DUERINCK’S TURINGII THURINGII TRIBE PORTAL
Last revised February 1, 2007
Preface: This is a first attempt at collecting any information regarding the germanic Turingii (Thuringii) Tribe or their forebears. When I say "tribe", we are really speaking of a confederation of people from different tribes as will be discussed below. The timeline I am interested in is between 100 or 200 BC and 725 AD. This information here is a start, with the hopes of attracting scholarly attention for additional material. My intent is to document with primary or secondary sources, and scholarly tertiary sources, which is no small feat considering this tribe is not well documented at all. What concerns me is the incorrect data on the Thuringian rulers found on the internet. Mention of the likes of Hoger and Erpes, Wedelphus, and Meerwig (Merovech) as Thuringian rulers is sheer fantasy. Further, as you will read in the next paragraph, the Thuringians were not from Scandinavia. The enlightened direction now is from the East. If possible, the informed reader should read material by Berthold Schmidt, Bruno Krueger, Herbert Schutz, and Guenter Behm-Blanke. If you are able when emailing me, please cite sources.
The Thuringian kingdom started to show a unified culture only some 50 years after the first mentioning of the name Thuringian ("Toringi") "circa" 400 AD. The first mention of this tribe is from a Roman veterinarian named ____. [Source: "Gesellschaft und Kunst der Germanen--Die Thueringer und ihre Welt" by Guenter Behm-Blanke (Verlag der Kunst, Dresden 1973); "Die Thueringer" by Berthold Schmidt, in "Die Germanen", volume II, editor Bruno Krueger (1978); citing Krueger and Behm-Blanke is "The Germanic Realms in Pre-Carolingian Central Europe, 400-750" by Herbert Schutz (2000, page 400)]. Besides the veterinarian, other early sources on the Thuringians include the following: Sidonius Appolinaris (died 479 AD); "Variae" by Cassiodorus; "Getica" by Jordanes (~551 AD); "Bello Gothico" by Procopius; "Historia Francorum" by Gregory of Tours (573-575 AD); "Vita Radegundis" by Venantius Fortunatus (~550 AD); "Chronicle of Fredegar" (late 7th century); also see Paulus Diaconus (~800 AD).
There are books out there that allege that the Turingii tribe came from Scandinavia. These views are based on an incorrect theory first set forth by Gustav Kosinna, a 19th century linguist turned archaeologist. The Turingii were, however, from the Elbe and Saale Rivers in middle Germany. At some point, some of the tribe also migrated to the Rhine, which they then crossed, all the way to the Coal Forest [present day Kempen ("Kampines"), Belgium). This "western" Turingii kingdom, concurrent with the one in Thuringia, was just east/northeast of the Franks Gaul in the 400’s to 500’s AD in what is now Belgium and Netherlands and part of northern Germany. [Source: Michel Rouche in "Clovis"]. Note that Berthold Schmidt thought that the Anglii and Warnii were a component of the new Turingii tribe, but Schmidt alleges that the Warnii were an east germanic people (thus ties to the eastern tribes of the steppes), when, in fact, there are no sources to make that statement. The Warnii, while probably contributing to the makeup of the Turingii, certainly were not an east germanic tribe, but rather, were from the Mecklenberg, Schleswig-Holstein area.
The Thuringians enlarged their territory after the defeat of the Alamans [496 AD] by Clovis (from the Latin Chlodovechus or Chlodovoeus, meaning Louis), they came to the Rhine near Utrecht and Xanten (present day Netherlands), reaching “Tongeren” in north-east of present day Belgium. [Source: Rouche p.429-433]. The Thuringians were able to attack the Franks through the Coal-Forest which was situated North-South in the Campines (Kempen,actual Belgium) and not east-west as Kurth meant. [Source: Rouche p.429-433]. Notes re Tongria, a current issue: From "History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire" by Edward Gibbon (Volume III) "[20: Dubos has satisfied me (tom. i. p. 277 - 286) that Gregory of Tours, his transcribers, or his readers, have repeatedly confounded the German kingdom of Thuringia, beyond the Rhine, and the Gallic city of Tongria, on the Meuse, which was more anciently the country of the Eburones, and more recently the diocese of Liege.]"
The Translation below is (mine, not polished) from "Grundlagen und Anfange: Deutschland bis 1056" by Friedrich Prinz (1985), pages 79-80, and he correctly does not mention the alleged Scandinavian connection:
"Also the people of the Thueringer [the Turingii] formed at the latest in the 4th century from different Germanic tribes, whereby probably the Anglii and Warnii formed the principal part; their [Tueringer or Turingii?] name is still around at the beginning of the 9th century, so that there may have never been a complete fusion of these individual tribes into one tribe. The germanic origin from the Elbe River area is assured, likewise the fact that the politically leading Anglii and Warnii from the area Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg, under the pressure from the Saxons, moved to the south, which caused the formation of this large, consolidated Thuringian tribe." [Source: Prinz]
"... Charles the Great...Lex Angliorum Werinorum, hoc est Thuringorum?... then this speaks likewise for the key position of the two branches or tribes specified first. Uncertainly, if wrong, is also not the derivation of the Thueringernamens from the Hermunduren. Thuringia, the central area of present day Germany, takes its name from the Turingii tribe. Around 500 AD, because the Thueringer kings were expanding into the west into Main [River] area, Theoderich the Great (Ostrogoth) sought to have the Turingii’s into his anti-Frankish alliance. The marriage of Theoderic’s niece Amalaberga with King Herminafried served this goal. Theoderich's idea failed because of the death of the Ostgoten by a concerted attack of the Merovingians (Franks) under King Dagobert I. Under the Franks, Thuringia was now a Frankish duchy, at which point Duke Radulf stepped in [assumed he was a Neustrisch Burgundian, although another author called him a duke from the Frankish tribe.]. Toward the end of the 7th century it appears that Wuerzburg was the principal place of the Thuringian duchy, and its duke at the time was Heden II. 716 AD is the last time .... After that, Thuringia was controlled and ruled by the Carolingian Kings under Charles Martell. Certainly the diocese of Wuerzburg around 800 was part of an organized Frankish king province." [Source: Prinz]
From “Getica” by Jordanes, as translated by Charles Mierow:
“… country of the Suavi has on the east the Baiovari, on the west the Franks, on the south the Burgundians and on the north the Thuringians.” [Source: Jordanes 281]
“Now in the island of Scandza, whereof I speak, there dwell many and divers nations…. But still another race dwells there, the Suehans, who, like the Thuringians, have splendid horses.” [Source: Jordanes. He is comparing the Suehans to the Thuringians, NOT saying that the Thuringians were from Scandinavia. kd]
In "later times" the Thuringii are said to have held the territory from the Danube to the Lower Elbe river. (source?). Michel Rouche in his book on Clovis (Frankish King) states that the Thuringians were on the Elbe and Saale Rivers. Rouche p.539-541.
An internet author states: “A late occurring tribe which appeared in the highlands of central Germany, a region which still bears their name to this day - Thuringia. They evidently filled a void left when the previous inhabitants - the Alemanni Confederation - migrated south. It is unclear whether they were stay-at-home Alemanni, or simply a lesser tribe that was in the right place at the right time. Central Germany - Harz Mountain region, c. 280-c. 550”
Host Kingdom's German Tribes and Rulers
And on Froebel Web: “The current thinking on the ethnogenesis of the Thuringians suggests that they were mainly Angli and Warni, with possibly some connections to the Hermunduri, and that they formed a more durable confederation in what became Thuringia owing to pressure from the Saxons. Probably they moved gradually southward from Anglia-Schleswig and perhaps Mecklenburg.” The writer agrees with authority Friedrich Prinz’s "Deutschland Bis 1056" (1985) at pages 79, 80 and Malcolm Todd’s "The Northern Barbarians". Malcolm Todd in "The Early Germans", citing Bruno Krueger's "Die Germanen", volume II, states that the Hermunduri most likely "provid[ing] the core of the new grouping" of Thuringii. [Source: Todd at page 254, see also footnote 2]
"At the beginning of the third century the peoples of what is now central Germany regrouped themselves under the name of Alamans." In the fourth century the Thuringians took over from the Hermunduri. "This evolution continued until the fifth century when the last of these regroupings came into being – that of the Bavarians." [Source: "The Germanic Invasions" by Lucien Musset (1975), page 12.
The Turingii confederation was composed of some Anglii and Warnii tribe members, as mentioned above. The strongest evidence for a separate Anglian tribe in the Unstrut region in Thuringia is the Thuringian Law of 800AD, which specifically mentioned Angles and Warnians in Thuringia. Bruno Krueger, in "Die Germanen", mentions an administrative area (Gau/pagus) in medieval Thuringia called Engilin, Englide, etc. which retained the name of the Angles. This area was located at the Unstrut river and is archaeologically closely linked with East Holstein and East Schleswig, i.e. the areas of the northern Angles. Krueger also mentions the Werinoveld, Hwerenovvelt etc. which retained the name of the Warnians within the Thuringian kingdom. [Source: Bruno Krueger's 'Die Germanen' Vol. II].
As for preservation of the Turingii/Thuringian name, Doringo or Doringe Gau is one of the Saxon gaue/pagi [pagus means administrative area or district]. The area is north of Hildesheim in Lower Saxony. It preserved the name of the Thuringians because the area was part of the Thuringian kingdom until its destruction in 531 AD, at which time the Saxons received the northern part of the Thuringian kingdom (Franks took the southern half). The Saxons, going around the Harz Mountains, moved into the area north of the Unstrut and Helme Rivers, to the "Sachsgraben", a defensive wall near Wallhausen, which marked the south-eastern border of the Saxons and the northern border of the Thuringians. [Source: Dr. Hans Silberborth as to Saxons (and the Slavish Wends tribe?) receiving land from the war, in an article called "Chronik des Ortes Windehausen", not sure which book]. Not sure if Silberborth is saying that the Slavish Wends tribe also moved into part of the Thuringian kingdom after 531 AD: "Die Verwirrungen des Krieges nutzte ein slawischer Volksstamm, die Wenden, und überschritt die ungesicherten Grenzen nach Thüringen. Sie ließen sich in der Goldenen Aue nieder.".
Introduction: As usual, to figure out the kings and rulers of the Turingii tribe, we must look to whatever sources are available. As you know, there are not that many sources to examine for the Turingii tribe. Beware, that there are many sources on the internet that are incorrect. They might mention Hoger and Erpes, Wedelphus, and Meerwig (Merovech) as Thuringian rulers, which is nonsense. The book by St. Gregory of Tours, "The History of the Franks", which should not be taken as prime authority, does mention the Thuringians a bit. In the "Letters of St. Boniface", a man who actually worked in the region as a missionary, we see a lack of information regarding the Turingii, unfortunately. Of course St. Boniface was working in a time when the Turingii were officially subjugated to the Franks. I am reading a slew of other books as well. At this time I would like to mention one book, "Das Thüringer Königreich" by Rüdiger Gebser (2001), which appears to repeat the mistakes of Gustav Kosinna of the 19th century, and even goes one better, subjecting the reader to pure fantasy. Be aware that Wedelphus and rulers before him are not historically correct. Of course, the farther we go back in time, we run into the paucity of records as well as the constant movement of individual tribes and the formation of federations of tribes.
Errors:Compare Carney and James both of which have errors re Basina and undoubtedly other personages. See also Bisin I, II where it is alleged that Bisin I was born in 450 AD, not 390 AD. Sounds like Bisin I and Bisin II are being confused. Also, Bisin I (Basinus) had 3 sons. Which Basina is which? The names Banin, Bisin, Basin, Basinus, Bisinus are used interchangeably. You will see all 3 names used in books and on the internet. St. Gregory of Tours used Bisin. If you have any additions, corrections, let me know.
Before Banin, Bisin, Basin, Basinus, Bisinus: It is impossible to talk about Thuringian rulers before the reign of Banin I (also known as Bisin, Basin, Basinus, Bisinus). Some talk about Wedelphus, some mention Hoger and Erpes.
Here are the Thuringian Rulers (Turingii Tribe):
[Note before we begin: not sure what to do about Basina of Thuringia, born 398 AD. Gregory of Tours says that she married Clodio, Frankish King, parents of Merovech. [Source: St. Gregory of Tours, Historiae Francorum]. Was she the sister of Banin I? There is no source which gives her or Banin I's father.
--Banin I (Bisin, Bisinus, Basinus) born circa 390 AD, married Menia. Children:
Thuringian King Bisin II (Banin II) dies before 511 and divides his kingdom between his sons. Michel Rouche p.232 whose source was Gregory of Tours. His sons were Baderic, Hermanfrid (wife was Ostrogothic Princess Amalaberg) and Berthar. Hermanfrid beat his brother Berthar in battle and killed him. Berthar’s daughter Thuringian Princess Radegund later became the wife (and was also canonized a saint) of Frankish King Lothar I (=Chlotar I). Hermanfrid then joined with Frankish King Theuderic and moved against Baderic, killing him. Hermanfrid promised to share the kingdom of Baderic with Theuderic, but he never did. Frankish King Theuderic of the Ripuarian Franks then killed Hermanfrid in Zuelpich by pushing him over a wall. [Source: Historia (History of the Franks), by Gregory of Tours at III.4 to 8, translated by Lewis Thorpe]. Another source (internet?) stated that Hermanfrid was killed at the Battle of Bergscheidungen on the Unstrut River in 531 AD). However, Professor Herbert Schutz, PhD, citing sources, states that Hermanfrid died in 534 AD after concluding a treaty with Theuderic--that apparently Hermanfrid did not die in 531 AD. Schutz also repeats Gregory of Tours story of Hermanfrid being pushed over a wall to his death. [Source: "Tools, Weapons and Ornaments" by Herbert Schutz]
Princess Radegund, daughter of Berthar (Berthaire)(Berthachar), one of the kings of Thuringia. She was born ~519 to 520 AD Germany, married 537 AD, died on 13th August 587 AD with her funeral conducted by friend Saint Gregory of Tours. Her father Berthar was murdered by Berthar's brother, Hermanafrid, who in 531 was defeated by Frankish King Theuderic of Austrasia and King Lothar I (=Chlotar I) of Neustria. [Nota bene: Schutz states that the Saxons joined with the Franks in this campaign against the Thuringians. "Tools, Weapons and Ornaments" by Herbert Schutz] Frankish King Lothar I (=Chlotar I) took twelve year old Radegund captive and married her 6 years later. She was very pious. She founded a convent (Holy Cross or "St. Croix" at Poitiers) after she left Frankish King Lothar I (=Chlotar I) when he murdered her brother Berthachar. Venantius Fortunatus, a priest at Poitiers, wrote her biography. Radegund/Venantius Fortunatus wrote "De excidio Thuringiae", which means "The Fall of Thuringia". It is a story of her family, her murdered brother Berthachar, her cousin Hamalafred who was exiled to Constantinople (a response to Radegund's letter to Byzantium stated that Hamalafrid died "in the service of the emperor"--"Venantius Fortunatus" by Judith George). [Source: mentioned in "Women in Medieval Western European Culture" (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities) by Linda Elizabeth Mitchell]. Radegund also had a nephew Artachis [not known if Artachis was the son of Amalafrid or of Radegund's brother Baderic [(source: "Venantius Fortunatus" by Judith George)]. Source: Medieval France: An Encyclopedia (Garland Encyclopedias of the Middle Ages) by William W. Kibler, page 778 (1995).
From "The Letters of Saint Boniface" December 722 AD: "Pope Gregory to his distinguished sons Asulf, Godolaus, Wilareus, Gundhar, Alvold and all the faithful of Thuringia who are beloved of God." [Source:Letter XI in the Emerton translated edition, into by Thomas Noble. Online etext at: Catholic Forum or on the Medieval Sourcebook web site]. At this time I am unable to identify these personages, but the Thuringians were under Frankish domination, being ruled by Frankish dukes and then the Frankish king.
"And that he [Theodoric the (Ostra)Goth] might extend his family as much as possible, he sent his sister Amalafrida (the mother of Theodahad, who was afterwards king) to Africa as wife of Thrasamund, king of the Vandals, and her daughter Amalaberga, who was his own niece, he united with Herminafred, king of the Thuringians." [Source: From "Getica" by Jordanes, as translated by Charles Mierow].
Tacitus cites a "Salt Battle" around the year 58 AD. It occurs over the salt springs of a river in the border area of the Chatten (Chattii)(the today's Hessen) and the Hermunduren, which came out as glorious winners.
The Thuringians, or at least a part of them, were destroyed by the victory of the King of the Ripuarian Franks, Theuderic ("Austrasia"), who in 531 at Zuelpich defeated and killed the Thuringian King Hermanafrid. [St. Gregory of Tours says that the Frankish King Theuderic invited Hermanafrid to join him at Zuelpich and that "somebody" pushed Hermanfrid over the city wall.]. One writer states that Hermanfrid was killed at the Battle of Bergscheidungen on the Unstrut River in 531 AD (source?).--Schutz states that Hermanafrid was killed later in 534 AD, after concluding a treaty with the Franks. The Thuringians were massacred by the Franks at this battle. Current thinking is that the Saxons helped the Franks crush the Thuringians and that some of the Saxons took possession of some areas that formerly belonged to the Thuringian kingdom, i.e. the Doring Gau. Of course the Saxons would have been part of the Frankish kingdom at this time [Source: "Die Germanen", Volume II by Bruno Krueger]. Radegund's aunt, Amalberga, and cousin, Amalfred, escaped to Byzantium. As Radegund states in one of her letters: "Oh Amalfred, ... [s]on of my father's brother, kindly kinsman."
It should be noted that Amalberga and Amalfred were chased out of Thuringia first by Theodoric the Ostrogoth, so they fled to Ravenna, Italy. In 540 AD, Ravenna fell to the Romans under Belisarius, so they then fled to Byzantium (Constantinople), where Amalfred rose to the ranks of magister militum under Justinian. [Source: Procopius B.G. VIII, 25. 11-12 as cited by "A History of the Ostrogoths by Thomas Burns (1991)]. Curiously, there is no mention of Amalfred's sister Rodelinda.
It is known that the Thuringians committed at least one big cruelty. It is described that they massacred “100 virgins” from an adjacent tribe, who where given as hostages to guarantee a treaty. When the treaty was broken, the girls were thrown under the wheels of heavy carts. [is this not the hostages from the Franks?]
The Thuringii tribe practiced inhumation, so the Thuringian kings would have been buried whole rather than cremated. [Source: many books and confirmed by the archaelogical dig at Gispersleben, Germany.] Saint Radegund, a saint and Thuringian princess, formerly a wife of Frankish King, was originally buried outside the walls of her convent in Poitiers, and later was buried in the Church of Sainte-Radegonde, Poitiers, France. Her coffin there is raised up on pillars. [Her body was burned by Calvinists that discovered her grave in 1562 at the original burial site.]
^Turingii royal grave--Photo copyright by Dr. Eckhardt Schön.
1. "In 1983 at Zeuzleben (Zuzeleibe) Thuringian-Frankish Adelsund Gefolgschaftsgrablege with 75 graves from the 6th and 7th Century were opened. Besides predominantly human graves, also nineteen animal graves were counted (15 horses and 4 dogs). In the multi-storey main grave, centrally laid, a young woman who was probably an outstanding personality bestattet (wife or a daughter of King Baderic). She had been placed on a four-wheeled car, at approximately 4 meters of depth. This old Thuringian aristocracy grave, whose structure is like that of graves at Gispersleben, is a crucial reference that in the area around the Wern, a kingdom of Baderic could have been." [Source: "Das Thüringer Königreich" by Rüdiger Gebser (2001)]. The reader should be sure to consult an authority on the Turingii, Berthold Schmidt.
2. Der Spangenhelm von Stößen: "At the south edge of the city in 1929 was discovered with the dismantling of a grave field from the time between 450 - 650 A.D. One of the 200 found graves was particularly deep. It was a wood chamber grave and probably belonged to a partial king of the Thueringer. In this grave gilded clips a helmet was found, which was made in an eastern Goth workshop. The gold helmet one knows in the museum in Halle, Germany." [Note: speaking of the Spangelhelm, but we cannot tell from the evidence who it belonged to, only where it was made. Quoted material translated from the Stoessen site, although claims of a "partial king of the Thueringer" is stretching it a bit. It was probably a helmet of an eastern Goth nobleman. We'll never know.]. The Stoessen stadt site: Stadt Stößen--Der Stößner Goldhelm
3. "The main royal courts of Merwig II. (which probably were those of his grandfather) could have been southwest of Moebisburg (Merwigsburg) from Erfurt. In addition, the Rote Berg by Gispersleben (hermundurisches princess grave is here) as well as the old Thuringian grave of the Kleinen Roten Berg (grave assumed to be that of the wife of King Berthachar is here), whereby the Petersberg, which forms exactly the center of these two places, would have fulfilled the function of the central Thingplatzes in the beginning of the sixth century [Note from Kevin: A “Thing” was an ancient Nordic/Germanic gathering of the people in an outdoor setting, so Thingplatz would be a central gathering place.]" Source: "Das Thüringer Königreich" by Rüdiger Gebser (2001), which appears to be based on the fine archaeological work by Dr. Eckhardt Schoen. Oldest Thueringer village at Gispersleben (Excavations between Gispersleben and Tiefthal. Press report of the Thuringian national newspaper from the early summer 2002: Archaeologist makes sensational find: The oldest Thueringer village was discovered in Gispersleben).
4. Richly furnished graves in the Elbe/Saale region of central Germany were discovered. They date from the late third and early fourth century AD. The best known are the ones at Hassleben and Leuna. [Source: "The Early Germans" by Malcolm Todd, page 253, citing "Leuna: Ein germanischer Bestattungsplatz der spaetroemischen Kaiserzeit" by w. Schulz (Berlin 1953)]
5. An Alemannic cemetery dated 400 to 500 AD found in Germany at Eichstetten/Wannaberg. Finds include an Ostrogothic influenced brooch, a coin of the Ostrogoth King Theodoric the Great and a glass vessel from Ostrogothic northern Italy.
6. Frankish King Clovis I died in 511 AD and is buried in Saint Denis Basilica, Paris, France (in the introduction to History of the Franks by St. Gregory of Tours, page 17, it says he was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles which later became Sainte Genevieve. He must have been buried later at Saint Denis.). Childeric, his father, is buried 481-482 AD at Tournai (Doornik), Belgium.
7. Human remains have been found during peat cutting in northwestern Europe, especially in Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Denmark. These have been given the name of "bog bodies." There are skeletons, well preserved complete bodies, and parts. Date ranges are from 8000 B.C. to the early medieval period. "Bodies of the Bogs", Archaeology Dec. 10, 1997. Read "Through Nature to Eternity: The Bog People of Northwest Europe" by Wijnand van der Sanden (1996), an authority on bog bodies.
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