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Roman Auxilia - Cohors IX Batavorum

Багерман А. Я.

Cohors IX Batavorum was an auxiliary unit of the Roman Empire, composed of the Batavi tribe.

The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe that lived at the mouth of the Rhine, in the Roman province of Belgium (a Roman province established in 16 BC in the territory inhabited by the Celtic tribe of Belgae) - the territory of modern-day Netherlands.

From 12 AD, the Romans conquered the territories inhabited by the Batavi, and apart from the rebellion of 69-70 AD, the Batavi proved themselves to the Romans as brave and reliable warriors in the auxiliary units.

Roman emperors even included the Batavi for their superior military and cavalry skills in the Equites singulares - the personal horse guards of the emperor or the governor of the province. This unit consisted of 1000 riders. Their camp was located in Rome on the Caelian Hill (southeast part of Rome). They were abolished, like the praetorians, in 312 AD by the edict of Constantine the Great.

The historian Tacitus also wrote about the Batavi: "The Batavi, before their migration across the Rhine, formed part of the Chatti tribe; due to internal disputes, they moved to the most remote part of the Gallic coast, where there were no settled residents at that time, and also occupied a nearby island, washed by the Ocean in front, and by the Rhine from behind and from the side. Neither the wealth nor the power of Rome, nor alliances with other tribes have curtailed them, and they still supply the empire only with warriors and weapons."

Under the agreement with Rome, the Batavi did not pay the usual tribute, but instead were obliged to send their warriors to participate in Roman military campaigns at the command of the Roman leadership.

The Romans valued the Batavi. Their commanders were their local chiefs and aristocrats, unlike the rest of the cohorts and alae (cavalry units) of the auxiliaries, where the officers were Romans.

The functions of the Batavi in the Roman army were as follows: reconnaissance (they were excellent riders, capable of crossing rivers with their horses, even deep ones); messengers; during a battle, they would initiate the battles, pinning down the enemy and holding them, depriving them of maneuverability until the main forces of the legions approached, who, entering the battle, would finish the rout of the enemy; pursuit of the retreating enemy; fighting enemy cavalry (as they were armed with spears); protecting the rears and flanks of the legions.

Tombstone stele depicting a Batavian horseman. 1st century AD
Helmet discovered at the site of the Batavian sanctuary of Hercules-Maguzan in Kessel-Lit. Second half of the 1st century AD
Tombstone stele of Indus, Batavian bodyguard of Emperor Nero. Diocletian's Baths Museum, Rome, 1st century AD

Battle Path

Related topics

List of Roman Legions, Cohors II Cantabrorum, Auxiliaries, Auxilary-hastat, Auxiliary-horseman


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