List of ancient Germanic peoples

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Early Roman Empire with some ethnic names in and around Germania

This List of Germanic Tribes includes names of populations speaking Germanic languages or otherwise considered Germanic in sources from the late 1st millennium BC to the early 2nd millennium AD. The c. 300 tribes do not necessarily represent contemporaneous, distinct or Germanic-speaking populations or have common ancestral populations. Some closely fit the concept of a tribe. Others are confederations or even unions of tribes. Some may not have spoken Germanic at all, but were bundled by the sources with the Germanic speakers. Some were undoubtedly of mixed culture. They may have assimilated to Germanic or to other cultures from Germanic.

A[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Adogit[1] Jordanes, Getica, III.19-21 Two possibilities:
  • 1. *Ādogii < *Andogii
  • 2. *Hálogi
Northern Norway, both possibilities:
Two possible modern reflexes:
  • 1. Andō, an island and part of Vesterålen
  • 2. Háleygir, people of Hålogaland
Aelvaeones[2] Ptolemy, Geography, 2.11.9 Ailouaiones, Helvaeonae, Helveconae, Helvecones Language unknown, possibly Old Prussian, possibly Germanic. Two possible locations:
Possibly Elblag, Poland
Aeragnaricii
Ahelmil
Alemanni Cassius Dio In 213 CE, the Alemanni dwelt in the basin of the Main, to the south of the Chatti. They captured the Agri Decumates in 260 CE, and later expanded into present-day Alsace and northern Switzerland.
Ambrones (possibly Celtic)
Ampsivarii Tacitus, Annales (13.54,56) Ampsivari Around the middle of the river Ems, which flows into the North Sea, at the Dutch-German border. Most likely they lived between the Bructeri minores (located at the delta of the Yssel) and the Bructeri maiores that were living south of them at the end of the Ems.
Angles Tacitus, Germania Anglii, Angli, English; part of the Suebi Angeln, an area located on the Baltic shore of what is now Schleswig-Holstein, the most northern state of Germany; settled in Britain after Roman withdrawal.
Angrivarii Ptolemy (2.10); Tacitus, Germania (33) and Annales Angriouarroi, Angrarii, Angarii, Aggeri, Aggerimenses, Angerienses, Angri, Angeri Engern, a region west of the Weser river not far from Teutoburg Forest, and also (probably by extension) in Angeron of Münster; Angria, Angaria, Angeriensis, Aggerimensis, or Engaria
Arochi
Atuatuci Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico Aduatuci; descended from the Cimbri and Teutones; possibly contributed to the late Roman-era tribal grouping known as the Tungri Originated in the area of Denmark; allowed to settle amongst the Germanic tribes living in east Belgium.
Augandzi Jordanes, Getica Augandii, Egðir Scandza
Avarpi Ptolemy, Geography Auarpoi, Avarni Pommern/Propommern region; next to the Teutonikai and between the Sueboi and the Farodeinoi
Aviones Tacitus, Germania, 40; Widsith Auiones, Eowan Either in the southern Jutland Peninsula or on Öland.

B[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Baemi Ptolemy, Geography Baimoi North side of the Danube, near the Luna forest, and the Quadi, and with the Gambreta forest of the Marcomanni to their northwest. This would place them in or around modern Slovakia, Moravia, and Lower Austria.
Baetasi Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia; Tacitus Betasii Germania Inferior (later Germania Secunda), west of the Rhine. Exact location is still unknown, although two proposals are: first, that it might be the source of the name of the Belgian village of Geetbets; and second, that it might be further east, nearer to the Sunuci with whom they interacted in the Batavian revolt, and to the Cugerni who lived at Xanten. The area of Gennep, Goch, and Geldern has been proposed for example.
Banochaemae Claudius Ptolemy, Geography Baenochaemae, Bainochaimai, Bonochamae; name derived from "Boii" Near the Elbe river, east of the Melibokus mountains (probably not the modern Melibokus, but rather the Harz mountains, the Thüringerwald, or both.[3][4] This is in turn north of the Askiburgium mountains (probably the modern Sudetes) and the Lugi Buri, which are in turn north of the source of the Vistula river. This position may be north of both modern Bohemia and modern Bavaria. Equivalent to the modern term "Bohemian"
Batavi Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico Around the Rhine delta, in the area that the Romans called Batavia.
Batini Claudius Ptolemy Bateinoi "Above" (normally north in Ptolemy) the Banochaemae tribe, who were settled near the upper Elbe, and "below" (presumably south of) the Askibourgion mountain. Near the point where modern Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic meet (modern Bautzen in Saxony).
Bavarii Baiuvarii Bohemian Forest
Bergio
Brisgavi Ammianus Marcellinus Brisigavi Black Forest in south Germany
Brondings Probably the Swedish island of Brännö, west of Västergötland in the Kattegatt.
Bructeri Tacitus; Strabo Northwestern Germany; present-day North Rhine-Westphalia. Their territory included both sides of the upper Ems (Latin Amisia) and Lippe (Latin Luppia) rivers. At its greatest extent, their territory apparently stretched between the vicinities of the Rhine in the west and the Teutoburg Forest and Weser river in the east. In late Roman times, they moved south to settle upon the east bank of the Rhine facing Cologne, an area later known as the kingdom of the Ripuarian Franks.
Burgundiones Pliny (IV.28) Burgundians May have emigrated from mainland Scandinavia to the Baltic island of Bornholm, and from there to the Vistula basin, in the middle of modern Poland. A part of the Burgundian tribes migrated further westward, where they may have participated in the 406 Crossing of the Rhine, after which they settled in the Rhine Valley and established the Kingdom of the Burgundians. Another group of Burgundians stayed in their previous homeland in the Oder-Vistula basin and formed a contingent in Attila's Hunnic army by 451.[5][6]
Buri Tacitus, Germania; Ptolemy Lougoi Bouroi (Lugi Buri) Northern Carpathians; southern Poland between the Elbe, the modern Sudetes, and the upper Vistula. A contingent of the Buri accompanied the Suebi in their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and established themselves in Gallaecia (modern northern Portugal and Galicia) in the 5th century.[7] They settled in the region between the rivers Cávado and Homem, in the area known as Terras de Bouro (Lands of the Buri).[8]

C[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Caeroesi Julius Caesar, Commentaries on the Gallic Wars Caeraesi, Ceroesi, Cerosi Belgic Gaul
Calucones Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia (3.24); Ptolemy, Geography (2.10) Kaloukones On either side of the Elbe, "below" (north of?) the Silingae or Silesians
Canninefates Tacitus, Histories (Book iv [1]) Canninefates, Caninefates, Canenefatae In the Rhine delta, on the western part of the Batavian Island (province of Germania Inferior, currently Betuwe in the western part of the Netherlands); the capital of the civitas of the Cananefates was Forum Hadriani, modern Voorburg.
Casuari
Caritni Ptolemy, Geographia (2.10) Karitnoi West Bavaria
Chaedini Ptolemy, Geographia Chaideinoi, Khaideinoi Scandia (Scandinavia)
Chaemae Ptolemy Possibly Banochaemae and/or Chamavi Next to the Bructeri (north of the Lower Rhine)
Chaetuori
Chali Ptolemy Khaloi, Chaloi Jutland
Chamavi Tacitus, Germania North of the Lower Rhine
Charudes Julius Caesar; Ptolemy, Geographia Harudes East coast of the Cimbrian peninsula (modern Jutland).
Chasuarii Tacitus, Germania; Claudius Ptolemy To the east and north of the Rhine, near the modern river Hase, which feeds into the Ems; near modern Osnabruck; between the Ems and Weser Rivers.
Chattuarii Velleius Paterculus; Strabo; Ammianus Marcellinus Attoarii; subject to the Franks Across the Rhine from Xanten. Some of them (laeti) were also settled in Roman Gaul (south of Langres) in the 3rd century.
Chauci Pliny the Elder; Tacitus Merged into the Saxons in the 3rd century CE Low-lying region between the Rivers Ems and Elbe, on both sides of the Weser, and ranging as far inland as the upper Weser.
Cherusci Plains and forests of northwestern Germany, in the area possibly near present-day Hannover.
Chatti Strabo; Tacitus; Pliny the Elder, Natural History Chatthi, Catti; Batavians were an offshoot; part of the Hermunduri; possibly part of the Suebi Central and northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, along the upper reaches of the Weser River and in the valleys and mountains of the Eder, Fulda, and Weser River regions, a district approximately corresponding to Hesse-Kassel, though probably somewhat more extensive.
Cimbri (possibly Celtic)
Cobandi Ptolemy, Geography (2.10) Kobandoi Jutland
Condrusi Julius Caesar, Commentarii de Bello Gallico Belgae Belgium; the region now known as Condroz (named after them), between Liège and Namur. The terrain is wooded hills on the northeastern edge of the Ardennes.
Corconti Ptolemy, Geography Korkontoi Resided in the vicinity of Asciburgius Mountain somewhere near the sources of the Vistula. Asciburgius was on the edge of the modern Sudetes range; closest neighbours were the Lugi Buri.
Curiones

D[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Danduti
Dani Jordanes, Getica; Procopius; Gregory of Tours Danes Scandza (modern Denmark)
Dauciones Ptolemy Daukiones Scandia (Scandinavia); possibly near the Goths.
Diduni Claudius Ptolemy Dunii; subjects of the Lugii Near the Asciburgius mountains in what is now central and southern Poland.
Dulgubnii Tacitus, Germania; Ptolemy Doulgoumnioi Northern central Germany, near the Weser River; north of the Angrivarii and Chamavi, near the Chasuarii, south of the Chauci.

E[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Eburones Julius Caesar, Commentaries on the Gallic Wars Possibly the later Tungri Northeast of Gaul, in what is now the southern Netherlands, eastern Belgium, and the German Rhineland, in the period immediately before this region was conquered by Rome.
Eudoses Tacitus Possibly the later Iutae (Jutes) North of Jutland
Eunixi
Evagres Jordanes Possibly Bohuslän

F[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Favonae Ptolemy, Geography Phauonai Eastern Scandia (Scandinavia)
Fervir Jordanes Fjäre Hundred
Firaesi Ptolemy, Geography Phiraisoi Eastern Scandia (Scandinavia)
Fosii
Frisii Low-lying region between the Zuiderzee and the River Ems.
Fundusi

G[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Gambrivii
Geats Ptolemy; Jordanes; Procopius Goutai, Gautoi, Gautar, Gēatas, Gautigoths What is now Götaland ("land of the Geats") in modern Sweden.
Gepidae Augustan History; Jordanes; Procopius Gepids, Gifþas; closely related to/subdivision of the Goths The Gepids are thought to have migrated (along with the Goths) from Scandinavia to the Vistula River, and then onward into Dacia around 260 CE. After being driven out of their homeland in 504 CE by Theodoric the Great, the Gepids settled in the rich area around Singidunum (modern Belgrade).
Grannii
Greuthungi Jordanes Greuthungs, Greutungi, Chernyakhov Culture; possibly the Ostrogoths in later years; sub-group of the Goths
Gutes Gutasaga Gotlanders Originated in Gotland; due to overpopulation, some migrated south up the river Dvina into the area near the Black Sea
Goths

H[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Hallin
Harii Tacitus, Germania Possibly the Einherjar of much later Norse mythology
Hasdingi Subjects of the Vandals Originating in today's southern Poland, western Ukraine, Slovakia, and Hungary, the Hasdingi were part of the migratory movements of the Vandals, into the Iberian peninsula and later on to North Africa.
Helisii Tacitus, Germania Subjects of the Lugii Probably eastern Germany/modern Poland.
Helveconae Helveconae, Helvaeonae, Helvecones, Aelvaeones, Ailouaiones; possibly subjects of the Lugii; possibly connected to the Hilleviones. Silesia area (modern Poland)
Hermunduri Hermunduri, Hermanduri, Hermunduli, Hermonduri, Hermonduli; possibly forebears of the Thuringii. Near/east of the Elbe river, around what is now Thuringia, Bohemia, Saxony (in East Germany), and Franconia in northern Bavaria. At times, they apparently moved to the Danube frontier with Rome.
Heruli Jordanes; Procopius Migrated from Scandinavia to the Black Sea in the third century CE.
Hilleviones Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia Scatinavia (thought to be Scandinavia)

I[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Ingriones
Ingvaeones Pliny; Tacitus, Germania Ingaevones; by the 1st century BCE, they had become differentiated (to a foreigner's eye) into the Frisii, Saxons, Jutes and Angles. North Sea coast in the areas of Jutland, Holstein, Frisia, and the Danish islands.
Intuergi
Irminones Tacitus, Germania; Pomponius Mela; Pliny, Natural History Herminones, Hermiones Interior of Germany; after initially settling in the Elbe watershed, they expanded into Bavaria, Swabia, and Bohemia by the 1st century CE.
Istvaeones Tacitus and Pliny the Elder Istaevones, Istriaones, Istriones, Sthraones, Thracones Near the Rhine

J[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Jutes Iuti, Iutæ Jutland Peninsula (called Iutum in Latin) and part of the North Frisian coast; Modern Denmark.
Juthungi Publius Herennius Dexippus; Ammianus Marcellinus North of the rivers Danube and Altmühl in the modern German state of Bavaria.

L[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Lacringi Danube River border of the ancient Roman Empire in the time of Marcus Aurelius.
Landi
Lemovii Tacitus; Jordanes; Ptolemy Possibly Oksywie culture, Plöwen group, Dębczyn group, Glommas, Turcilingi, Rhoutikleioi, Leuonoi, Leonas; associated with the Rugii Pomerania (modern Poland)
Lentieneses
Levoni
Langobardes Paul the Deacon, Historia Langobardorum Lombards, descended from Winnili Dwelt in southern Scandinavia (Scadanan) before migrating to seek new lands. In the 1st century CE, they formed part of the Suebi in northwestern Germany. By the end of the 5th century, they had moved into the area roughly coinciding with modern Austria north of the Danube river. After defeating the Gepids at the Battle of Asfeld in 567, Alboin led the Langobardes to Italy, which had become severely depopulated after the long Gothic War (535–554) between the Byzantine Empire and the Ostrogothic Kingdom there.
Liothida
Lugii Lugi, Lygii, Ligii, Lugiones, Lygians, Ligians, Lugians, Lougoi; possibly the Przeworsk culture and/or the Vandals Central Europe, north of the Sudetes mountains in the basin of upper Oder and Vistula rivers, covering most of modern south and middle Poland (regions of Silesia, Greater Poland, Mazovia and Little Poland).

M[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Manimi Tacitus, Germania Subjects of the Lugii; possibly the Atmonoi (a branch of the Basternes) and/or Lougoi Omanoi Between the Oder and the Vistula Manimi, Marcomanni, Marsi, Marsaci, Marsigni, Marvingi, Mattiaci, Mixi, Mugilones

N[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Naharvali Tacitus, Germania Subjects of the Lugii; possibly the same as the Silingi Between the Oder and the Vistula Naharvali, Narisci or Naristi, Nemetes, Nertereanes, Nervii (possibly not Germanic), Njars, Nuitones

O[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Ostrogoths
Otingis

P[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Paemani Poemani or Caemani Gallia Belgica; present-day Famenne region of central Wallonia
Pharodini

Q[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Quadi Tacitus, Germania Perhaps originating north of the River Main, the Quadi (along with the Marcomanni) migrated into what is now Moravia, western Slovakia, and Lower Austria where they displaced Celtic cultures and were first noticed by Romans in 8–6 BCE.

R[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Racatae Racatae, Racatriae, Ragnaricii Raumarici, Reudigni, Ripuarii, Rugii, Rus', Ruticli
Raetovari

S[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Sabalingi Sabalingi, Salii, Saxons, Scirii, Segni, Semnones, Sibini, Sidini, Sigulones, Silingi, Sitones, Suarini , Suebi or Suevi, Suetidi, Suiones, Sugambri, Sunici

T[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Taetel Taetel, Tencteri, Teuriochaemae, Teutonoari, Teutons, Thervingi, Theustes, Thuringii, Toxandri, Treveri (possibly Celtic), Triboci, Tubanti, Tungri, Turcilingi, Turoni

U[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Ubii First encountered dwelling on the right bank of the Rhine in the time of Julius Caesar; transported in 39 BCE by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa to the left bank, apparently at their own request, as they feared the incursions of their neighbors the Chatti.
Ulmerugi Rugians, Rygir, Ulmerugi, Holmrygir East Germanic tribe who migrated from southwest Norway to Pomerania around 100 CE, and from there to the Danube River valley, where they established their own kingdom in the 5th century CE.
Usipetes Julius Caesar; Tacitus; Claudius Ptolemy Usipii, Ousipai, possibly Ouispoi Moved into the area on the right bank (the northern or eastern bank) of the lower Rhine in the 1st century BCE.

V[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Vagoth Jordanes Scandza
Vandals Associated with the Przeworsk culture; possibly the same people as the Lugii. Believed to have migrated from southern Scandinavia (possibly Vendel in Sweden) to the area between the lower Oder and Vistula rivers during the 2nd century BCE, and to have settled in Silesia (southern part of modern Poland) from around 120 BCE, where they were first heard of by ancient writers. Expanded into Dacia during the Marcomannic Wars and to Pannonia during the Crisis of the Third Century. Around 400 CE, they were pushed westward into Roman Europe by the Huns, establishing kingdoms in Spain and later North Africa in the 5th century.
Vangiones Unknown origin. After being defeated while participating in an invasion of Gaul in 58 BC, they made peace with the Romans and were allowed to settle among the Mediomatrici in northern Alsace. They gradually assumed control of the Celtic city of Burbetomagus, later Worms.
Vargiones
Varini Tacitus, Germania; Procopius; Pliny the Elder; Lex Thuringorum; Widsith Varni, Varini, Varinnae, Wærne/Werne, Warnii, Warni, Warini Northern Germany
Varisci Tacitus, Germania Naristi, Narisci, Varisti Vogtland district of Saxony in Germany. Along the line of the Danube between the Hermunduri at its source and the Marcomanni and Quadi in Bohemia. Medieval Provincia Variscorum.
Vinoviloth Jordanes, Getarum Possibly Kvens, Winnili, and/or Vingulmark Scandinavia
Viruni
Visburgi
Visigoths Claudius Mamertinus; Cassiodorus; Jordanes Valagothi, Alaric Goths; possibly the Thervingi; part of the larger groups of Goths Originated in Dacia; migrated westward at the expense of the crumbling Roman Empire (map).
Vispi

Z[edit]

Name Sources Variants Location Modern Name
Zumi

Mythical founders[edit]

Further information: Eponymous ancestor

Many of the authors relating ethnic names of Germanic peoples speculated concerning their origin, from the earliest writers to approximately the Renaissance. One cross-cultural approach over this more than a millennium of historical speculation was to assign an eponymous ancestor of the same name as, or reconstructed from, the name of the people. For example, Hellen was the founder of the Hellenes.

Although some Enlightenment historians continued to repeat these ancient stories as though fact, today they are recognized as manifestly mythological. There was, for example, no Franko, or Francio, ancestor of the Franks. The convergence of data from history, linguistics and archaeology have made this conclusion inevitable. A list of the mythical founders of Germanic peoples follows.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Nansen, Fridtjof; Chater, Arthur G. (1911). In northern mists; Arctic exploration in early times. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co. p. 132. 
  2. ^ Tacitus; Anthony Richard Birley (1999). Agricola and Germany. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford University Press. p. 130. 
  3. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, 1854 
  4. ^ Schütte (1917), Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototypes 
  5. ^ Sidonnius Appolinarius, Carmina, 7, 322
  6. ^ Luebe, Die Burgunder, in Krüger II, p. 373 n. 21, in Herbert Schutz, Tools, weapons and ornaments: Germanic material culture in Pre-Carolingian Central Europe, 400-750, BRILL, 2001, p.36
  7. ^ Domingos Maria da Silva, "De Buricis (Acerca dos Búrios)", Bracara Augusta, 36, 1982, pp. 237-68.
  8. ^ Domingos Maria da Silva, Os Búrios, Terras de Bouro, Câmara Municipal de Terras de Bouro, 2006. (in Portuguese)

External links[edit]

Some tribal maps of Germania can be found at: