The Battle of Teutoburg Forest Part 4

Caesar Augustus

Emperor Augustus


The Roman world was shocked. Emperor Augustus himself was said to have banged his head on the wall saying, “Quinctilius Vares, give me back my legions!!!” While one the other hand the Germanic tribes were eager a lot more joined the alliance and stopped being client kings of Rome but because the delaying action of the remaining cohorts and the sift Arval of a 5 legion strong Amy from France on the border stopped a push into Gaul. Aminius got murdered 30 years later by nobles because they were wored he was to powerful. His coalition at that time had 39 Germanic tribes out of 50 and the nobles were scared he might declare kingship and move to or make a new capital so they would lose power though cosiness’s. The coalition collapsed after his death.

The battle of Teutoburg Forest part 3

The Battle 

The legions heard of a rebellion in the northwest during their march and changed course to put it down, but it was trap! As the legions entered the Teutoburg forest (modern location unknown), a storm started, and a mist settled making it hard to see. Then suddenly thousands of Germanic warriors showered them with projectiles and engaged in combat in some places and then retreated. They did these again and again all though the day, until the Romans built a camp and settled down for the night. The following day was the same story, as the Romans marched on leaving behind the wounded. Then the weather cleared up as the rain stopped but the mist stayed. They made a camp in a fork in the road, one way leading deeper into the forest and another leading across a bridge into the lands of a friendly tribe. That night, the Roman general and Publius Quinctilius Vares committed suicide in despair. With the centurions in charge, the remaining troops (four cohorts of legions and two alae of cavalry) decided that two of the cohorts and the cavalry would go and secure the bridge [with the cavalry ridding and out to scout and to get a relief force]. However, when they crossed the bridge, they were surrounded by German infantry and cavalry and were slaughtered. The remain cohorts figured it out quickly and headed down the other way where they found a barricade. It had no troops on top, so one cohort was to dismantle a part so they could move on while the other one was to be the rear guard. The rear guard cautiously advanced until they were out of sight. That’s when the Germanic tribes struck with cavalry led by Arminius himself. They massacred the rear guard and then charged at the cohort that had grouped at the base of the barracked and destroyed it too. 

The Battle of Teutoberg Part 2

Legionary soldiers of the Roman Republic

Just Before Battle

After the Illyrian revolt was put down, it took a long time to return the legions and the financial strain on Rome was also great. This was shown in food shortages and the implementation of higher taxes across the Empire. In Germania many people who didn’t pay tax immediately got crucified. Here, the stationed legions for the first time could collect taxes, build roads and move though Germania without opposition. Then, suddenly, different tribes started to attack scouts and tax collectors all over the province. These attacks were coordinated by Arminius, who had formed a coalition of almost all of the tribes to get rid of the Romans. As three Roman legions marched from their winter camp to their summer camp, Arminius said he would collect the auxiliaries, but as soon as he was out of sight, he went to his base and rallied his forces.

medieval tournament

a tournament was some times dangerous

The origins of the medieval tournament are unknown, but it probably started as a practice for the cavalry. In the late Roman period [400s], there was a large number of cavalry that needed training, but if it became a festival at that time we do not know. The Franks were brilliant at cavalry and certainly had horse-related games, but if those games were related to military training is again not known. The first person to make rules for a tournament was Geoffroi de Preulli who weirdly died in a tournament in 1066. When do you think tournaments started?

Medieval Siege Engines

In medieval Europe, when besieging a castle there was a variety of siege engines, from battering rams to ballistas. The engines usually are classified into two types: projectiles and other. The most common types of projectiles are the mongrel (a type of catapult that gets its power from twisted ropes), the trebuchet (which gets its power from a heavy counter weight) and the ballista (which is a giant form of crossbow that could also fire stones). The most common other types of siege engines are the battering ram used to smash corners and burst through gates, the belfry, a siege tower used to get people onto the walls with archers on the top to give cover fire, and the cat, a type of cover that people used to protect themselves when filling in the moat or mining at the walls [sapping]. The cat is also is called a rat or tortoise. Which one, do you think, was the most effective when attacking a castle?

Mayan Trade

Mayans were such good traders that they were nicknamed “the Phoenicians of Middle America.” They usually traded in hollowed-out jungle trees going down rivers and coastal waters. The boats had one row of rowers on each side and in their middle had room for merchandise. The canoe’s ends were pointed to move easily through the water. The traders went as far as Northern Mexico and the most southern point in central America and their main product was salt. Ek Chuaj, the god of trading, was an underworld god who looked like a traveller with a basket. 

Mayan warfare

A Mayan army overrunning a city

For many years, historians thought that the Mayans were very peaceful and would spend their time doing astronomy and other peaceful arts rather than warfare but a 9.5 km long piece of earthworks at Tikal [a Mayan kingdom and a city] showed that warfare was a part of Mayan politics. Mayans usually used guerrilla warfare, ambush, raiding and traps [this was a spot of annoyance for the conquistadors] but if there was a battle it started with the sound of drums and horns followed by the two armies advancing towards each other and hurling projectiles then they attacked each other and discipline broke up. Soldiers were part time and most people never saw combat except if it was overthrowing a king.

The Mayan Conquest

Like most Mesoamerican cultures the Mayans got conquered by the Spanish, but the Mayans gave a harder time because they had many leaders and there wasn’t one emperor to topple. The first interaction between a European and a Mayan is when Columbus’s brother scouted an island off the coast of Honduras and met a Mayan trader. The next interaction was when the Conquistador Hernan Cortes stopped on his way to Mexico. After that a line of explorers came until Hernan came to conquer it in 1519. At that time, it had loads of kingdoms fighting each other. The last kingdom [Kingdom of Itza] fell to the Spanish in 1696.

The Maya Mystery

The end of the classical Maya period [The Terminal Classic] is a mystery that has been puzzled over for decades. Why did the Mayans suddenly abandon and let the jungle grow over the walls and temples?

In the 900s (AD) there was a short and a very severe drought. The erection of defensive walls indicates that the drought was followed by an increase of warfare, even to the point that people dismantled temples and used their stones for the walls. The drought and wars are the most probably explanations for the end of the classical Mayan cities. However, Mayan territories had suffered from many droughts, even one that was recorded by Mayan scholars to last from 300 BC to 200 BC, so we don’t know exactly how and why the abandonment happened. 

The Mayans stayed in the area, however, and lived in cities until the coming of the Conquistadores. Today, about 5 million still live in El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico.


A handheld crossbow is called a shudo

Ōyumi was a giant type of crossbow that is mainly a mystery. It was first introduced in 618AD by the Korean kingdom of Koguryo with two Chinese prisoners of war to man it. By 675AD they were used in large scale warfare. When the Korean kingdom Scila and Tang China invaded another Korean kingdom in 894, Japan sent ships in the sea battle against the Chinese. They used crossbows, but it isn’t clear if they were ōyumi or handheld bows. Throughout the 900s, daimyos complained that the ōyumi they had were going to waste because no-one knew how to use them.  During the Nine-Year War [1053-1062] the Japanese called ōyumi “ishyumi” [stone bows] because they used them to fling rocks. The last mentioning of a ōyumi was when Fujiwara no Yasuhira’stroops made a wall to stop the Samurai leader Minamoto Yoritomo (who became the first shogun) from advancing north in 1189. No ōyumi survived so we don’t know what they looked like. What do you think?