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For themes of conflict, present in any country, see Studying War.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Kalkreise. Varusschlacht. Germanic Chieftain Arminius and Roman General Varus. Clades Variana

Varus' Battle. Battle of Teutoborg Forest.
Roman General, Varus, and Turncoat Germanic Chieftain, Arminius.
An insurgency.
Clades Variana: The Varus Battle.
Many names to research, many spellings.


Famous battles assume a place in history for their strategy and impact; with individual identities and roles often subsumed.  Here, focus on the Roman general Varus, in 9 CE, who, with his three legions, was defeated by Arminius and local Germanic tribes.  Varusschlacht.  Kalkreise. Search all the terms.  A broad overview is found at Archeology Magazine, not only as shown below in 1992, but in 2005 with a review of books on the topic.  See Saga of the Lost Roman Legions, Nov-Dec 2005, review of book on how the site was located, identified;  by Tony Clunn, The Quest for the Lost Roman Legions.  One Marcus Aius emerges as a Roman soldier, killed, and identified through a clasp for armor with his name.  Other fictional elements may be less reliable; the review is only available by archive order.  Think Afghanistan, Russia and America fallen before local dedicated chiefs and their loyal tribes against incursion. 

This was a case of ambush; our account building on an earlier post,  The ambush stemmed from the betrayal of the Romans, by one who had set himself out as an ally of Rome.  A book have depicted it:  The Quest for the Lost Roman Legion, by Tony Clunn in 2005, see; and an earlier article, "Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, Sept-Oct 1992, Archeology Magazine. The magazine's archives do not reach back to 1992, however.

Weather -- rains; difficult terrain;  and thousands of Germanic tribesmen, all laid out in an interpretation combining archeological finds with a story line in fiction about one Marcus Aius, whose name is actual and stems from the finding of a unique cloak clasp.

Varusschlacht.  The Varus Battle; Clades Variana

  • Varus -- Publius Quinctilius Varus.  After years of service in various parts of the Roman Empire, see biography at, Varus became governor of Germania, perhaps in 6 BCE.   By 9 CE, Rome was again planning a campaign against Bohemia (Czechia) and, with Germania under Roman control, had imposed taxes and tribute obligations upon the Germanic tribes of the area, as was customary.  The tribes sought freedom, conspired against the Romans, and united under Arminius.  His father-in-law betrayed them, but was not believed.  Varus at the time had 3 legions, heard of another insurrection, and headed to meet it.  That meant passing through forest and marsh areas, with only a narrow road accessible through.

The area is north of Osnabruck, between the Elbe and the Rhine. The first reports are known as the Clades Variana.


Arminius was a chieftain of the Cheruscian Tribe, see He had been an auxiliary to the Romans from 1-6 CE, learning military skills as part of the Roman effective absorption and use of indigenous persons.  Whether Arminius joined with intent to use those skills against Rome is not clear.  Perhaps Arminius had already earned Roman citizenship status, see site.  The area, however, was subject to intertribal conflict, warfare, and machinations for power, and Arminius some 15 years later was killed by members of his own extended family.

He came to embody Germany unity and independence, however, and for that the battle is largely known to Germans at the site now.  

Some 20,000 people died, the Romans, strung out in a line, were slaughtered, and Varus committed suicide. The Germans decapitated the body, hoping to incite more Germans to join the effort to oust Rome.  However, that failed, and the head was returned to Rome and Augustus buried it in his own family mausoleum.

Although later treaties were made, the Romans never regained the area between the Elbe and the Rhine at Kalkreise.  See also overview at

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