Winnili Tribe: Roving Teutonic Nation
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The text mentions an island Scanadan (Scandinavia), the home of the Winnili. Their ruler was a woman called Gambara, with her sons Ybor and Agio. The leaders of the Vandals, Ambri and Assi, asked them to pay them tribute, but they refused, saying they would fight them. Ambri and Assi then went to Godan, and asked him for victory over the Winnili. Godan replied that he would give the victory to whomever he saw first at sunrise. At the same time, Gambara and her sons asked Frea, Godan's wife, for victory. Frea advised that the women of the Winnili should tie their hair in front of their faces like beards and join their men for battle. At sunrise, Frea turned her husband's bed so that at he was facing East, and woke him. Godan saw the women of the Winnili, their hair tied in front of their faces, and asked "who are these longbeards?," and Frea replied, since you named them, give them victory, and he did. From this day, the Winnili were called Langobardi, "longbeards."
The fullest account of Lombard origins, history, and practices is the Historia gentis Langobardorum (History of the Lombards) of Paul the Deacon, written in the 8th century. Paul's chief source for Lombard origins, however, is the 7th-century Origo Gentis Langobardorum (Origin of the People of the Lombards).
The Origo tells the story of a small tribe called the Winnili dwelling in southern Scandinavia (Scadanan) (The Codex Gothanus writes that the Winnili first dwelt near a river called Vindilicus on the extreme boundary of Gaul.) The Winnili were split into three groups and one part left the native land to seek foreign fields. The reason for the exodus was probably overpopulation. The departing people were led by the brothers Ybor and Aio and their mother Gambara and arrived in the lands of Scoringa, perhaps the Baltic coast or the Bardengau on the banks of the Elbe. Scoringa was ruled by the Wandals, and their chieftains, the brothers Ambri and Assi, who granted the Winnili a choice between tribute or war.
The Winnili were young and brave and refused to pay tribute, saying "It is better to maintain liberty by arms than to stain it by the payment of tribute." The Wandals prepared for war and consulted Godan (the god Odin), who answered that he would give the victory to those whom he would see first at sunrise. The Winnili were fewer in number and Gambara sought help from Frea (the goddess Frigg), who advised that all Winnili women should tie their hair in front of their faces like beards and march in line with their husbands. So it came that Godan spotted the Winnili first, and asked, "Who are these long-beards?" and Frea replied, "My lord, thou hast given them the name, now give them also the victory." From that moment onwards, the Winnili were known as the Langobards (Latinised and Italianised as Lombards).