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The Suevi or Suebi are a Germanic tribe that Julius Caesar mentioned during the campaign of Ariovistus in Gaul. While Caesar considered the Suevi as merely a single Germanic tribe, other authors such as Pliny and Tacitus did not refer to them as a single nation unlike the Tencteri and Chatti. In fact, the Suevi settled in a large part Germany, and they were divided into various tribes with their own unique names.

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‘Roman bronze statuette representing a Germanic man kneeling, his arms outstretched and his hair in a “Suebian knot”‘

Origin of the Tribe

According to scholars, the Suevi were mobile people that barely relied on agriculture. They also moved to other places following the direction of the Elbe River and Baltic Sea. This made them a threat to the Danube and Rhine. During the latter part of their empire, the Suevi initially remained in the Agri Decumates before settling Alsace. A small area in this region still bears the name Swabia, which was derived from the Suevi. Other members of the tribe traveled to Gallaecia, and they formed a Gallacian kingdom that remained strong for 170 years before it was integrated by the Visigoths.

Caesar decided to position the Suevi to the eastern part of Ubii, and he distinguished this tribe from the Marcomanni, which were their allies. Some people believe that the Suevi referred by Caesar formed the Hermunduri or the Chatti. However, Strabo and Tacitus regarded these two were entirely different because the Suevi were not quite settled in one place, unlike the Chatti.

The terms given to large ethnic groups in Germania were hardly consistent with writers and scholars, such as in the case of the Suevi. For instance, Tacitus noted the presence of three primary types of Germanic people including the Ingvaeones, Istvaeones and Hermiones, another author prefers to add two other kinds such as the Vandals and Bastarnae.

The Vandals were Germanic tribes that originated in the eastern part of the Elbe River just like other groups such as the Goths, Burgundians, and Silingi. Moreover, Elbe Germanic, or a modern term that pertains to a large group of Germanic people tends to overlap with the classic terms Hermiones and Suevi.

Further Details about the Suevi

While there were insufficient records behind the Suevi’s migration in 406 AD, there is a theory that the situation was caused by the westward movement of the Huns in the latter part of the 4th century. The reason behind this was the threats given by the Huns, which caused the people to vacate and transfer to another location.

In 405 AD, the Suevi joined the Alans and Vandals in crossing the Rhine; where they located on the Bible Timeline Chart with World History. With the help of usurpers, the barbarians were able to enter Gaul without much difficulty. They took advantage of the city by causing many damages to Northern provinces of Belgica Prima and Belgica Secunda. Including Germania Inferior even before the Roman Empire viewed them as a threat. By 409 AD, the Suevi, Vandals and Alans already in the south, particularly towards Hispania. There they attempted to establish their position by overpowering any opponents that came their way and applied their military tactics to attain their goals of invading the area.

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