Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

9 AD Roman defeat by Germanic tribes / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, described as the Varian Disaster (Latin: Clades Variana) by Roman historians, was a major battle between Germanic tribes and the Roman Empire that took place at modern Kalkriese from September 8–11, 9 AD, when an alliance of Germanic peoples ambushed Roman legions and their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus. The alliance was led by Arminius, a Germanic officer of Varus's auxilia. Arminius had acquired Roman citizenship and had received a Roman military education, which enabled him to deceive the Roman commander methodically and anticipate the Roman army's tactical responses.

Quick facts: Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, Date, Locatio...
Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
Part of the early imperial campaigns in Germania
A stone carving, the border resembling a Greco-Roman building, displaying three busts, slightly damaged, the centremost being that of Marcus Caelius, wearing armour, a cape and holding a staff of office in his right hand. Below the carving is a Latin inscription.
Cenotaph of Marcus Caelius, 1st centurion of XVIII, who "fell in the war of Varus" ('bello Variano').
Reconstructed inscription: "To Marcus Caelius, son of Titus, of the Lemonian tribe, from Bologna, first centurion of the eighteenth legion. 53+12 years old. He fell in the Varian War. His freedman's bones may be interred here. Publius Caelius, son of Titus, of the Lemonian tribe, his brother, erected (this monument)."[1]
DateSeptember 8–11, 9 AD
Probably present-day Osnabrück (district), Lower Saxony
52°24′29″N 8°07′46″E
Result Germanic victory
End of Germania Antiqua, establishment of a limes in the Rhine

Allied Germanic peoples, possibly including the:

Vexilloid_of_the_Roman_Empire.svg Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Publius Quinctilius Varus 
Units involved

Total estimates range from 18,000 to 30,000.[2]

  • Angrivarii: ~5,000[3]
  • Bructeri: ~8,000[3]
  • Cherusci: ~8,000[3]
Other troops were likely mustered from the remaining tribes[3]

Estimates vary by historian
Powell: 14,000–22,752[4]
Unknown non-combatants[4]

McNally: ~21,000 total combatants and noncombatants[5]
Casualties and losses
Unknown, but minor. 16,000[6]–20,000 killed.[7]
Almost the entire army destroyed, some may have been sold into slavery, a small number of Roman soldiers escaped back to Roman territory[8]

Teutoburg Forest is commonly seen as one of the most important defeats in Roman history, bringing the triumphant period of expansion under Augustus to an abrupt end. The outcome of this battle dissuaded the Romans from their ambition of conquering Germania, and is thus considered one of the most important events in European history.[9] The provinces of Germania Superior and Germania Inferior, sometimes collectively referred to as Roman Germania, were subsequently established in northeast Roman Gaul, while territories beyond the Rhine remained independent of Roman control. Retaliatory campaigns were commanded by Tiberius and Germanicus and would enjoy success, but the Rhine would eventually become the border between the Roman Empire and the rest of Germania. The Roman Empire would launch no other major incursion into Germania until Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180) during the Marcomannic Wars.[10]

Some of the descendants of the vassal kingdoms, like the Suebi (by suzerainty), that Augustus tried to create in Germania to expand the romanitas and the Empire would be the ones that invaded the Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries.[11][12]

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