The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
In the late summer of the year 9 AD a crucial battle took place between the Roman Empire and a confederation of Germanic tribes. The battle happened in a valley near Kalkrieser Berg, near Osnabrück in Lower Saxony. The Germanic tribes, under the leadership of Arminius, a chieftain of the Cherusci, succeeded in luring the Romans into an ambush. The result was a bloodbath that lasted three days, and up to 30,000 people were killed. The battle later came to be known as the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest or the ‘Varus Battle’ after the military governor Publius Quinctilius Varus, the leader of the Roman forces.
The battle is famous for the outburst of the Emperor Augustus when he received the bad news of its outcome: ‘Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!’ The event left deep marks on the minds of the Romans. Around a third of the Roman army was wiped out, and the three affected legions (the 17th, 18th and 19th) were never reformed. After the defeat the Romans abandoned their invasion of Germania. Subsequently, up to 16 AD, they only carried out minor punitive expeditions against the Germani. These punitive expeditions, however, led to losses for the Romans. They therefore changed their policy towards the Germani, choosing political and diplomatic methods instead.