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Marcus Aurelius , pardoning Marcomanni chiefs - Relief of an unknown arch of honor for Marc Aurel

The Marcomanni were a Suebian tribe of the Teutons . The name is made up of Mark (Grenzland) and men / people .

Origin and history

The name Marcomanni was first used in connection with Roman descriptions of the army of Ariovistus in 58 BC. Chr. Attested.

According to ancient sources, around 9 BC A tribal group known as Marcomanni was defeated by the Romans during the Drusus campaigns (12 to 8 BC) and therefore escaped to today's Bohemia under the Marbod (Latin Maroboduus) called rex (king) by Roman authors . Many grave finds, especially those from the so-called princely graves of the Marcomannic upper class, attest to high-quality handicrafts.

King Marbod

Marbod , who lived as a youth in Rome and enjoyed the benefits of the emperor Augustus, presumably came to the leadership of the Marcomanni at Roman instigation after the defeat of the tribe against Drusus and emigrated with them eastwards to Bohemia. There he established a strong tribal principality and expanded from 3 BC. His rule over neighboring Germanic tribes such as the Hermunduren and Quaden and in 5 AD the Semnones and later also the Lombards , which he brought together in a loose tribal union. The Semnones, however, were the tribe “that Tiberius did not want to submit” and that had withdrawn east of the Elbe - the region in which Marbod, from the Roman point of view, “acted as the patron of Germania. The difficulties on the Elbe were clearly due to the fact that the Elbe Germans found support in the Marcomann King. ”On the eastern bank of the Elbe, an increasing number of Elbe Germanic troops dependent on Marbod gathered. Already in the course of the immensum bellum , a severe Germanic uprising in the years 1 to 5 AD, Semnones, Hermundurs and Lombards faced the legions of Tiberius on the Elbe in the last year of the war. After 5 AD, the Marbod empire was the last major power bloc in Germania and Augustus ordered it to be attacked.

In the spring of 6 AD Tiberius marched with six to seven legions from Carnuntum on the Danube through the Marchtal to Bohemia. “From the west, Gaius Sentius Saturninus fought his way with two or three legions along the Main and later through the Hercynian Forest to the passes of the Bohemian Forest. In addition, Germanic auxiliary troops and cavalry added. About 70,000 men, two fifths of the Roman army, were involved in this [...] pincer movement against Marbod. ”However, shortly before the two army groups were united, the Pannonian uprising broke out. It spread to all of Illyria and endangered Macedonia and Italy . Tiberius and his legions immediately turned south into the areas of the uprising.

Armistice with the Romans

Tiberius had to conclude a peace treaty with the Marcomanni, in which the Romans recognized the status quo and the royal title of Marbod. "The official recognition of his royal title must have been accompanied by a rich stream of valuable gifts and trade privileges." The Romans claimed that they forced Marbod to peace. and Marbod "(later boasted): 'Attacked by twelve legions under the leadership of Tiberius, he had preserved the fame of the Teutons unscathed.'" For the Romans it was decisive that Marbod stayed away from the Pannonian uprising.

After the suppression of the uprising in Pannonia in 8 AD, Tiberius had sent a large part of the auxiliary troops back to their home bases, but the fighting in Dalmatia continued until 9 AD. The most likely consequence after the removal of this danger would have been a resumption of the campaign against Marbod. But in the meantime Publius Quinctilius Varus had surprisingly set out with three legions from the Lower Rhine on a march on the Weser . The news of his defeat reached Tiberius shortly before the crossing to Italy.

Arminius offered Marbod an alliance against the Romans after the Varus Battle in 9 AD and therefore sent him the head of Varus, which the Marcomanni ruler, however, had Augustus extradited and thus rejected a Germanic coalition. Even so, Rome never recognized Marbod as an officially allied client ruler. To revenge for the disastrous defeat of the Romans, Tiberius and Germanicus waged war in Germania over the next few years against the coalition of Arminius ( Germanicus campaigns ), in which Marbod was neutral. Therefore Rome refused him military support after his war against the Cheruscans under Arminius in 17 AD .

Dependence on Rome

The armed conflict with the Cheruscans under Arminius in 17 and the subsequent overthrow of Marbod in 19 by the Gothic Catualda ended the power of the Marcomanni, who then came under Roman influence. Catualda had been driven out by the Hermundures in 1919. Thereupon the Quad king Vannius conquered Bohemia . Since then, the Marcomanni and Quadi are said to have been ruled by the same tribal leaders (known in Roman as dux or rex ).

Incursions into Roman territory

The dependence on Rome, broken only by uprisings in 89 and 92, lasted until the Marcomannic Wars , which lasted intermittently from 166 to 180. In them, the Marcomanni together with other Germanic and Sarmatian tribes showed themselves as bitter and powerful enemies of the Roman Empire and penetrated deep into the territory of the empire several times. Emperor Mark Aurel had to devote most of his government's time to their defense; he stayed in the Carnuntum legionary camp in Pannonia near Vindobona , today's Vienna . According to Hans W. Haussig , the wars with the devastation of the “fertile Po Valley” changed the “structure of agriculture” in Italy, which is why “the great turning point” took place, which led to the decline of agriculture and later the declining importance of Italy in the Roman Empire should have. Some researchers see the Marcomannic Wars as a preliminary stage of the great migration .

According to ancient sources, further raids by the Marcomanni on Roman imperial territory took place in the years 310, 323, 357 and 374.

Dissolution of the tribal structure

Around 396, Stilicho settled parts of the Marcomanni, under the husband of Queen Fritigil , who was referred to as dux , in what was later to be the eastern Austrian-western Hungarian region ( Pannonia ) as allies of the Romans. Fritigil was in correspondence with Bishop Ambrosius of Milan and brought about the Christianization of the Marcomanni. The resettled Marcomanni were under the rule of the Huns from 433–451 and fought on their side in the Catalan fields , from which they never returned to Pannonia. The Marcomanni who remained in Bohemia were absorbed by the immigrating Slavs in the 7th century (last traces of Germanic settlement in Bohemia) and possibly contributed to the development of the Bavarians .

List of the traditional Marcomannic tribal leaders

According to Tacitus , the Marcomannic and Quadic "dukes or kings" came from the Marbod and Tudrus family until the 1st century AD .


Web links


  1. Strabo 7, 1, 3, p. 290C.
  2. ^ Ralf-Peter Märtin : Province of Germania. Marbod. In: The Varus Battle. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2010, p. 131. With regard to: Dieter Timpe : RG ( Roman-Germanic encounters ), p. 203. (see lit.)
  3. Velleius 2, 107; 2, 109, 1f.
  4. Märtin, p. 131. With reference to: Velleius 2, 109, 5.
  5. Velleius 2, 110; Cassius Dio 55, 28, 7-30, 1.
  6. Cassius Dio 55, 28, 6f .; Tacitus, Annals 2, 45, 3
  7. Peter Kehne: Marbod , RGA (Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde), Vol. 19, p. 260. With regard to: Tacitus, Annalen 2, 45, 3; 2, 46, 2.
  8. Tacitus, Annalen 2, 26, 3
  9. Tacitus, Annalen 2, 46, 2. in: Märtin, p. 132.
  10. Märtin assumes that Arminius was involved with a Cheruscan contingent in the suppression of the uprising and came back here. He refers to: Timpe, RG, p. 45.
  11. see Märtin, p. 159.
  12. Velleius 2, 119, 5
  13. Tacitus, Annals 2, 44, 2; 2, 46, 5
  14. See Haussig, p. 4, cf. also 12.
  15. Fritigil in