Cherusci

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The Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117-138), showing the location of the Cherusci in northwestern Germany Roman Empire 125.png
The Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117–138), showing the location of the Cherusci in northwestern Germany

The Cherusci were a Germanic tribe that inhabited parts of the plains and forests of northwestern Germany, in the area possibly near present-day Hanover, during the first centuries BC and AD. Ethnically, Pliny the Elder groups them with their neighbours, the Suebi and Chatti, as well as the Hermunduri, as Hermiones, one of the Germanic groupings said to descend from an ancestor named Mannus. [1] They led an important war against the Roman Empire. Subsequently, they were probably absorbed into the late classical Germanic tribal groups such as the Saxons, Thuringians, Franks, Bavarians and Allemanni.

Germanic peoples A group of northern European tribes in Roman times

The Germanic peoples are an ethnolinguistic group of Northern European origin identified by Roman-era authors as distinct from neighbouring Celtic peoples, and identified in modern scholarship as speakers, at least for the most part, of early Germanic languages.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Hanover City in Lower Saxony, Germany

Hanover or Hannover is the capital of and largest city in the state of Lower Saxony. Its 535,061 (2017) inhabitants make it the thirteenth-largest city in Germany as well as the third-largest city in Northern Germany after Hamburg and Bremen. The city lies at the confluence of the River Leine and its tributary Ihme, in the south of the North German Plain, and is the largest city in the Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region. It is the fifth-largest city in the Low German dialect area after Hamburg, Dortmund, Essen and Bremen.

Contents

Etymology

The etymological origin of the name Cherusci is not known with certainty. According to the dominant opinion in scholarship, the name may derive from the ancient Germanic word *herut (Modern English hart, i. e. "deer"). The tribe may have been named after the deer because it had a totemistic significance in Germanic symbolism. [2] A different hypothesis, proposed in the 19th century by Jacob Grimm and others, derives the name from *heru-, a word for "sword" (cf. Gothic hairus, Old English heoru). [3] Hans Kuhn has argued that the derivational suffix -sk-, involved in both explanations, is otherwise not common in Germanic. He suggested that the name may therefore be a compound of ultimately non-Germanic origin, connected to the hypothesized Nordwestblock . [4]

Etymology Study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time

Etymology is the study of the history of words. By extension, the phrase "the etymology of [some word]" means the origin of the particular word. For place names, there is a specific term, toponymy.

Totem spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe

A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe.

Jacob Grimm German philologist, linguist, jurist and mythologist

Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm, also known as Ludwig Karl, was a German philologist, jurist, and mythologist. He is known as the discoverer of Grimm's law of linguistics, the co-author of the monumental Deutsches Wörterbuch, the author of Deutsche Mythologie, and the editor of Grimm's Fairy Tales. He was the elder of the Brothers Grimm.

History

The Hermannsdenkmal in the southern part of the Teutoburg Forest, Germany Arminius1.jpg
The Hermannsdenkmal in the southern part of the Teutoburg Forest, Germany

The first historical mention of the Cherusci occurs in Book 6.10 of Julius Caesar's De Bello Gallico, which recounts events of 53 BC. Caesar relates that he crossed the Rhine again to punish the Suebi for sending reinforcements to the Treveri. He mentions that the Bacenis forest (a relatively impenetrable beech forest, possibly the Harz) separated the territory of the Cherusci from that of the Suebi. In 12 BC, the Cherusci and other Germanic tribes were subjugated by the Romans. They appear to have been living in the same homeland when Tacitus wrote, 150 years later, describing them as living east of the Chauci and Chatti. This is generally interpreted to be an area between the rivers Weser and Elbe. [5]

Julius Caesar 1st-century BC Roman politician and general

Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a populist Roman dictator, politician, and military general who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He was also a historian and wrote Latin prose.

Treveri tribe of Celts

The Treveri or Treviri were a Belgic tribe who inhabited the lower valley of the Moselle from around 150 BCE, if not earlier, until their displacement by the Franks. Their domain lay within the southern fringes of the Silva Arduenna, a part of the vast Silva Carbonaria, in what are now Luxembourg, southeastern Belgium and western Germany; its centre was the city of Trier, to which the Treveri give their name. Celtic in language, according to Tacitus they claimed Germanic descent. Modern historians consider the Treveri to have been a mixed Gallic-Germanic tribe.

Beech genus of plants

Beech (Fagus) is a genus of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia, and North America.

As Rome tried to expand in northern Europe beyond the Rhine, it exploited divisions within the Cherusci, and for some time the tribe was considered a Roman ally. At this time, the tribe was split between Arminius (known in modern German as "Hermann der Cherusker", although his actual Germanic name was more likely Erminaz [6] ) and Segestes. Arminius advocated breaking allegiance to Rome and declaring independence, while Segestes wanted to remain loyal. By about 8 AD, Arminius had gained the upper hand and began planning rebellion. Segestes repeatedly warned Publius Quinctilius Varus, the governor of Gaul, that rebellion was being planned, but Varus declined to act until the rebellion had broken out.[ citation needed ]

Rome Capital of Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Arminius Chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci tribe

Arminius was a chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci tribe who is best known for commanding an alliance of Germanic tribes at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in AD 9, in which three Roman legions were destroyed. His victory at Teutoburg Forest would precipitate the Roman Empire's permanent strategic withdrawal from Magna Germania, and made a major contribution to the eventual fall of the Western Roman Empire several centuries later. Modern historians have regarded Arminius' victory as Rome's greatest defeat. As it prevented the Romanization of the Germanic peoples, it has also been considered one of the most decisive battles in history, and a turning point in world history.

Segestes was a noble of the Germanic tribe of the Cherusci involved in the events surrounding the Roman attempts to conquer northern Germany during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus.

In 9 AD, in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, an army of allied Germanic tribes under the command of Arminius (the Cherusci, Bructeri, Marsi, Sicambri, Chauci, and Chatti) annihilated three Roman legions commanded by Varus. [7] [8] The legions' eagle standards, of great symbolic importance to the Romans, were lost. The numbers of these three legions, Legio XVII, Legio XVIII, and Legio XIX, were never used again.[ citation needed ]

Battle of the Teutoburg Forest Comprehensive defeat of forces of Roman Empire in 9 CE

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, described as the Varian Disaster by Roman historians, took place in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE, when an alliance of Germanic tribes ambushed and destroyed three Roman legions and their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus. The alliance was led by Arminius, a Germanic officer of Varus's auxilia. Arminius had acquired Roman citizenship and had received a Roman military education, which enabled him to deceive the Roman commander methodically and anticipate the Roman army's tactical responses.

Bructeri

The Bructeri were a Germanic tribe in Roman imperial times, located in northwestern Germany, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia. Their territory included both sides of the upper Ems and Lippe rivers. At its greatest extent, their territory apparently stretched between the vicinities of the Rhine in the west and the Teutoburg Forest and Weser river in the east. In late Roman times they moved south to settle upon the east bank of the Rhine facing Cologne, an area later known as the kingdom of the Ripuarian Franks.

Marsi (Germanic)

The Marsi were a small Germanic tribe settled between the Rhine, Ruhr and Lippe rivers in northwest Germany. It has been suggested that they were a part of the Sugambri who managed to stay east of the Rhine after most Sugambri had been moved from this area. Strabo describes the Marsi as an example of a Germanic tribe who were originally from the Rhine area, now the war-torn Roman frontier, but had migrated deep into Germania.

After the mutinies of the German legions in 14 AD, Germanicus decided, at the urging of his men, to march into Germany to restore their lost honor. In 15 AD, after a quick raid on the Chatti, they invaded the lands of the Marsi in 14 AD with 12,000 legionnaires, 26 cohorts of auxiliaries, and eight cavalry squadrons. According to Tacitus (Annals 1, 51), an area of 50 Roman miles wide was laid to waste with fire and sword: "No sex, no age found pity."[ citation needed ] A legion eagle from Varus's defeat, either from the XVII or XVIII, was recovered. Then, he began a campaign against the Cherusci.[ citation needed ] He received an appeal to rescue Segestes, who was besieged by Arminius. Segestes was rescued, along with a group of relatives and dependents, including Thusnelda, Segestes' daughter and the wife of Arminius. Germanicus spared them and gave them land in Gaul. He then found the site of the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. His men buried the dead and built a funeral mound.[ citation needed ]

Germanicus member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a general of the early Roman Empire

Germanicus was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a prominent general of the Roman Empire, who was known for his campaigns in Germania. The son of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor, Germanicus was born into an influential branch of the patrician gens Claudia. The agnomen Germanicus was added to his full name in 9 BC when it was posthumously awarded to his father in honor of his victories in Germania. In AD 4, he was adopted by his paternal uncle, Tiberius, who succeeded Augustus as Roman emperor a decade later. As a result, Germanicus became an official member of the gens Julia, another prominent family which he was related to on his mother's side. His connection to the Julii was further consolidated through a marriage between himself and Agrippina the Elder, a granddaughter of Augustus. He was also the nephew of Tiberius, the father of Caligula, and the maternal grandfather of Nero.

Thusnelda Germanic princess

Thusnelda was a Germanic noblewoman who was captured by the Roman general Germanicus during his invasion of Germania. She was the wife of Arminius. Tacitus and Strabo cite her capture as evidence of both the firmness and restraint of Roman arms.

A series of battles followed. After major casualties on the Romans, Tiberius forbid further campaigns. This effectively led to the withdrawal of the Roman troops until the collapse of the Roman Empire.[ citation needed ]

After Arminius' death, the Romans left the Cherusci more or less to their own devices. In 47 AD, the Cherusci asked Rome to send Italicus, the nephew of Arminius, to become king, as civil war had destroyed their nobility. He was initially well liked, but since he was raised in Rome as a Roman citizen, he soon fell out of favor.[ citation needed ]

Tacitus writes of the Cherusci of his time (about 100 AD):

Dwelling on one side of the Chauci and Chatti, the Cherusci long cherished, unassailed, an excessive and enervating love of peace. This was more pleasant than safe, for to be peaceful is self-deception among lawless and powerful neighbours. Where the strong hand decides, moderation and justice are terms applied only to the more powerful; and so the Cherusci, ever reputed good and just, are now called cowards and fools, while in the case of the victorious Chatti success has been identified with prudence. The downfall of the Cherusci brought with it also that of the Fosi, a neighbouring tribe, which shared equally in their disasters, though they had been inferior to them in prosperous days. [9]

Claudius Ptolemy in his Geography, describes the Χαιρουσκοὶ and Καμαυοὶ (Cherusci and Chamavi) as living near each other and also near to "Mount Melibocus" (probably the Harz Mountains) and to the Calucones, who lived on both banks of the Elbe.[ citation needed ]

The later history of the Cherusci is mostly unknown. In the fourth century AD, they perhaps contributed to the formation of the Saxon people.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Maroboduus, was a Romanized king of the Germanic Suebi, who under pressure from the wars of the Cherusci and Romans, and losing the Suevic Semnones and Langobardi from his kingdom, moved with the Marcomanni into the forests of Bohemia, near to the Quadi.

Suebi historical ethnic grouping of Germanic tribes

The Suevi were a large group of related Germanic tribes that lived in Germania, which included the Marcomanni, Quadi, Hermunduri, Semnones, Lombards and others, sometimes including sub-groups simply referred to as Suebi.

Chatti Ancient Germanic tribe

The Chatti were an ancient Germanic tribe whose homeland was near the upper Weser (Visurgis). They lived in central and northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, along the upper reaches of that river and in the valleys and mountains of the Eder and Fulda regions, a district approximately corresponding to Hesse-Kassel, though probably somewhat more extensive. They settled within the region in the first century B.C. According to Tacitus, the Batavians and Cananefates of his time, tribes living within the empire, were descended from part of the Chatti, who left their homeland after an internal quarrel drove them out, to take up new lands at the mouth of the Rhine.

Chauci

The Chauci were an ancient Germanic tribe living in the low-lying region between the Rivers Ems and Elbe, on both sides of the Weser and ranging as far inland as the upper Weser. Along the coast they lived on artificial mounds called terpen, built high enough to remain dry during the highest tide. A dense population of Chauci lived further inland, and they are presumed to have lived in a manner similar to the lives of the other Germanic peoples of the region.

Publius Quinctilius Varus Roman governor

Publius Quinctilius Varus was a Roman general and politician under the first Roman emperor Augustus. Varus is generally remembered for having lost three Roman legions when ambushed by Germanic tribes led by Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, whereupon he took his own life.

Legio XIX Roman legion

Legio undevigesima was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It was founded in 41 or 40 BC by Octavian, the future emperor Augustus. It was destroyed in 9 AD in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The emblem of the XIXth legion is unknown but was probably the Capricorn like other legions levied by Augustus.

Ampsivarii

The Ampsivarii, sometimes referenced by modern writers as Ampsivari, were a Germanic tribe mentioned by ancient authors.

Legio XVII Roman legion

Legio septima decima was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It was founded by Augustus around 41 BC. The legion was destroyed in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The legion's symbol and cognomen are unknown.

Battle of Idistaviso battle

The Battle of Idistaviso, sometimes known as a first Battle of Minden or Battle of the Weser River, was fought in 16 AD between Roman legions commanded by Roman emperor Tiberius' heir and adopted son Germanicus, and an alliance of Germanic peoples commanded by Arminius. The battle marked the end of a three-year series of campaigns by Germanicus in Germania.

This is a chronology of warfare between the Romans and various Germanic tribes between 113 BC and 596 AD. The nature of these wars varied through time between Roman conquest, Germanic uprisings and later Germanic invasions in the Roman Empire that started in the late 2nd century BC. The series of conflicts, which began in the 5th century under the Western Roman Emperor Honorius, was one of many factors which led to the ultimate downfall of the Western Roman Empire.

Chamavi

The Chamavi were a Germanic tribe of Roman imperial times whose name survived into the Early Middle Ages. They first appear under that name in the 1st century AD Germania of Tacitus as a Germanic tribe that lived to the north of the Lower Rhine. Their name probably survives in the region today called Hamaland, which is in the Gelderland province of the Netherlands, between the IJssel and Ems rivers.

Vangiones tribe

The Vangiones appear first in history as an ancient Germanic tribe of unknown provenance. They threw in their lot with Ariovistus in his bid of 58 BC to invade Gaul through the Doubs river valley and lost to Julius Caesar in a battle probably near Belfort. After some Celts evacuated the region in fear of the Suebi, the Vangiones, who had made a Roman peace, were allowed to settle among the Mediomatrici in northern Alsace.. They gradually assumed control of the Celtic city of Burbetomagus, later Worms.

Early Imperial campaigns in Germania

The early Imperial campaigns in Germania were a series of conflicts between the Germanic tribes and the Roman Empire. Tensions between the Germanic tribes and the Romans began as early as 17 BC with Clades Lolliana, where the 5th Legion under Marcus Lollius was defeated by the tribes Sugambri, Usipetes, and Tencteri. Rome's emperor Augustus responded by rapidly developing military infrastructure across Gaul. His general, Nero Claudius Drusus, began building forts along the Rhine in 13 BC and launched a retaliatory campaign across the Rhine in 12 BC.

Julius Segimundus was a nobleman of the Germanic Cherusci.

References

  1. "Plin. Nat. 4.28". Perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
  2. Reallexikon der germanischen Alterturmskunde (1981), vol. 4, p. 430 ff., s.v. "Cherusker"; cf. also Rudolf Much, Herbert Jankuhn & Wolfgang Lange, Die Germania des Tacitus, Heidelberg: Winter, 1967, p. 411.
  3. Jacob Grimm, Geschichte der Deutschen Sprache, 2nd ed., Leipzig 1853, vol. 2, p. 426.
  4. Reallexikon der germanischen Alterturmskunde (1973), vol. 1, pp.420–421, s.v. "Arminius".
  5. Smith, William (1854), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography
  6. https://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/Paris/Salon/2385/FAQ.html%23hermann&date=2009-10-25+09:25:32
  7. Roberts 1996, pp. 65–66.
  8. Ozment 2005, pp. 20–21.
  9. "Tac. Ger. 36". Perseus.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2013-12-31.

Further reading