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Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Feb 2011 at 00:51
Originally posted by Birddog Birddog wrote:

For the same reason hundreds of soldiers have died carrying standards into battle, or died defending them. They are a symbol of military pride and honor and to lose a standard is a disgrace to the nation and the unit that lost it. The Romans recovered all the eagles lost in a Teutoburg Forest, restoring the pride of the legions. Augustus was not going to risk a major war with the Parthians so he paid a ransom for the eagles and also for the return of several survivors of the Carrhae disaster who had lived years in slavery. Honor has a lot to do with soldiering, just ask Hitler.    

 
Actually battle standards had a more useful side to them than just the moral one. battle movements and manuevers were signaled using them. In addition to that they identified the unit and its status  if it was defeated or needed. This being used until now since in most countries raising the flag upside down means a state of battle or the need for help.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Birddog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Feb 2011 at 06:55
Very true. The Eagles were first intorudced to to Roman army by Gaius Marius. Old regimental colours are hung with pride in churches and veteran halls, even for modern units that do not take their colours into battle. There is a lot of interesting symbolism and ceromony with flags, such as flying the flag at half mask as a sign of mourning. Not to mention navel signals and semaphore.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2011 at 07:30
This battle makes me wonder whats gonna be our "tuetoberg forest" in referring to our own county but its actually already happened Vietnam. So its kinda funny how we today have this notions of supposed defeat and what "reality" is. We in America say thats gonna be their vietnam and I wonder if the Romans said thats gonna be their "Tuetoberg"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2011 at 18:03
Does anybody know the current status of archaeological findings? From what I have "accidentaly captured" it seems the attempt to conquest and romanise the interior of "Germania" was largescale, and that many details about what happened are foud in the last years. The massacre of the romans happened probably by well-planned deceit, and the enemy turned the romans way of warfare against themselves. Not very surprising: If You are neighbour to a mighty empire, and in addition a lot of your people serve there as mercenaries after sometime you can hardly avoid learning something from them.
 Then we may speculate if not a diffusion of such "roman ways" were one reason they "lost the edge", and ultimately much of the empire. The later is often attributed to developments inside - a "decay" or weakening. another way of looking at it could be their adversaries grew stronger, in part by adopting what they could use of the "roman ways", but I admit it is just a thought.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2011 at 23:09
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

Does anybody know the current status of archaeological findings? From what I have "accidentaly captured" it seems the attempt to conquest and romanise the interior of "Germania" was largescale, and that many details about what happened are foud in the last years. The massacre of the romans happened probably by well-planned deceit, and the enemy turned the romans way of warfare against themselves. Not very surprising: If You are neighbour to a mighty empire, and in addition a lot of your people serve there as mercenaries after sometime you can hardly avoid learning something from them.
 Then we may speculate if not a diffusion of such "roman ways" were one reason they "lost the edge", and ultimately much of the empire. The later is often attributed to developments inside - a "decay" or weakening. another way of looking at it could be their adversaries grew stronger, in part by adopting what they could use of the "roman ways", but I admit it is just a thought.


I am no archaeological scholar, but I have read that there has been much excavation since the years after WW II in the areas beyond the Rhine.  One of the results has been that in the years following Teutoberg the legionary fortifications were mostly abandoned.  There are excavations of those along the Main and the Lippe rivers which were the transportation routes deeper into "Germania."

Teutoberg was, of course a great defeat, but three out of 30 legions was hardly a catastrophe, and the Germanic tribes did not follow up, or capitalize, on the event - mostly because they were not able to.  The German nationalists liked to think "Germans" had defeated non Germans decisively, but that is hardly demonstrable.  Germanicus returned in 14 AD and punished the tribes in two campaigns, and Arminius, the hero of 9 AD, was murdered by someone, possibly rivals in his own tribe.

There are two major reasons expansion much beyond the Rhine ended.  First, the Rhine itself was a much more efficient transportation route to the more productive areas of northern Europe.  It was directly accessible by the Rhone and Moselle from the Mediterranean.

Second, Germania was not worth the effort due to the lack of productive land or existing wealth there.  Peter Heather has written that it was not their martial prowess that kept the Germans out of the Empire, it was rather their poverty.  Four hundred years later that changed but so had much else - and it took four hundred years.




Edited by pikeshot1600 - 26 Mar 2011 at 23:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 00:15
I do wish that the tendency toward 'exaggeration" so fostered of late by the MSM culture would stop oozing into historical analysis, particularly with respect to the Teuteborg "Ambush". I know that "publicity" generates interest, but even the sop published under the Smithsonian Institution's aegis is more about "selling" than analysis. Notice the hyperbole employed back in 2005 when the Teuteborg site was the the focus of "digs":
 
"It was a defeat so catastrophic that it threatened the survival of Rome itself and halted the empire's conquest of Germany. "This was a battle that changed the course of history," says Peter S. Wells, a specialist in Iron Age European archaeology at the University of Minnesota and the author of The Battle That Stopped Rome. "It was one of the most devastating defeats ever suffered by the Roman Army, and its consequences were the most far-reaching. The battle led to the creation of a militarized frontier in the middle of Europe that endured for 400 years, and it created a boundary between Germanic and Latin cultures that lasted 2,000 years."
 
Once again I must utter balderdash!
 
First, the occupants of the trans-Rhine in AD 9 were more or less absorbed into the Roman "system" in the succeeding decades and the actual problem comes from the introduction of the term "Germans" and the assumption that the peoples of the 4th and 5th centuries were those of 1st! For example the Romans were rather good at noting tribal identifications and naming the groups involved hence there is no attestation of the Franci along the Lower Rhine until the 3rd century! Likewise, the Alamanni of the Upper Rhine also surge to note at that time. The actual fact is that by that time the Right Bank of the Rhine has been pretty well Romanized! Archaeological evidence pretty well confirms this fact. Suffice it to say that the "Germans" associated with the Teutoborg incident were pretty "disrupted" shall we say by the campaigns of AD 15-17, sufficiently so that by the next century the area was more of less identified with the Franci.
 
As for all the folderol over standards...just substitute the word flag and you've gotten the essential gist.


Edited by drgonzaga - 27 Mar 2011 at 02:11
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 00:59
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Notice the hyperbole employed back in 2005 when the teuteborg site was the the focus of "digs":
 
"It was a defeat so catastrophic that it threatened the survival of Rome itself and halted the empire's conquest of Germany. "This was a battle that changed the course of history," says Peter S. Wells, a specialist in Iron Age European archaeology at the University of Minnesota and the author of The Battle That Stopped Rome. "It was one of the most devastating defeats ever suffered by the Roman Army, and its consequences were the most far-reaching. The battle led to the creation of a militarized frontier in the middle of Europe that endured for 400 years, and it created a boundary between Germanic and Latin cultures that lasted 2,000 years."
Hmmm. If, as he Smithsonian says, it created a boundary that lasted 2,000 years, what were they fighting over in 1870 and 1914-18? and who were fighting over it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 12:33
I think you both misunderstand the sociological point of view pertaining to the incident. The idea that it was a border isn't a physical place that can be walked to but more of a cultural border between the languages and ideas that developed. Its not unfair to attribute the roman victories under Germanicus as a proving point that the "tuetoberg" battle achieved much relative to that time period. It is fair however to note that the Romans stopped when they previously were trying to expand into those territories and were trying to "Romanize" them. Like you said before DOC the Romans were big with Symbolic victory. So I'd say the Germanicus fights were just that a symbol to the Roman people "Hey they can't touch us". They did get annihilated; they lost. That is fact ; they were surrounded and fought on for a few days and were all killed. It is fair however to note the idea that they weren't a centralized tribe nor were they the same historical peoples as the vandals, or the visigoths or the saxons or even the franks. Its still the fact that they fought off Romanization and their future relatives dominated.



Edited by Joe - 27 Mar 2011 at 12:34
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 13:29
The "sociological point of view" is jargon! After all the notion of "tribes" was hardly an alien understanding to a Roman given the fact that they themselves maintained the division within a historical context. The concept of gens [as in gens julia] was applied to the disparate groupings the Romans encountered in the Rhine Valley and such should give everyone an inkling with respect to the societies encountered between the 1st and 2nd centuries. It is incorrect to even conclude that Teuteborg even brought a halt to Roman influence at the Rhine given the fact that not only trade and contact continued into the Elbe and Upper Danube valleys but also the adoption of Roman military hardware. The fact that archaeology continues to discover Roman artefacts even as distant as Norway brings into question the claim that the tribes fought off "Romanization". The Romans certainly maintained contacts with groups such as the Marcomanni and the Quadi throughout the 1st century. Nor should we lose sight of the fact that Roman Legions were still penetrating deep into these territories well into the times of Marcus Aurelius. However, the telling point in asserting "Romanization" is found in the term foederati by the 3rd century and how these became the incubus for the preservation of the Roman mystique in the 5th through 7th centuries.

Edited by drgonzaga - 27 Mar 2011 at 13:31
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 21:10
It occurs to me that the Teutoburg defeat has a similar place in Roman history to the place the defeat in the first Afghan War had in the history of the British Empire.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 21:53
 The era is called "the Roman iron age" in Scandinavia, because of the many imported items from the Roman Empire found by archaeologists. What could the people inside the empire have got in return? Manpower is an obvious answer, that is perhaps slaves and very likely substantial numbers of soldiers, not least since a large percentage of the items found of imperial origin are weapons and equipment for soldiers. Some places remains of battles have been  found with large numbers of destroyed weapons. Soldiers from the losing parts were probably "sacrificed" elsewhere.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2011 at 01:13
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

It occurs to me that the Teutoburg defeat has a similar place in Roman history to the place the defeat in the first Afghan War had in the history of the British Empire.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Mar 2011 at 10:29
To say that the Germans beat the Romans at Teutoburger toe to toe is stretching it. The Germans were allied tribes and Arminius was a Roman educated German who had pledged his loyalty to Rome. They beat the Romans because, keeping up the pretense of being allies, they cunningly directed them into a confined and difficult area and then betrayed them.

As far as Quinctilius Varus was concerned, these men were their allies, and he did not know any better until the Romans had already been hemmed into the ravine and were being picked off piecemeal.

Though some might claim that on paper the loss of 3 legions out of 28 was not so bad, in truth it was pretty serious for an empire that had a very extensive border to defend. Good quality legions took a great deal of time to train to the point of being proficient in the tactics they employed to give them a military edge, because unlike many barbarians the Romans did not live in highly militaristic clans that fought eachother and hunted from boyhood to develop into natural warriors. The Romans certainly had the resources to replace the legions, but the critical danger was that there now existed a gap in the long line of Roman border defences that left large areas vulnerable to attack. In the early first century, this proved to not be too serious as the Germanic tribes were not able to be welded into an effective military relationship for offensive purposes. So while the Germans were able to win a battle deep in their favoured terrain after cunningly betraying their allies, they were not able to capitalise on that gain for offensive purposes. In later centuries that would change.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote beorna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 2014 at 20:15
Compared with the total strength of the Roman army, the loss of 3 legions, 3 alae and 6 cohortes was not that heavy. But one has to keep in mind, that this was the most of the Roman army at the Rhine border. Only the two legions under Asprenas remained. besides the personal losses, the germanics destroyed all summer camps and fortifications. The defeat never endangered the existence of the Roman empire, but it threatened the province of gaul and other provinces. If Arminius would have been able to make an alliance with marbod, the whole situation had even become worse.

If the romans had decided to go on with war against Germania, beyond the revange campaigns of germanicus, then the Romans would have been succesful without a doubt. But it was seen as waste of ressources and the Romans decided to controll germania from outside, by corrupting some principes, by short campaigns etc.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote caldrail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jan 2014 at 21:39
Quote
Originally posted by Birddog Birddog wrote:

For the same reason hundreds of soldiers have died carrying standards into battle, or died defending them. They are a symbol of military pride and honor and to lose a standard is a disgrace to the nation and the unit that lost it. The Romans recovered all the eagles lost in a Teutoburg Forest, restoring the pride of the legions. Augustus was not going to risk a major war with the Parthians so he paid a ransom for the eagles and also for the return of several survivors of the Carrhae disaster who had lived years in slavery. Honor has a lot to do with soldiering, just ask Hitler.    

 
Actually battle standards had a more useful side to them than just the moral one. battle movements and manuevers were signaled using them. In addition to that they identified the unit and its status  if it was defeated or needed. This being used until now since in most countries raising the flag upside down means a state of battle or the need for help.
 
Al-Jassas


Roman military standards also had religious significance. The extent of religion in Roman military life is often overlooked but for them deeply important. Religion and warfare were connected in Roman culture at a primal level ever since the Bronze Age and although the expression of religious sentiment had changed with regard to the legions as opposed to the warrior bands of old (priests were no longer leading men on raids), the adoption of personality cults in the imperial period was simply a change of focus.
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