Germania Inferior

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Germania Inferior
Lower Germania
Province of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire Germania Inferior.svg
The province of Germania Inferior within the Roman Empire, c. 117
Capital Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (CCAA)
Historical era Antiquity
 Established after the Gallic wars
Succeeded by
Frankish Empire Flag of None.svg
Today part of Netherlands

Germania Inferior ("Lower Germania") was a Roman province from AD 85 until the province was renamed Germania Secunda in the 4th century AD, on the west bank of the Rhine bordering the North Sea. The capital of the province was Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (modern-day Cologne).



According to Ptolemy (2.9), Germania Inferior included the Rhine from its mouth up to the mouth of the Obringa, a river identified with either the Aar or the Moselle. [1] The territory included modern-day Luxembourg, the southern Netherlands, part of Belgium, and part of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, west of the Rhine.

The principal settlements of the province were Castra Vetera and Colonia Ulpia Traiana (both near Xanten), Coriovallum (Heerlen), Albaniana (Alphen aan den Rijn), Lugdunum Batavorum (Katwijk), Forum Hadriani (Voorburg), Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum (Nijmegen), Traiectum (Utrecht), Atuatuca Tungrorum (Tongeren), Bona (Bonn), and Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne), the capital of Germania Inferior.


Borders of the Germania Inferior, with main roads and cities/forts Germania inferior roads towns.png
Borders of the Germania Inferior, with main roads and cities/forts
The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117-138), showing, on the lower Rhine river, the imperial province of Germania Inferior (NW Germany/S. Netherlands, E. Belgium), and the three legions deployed there in 125. Note that the coast lines shown in the map are those of today, known to be different from those in Roman times in the North Sea area. Roman Empire 125.png
The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117–138), showing, on the lower Rhine river, the imperial province of Germania Inferior (NW Germany/S. Netherlands, E. Belgium), and the three legions deployed there in 125. Note that the coast lines shown in the map are those of today, known to be different from those in Roman times in the North Sea area.

The first confrontations between a Roman army and the peoples of Germania Inferior occurred during Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars. Caesar invaded the region in 57 BC and in the next three years annihilated several tribes, including the Eburones and the Menapii, whom Caesar called "Germanic" but who probably were Celtic or at least mixed Celtic-Germanic. Germanic influence (mainly through the Tungri) increased during Roman times, leading to the assimilation of all Celtic peoples in the area. In fact, Germania Inferior had Roman settlements since around 50 BC and was at first part of Gallia Belgica.

It was only under Domitian (r. AD 8196) that new territories were acquired, between the high valleys of the Rhine and the Danube, following the campaigns conducted by his generals in AD 8385, which led to the creation of two new imperial provinces, lower and upper Germany. [2] Although this region had been occupied since the reign of Augustus, it wasn't formally established as a Roman province until around AD 85, with its capital at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (modern-day Cologne). [3] It later became an imperial province. It lay north of Germania Superior; these two together made up Lesser Germania. The adjective Inferior refers to its downstream position.

The army of Germania Inferior, typically shown on inscriptions as EX.GER.INF. (Exercitus Germaniae Inferioris), included several legions at various times: of these, Legions I Minervia and XXX Ulpia Victrix were the most permanent. The Roman Navy's Classis Germanica (Germanic fleet), charged with patrolling the Rhine and the North Sea coast, were based at Castra Vetera and later at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensis.

As attested in the early 5th century document Notitia Dignitatum , the province was renamed Germania Secunda (Germania II) in the 4th century. It was administered by a consularis and formed part of the Diocese of Gaul. Up to the end of Roman control, it was an intensely garrisoned province that was inhabited by Romans and Ripuarian Franks in the 5th century. Its capital remained at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, which also became the seat of a Christian bishopric, which was in charge of an ecclesiastical province that survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

After the final abandonment of the province it became the core of the Frankish Kingdom.

See also

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  1. "Obringa" in Bruzen la Martiniere, Le Grand Dictionnaire Geographique Volume 6, 1737; Albert Forbiger, Handbuch Der Alten Geographie Volume 3, Mayer und Wigand, 1848, fn (***) p. 126f.
  2. Carroll, Maureen (2002). Romans, Celts & Germans: the German provinces of Rome (Reprinted ed.). Stroud: Tempus Publ. p. 15. ISBN   978-0-7524-1912-1.
  3. Rüger, C. (2004) [1996]. "Germany". In Alan K. Bowman; Edward Champlin; Andrew Lintott (eds.). The Cambridge Ancient History: X, The Augustan Empire, 43 B.C. – A.D. 69. Vol. 10 (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 527–528. ISBN   0-521-26430-8.