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Geats

Geats, or Götar in Swedish, is the Old English spelling of the name of a Scandinavian people living in Götaland, land of the Geats, currently within the borders of modern Sweden. The name of the Geats lives on the the Swedish counties of Västra Götaland and Östergötland, the Western and Eastern lands of the Geats, as does the city Göteborg, known in English as Gothenburg. Lake Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden, is the major physical feature of the Geatish territory; from it, the Göta älv, or 'Geatish River,' flows through Gothenburg into Kattegat, and the North Sea.

The Geats were formerly politically independent of the Swedes, whose old name was Svear. Starting in the 500s, the Geats slowly lost their independence and became tributaries of the Swedish kings.

The relationship between Geats and Goths, the wandering Germanic tribe (see: Völkerwanderung) that played a major part in the fall of the Western Roman Empire, is subject to great dispute. The chief reason the Geats are remembered is that the hero of the Old English epic poem Beowulf was a Geat.

See also: Hygelac, Geatish Society



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