From The History of the Langobards by Paul the Deacon, translated by William Dudley Foulke, LL. D.; The Department of History, University of Pennsylvania; New York: Longman, Green & Co., 1906; pp. 315-317.






Bruckner (Sprache der Langobarden, pp. 24 to 32) remarks that it is usual to consider the Langobards as a Suevian and therefore a High-German stock, but that Müllenhof in his discussion concerning the German peoples on the North and Baltic seas pronounces the Langobards to be Ingvæones1 closely allied in saga and history with the peoples of the peninsula of Jutland. As evidence that the Langobards are Suevians, the statements of Tacitus and Ptolemy and the progressive change of mute consonants which has taken place in the Langobard language are adduced. But with Tacitus and Ptolemy many tribes were included under name of Suevi that were not of Suevian origin, for example the Angles who were Ingvæones, and with these authors the name Suevi possibly had a political meaning designating the great league made under Marobod. That the Langobards in their language made the progressive change in mute consonants common to High-German, Bruckner does not consider conclusive, since even in their abodes on the lower Elbe they were neighbors of the Suevi, and after their migration to the south at the end of the third century they completely lost their connection with other Ingvæones and came into contact with numerous High German races until at last in Italy they became the neighbors of the Bavarians and 316 the Alamanni. If, therefore, the same changes of language occurred in the Langobard as in the High-German dialects, this would not prove the Suevian origin of that people.

On the other hand, Langobard jurisprudence does not closely resemble that of the Franks and other High-German races, but forms a group with that of the Old-Saxons and Anglo-Saxons. A series of similar legal principles has been collected, the relationship between Langobard and Saxon law has been shown, as well as certain characteristic resemblances in Anglo-Saxon and Langobard constitutions and a great similarity between Langobard and Scandinavian laws and customs.

The vocabulary of the Langobard language shows numerous points of close resemblance with that of the Anglo-Saxon and the Old-Saxon, particularly in legal expressions, and the inflection agrees in the few points which we can recognize with certainty and indeed in some points in which the Old-High-German varies from the Old-Saxon and the Anglo-Saxon. Thus the Langobard shows the distinction between long and short syllabled i roots in the nominative singular and between short and long syllabled feminine a roots which latter distinction occurs elsewhere only in Anglo-Saxon.

There is also a remarkable resemblance in saga and myth. For example, the Langobards gave special reverence to Wotan and his wife Frea whose worship was indigenous to the people of North Germany and Scandinavia, but not to the High-German races. It is further known that the Anglo-Saxon hero Sceaf is named in the Widsith or Traveller’s Song (see Hodgkin, V, 176) as king of the Langobards, (Koegel, Geschichte d. d. Litteratur, i, 104). Bruckner finds a resemblance in the names of the kings of the Langobards, as shown by the genealogy of Rothari, with those of the kings of the Anglo-Saxons; and he also refers to the fact that the old Langobard costumes were similar to those of the Anglo-Saxons (Paul, IV, 22). For these reasons he believes that the language of the Langobards became 317 modified after their migration toward the south, and he places that people with the Anglo-Frisian group of Ingvæones.

Hodgkin (V, 152, 153) also speaks of the difference of opinion as to the ethological position of the Langobards, mentions the contention of Bluhme for their Low-German character, and that of Schmidt (p. 74) for their High-German origin, and thus concludes: “We have in the Lombards, as I venture to think, a race originally of Low-German origin, coming from the coasts and islands of the Baltic, and closely akin to our Anglo-Saxon forefathers. So far the case seems clear, and probably the Lombards spoke a pure Low-German dialect when they dwelt in Bardengau by the Elbe and when they fought with the Vandals. But by about the middle of the second century after Christ they gravitated towards the great Suevic confederation and visited, in its train, the lands of the Middle Danube, where (if I read their history aright) they remained more or less persistently for nearly four hundred years. This surely was a long enough time to give a Suevic, that is, a Swabian or High-German character to their speech, sufficient time to change their B’s into P’s, their G’s into K’s, and their T’s into Z’s before they emerged into the world of book-writing and book-reading men.”


1  Tacitus (Germania, II) divides the West-German peoples into three principal classes, Ingvæones (or Ingvævones), Hermiones and Istævones from the names of the three sons of Mannus from whom they were supposed to be descended. The Ingvæones lived by the sea (id.) and included the Low-German tribes (Zeuss, 70,71).

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