The first phase of contact between the Alamanni and Rome lasted from 213 to the end of the 3rd century. The Alamanni were not part of any great invading Germanic ‘folk-migration’ (‘Völkerwanderung’); they evolved gradually, in the process now termed ‘ethnogenesis’, as bands of Germanic raiders from the Elbe region moved westwards. These raiders attacked other Germani, and then, increasingly, as it succumbed to a complex of internal weaknesses and unrest that comprised the 3rd-century ‘Crisis’—the Roman Empire. This crisis caused Rome to withdraw from beyond the upper Rhine and Danube, making available land close to the frontier in which it tolerated some Elbe-Germanic settlement as protection against further raiders. These settlers the Empire called ‘Alamanni’, and their territory ‘Alamannia’—names with clear Germanic roots (‘All men’), but which were nevertheless probably Roman designations. Closely associated with the Alamanni, and offering insights into their development, were the Iuthungi.
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