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A Combination of Celts and Germans, Yielding the Schwaben or Swabians

In the years 58 to 51 BC, Julius Caesar conquered the Celts living in Gaul, what is today France. From 69 to 96 AD, the Romans extended their empire eastward. Many Celts took up these lightly inhabited new lands, and it eventually became a populous and prosperous province.


map showing where the Celts and later, Germans, settled

The Romans expanded their empire east over the Rhine River (on the left side of the map) and south to Lake Constance and the Danube River (bottom and right side of map), the area where the Celts from Gaul settled, later to become Swabia.


Evidence of Celtic inhabitants  living in southwestern Germany

Celtic stonework in Swabia.

For several centuries barbarian Germans called Alamanni or Sueve by the Romans came from the north and the east to cross the Roman Empire's boundary to settle among the Celts. The intermarried people eventually came to be known as Schwaben in German, or Swabians. Many of the Swabians still live in the area shown by the above map, east of the Rhine River, north of Lake Constance and along the Danube River as far as Augsburg in Bavaria. However, the core of Schwabenland was in the densely populated fertile lands that became part of Württemberg. This was an independent state until 1871, when it was absorbed into the Prussian-dominated German Empire.


map showing how wuerttemberg was dwarfed by Prussia

The densely populated core of Swabia, Württemberg (in red), was part of the German Empire of 1871 to 1918. The upper part of the map shows Prussia, which dominated the Germans.

Because the Celts had an advanced civilization, the barbarian Germans absorbed their technology and also much of their culture, including spirituality and the love of music and of individualism. In addition, Celtic and German cultures both had a love of alcohol.

Swabia is important to Ann Arbor because the great majority of the German immigrants who settled in and around the town were Swabians. No other German community in the United States featured such a large concentration of Swabians.