Permanent Elbe-Germanic settlement in Alamannia developed from the later 3rd century, scattered along the upper Rhine and upper Danube, and up the Main and Neckar. Its frequent proximity to the imperial frontier suggests that it grew up under Roman sufferance. Most settlements were small, simple, and rural, and did not continue the previous Roman socio-economic order, or Roman levels of agriculture, industry, or commerce. However, there was also a range of extra-rural hill-sites (‘Höhensiedlungen’), the grandest of which were probably seats of local royal power, again perhaps constructed under Roman licence. Alamannia was always subject to shifts in population, as migrants, traders, and raiders circulated in an area that extended from Basel to Bohemia (the ‘Elbe-Germanic triangle’). From the Roman viewpoint, these became ‘Alamanni’ when they entered Alamannia, and Elbe-Germani when they left. Besides Romans, the Alamanni had to deal with Germanic neighbours, in particular Franks and, usually hostile, Burgundians.
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