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The Suebi or Suevi were a large group of Germanic peoples who were first mentioned by Julius Caesar in connection with Ariovistus' campaign in Gaul, c. 58 BC. While Caesar treated them as one Germanic tribe, though the largest and most warlike, later authors such as Tacitus, Pliny and Strabo specified that the Suevi "do not, like the Chatti or Tencteri, constitute a single nation. They actually occupy more than half of Germany, and are divided into a number of distinct tribes under distinct names, though all generally are called Suebi". "At one time, classical ethnography had applied the name "Suebi" to so many Germanic tribes that it appeared as though in the first centuries A.D. this native name would replace the foreign name "Germans"."

Classical authors noted that the Suebic tribes, compared to other Germanic tribes, were very mobile, and not reliant upon agriculture. Various Suebic groups moved from the direction of the Baltic sea and river Elbe, becoming a periodic threat to the Roman empire on their Rhine and Danube frontiers. Toward the end of the empire, the Alamanni, also referred to as Suebi, first settled in the Agri Decumates and then crossed the Rhine and occupied Alsace. A pocket remained in the region now still called Swabia, an area in southwest Germany whose modern name derives from the Suebi. Others moved as far as Gallaecia (modern Galicia, in Spain, and Northern Portugal) and established a Suebic Kingdom of Galicia there which lasted for 170 years until its integration into the Visigothic Kingdom.


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