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Old November 21st, 2012, 05:59 AM   #41
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Absolutely, if the Roman Senate/Politicians decided that they wanted to conquer Germania then they would have conquered Germania. It was decided against because of the time required to do so, the financial aspects and also previous failings.

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Old November 23rd, 2012, 01:32 PM   #42
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No. The swampy land, the dense forests, and the decentralized settlements and armies would have made it impossible. It would have been similar to the US in Vietnam, likely even worse.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 07:02 PM   #43

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No. The swampy land, the dense forests, and the decentralized settlements and armies would have made it impossible. It would have been similar to the US in Vietnam, likely even worse.
.
Wasn't Britain even worse in that aspect?
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 07:12 PM   #44
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Wasn't Britain even worse in that aspect?
Yup, so it was.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 04:01 AM   #45

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Absolutely, if the Roman Senate/Politicians decided that they wanted to conquer Germania then they would have conquered Germania. It was decided against because of the time required to do so, the financial aspects and also previous failings.

Know the Romans - Explains the civilisation exceptionally well.
Tacitus describes Germania as 'fearful forest, and stinking bog'. It was very much a dark and unpleasant temperate rainforest although Tacitus either ignores or is unaware of the extent of heathland used by Germanic tribes for animal husbandry. It was also very much a wilderness. The Germans did not build large settlements of any sophistication or wealth, nor did they use infrastructure beyond simple trails. There was nothing for the Romans to conquer, and indeed, they never attempted it.

Partly this was because of the enviroment I have already pointed to, but also because the Germanians were not a united people and the Romans found it more useful to play one tribe off against another. We also need to see that Augustus did not 'invade' Germania' as is popularly imagined, but rather he opted for colonisation. Like the American west Roman settlers were crossing the border and setting up markets in the forest. It was proving a fruitful policy (as Augustus intended - he wanted them added to his tax base) and archaeology has revealed previously unknown abandoned Roman towns in the Germanian forest. Augustus didn't want a conquered people - he wanted reliable and obedient tax payers.

It is remotely possible they might have achieved a conquest, but please realise that by imperial times expansion into barbarian areas was limited and in most cases the territory was shortlived. If we look at the Caledonian expeditions we see something similar, with a conquest abandoned and troops withdrawn to a supportable frontier (although I agree this had as much to do with politics as military practicality)

In order to conquer the region the Romans would have required considerable effort, not only in military terms, but in stretching Roman command and control beyond their practical limits. Remember that provinces were not ruled from Rome....

The Roman government achieved its two major administrative goals, the extraction of a surplus (taxation) and internal peace (jurisdiction), only through the routine cooperation of the local system of rule with the elite administrators appointed to each province. The provincial governor possessed supreme discretionary authority in his province, an authority manifested most strikingly in his powers of life and death over his provincial subjects. Governors and procurators acted as the final arbiters of all forms of dispute, whether administrative, fiscal, judicial, or territorial. Most of the routine procedures of administration and jurisdiction were devolved to the local authorities. The mass of provincial subjects scarcely came into contact with the elite representatives of the imperial state. Instead contact was mediated through the local authorities. They continued, also, to exercise legitimate authority over their subjects as far as purely llocal matters were concerned. Their political authority was enhanced by their surrogate role as agents of the imperial state, and they were rewarded by the state by the acquisition of judicial privileges.

Four consequences of the administrative goals of the Roman government deserve emphasis for their wider historical implications. First, the regular extraction of resources, through taxation, provided the means to finance the standing armies which protected the empire from external attacks and invasions, while the exercise of jurisdiction ensured a level of internal peace. Internal peace and the absence of foreign invasions underpinned the political unity of the empire. Second, both the goals of the Roman government, and the specific methods created to achieve them, reinforced the social and political hierarchy within the provinces and helped to integrate the local elites into the imperial system of rule. Third, continuous internal peace provided a secure framework for economic activity, especially agriculture and trade. The economically powerful, especially provincial land-owners from whom the majority of the local political elite were recruited, were enabled to maintain and reproduce, across time, their economic hegemony. Fourth, the practice of devolving much responsibility for the collection of taxes and for the execution of justice on the local authorities served continuously to entrench their local political power. In short, Roman rule was predicated on, recognised and enhanced the social and political hierarchy of the provinces.

The Roman World - Government and the Provinces (Graham Burton/John Wacher)

In order to install Roman control, the Romans would therefore not only have to conquer by military force, but create a province from a wilderness, settlemetns and infrastructure included. This was a massive enterprise in a region enviromentally difficult. The experience of Germanicus and his campaigns in the Germanian flood plains is also relevant, as Roman legionaries are described having to march in terrain flooded up to their chins with losses from drowning. It simply wasn't an easy proposition and the German tribes themselves were not sophisticated nation states willing to engage in 'normal' politics. If anything, the Varian Disaster of ad9 demonstrates the difficulty of tackling barbarians on their own turf.

It is also a fallacy to believe that the Romans wanted to conquer everything in sight. I agree they were incredibly greedy and rapacious in desires for resources, but the conquests were the result of individual ambition, not a cultural imperative. Unless someone in power wanted to conquer germania, it would never happen, and the Romans therefore contented themselves with punitive expeditions or in some cases, banditry.
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