Chamavi
Encyclopedia
The Chamavi were a Germanic tribe of Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

 and the European Dark Age
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD Germania
Germania (book)
The Germania , written by Gaius Cornelius Tacitus around 98, is an ethnographic work on the Germanic tribes outside the Roman Empire.-Contents:...

of Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 as a Germanic tribe that, for most of their history, existed along the North bank of the Lower Rhine in the region today called Hamaland
Hamaland
Hamaland is a non-administrative region in the east of the Netherlands that is named after the Frankish Chamavi-tribe. It is located east of the river IJssel and south of Salland and Twente . Hamaland and the Chamavi were in Late antiquity ruled by independent kings...

 after them, which is in the Gelderland
Gelderland
Gelderland is the largest province of the Netherlands, located in the central eastern part of the country. The capital city is Arnhem. The two other major cities, Nijmegen and Apeldoorn have more inhabitants. Other major regional centers in Gelderland are Ede, Doetinchem, Zutphen, Tiel, Wijchen,...

 province of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. Tacitus (op. cit. 34) locates them to the west of the Frisii
Frisii
The Frisii were an ancient Germanic tribe living in the low-lying region between the Zuiderzee and the River Ems. In the Germanic pre-Migration Period the Frisii and the related Chauci, Saxons, and Angles inhabited the Continental European coast from the Zuyder Zee to south Jutland...

.

Origins

Tacitus says (35) that the Chamavi had moved into the lands of the Bructeri
Bructeri
The Bructeri were a Germanic tribe located in northwestern Germany , between the Lippe and Ems rivers south of the Teutoburg Forest, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia around 100 BC through 350 AD....

. As to why the Bructeri were no longer there, the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 is phrased in such a way as not to reveal the details:
pulsis Bructeris ac penitus excisis vicinarum consensu nationum...

the Bructeri having been expelled and utterly destroyed by an alliance of neighboring peoples...


As these same neighbors became the later Salian Franks
Salian Franks
The Salian Franks or Salii were a subgroup of the early Franks who originally had been living north of the limes in the area above the Rhine. The Merovingian kings responsible for the conquest of Gaul were Salians. From the 3rd century on, the Salian Franks appear in the historical records as...

, the "consensus" mentioned is the first known agreement among them.

These passages in Tacitus raise the question, if Hamaland is the former territory of the Bructeri, where were the Chamavi before then? One answer is that they occupied the coastal plain to the north (Germans moved almost invariably from north to south). Many settlements are named Hamm, including possibly a modern city, Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

. The name may have come from the Germanic equivalent of Chamavi.

The best etymology derives Ham- from common Germanic *haimaz, "home", from Indo-European *tkei-, "settle", from which the High German
High German languages
The High German languages or the High German dialects are any of the varieties of standard German, Luxembourgish and Yiddish, as well as the local German dialects spoken in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg and in neighboring portions of Belgium and the...

 place-name suffix, -heim. The ham- form, "settlement", seems to have come from North Sea Germanic
Ingvaeonic
Ingvaeonic , also known as North Sea Germanic, is a postulated grouping of the West Germanic languages that comprises Old Frisian, Old English and Old Saxon....

 (id. name Henry), as we acquired it through Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. The -avi, an adjectival ending, later resulted in -au in other place names, but was dropped in this one. Chamavi in this derivation would mean "men of the settlements" or "settlers." When and in what sense they were so is lost in prehistory.

Movement up the Rhine

The Annales
Annals (Tacitus)
The Annals by Tacitus is a history of the reigns of the four Roman Emperors succeeding Caesar Augustus. The surviving parts of the Annals extensively cover most of the reigns of Tiberius and Nero. The title Annals was probably not given by Tacitus, but derives from the fact that he treated this...

 of Tacitus tells an apparently contradictory story (13.55). To keep the Roman soldiers of Lower Germany occupied, their commanders sent them over the Rhine and into vacant lands to work on a canal. Due to a dispute with the Roman commanders of Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, the soldiers were withdrawn, but the Frisians sent men to occupy the land. The Romans expelled them. The Ampsivarii
Ampsivarii
The Ampsivarii, sometimes referenced by modern writers as Ampsivari , were a Germanic tribe mentioned by ancient authors....

 took up the cause. They claimed the land had been occupied by the Chamavi, followed by the Tubantes
Tubanti
The Tubantes were a Germanic tribe, living in the eastern part of The Netherlands. They are often equated to the Tuihanti, whom we know from two inscriptions found near the wall of Hadrian. The modern name Twente possibly derives from the word Tuihanti, the name mentioned on two sacral inscriptions...

 and the Usipetes. Why had the lands of the Chamavi become vacant? We know they were there later as Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

.

Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 gives us the answer indirectly. In Geographia
Geographia (Ptolemy)
The Geography is Ptolemy's main work besides the Almagest...

 (2.10), he tells us that the Kamauoi (Latinized to Camavi) were next to the Chaerusci, who in Tacitus are in Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germany...

 near Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-L√ľneburg...

, or perhaps Thuringia
Thuringia
The Free State of Thuringia is a state of Germany, located in the central part of the country.It has an area of and 2.29 million inhabitants, making it the sixth smallest by area and the fifth smallest by population of Germany's sixteen states....

 and Anhalt
Anhalt
Anhalt was a sovereign county in Germany, located between the Harz Mountains and the river Elbe in Middle Germany. It now forms part of the state of Saxony-Anhalt.- Dukes of Anhalt :...

. Apparently, some Chamavi abandoned their lands to move upriver.

Two other peoples of Ptolemy wear the *haimaz name: the Chaemae
Chaemae
The name, Chaemae, were an ancient Germanic tribe cited by Ptolemy in his Geography as Chaimai, which also can be written in English, Khaimai. Ptolemy tells us next to nothing about them, only that they were next to the Bructeri. That little turns out to be a great deal...

 and the Banochaemae
Banochaemae
The Banochaemae, Baenochaemae, Bainochaimai or Bonochamae were a Germanic tribe recorded by Ptolemy. According to him, they lived east of the Chamavi tribe, near the Elbe river....

. These polities were in what became the High German range. There is no reason to assume they were the Chamavi, although the identification cannot be ruled out either. Ptolemy treats them as distinct peoples.

With the Salian Franks

When next the Chamavi appear, history finds them keeping Salian company. At some time after Ptolemy the lowlands around and in what was once the Zuider Zee
Zuider Zee
The Zuiderzee was a shallow bay of the North Sea in the northwest of the Netherlands, extending about 100 km inland and at most 50 km wide, with an overall depth of about 4 to 5 metres and a coastline of about 300 km . It covered...

, now part of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, became occupied by a people called the Salii
Salian Franks
The Salian Franks or Salii were a subgroup of the early Franks who originally had been living north of the limes in the area above the Rhine. The Merovingian kings responsible for the conquest of Gaul were Salians. From the 3rd century on, the Salian Franks appear in the historical records as...

 ("salt-water people"), no doubt by a simple change of name, either their own or someone else's. There were probably elements of both Frisians and Chamavi, with a sprinkling of Batavian pirates. They became a distinct ethnic polity and immediately began to unsettle the region, becoming troublesome to the Romans. They are almost always found in association with Chamavi.

The name of the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 was assigned to the Salians right from their first debut on the stage of history. The Panegyrici Latini
Panegyrici Latini
The Panegyrici Latini or Latin Panegyrics is a collection of twelve ancient Roman panegyric orations. The authors of most of the speeches in the collection are anonymous, but appear to have been Gallic in origin. Aside from the first panegyric, composed by Pliny the Younger in 100 CE, the other...

, a series of twelve speeches given in praise of Roman emperors, describe the efforts of Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
Constantius I , commonly known as Constantius Chlorus, was Roman Emperor from 293 to 306. He was the father of Constantine the Great and founder of the Constantinian dynasty. As Caesar he defeated the usurper Allectus in Britain and campaigned extensively along the Rhine frontier, defeating the...

, father of Constantine the Great, to pacify the Franks, who are kept distinct from the Chamavi. These Panegyrici are often attributed to Eumenius
Eumenius
Eumenius , was one of the Roman panegyrists and author of a speech transmitted in the collection of the Panegyrici Latini .-Life:...

, magister memoriae (private secretary) to Constantius, resulting in the compromise name of pseudo-Eumenius.

Conflict with the last emperors of Rome

In the late 3rd century Constantius, as described by the Panegyrici, found it necessary to remove the Franks from Belgium again and again, and yet he drew back from annihilistic solutions. Leaving the peaceful Franks in place, he deported the captured soldiers and their dependents, who were called laeti
Laeti
Laeti, the plural form of laetus, was a term used in the late Roman Empire to denote communities of barbari permitted to, and granted land to, settle on imperial territory on condition that they provide recruits for the Roman military...

, to vacant lands in Burgundy, where they worked the land and served in the Roman army. We know the Chamavi were among them because there was a settlement pagus
Pagus
In the later Western Roman Empire, following the reorganization of Diocletian, a pagus became the smallest administrative district of a province....

 (Ch)amavorum
(French; Amous) . These Franks later rose to the high ranks, coming to dominate the Roman army on the Rhine.

Some Romans at least did consider the Chamavi to be Franks. On the Peutinger
Tabula Peutingeriana
The Tabula Peutingeriana is an itinerarium showing the cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire. The original map of which this is a unique copy was last revised in the fourth or early fifth century. It covers Europe, parts of Asia and North Africa...

 map, which dates to as early as the 4th century, is a brief note written in the space north of the Rhine,
Hamavi qui et Pranci

The Hamavi, who are also Franks


The Chamavi also appear in the 5th century Notitia Dignitatum
Notitia Dignitatum
The Notitia Dignitatum is a unique document of the Roman imperial chanceries. One of the very few surviving documents of Roman government, it details the administrative organisation of the eastern and western empires, listing several thousand offices from the imperial court down to the provincial...

 as a Roman military unit. Long before then, however, we hear of them in a letter of Flavius Claudius Julianus (Julian the Apostate, because he reverted from Christianity to paganism) to the Athenians. He says that he forced the Salii to sue for peace and drove the Chamavi out of Gaul.

The full story is told in Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus
Ammianus Marcellinus was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity...

 (17.8-9). The two tribes knew they were where they were not supposed to be, but apparently were hoping not to have to fight. When Julian approached with a business-like force, they sent envoys begging for peace in exchange for returning home and promising to stay there. Julian dismissed them with assurances but with no definite answer and then secretly trailed the envoys to the locations of their armies, which he attacked with the element of surprise. Some of the Chamavi were killed, others put in chains, and the rest fled to their homes, to send envoys later petitioning Julian from a supine position. This time peace was accepted. The Chamavi were to make payments of grain, but none were probably ever made, due to further Roman troubles.

Fading

Life for the Chamavi thus went on. We have a hint as to their language from the 5th century Lex Salica, a body of law developed by the Salians themselves. On one manusript are written glosses which are considered the earliest attestations of Old Dutch
Old Dutch
In linguistics, Old Dutch denotes the forms of West Franconian spoken and written in the Netherlands and present-day northern Belgium during the Early Middle Ages. It is regarded as the primary stage in the development of a separate Dutch language...

 (Old West Low Franconian). Gregory of Tours
Gregory of Tours
Saint Gregory of Tours was a Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of Gaul. He was born Georgius Florentius, later adding the name Gregorius in honour of his maternal great-grandfather...

 also mentions the Chamavi as being among the Franks. The name and the unity proved unusually enduring, as the Lex Chamavorum Francorum is known from the 9th century, and was official under Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

. After that they vanish from their province by diffusion into the new population of the Netherlands. The age of tribal polities was finished in west Europe.
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