginia.edu/~jca4w/Jorge%20Arias%20-%20Identity%20and%20Interaction%20The%20Suevi%20and%20the%20Hispano-Romans.pdf Identity and Interaction: The Suevi and the Hispano-Romans]
* [http://www.celtiberia.net/articulo.asp?id=1670 Medieval Galician anthroponomy]
* [http://www.benedictus.mgh.de/quellen/chga/index.htm Minutes of the Councils of Braga and Toledo] , in the "Collectio Hispana Gallica Augustodunensis"
* [http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/orosius.html Orosius' "Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII"]
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