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Varus Doesn't Lose His Legions

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  • #16
    Originally posted by the ace View Post
    The loss of three legions - and their eagles - was catastrophic.
    How? They continued to expand the Empire elsewhere. The Romans had reached the river Elbe and discovered there were no riches. Are there any German cities that existed during the time of Augustus that were not founded by the Romans themselves?

    I've been to the most likely site:- Kalkreise in Hanover, just outside modern Osnabruck, where there's an exhibition which describes the, 'Punitive expedition,' mounted by Germanicus.

    Germanicus spent five years bribing local chieftains, arranging safe passage, burying any bodies he could find, and buying back at a very hefty price, the missing eagles, which were returned to the temple of Mars Ultor, while the legions were struck from the records and never mentioned again - their dishonour could never be expunged.
    Germanicus only recovered two Eagles. The third Eagle was recovered by Publius Gabinius in 41AD.

    The psychological blow to the Roman state was immense, and it became deliberate policy never to cross the Rhine again.
    Germanicus crossed the Rhine with more men that Varus had. Twice. And did Gabinius. The policy was not to expand the Empire beyond the Rhine.

    Without this loss the Romans could easily have made friendly contact with some tribes, and made a gradual conquest as they had in Britain, but the shock at the loss of such a formidable force was a blow from which they never recovered.
    The Romans did just that. They engineered and implanted client Kings. The nephew of Arminius was installed as King of Cherusci and the Suebi also got some vassal Prince.

    Logistically, anything beyond the Rhine and Danube could not have been supplied by the Mediterranean.
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    • #17
      Pretty much as Sal said. While Augustus may have dreamed of having a border on the Elbe, it wasn't a realistic dream. The crop yields too low, the resources to scarce, there were no great population centres to exploit and it was largely un- or massively under - developed. It didn't offer much to Rome other than being a money pit far from the world that mattered.

      However it was on the way to being Romanised before Teutoburg Forest. That suffered a big reverse because of the Battle, and never recovered that lost ground.

      Maybe that was the opportunity loss: a chance to develop a like minded culture across the Rhine that would then develop the area, and then (either willingly or with some not so gentle persuasion) join the empire a couple of centuries later. It might have made a big difference to the fate of the West in the 4th and 5th centuries when its inability to absorb the culture that was creating the Great Men that could have saved them, was one of the major factors in it's collapse.

      But I'm only really guessing even though I'm using the Romanisation of Britain as a guide. Different strokes in many respects, but very similar in several key ones.
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      • #18
        Originally posted by Hida Akechi View Post
        Would it be important to know if Varus' Legions won the battle, or still lost it? Also, if they won that battle, how bad did it go for the Germans involved? Did they get massacred instead?
        I was thinking that the Legions either did not go into the forest at all or if they did then they at least came out even having fought the German tribes to a standstill. So, for the benefit of the opening scenario the legions fight to a bloody draw but emerge from the forest (if as I say they ever go in) a depleted but cohesive force. What then?

        "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.


        • #19
          Salinator is right, Roman policy was not to expand Empire over the Rhine as these lands were too poor and sparsely populated so in general IMHO Teitoburgh wasn`t catastrophic for Rome (Rome recovered from worth defeats previously and afterwards). Morale effect maybe was pretty huge but that`s all. Archeologic records show that there were still populated Roman settlements in Germany after Teitoburgh which were later abandoned because of this policy that Rome didn`t need Germany - it was easier to establish frontline and defensive positions on the Rhine.


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