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A view of the country around Minden, part of ancient Engern
A view of the country around Minden, part of ancient Engern

The Angrivarii were a Germanic tribe of the early Roman Empire mentioned briefly in Ptolemy as the Angriouarroi (Ancient Greek: Ἀνγριουάρροι), which transliterates into Latin Angrivari. They are believed to be the source of the 8th century identity, Angrarii, which was one of three subdivisions of Saxony (the others were Westfalahi and Ostfalahi). The name appears earliest in the Annales and Germania of Tacitus as Angrivarii.

In post-classical times the name of the people had a number of different spellings in addition to the ones just mentioned: Angarii, Aggeri, Aggerimenses, Angerienses, Angri, Angeri. They lived in a district called Angria, Angaria, Angeriensis, Aggerimensis and Engaria.

They lived in Engern, a region west of the Weser river not far from Teutoburg Forest, and also (probably by extension) in Angeron of Münster. Ancient Engern was a much larger district than today's community, comprising most of the country surrounding the middle Weser, including both flat land, as around Minden, and low hills (Holzminden). It became part of today's Westphalia.

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  • Battle of Idistaviso: The Roman Revenge on Teutoburg


It's september of the year 9 An alliance of germanic tribes led by Arminius ambushed and destroyed 3 roman legions The Battle of Teutoburg Forest is seen as one of the most crushing defeats of entire roman history Despite the incredible shock Emperor Augustus sent his stepson Tiberius to seek revenge against the barbarians Tiberius didn't just contain the revolt, demonstrating his great skill as general but organized a real expedition in which he destroyed many germanic villages With Augustus' passing, Tiberius became princeps and sent his nephew to finish the job, Germanicus Germanicus was the son of Drusus the Elder the conqueror of all Germanies At just 28, he pushed the roman dominion up to the Elba river. So motivated by the desire to emulate his father, the roman general led 8 legions across the Rhine During these military operations no barbarian was spared. After pacifing several tribes who supported the revolt, Germanicus arrived in the location where Varus was ambushed the dreadful view of the dead tortured bodies motivated even more the roman soldiers to find the rebels. Arminius finally showed off. The germanic leader tried to ambush the roman army twice: the first time Arminius attacked Germanicus in person; The roman cavalry panicked, but the legions were able to counter-attack saving the day. In the second occasion the rebels attacked Germanicus second-in-command, Aulus Cecina Severus. The germanic tactic was always the same: ambush the enemy using natural hiding places such as forests and swaps. But Cecina wasn't unprepared as Varus: He was a skilled officer with 40 years of military experience. When the battle got worse, Cecina was able to turn the situation in his favour and defeat the germanic army. But Arminius managed to escape. After several months spent in the winter quarters, Germanicus realized that an invasion through the dark woods of Germania would have been a suicide. Besides, legions struggled to march in a land without proper roads. So the roman general decided to move his army by sea In this way the Romans got to the core of Germania without any casualty. Finally the two armies faced each other on the banks of Weser River. Before the clash Arminius asked of his brother Flavus who fought with the Romans. The two argued a lot Arminius tried to persuade his brother to join the revolt But Flavus strongly refused In the end the discussion became a fraternal scuffle. After this meeting, Germanicus commanded the crossing of the river In order to avoid enemy attack he sent his cavalry against the barbarians. The Batavi, a tribe from modern Netherlands which served in roman army as auxiliary unit charged the rebels. Initially Arminius commanded the retreat but after bringing the roman allies far away from the legions he stopped and turned back It was all a move to attract and encircle them alone. The Batavi suffered heavy losses but in the end roman cavalry rescued them During the night one rebel with a knowledge of latin, came in front of the Castra in the name of Arminius promising to each deserter money, women and lands. This proposal fired the anger of the legions. The Romans answered that they would take women and lands, of course but only when they defeat them. In responde, lately, germanic troops tried to attack the camp that the Romans had built but the legionaries pushed them back. The next morning the two armies moved themself on the field of Idistaviso On one hand Germanicus organized his men in this way: Germanic and Gallic auxilia Archers on foot behind followed by 4 legions 2 pretorian cohorts and 2 alae of cavalry Lastly the other 4 legions the light infantry and horse archers The germanic army was in front of them except for Arminius and his tribe, the Cherusci who awaited on nearby wooded hills "The Romans were alert and ready, so arranged that the order of march could come to an halt in line of battle."(Tacitus) The clash started with the attack from the hills by the Cherusci. Germanicus sent his cavalry to hit the flanks if the enemy his objective was to envelop them After that he ordered to the legions to move forward The impact was extremely brutal After they faced the roman charge for some time Germanic forces retreated in a disordered way Many tried to flee in the forest and others crossing the Weser River. Arminius encouraged his men, but it didn't make any difference. The battle got better for Germanicus' men and quickly turned into a slaughter. At the end of the day the field was full of germanic bodies. Legionaries built a monument with the names of all the defeated tribes in honour of the Emperor Tiberius. Provokated by the enemy celebrations the barbarians stopped themself from the retreat and started preparing an other assault. Arminius chose a field surrounded by the Weser River and the forest. The germanic infantry deployed on "Vallum Angrivarianum" a wall built to divide Cherusci from Angrivari. Moreover Arminius hid his cavalry in the near forest in order to attack from the rear the Romans But, unfortunately for the germanic leader Germanicus was informed by his spies about this plan and organized consequently his army. He placed his cavalry on the field and split the legions in two parts: the first against the Vallum the second against the forest. The legions advenced toward the wall but the bombardment from the top was too heavy. So Germanicus changed tactic. He ordered to the infantry to move back and commanded to the slingers to attack the defenders. It worked. The projectiles mixed up the defenders and the legions were able to conquer the Vallum. After that, Germanicus led the charge in the woods at the head of the pretorian cohorts This time the battlefield was surrounded by many natural obstacles and both formations would not have possibility to flee. They ought to fight for their survival for this reason, the second battle was even more brutal than the first one. The skirmish was balanced for a while and the rebels used all their "Furor Teutonicus" the famous germanic fury. Nevertheless, in a so confined space, rebels couldn't use properly their long spears On the contrary the legionaries advanced in a solid formation protecting by their shields and twirling their "gladii" the roman short swords causing heavy casualties among the enemies. Arminius himself was seriously wounded and started to give ground to the Romans The moment was crucial and Germanicus understood that He took off the helmet so everybody, romans and barbarians, could recognize him then shouted to his men: The germanic army was already defeated but the legions continued to fight until the night. It was an unspeakable massacre. The next day Germanicus praised his legions raising a pile of weapons with a legend boasting that "the army of Tiberius Caesar after pacifing the nations between the Rhine and the Elbe had consacrated that memorial to Mars, to Jupiter and to Augustus. For Rome it was a large victory and a desired revenge Despite the sink of part of the fleet in the way back to Gallia Germanicus organized an other expedition for the year 17 The germanic tribes were on the verge of defeat and was necessary a final blow to finish the war but then, the plot twist Tiberius recalled his nephew to Rome considering useless an other campaign. The germanic tribes would fight each other, keeping safe the empire. But, according to Tacitus The emperor was jealous of the military success and incredible consensus of Germanicus In my opinion, Rome lost an incredible strategic opportunity to terminate once for all the instability of the germanic front avoiding the war Romans preserved the same tribes that a few centuries later will cause serious problem for them But that is an other story.



Upland meadow in Wiehengebirge, part of ancient Engern
Upland meadow in Wiehengebirge, part of ancient Engern

The name Angrivarii can be segmented Angri-varii meaning "the men of Engern", parallel to Ampsi-varii, "the men of the Ems." Julius Pokorny derives the first element from an Indo-European root *ang-, "to bend, bow." From this root are also derived German Anger, English dialect ing, Danish eng, Swedish äng, Dutch eng/enk, and many other forms in Germanic languages, all meaning "meadow, pasture."[1] Cf. the similar element Angeln.

The second element -varii is most prolific among Germanic tribal names, commonly taken to mean "inhabitants of", "dwellers in". Its precise etymology remains unclear, but there is a general consensus that it cannot be derived from the PIE root *wihxrós, "man", surviving in English "were-wolf".[2]

Ancient history

Statue of Arminius. This is an idealization; no real likeness of him exists.
Statue of Arminius. This is an idealization; no real likeness of him exists.

Although the Angrivarii receive brief mention in Ptolemy (2.10) and the Germania of Tacitus (33), they appear mainly at several locations in Annales. They were involved marginally in the wars fought by the talented Germanicus Caesar on behalf of his uncle Tiberius, emperor of Rome, against the perpetrators of the massacre of three Roman legions in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, the year 9.

The wars began in the last years of the reign of Augustus, first emperor of Rome. Augustus died an old but respected man in the year 14 and was celebrated with much pomp and splendor. He left a document to be read to the senate posthumously, expressly forbidding extension of the empire beyond the Rhine. News of the will was welcomed by the Germans, thinking it gave them a free hand in the region. Germanicus found it necessary to pacify the border, which he did by a combination of scorched earth raids and offers of alliance with Rome - in short, stick and carrot. These raids also kept the army of the lower Rhine distracted from the possibility of mutiny, which had broken out on Augustus's death and only been quelled by concessions and executions.

For punitive expeditions Germanicus used the Ems river, which flowed from the heart of the country occupied by the tribes that became the Franks. These were still under Arminius, who had led the German confederation to the victory in 9. Unlike Arminius' native tribe, the Cherusci, the loyalty of the other tribes in the confederation was at best equivocal.

The Angrivarii's defection or revolt (defectio) in the middle of Arminius's renewed operations against the Teutoburg Forest must have been secured in advance by Germanicus.[3] Even if it was not, a cavalry attack soon brought the Angrivarii's capitulation. Soon afterwards, however, they are back in alliance with the Cherusci and opposition to the Romans,[4] setting an ambush at the Cheruscan border, which was a high dirt embankment. They hid their cavalry in the woods and stationed their infantry on the reverse slope of the bank. The Romans had intelligence of the plan beforehand. They assaulted the embankment, preceding their assault with volleys from slings and spears thrown by machines. Driving the Angrivarii from the bank, they went on to pursue the cavalry in the woods. Once again the Angrivarii were totally routed.

Once the Cherusci had been dealt with, Germanicus turned his attention to the Angrivarii.[5] They, however, surrendered unconditionally to the general sent by Germanicus and placed themselves in the status of suppliants, begging for mercy, which Germanicus granted. This later reaped dividends for the Angrivarii played a major role in securing the return of ships and men lost in a North Sea storm which scattered the Roman fleet upon the shore of hostile or neutral Germanic tribes.[6]

Finally, on May 26 of the year 17, Germanicus celebrated a triumph for his victory over lower Germany and his uncle sent him off to the east.[7] Arminius died and the Angrivarii, the other west Germans and their successor tribes continued friendly towards Rome, providing it with elite troops and urban and palace police.

See also


  1. ^ Bjorvand and Lindeman (2007:227).
  2. ^ Rübekeil, Ludwig: "Diachrone Studien zur Kontaktzone zwischen Kelten und Germanen", Wien, 2002. ISBN 3-7001-3124-0, pp. 401-11.
  3. ^ Annales ii.8
  4. ^ Annales, ii.19
  5. ^ Annales ii.22
  6. ^ Annales ii.24
  7. ^ Annales ii.41


External links

This page was last edited on 1 October 2018, at 15:52
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