Germany History – The Roman Province Part II

Tiberius returned in 4 d. C., the work that he had left interrupted was resumed: in the winter of 4 to 5 the Roman army wintered for the first time in the Germanic territory, where until now it had usually only ventured in the summer season; in the 5th and 6th the whole region between the Rhine and the Elbe was crossed again, and the Cherusci and the other rebel tribes were brought back in obedience; even the Lombards, settled between the Weser and Elba, recognized the dominion of Rome. And to this the Cimbri of Jütland and the Semnons stationed beyond the Elbe paid homage: the legions did not actually cross this river, but a fleet went up its course after having first sailed to the promontory of the Cimbri (tip of the Jütland). The taking over of the region was now complete and definitive: it was only a question of consolidating it both morally and also materially, destroying or bending the kingdom of the Marcomanni to the protector of Rome, and thus joining the Elbe border with that of the middle Danube. But the revolt of Illyricum and Pannonia forced Tiberius to give up his plans. His estrangement from the Rhine army and the bad governance of those who succeeded him made the germs of revolt ripen in the Germans; it broke out in 9 d. C., while the command of the legions was P. Quintilio Varo, a weak and inept man, and Arminius (v.), Prince of the Cherusci, was the soul.

According to carswers, the army, made up of three legions and various auxiliary corps, had spent the summer of the year 9 near the Weser: at the news that one of the neighboring tribes had risen, Varo began his retreat: but surprised within a swampy forest of the Westphalia, the Teutoburg Forest, was unable to withstand the assault: the army was completely destroyed. The event, certainly very painful, was not in fact, in its immediate consequences, more serious than many other similar ones: because the massacre of the legions was not followed, partly due to the discord that broke out in the camp of the Germans, partly due to the prompt intervention of the commander of the legions of Mainz, from an assault on the Rhine: however it marked the end of all the plans of annexation to the empire of the lands up to Elba. The return of Tiberius brought a reinvigoration of the defenses and of the army, but not a resumption of operations beyond the Rhine: in 10 and 11 Tiberius passed to the right of it, but for quite limited actions. Having ascended Tiberius to the throne, Germanicus, son of Drusus, who remained alone in command of the German army, seemed to want to return to his father’s footsteps. Three times, in the 14th, 15th and 16th, he traveled across the Rhine: the first campaign was short; in the second the Catti and Cherusci were reduced in obedience, and with the combined action of the army and the fleet, the region between the Rhine and the Amisa (Ems): returning for the first time to the Teutoburg forest, the remains of the army of Varus were found. In vain did Arminius try to renew with Germanicus the ambush already set for Varus: the Romans resisted and were able to regain, not without serious losses, the Rhine camps. above all to lean on the sea and on the coastal populations most loyal to Rome. With a fleet he brought the army to the mouth of the Weser: there he was attacked by the Cherusci, still commanded by Arminius. There were two battles, and in both the victory remained with the Romans: but the victories were not decisive: on the other hand the autumn storms dispersed the fleet on their return, causing very serious losses to it and to the army.

The reconquest of Germany had thus begun again, but with still limited successes, and thwarted by painful accidents: Tiberius’s jealousy towards Germanicus ended up precipitating the decision that was already in the emperor’s soul; in 16 Germanicus was recalled and sent to the East, and his recall meant the definitive abandonment of any project to conquer the great Germany. Even after emperors and governors they will often still have to fight on the right of the Rhine to subdue rebel tribes or to enlarge and consolidate Roman rule: but they will be wars and extensions of limited consequences, of a purely local character. We will no longer talk about a transfer of the border to Elba:

The recall of Germanicus resulted in the division of the command of the Rhine army into two minor commands: Upper Germany and Lower Germany.

The provision had perhaps already been planned previously, but its application must have been suspended, like that of the Augustan order of Gaul. Indeed, it is very likely that Augustus had already had in mind to establish a province of Germany, which would include the whole region located between the Rhine and the Elbe and the districts west of the Rhine inhabited by Germanic peoples.

Germany History - The Roman Province 2