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The Herul migrations through Europe and to Iceland

This is a very interesting presentation about a Germanic tribe called the Heruls, that migrated all around Europe from the 1st century BC to the Viking era and finally ended up in Iceland. Unfortunately it is only available in Icelandic so i translated the main points of the recording

I will add more details when i get  time to translate


The Heruls were a nomadic tribe that spoke a Germanic language. They migrated from Denmark to the Black sea and back to Scandinavia in the Great migration period.Odins migration to Scandinavia (recorded in the Heimskringla) describes the original migration of the Heruls to Scandinavia, and not their home voyage to Denmark.



Odins migration to Scandinavia

 "In that time the lords of the Romans went... and conquered the world, yet many chieftains fled... from their own property... (Odinn) went first west to Garðaríki (Russia) and then south to Saxland (Saxony)...Then he went north to the sea coast and settled in... Odinsey in Fyn (one of the Danish isles)...Odinn settled around the Lögur(lake Malaren in Sweden), where is now called old Sigtuna."


Heimskringla:Ynglingasaga V chapter





Where did Odinn originally live?

  Odinn lived in " greater Svithiod" (Skythia Magna, southern Russia).(East) of "Vanakvislar"(Tanais) in "Asia"In "Ásgarður" in the great and walled city of Miðgarður. Odinn owned "great property" in "Tyrkland" that is Anatolia but there was among others the region named Phrygia (Odins wife was Frigg!) and later Galatia


At this time the Cimbri/Teutones who were mixed Germanic/Celtic tribes under Celtic leadership judging by their names, had migrated from Jutland peninsula and invaded the Roman empire. They annhilated several armies before being annihilated themselves. This was around 100 BC and their migration from the north left a power vacuum. Odin and his people migrated to there and became overlords over the natives. The amber trade no doubt also played a part in Odins migration north.



When did Odinn live?

 According to the number of generations of the Ynglinga saga around 100 BC. According to the number of generations of Skjöldunga saga, if "six forefathers" are put instead of "six brothers", around 100 BC. According to the number of generations before the Peace of Fróði=Pax Romana of Emperor Augustus, around 100 BC. According to the flight from the Romans 130-60 BC. Based on the conquests of Mithridates of Pontos  around 110 BC






Who was Odinn?

Illustration of a Scythian king by Angus Mcbride









 Odinn was a king north of the Black sea that migrated from there to Scandinavia and  disappeared from history. Only the last Scythian kings can be him,Skilaros(Skjöld?) and Palakos (Palabos=the mad one, Óð-inn, Óður=fury), his son.Their capital Scythia Neapolis in the Crimea, with tall walls(Asgard?).They had conquered Greek cities at the mouth of the southern Russian rivers(=Vanakvislar) 


The family of Odin and the Skjöldungs is Scythian:Aesir

The family of Njord/Freyr and the Ynglings is Greek:Vanir

A king north of the Black sea around  






Who were the Vanir?


The Greek cities on the Black sea were Ionian colonies from the western coast of Anatolia.Those Greeks were called in their dialect Y,vanes.The removal of "Y" leads to "Vanes" and "Vanir" cf to Hippodromos (Pothromos) became "Paðreimi" in Icelandic.These Greeks had a Ionian-Anatolian culture.



Origin of Odins escorts


Odins escorts consisted of Scythian nomads and soldiers, some of them tattooed,who had a Scythian artstyle. Greeks(Vanir,Ionians) from the cities on the Black sea, with Greek science,culture and mythology. Eastern-Celts, mercenaries with strong Etruscan influences from their former homes in the Eastern-Alps (runic alphabet,called their gods aeses etc)Without doubt more ethnic groups.



Where did the Heruls spread to?


Most of them stayed put after having settled in Denmark. A few went with Odinn to Sweden (1st century BC) and later to Trondheim, Norway (around 400 AD).Through Norway they went to Ireland (Tuatha De Danan)and  to Scotland (Skith/Petts/Pikts) 1st century BC.They travelled to the Rhineland (200-250 AD).They also migrated "Home" to Skythia (200-250 AD)

The "lesser" migrations 200-375 AD
The Visigoths and Ostrogoths settle around the Black sea, the Heruls settle around the sea of Azov between the rivers Don and Dnieper. The Ostrogoths settled west of the Dnieper, and the Visigoth even further west, but moved before the Huns invaded south to what is today called Wallachia in Romania. The third Gothic nation was the Gefids or Gepids, they settled in Transylvania or what the Romans called Dacia. It is interesting when the Heruls settle near the Black sea they become pirates raiding from in the years between 266-269. And they especially raid those cities and areas where the Galatians had raided before.  It is interesting that after the Heruls are noted at the Rhine in 286 AD, that then begin sea raids in the Baltic and on the coast of Britain, it is a striking coincidence.



The language of the Heruls

 Odins men spoke atleast three equal languages (Celtic,Skythian and Greek).Their subjects, which Odins men had to understand to be able to rule over, spoke a Nordic language.Odins men adopted the Nordic language(the"Danish tongue).The Danish tongue had become the Herul language around 100-200 AD. and the Heruls a special tribe.




  Classical sources for the Heruls



 Jordanes (history of the Goths,Getica) takes place until the 6th century. written in the 6th century. it is unreliable. 

Cassiodorus. is reliable 

Writings by Priscus. written in the 6th century.  he is reliable.

Prokopius (the Gothic wars). written and takes place in the 6th century. he is reliable.

Gregor of Tours (History of the Franks). takes place in the 5-6th centuries. written in the 6th centuries. rather unreliable.

Paulus Daconus (history of the Lombards). takes place to around 744. is very unreliable.






Icelandic and Germanic sources



Völsunga saga, Saga of Dietrich of Bern,Saga of Heiðrek and Hervör, the Eddas. Saga of Hrolf kraki,Saga pieces about ancient kings etc. The Ynglinga Saga,Skjöldunga saga.



German:the Niebelungenlied.



English: Beowulf,Widsith,Deor.


The "great" migrations 375-570 AD

They begin with the Huns crossing the Volga, pushing the Goths in southern Russia, who retreat away from them, and the Huns continue all the way to the Hungarian plains which suited their nomadic lifestyle. It is believed Attilla had his main quarters there. Now the Visigoths first invade the Roman empire, defeat the Roman emperor in 378 at the battle of Adrianople modern day Edirner in the European side of Turkey. Then they go on great raids south to Greece, Italy and end up west in France. There they were hired by the Western Roman empire to attack other tribes that had settled in Spain. They went there and in return got the region in southwestern France called Aquitaine. The Heruls and the Ostrogoths also start migrating, they settle in western Hungary, the Gepids stay put, and the Heruls follow the Huns. It is interesting that they settle in southern Slovakia, southern Moravia,Austria and possibly in Bavaria and likely also in Bohemia. They are allies of the Huns. Also Ostrogoths and other tribal nations. 451 AD the Huns invade west to Gaul or modern day France, there they fight the Visigoths and Romans and their allies. The battle was really a draw, yet the Huns withdrew so it is believed they were defeated as they didnt raid there after that. Three years later Attilla dies, and several years later the Heruls and Lombards (who had by then reached Moravia and were neighbours of the Heruls) and other tribes (Gepids) make an alliance to drive the Huns away and they succeed in doing so. The Huns are driven to the southwestern Russian planes and from that time onward it is not known how big a part they played in the Avars. The Avars settle in Hungary 567 AD. How great a part of the Bulgars we dont know either.The Bulgars were a some say Mongolian others say Finno-Ugric speaking tribe that settled in Bulgaria and the Bulgarians get their name from them although they adopted a Slavic tongue. The migrations of other peoples down from Russia is disputed. The Huns and Heruls were allies, and our old Icelandic sagas and poems and other literature are almost the only European literature where the Huns dont get a bad image, they are even spoken well of. According to Priscus the Heruls were court poets of Attilla. And it is suspected that the Heruls played a bigger part in the Hunnic command than was thought, although that is disputed. But in these period of Great migrations which begin 375 AD when the Huns cross the Volga and it is possible to say it ended 568 AD when the Lombards conquer a big part of Italy from the Byzantines, they are really the last large migrations which take place. In this period the Germanic nations that gave their names to western European countries are constantly on the move. the Heruls  had become a part of those nations which became Danes,Geats,Swedes and likely the Trondheimers and southern Norwegians likely also, possibly Scots and the Northern Irish and possibly the Franks.


The fate of the Danube Heruls


The Heruls enter conflict with the Lombards up from around 500 AD. And were either in alliances with them or fighting them, they fought a great battle around the year 512 AD where their luck started to wane, and after that the Lombards settled in Heruli lands and former territories of the Ostrogoths which had previously conquered Italy. From there they went in 568 and conquered Italy which the Byzantines had just recently retaken from the Ostrogoths. A portion of the Heruls then migrates back to Scandinavia again (according to classical sources) and a portion spreads out elsewhere. They disappear from the Black sea with the Huns, and they arent mentioned there except for the Crimean Goths who spoke Gothic or atleast some Germanic tongue until the 16th century, so a small portion of them remained there, as the Heruls were often confused with the Goths. When the Huns were on their conquests  then it is likely (and that is based on cultural influences that are noted around 400 and early in the 5th century in Danmark and southwestern Norway) that a portion of the Heruls had stopped their migration and went back to Denmark and from there to southwestern Norway, they were then migrating with the Rugians and Hardians, as they gave there names to the Norwegian provinces Hordaland and Rogaland, it is believed the island Rugen gets their name from the Rugians and Rygenwalde on the Pommerian coast, it is disputed whether the island Rugen is the Rygjaholm which the Holmrygir are named after, which are discussed in Harald fairhairs saga. Possibly it is connected to a portion of the Heruls, the migration from Sweden to Trondheim and there comes a eastern cultural import in these areas, but a portion of them settled to begin with in the Danube areas. There they dwelt in peace and they were allies of the Huns and fought with them, and like previously mentioned the Icelandic sagas and poetry are almost the only literature where the Huns dont have a bad image. This connection between Icelandic literature and the Huns is suspicious, and they cannot be unless through the Heruls. But what was then the fate of these Danubian Heruls. As explained they were defeated by the Lombards and a portion of them went to home to Denmark, there are two accounts of that: one says that they went directly home, but another says that they went along the Danube, through the Carpathian mountains  and home by sea through the Wisla river, that they went the same route as the Heruls migrated originally to the Danube, they had known it quite well. Some portion of them went with the Lombards to Italy, and the speaker says jokingly that Italian writers and artists are descended from these Heruls as most of them are North-Italians. A portion went to Serbia (disappeared there possibly), it is peculiar with the werewolves that they are an important part of Serbian folk beliefs. There are unclear sources that they went to the area called Cattara on the Adriatic coast and from there up to Montenegro, it is peculiar with the Montenegrans that they didnt have kings, they were ruled by their bishop, and were divided into families and clans and had chieftains, many things similar with the Icelanders and Montenegrans, whether that is from Heruls the speaker wont say, but he says its a possibility .


Collection of ancient Sagas and the Heruls



Saga of Theoderich of Bern:



Rhine Heruls, perhaps composed by an Icelander in Norway?






Nordic Heruls, adopted to Nordic situation and topography.



The Niebelungenlied:



Danube Heruls?, composed in Bavaria, after Icelanders )in Reichenau)?






Rhine-,Danube and Nordic Heruls






Sources for the Heruls in Scandinavia



Ancient Sagas, King Sagas, Icelandic Sagas etc



Icelandic material ( about events from the 1st century BC-13th century AD).



Western and Russian reports of the Vikings and Varangians (annals etc., 8-11th century AD).



Vita Ansgarii (9th century AD) and Adam of Bremen (9th century AD).



Saxo Grammaticus (the most untruthfull retelling of Icelandic and Danish sagas).



Ancient remains: See for example Barði Guðmundsson (1959) and Björn O. Björnsson (2004) along with other younger writings.



The Vikings and Varangians



The Vikings and Varangians were merchants and pirates at the same time. The name Viking is from vicus (latin)=village,city; later the word borg/burg/bury was used in the 7-9th centuries. Their main zone of activities was Western Europe (Roman-Catholic lands). The word Varangian is from old Slavic and Magyar voru/vár =village,city later gorod/grad/hrad/garðr was uses in the 6-8th  centuries. Their main zone of activities was the east. The Vikings and Varangians are named together as nations in the English poem Widsith (6th century), then on the southernmost edge of Jutland peninsula.



Heruls and the Danish tongue



The Heruls were the mainstay of the bodyguards of the Nordic kings (the hirth,her) in the 4-11./12 centuries.The Heruls were merchants and masters of the runes all the way from England to Russia in the 5-12 centuries.The Heruls spoke and wrote in the "Danish tongue" which was spoken throughout Scandinavia, the north sea, and the Baltic(the lingua franca of Scandinavia). The other Scandinavians spoke in dialects. The Icelanders still speak the "Danish tongue".



The decline of the Danish tongue in Scandinavia in the 10-16th centuries



The Heruls lost the monopoly for writing with the Christianization of the Scandinavian nations in the 10-12 centuries and the establishment of monarchies, which did not rely entirely on Herul courtmen and officials.The dialects had more and more influence over the "Danish tongue" in the writing of clerics and court officials of other origins.The Nordic tongues then divided.



Ideas in the pagan religion (Ásatrú) of the Icelanders and Germanics



Most of the sources for Ásatrú are in Icelandic sources (place names otherwise).Those ideas have been thought as common Germanic religion and as the Nordics had also had it as a Germanic branch, then the Icelanders would have had that Nordic branch and not a special religion.

This is nonsense and a dogs logic



The pagan religion of the Heruls and the Icelanders



The Ásatrú of the Heruli, and the royal families, was a open yet organised polytheism, where all could choose their representative, like the ancient Greeks. Odinn was a head god and representative of many Heruls. He towered over older gods (Tyr,Ullur) yet Thor (Donar) remained strong as he resembled the farmers.The Vanir gods (Greek-Anatolian) took over the Germanic Nerthuz religion and were fertility gods.The Aesir and Vanir had many Greek characteristics.



The pagan religion of the Heruls and other Germanics



The Heruls and the Scythian descended kings worshipped Odinn, the Aesir and Vanir.The Ásatrú came to be in the first centuries of the Herul occupation in Scandinavia (the spread of Odinn to southern Germany).Other Germanic tribes worshipped older gods/godesses such as  Irpa,Völsa,Faxi(worshipped in a valley of Norway until the 19th century),Thorgerd Hörgs maid,Era (Bavarians),Irmin,Saxnot (Saxons)etc.



The Herul contribution to Ásatrú



The name Aesir:



The Celts brought it from the Etruscans (aeses).






The name of the king-god Palakos translated to the Danish tongue (=the mad one).



The Ionian siblings Artemis/Cybele and Apollo/Priapos were related to the Nerthuz gods in the southwestern Baltic (Reidgotaland).Statues and depictions of Freyr and Priapos are strikingly alike, allways depicted with an erect penis.



The Aesir and the Irish gods of the Tuatha de Danan






Headgod, sound similarities with Odinn, one handed like Tyr.






God of oak (Thor), a glutton and a club bearer.






Loki, son of a giant, a cunning god and a troublemaker.






Hler,a seagod






An organised settlement of Iceland by the Heruls



Kinsmen,friends and allies,the Heruls of the Gulathing laws, made a coalition to settle Iceland for the Heruls, which stretched from Halogaland (northern Norway) to the Hebrides.



First mission:


Ingolfr Arnarson and Hjörleif have been banished for three years from Norway

so the coalition sends them on a mission

Ingolfr Arnarson is sent on an expedition and exploration to Iceland but Hjörleif was sent to Ireland to gather information and followers from the Irish.



The settlement and establishment of a Thing by the Heruls



Each chieftain settled land in entire counties or regions to share with other Heruls. Chieftains made regional or county Thing councils for the organised handling of cases and governance, without geographical regional boundaries.These Things all had equal positions and rights, each towards the other.



The Althing of the Icelanders



Second mission:



Thorsteinn son of Ingolf Arnarson founded with others a "preparation Thing" in Kjalarnes.



Third mission:



Grím geitskor (Gaelic for"measurement stick") measures and devotes land and Thing and Thingvellir for the main Thing. Ulfljot composed the law according to the Gulathing laws of the Heruls and with the council of Thorleif the wise, his kinsman and fellow Herul in Norway.



Heruls,Westmen and Christianity



The Westmen in a wide understanding,Heruls and Gaels, were around one third of the settlers, more or less Christians. White-Christ and God almighty were adopted into the polytheistic collection of the Herul Ásatrú as the representatives of men. God almighty is under the codename "The allmighty Áss" in the law-oathstaff of the pre Christian Icelanders. The Christians had the same rights as the pagans.The Roman Catholic form of Christianity was not in Iceland for nearly "one hundred years".



The structure of the Thing and the conversion of Christianity



The original structure of the regional and country Things was changed with the 13-Thing structure with 3 Goðis in each at the establishment of Things in each of the four quarters of the land from around 960, but it wasnt finished until around 1000 with the structure of the fifth judgment, after man slaying.The Herul chieftain states Althing accepted Christianity by law.Other Germanic nations were forced to convert with war and violence.



Legacy of the Heruls



The Herul language, their(Christian)culture and societal awareness is still dominant in Iceland. Heruls with various Herul characteristics have been preserved until modern times in western and northern Norway, in Fyn and southern Jutland, Bleking (Smalands) and in the Dalarna in Sweden(?) and to a lesser degree in other places.




























































































































































































































































































































































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