1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cimbri

CIMBRI, a Teutonic tribe who made their first appearance in Roman history in the year 113 B.C., when they defeated the consul Gnaeus Papirius Carbo near Noreia in the modern Carinthia. It was the common belief that they had been driven from their homes on the North Sea by inundations, but, whatever the cause of their migration, they had been wandering along the Danube for some years warring with the Celtic tribes on either bank. After the victory of 113 they passed westwards over the Rhine, threatening the territory of the Allobroges. Their request for land was not granted, and in 109 B.C. they defeated the consul Marcus Junius Silanus in southern Gaul, but did not at once follow up the victory. In 105 they returned to the attack under their king Boiorix, and favoured by the dissensions of the Roman commanders Gnaeus Mallius Maximus and Caepio, defeated them in detail and annihilated their armies at Arausio (Orange). Again the victorious Cimbri turned away from Italy, and, after attempting to reduce the Arverni, moved into Spain, where they failed to overcome the desperate resistance of the Celtiberian tribes. In 103 they marched back through Gaul, which they overran as far as the Seine, where the Belgae made a stout resistance. Near Rouen the Cimbri were reinforced by the Teutoni and two cantons of the Helvetii. Thereupon the host marched southwards by two routes, the Cimbri moving on the left towards the passes of the Eastern Alps, while the newly arrived Teutoni and their allies made for the western gates of Italy. In 102 B.C. the Teutoni and Ambrones were totally defeated at Aquae Sextiae by Marius, while the Cimbri succeeded in passing the Alps and driving Q. Lutatius Catulus across the Adige and Po. In 101 Marius overthrew them on the Raudine Plain near Vercellae. Their king Boiorix was killed and the whole army destroyed. The Cimbri were the first in the long line of the Teutonic invaders of Italy.

The original home of the Cimbri has been much disputed. It is recorded in the Monumentum Ancyranum that a Roman fleet sailing eastwards from the mouth of the Rhine (c. A.D. 5) received at the farthest point reached the submission of a people called Cimbri, who sent an embassy to Augustus. Several early writers agree in saying that the Cimbri occupied a peninsula, and in the map of Ptolemy Jutland appears as the Cimbric Chersonese. As Ptolemy seems to have regarded the district north of the Liimfjord (Limfjord) as a group of islands, the territory of the Cimbri, the northernmost tribe of the peninsula, would be included in the modern county (Amt) of Aalborg. This was formerly called Himbersyssel or Himmerland, forms which may very well preserve their name, especially as the name Charydes, mentioned next to them in the Monumentum Ancyranum, appears to survive in the modern Hardeland. Possibly also the district across the Liimfjord formerly called Thythsyssel or Thyland may in the same way preserve the name of the Teutoni (q.v.). Strabo and other early writers relate a number of curious facts concerning the customs of the Cimbri, which are of great interest as the earliest records of the manner of life of the Teutonic nations.

Sources.—Livy, Epitome, lxvii., lxviii.; Monumentum Ancyranum; Pomponius Mela iii. 3; C. Plinius Secundus, Nat. Hist. iv. cap. 13 and 14, §§ 95 ff.; Strabo p. 292 ff.; Plutarch, Marius. passim; Florus iii. 3; Ptolemy ii. 11. 11 f.  (F. G. M. B.)