THE GERMANIC SUEBI TRIBE – ENEMIES OF ROME: SOME THOUGHTS OF GAIUS JULIUS CAESAR – PROCONSUL OF ROME
The Suebi were a Germanic Heathen Tribe who lived mainly in what is now modern central and southern Germany between the Elbe and along the mighty and sacred Rhine River. Thus, they lived on the borders of ancient Gaul. The modern German region Swabia gets its name from the Suebi and some of their language survives in the modern German language and Swabian dialect.
Julius Caesar wrote about the Suebi as he came into contact and conflict with them in his campaign in Gaul on the left bank of the Rhine. Caesar describes the Suebi, in his book, “De Bello Gallico,” “The Gallic Wars,” which is highly recommended for students of military and heathen history. In that campaign, Caesar conquered the Gauls, and fought the neighboring Germanic tribes, including the Suebi. Initially during the Roman campaign in Gaul, the Suebi gained some advantage and crossed over to the West Bank of the Rhine. However, Caesar and Rome defeated the Suebi led by their leader Ariovistus, at the Battle of the Vosges in 58 BCE. In that battle, Caesar command six legions (estimated strength of 25,000-30,000) and the Suebi had a force of around 15,000 men. Many Suebi were taken prisoner, but the rest of the Suebian Army escaped by retreating to the East Bank of the Rhine. Rome did pursue and was unable conquer them inside of Germania. Caesar regarded the Suebians as the most warlike of the Germanic Tribes. The Suebian warriors were distinguished by the distinctive Suebian knot hairstyle they wore. The knot was created by dividing long hair into two strands and then pulling in opposite directions then twisting and tightening in the same direction and the excess on one end of a strand is then put through a loop on the other end of a strand.
Here is an excerpt from Caesar’s work “The Conquest of Gaul.”
“The nation of the Suebi is by far the largest and the most warlike nation of all the Germans. They are said to possess a hundred cantons, from each of which they yearly send from their territories for the purpose of war a thousand armed men: the others who remain at home, maintain [both] themselves and those‐engaged in the expedition. The latter again, in their turn, are in arms the year after the former remain at home. Thus, neither husbandry, nor the art and practice of war are neglected. But among them there exists no private and separate land; nor are they permitted to remain more than one year in one place for the purpose of residence. They do not live much on corn, but subsist for the most part on milk and flesh, and are much [engaged] in hunting; which circumstance must, by the nature of their food, and by their daily exercise and the freedom of their life (for having from boyhood been accustomed to no employment, or discipline, they do nothing at all contrary to their inclination), both promote their strength and render them men of vast stature of body. And to such a habit have they brought themselves, that even in the coldest parts they wear no clothing whatever except skins, by reason of the scantiness of which, a great portion of their body is bare, and besides they bathe in open rivers.
Merchants have access to them rather that they may have persons to whom they may sell those things which they have taken in war, than because they need any commodity to be imported to them. Moreover, even as to laboring cattle, in which the Gauls take the greatest pleasure, and which they procure at a great price, the Germans do not employ such as are imported, but those poor and ill‐shaped animals, which belong to their country; these, however, they render capable of the greatest labor by daily exercise. In cavalry actions they frequently leap from their horses and fight on foot; and train their horses to stand still in the very spot on which they leave them, to which they retreat with great activity when there is occasion; nor, according to their practice, is anything regarded as more unseemly, or more unmanly, than to use housings. Accordingly, they have the courage, though they be themselves but few, to advance against any number whatever of horse mounted with housings. They on no account permit wine to be imported to them, because they consider that men degenerate in their powers of enduring fatigue and are rendered effeminate by that commodity. “
Heil der Suebi! Hrolfr - Chieftain OWT
Picture of a Suebian knot on a skull.