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great ethnic complex of ancient Europe, a basic stock in the composition of the modern peoples of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, N Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, N and central France, Lowland Scotland, and England.
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a tribe of ancient Germans.
In the second half of the first millennium B.C. the Marcomanni inhabited the territory of present-day Saxony and Thuringia. In the late second and early first centuries B.C. they moved into the region of the middle and upper Main. In the early first century B.C. the Marcomanni probably belonged to the confederation of tribes headed by Ariovistus. In 8 B.C., after the Romans took northern Germany, the Marcomanni settled in what is now Bohemia, where they joined a confederation of tribes headed by Maroboduus. After the Cherusci leader Arminius defeated Maroboduus in A.D. 17, the Marcomanni retreated toward the Danube. In the first and second centuries the Marcomanni and Quadi, frequently acting together, constantly threatened the Ro-mans on the Danube border. In 166-180 their onslaughts developed into the Marcomannic War of 166-180. In the late third century the Marcomanni even threatened Rome. In the fourth century the Marcomanni became part of the Great Migration of Peoples. In the late fifth century they settled in Bavaria.