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Thread: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

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    Default Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    I’m just going to come out and say it, but Teutoburg Forest has got to be one of the most overemphasized battles in human history (right up there with Thermopylae). The popular myth of course, is that Germanic Tribes (led by Arminius) banded together and soundly defeated three Roman Legions (led by Quinctilius Varus) at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest -during the height of Roman power no less-, thus permanently ending Roman plans for the colonization of greater Germania.

    According to wikipedia, The Battle of Teutoburg Forest is comparable to Rome’s greatest defeat, “a turning point in world-history,” and one of the most decisive battles ever recorded: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle...utoburg_Forest

    In reality however, the significance of Teutoburg Forest -including our interpretations of its aftermath and role in thwarting Rome’s expansion plans- must be balanced with the following questions:

    1. Did Arminius and the Germanic Tribes decisively turnback the Roman Army from Germania?
    2. Did the loss of three Roman Legions put an end to the supposed Roman conquest of Germania?
    3. And did the defeat at Teurtoburg lead to a decisive end of Roman dominance and influence over central Europe?


    Quick overview of the battle (though not essential for discussion):

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Narrative: Arminius (a former auxiliary officer) betrayed the Romans and executed a perfectly -and meticulously- designed trap. Most tellingly, ambush and wooded terrain prevented the Roman army from forming organized lines, thus allowing the Germans to swarm in on isolated pockets of panicking legionnaires. Low visibility, climate, and rain also didn’t help. Many backup legions (who otherwise might have participated) were also tied down in the ongoing Illyricum revolts.

    In all, the 17th, 18th, and 19th legions (20,000 men total) were completely wiped out, Varus committed suicide, and a grief-stricken Augustus is said to have remarked; “Varus, give me back my legions!”


    #1 Did the Germanic Tribes (under Arminius) decisively defeat the Roman Army presence in Germania?

    Short answer: no.

    It’s easy to overstate the significance of Teutoburg Forrest because three whole legions were wiped out and never replaced. However, even with the massacre of 20,000 legionaries and temporary blow to army morale, the Roman military presence around Germania actually increased as a result of Teutoburg Forrest (up to 8 legions beginning with Tiberius) and incidentally led to the revenge campaigns of Germanicus Caesar, a true destroyer general and genocidal killer.


    Campaigns of Germanicus Julius Caesar

    The cruelty and depth of the Roman response should not be underestimated. In addition to capturing Arminius’s wife, enslaving the local population, and wiping out entire villages and farmland around the Lippe valley, Germanicus managed to goad Arminius into decisive battle, and defeat him at Weser River and the Agrivarian Wall. He even recaptured 2 of the 3 lost eagle standards form the 17th, 18th, and 19th legions. The totality of Rome’s revenge was thus complete, and what remained of Arminius extremely fickle coalition mostly fled across the Elbe. More important than regaining territory, Rome’s honor was restored, and in the years after Weser, Arminius himself would be disposed of by his own men, largely in attempt to appease the Romans.

    #2 Did the loss at Teutoburg put an end to the supposed Roman conquest of Germania?

    Again, this one is mostly false.

    While it’s true major military incursions into Germania ended with the recall of Germanicus (and would not be seen again until the Marcomannic Wars), it’s also true that Germanicus had mostly pacified Germania up to the Lippe and North Sea, it was thus up to Tiberius to decide what to do next.

    Rather than continue to push forward to the Elbe, Tiberius choose to withdraw. The reasons for this decision were possibly twofold:

    1. Fear of Germanicus's growing reputation in Rome and the possibility of being usurped.
    2. A cost vs. benefit decision that said the economic benefits of conquering Germania were not worth the effort.

    In the end, many historians agree that Tiberius made the right decision based on the second reason. Germania, unlike Gaul, had few urban centers and little to no roads and infrastructure -which were needed to establish a reliable tax base. The German economy (according to Caesar and Tacitus) was also not significantly devoted to trade and agriculture, but instead to animal husbandry, raiding, piracy, and plunder. The Germans -according to archaeological grave sites- also significantly lacked in quality iron production and were dependent on Roman imports. In all, -right or wrongly- the Germanic tribes were mostly seen as uncivilized barbarians by their Roman counterparts and separate from the iron-working Celts in Gaul. Assimilating them and establishing Rome rule in the empty forests of Germania then was not worth the effort and may been the historical calculus for all future Emperors going forward.

    #3 Did the defeat at Teurtorburg lead to a decisive end of Roman dominance and influence over central Europe?

    This one should also be seen as mostly false. The narrative is that Arminius was a unifier and liberator for the German people, yet even after he was disposed of by rival chieftains, the Germanic tribes went back to fighting among themselves, which they were accustomed to do and the Romans happily encouraged. In addition, the Romans would construct the Limes Germanicus, the largest series of frontier fortifications ever constructed (after only the Great Wall of China). The Romans would use the Limes and the Rhine/Danube legions (usually 1/3 of the Roman Army) to literally dominate all major affairs in Magna Germania, including trade, border control, migration, agriculture, war, and regional politics. For the next two hundred years the west bank of the Rhine (along with Gaul) would actually remain relatively safe from German migration and influence, which may have been the principle aim of conquering Germania and wiping out the Germanic Tribes had the Romans done so anyway.
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    Diocle's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Great thread! I've tons of doubts but I'm tempted to answer "Yes" to all the three questions, but at least for the third one my doubts are overwhelming me, I think in fact that the Roman influence was the key factor in forming the Germanic tribal confederations, or proto-nations, which in the form of Roman-Germanic Kingdoms (Kingdoms of the Franks, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Langobards, Burgundians), were at the basis of what we know today as Europe, so that I'm tempted to say that Rome and Germanic world were actually two conflicting facets of the same issue lasted (at least) five centuries, that is the slow dialectic process of building of the European identity roots.

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    I. At least the roman legions only entered Germania Magna for retaliation campaigns, but they never stationed some legions for a permanent presence in Germania Magna again.

    The later campaigns of Germanicus inflicted new heavy losses to the roman legions without a decisive victory about the germanic coalition of Arminius. No capture of Arminius, no germanic submission. Tiberius broke up this war of attrition because as OP already said it was a expensive, not costeffective war.

    In this light Teutoburg was the start of a series of battles of attrition, which ended a permanent roman presence in Germania Magna.

    II. It put an end to the roman conquest of Germania Magna, as several outposts, even beginning roman cities were given up.

    For example: Waldgirmes

    Waldgirmes appears to have been a planned new foundation on a virgin site. Dendrochronological study of the wooden well indicates that the tree providing the wood was felled in 4 BC. Thus, the settlement's construction probably started before that time. Its location, on a spur of land jutting into the Lahn river, was highly defensible. Additionally, it would have been possible to reach areas of established Roman presence along the Rhine relatively quickly by boat. The existence of the oversized forum at the centre of the site suggests that it may have been intended to form the core settlement of a future civitas, an important part of a projected Romanisation of the area.

    The site remained unfinished, indicated by the large undeveloped areas. Following the battle of the Teutoburg Forest, when virtually all Roman military posts east of the Rhine were lost, Waldgirmes was abandoned. The finds suggest that this was intentional: between AD 9 and 16, during the period of Roman punitive expeditions, the site was occasionally used as a military camp. After that, it was destroyed by the Roman army.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldgirmes_Forum

    III. No. The later collapse of the Roman Empire in Gallia, Belgica and Germania Minor had internal, mostly economical reasons.
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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Another fine thread.

    I would say the Augustan moment is pivotal. The "fame engine" in Rome has been slowed right down, and no one is allowed to receive real triumphs or Spoilum Optimum awards except the Princeps or his chosen heirs.

    Decision making has been concentrated in one pair of hands. It is literally the whim of Augustus that will decide the borders of Rome. There may be competing agendas but this single decision maker clarifies our understanding of decisions made.

    The civil wars have depleted Roman manpower and productive capacity, and very careful choices must be made as to where Roman blood and treasure is spilt. Augustus completes hard fought and somewhat inglorious campaigns started centuries before in Hispania and the Balkans. These are sytrategically sensible and economically productive wars, in that they earn Rome slaves and treasure and secure profitable adjacent provinces.

    Its often been said the decision to advance to the Elbe was a rational one, as it shortens the land border and secures Gaul, but that ignores the vast increase sea border facing Britain and Scandinavia.

    I think the move into Germany was not for wealth or security but to win fame for Caesar and his family. It was an exotic and previously unconquered territory, and the inhabitants resembled tribes fought by Marius and Caesar (distinguished fore-runners of the Populare party) in the past.

    Varus' stupidity was a terrible blow for a monarch short of manpower, but the revenge missions were more about re-establishing prestige (dynastic and legionary): as mentioned above the Elbe did not need to be held and the province could never pay for itself for many centuries.

    The cost/benefit ratio was not always the determinant when conquering proivinces: Britain was occupied by Claudius IMHO for much the same reason it was raided by Caesar: for glory. The occupation did not pay for itself and does not seem to have safeguarded Gaul either.

    Nor was strategic position necessarily the motive: Dacia and Mesopotamia were both expensively conquered and made provinces despite untenable exposure necessitating evacuation within a generation.

    I think the invasion of Germany and the battle of the Teutoberger Wald are about glory. Despite the fall of the Republic the ruler still needed to progress his heirs along the cursus honorum, with victories in the field and magistracies at home. You could typically tell how favoured an heir was by how young he was made a consul, some even in the teens.

    The ruler also needed to reap a percentage of his underlings' victories, and loss for Varus meant a percentage loss for Augustus.
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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    In my opinion, the answer is somewhere in the middle. The issue is that the battle of the Teutoburg Forest and its aftermath has been exploited and therefore distorted by both Roman and German nationalist propaganda. Germanicus certainly managed to successfully launch bloody expeditions against the hostile tribes, but, as it has already been mentioned, there were closer to punitive raids than ambitious operations, with the ultimate aim of permanently occupying and annexing the land they captured. Although we can only guess, due to our reliance on Roman historiography, it is generally suspected that the extent of his victories is a bit overestimated, as a result of the bias of our primary sources, anxious to glorify the achievements of a general belonging to the ruling dynasty. By the way, Tiberius' alleged fear of his adopted son is probably an invention of those who did not appreciate his policies, since it's difficult to believe that the emperor would trust him so much (by maintaining him in his post after Augustus' death), if he felt that he could usurp his throne. On the other hand, Teutoburg Forest was viewed by Romantic poets as the decisive response of a pure "barbarian" nation to corrupt Latin imperialism, supposedly marking the birth of the Germanic nationhood.

    Anachronistic gloating aside, it is true that the Romans never seriously attempted to conquer Germania, although any artificial connection to the much later fall of the Roman Empire is totally absurd. I don't doubt that the non-existent profitability of the region, due to the primitive status of the economy and the basically absent infrastructure and urbanisation, was important, the sudden loss of three legions must have played a role at convincing Tiberius about the futility of the task. After all, the battle showed how little many Germanic tribes were ready to cooperate with the imperial authorities, as Arminius had succeeded in uniting them, despite their conflicted interests, and proved that Rome is not invincible, so collaboration was not necessarily the only option left. Moreover, it underlined the fragility of the Roman "conquest system", which is why I am against being overly harsh towards poor Varus*, who surely didn't demonstrate any strategic brilliance, but he was himself, together with the thousands of his soldiers, the victim of Rome's dependence on local auxiliaries. As long as a part of the native society was friendly, through either fear or the prospect of a lucrative reward, invasions were fine and dandy. The most characteristic element of Roman expansionism was how frequently the Romans were welcomed by the local elites, in order to defeat a foreign enemy or a domestic threat (e.g. Aristonicus' popular rebellion) and how easily said nobility was integrated to the administration of the Senate (and later, the Principate). When Arminius broke the pattern, all hell broke out, as intelligence failed spectacularly, Varus was betrayed by his auxiliaries, his logistics were interrupted and his army was led to a meticulously planned trap, from where it could never hope to escape. The fight in Teutoburg Forest was probably not Rome's greatest disaster, as the 2nd and 3rd Reichs insisted, but it doubtlessly contributed militarily and morally (in the sense of highlighting the difficulties the annexation of Germania posed) to the Roman retreat behind the Rhine.

    By the way, Arminius was not murdered, because its court was scared about Roman reprisals. In fact, he lost his life many years after the conquest of Germania had been abandoned. According to ancient literature, whose explanation I personally find very reasonable, he was disposed of, because his circle disagreed with his royal ambitions. Generally speaking, forming a confederation is possible, when an external threat is present, as it encourages compromise, in favour of a common purpose, but once the aforementioned objective no longer applies, the coalitions disintegrate. Apparently, many Germans, especially the aristocracy, considered the prestige Arminius gained as very dangerous, as a unification and the establishment of a hereditary monarchy would endanger their interests and their monopoly of political power. Rome, although it continued to intervene in Germania's affairs, mainly in order to secure the frontier and would have benefited from a fragmented Germania, was a negligible factor in the assassination.

    *However, if the accusations against Varus of installing an authoritarian regime hold any merit, then he's at least partially responsible for the debacle, because his governing methods must have alienated a significant portion of the Germanic elites, thus leading to the desertion of Arminius and his allies. I wouldn't be surprised, if the reason behind Arminius' "treason" was the fact that the aristocracy was treated despotically by the Roman military administration and they felt themselves barred from enjoying the fruits of the new imperial system.
    Last edited by Abdülmecid I; December 07, 2018 at 09:02 AM.

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Someone correct me if I am wrong but the decisiveness of a battle is evaluated from the events that happened or didn't happen after it.
    We know that had the Romans figured out that a trap was being prepared they would have taken measures to counter it.
    They would probably have been successful at that.
    Next year they would have the three legions that were lost, in place and a stronghold east of the Rhine.
    That much we know.

    We also know that they went on to conduct punitive campaigns after the disaster and they did recover the Aquilae that were lost.
    So their power was not curbed.
    But it would have been greater had they not been so damaged.
    All in all I believe the battle was decisive for political, economic and operational reasons, as it demonstrated the difficulties and non viability of supporting operations for an extended period away from their waterways of supply (the sea and the Rhine).

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    The problem consists in the fact that, as far as the following centuries are concerned, a frontier on the River Elbe was extremely more convenient than having to defend the Limes Rhine-Danube.
    From the inherent weakness of the the Rhenish Limes it started the Fall ..


    Map of the Romans in northern Germany during the time of Drusus' and Tiberius' invasions in 16-9 BC until Germanicus' campaigns in 14-16 AD.

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by paleologos View Post
    Someone correct me if I am wrong but the decisiveness of a battle is evaluated from the events that happened or didn't happen after it.
    We know that had the Romans figured out that a trap was being prepared they would have taken measures to counter it.
    They would probably have been successful at that.
    Next year they would have the three legions that were lost, in place and a stronghold east of the Rhine.
    That much we know.

    We also know that they went on to conduct punitive campaigns after the disaster and they did recover the Aquilae that were lost.
    So their power was not curbed.
    But it would have been greater had they not been so damaged.
    All in all I believe the battle was decisive for political, economic and operational reasons, as it demonstrated the difficulties and non viability of supporting operations for an extended period away from their waterways of supply (the sea and the Rhine).
    This is a very fair point to make. Prior to the battle Germania Magna was a province (Varus was its Propraetor), with a governor and forces in occupation. After the battle it was no longer a province. Its a decisive moment for Germany culturally.

    If Varus bags Arminius and crucifies him then Germania Magna remains a province until the next test. Britannia saw a number of uprisings for precisely the same sort of reasons (oppressive governors raping and pillaging) but it was held when these uprisings were crushed. Germsany was not a super-soldier revolt factory, it could have been pacified like Britain, Hispania or the Balkans. It was probably less economically viable than Hispania or the Balkans, maybe on par with Britain (the development of the Rhine trade nexus is centuries away and most of the land is forest and swamps).

    That said securing Britain did not keep Gaul safe from the fall of the Western Roman Empire (which was for social and economic reasons as mucy as military ones). I don't see why securing Germania Magna would prevent West Rome from collapsing either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    The problem consists in the fact that, as far as the following centuries are concerned, a frontier on the River Elbe was extremely more convenient than having to defend the Limes Rhine-Danube.
    From the inherent weakness of the the Rhenish Limes it started the Fall...
    I disagree. Rome did not fall because German tribes crossed the Rhine. The Franks and Goths were disaffected allies, privatised armed forces contractors who had been settled within the Empire to fight for it as Romans no longer wanted to (or Roman leaders no longer trusted them to). Thew Empiure was broken by over extension and the collapse of the economic and social systems to support its infrastructure.

    Rome in 9 AD had large areas of recently conquered provinces to control. Tiberius might spare many legions for sharp punitive campaigns but continuous occupation of restless tribal areas was a drain the Empire could not afford. IIRC Varus only had three legions because the rest were off in Illyria pacifying a revolt there, and Augustus had only just concluded the centuries-long pacification of Hispania. The loss of three experienced legions out of what, twenty eight? was immense. Short term a concentration of legions and punitive raids were called for but unprofitable over-extension was off the table for the medium term.

    Rome was not in a position to acquire large new provinces for a generation after Teutoburger Wald. I wold say the outcome of the battle was that Germania Magna remained German speaking and Britain became a province instead (I doubt Claudius would be able to afford to invade Britain if he was commited to a multi-generation occupation up to the Elbe).
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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    This is a very fair point to make. Prior to the battle Germania Magna was a province (Varus was its Propraetor), with a governor and forces in occupation. After the battle it was no longer a province. Its a decisive moment for Germany culturally.

    If Varus bags Arminius and crucifies him then Germania Magna remains a province until the next test. Britannia saw a number of uprisings for precisely the same sort of reasons (oppressive governors raping and pillaging) but it was held when these uprisings were crushed. Germsany was not a super-soldier revolt factory, it could have been pacified like Britain, Hispania or the Balkans. It was probably less economically viable than Hispania or the Balkans, maybe on par with Britain (the development of the Rhine trade nexus is centuries away and most of the land is forest and swamps).

    That said securing Britain did not keep Gaul safe from the fall of the Western Roman Empire (which was for social and economic reasons as mucy as military ones). I don't see why securing Germania Magna would prevent West Rome from collapsing either.
    There is no real disagreement here, though there is one remark: the Germanic peoples of the time were physically superior to the Romans (Bergmann's rule seems to apply regardless of true causality).
    Another thing I -do not remember where I read it so I cannot provide links- is that Arminius' Germans were armed with hatchets but used then to construct sizeable bats to attack the Romans with.
    It does take great strength to dispatch an armored fighter with a bat, I reckon.
    Still a fighter of whatever skill is not synonymous to a soldier and Roman soldiery was far superior.

    On the economic reasons of imperial collapse, it would seem that although the Teutoberg disaster was not in itself a major contributing factor, the attempt to expand the empire beyond the Rhine was a serious misplacement of resources.
    It is a sign of an empire already in decline that the choice was made to commit such resources for so little benefit, assuming that the Romanization of Germania was successful.
    The decline was merely accelerated because of the defeat.

    It can also be argued that the same analysis applies to Britannia: the Romans really did not need it and in all likelihood, they would have been better off, had they never bothered with it to begin with.
    It is worth noting that at the time of the Hunnic incursions the west part of the empire was fielding eight legions and four of them were tied in Britannia.
    Flavious Aetius simply had to abandon the Romano-Britons to their own devices in order to defend the vastly more valuable mainland.

    I would consider it a far more interesting question to contemplate on why the Romans did bother with both Britannia and Germania.
    Maybe it was that the only way to make the plebes feel rewarded for their submission to an otherwise unfair state was through the exultation of military triumphs.
    Maybe the resource they were after was not gold but women: the Roman plebes were notorious for dispatching baby girls by exposure or by throwing them in the Tiber, as they were too poor to raise them, and by the time their sons were old enough to marry, the only women they had any hope of finding would be themselves among the spoils of some conquest.
    Or maybe they had a surplus of male population and nothing productive to do with them and the only way to keep them occupied (idle hands and devils workshops) was to make them soldier and send them off to either conquer the estate of their retirement, or die as far away form home as possible.
    Or maybe all of the above.

    My observation and remark is that the very fact these reasons are plausible, testifies to the internal weakness of a society already corroded and on the verge of moral bankruptcy, as all three of these possible motivations consider the vast majority of the Roman population as a liability, not an asset.

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by paleologos View Post
    .. I would consider it a far more interesting question to contemplate on why the Romans did bother with both Britannia and Germania. ..
    My answer about Romans & Germanic peoples is: if you kick Germans in the ass first, you kick them twice!

    Apart the jokes, I think you can't hope to control Gallia if you don't control the Rhine, but to control the Rhine you have to set your men in control of both banks of the river (this is elementary strategy, at TW level), but to have your men in control of both banks of the Rhine, you have to kill as many big Germans as you can; Romans succeded in doing so for almost 500 years, then .. they broke (boredom perhaps? .. as after 500 turns playing DEI? who knows?).
    End (sad) of the tale, sadly history is not Hollywood and usually does not provide happy ending.

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    My answer about Romans & Germanic peoples is: if you kick Germans in the ass first, you kick them twice!

    Apart the jokes, I think you can't hope to control Gallia if you don't control the Rhine, but to control the Rhine you have to set your men in control of both banks of the river (this is elementary strategy, at TW level), but to have your men in control of both banks of the Rhine, you have to kill as many big Germans as you can; Romans succeded in doing so for almost 500 years, then .. they broke (boredom perhaps? .. as after 500 turns playing DEI? who knows?).
    End (sad) of the tale, sadly history is not Hollywood and usually does not provide happy ending.
    The story of the Frankish invasion of Gaul was the Romans settled Frankish foederati inside the Empire and they ended up revolting against misrule and poor pay. Like the Goths. And the Germanic mercenaries in Britannia who ended up calling themselves Angles Saxons and Jutes.

    The Romans collapsed their own economy (at least in the Western Med) through civil war and the drift from the cities (which placed obligations on rich citizens) to the countryside (where the rich ruled from their villas). The breakdown of civic obligation which had civic, military, judicial, religious and tax aspects weakened the empire further. This was given a legal basis with the unfair distinction between honestores and humiliores: rich and poor were given legal distinction, and a class system re-imposed on Rome that had fought so hard though the republic to remove the class restrictions between Plebians and Patricians.

    There were less sturdy farmers willing to serve in the legions because the rich owned more and more of the land and didn't want their valuable workers spent in war. there was less tax revenue because the rich fled the cities which were the main conduit for taxation and obligated service, and trade collapsed which diminished revenue further. The professional legions of Marius and Marcus Aurelius were too expensive to continue, and the manpower in any case was lacking.

    Emperors turned to foreigners for manpower, but what foreigner would want to become a Roman citizen by then? To become an impoverished humiliore was not inviting, the honestores did not want barbaroi in their ranks, so the foreigners stayed foreign. This multiplied the class divisions in an already divided society, and I think is a big part of the "cascade of scorn", class, national and religious division that was such a part of European feudal society and echoes down to the present day.

    The Roman East survived because it recreated itself as a Christian Hellenic Empire. West Rome did not fall because some soldiers revolted, they just salvaged parts of a whole that disintegrated because its rulers, upper classes, priesthood and subjects stopped believing in Rome. They sold themselves out. (I blame the Piedmontese and Lombards for this above all jk it was the Irish! )

    It was a pretty robust system, to survive in various forms for over two thousand years. Holding one province or another is not the simple explanation for its eventual fall.
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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    The story of the Frankish invasion of Gaul was the Romans settled Frankish foederati inside the Empire and they ended up revolting against misrule and poor pay. Like the Goths. And the Germanic mercenaries in Britannia who ended up calling themselves Angles Saxons and Jutes.

    The Romans collapsed their own economy (at least in the Western Med) through civil war and the drift from the cities (which placed obligations on rich citizens) to the countryside (where the rich ruled from their villas). The breakdown of civic obligation which had civic, military, judicial, religious and tax aspects weakened the empire further. This was given a legal basis with the unfair distinction between honestores and humiliores: rich and poor were given legal distinction, and a class system re-imposed on Rome that had fought so hard though the republic to remove the class restrictions between Plebians and Patricians.

    There were less sturdy farmers willing to serve in the legions because the rich owned more and more of the land and didn't want their valuable workers spent in war. there was less tax revenue because the rich fled the cities which were the main conduit for taxation and obligated service, and trade collapsed which diminished revenue further. The professional legions of Marius and Marcus Aurelius were too expensive to continue, and the manpower in any case was lacking.

    Emperors turned to foreigners for manpower, but what foreigner would want to become a Roman citizen by then? To become an impoverished humiliore was not inviting, the honestores did not want barbaroi in their ranks, so the foreigners stayed foreign. This multiplied the class divisions in an already divided society, and I think is a big part of the "cascade of scorn", class, national and religious division that was such a part of European feudal society and echoes down to the present day.

    The Roman East survived because it recreated itself as a Christian Hellenic Empire. West Rome did not fall because some soldiers revolted, they just salvaged parts of a whole that disintegrated because its rulers, upper classes, priesthood and subjects stopped believing in Rome. They sold themselves out. (I blame the Piedmontese and Lombards for this above all jk it was the Irish! )

    It was a pretty robust system, to survive in various forms for over two thousand years. Holding one province or another is not the simple explanation for its eventual fall.
    I agree, in some way, it's the classic position of historians about the fall of Rome, but today it seems slightly outdated, when I expressed such thesis on another thread, they kindly explained to me that the whole concept of the 'economic crisis of the late empire' is now overtaken by recent studies on the revival of the Roman economy during the fourth century (one for all:Peter Heather in his The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History of Rome and the Barbarians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.), that the Late Roman Western Army was a fully effective fighting force, better or at least similar to the High Imperial Army, and that the so called "demographic decline" of the Western Part has still to be proved.
    Now, don't ask my opinion because at this point I doubt having one.

    Anyway, my dear friend, in my previous post I was just trying to explain why IMHO for controlling Gaul, it's necessary to fight on the German bank of the Rhenish Limes.

  13. #13
    Tribunus
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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    I agree, in some way, it's the classic position of historians about the fall of Rome, but today it seems slightly outdated, when I expressed such thesis on another thread, they kindly explained to me that the whole concept of the 'economic crisis of the late empire' is now overtaken by recent studies on the revival of the Roman economy during the fourth century (one for all:Peter Heather in his The Fall of the Roman Empire: a New History of Rome and the Barbarians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.), that the Late Roman Western Army was a fully effective fighting force, better or at least similar to the High Imperial Army, and that the so called "demographic decline" of the Western Part has still to be proved.
    Now, don't ask my opinion because at this point I doubt having one.

    Anyway, my dear friend, in my previous post I was just trying to explain why IMHO for controlling Gaul, it's necessary to fight on the German bank of the Rhenish Limes.
    You make good points there, and thanks for the update on more recent thinking. My study was chiefly in the 1980's so is quite outdated.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    @Diocle: And another book for my Read-list.
    The Imperial Army was a effectiv Fighting Force up to the year 400, it was the Battle of the Frigidus in 394 (Civil War, what else) that broke the western Legions if remember correctly.
    I think Magister Flavius Aetius had pointed out that the problem wasn`t the decline of the Roman Army, it was more that those Barbaroi improved in organisation, tactics and equipement.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    Quote Originally Posted by paleologos View Post
    There is no real disagreement here, though there is one remark: the Germanic peoples of the time were physically superior to the Romans (Bergmann's rule seems to apply regardless of true causality).
    Another thing I -do not remember where I read it so I cannot provide links- is that Arminius' Germans were armed with hatchets but used then to construct sizeable bats to attack the Romans with.
    It does take great strength to dispatch an armored fighter with a bat, I reckon.
    Still a fighter of whatever skill is not synonymous to a soldier and Roman soldiery was far superior.
    IIRC Tacitus (or was Caesar?) said that Germanics were tall and well build but were capable for just short burst of physical power display, they lacked stamina and were not able to do extended physical workout. They were more used to cold and hunger but couldn't resist much to hot weather and thirst. So I won't say they were physically superior to Romans, at least not to Roman legionars, already a professional military force where iirc were allowed just people with some physical standards up. Minimum height I think was 165cm (or 170cm) and the first cohort soldiers were all from 175cm up I think, and all were better trained and have at least much better stamina and resilience to longer periods of physical activities (including fighting).

    I agree that Romans were not that invested in transforming the whole Germania in a province, they were pretty practical people usually. After Germanicus punishment expeditions and after they established a control there it was OK and they found to be much cheaper and way more economically viable for them to rule through appointed client kings and just use raids and trade to get whatever they wanted, when they wanted (probably slaves and mercenaries, mostly, Germania Magna didn't had much resources). I think Romans appointed as client kings for Germanic tribes some sons of Arminius brother, who remained a loyal Roman officer all this time (I am not sure however if he didn't anyway spared his brother after recognized him hidding among the dead on the battlefield, and ignoring him so he could run away after the nightfall).

    About the much later fall of the Roman Empire, I think the main causes for its decline and eventual fall were mainly two. One was several huge pandemics that decimated the population and the army from time to time (starting with Antoninus plague, then Cyprian one and finally Justinian one), combined with endless internal fights for power and civil wars (including the infamous "crisis of the third century") and the subsequent economic crises.

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/o...many-p6lsv5jq6

    A nice find in Kalkriese, where the last Battle of Varus has likely happened.
    A full worn set of a Lorica Segmentata, worn by a Soldier who is also bound by fetters. So he has survived the Battle and was killed afterwards and was left there with his Armour on.

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    Default Re: Significance of Teutoburg Forest

    And here is additionally CT visualisation from the lorica segmenta:

    https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wissen/v...zers-1.5049764

    I read the article on 'Süddeutsche Zeitung' yesterday too.
    And when your sleep is haunted in the night
    Girl, don't you dare to seek for candle light
    'Cause in the dark your demons come as carnal dynamite
    Oh, demons of the night come and take her hand
    Oh, demons are a girl's best friend

    POWERWOLF ft. Alissa White-Gluz - Demons Are A Girl's Best Friend


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