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The Silings or Silingi (Latin: Silingae, Ancient Greek Σιλίγγαι - Silingai) were an East Germanic tribe, probably part of the larger Vandal group. According to most scholars, the Silingi lived in Silesia. The name Silesia and Silingi are likely related.

The Silingi were part of the migratory movements of the Vandals, into the Iberian peninsula and later on to North Africa, which was one of the causes of the fall of the Western Roman Empire.


Ancient sources

Claudius Ptolemaeus wrote that they had lived south of the Suebi-Semnone tribe:

Back below the Semnones the Silingae have their seat, and below the Burguntae the Lugi Omani, below whom the Lugi Diduni up to Mt. Asciburgius; and below the Silingae the Calucones and the Camavi up to Mt. Melibocus, from whom to the east near the Albis river and above them, below Mt. Asciburgius, the Corconti and the Lugi Buri up to the head of the Vistula river; and below them first the Sidones, then the Cotini, then the Visburgii above the Orcynius valley.[1]

Tacitus in his description of Magna Germania mentions Suevi: Marsigni, Osi, Gothini, Burii in what later became Prussian Silesia and Burgundiones and Lygii at the Vistula.[2]

During the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, (A.D. 161 - 180) the Silingi lived in the "Vandal mountains", later part of the former Sudetenland which now is part of the Czech Republic.[3]

The region Silesia

The name of the region Silesia and the name of the Silingi are most likely related, although it is not obvious how.

The name "Silesia" is perhaps derived from "Silingi". The nearby river was named Silingula. Alternatively, the river name may be preindoeuropean (as is a number of the toponyms in the area) in which case, the name of the Silingi would originate from it.

The river's name was borrowed by Slavs after their invasion in the 6th century A.D. as Sьlęža or Sьlędza>Sьlęza (from Silingja or Silinga ) - today Ślęza. The Slavic tribe that lived near the Sьlędza (or Sьlęža) river was named Sьlędz-jane which later evolved into Sьlęžane, then the Modern Polish Ślężanie. The land of Sьlęžane was named Sьlęžьsko, which evolved into Old Polish Ślążsko, now Modern Polish Śląsk, Czech Slezsko, Latin Silesia, West-Germanic-Proto-Old High German Slesia, Modern High German Schlesien.

The name of the territory Silesia is often assumed to either derive from the river or the mountain now called the Sleza River or Mount Sleza. The hill was a religious center of the Silingi, and derives its name from them.[4]

The hill that was the Silingi religious grove and which possibly lent the entire region the name Silesia, is situated south-south-east of modern day Wroclaw (Breslau).[5] The Silingi lived north of the Carpathian Mountains, in what now is Silesia, the name of which can be traced back to the Silingi from the regional name "Schlesien" through intermediate Slavic forms.[6]

After the migratory movement of the 5th century, any Silingi remaining in Silesia were most likely slowly replaced in the sixth century by a trickle of Slavic populations ("people of the plain").[7] With the exception of Upper Silesia, minor Germanic groups settled the area in the 10th century, but Silesia was conquered by the Dukes Mieszko I and Boleslaw I (Polish kingdom) just before the year 1000, although Germans continued to move there also under Polish rule.[8] .The dukes Mieszko and Boleslaw held liens from the Holy Roman Empire).

See also


  1. ^ "The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy", Book II, Chapter 10: "Greater Germany"", English translation published by Dover Publications, 1991, reduplication of the public domain publication of 1932 by The New York Public Library, N.Y., transcript
  2. ^ A System of Ancient and Mediaeval Geography, Magna Germania P 216
  3. ^ John Hugo Wolfgang, Gideon Liebeschuetz "Decline and Change in Late Antiquity", 2006, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 086078990X p.61 (google Books)
  4. ^ Adrian Room "Placenames of the World", McFarland 2004m ISBN 0786418141 p.333 (Google books)
  5. ^ Anthony Richard Birley, "Agricola and Germany" 1999, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0192833006 p.130 (Notes to pages 56-60) (Google books)
  6. ^ Andrew H. Merrills, "Vandals, Romans and Berbers: New Perspectives on Late Antique North Africa", 2004, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 0754641457 p.34, (Google Books)
  7. ^ T. Hunt Tooley "National Identity and Weimar Germany: Upper Silesia and the Eastern Border", 1997 University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803244290 p.6 (Google Books)
  8. ^ T. Hunt Tooley "National Identity and Weimar Germany: Upper Silesia and the Eastern Border", 1997 University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0803244290 p.7 (Google Books)


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