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2. The Roman Occupation of Southwest Germany

During its history this area was settled by various peoples. It was the home of the Celtic tribes for several centuries before Christ. Around the time of Christ it came to the attention of the Roman Empire and, after being conquered, was part of that Empire for over 200 years. The following is a short description of this time of occupation.

The Imperium
The Roman Empire at its greatest extent (117 A.D.).

The start of the Roman occupation of southwest Germany goes back to 15 BC. This was the beginning of the Alpine Campaign, in which Drusus and Tiberius, the adopted sons of Caesar Augustus, brought the foothills of the Alps under Roman rule. This area, together with the left bank of the Rhine, conquered by Julius Caesar, was intended to serve as the starting point for the conquest of Germania. A gigantic flank attack was planned in which the original plans of Caesar Augustus intended bringing the land as far as north as the Elbe river under Roman rule.

In the year AD 7 Publius Quinctilius Varus became Governor of the occupied Germanic area. Rome assumed the conquered lands could be converted into a normal Province. However, they did not reckon with the Germans`s resistance.

Hermann monument
The Hermann monument near Detmold

Arminius, a young nobleman of the Cheruskers tribe, was the leader of a Germanic auxiliary troop within the Roman army. Thus he learned the Latin language and Roman customs and strategies and won Varus`s trust. In secret he plotted a conspiracy, the aim of which was to expel the invaders.

Gravestone in Xanten

In AD 9, a germanic tribe attacked the Roman army. In the Battle of the Teutoburger Forest the large Roman army suffered a devastating defeat. Varus committed suicide and far away in Rome, Ceasar Augustus lamented: "Varus, Varus return my legions".
Following this, for the Romans, devastating battle in the Teutoburger Forest, the aggressive politics for the conquering of Germania were laid to rest for several decades.

Under the rule of Claudius a second large attack on southwest Germany followed around the middle of the first century AD. This was successful in conquering the land up to the Danube river and establishing a series of fortresses (Castella).

The establishment of the castella in Rottweil and in Waldmoessingen during the reign of Vespasian, around AD 75, made a shorter route from the Rhine to the Danube possible. Only a few years later, under the rule of Domitian, the border on the Danube river was moved forward to the Swabian Alb. Between AD 80 and 90 the troops were once again advanced. The new border now reached as far as the Neckar river.
The last advance was achieved under the rule of Antoninus Pius in the middle of the second century AD. The northern frontier ran along what is known as the "limes" of Upper Germania and Raetia.

The Limes
Map of the occupied area of southwest Germany

With a length of 550 kilometres the Limes is - after the Great Wall of China - the world's longest man-made structure. In the province of Upper Germania it consisted of a rampart crowned with wooden palisades built behind a ditch. In Raetia walls were built of stone. Soldiers stood guard in towers built at regular distances. In case of an attack, a message passed from one tower to the next alerted soldiers stationed in the fortresses behind the Limes. 72 of these fortresses have been identified.
» Continued on page 3: Civilian Settlement