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Discovering the Suevi Legacy in Modern-Day Galicia

In the 5th and 6th centuries, after the decline and collapse of the Roman Empire, a Germanic tribe ruled Galician lands. The coexistence of Germanic, Gallician, and Roman peoples left an imprint on the language and region that still persists today; including some peoples known as the Suevi.

How did Germanic words and names enter the region?

Caesar wrote about encountering Suevi people when he confronted a large army led by King Ariovistus already in 58 BC. For several centuries since then Roman emperors, commanders, and historians would be writing records of meeting or battling Suevi people especially along rivers Rhine, Elbe and Danube (todays Germany, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria).

In the 4th century, the Roman Empire was in decline and split. After the Great Persecution, Constantine the Great became the first Christian emperor and established Constantinople as the new capital of the eastern empire. The empire was divided between east and west, with Constantinople and Rome as power centres, and control over remote regions such as Galicia diminishing.

At the beginning of the 5th century, in 406 AD, a few thousand Suevian people led by Hermeric crossed the Rhine and wandered westward. After travelling thousands of kilometers, they eventually arrived in today’s Galicia.

Kingdom of Suevi and first of Catholic kings

Despite being a very small minority in the region alongside Gallicean and Roman people they established the Kingdom of the Suevi and Braga became their capital, with territory stretching in the valley of the Minho river and beyond. Interestingly evidence suggests that Suevi elites preferred rural lifestyle, taking up residence in Roman villas.

As much as the Suevi influenced the region and the local population, the region and the people influenced the Suevi, and the languages ​​and cultures became intertwined. The first Suevian king born in Gallaecia was Requiarius. He also became the first Germanic king to mint coins bearing his name, and through his close relationship with Bishop Balconius, Requiarius became, in 448 AD, one of the first catholic kings.

Discover the era with us

For around two centuries, Germanic Suevi people coexisted with the local Galician and Roman people, cultures, and languages blending together. Gradually, they converted to Christianity. Cities were expanded in a joint effort, and basilicas and monasteries were built.

Let us take you to discover how history shaped our region, and especially let’s not miss one of the few remaining monasteries from Suevi times: San Pedro de Rocas.

If you want to visit this monastery or learn more about the influence of the Suevi in Galicia, you can contact us here.

Written with assistance of 1455AI tools and with the documentation and references shown below. The Spanish version has been generated by GPT4.


Michel Kazanski. “The migration of the Vandals and the Suebi to the Roman West and archaeological accounts.” Acta Archaeologica Carpathica, 2020, 55, pp.197 – 214.

Széll, Gábor. “The crisis of the Kingdom of the Suebi relations with the Visigoths and the Romans (456–468).” Chronica 17 (2017): 91-99.

Martins, Manuela, et al. “The housing evolution of Braga between late antiquity and the early meddle ages.” (2016).

Wilczyński, Marek. “A Book for the King. Some Reflections on the Situation of the Roman Population and the Preservation of the Heritage of Ancient Civilization in Gallaecia and Lusitania in the 5th and 6th Centuries.” Vox Patrum 84 (2022): 51-78.

y Wikipedia: Suevi, Kingdom of Suevi, Roman Empire, Reichiar, San Pedro de Rocas

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