Ermanaric

Ermanaric

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Ermanaric was a Greuthungian
Greuthungi
The Greuthungs, Greuthungi, or Greutungi were a Gothic people of the Black Sea steppes in the third and fourth centuries. They had close contacts with the Thervingi, another Gothic people from west of the river Dnestr. They may be the same people as the later Ostrogoths.-Etymology:"Greuthungi" may...

 Gothic
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 King
Germanic kingship
Germanic kingship refers to the customs and practices surrounding kings among the pagan Germanic tribes of the Migration period and the kingdoms of the Early Middle Ages ....

 who before the Hunnic
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 invasion evidently ruled an enormous area north of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

. Contemporary historian Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

 recounts him as a "most warlike man" who "ruled over extensively wide and fertile regions". Late historian Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

 describes him as a Gothic
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 Alexander the Great who "ruled all the nations of Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

 and Germania
Germania
Germania was the Greek and Roman geographical term for the geographical regions inhabited by mainly by peoples considered to be Germani. It was most often used to refer especially to the east of the Rhine and north of the Danube...

 as they were his own". Ermanaric appears frequently in Scandinavian
Scandinavians
Scandinavians are a group of Germanic peoples, inhabiting Scandinavia and to a lesser extent countries associated with Scandinavia, and speaking Scandinavian languages. The group includes Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, and additionally the descendants of Scandinavian settlers such as the Icelandic...

 and Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon may refer to:* Anglo-Saxons, a group that invaded Britain** Old English, their language** Anglo-Saxon England, their history, one of various ships* White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, an ethnicity* Anglo-Saxon economy, modern macroeconomic term...

 legend.

Life


Ermanaric is mentioned in two Roman sources; the contemporary writings of Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

 and in Getica by the 6th century historian Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

.

According to Ammianus, Ermanaric is "a most warlike king" who eventually commits suicide, facing the aggression of the Alani and of the Huns, who invaded his territories in the 370s. All that Ammianus says about the extent of Ermanric's domain is that his lands were rich and wide. Ammianus also says that after Ermanaric´s death, a certain Vithimiris
Vithimiris
Vithimiris was a king of the Ostrogoths , ruling for some unspecified time in the area of today south Ukraine. He succeeded to Ermanaric, meaning that he probably reigned in 376. Ammianus Marcellinus, the only known source on him, states that after Ermanaric´s death he tried to resist the Alani,...

 was elected as a new king.


According to Jordanes
Jordanes
Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

' Getica, Ermanaric ruled of the realm of Oium
Oium
Oium or Aujum was a name for an area in Scythia, where the Goths under their king Filimer settled after leaving Gothiscandza, according to the Getica by Jordanes, written around 551...

. Jordanes also states that the king put to death a young woman named Sunilda with the use of horses, because of her infidelity. Thereupon her two brothers, Sarus and Ammius, severely wounded Ermanaric leaving him unfit to defend his kingdom from Hunnic incursions. Variations of this legend had a profound effect on medieval Germanic literature, including that of England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 (see Jonakr's sons
Jonakr's sons
Hamdir, Sörli and Erp were three brothers in Norse mythology, who have a historic basis in the history of the Goths.-Legend:...

). Jordanes claims that he successfully ruled the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 until his death at the age of 110.

Tales


In many Germanic tales, Ermanaric is ill-advised by Bicke, Bikka or Sifka, who wants revenge for the rape of his wife by Ermanaric. Also in some tales of Dietrich of Bern, Ermanaric is Dietrich's uncle who stole the kingdom. This adviser advised Ermanaric to kill those closest to him.

Ermanaric's names


Ermanaric's name in his native Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

 was probably Aírmanareiks. However, because he is referred to in literature throughout the Germanic world right up until the 13th century his name takes many forms:

Latin names:
  • in Jordanes
    Jordanes
    Jordanes, also written Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat, who turned his hand to history later in life....

    ' Getica, he is called Ermanaricus or Hermanaricus, but some of the manuscripts even have Armanaricus, Hermericus, Hermanericus etc.
  • in Ammianus' Res gestae, he is Ermenrichus (his name occurs only once).


Germanic names:
  • in the Old English
    Old English language
    Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

     epic Beowulf
    Beowulf
    Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

    he is Eormenric,
  • in Old Norse
    Old Norse
    Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

     he is Jörmunrekkr,
  • in Middle High German
    Middle High German
    Middle High German , abbreviated MHG , is the term used for the period in the history of the German language between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German and followed by Early New High German...

     Ermenrich.


He is also called Hermanaric, Erminrich, Emmerich, Ermanrik and many other names.

Since the name Heiðrekr was rather synonymous with Ermanaric, he is possibly identical to Heiðrekr Ulfhamr of the Hervarar saga
Hervarar saga
Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks is a legendary saga from the 13th century combining matter from several older sagas. It is a valuable saga for several different reasons beside its literary qualities. It contains traditions of wars between Goths and Huns, from the 4th century, and the last part is used as...

, who was said to have ruled the Goths for a long time.