Jutes

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The Jutes, Iuti, or Iutæ were a Germanic people who, according to Bede, were one of the three most powerful Germanic peoples of their time.[1] They are believed to have originated from Jutland (called Iutum in Latin) in modern Denmark, Southern Schleswig (South Jutland) and part of the East Frisian coast.

Bede places the homeland of the Jutes on the other side of the Angles relative to the Saxons, which would mean the northern part of the Jutland Peninsula. Tacitus portrays a people called the Eudoses living in the north of Jutland and these may have been the later Iutae. The Jutes have also been identified with the Eotenas (ēotenas) involved in the Frisian conflict with the Danes as described in the Finnesburg episode in the poem Beowulf (lines 1068–1159). Others have interpreted the ēotenas as jotuns ("ettins" in English), meaning giants, or as a kenning for "enemies".

Disagreeing with Bede, some historians identify the Jutes with people called the Eucii (or Saxones Eucii) who were evidently associated with the Saxons and dependents of the Franks in 536. The Eucii may have been identical with an obscure tribe called the Euthiones and probably associated with the Saxons. The Euthiones are mentioned in a poem by Venantius Fortunatus (583) as being under the suzerainty of Chilperic I of the Franks. This identification would agree well with the later location of the Jutes in Kent, since the area just opposite of Kent on the European mainland (present-day Flanders) was part of Francia. Even if Jutes were present to the south of the Saxons in the Rhineland or near the Frisians, this does not contradict the possibility that they were migrants from Jutland.

Asser in his Life of Alfred claims that Alfred's mother, Osburga, was descended from the Jutes of the Isle of Wight, whom he identifies with the Goths. This ancestry, however, is unlikely and so may be the identification. Another modern hypothesis (the so-called "Jutish hypothesis"), accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary, states that the Jutes are identical with the Geats, a people who once lived in southern Sweden. In primary sources the Geats are referred to as Eotas, Iótas, Iútan, and Geátas. However, in both Widsith and Beowulf, the Eotenas in the Finn passage are neatly distinguished from the Geatas. It may be that the two tribal names happened to be confused, which has happened, for example, in the sources about the death of the Swedish king Östen. It is possible that the Jutes are a related people to the Geats and a Gothic people as it is mentioned in the Gutasaga that some inhabitants of Gotland left for mainland Europe (the Wielbark site in Poland is evidence of a Scandinavian migration).

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