Dulgubnii (Doulgoumnioi) (Germans)
The Dulgubnii (or Dulgibini) were a very minor
Germanic tribe. During the first
century AD they occupied territory along the banks of the Weser, in the region
of modern Lippe-Detmold, Paderborn, and Pyrmont, in north-western
They were neighboured to the north-west by the
to the north-east by the
to the east by the
Semnones, to the south by
Cherusci, and to the west by the
Beyond them lay the
the North Sea.
The tribe was mentioned by Tacitus in his work Germania (being chronicled
in Chapter 3.4), and it was he who located their territory. The tribe can probably
be identified as Ptolemy's Doulgoumnioi of the same region. Ptolemy's Greek
corrupted the names of many of the tribes he listed, but perhaps not as badly as
in this case. Apart from these two very brief mentions, nothing more is known of
the tribe. They were probably absorbed by their larger neighbours during the late
second or third century.
The name of this tribe is a difficult one to break down. There is a very odd
difference between Ptolemy's version of the name, Doulgoumnioi (Doulgumn), and
that of Tacitus, Dulgubnii (Dulgubn). As a first step, removing the suffixes
shows that the primary difference is an 'm' (in the Greek version) changed to
a 'b' (in the Latin one). Ptolemy's version seems to contain the
Welsh 'm' to
'v' consonant shift - similar to that of
to Devon, or
Elmet to Elved (spelled 'Elfed' in Welsh). In fact, the difference is so
similar that it is negligible. Is this a Gaulish tribe or, more likely, a
mixed tribe? It is possible that the 'ni' ending may have been 'na' or 'ne',
as seen in the Saxon word 'setna'
(settlers) or the Angle's
and is a reversed Germanic '-en' plural. Could it be a German name that was
mangled by a partly Gaulish tribal population? 'Dolg' is a root word meaning
'wound' or 'scar' in Germanic, so an approximation of the name could be 'dolg'
(scar) plus 'o' plus 'men' (men) plus the '-en' plural suffix reversed to '-ne'
or '-na'. In plain English, Dolgomenna, 'the scarred men'. With the central
'o' bridging the gap, the construction of the name has the same style as that
of the Marcomanni. It could reference some battle, or perhaps a tradition of
scarring its young men to mark them as warriors. Whatever its exact meaning,
it is a very odd name.
(Additional information by Edward Dawson.)
Arminius of the Cherusci
declares the independence of his people from
Rome with his decimation
of three legions under Governor Publius Quinctilius Varus. He achieves
this momentous victory in an alliance with the
The Tencteri and
are also highly likely to be involved, as are the Dulgubnii, subjects of the
Cherusci. The Bructeri,
Usipetes certainly team up to harass the troops of Germanicus AD 14, and they
are later included in his triumph.
Given that the Dulgubnii were a subject tribe of the Cherusci,
they would have taken part in the wars of Arminius against Roman
incursions into Germania
Writing around this time, the
writer Tacitus mentions the
Cherusci and their dependents. He makes it clear that the Dulgubnii,
living on the opposite bank of the Weser from the Cherusci, are subjects and
have perhaps only gained a measure of an identity of their own in the second
half of the century, having previously been submerged within the Cherusci as
part of its then-greater territory.
In his work, Geographia,
Ptolemy mentions the tribe as the Doulgoumnioi. Given that it seems to have
retained a separate identity from the
Cherusci for over a century, it perhaps puts into perspective the degree
of collapse experienced by that tribe following the death of Arminius.
By this century the
Cherusci and their subjects, including the Dulgubnii, have been or are in the process of being absorbed into
tribal confederations. They disappear from history as an identifiable
people. Following the break-up of the subsequent
Frankish empire, the former Dulgubnii territory emerges as the lordship of