The Silings or Silingi (Latin: Silingae, Ancient Greek Σιλίγγαι – Silingai) were a Germanic tribe, part of the larger Vandal group. The Silingi at one point lived in Silesia, and the names Silesia and Silingi may be related.
The Silingi are first mentioned by Claudius Ptolemaeus in the 2nd century, who wrote that they had lived south of the Suevic Semnone tribe and north of the Carpathian Mountains, around what now is Silesia:
Back below the Semnones the Silingae have their seat, [...]; and below the Silingae the Calucones and the Camavi up to Mt. Melibocus, from whom to the east near the Albis river and above them, below Mt. Asciburgius, the Corconti and the Lugi Buri up to the head of the Vistula river.
The tribe of Nahanarvali is speculated by modern scholars to be the same people as the Silingi. Tacitus Germania, 43 mentions the Naharvali as the keepers of sanctuary of the Lugian federation (the grove to twin gods Alcis). Tacitus does not mention the Silingi; however, he places the Naharvali in about the same geographical area in which Ptolemaeus placed the Silingi.
Pushed westwards by the Huns around 400, the Vandals crossed the Rhine into Gaul in 406 and the Pyrenees into Iberia in 409. While the other main Vandal group, the Hasdingi, settled in Gallaecia, the Silingi settled in Baetica. In 419, following Roman-sponsored attacks by the Visigoths against the Silingi in 417-18, the remnants of Silingi and the Alans voluntarily subjected to the rule Hasdingian leader Gunderic, who had fled from Gallaecia to Baetica after having been defeated by a Roman-Suebi coalition. After Gunderic's succession by Genseric in 428, the Vandals relocated to North Africa, where they established a kingdom centered at Carthage. The kingdom collapsed in the Vandalic War of 533–4, in which Justinian I managed to reconquer the Africa province for the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
After the migratory movement of the 5th century, any Silingi remaining in Silesia were most likely slowly replaced in the sixth century by an influx of people holding the Prague-Korchak cultures, who are supposed to be new Slavic tribes migrating from the east.
The region of Silesia
According to some historians, the names of Silesia and the Silingi are related. Another hypothesis derives the name of the mountain and river, and hence the region, from the old Polish word "Ślągwa", meaning "humid" or "damp", reflecting the climate of the region.
The name of the territory of Silesia is often assumed to either derive from the river or the mountain now called the Ślęza River or Mount Ślęża. The hill was a religious center of the Silingi, situated south-south-east of modern-day Wrocław (Breslau), although the religious importance of the location dates back to the sun-worshipping people of the Lusatian culture, as early as 1300 B.C.
Corps Silingia Breslau (de) is a student organization (Studentenverbindung) that has been operating since 1877, currently (2010) in Cologne, Germany, as Corps Silingia Breslau zu Köln (Silingia Corps Wrocław in Cologne).
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