Expulsion of Ariovistus from Gaul
At the conclusion of Julius Caesar’s campaign against the Helvetii, the tribes of Gaul came together and proclaimed that they would serve Caesar loyally. However, the main sticking point was that eastern Gaul was under the control of the Arverni-Sequani(Two tribes but they were very close on matters such a policy). The Arverni-Sequani were the most powerful tribes in Gaul, save the Helvetii previously, and had become so by hiring German mercenaries to crush their regional rivals, the Aedui. The Aedui had been Roman allies but were a casualty of Rome’s commitments to other fronts in Mediterranean. However they themselves were under the sword of a German war king named Ariovistus, who claimed a third of their land and was pushing hard for another third to resettle his countrymen. He was a vicious tyrant to the Gauls and managed to best not only the Aedui and their allies but also when his employers tried to remove him.
Caesar could see the benefits of removing such a person, as well as problems of allowing him to run roughshod over a previous ally and possibly allowing him to claim the better part Gaul( and then Northern Italy). He agreed to either remove him or at least rein him in. He sent envoys to Ariovistus, who rudly shunted them aside with the message of “If Caesar wants something, let him come here and if I want something I will go to Caesar!”. Ariovistus then explained that he dared not go into Gaul without his bodyguard and that summoning and equipping so many troops would be troublesome and further, asked what business Caesar or Rome had in his part of Gaul that he won in fair conquest. Caesar replied that such a gesture was rude and ungrateful, since Ariovistus was the recipient of honors from the Senate during the time when Caesar himself was a consul. Caesar continued in his response that he was willing to forgive such and even allow Ariovistus to keep the land he had, but that he had to release all the hostages of the Gauls he had, cease further outrages against them, and not bring any more large groups of Germans across the Rhine. If he did not heed this, Caesar would, by decree of the Senate, use all his available power to rectify the situation. Ariovistus rejected these terms, saying that it was the right of the victor to rule the vanquished, as the Romans do. The Aedui had tried their fortune in war and had lost and that was the end of the business, as he saw it. Ariovistus then proceeded to state that he would not release their hostages, but that he would cease attacks on them, if they paid regular tribute and that if they rejected those terms, no threat of Caesar’s on behalf of the “Brothers of the Romans” could save them from the destruction that he would visit on them and if Caesar himself got involved, well, Ariovistus reckoned that he didn’t become master of Gaul by song and polite suggestion.
No sooner the Caesar had received the response then he was informed by messenger that a German tribe, the Harudes, had crossed the Rhine and began ravaging the Aedui and the Treveri. The fact that Ariovistus had the hostages made no difference. Further, the German tribe of the Suebi were directly across the Rhine and were agitating to cross in full strength under the command of two brothers, Nasua and Cimberius. Caesar reacted with great speed and marched his troops towards the Germans. Caesar, reacting on reports first went to a town called Besancon, the largest of the Sequani, and there occupied the town.
While in occupation, the town had a demoralizing effect on Caesar’s troops. Long fearful of the Germans, the locals spread wild and fanciful rumors about the strength and military prowess of the German. This after a time managed to work on the least experienced troops, whose discontentment affected even the sternest of veterans, who began to openly question Caesar’s plan. Caesar furiously took the tribunes and centurions aside and lectured them sternly, asking if they thought him a fool or worse. He laid out his preparations, asked them to question what they heard about the Germans, who owed their success as much to fortune as skill, and then told them that he was packing up the garrison quicker then he would have to test their courage. Caesar then bragged, saying he knew the 10th would follow him, as they had proven themselves so many times before. This swayed the troops and roused them to great enthusiasm. The 10th even sent their Tribunes to thank Caesar for his compliments. The others shamefacedly tried to say that they had had no doubts either and they were unconcerned about what was the province of their commander. Caesar accepted all this and hashed out his routes with Dinvincus, his most trusted Gaul friend, and was advised to make a detour so they could travel in open country.
After they marched some six days, the Romans found themselves within a few miles of Ariovistus. The German Commander sent word that he would welcome a meeting between himself and Caesar now that the risk was gone. However there must only be a mounted escort. Caesar didn’t trust the Gallic cavalry he had with him, so he took their horses and mounted troops of the 10th on them. At the meeting, the two armies were left behind at their camps while the leaders and their retinue of ten men met on a hill between them. Caesar began by recalling the titles and favors that the Senate under him had given Ariovistus and repeated his earlier demands. Ariovistus countered that he had crossed the Rhine on his own volition but at the invitation of the Gauls. He only acted on his rights, first as a mercenary captain who was promised rich rewards, then as a victorious conquer after the Gauls grew tired of him. They had tried to remove him from what he was owed and lost, thus their current predicament. Further, why was the friendship of the Roman people a boon to the Aedui and the rest but a burden on him and his? The large numbers of Germans crossing were for defense, not for invasion and that Caesar or anybody had no right to tell him how to manage his affairs in his own borders. If Caesar wanted a fight, there were plenty here and even more so in Rome who would love to see him killed. Caesar replied that alliances with Rome are sacrosanct and that the Senate many years before had recognized the right of Gaul to self-governance. During this, some of the Germans had edged nearer the 10th and thrown stones and javelins. Caesar rode back and forbade the 10th to respond, so that when the Germans were beaten off, they wouldn’t run back and tell everyone that Caesar hadn’t kept his word. The negotiations, thus broken, were dissolved. And the two sides withdrew to their camps. The actions of the Germans inflamed the legionnaires in Caesar’s camp and that”the men’s enthusiasm and eagerness for battle knew no bounds.”
The next day, Ariovitus sent forward another messenger to invite Caesar to another round of negotiations but Caesar saw no point and refused. Caesar did however send a young man by the name Gaius Valerius Procuillus, most likely a Gaul, whose father (Gaius Valerius Caburus) was given Roman citizenship by the Consul Gaius Valerius Flaccus and a man named Marcus Metius, whom Caesar did not elaborate on save that he knew Ariovistus somehow, in the forlorn hope that maybe some sort of compromise could be reached. Ariovistus however threw both of them in chains and then advanced his army to within six miles of Caesar’s Legions. The next day he advanced two more miles with the intent of seizing Caesar’s supply train from the Aedui.
The next five days were feint and counter feint as Caesar would assembly his troops for battle and Ariovistus would send out cavalry to harass the supply chain and fight skirmishes with Caesar’s Gallic cavalry. Caesar tired of this quickly and advanced his camp to within sight of the German one. The Germans finally sent out their troops to drive the romans off, but the Romans managed to get the earthworks up and then Caesar left two legions to man this new camp while the other four were led back to the one they had left. The next day, he proceeded as he had before, drawing the troops out of both camps, but even then Ariovistus refused to fight. About midday, Caesar was ordering them back into camp when Ariovistus attacked the smaller camp with a small detachment. It was a fierce battle that lasted several hours, but it was ultimately futile. The romans drove off the Germans, capturing a few.
Those few, from what we know about Roman attitudes towards prisoners, under ferocious torture gave up the reason that Ariovistus wouldn’t give battle because the matrons he had brought with him had drawn auspices that stated that if they gave battle before the new moon, they would most certainly lose.
Caesar took advantage of that bit of information by posting his auxiliaries in front of the small camp to strengthen his numbers and then sent out the two legions situated in the smaller camp out and drew up more from the bigger one. Ariovistus was forced to respond and the Germans, divided into tribal contingents, drew up in formation as well. Ariovistus had at this time warriors from the Harudes, Marcomanni, Triboci, Vangiones, Eudusii and Subei. The Germans hemmed themselves in with wagons along their rear and their women were seen imploring the men marching to battle not to allow the romans to enslave them. Caesar, in turn placed his five generals (Legates or Legatus) and his quaestor (A treasurer appointed by the Comitia Tributa, the Tribunes Commision.“so that every every soldier might know that there was a high officer in a position to observe the courage in which he conducted himself” and then Caesar himself , on the right wing, gave charge into what he believed was the weakest side of the German battle order. The romans did not throw their javelins in the battle that followed, choosing instead to rush the German lines with swords drawn. They found the Germans a fierce and willing opponent who manfully resisted the sword thrusts of the Romans with their shields packed tightly. The Romans were so determined that some actually dropped their shields and grabbed the shields of the Germans, try to wrench them away. The German left crumbled after much struggle but their right actually managed to press the romans back with the hard weight of numbers. This drew the Roman cavalry, under the command of a officer named Publius Crassus (No relation to Marcus Publius Crassus), and he sent reinforcements to help. This apparently was enough for the Germans and they were driven back, most of the army running until they had reached the Rhine, which was apparently raging. A few tried to swim and Ariovistus found himself a boat, but most were killed by the roman cavalry. In the rout Ariovistus’ family was killed, save one of his daughters who was captured. Gaius Valerius Procuillus was discovered among the Germans alive but very much shaken as his captors were throwing lots to see if they should try to ransom him or kill him when the Legionnaires came upon them. Metius was also alive, but Caesar declines to elaborate on that either.
The effect on the Germans of all this was devastating. The Suebi, who were planning to cross as soon as the battle was over, turned around and tried to go back but where chased and viciously savaged by river land tribes that saw what a state they were in.
The Legions under Caesar were wintered in the lands of the Sequani under the charge of Titus Labienus, one of Caesar’s favored Legates, while Caesar himself went back to Italy.
Some time ago, A longtime firend of mine here, pipesandspiritsandtolkien at http://pipesandspiritsandtolkien.tumblr.com/ asked me to write an essay detailing what I had on Julius Caesar fighting the germans. I agreed but was sidetracked for, I think it’s been, like a month. I have been working on it on the weekends for two weeks now and I am still not done but I figured I would release what I have because it is a very dense subject. I am unashamedly using Caesar’s “My War in Gaul" as my primary source but I do try to add supplementary material form such books as "The Uniforms of The Roman World" by Kevin F Kiley, the works of Philip Matyszak, "Rome and The Sword" by Simon James plus many other fine works that I have digested over the course of the years, including (gasp!) Wikipedia when I can’t remember the spelling of certain latin titles and names. If you have a critique, by all means use my ask box.
Caesar’s Legions and their weapons and customs
Julius Caesar had six legions(In Latin, Legio), Legio VIII, Legio IX, Legio X, Legio XI, Legio XII, Legio XIII raised at different times for the Conquest of Gaul, Belgium, Germany and Britain.
They were outfitted like other legions of the time with a mail cuirass, either a Coolus style helmet or a Montefortino style helmet (fairly similar at any rate), a large shield, more oval shaped then the ones you are used to seeing, two javelins called pilum (or pila, plural), and a sword often called a gladius.
The Legions were about 4,800 fighting men strong divided into ten cohorts. Each cohort had 480 men and each cohort was further subdivided into groups called centuries(Centuriae) (or century (Centum), singular) that contained 80 men. The other twenty people were administrative staff (except for the standard bearers (Aquilifer for the eagle, and the Signifer for the legion standard)
The mail cuirass shirt was lighter than later European ones, but had the benefit of being much more flexible, which was important to an infantryman. A typical shirt could still possess in the range of 20,000 rings.
The blade of the roman legions in this time had a distinct leaf shape, much like the Greek xiphos. The sword was thirty to thirty four inches long; blade was twenty four to twenty seven inches long. The width of the sword was about two inches thick. It could weigh up to two and a half pounds. The material of the blade was Iberian steel. The handle was a three piece assembly made of either bone or wood. Caesar was the first (recorded, perhaps) to encourage the soldiers to embellish their swords, so that they would be more interested in taking care of them.
Customs and institutions of the Germans
Caesar reports that the Germans were a tribalistic society, organized around chief and magistrates. They were apparently not very religious, compared to the Gauls or the Romans themselves. He goes further to say that “The only beings they recognize as gods are things that they can see, and by which they are obviously benefited, such as Sun, Moon, and Fire; the other gods they have never heard of.” (sic) This is rather jarring to think but I suspect the Caesar in this regard was unused to mostly non religious society that didn’t place too much stock into things like temples and statues. We have archeological evidence that places a “Thor” and an “Odin” (thoroughly anachronistic Scandinavian names) in the Indo-European (Or Aryan, if you must) migration. Their temples were groves and caves and no one has found a German statue from this time. I think that the trappings we associate with the Aesir come from later periods that were influenced by the Romans, both pre and post Christianity.
The Germans were according to both Caesar and archeology primarily herdsmen much like their ancestors who came from the region of current day Iran. They lived on diets of meat (both wild and domesticated) and dairy. They shared land in common, each man receiving an allotment at the beginning of the year. They lived in huts that must have been thrown up quickly and the few actual buildings they had were public spaces, perhaps precursors to the Scandinavian Things.
Government was nonexistent outside of war, save the local chiefs and their magistrates (perhaps precursors to the Law-Speakers) and matrons (perhaps witches?) that drew auspices. At war, officers were chosen by the chiefs.
The average German fighting man was not too dissimilar to his Celtic counterpart. He wore a pair of pants, perhaps plaid perhaps not, and was covered in paint and tattoos of tribal design. The better equipped ones wore mail and an iron or bronze helm made in Gaul. They were armed with long thrusting spears and large brightly shields that were a rounded rectangular shape.
Caesar mentions that the Germans had a special tactic where a member of the cavalry would select a infantryman and the two would work in tandem, the infantry covering the cavalry and often running to free them if they were encircled and cut off. This to me sounds remarkable similar to the squire system of later medieval Europe.
Corsets. Some people like them. I happen to see this and think “Gawd, her ribs must be jabbing into her liver!”
O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places. Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil
128/∞ edits of fashionably flawless people: christina hendricks
THE ’EATHEN in ’is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;
’E don’t obey no orders unless they is ’is own;
’E keeps ’is side-arms awful: ’e leaves ’em all about,
An’ then comes up the Regiment an’ pokes the ’eathen out.
All along o’ dirtiness, all along o’ mess,
All along o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less,
All along of abby-nay, kul, an’ hazar-ho,
Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!
The yound recruit is ’aughty—’e draf’s from Gawd knows where;
They bid ’im show ’is stockin’s an’ lay ’is mattress square;
’E calls it bloomin’ nonsense—’e doesn’t know, no more—
An’ then up comes ’is Company an kicks ’im round the floor!
The young recruit is ’ammered—’e takes it very hard;
’E ’angs ’is ’ead an’ mutters—’e sulks about the yard;
’E talks o’ “cruel tyrants” which ’e’ll swing for by-an’-by,
An’ the others ’ears an’ mocks ’im, an’ the boy goes orf to cry.
The young recruit is silly—’e thinks o’ suicide;
’E’s lost ’is gutter-devil; ’e asn’t got ’is pride;
But day by day they kicks ’im, which ’elps ’im on a bit,
Till ’e finds ’isself one mornin’ with a full an’ proper kit.
Gettin’ clear o’ dirtiness, gettin’ done with mess,
Gettin’ shut o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less;
Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, nor hazar-ho,
Learns to keep ’is rifle an’ ’isself jus’ so!
The young recruit is ’appy—’e throws a chest to suit;
You see ’im grow mustaches; you ’ear ’im slap ’is boot;
’E learns to drop the “bloodies” from every word ’e slings,
An’ ’e shows an ’ealthy brisket when ’e strips for bars an’ rings.
The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch ’im ’arf a year;
They watch ’im with ’is comrades, they watch ’im with ’is beer;
They watch ’im with the women at the regimental dance,
And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send ’is name along for “Lance.”
An’ now ’e’s ’arf o’ nothin’, an’ all a private yet,
’Is room they up an’ rags ’im to see what they will get.
They rags ’im low an’ cunnin’, each dirty trick they can,
But ’e learns to sweat ’is temper an’ ’e learns to sweat ’is man.
An’, last, a Colour-Sergeant, as such to be obeyed,
’E schools ’is men at cricket, ’e tells ’em on parade;
They sees ’im quick an’ ’andy, uncommon set an’ smart,
An’ so ’e talks to orficers which ’ave the Core at ’eart.
’E learns to do ’is watchin’ without it showin’ plain;
’E learns to save a dummy, an’ shove ’im straight again;
’E learns to check a ranker that’s buyin’ leave to shirk;
An’ ’e learns to make men like ’im so they’ll learn to like their work.
An’ when it comes to marchin’ he’ll see their socks are right,
An’ when it comes to action ’e shows ’em how to sight.
’E knows their ways of thinkin’ and just what’s in their mind;
’E knows when they are takin’ on an’ when they’ve fell be’ind.
’E knows each talkin’ corpril that leads a squad astray;
’E feels ’is innards ’eavin’, ’is bowels givin’ way;
’E sees the blue-white faces all tryin’ ’ard to grin,
An’ ’e stands an’ waits an’ suffers till it’s time to cap ’em in.
An’ now the hugly bullets come peckin’ through the dust,
An’ no one wants to face ’em, but every beggar must;
So, like a man in irons, which isn’t glad to go,
They moves ’em off by companies uncommon stiff an’ slow.
Of all ’is five years’ schoolin’ they don’t remember much
Excep’ the not retreatin’, the step an’ keepin’ touch.
It looks like teachin’ wasted when they duck an’ spread an’ ’op—
But if ’e ’adn’t learned ’em they’d be all about the shop.
An’ now it’s “’Oo goes backward?” an’ now it’s “’Oo comes on?”
And now it’s “Get the doolies,” an’ now the Captain’s gone;
An’ now it’s bloody murder, but all the while they ’ear
’Is voice, the same as barrick-drill, a-shepherdin’ the rear.
’E’s just as sick as they are, ’is ’eart is like to split,
But ’e works ’em, works ’em, works ’em till he feels ’em take the bit;
The rest is ’oldin’ steady till the watchful bugles play,
An’ ’e lifts ’em, lifts ’em, lifts ’em through the charge that wins the day!
The ’eathen in ’is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;
’E don’t obey no orders unless they is ’is own.
The ’eathen in ’is blindness must end where ’e began,
But the backbone of the Army is the Non-commissioned Man!
Keep away from dirtiness—keep away from mess,
Don’t get into doin’ things rather-more-or-less!
Let’s ha’ done with abby-nay, kul, and hazar-ho;
Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!
Got them from here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2454095/Incredible-photos-shed-light-Ethiopias-Hamar-tribe-beaten-scarred-thorns-prove-resilient-are.html
These are women of the Hamar tribe. I think the usual platitudes of “Warrior Women” don’tr really do them justice.
Careful with that link, as some images are a bit rough. Still they remind me of blooming cacti, beautiful but with sharp defences.