, or Götar
, 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 in the Swedish counties
of Västra Götaland
, 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 Götaland theory is an alternative school of thought that challenges this view.
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 a subject of great dispute. The chief reason the Geats are remembered is that the hero of the Old English epic poem Beowulf was a Geat.