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Migration of the Cimbri and Teutons

The Teutons ( Latin : Teutones or Teutoni , Greek  Τεύτονες ) were, according to Roman sources, a Germanic people of antiquity who originally lived in what is now Jutland . The Teutons migrated around 120 BC. Together with the Cimbres from Jutland and moved to Italy (see Cimber Wars ).


The name teutones or teutoni , handed down from Greek and Roman sources , does not reveal any clear origin. It could be both Celtic and pre- Germanic . Since there were also a large number of similar words, it is not possible to draw a factual connection to specific locations. Most likely, the tribe was named by the Romans after the most important military leader (i.e. an opponent of the Romans) such as King Teutobod .

Settlement area

The Roman author Pliny was the first to report that the Teutons lived on the west coast of Jutland , probably south of the Cimbri , and profited from the amber trade there. In addition to a few deviations, Claudius Ptolemy settled the tribe between the Elbe and Oder, and this was also confirmed by other ancient sources. According to the ancient writers, a devastating storm surge finally forced the Teutons to leave their settlement area.

This suggests that the authors considered the Ambrones in what was later to be North Frisia as part of the Teutons. The Teutons are likely to have lived south of the Widuu and north of the Eider , including the fishing peninsula . Below this line, the graves of Longobards are occupied on the upper reaches of the Elbe , while fishing rods were native between the Elbe and Weser.


To this day it is not entirely clear how long and to what extent amber was once mined in Jutland. However, amber is believed to have been produced in the late 2nd century BC. BC represented a preliminary stage of money, making Jutland an attractive trading hub which, according to the latest research, maintained intensive trade relations with the Black Forest (the sources of the Danube). The depiction by ancient authors of devastating storm surges on the coast of Jutland is quite likely given the sinking of the island Südfall (with Rungholt ) in the Marcellus flood of 1362 in the former settlement area of ​​the Ambronen. The North Sea coast of Jutland has dramatically lost land several times over the past millennia.

When the Cimbri tribe around 120 BC Jutland left, the Teutons also joined the train. This led the tribes through Germania. The mention of the Roman fort Teutoburgium around 19 kilometers north of today's city of Vukovar is often seen as evidence of their involvement . It is unclear, however, whether they joined the Cimbri immediately or whether they followed them with some distance. Their participation in the battle of Noreia in 113 BC BC is documented by various ancient sources. The train later crossed the Rhine and, as Gaius Julius Caesar reported, devastated Gaul before they were defeated by the Celtic Belgians . The Teutons now turned against the Roman settlement area and defeated a Roman army in the battle of Arausio in 105 BC. Then the train separated. While the Cimbri moved to Spain, the Teutons stayed in Gaul. Only two years later did they reunite in a joint attack on the Roman Empire . The Teutons suffered under their king Teutobod in the battle of Aquae Sextiae in 102 BC. A crushing defeat.

After the battle, the Teutons are no longer mentioned in Roman sources. The parts of the Teutonic army that were not affected by the defeat, however, settled as Aduadici on the Meuse in the next few years . Caesar called the root of the Aduatuci as "descendants of the Cimbri and the 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.

The term "Teutons" in modern times

The common name German does not come directly from the name of the Latinized "Teutons". German - like the Italian tedesco - goes back to the Old High German thiutisk , diutisk , and this in turn is derived from thiot , diot "Volk, Stamm", which - like the Old Norse Thiuthæ - comes from the ancient Germanic word * theudō for "people" or " Stamm ”goes back. Diutisk originally meant something like "belonging to the people" or "speaking the language of the people" and has been used since the late Carolingian period to describe the non-Romanized population of the Frankish Empire , like the remnants of the Ostrogoths in the Holy Roman Empire , whose rights continued into the 12th century. Century, but also the fishing , Frisians and Saxons used.

However, the Romans ascribed the Furor teutonicus (Teutonic frenzy) to the Germanic tribes . The expression is usually attributed to the Roman poet Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (39–65 AD), in whose work Bellum civile it appears for the first time according to today's sources (Liber Primus, 255 f.). He was referring to a supposedly striking trait of the Germanic Teutonic tribe, the angry, pitiless (also with themselves), self-forgotten frenzy of the Teutons in battle. The term reflects the horror that the emerging Roman Republic first encountered Germanic tribes on their Italian territory in the 2nd century BC. Had seized. This was confirmed again from the Roman point of view after the Varus Battle and henceforth attributed to all Teutons. In a comparable way, 2000 years later, the Germans were portrayed as barbaric Huns in propaganda due to the so-called Huns speech of the German Emperor during World War I. During the time of National Socialism , the term “Teutone” was rediscovered and used as a propaganda tool. At the 1936 Summer Olympics , the German weekly newsreel initially gave the vague explanation for the record set by - according to Nazi racism - "non-Aryan" athlete Jesse Owens : Different races have different abilities . And then openly racist: "Indians" and "individual Negro tribes" could jump high or run fast, but the most important thing is the pentathlon and decathlon. Only there is the "even development of all muscles of the body" important, and consequently the representatives of the "Teutonic race" are in the lead . With similar pseudoscientific explanations, however, almost all European nations represented the "superiority of their white race" until the 19th century.

For a long time, older geographers saw the term Teutones as a collective name, depending on the interpretation, for the non-Celtic inhabitants of the North Sea coast or for all Germans. In the Middle Ages and beyond, the Latin adjective “teutonicus” was used in Latin texts as a (re) translation of “German” (for example in Ordo Teutonicus , the Teutonic Order ).

Sometimes a "typical German" is ironic as Teuton or Teutonic designated, either in terms of "a man of powerful robust build" or else i. S. v. "Deutschtümelnd". The term can address “(typically) German virtues, behavior or essence”, a “German peculiarity” and can be used and understood both admiringly, jokingly, but also disparagingly.

In the linguistic context, the rather newer term "Teutonisms" is used to designate words that are or have become customary mainly in the Federal Republic of Germany (formerly primarily West Germany), for example "Abitur" versus the older word "Matura" (or " Ösi "towards Austrians).

The word creation Teutonengrill, which was created during the time of the old Federal Republic (in the 1950s or 1960s) describes a sea beach that was mainly used by German-speaking holidaymakers for sunbathing and tanning. It referred in particular to the Italian Adriatic coast and was probably coined by the German media as an (ironic) word creation for a new holiday style that was particularly popular and financially viable at the time.


Web links

Commons : Teutons  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Teutone  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. S. Zimmer: Teutons. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). Volume 36, Berlin / New York 2005, pp. 368-369.
  2. Pliny 37:35.
  3. Ptolemy 2,11,9.
  4. More precisely: Alfred Franke: Teutoni. In: RE VA, 1, Sp. 1172f.
  5. Unless otherwise stated, this presentation is based on: Alfred Franke: Teutoni. In: RE VA, 1, Sp. 1173ff.
  6. Caesar, de bello Gallico 7,77,12.
  7. De bello Gallico, II 29: consensu eorum omnium pace facta hunc sibi domicilio locum delegerant
  8. ^ German newsreel from August 5, 1936.
  9. Alfred Franke: Teutoni. In: RE VA, 1, Sp. 1173.
  10. a b after Brockhaus Wahrig, German Dictionary , Sixth Volume, 1984. There iron. + typically in brackets.
  11. after Mackensen - Large German Dictionary , 1977.
  12. a b after Duden German universal dictionary. 5th edition. Dudenverlag, 2003.
  13. after Duden The great foreign dictionary. 2nd Edition. Dudenverlag, 2000.
  14. ^ After Brockhaus Wahrig, German Dictionary , Sixth Volume, 1984. Comparable in Mackensen, 1977.