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Hermeric

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Dec 16, 2021

Hermeric (died 441[1]) was the king of the Suevi from at least 419 and possibly as early as 406 until his abdication in 438.

Early 5th-century King of the Suebi

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Later medieval representation of Hermeric

Nothing is known for sure about Hermeric before 419, the year in which he is first mentioned; namely, he became king of the Suebi (or Suevi) in the city of Braga (Bracara Augusta) according to bishop Hydatius (who wrote his chronicle around the year 470).[1] Although bishop Isidore of Seville, writing his Historia de regibus Gothorum, Vandalorum et Suevorum two centuries after the fact, claims that Hermeric was already king of the Suebi from 406,[2] Isidore based himself on primarily on Jerome, Hydatius, Prosper of Aquitaine and Orosius, none of whom mentions Hermeric prior to 419.[1]

Hermeric was a pagan and an enemy of the Roman Empire throughout his life. He is given a reign of thirty-two years in most manuscripts of Isidore of Seville’sHistoria Suevorum, but one manuscript does list his reign as fourteen years.[3]

According to Thompson (1982)’s interpretation of Isidore, Hermeric led the Suevi across the Rhine along with the Vandals and Alans in December 406. They crossed Gaul and the Pyrenees and settled in Hispania.[3] Kulikowski (2000 & 2015) argued that the Suebi probably stayed in northern Gaul throughout 407 to 409, and moved to Galicia between 409 and 411.[1] While Theodore Mommsen believed the Suevi were foederati and Ernst Stein seconded the notion by believing they had made an agreement with the Roman usurperMagnus Maximus whereby they received the western half of Iberia, there is no primary evidence for any alliance between the Suevi and Rome.[4] In 411 (according to Ludwig Schmidt) or 417 (according to Felix Dahn), Hermeric made a treaty with the Roman emperorHonorius, but in fact the only event of note in 411 was the division of Iberia sorte (by lot) between the barbarian peoples.[4] The east of the province of Gallaecia with its capital of Braga (Bracara Augusta) fell to the Suevi, while the west of the province went to the populous Hasdingi.[4] Between 416 and 418, the Visigoths under Wallia made war on Hermeric on behalf of Rome.[4]

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