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Title: Harudes  
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Subject: Alemanni, Suebi, Ariovistus, Favonae, Firaesi, Theories on the origin of Croats
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The Charudes or Harudes were a Germanic group first mentioned by Julius Caesar as one of the tribes who had followed Ariovistus across the Rhine. While Tacitus' Germania makes no mention of them, Ptolemy's Geographia locates the Charudes (Χαροῦδες) on the east coast of the Cimbrian peninsula (modern Jutland).[1] Their name suggests that they may have at one point settled in Hardanger in the county of Hordaland, Western Norway.[2]

People of classical times

Sometime before 60 BC, the "rex Germanorum" Ariovistus had been petitioned by the Celtic Sequani for assistance in their war against the Aedui. In return, Ariovistus was promised land grants in Gaul, although exactly where is not certain. Gathering forces from a wide area of Germany, Ariovistus crossed the Rhine with large numbers and defeated the Aedui at the Battle of Magetobriga. It is in the context of Ariovistus' subsequent land claims that the Harudes are first mentioned by Caesar:

"But a worse thing had befallen the victorious Sequani than the vanquished Aedui, for Ariovistus, the king of the Germans, had settled in their territories, and had seized upon a third of their land, which was the best in the whole of Gaul, and was now ordering them to depart from another third part, because a few months previously 24,000 men of the Harudes had come to him, for whom room and settlements must be provided." (Commentaries on the Gallic War, I.31)

In the following battle against Caesar near Vesontio (Besançon), the Harudes formed one of the seven tribal divisions of Ariovistus' host. After suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of the Romans, the Germans fled back over the Rhine.[3]

The Harudes (in the graecized form "Charydes") are next mentioned in the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, in which Augustus claims that his fleet had "sailed from the mouth of the Rhine eastward as far as the lands of the Cimbri to which, up to that time, no Roman had ever penetrated either by land or by sea, and the Cimbri and Charydes and Semnones and other peoples of the Germans of that same region (Cimbrian peninsula) through their envoys sought my friendship and that of the Roman people".[4] The naval expedition in question took place in 5 AD under the generalship of Tiberius and is also attested by Velleius Paterculus.[5]

Germanic migrations

During the later age of Germanic migrations, the Harudes do not seem to appear in Jutland. Instead, the Angles and Jutes are there, who migrate to Britain. In Tacitus the Angles are further south. Perhaps not all the Harudes left Jutland, and the Harudes could have been a constituent of the Jutes. The central area in the east of jutland, a traditional district (syssel) of Jutland, is thought to be derived from Harudes. Its inhabitants were called harudes in Danish, and this tribe is suspected to be the founders of the first danish city in the center of east Jutland, called harusam or just Arus(City of the Harudes). This particular city was situated by the sea inside a great bay(called Vik which led to the name vikings) and with a natural port, later became the center of the danish viking kings empire. The remainings of this ancient city and the tribe called Harudes, have been found under todays Capital of the danish mainland, Aarhus. In the 500 years of the Danish/British viking reign(700-1200) the city was known as Aros and is described by several written sources and the city name was stamped on all the coins, the viking kings had made in their capital.

Norway and beyond

The Angles were probably occupying territory abandoned at least in part by the Harudes, as the latter migrated into Norway. There they are believed to be the Hǫrðar people who settled in Hordaland and gave name to the fjord Hardanger.

In a second theory, the Hǫrðar are identical to the Arochi dwelling in the Scandza mentioned in the Getica of Jordanes, which dates to the 6th century, but might refer to any time prior to then. The ch in that case would be a corruption of th, with the initial h not expressed.

Jordanes had read Ptolemy, but he claimed to be writing of times before those of Ptolemy. A comparison of Germanic geography in the works of the two men has raised some questions concerning the direction in which some Germanics migrated. On the whole, based on Jordanes, the direction has been taken to be southward from Scandinavia, and it is possible that the Charudes of Ptolemy's Jutland arrived there in prehistory from a more ancient Hordaland.

On the other hand the Hǫrðar could have intruded locally and late into Norway. Some have expanded this idea into a theory that the Goths originated in Germany and entered Scandinavia in the age of Germanic migration. As this hypothesis discounts Jordanes' judgement but accepts his tribal picture, it is not generally accepted.


Latin Harudes is also attested in Old English as Hæredas and related to Old Norse Hörðar "Hords, inhabitants of the Hardangerfjord in Norway". This name is considered to be an extension of Germanic *xaruþaz (IE *k^osdho) "forest" (cf. OE harað, OHG hard "mountain forest, wooded hills", MHG hart), making the Harudes the "forest-dwellers".[6] This root is considered to stem from Indo-European *k^óss meaning "pine, conifer",[7] akin to Russian sosná "pine", Greek kônos "pinecone, pine-seed, cone", kôna "pitch", kýneion "hemlock; giant fennel", Oroshi sānĵ "post".

See also

Ancient Germanic culture portal
  • List of Germanic peoples



  • Cleasby, Vigfusson, Craigie, Icelandic-English Dictionary, Oxford, 2nd edition, 1957, ISBN 0-19-863103-0
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