It seems that the Suavi survived the Ostrogothic attack and remained in the Danubian Suavia (or Savia or Pannonia Savia). We may draw this inference from Paul the Deacon who in his History of the Lombards cites from the Origo Gentis Langobardorum to claim that the Langobards subdued the Suavi apparently after they defeated the Heruli in 508-512 (causing the Heruli to, in part, head for Scandinavia through the lands of the Slavs) but before they entered Pannonnia (about 546) from Moravia where the Heruli kingdom used to be – right next to that of the Rugii).
We know this because Paul and Origo claim that this happened during the reign of Wacho or Waccho, a Langobard who helped himself to the Langobard throne by killing the prior occupant of the same, Tato in the year 510 but who ended his career in about 539-540, i.e., supposedly before the Langobards entered Pannonia (there is some doubt here given what Paul writes as to the length of the Langobard stay in Pannonia before they left for Italy in 568).
We give here both the cite from Paul and the original version from the Origo.
Paul the Deacon, Book I, chapter 21
“But after these things Tato indeed did not long rejoice in the triumph of war, for Waccho, the son of his brother Zuchilo, attacked him and deprived him of his life. Tato’s son Hildechis also fought against Waccho, but when Waccho prevailed and he was overcome, he fled to the Gepidae and remained there an exile up to the end of his life. For this reason the Gepidae from that time incurred enmities with the Langobards.”
“At the same time Waccho fell upon the Suavi and subjected them to his authority. If any one may think that this is a lie and not the truth of the matter, let him read over the prologue of the edict which King Rothari composed of the laws of the Langobards and he will find this written in almost all the manuscripts as we have inserted it in this little history.”
“And Waccho had three wives, that is, the first, Ranicunda, daughter of the king of the Turingi (Thuringians); then he married Austrigusa, the daughter of the king of the Gepidae, from whom he had two daughters; the name of one was Wisegarda, whom he bestowed in marriage upon Theudepert, king of the Franks, and the second was called Walderada, who was united with Cusupald, another king of the Franks, and he, having her in hatred gave her over in marriage to one of his followers called Garipald. And Waccho had for his third wife the daughter of the king of the Heroli, by name Salinga. From her a son was born to him, whom he called Waltari, and who upon the death of Waccho reigned as the eighth king over the Langobards. All these were Lithingi; for thus among them a certain noble stock was called.”
Origo Gentis Langobardorum, Part IV
“Claffo, the son of Godehoc, reigned after him. And after him reigned Tato the son of Claffo. The Langobards settled three years in the fields of Feld. Tato fought with Rodolf king of the Heruli and killed him and carried off his banner and helmet. After him the Heruli had no kingly office. And Wacho the son of Unichis killed king Tato his paternal uncle together with Zuchilo.”
“And Wacho fought, and Ildichis the son of Tato fought, and Ildichis fled to the Gippidi where he died. And to avenge his wrong the Gypidis made war with the Langobards.”
“At this time Wacho bent the Suabians under the dominions of the Langobards.”
“Wacho had three wives : (first) Raicunda, daughter of Fisud king of the Turingi. After her he took as his wife Austrigusa a girl of the Gippidi. And Wacho had from Austrigusa two daughters; the name of one was Wisigarda whom he gave in marriage to Theudipert king of the Franks, and the name of the second was Walderada whom Scusuald king of the Franks had as his wife, but having her in hatred he transferred her to Garipald for a wife. He had as his third wife the daughter of the king of the Heruli, Silinga by name. From her he had a son, Waltari by name. Wacho died and his son Waltari reigned seven years without posterity. They were all Lethinges.”
C.H. Mierow in his translation writes of this passage: “It is hard to see what people are designated by this name. The Suavi who dwelt in the southwestern part of Germany, now Suabia, are too far off. Hodgkin (p. 119) suggests a confusion between Suavia and Savia, the region of the Save. Schmidt says, “There is ground to believe that this people is identical with the Suevi of Vannius who possessed the mountain land between the March [Morava] and the Theiss [Tisa].”
Of course, if these were the Suavi of Savia or Pannonia Savia then the problem would be solved. Therefore, we would have Suavians in the 520s-530s in the Danube area (though Hunimund may not have been so lucky himself – we do not know).
Incidentally, Wacho’s insurrection also brings into question the location of the Slavs in another way. One of the claimants to the Langobard throne was one Hildigis who fled (a number of times), in Procopius’ version, to the Slavs – where these were is also uncertain and a subject of great speculation. A topic for another day.
Finally, if you think it odd that a number of the Langobard names sound like Slavic diminutives or nicknames, we agree – although the same can be said of some Bavarian rulers and, perhaps, of some Goths. It is also true that much later Adam of Bremen made the claim that the Slavic lands, i.e., Slavia were basically occupied by the Winuli – apparently, the Langobards’ original name – though this may be taken with a grain of salt given that Adam also called the Winuli Vandals – a tribe which was the main antagonist of the Langobards in the History of the latter (and indeed how the Langobards got their name is linked, of course, to their fight with the Vandals). Whether Wisegarda had anything to do with the Visegrád Castle (tall hard/burgh) in Hungary or Višegrad town in Bosnia on the Serbian border, is another question – probably not but the name is curious.
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