The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans. No pottery style or other remains of material culture serve to distinguish Quadi encampments from those of closely related groups.
1st century BC/AD
In the 1st century BC, according to Roman written sources, the Quadi were migrating alongside the more numerous Marcomanni, whose name simply means the "men of the borderlands" living on the frontiers of Germany, where it was bordered by the River Danube, south of which lay Roman territory.
Perhaps originating north of the River Main, the Quadi and Marcomanni migrated into what is now Moravia, western Slovakia and Lower Austria where they displaced Celtic cultures and were first noticed by Romans in 8–6 BC, briefly documented by Tacitus in his Germania. A further Marcomannic confederation that included the Quadi fought the future emperor Tiberius in 6 AD.
There may be an earlier reference to the Quadi in the Geography of Strabo (7.1.3). In a parenthetical expression, often removed from the main text, he mentions a branch of the Suevi called the Koldouoi, transliterated to Latin Coldui (Strabo wrote in Greek). Part of their range is Bohemia, the domain of Maroboduus. The emendment of Coldui to Coadui (Quadi) is generally considered correct.
Tacitus in Germania only mentions the Quadi in the same breath as the Marcomanni, alike in warlike spirit, alike governed by "kings" of their own noble stock, "descended from the noble line of Maroboduus and Tudrus," the "Tudric" line apparently kings among the Quadi. The royal powers of both tribes were also alike, according to Tacitus, in being supported by Roman silver.
Their frontiers for the next 350 years or more were the Marcomanni to the west, proto-Slavic tribes to the north, Sarmatian Iazgyians and Asding Vandals arriving to the east somewhat later, and the Roman Empire to the south.
2nd century AD
In the later 2nd century AD, Marcus Aurelius fought them in the Marcomannic Wars, for which our source is an abridgement of lost books of Dio Cassius' history. The troubles began in late 166 when the Langobardi (the Lombards) and Ubii crossed the Danube into Roman Moesia. They must have done so with the consent of the Quadi, through whose territory they had to cross. Presumably the Quadi wished to avoid trouble themselves by allowing these tribes to pass through into Roman territory. This invasion was apparently thrown back into Quadi territory without too much difficulty as far as the Romans were concerned, but the incursion marked the start of a long series of attempts to cross the border.
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