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The Cimbri or Cimbri (formerly also written Cimbri ; Latin Cimbri ; ancient Greek Κίμβροι Kímbroi ) were a Germanic tribe that presumably came from northern Jutland (see also Himmerland ). Together with the Teutons and Ambrones , they moved around the year 120 BC. From their settlement area in the north of Central Europe to the south ( Kimbern Wars ).


Essential information about the Cimbri, Teutons and Ambrones comes from the life of Marius , a biography of Marius by the Greek historian Plutarch . The Romans use around 100 BC The word Germanic peoples did not apply to the Cimbri and Teutons, even if they are counted among them today. You spoke of the Cimbri Teutonique . The term Germanic was probably first used by the Greek Poseidonios in the 30th book of his histories (approx. 80 BC), and later by Gaius Julius Caesar for the tribes on the other side of the Rhine . Plutarch probably had his picture of the Cimbri from the memoirs of Sulla , Catulus , Rutilius Rufus and the histories of Poseidonios.

According to Plutarch, there were 300,000 capable men in the train. However, this number is doubted by many historians today. With 300,000 men capable of fighting, the entire migrating Cimbri people should have been over a million people. However, only a population of three to four million is assumed for the entire area between the Rhine and Elbe . Many researchers therefore assume that the Roman historians greatly exaggerated and that the Cimbri had a total head strength of only 150,000. Many historical sources on the Cimbri are considered implausible, as they served to depict the general Marius as the savior of Italy .

Caesar later describes the Aduatuk tribe as "descendants of the Cimbri and Teutons". According to this, the Aduatuk descendants of the 6,000 man protection guards who were involved in the raids of the Cimbri and Teutons in 113/105 BC. Were left behind to guard their belongings. After numerous disputes with neighboring tribes that lasted for many years, they would have chosen the area around the fortified city on Mont Falhize as their place of residence after a peace agreement.

Tacitus mentioned the Cimbri in the 37th chapter of his Germania .

More detailed representation

Extract from the original settlement area

Migration of the Cimbri and Teutons

The ancient sources give a storm surge as the cause of the emigration of the Cimbri, Teutons and Ambrones. But climate changes probably also occurred. After a warm phase between 2000 and 800 BC The climate in northern Europe cooled down. As a result, there were crop failures and famine, which forced the population to look for fertile land. Their move south led them to Bohemia , where they must have come across the Boier , Silesia and Moravia , then to the Skordisker area in the Danube / Savo region and finally to the Eastern Alps , where Noriker and Taurisker were based.

First meeting with the Romans / Battle of Noreia

In 113 BC BC Cimbri, Teuton and Ambron met Romans for the first time in what is now Styria . The Roman consul Gnaeus Papirius Carbo had the Alpine passes blocked to prevent the Teutons from marching towards Rome . Although the Germanic peoples promised to move on peacefully and look for settlement land, the Romans lured them into a trap: Carbo gave them guides who were supposed to help them find suitable settlement land. However, the guides had been instructed by Carbo to make a longer detour so that he could attack them from an ambush. While the Cimbri were resting near Noreia , two Roman legions attacked with a strength of 12,000 men. They were defeated in the battle by the Teutons. Only an onset of thunderstorms could save the Roman army from total annihilation: The Germans fled for fear that the god Donar might cause the sky to collapse. Historical sources for this are in particular Appian and Strabo .

Move on to Gaul

Then the Cimbri, Teutons and Ambrones moved via Helvetia to Gaul , where they moved in 109 BC. BC near the Italian border were again victorious, this time against Marcus Iunius Silanus . The Tigurines , a Helvetian tribe that had joined them, defeated 107 BC. The Romans under Lucius Cassius Longinus ( Battle of Agen ). 105 BC Another victory against Quintus Servilius Caepio followed near Arausio ( Orange ).

Move on to the Iberian Peninsula and Italy

A wandering west for several years brought the tribes to the Iberian Peninsula before turning back towards Italy. Here the Teutons and Ambrones separated from the Cimbri. The former moved into Italy from the west, the latter from the north. This separation should seal the fate of the tribes.

The fall of the Cimbri and Teutons

102 BC The Teutons (under Teutobodus or Teutobuches) and Ambronen were defeated by Gaius Marius at Aquae Sextiae (today Aix-en-Provence ), 101 BC. The Cimbri (under Boiorix ) in the Po Valley near Vercellae were subject to the troops of Marius and those of Quintus Lutatius Catulus with over 50,000 soldiers.

Historical significance of the Cimbri

With their march through Europe, the Cimbri represent the first of a long series of confrontations between the Teutons and the Roman Empire. At that time, however, Rome brought them into contact with the Gauls rather than the Teutons. It was not until Caesar, who regarded all peoples east of the Rhine as Teutons, that this term was used around 50 years later in his work De Bello Gallico . However, this can be understood as a subsequent political naming.

The description of the Cimbri shaped the ancient, but also the modern, clichéd Teutonic image of the blond, large and wild people. Contemporary witness reports do not exist. Plutarch describes them, however, as extremely numerous , terrible to look at and with a loud voice, almost animal-like . In ancient times, the Cimbri procession was consistently described as a barbaric raid. From today's perspective, however, this must be viewed critically. Modern research sees the Cimbri migration more as a migration of individual tribes in search of settlement land than as a raid.

The importance of the Cimbri and Teutons for linguistics

The name of the Cimbri and Teutons is always given by Roman writers as cimbri teutonique , which is surprising from a linguistic point of view. Rather, the spelling * chimbri theudonique would be expected , at least if in the home area of ​​these peoples around 120 BC. The first sound shift would have already been completed. This caused namely u. a. the change from "k" to "ch" and "t" to "th". The diphthong eu in the tribal name teutoni is also archaic; in later Germanic texts and inscriptions, including the Germanic lexemes and names handed down as foreign words by ancient writers, Indo-European * eu appears throughout as iu .

This observation, together with some other indications, led to the conclusion that the idiom spoken by the Cimbri and Teutons had not yet carried out the first sound shift, but that it is a (late) Prägermanisch and not a form of the literature as " Urermanisch "designated language acts.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Kimber  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations


  1. ^ Plutarch: Marius
  2. See Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde , Vol. 23, p. 215.
  3. De bello Gallico, II 29: consensu eorum omnium pace facta hunc sibi domicilio locum delegerant
  4. Tacitus: Germania ( Memento of the original from September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. See POHL (2004), p. 11 f.
  6. Cf. Sebastian Brather : Ethnic Interpretation in the Early History Archeology In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde. Walter de Gruyter 2004. ISBN 3-11-018040-5 , p. 180 ( Google Books ).
  7. See Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde , Vol. 23, p. 215.
  8. Euler 2009, p. 12 f.
  9. See Euler 2009, pp. 77 and 79
  10. Euler 2009, pp. 66–73