Friday, August 28, 2009

The Langobards and the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest - Part 1

Did the Langobards participate, as part of a Germanic tribal federation, in the Battle of the Teutoburg forest, which ambushed and annihilated a Roman Legion of 18,000 in one of the most important battles of all time? If they did partake, it would have an element of bizarre, as this battle took place in 9 A.D., 559 years prior to the Langobards successfully invading and conquering most of the Italian peninsula.

The Teutoburg Forest is a range of low, forested mountains in the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. The lands west of the Rhine River were part of the Roman Empire. The lands east of the Rhine, and especially between the Rhine and the Elbe River, were long a big problem area for the Romans in as far as their expansion and imperialism was concerned. It was inhabited by many fierce Germanic tribes. We know that, despite their relatively small numbers, the Langobards where noted by the Romans to be particularly fierce even by the standards of of this region. It's a little difficult to imagine them missing out on a battle for German sovereignty and freedom.

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (described as clades Variana by Roman historians) took place in A.D. 9 (probably lasting from September 9 to September 11) when an alliance of Germanic tribes led by Arminius, ("Hermann" in German) the son of Segimer of the Cherusci, ambushed and destroyed three Roman legions led by Publius Quinctilius Varus. The battle began a seven-year war which established the Rhine as the boundary of the Roman Empire for the next four hundred years, until the decline of the Roman influence in the West. The Roman Empire made no further concerted attempts to conquer Germania beyond the Rhine.

Upon hearing of the defeat, the Emperor Augustus, according to the Roman historian Suetonius in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, showed signs of near-insanity, banging his head against the walls of his palace and repeatedly shouting Quintili Vare, legiones redde! ('Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!'). The three legion numbers were never used again by the Romans after this defeat, unlike other legions that were restructured — a case unique in Roman history. From the time of the rediscovery of Roman sources in the 15th Century, the Battle of Teutoburg Forest has been seen as a pivotal clash which ended Roman expansion into northern Europe.

Arminius, also known as Armin or Hermann (Possibly Eminjoz in proto Germanic) (18 BC/17 BC in Magna Germania; AD 21 in Germania) was a chieftain of the Cherusci who defeated a Roman army in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. His influence held an allied coalition of Germanic tribes together in opposition to the Romans but after after decisive defeats to the Roman general Germanicus, nephew of the Emperor Tiberius, his influence waned and he was assasinated on the orders of rival Germanic chiefs. Although Arminius was ultimately unsuccessful in forging unity among the Germanic tribes, the loss of the Roman legions in the Teutoburg forest had a far-reaching effect on the subsequent history of both the ancient Germanic tribes and on the Roman Empire. Germanicus' campaign was the last major Roman military effort east of the Rhine.

The Hermannsdenkmal (German for Hermann monument) is a monument located in North Rhine Westphalia in Germany in the Southern part of the Teutoburg Forest, which is southwest of Detmold in the district of Lippe. It stands on the densely forested and 386 m tall Teutberg in the ring fortification located there, which is called Grotenburg.

The monument commemorates the Cherusci war chief Hermann or Armin (Latin: Arminius) and the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in which the Germanic tribes under Arminius recorded a decisive victory in 9 AD over three Roman legions under Varus.

The sword has the following inscription:

Deutsche Einigkeit, meine Stärke - meine Stärke, Deutschlands Macht.
German unity (is) my strength - my strength (is) Germany's might.

It's important to note that the Germanic tribes of this time were fighting the good fight for their lands, their culture, and their freedom against what amounted to a self-appointed global dictatorship in the form of the Roman Empire.

The Hermann Heights Monument is a statue erected in New Ulm, Minnesota. The statue depicts Hermann the Cheruscan, also known by the Latin name Arminius, but locals refer to the statue as Herman the German. The only National Register of Historic Places property of its kind in Minnesota, the monument remains an impressive remembrance of German ancestry for many Minnesotans. Visitors to the statue can climb the spiral staircase to an observation platform at the base of the statue, which commands a view of the town and the Minnesota River Valley below.


Tricia Danby said...

When using my photography - state name of the artist (ME) and link back to where you have taken it and you could have asked me - as this is under my copyright!

Greetings Tricia Danby

Camun said...


That image has been replaced. Ironically, I snapped a few images of a San Francisco sunrise this morning. However, I don't require worldwide recognition for those casual finger clicks. You can e-mail me at, and I shall send them to you if you would like.

Have a great day.


PS--Your actual "art" is quite good.