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Idistaviso 16 AD – Roman-Germanic Wars DOCUMENTARY

Idistaviso 16 AD – Roman-Germanic Wars DOCUMENTARY

This video was sponsored by the Great Courses
Plus. Go to thegreatcoursesplus.com today to
start your free trial. In our previous videos we detailed the catastrophic
Roman defeat in the Teutoburg Forest and its aftermath. This calamity had resulted in the
loss of all territories east of the River Rhine and had annihilated three entire legions,
while their revered Aquilae were lost. However, the Romans would not accept this humiliation
sitting down, and revenge would soon be meted out on the treacherous Arminius, culminating
in the battles at Idistaviso and the Angrivarian Wall. It is 9 AD, and as the news of the clades
Variana – the Varian Disaster – radiated throughout the Roman Empire, it became obvious that reinforcements
had to be sent to the Gallic border. The closest commander to the area Tiberius, marched north
towards the Rhine. He found its defenses almost unmanned. He garrisoned the forts and ordered
guard details to be posted at strategic points along the Rhine, to prevent any possible Germanic
crossing of the river. With these arrangements made, he departed for Rome and left his adopted
son, Germanicus, as commander in the area. The boy who would become Germanicus was born
Nero Claudius Drusus in 16 BC. He was the nephew of Tiberius and great-nephew of Augustus
himself. His father, another Nero Claudius Drusus, was killed when he fell off his horse
in 9 BC. The Senate granted the family the honorific Germanicus as a battle honour.
Despite this lack of experience, young Germanicus proved himself brilliant, and recruited, trained
and marshalled his own army from scratch, as the Illyrian situation deteriorated in
6 AD. With his army assembled from freedmen and conscripts in Rome, Germanicus crossed
the Adriatic to the warzone in Illyria. At this point in the conflict, many professional
commanders were bogged down by the insurgents’ guerilla tactics, but Germanicus enjoyed much
success. He conquered the Illyrian Mazaei people, in whose territory his army wintered.
As the conflict dragged into 8 AD, Germanicus rejoined his army and moved south to take
Splonum – a prosperous mining centre. After some difficulty he took the city, followed
by Raetium and many other rebel strongholds along the way.
After these many successes, he was given command of an entire army group, with which he helped
to turn the war in Rome’s favour during 9 AD. After the Illyrian surrender, Germanicus
received triumphal honours, in addition to the position of praetor as a reward for his
great courage and prowess. Before the war he was a naive civil magistrate with a talent
for writing, and now he was a battle commander. This is what Germanicus had accomplished before
taking the office along the Rhine, in the aftermath of the Teutoburg catastrophe in
9 AD. After a brief stint as military commander in the region, during which he stabilized
the regional defenses, he returned to Rome, where he performed his duties as a Praetor
expertly. In 11 AD the responsibility to deal with the
possible Germanic threat was given to Tiberius and Germanicus. They passed across the Rhine
border, marching with impunity through Germany. Due to the cautiousness of both sides, there
was no pitched battle, and in late 11AD, Germanicus returned to Rome.
Upon his arrival at the start at 12AD, he became a Consul at the age of 27 – one of
the youngest ever to receive the honour. After his year as Consul had expired, Germanicus
was appointed legatus Augusti pro praetore – or ‘deputy and governor’ for the three
Gallic provinces and Germania – the very same position which his father Drusus the Elder
had occupied. The new Legate’s duties included nation building in the new regions, ensuring
internal stability, and promoting Rome’s economic interests in the area.
In the late summer of 14 AD and at the old age of 75, Augustus, the creator of the Roman
Empire and adopted son of Julius Caesar, passed away while visiting Nola. The succession of
Augustus had been a prime concern throughout his reign. Eventually Tiberius was chosen
by the late Princeps to inherit the Empire, while Germanicus and his family were now permitted
to take the name Caesar. In Rome, Tiberius consolidated his power among
the military, senate and aristocracy while his heir-apparent – Postumus Agrippa, perished,
with Germanicus ascending to the role instead. At this point it is possible that Tiberius
became paranoid about his popular nephew’s power, and that feared he might attempt to
overthrow him. However, Germanicus was unswervingly loyal to the new Emperor, and proved it by
his actions, not at all thinking of usurping the imperial authority.
A test of this loyalty was put to the vibrant young General in mid-15 AD, when the legions
on the Rhine and Danube revolted. They were angry about pay, conditions and the cruelty
of their centurions. Dissatisfied at Tiberius’ response, they attempted to proclaim Germanicus
the Emperor, but he angrily refused. Instead, he proclaimed that he would rather die than
betray the Emperor and threatened to commit suicide. The legions stopped him, and they
eventually came to a compromise. Seeking to focus the legionnaire’s energy
on a common foe to restore their unity, Germanicus sent 15,000 men across the Rhine to devastate
the Marsi nation, ruthlessly ordering that everything in a 50 mile radius of their city
should be burned and destroyed, while all enemy civilians in the area were murdered.
When this was done, other Germanic tribes attacked as the Romans were marching back
to the Rhine. Germanicus rallied his troops to victory, then travelled back to Rome. Word
of his exploits in crushing the mutinies and invading Germania reached the eternal city
before he did, and the people of Rome, as well as the praetorian cohorts, came to meet
him upon his return, applauding his achievements. As a reward for his services, Germanicus received
the privilege of a triumph. Germanicus then returned to modern day Cologne,
where he began to plan that year’s campaigns. Across the [river?] lived a tribe called the
Chatti. As they were close to the sphere of Roman urban influence, they had urban settlements,
engaged in lengthy military campaigns and even elected their leaders. Their power represented
a large threat to Roman interests in the region, and so Germanicus launched a brutal two-pronged
attack against them. Many Chatti villages were burned and countless men, women and children
were killed in this campaign, which drew the attention of the Cherusci, the tribe of Arminius,
and the remnants of the Marsi. The latter were quickly defeated by Germanicus. The Romans
even captured Arminius’ pregnant wife Thusnelda. Hearing of his wife’s capture, Arminius
rallied his Cherusci tribe and their Germanic allies. Germanicus knew that he needed to
launch a preemptive strike before the tribes could launch their own attack, and planned
a massive three-pronged attack to surround the Cherusci, aiming to cut them off from
their Bructeri and Angrivarii allies. While two commanders led the legions on land,
Germanicus himself headed an amphibious invasion up the river Ems. The central column reached
the main Bructeri settlement and pillaged it, managing to find the Aquila of Legio 19.
The three army groups then joined together, and Germanicus diverted their route into the
area in which Varus’ legions had been slaughtered. Roman remains and equipment still littered
the area and, in an emotional experience, the Roman soldiers buried their massacred
comrades and honoured them with a tumulus – a sacred mound. As he retreated, Germanicus’
army was attacked and suffered badly, but the campaigns of 15 AD had largely been a
success. The next year Germanicus decided to launch
a decisive campaign against Arminius. A massive amphibious invasion of 52,000 soldiers and
1,000 ships again thrust up the Ems and disembarked on the left side of the river. His legions
marched east until they met the Germanic forces on opposite side of the Weser River.
The two armies drew up for the coming conflict in an area of the channel in which there were
fords, but no bridges. Germanicus decided that without safe crossing points, he would
be exposing his legionaries to unnecessary danger if he forced them to cross, and so
came up with a new plan. While the majority of his army stayed where it was, he commanded
the left and right wing cavalry units under Stertinius and Aemilius to distract the Germanic
infantry on the flanks, while the elite Batavian cavalry under Charivalda crashed into the
enemy centre. The Batavians made progress against Arminius’
front line, and almost broke through to the enemy leader. But he had served with the Roman
military during the years before Teutoburg, and was familiar with this diversionary tactic.
He had laid a trap of his own and at this point his Cherusci cavalry swept out of the
forest and surrounded Charivalda’s forces, killing the cavalry commander. Their horsemen
began to melt away under the charge, but the two flanking cavalry forces turned inward
and attempted to rescue their Batavian counterparts. They succeeded, and a small amount of the
surviving central cavalry managed to escape. Seeing that his initial strategy had failed,
Germanicus sounded a retreat across the river and returned to the camp.
The Roman commander wanted to campaign against Arminius further, but he was unsure about
the morale of his soldiers. He was soon reassured when the taunting of a Germanic warrior was
replied by the legionaries angrily jeering, and shouting back that they would take their
lands and wives as spoils of war. Confident in the high spirits of his soldiers, Germanicus
marched out once again to engage the enemy on the Plain of Idistaviso.
His army consisted of Gallic and Germanic auxiliaries, as well as foot archers in the
vanguard. Four Imperial legions were behind them, followed by Germanicus himself, accompanied
by two Praetorian cohorts and some handpicked cavalry. Next came four more Roman legions,
lightly armed troops, some horse-archers and the remaining allied cohorts.
Arminius’ Angrivarii and Cherusci infantry forces began on a hill slope and charged viciously
down at the Roman front line to open the battle. Seeing the Germanic infantry making their
charge, Germanicus ordered the cavalry under Stertinius to attack Arminius’ flank and
rear, holding his infantry back for the time being. He waited until the cavalry made contact,
and then ordered his auxiliaries and the first four legions to advance at the charging Germanic
infantry. As the legionaries threw their two Pila the
enemy began to immediately suffer casualties, and they eventually started to flee. However,
Arminius himself, along with the second line of Germanic warriors, charged towards the
exposed Roman archers, which were then reinforced by the allied cohorts. Gradually, the tide
of battle turned against the Germans and they, as they had done to the Romans seven years
earlier, were utterly slaughtered. No prisoners were taken, while Arminius escaped.
After his victory, Germanicus constructed a victory monument, and this angered the Germans
enough to fight once again. Arminius and the tribal war council decided to retreat to Angrivarii
land to prepare for the next battle. The warriors of this land erected an earthwork barricade
between a swamp and a forest, with Arminius wishing to draw the Romans into attacking
the barrier while the Cherusci cavalry and infantry laid in ambush. However, Germanicus’
scouts had seen the Germans constructing their defensive fortification, and he developed
a counter-strategy. He drew up his army in front of the barricade
with himself commanding the battlegroup assaulting the more difficult terrain on the right flank,
accompanied by the Praetorian cohorts. Meanwhile, Seius Tubero commanded the left flank on more
level ground. The battle opened when the left battlegroup
attacked the wall, facing difficulty and drawing Germanic reinforcements to them. At the same
time, the Roman cavalry on the right engaged the Germanic forces in the forest, who Germanicus
knew were there. Nevertheless, they still suffered losses.
In order to soften the enemy up, the Roman archers, slingers and artillery rained down
missiles on the wall. Germanicus decided this was the moment, and he led his Praetorian
cohorts forward up the slope toward the barrier. After some brutal combat, this elite formation
managed to break through the barrier and then swung right, attacking the Cherusci forces
from the rear. In this brutal fighting, Germanicus himself slew many enemies, inspiring his soldiers
to victory. After hours of intense fighting, the Romans drove the enemy from the battlefield,
and the remaining Germanic leaders fled. The Roman psychological wounds from the Teutoburg
disaster had been avenged, but Tiberius decided that conquering Germania was not worth the
cost, and recalled Germanicus to Rome, where he again was awarded a triumph and the Consulship
in 18 AD. After this he was sent to Asia and reorganised the provinces there. However,
he either died of disease or was poisoned in 19AD – the Roman conqueror was dead. Similarly
in Germany, Arminius, lacking the Romans as an active enemy, began to war against other
Germanic tribes and was eventually killed by opponents in his own tribe who thought
that he was becoming too powerful. When we create our videos, as a source we
often use the series of lectures called The Decisive Battles of World History from professor
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Roman succession system is very confusing, so we have recorded a podcast explaining the
details of how it worked in the period of the Principate and you can listen to it via
the link in the description or the pinned comment. The Romans and the Germanic tribes
will meet in many more battles on our channel, so make sure you are subscribed to us and
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100 thoughts on “Idistaviso 16 AD – Roman-Germanic Wars DOCUMENTARY

  1. If you find the Roman succession system confusing, you really need to listen to our podcast: http://kingsandgenerals.libsyn.com/5-how-did-the-roman-succession-work-during-the-principate
    The best way to listen to our podcast is having one of our t-shirts on: http://bit.ly/2HVQNHB

  2. Germania – Germany – was saved by being not rich, not having big cities – being mostly forest. Rome would've had constant guerrilla warfare in its hands, no natural borders or many places for fortifications beyond Rhein, and not enough resources available for the costs. Well, because they didn't know where to mine. Funny to think, Hitler couldn't have made his tanks, planes, submarines etc. if the Romans found and used the metal resources of Germany.

  3. Arminius should gave been know one cannot beat Roman army on plain field, especially not so called barbarian tribes

  4. Thank you for macking this video even as a german I always thought that Arminius is often overappreciated he had one major victory and thats about it

  5. Like the European I am and interested in history and religion would like to see a video about the battle of Iconium in 1190. This battle has little attention compared to any other battle fought in the Middle Ages during the crusades.

  6. What a story…

    I don't remember ever being taught the heroes and political situation in Roman Empire at the time of Jesus.

  7. King and generals can you do a video about game of thrones. Only not set in Westeros but set in Essos

  8. I feel like if Tiberius had actually conquered and tamed Germania at that point, Rome would have staved off much of the trouble that came centuries later

  9. You have alot of great vids and I like how you breakdown everything. Would you happen to have any vids on the Janissaries?

  10. Wow. So Germany was spared after all. Germanicus could have conquered them out right if he wasn't sent back.

  11. Most overrated Campaign in history. We only have roman sources so of course they are full of propaganda. Basically all the war criminal Germanicus did was taking a third of the total roman military at the time to burn a few small villages and slaughter the small marsii tribe who were celebrating a religious ceremony at the time and were completely unarmed, only to get his rearguard annihilated by the avenging neighbor tribes. In the following battles he won against a largly outnumbered opponent by using his "barbarian" auxiliaries who did most of the fighting and stil apparently suffered losses high enough for Tiberus to consider further conquest-effort not worth it. Otherwise why would the emperor have changed his mind? Most certainly because the victories were not as clear cut as the roman writers made them out to be. in the end germania remained free. That is what matters.

  12. Germanicus is a total Space Marine Commander. Loyal to death, loves his chapter, but ruthless and savage to xenos.

  13. Seems to me that Europe would've been better off without he Roman Empire. Like all the other ruthless empires [1] , it was an abomination.

    1. I refer to this kind of empires probably better known today (usually not called empires):
    – Nazi Reich
    – Stalin's USSR
    – Mao's China
    – Pol Pot's regime in Cambodia

  14. I have taken numerous history courses while I was living in Europe. The classes were great and insightful; however, I learn more from your videos than I did from the courses. It is a proven fact, you need visuals and knowledgeable people teaching. Which videos from your library should I watch to learn more about the Roman Empire? Also, what should be the order that I watch them in? Thank you for the informative videos.

  15. One of Roman general Germanicus greatest quality was is loyalty to the Roman Emperor because he declined the angry Danube legion who declared him emperors. If the majority of Roman generals were as loyal as Germanicus the Roman empire would have avoided many civil wars and the empire would have lasted another thousand years. The Germans with the Parthians were one of the strongest enemy of the Roman empire. Proud Rome was never able to conquer Germany

  16. I read that in "in 317 Constantine issued an edict threatening death to anyone who disturbed the imperial peace;  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatism
    and that the Donatists were just one group murdered. Everyone talks about "The Edict of Milan" as if all Christians were now left in peace and harmony. But it isnt true. Any chance on making a video on that subject. I believe the real Christians said Constantine was a phony, and so was the sacerdotalist new religion. Just how many groups and sects were persecuted?

  17. I would like to see a history of the custom called "bloodletting". As this was wrongfully thought to be the cure to many diseases by society for a very long time in history, even by the Romans!

  18. how come Germany doesn't make any movies about Arminius? He is a freedom fighter who against mighty The Roman Empire.only After 3 legions destroyed by Arminius,emperor Augustus stopped conquering the whole world. Arminius changed the world history.i like to know more about Arminius.

  19. Wow Germanicus could have taken the german territories if he really wanted. But to much swamps and no riches there is nothing there worth it

  20. Very good and interesting. That you describe at least one battle in detail really makes these so good.

  21. 8:50 "… they managed to find the aquila…" can you imagine the soldiers' pleasant surprise finding a symbol that was taken and thought lost? Crazy!!

  22. So basically the Romans got the revenge they wanted through a campaign of senseless genocide, whilst the Germanics continued to have what they fought for in the first place, freedom.
    Romans were truly a pathetic people. So glad their Empire ended up being completely raped by "Barbarians" in the end.

  23. "He did something, then went back to Rome. Then he did something else, and went back to Rome. Then he won a battle, and quickly went back to Rome…" Dude, just stay in Germania and finish the job instead of spending 3 months a year traveling.

  24. Germanicus’s punitive expedition was the proof that Teutoburg was nothing but an inconvenience, he proved that even though the Germans won a battle, they couldn’t win the war.

  25. Whenever I see a great victory followed by essentially a retreat, I get a little sceptical about if Historical sources are telling the truth. There's Battle of the Hydaspes River, which always seemed very odd to me that Alexander would just sort of call it a day and go home. And then there's this battle. So Germanicus crushes the German tribes, avenged the massacre of Teutoburg at great pain and expense. Then the Romans just leave again and Germanicus send to the other side of the Empire where he mysteriously dies a few years later? Does that sound like the normal course of action after a great victory? I may be missing something here, but it smells fishy.

  26. Allow your army to shed blood but then saying that Germania is not worth conquering ? Did Tiberius take lessons from American neocons on foreign policy and the art of war ?

  27. Nation Building? 😁😲 its amazing how empires never change in their behavious. America today does the same.

  28. I wonder how differently history might've played out had Germanicus survived and succeeded Tiberius as Emperor.

  29. You can not reverse the history. Germans were and are BARBARIANS. every single thing they learned from Romans,Helenistic and other people. Including drainage system !!!

  30. I really enjoyed this episode, and the tactics the Romans used. His life would make an interesting tv show or docuseries.

  31. The information about Germanicus is a bit questionable. He certainly claimed that he had been victorious many times but there is little proof of that archaeologically and historically, where he claimed to have slaughtered thousands of men there was nothing to be found, neither equipment nor coins. He managed to recover 3 of the 4 eagles but it is not clear where he found them and if the battles had a clear victor.
    At the end of the day he had lost 20-25 thousand men (4–5 legions) and returned back to Rome without having either conquered Germania nor having destroyed the tribes.

  32. Leave germany it's not worth it! Go , go organise some province in east and see if you can get yourself poisoned , thank you!

  33. "Undoubtedly the liberator of Germany; a man who, not in its infancy as captains and kings before him, but in the high noon of its sovereignty, threw down the challenge to the Roman nation, in battle with ambiguous results, in war without defeat; he completed thirty-seven years of life, twelve of power,101 and to this day is sung in tribal lays, though he is an unknown being to Greek historians, who admire only the history of Greece, and receives less than his due from us of Rome, who glorify the ancient days and show little concern for our own."

    Tacitus Annals Book II

  34. Wow, dat Germanicus! Threatened to commit suicide rather than allow the legions to proclaim him Emperor…it was a lack of people like him that lead to the destruction of the Empire. I mean, talk about Strength and Honour!

  35. This after-Julius Caser tactics are still with us today. The principal theme is outnumbering and outgunning while Ceasar was one for out-cunning the enemy. The USA is doing the Germanicus system. Overwhelming power. It does not work well for the real battle is for the minds of the people and this is forgotten. The USA could not win over primitive tribesmen in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan. So they let the fighting in Iraq and Syria to other parties, greately reducing their influence. Then came the Stable Genius Donald Trump who ordered retreat from Syria as the best strategy to regain influence in the Middle East. The USA has an army budget than the next 5 combined including China and Russia. And what does it have to show for? NOTHING. That is what a Stable Genius and his professional pillagers under the wise leadership of Mitch McConnell (bribed with $40 mln a year) have accomplished.

  36. I've been watching several of these historical videos now. I've noticed that apparently a large number of recorded deaths during conflicts appear to be: "He fell off his horse." XD

    You could make a drinking game out of how often it happens!

  37. What's the fucking percentage of German troops among the Roman Army? 50%? And Gauls?
    How ridiculous. They fought each other for foreign domination.

  38. A list of generals who received triumphs would help put it in perspective the achievement! I like the Roman General who fought in the east to avenge Crassus who was once a slave paraded as a prop in another Roman generals triumph

  39. Just an episode in the long running Roman – German conflict which ultimately resulted in Rome being vanquished .

  40. The Batavian cavalry were also Germanic and related to the Chati. The policy of foreign auxiliaries was not sustainable in the long run.

  41. So, do I understand this correctly: Germanicus achieved basically nothing except for a bit of a moral victory?
    On a strategic level it seems Arminius has won against him. Rome did not get any further territory and while Arminius' people and his allies suffered heavily, they were neither destroyed nor subjugated.
    Of course you can argue that it was just Rome that stopped fighting because Germania was not worth the price, but isn't this just the way wars are won: drive up the price for conquest until it is not worth it anymore?

  42. Today, I shall celebrate this great victory of the Romans! May the lands and wives of their enemies serve them forever in the afterlife. 🙂

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