Teudogar and the Alliance with Rome

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The Roman Rule over Germania

After the death of the victorious general Drusus, 33 years-old Tiberius assumed continuation of the war. In the spring of 8 B.C., he once again crossed the Rhine with a large army.

The Germanic tribes were too weakened from the continuous warfare of the last years to put up any resistance: For four years, they had been attacked every year by superior Roman armies, their settlements had been regularly burnt down, and their fields devastated. In the countless bloody battles and skirmishes during these four years, probably all tribes had lost a significant proportion of their men.

Already in the previous year, the allied tribes had been unable to prevent Drusus' army from marching through their territories. This year promised to be equally unsuccessful. It seemed better to capitulate now - and not to wait until one would be totally defeated and defenseless. Probably out of these considerations, all Germanic tribes sent envoys to the Romans, asking for peace.

Only the Sugambrians had sent no envoy. Emperor Augustus declared he would not make peace with any Germanic tribe unless the Sugambrians joined the peace agreement as well. Under pressure from their neighboring tribes, finally the Sugambrians too sent a large number of their leading politicians to negotiate a peace treaty. In the pragmatic-unheroic, efficient way that was typical for him, Emperor Augustus simply had all these men arrested, and had them brought to several Roman cities as hostages (they evaded this imprisonment by suicide).

Now the Romanes concluded peace treaties with all Germanic tribes: All tribes recognized the Roman rule, and started to pay tribute and provide troops for the Romans. Since no other tribe kept up the resistance, a continuation of the war would have been totally hopeless for the Sugambrians. Therefore the Romans were able to simply deport this leaderless tribe (approximately 40,000 people) to Gaul, where there were enough Roman troops, and no one the Sugambrians could have allied with against Rome: Thus this tribe ceased to be any danger.

For this totally bloodless conquest Tiberius was rewarded with the titles of Imperator and Consul, and a triumph as well. During the following year (7 B.C.) he only had to put down smaller unrest in some places - he didn't need to engage in any major combat operations, since the exhausted Germanic tribes mostly respected the peace and recognized the Roman rule. (In the following year, however, he and his stepfather, Emperor Augustus, got on bad terms with each other, and he resigned as commander-in-chief.)

The newly-conquered area was secured with army routes and camps. In the winter, the Roman army still retreated into the camps along the left bank of the Rhine. But during the entire summer, all strategically important parts of Germania were occupied by Roman soldier camps.

Apart from this military presence, the Romans also set up numerous markets and founded trading posts: Slowly an extensive peaceful exchange of goods began between the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribes, who formerly had to purchase all Roman products indirectly over Gaul. These trading posts probably contributed much to make Germanic people familiar with the Romans' way of life, language, laws and customs.

Besides, countless Germanic men had to (or were allowed to) serve in Roman auxiliary troops. In return, they received generous payment and valuable weapons. Apart from Roman military know-how, they inevitably learned the Roman language, Roman customs, and often even got to know other countries of the Roman world empire: Many Germanic noblemen came to Rome; some even acquired Roman citizenship. A loyal and brave squad of Germanic warriors exchanged their Barbarian huts for the Emperor's palace in Rome - whom they now served as bodyguards. Other Germanic warriors came as far as Palestine, where they served as bodyguards for the tetrarch Herodes, whom the Romans had installed as king of the Jews. A few years later, probably many Germanic men had to fight for the Romans in Pannonia (today's southern Hungary), when an uprising against the Roman rule broke out there. All of these men inevitably acquired 'Romanitas' (Roman way of life and mentality), and after their return to their tribes, they probable passed some of that on to their families and friends.

The Roman commander-in-chief still marched through the tribal areas of Germania with his army every summer - not with the purpose of conquering anymore, but rather to speak Roman law, mediate in tribal disputes, and to remind the allies and subdued tribes of the lasting power of Rome.

In Rome Emperor Augustus contented himself with the title 'first citizen' (Princeps), but in the provinces he let himself be worshipped as a god - appropriate for a man who indeed was mighty like a god, whose every wish was law for over a third of the world's population, and who could order hundreds of thousands of soldiers to crush every resistance to his will.
A temple was dedicated to him in Germania too - in the newly founded Roman City of Cologne, where the Ubians had been settled. Germanic aristocrats became priests of the divine emperor: some years later, for example, the Cheruscans tribe's young Segimundus (Siegmund), a relative of Arminius.

The Romans' rule was so generally accepted that Tiberius' successor Domitius could simply order the Germanic tribe of the Hermundurians to settle down in the former tribal area of the Marcomanians. (The Hermundurians had been wandering around, searching for new land to settle.) This order was promptly obeyed. Besides, Domitius concluded treaties of friendship with the Germanic tribes yet further east, beyond the Elbe river, over whose territory the Romans did not claim any sovereignty.

Otherwise the work of the Roman commander-in-chief consisted mainly in keeping the Germanic aristocrats within the different tribes content, dependant, and obedient: These chieftains' loyalty was the best guarantee for their tribes' peacefulness. Accordingly, the Romans were willing to assist these men whenever they faced challenges at home: E.g, Domitius tried to forcibly repatriate some Cheruscan noblemen who had been expelled - and he probably also tried to restore their power over their tribe.

The failure of this particular endeavor may be a sign that the Roman rule over Germania still wasn't as deeply rooted as the Romans had hoped. Finally in 2 A.D., the Chaucians and Cheruscans dared to start an uprising. Over the following two years, the Roman commander Domitius would not succeed in striking down the rebellion.

Therefore, in 4 A.D., Tiberius was reinstated as commander-in-chief over Germania after Emperor Augustus had reconciled himself with him and officially adopted him. Showing prudence and persistence, Tiberius defeated the Cheruscans in 5 A.D. and the Chaucians in 6 A.D.

These uprisings had remained regionally confined - no other tribes had dared to join the rebels. Roman rule seemed to be generally secure, and now, after the last resistance had been broken, Germania could be declared a province of the Roman Empire. Its center probably was what later became the City of Cologne; or perhaps the administrative and trading city which was recently discovered close to Waldgirmes near the river Lahn.

After the soldiers came the officials: A Roman governor had a staff of approximately 1000 men - 200 officials, countless assistants, and a mounted guard of 500 men. This province administration was supposed to raise taxes and draft men as soldiers, depending on whether a tribe was subdued or an ally, or liable to military service, or exempt from dues. (E.g. the Frisians had to supply 'taxes' in form of cattle skins; the Batavians only had to serve in Roman auxiliary troops.) Meanwhile, the officials also tried to guide the Barbarians towards local self-administration, and to train native assistant workers.

The legions were staying, of course. Still about 50,000 soldiers were based at the new province, and now they even spent the winter months there.

Only the Germanic Marcomanians could have become dangerous for the Romans: Some years earlier (9 B.C.) they had fled from the army of Drusus, and now they were residing on the other side of the Elbe and Danube rivers, as neighbors of the Roman-controlled Germania. Their king Marbod had set up an enormous army of allegedly 70,000 men and had subdued several neighboring tribes. He kept peace with the Romans, but to them his kingdom appeared as a continuous threat. Therefore, in 6 A.D., Rome set out up to 100,000 legionaries in order to conquer and break up Maroboduus's empire. But the attack had to be aborted.

The reason was that the peoples of today's South Hungary and Yugoslavia rose against the Roman rule: Up to 200,000 enemies of the Romans were under arms - an enormous danger even for Italy and the capital Rome itself. Augustus ordered a hasty peace with Maroboduus and sent all available legions into the rebellious provinces, where it took several years to strike down the rebellion.

Despite the favorable opportunity for a rebellion on their own, the weakened Germanic tribes kept quiet. The Roman rule between the Rhine and Elbe continued to exist undisturbed. Also the neighboring Marcomanian kingdom of Maroboduus continued to keep peace. Germania really seemed on its way to develop into a peaceful Roman province such as Gaul.








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