The Roman Empire under Hadrian (ruled 117-138), showing the location of the Marcomanni in the region of the upper Danube (modern N Austria/Czech republic)

The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribe, probably related to the Buri, Suebi or Suevi.




Scholars believe their name derives possibly from Proto-Germanic forms of "march" ("frontier, border") and "men".

The Marcomanni settled in the Main River valley soon after 100 BC. To escape Roman aggression in 9 BC they migrated east to Bohemia, where their king Maroboduus established a powerful kingdom that Augustus perceived as a threat to Rome. Before he could act, however, the war in Illyria intervened. Eventually Maroboduus was deposed and exiled by Catualda (AD 19).

Tacitus, in the late 1st century mentions (Germania I.42) the Marcommani as being under kings appointed by Rome. [1]

Marcomannic Wars

In the 2nd century AD, the Marcomanni entered into a confederation with other peoples including the Quadi, Vandals, and Sarmatians, against the Roman Empire. This was probably driven by movements of larger tribes, like the Goths. According to the historian Eutropius, the forces of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius battled against the Marcomannic confederation for three years at the fortress of Carnuntum in Pannonia. Eutropius compared the war, and Marcus Aurelius' success against the Marcomanni and their allies, to the Punic Wars. The comparison was apt in that this war marked a turning point and had significant Roman defeats; it caused the death of two Praetorian Guard commanders. The war began in 166, when the Marcomanni overwhelmed the defences between Vindobona and Carnuntum, penetrated along the border between the provinces of Pannonia and Noricum, laid waste to Flavia Solva, and could be stopped only shortly before reaching Aquileia on the Adriatic sea. The war lasted until Marcus Aurelius' death in 180. It would prove to be only a limited success for Rome; the Danube river remained as the frontier of the Empire until the final fall of the West.

Later history

The Christianisation of the Marcomanni occurred under their queen Fritigil (mid fourth century), who corresponded with Ambrose of Milan to bring about the conversion.

There is a runic alphabet called the Marcomannic runes, but they are not believed to be related to the Marcomannic people.

After crossing the Pyrenees in 409, a group of Marcomanni, Quadi and Buri, established themselves in the Roman province of Gallaecia (modern Galicia and northern Portugal), where they were considered foederati and founded the Suebi Kingdom of Gallaecia. There, Hermeric swore fealty to the Emperor in 410. Bracara Augusta, the modern city of Braga in Portugal, previously the capital of Roman Gallaecia, now became the capital of the Suebic kingdom.

Kings of the Marcomanni

  • Maroboduus, c. 9 BC - 37 CE
  • Ballomar, c. 166 CE ? - 172 or 178 CE ?

See also

Mjollnir icon.png Ancient Germanic culture portal

Classical Sources

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Marcomanni — name of a Teutonic tribe, from L. Marcomanni, from a Germanic compound, lit. men of the border; Cf. O.H.G. mark, O.E. mearc border (see MARCH (Cf. march) (n.2)). For second element, see MAN (Cf. man) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Marcomanni — Marcomanni, s. Markomannen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • MARCOMANNI — Germaniae populi Hercyniae silvae accolae, qui hodie Moravi dicuntur. Hi Ariovistô duce Rhenum transgressi magnâ suorum strage a Caesare superati fuêre. Mercher veteribus, hodie Mercher, idque a Marcâ, hoc est, limite; eo quod fluvius inde nomen… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Marcomanni — Marcomannic /mahr koh man ik/, adj. /mahr koh man uy/, n. (used with a pl. v.) an ancient Germanic people who lived in central Europe. * * * ▪ people also spelled  Marcomani        German tribe that settled in the Main River valley soon after 100 …   Universalium

  • marcomanni — ˌmärkəˈmaˌnī noun plural Usage: usually capitalized Etymology: Latin Marcomani, Marcomanni : an ancient Germanic people related to the Suevians …   Useful english dictionary

  • Marcomanni — noun An ancient Germanic tribe …   Wiktionary

  • marcomanni — mar·co·man·ni …   English syllables

  • Маркоманны — (Marcomanni “люди, живущие на марке, т. е. границе) германское племя, принадлежавшее с союзу свевов и жившее между средней Эльбою и Одером. Марбод, около 10 г. до Р. Хр., вывел их в нынешнюю Чехию, где они составили ядро его государства. Около 88 …   Энциклопедический словарь Ф.А. Брокгауза и И.А. Ефрона

  • МАРКОМАННЫ —    • Marcomanni,          Μαοκομάννοι, т. е. пограничные жители, народ, по ошибке упоминаемый Цезарем (b. g 1, 51) между племенами, находившимися под властью Ариовиста. Позже они являются (Tac. Germ. 32. Vell. Pat. 2, 108) под начальством Марбода …   Реальный словарь классических древностей

  • Μαρκομάνοι — (Marcomanni). Αρχαία γερμανική φυλή, η ονομασία της οποίας σημαίνει άνθρωποι των συνόρων. Αρχικά ήταν εγκατεστημένοι μεταξύ των ποταμών Έλβα και Όντερ, αλλά όταν νικήθηκαν από τον Δρούσο, το 90 π.Χ., μετανάστευσαν στη σημερινή Βοημία, όπου… …   Dictionary of Greek

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