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Roman Auxilia - Cohors IX Batavorum

Багерман А. Я.

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Cohors IX Batavorum-auxiliary division of auxiliaries in ancient Rome, which was recruited from the Batavian tribes.

The Batavians were an ancient Germanic tribe that lived at the mouth of the Rhine, in the Roman province of Belgica (a Roman province formed in 16 BC on the territory of the Celtic tribe of the Belgae) - the territory of the modern Netherlands.

Since 12 AD, the territory of the Batavians was conquered by the Romans, and in addition to the revolt of 69-70, the Batavians established themselves before Rome as brave and reliable soldiers, as part of the auxiliaries.

Roman emperors even included the Batavians, for their superior military and cavalry skills, in the Equites singulares, the personal mounted bodyguards of the emperor or provincial governor. This troop consisted of 1,000 horsemen. Their camp was located in Rome on the Caelian Hill (south-eastern part of Rome). They were abolished, like the Praetorians, in 312 by decree of Constantine the Great.

The historian Tacitus also wrote about the Batavians: "The Batavians," he writes, " before their migration across the Rhine, were part of the Hutt people; because of internal strife, they moved to the most remote part of the Gallic coast, where at that time there were no settled inhabitants, and also occupied an island nearby, washed in front by the Ocean, and behind and on the side by the Rhine. Neither the wealth, nor the power of Rome, nor the alliance with other tribes has shortened them, and they still supply the empire only with fighters and weapons."

According to the treaty with Rome, the Batavians did not pay the usual tax, but instead had to send their soldiers to participate in Roman military campaigns at the request of the Roman command.

The Romans valued the Batavians. The Batavians were commanded by their local chieftains and aristocrats, unlike the rest of the cohorts and al (cavalry unit) auxiliaries, where the officers were from among the Romans.

The functions of the Batavians in the Roman army were as follows: intelligence (they were excellent horsemen, could swim with their horses to cross, even through deep rivers); messengers; during the battle, they started battles, pinning down the enemy and holding him, depriving him of maneuverability, until the main forces of the legions entered the battle, completed the defeat of the enemy; pursuit of the retreating enemy; fight with enemy cavalry (so they were armed with a spear); protection of the rear 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

The Batavians participated in the Trans-Rhine campaigns of the Romans in Germany from 12 to 17 AD.

They also took part in the conquest of Britain in 43, under the Emperor Claudius (41-54), and served as rowers and sailors on ships of the Rhine flotilla.

In addition, they served in the personal horse guards of the Roman emperors.

According to estimates of historians, Batavians in the first century AD put in the service of Rome, about 5 to 10 thousand people.

The Batavians also took part in the civil war – the “Year of the Four Emperors " (68-69), which began after the death of the Emperor Nero (54-68) in 68.

In 69. they supported the pretender to the Roman throne Vitellius (reigned April-December 69), fighting on his side in the battle with the troops of Emperor Otto (reigned January-April 69) at Bedriacus in April 69.

Later, one of the Batavian leaders, named Julius Civilis, declaring support for another pretender to the imperial throne in Rome, Vespasian, raised the Batavians against the supporters of Vitellius, but in the end this revolt turned into a general Batavian revolt, with the support of Germanic tribes from across the Rhine, against Roman power.

The rebels in 70 managed to destroy the Roman military camps and the Roman troops stationed there, in the province of Lower Germany.

He also supported the rebels, since most of his sailors were recruited from the Batavians, the Rhenish fleet.

But the Romans, after the accession of Emperor Vespasian (69-79), moved a large number of forces to the Rhine, which was led by Quintus Petilius Cerialus.

Cerialus managed to quickly suppress the Batavian revolt and conquer their lands.

Most of the Batavians did not take part in the uprising, so they were not affected by the repression directed by the Romans against the participants of the uprising. All participants in the revolt, including its leader Civilis, were severely punished by the Romans.

But in the future, the Romans resumed the practice of using Batavians in their army. After that, the Batavians no longer rebelled and enjoyed all the privileges and privileges granted to them by Rome.

Related topics

Auxiliaries, Auxilary-hastat, Auxiliary-horseman


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