Map showing the Roman empire in AD 125 and contemporary barbarian Europe, showing two possible locations of the Sitones. One, based on Tacitus, places them in central Sweden. Another view places them roughly in modern Estonia and/or Finland.

The Sitones were a Germanic people living somewhere in Northern Europe in the first century CE. They are mentioned only by Cornelius Tacitus in 97 CE in Germania.[1] Tacitus considered them similar to Suiones (ancestors of modern Swedes) apart from one descriptor, namely that women were the ruling sex.

Upon the Suiones, border the people Sitones; and, agreeing with them in all other things, differ from them in one, that here the sovereignty is exercised by a woman. So notoriously do they degenerate not only from a state of liberty, but even below a state of bondage.[2]

Speculations on the Sitones' background are numerous. According to one theory, the name is a partial misunderstanding of Sigtuna, one of the central locations in the Swedish kingdom, which much later had a Latin spelling Situne.[3][4][5]

Another view is that the "queen" of the Sitones derives by linguistic confusion with an Old Norse word for "woman" from the name of the Kvens or Quains.[6][7][8]

According to medievalist Kemp Malone (1925), Tacitus' characterization of both the Suiones and the Sitones is "a work of art, not a piece of historical research", with the Sitones' submission to a woman as the logical culminating degeneracy after the Suiones' total submission to their king and surrendering of their weapons to a slave.[9]

See also


  1. ^ "Worshiping Power- An Anarchist View of Early State Formation" (PDF).
  2. ^ Tacitus, Germania, Germania.XLV
  3. ^ Svenskt Diplomatorium I nr 852. Originalbrev. Pope Alexander III's address to king Knut Eriksson and Jarl Birger Brosa in the 1170s.
  4. ^ Heinrich Gottfried Reichard took this view in his edition of the Germania; Pauly's Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft in alphabetischer Ordnung, ed. August Pauly, Christian Walz and W.S. Teuffel, Volume 6.1 Pra - Stoiai, Stuttgart: Metzler, 1852, OCLC 165378771, p. 1226 (in German)
  5. ^ Charles Anthon, A classical dictionary containing an account of the principal proper names mentioned in ancient authors and intended to elucidate all the important points connected with the geography, history, biography, mythology, and fine arts of the Greeks and Romans: Together with an account of coins, weights, and measures, with tabular values of the same, New York: Harper, 1841, repr. 1869, OCLC 52696823, p. 1244.
  6. ^ Gudmund Schütte, tr. Jean Young, Our Forefathers, the Gothonic Nations: A Manual of the Ethnography of the Gothic, German, Dutch, Anglo-Saxon, Frisian and Scandinavian Peoples, Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1929–33, OCLC 2084026, p. 126.
  7. ^ Gwyn Jones, A History of the Vikings, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University, 1984, ISBN 9780192851390, pp. 24–25.
  8. ^ Kyösti Julku, Kvenland - Kainuunmaa, Studia historica septentrionalia 11, Oulu, 1986, OCLC 757840399 (in Finnish), p. 51, writes that "there is no indistinctness whatsoever about the geographical location of the Sitones" and places them in Kvenland - areas north and northeast of the Suiones (later Sveas, Swedes) - as Kven ancestors.
  9. ^ Kemp Malone, "The Suiones of Tacitus", The American Journal of Philology 46.2, 1925, pp. 170–76, pp. 173–74.