The battle of Teutoburg forest in 9AD was one of the worst defeats in Roman history. It is right up there with the defeats at Cannae and Carrhae, but unlike those battles, the danger came from a Roman province, not a foreign enemy. Let’s have a look.
The idea of the conquest of Germania was a long-standing Roman dream and after a long series of attacks, consul Marcus Lupus and consul Gaius Setius put into action the first large scale invasion with 100,000 men. Arminius, who fought in these battles as an equestrian in the Roman army, was shocked at the brutality the Roman invaders used as they burnt many villages and forced tribes to pay tribute. They almost destroyed the Suebi confederation, one of the largest ethnic blocks and confederations in Germania and one of Rome’s worst enemies. Then the son of the Emperor Augustus, Tiberius, made Germania a tax paying province by the time he left to crush the Illyrian revolt [to which half the legions of the empire went], and left the command of the province to the administrator Publius Quinctilius Vares from Syria and to Aminius himself, who was by then chief of the Chiari tribe.