The Lugii (or Lugi, Lygii, Ligii, Lugiones, Lygians, Ligians, Lugians, or Lougoi) were an ancient tribe attested in the book Germania by the Roman historians such as Tacitus. They lived in ca. 400 BC–300 AD in 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). Most archaeologists identify the Lugians with the Przeworsk culture. While probably initially Celtic-dominated, the Lugii were regarded as Germanic by the end of the 1st century. The source of their power was control of the most important middle part of the Amber Road from Sambia at the Baltic Sea to the provinces of Roman Empire: Pannonia, Noricum and Raetia. A tribe of the same name, usually spelled as Lugi, inhabited the southern part of Sutherland in Scotland.
According to Tacitus (Germania 43:3) the Lugii were divided into many tribes ('civitates'), of which he mentions the five most powerful: Harii, Helveconae, Manimi, Helisii and Nahanarvali. Claudius Ptolemeus mentions the Lugi Omani (Λοῦγοι οἱ Ὀμανοὶ), the Lugi Diduni (Λοῦγοι οἱ Διδοῦνοι) and the Lugi Buri (Λοῦγοι οἱ Βοῦροι) located on or near the upper Vistula in Germania Magna in what is now south Poland (Book 2, Chapter 10, 4th map of Europe). The forms of the names imply that the Lugii of that time were divided into the Omani, the Diduni and the Buri. In Tacitus the Buri were reported as a tribe distinct from the Lugii.
The Lugian federation was probably formed long before it was first recorded, in the works of Strabo (Geographica). According to Strabo the Lugians were 'a great people' and—together with other peoples like Semnones and the otherwise unknown Zumi, Butones, Mugilones and Sibini—were part of a federation subjected to the rule of Marbod, ruler of the Marcomanni with their centre in modern Bohemia 9 BC–19 AD.
The next mention of Lugii are the times of the Roman emperor Claudius (41–54). According to the Tacitus's Annales, in 50 'a great multitude' of Lugians allied with Romans took part in the fall of the Vannius' state of the Quadi, located in present Moravia–Slovakia.
The next information about the Lugians comes from Cassius Dio's work Roman History, in which he mentions events of 91–92 during the reign of emperor Domitian. The Lugii allied themselves with the Romans and asked them for help against their western neighbours, the Germanic Suebi tribe. Domitian sent 100 horsemen to support the Lugians. It is not known if these horsemen really arrived at their destination; if they did, it would be the first recorded presence of Roman soldiers on what is now Polish soil. The 12th century Chronica seu originale regum et principum Poloniae by the Polish historian Wincenty Kadlubek appears to confirm the alliance with Romans.
The Buri, who according to Ptolemy were part of the Lugians, took an important role during the Marcomannic Wars (166–180): the Romans were forced to organize a separate military campaign against them called 'Expeditio Burica' in 182-183 during the reign of emperor Commodus
The later history of the Lugians is uncertain, but some historians assume that the Lugians can be identified with the 'Longiones' tribe mentioned in Zosimus's New History (Historia Nova), as being defeated by the Emperor Probus in year 279 in the province of Raetia near the Lygis river (usually identified with Lech river in modern Austria and Bavaria). Another mention might be a great people of 'Lupiones-Sarmatae' shown on a Latin map Tabula Peutingeriana generally dated to 2nd-4th century AD.
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The ethnic affiliation was subject of intense auto/allochtonic debate between German and mostly Polish historians before the Second World War. The former used to claim that the tribe was exclusively Germanic as the latter presented the counterargument that either the tribe was proto-Slavic or at least included proto-Slavic groups.
Ancient writers simply regarded them to be part of the Germanians, or the inhabitants of the region of Germania, which did not necessarily always coincide with speakers of the Germanic languages. The sub-tribal groups associated with them, such as the Helveconae, the Harii and the Buri, are indeed Germanic.
- Tacitus, Germania.XLIII
- Waldman, Carl; Mason, Catherine (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 1-4381-2918-1. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
- Wolfram, Herwig (1997). The Roman Empire and its Germanic peoples. University of California Press. ISBN 0-5200-8511-6. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
- Hussey, Joan Mervyn (1966). Cambridge Medieval History. CUP Archive. ISBN 0-5200-8511-6. Retrieved 30 October 2012.