Rome's Greatest Enemy

Sep 2017
720
United States
#51
Well Augustus humself couldn't defeat them. And even during the heights of the Empire, they had frequent incursions. This obviously led to Marcus Aurelius's wars, and in part the Crisis of the Third Century. They were always a bug-bear that was there during the good times, and ultimately brought them down.
The ultimate subjugation of Germania wasn't Augustus' goal. The Teutoberg incident was unfortunate, but not a death blow by any stretch. Germanicus, Constantine, etc. all had very successful campaigns against the Germans, handing them defeats and plundering their land.

They were just the final nail in the coffin for the WRE.
 
Feb 2011
1,067
Scotland
#52
The ultimate subjugation of Germania wasn't Augustus' goal. The Teutoberg incident was unfortunate, but not a death blow by any stretch. Germanicus, Constantine, etc. all had very successful campaigns against the Germans, handing them defeats and plundering their land.

They were just the final nail in the coffin for the WRE.
Hi,

Sorry to repeat a post (from More Impactful Battles) but it's relevant here-

There was the settlement uncovered at Waldgirmes, 100Km East of the Rhine, with the first known stone buildings in Germany- a full Forum and Basilica, with Equestrian statue of Augustus. This may have been a trading settlement originally, but it was Roman and developed over nearly 20 years into a nascent civil settlement and possibly the provincial capital. There may be other such sites not yet discovered. Waldgirmes was destroyed in the aftermath of Teutoberger Wald, which rather suggests expulsion from a developing province rather than armies wandering about an undeveloped Germany. Subjugation of Transrhenate Germany was indeed Augustus' goal- it was quietly reliquished after Teutoberger Wald.

The subsequent campaigns of Germanicus were punitive, not an attempt at reconquest.
 
#53
Well Augustus humself couldn't defeat them. And even during the heights of the Empire, they had frequent incursions. This obviously led to Marcus Aurelius's wars, and in part the Crisis of the Third Century. They were always a bug-bear that was there during the good times, and ultimately brought them down.
In the case of the third century, the Germans were certainly a big issue (specifically the Franks, Alemanni, Iuthungi, Goths and Heruli), but they appear to have been exploiting Rome's internal instability and their disastrous wars with the Persians. The Empire was already suffering from civil wars/usurpations and a tumultuous/economically-draining military situation on the eastern frontier (which fed into one another) when German aggression heated up in the 250s. Of course, German incursions and victories in turn exacerbated Rome's internal instability and further undermined their ability to successfully fight the Persians, and this had a cyclical effect. But that's one of the reasons I'm also into this idea that Rome's biggest enemy was itself. One could make a similar argument for the fifth century. Regardless, I still give them kudos for winning victories at Teutoberger Wald, Abrittus, Placentia, Adrianople, etc.
 
Last edited:
Sep 2017
720
United States
#54
Hi,

Sorry to repeat a post (from More Impactful Battles) but it's relevant here-

There was the settlement uncovered at Waldgirmes, 100Km East of the Rhine, with the first known stone buildings in Germany- a full Forum and Basilica, with Equestrian statue of Augustus. This may have been a trading settlement originally, but it was Roman and developed over nearly 20 years into a nascent civil settlement and possibly the provincial capital. There may be other such sites not yet discovered. Waldgirmes was destroyed in the aftermath of Teutoberger Wald, which rather suggests expulsion from a developing province rather than armies wandering about an undeveloped Germany. Subjugation of Transrhenate Germany was indeed Augustus' goal- it was quietly reliquished after Teutoberger Wald.

The subsequent campaigns of Germanicus were punitive, not an attempt at reconquest.
Interesting find! However, without further information, it could potentially be a colony that just kind of sprung up on its own, eventually getting big enough that there was no reason not to make incorporate it. Many (colonial) American settlements begun this way, I don't see why a Roman one couldn't. And when this settlement was sacked (I'm assuming it didn't have a sizable garrison if it was overrun with such little impact) it wasn't a huge deal.

I don't think Augustus would've minded conquering Germania, but he didn't dedicate his rule to doing so. And the punitive expeditions were not only revenge-oriented, but a form of active defense. I don't doubt that the Romans would've had some success had they dedicated themselves to incorporating Germania, but the empire was already very large and unwieldy and this is one of the reasons it broke down.

Overall, I don't think that until the Romans had broken into civil strife the Germans were that much of a menace. And when they were really a menace, that was when the WRE was already on track to implode.
 
#55
As I pointed out in that 'more impactful battles' thread, while there may well have been Augustan plans to settle deeper into German lands, that the Romans apparently never returned to this idea speaks to a deeper lack of interest in settling the region, in the same way that the Romans did not pursue territorial acquisitions far beyond the Tigris in the east or further south into Kush, nor maintained a sustained interest in expanding deeper into Caledonia. While the Romans after Augustus did continue to have often aggressive relations with their neighbours, there does not seem to have been a huge interest in new acquisitions. Hadrian abandoned Trajan's eastern conquests as they were too much of a hassle to hold, and he did not reassert Roman influence over the Parthian kingship. Aurelian abandoned the trans-Danubian salient that was Dacia. Following Galerius' massive victory over the Sassanians, Diocletian (by treaty) seized seven trans-Tigritanian territories, but these served as a useful strategic bulwark, and he probably transferred them to vassal Armenian control. He also ordered Galerius not to annex further land. Numerous emperors campaigned north of the Danube (e.g. Trajan, Aurelian) and east of the Rhine (e.g. Maximian, Constantine), but with the exception of Trajan in Dacia, there was little sign that emperors wished to hold territories permanently. Rather, they led punitive expeditions and played interventionist politics in order to secure the frontiers.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2015
2,359
uk
#56
For a foreign individual it has to be Hannibal. Didn't Roman parents frighten their children into being good by saying that Hannibal would come and get them if they weren't? So the Roman Bogeyman has to take top spot.

Overall though, as has been mentioned, the internal corruption was always more of a threat than the external force; if anything attack from foreign enemies helped bring the Romans together. If I had to name one individual then it would have to be Caesar and his bringing the Republic to an end. Yes Rome enjoyed massive expansion, success and prosperity under the Emperors - but it was this swelling of Rome that ultimately destabilised it.
 
#57
For a foreign individual it has to be Hannibal. Didn't Roman parents frighten their children into being good by saying that Hannibal would come and get them if they weren't? So the Roman Bogeyman has to take top spot.
Oh yeah, Hannibal and Carthage remained notorious long after their fall. Gaiseric and the Vandals notably represented their kingdom as Carthage's successor, something that undoubtedly rubbed the Romans the wrong way (this is argued in an article by Richard Miles, called "Vandal North Africa and the Fourth Punic War.").
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,814
Blachernai
#60
In the case of the third century, the Germans were certainly a big issue (specifically the Franks, Alemanni, Iuthungi, Goths and Heruli), but they appear to have been exploiting Rome's internal instability and their disastrous wars with the Persians. The Empire was already suffering from civil wars/usurpations and a tumultuous/economically-draining military situation on the eastern frontier (which fed into one another) when German aggression heated up in the 250s. Of course, German incursions and victories in turn exacerbated Rome's internal instability and further undermined their ability to successfully fight the Persians, and this had a cyclical effect. But that's one of the reasons I'm also into this idea that Rome's biggest enemy was itself. One could make a similar argument for the fifth century. Regardless, I still give them kudos for winning victories at Teutoberger Wald, Abrittus, Placentia, Adrianople, etc.
To what extent do you think the Drinkwater thesis is true?
 

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