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The Alamanni and Rome 213-496(Caracalla to Clovis)$
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John F. Drinkwater

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199295685

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199295685.001.0001

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Society

Society

Chapter:
(p.117) 4 Society
Source:
The Alamanni and Rome 213-496
Author(s):

John F. Drinkwater (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199295685.003.0005

The Alamanni were led by regional hereditary chieftains, whom the Romans called reges, ‘kings’ and their kingdoms pagi, ‘districts’. Under the kings were optimates, ‘nobles’. An unpopular king might be challenged by his nobles, and there was probably chronic elite-rivalry that led to internal feuding and external raiding of neighbours. In order to maintain peace on the frontier, Rome may have intervened to keep allied chieftains in power: part of a cosy symbiosis of mutual exploitation that also inhibited the emergence of an Alamannic ‘Great King’. There was little sense of common political identity. The existence of larger units—‘constituent tribes’ (‘Teilstämme’)—of Alamanni is unlikely. Alamannic population was mixed, consisting of Elbe-Germani, residual Romans, refugees from the Empire, and Roman soldiers and civilians still patrolling and exploiting the region. At c.120,000 it was, compared with the Empire, relatively low.

Keywords:   constituent tribes, Teilstämme, elite-rivalry, Great King, Alamannic population

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