Depiction of Magna Germania in the early 2nd century, including the location of the Silingi

The Silings or Silingi (Latin: Silingae; Ancient Greek: ΣιλίγγαιSilingai) were a Germanic tribe, part of the larger Vandal group. The Silingi at one point lived in Silesia, and the names Silesia and Silingi may be related.[1][2][3][4][5]


The Silingi are first mentioned by Claudius Ptolemaeus in the 2nd century, who wrote that they had lived south of the Suevic Semnone tribe and north of the Carpathian Mountains, around what now is Silesia:

Back below the Semnones the Silingae have their seat, [...]; and below the Silingae the Calucones and the Camavi up to Mt. Melibocus, from whom to the east near the Albis river and above them, below Mt. Asciburgius, the Corconti and the Lugi Buri up to the head of the Vistula river.[6]

The tribe of Nahanarvali is speculated by modern scholars to be the same people as the Silingi. Tacitus Germania, 43 mentions the Naharvali as the keepers of sanctuary of the Lugian federation (the grove to twin gods Alcis). Tacitus does not mention the Silingi; however, he places the Naharvali in about the same geographical area in which Ptolemaeus placed the Silingi.[7]

According to some historians, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 161–180), the Silingi must have been among the Vandals who were reported to have lived in the "Vandal mountains", possibly the Sudetes, which are now is part of the Czech Republic.[8]

Pushed westwards by the Huns around 400, the Vandals crossed the Rhine into Gaul in 406 and the Pyrenees into Iberia in 409.[9][10] While the other main Vandal group, the Hasdingi, settled in Gallaecia, the Silingi settled in Baetica. In 419, following Roman-sponsored attacks by the Visigoths against the Silingi in 417–18, the remnants of Silingi and the Alans voluntarily subjected to the rule Hasdingian leader Gunderic, who had fled from Gallaecia to Baetica after having been defeated by a Roman-Suebi coalition. After Gunderic's succession by Genseric in 428, the Vandals relocated to North Africa, where they established a kingdom centered at Carthage. The kingdom collapsed in the Vandalic War of 533–4, in which Justinian I managed to reconquer the Africa province for the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

After the migratory movement of the 5th century, any Silingi remaining in Silesia were most likely slowly replaced in the sixth century by an influx of people holding the Prague-Korchak cultures, who are supposed to be new Slavic tribes migrating from the east.[11]

The region of Silesia

Main articles: Silesia § Etymology, and Silesian tribes

According to some historians, the names of Silesia and the Silingi are related.[12] Another hypothesis derives the name of the mountain and river, and hence the region, from the old Polish word "Ślągwa", meaning "humid" or "damp", reflecting the climate of the region.[13]

The name of the territory of Silesia is often assumed to either derive from the river or the mountain now called the Ślęza River or Mount Ślęża. The hill was a religious center of the Silingi, situated south-south-east of modern-day Wrocław (Breslau),[14][15] although the religious importance of the location dates back to the sun-worshipping people of the Lusatian culture, as early as 1300 B.C.[13]


Corps Silingia Breslau (de) is a student organization (Studentenverbindung) that has been operating since 1877, currently (2010) in Cologne, Germany, as Corps Silingia Breslau zu Köln (Silingia Corps Wrocław in Cologne).[16]


  1. ^ Jerzy Strzelczyk, "Wandalowie i ich afrykańskie państwo" p. 59, Warszawa 1992.
  2. ^ Norman Davies, Roger Moorhouse "Mikrokosmos", p.70, Kraków 2003
  3. ^ Jerzy Krasuski "Historia Niemiec" p. 13, Wrocław 1998.
  4. ^ Andrzej Kokowski "Starożytna Polska" p. 260, Warszawa 2006.
  5. ^ Jerzy Strzelczyk, "Wandalowie i ich afrykańskie państwo" p. 29, Warszawa 1992.
  6. ^ "The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy", Book II, Chapter 10: "Greater Germany"", English translation published by Dover Publications, 1991, reduplication of the public domain publication of 1932 by The New York Public Library, N.Y., transcript
  7. ^ J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz, "Gens Into Regnum: The Vandals". IN: Hans-Werner Goetz, Jörg Jarnut, Walter Pohl (ed.), "Regna and Gentes: The Relationship Between Late Antique and Early Medieval Peoples and Kingdoms in the Transformation of the Roman World", Brill, 2003, ISSN 1386-4165, p.62.
  8. ^ J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz "Decline and Change in Late Antiquity", 2006, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 0-86078-990-X p. 61 (google Books); also see his similar discussion "Gens Into Regnum: The Vandals" p.61. Cassius Dio 55.1.
  9. ^ Waldman, Carl; Mason, Catherine (2006). Encyclopedia of European Peoples (Regional History on File). New York: Facts on File. pp. 821–825.
  10. ^ "Spain: Visigothic Spain to c. 500". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  11. ^ T. Hunt Tooley "National Identity and Weimar Germany: Upper Silesia and the Eastern Border", 1997 University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0-8032-4429-0 p.6 (Google Books)
  12. ^ Andrew H. Merrills, "Vandals, Romans and Berbers: New Perspectives on Late Antique North Africa", 2004, Ashgate Publishing, ISBN 0-7546-4145-7 p.34, (Google Books)
  13. ^ a b Paweł Jasienica, "Polska Piastów" (Piast Poland), Munken, 2007, pg. 35
  14. ^ Adrian Room "Placenames of the World", McFarland 2004m ISBN 0-7864-1814-1 p.333 (Google books)
  15. ^ Anthony Richard Birley, "Agricola and Germany" 1999, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-283300-6 p.130 (Notes to pages 56–60) (Google books)
  16. ^ "Corps Sillingia: Home".

See also