His Name Ain't Authalf
To Swedes, Adolf isn't just an unsavoury 20th century Austrian politician. He's also a successful 17th century warrior king of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus, of whom it has famously been written that han blev med tiden tämligen fet, "with time he grew quite fat". Under his reign, Sweden's brief tenure as a North European superpower began, for which nationalists still remember him fondly.
Many male names are made popular by heroic warriors and leaders, that is, people who have ended up on the winning side in some bygone struggle. The Germans thus have Hermann after Arminius, the Roman-trained Cheruscan chieftain under whose leadership the northward expansion of Imperial Rome was quelled in the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9. They have Dietrich after Theodoric the Great, king of the Goths at Ravenna in the early 6th century. They have Otto after Otto the Great, (more or less) Holy Roman Emperor and Duke of Saxony in the 10th century. And they have Adolf, after this elusive character, Authalf.
If you google Authalf, all you get is a lot of spam sites with mangled fragments of the following single piece of text.
"Bonifatius († 432) war ein römischer General. Er tat sich 413 bei der Verteidigung von Marseille gegen Authalf hervor." That is,I was surprised that so little about this character had made it onto the net. He did seem like an important person of his time. I was actually resigning myself to looking the guy up in an actual printed encyclopedia the next time I go to the library, just to put my mind at ease and be able to write this blog entry.
"Bonifacius († 432) was a Roman general. He made himself noted in 413 during the Battle of Marseille against Authalf." [Link]
And then, on a hunch, I googled Bonifacius and Marseille.
As it turns out, there are about 12900 Google hits on Athaulf, and 15000 on Ataulf. My memory had served me up with a stinkin' typo. The man was king of the Visigoths and married to Galla Placidia, which is about as famous as a German around AD 400 can get.
The name, by the way, would be Edelwolf in modern German. It means Noble Wolf. You can find anything on the net if only you know how to spell it.
[More blog entries about history, Roman, Goths, names; historia, romarriket, goter, namn.]