Background: Color Scheme, Short Biography, Greatest Battle
Color Scheme: Black, Red, and Gold
( Music was hand composed by one of my most dedicated sources, the modding website Europa Barbarorum).
"Noble the father,mighty the general, brave the army which, with such strength, has carried off one weak woman. Before me, three legions, three commanders have fallen. Not by treachery, not against pregnant women, but openly against armed men do I wage war. There are still to be seen in the groves of Germany the Roman standards which I hung up to our country's gods. Let Segestes dwell on the conquered bank; let him restore to his son his priestly office; one thing there is which Germans will never thoroughly excuse, their having seen between the Elbe and the Rhine the Roman rods, axes, and toga. Other nations in their ignorance of Roman rule, have no experience of punishments, know nothing of tributes, and, as we have shaken them off, as the great Augustus, ranked among dieties, and his chosen heir Tiberius, departed from us, baffled, let us not quail before an inexperienced stripling, before a mutinous army. If you prefer your fatherland, your ancestors, your ancient life to tyrants and to new colonies, follow as your leader Arminius to glory and to freedom rather than Segestes to ignominious servitude."
- Arminius, upon finding out that his wife was captured.
The man who would later become Rome's greatest foe was born in 17 b.c., to a German War Chief named Segimerus. The exact details of his early life are unknown, but as the son of a Cheif he was likely to have had a high status in the tribe, and as the son of a war chief he would have undoubtedly would have had hunting and significant weapon experience. His dad would have also taught him in leadership, and he likely had an early grasp for tactics. Life for the German tribes was never peaceful, due to the mass amount of inter-tribal warfare, but a new player would soon arrive on the scene, one who would shatter the old order.
The first Roman incursions into Germania proper began in 16 b.c., and by Arminius's teens they had already entered into conflict with his father's tribe, prompting the Romans to deem them anti-social and attempt to re-settle them. Though they did not succeed in that task, they successfully secure hostages, including Arminius and his brother. The taking of hostages was a norm for Rome as this was usually the first step toward formal dominance by Rome. It was customary to secure several persons of the highest possible birth or rank, in order to create an effective means of coercion. They were placed in Roman society commensurate with their social ranking, and they often succumbed to the influence of Rome. It was very much in the spirit of Roman foreign policy to subsequently use such persons as pro-Roman chess pieces who would toe the Roman line. "Divide et Imperia", divide and conquer.
In Rome Arminius was taught everything to know about Roman culture, and he received top Roman education, before being assigned to the army. There Arminius demonstrated exceptional military skill, soon earning not only Roman citzenship (which, as the son of a reluctant client king, would have been given anyway) but was promoted to the equestrian order, which was the Roman equivalent of the middle class.
|A portrait of some early Germanic Tribesmen hailing from Arminius's era|
After serving with distinction, and receiving medals for his bravery and brilliant thinking, Arminius returned to GermaniaQuinctillus Varus. The second was that he fell madly in love with Thusnelda, who soon reciprocated that love.
|A VERY romanticized portrait of Arminius and his new wife.|
There was one major issue with this union, however, and that was that the girl's father, a chief named Segestes, wanted to marry her off to a man of his choosing, who Thusnelda did not like. Arminius was not one to take no for an answer, so Arminius abducted her with her consent and made her his wife. It was quite customary among Germanic tribesmen to abduct one’s bride, and not considered dishonorable. Thusnelda was probably around 16 or 17 at that time, and Arminius around 24.
Around this time Arminius was appointed to the lead a Roman Auxiliary company of 800 men, showing the immense faith that the Romans put in him, as the German Auxiliaries were renowned since Julius Caesar's time. At the time of his arrival, the auxiliary unit that Arminius commanded under Varus probably consisted of a simple “home militia” force. After taking command, he reorganized and trained it according to his own wishes and experiences, including a corps of junior officers. Through his authority, family origins, inherent ability and leadership charisma, he soon succeeded in turning a group of peasant warriors into a core unit of outstanding strength and morale. Not surprisingly, the unit was intensely loyal to him personally. The fact that all this could take place under the eyes of the Roman military administration greatly benefited both him and his purpose, for he had grown tired of Roman rule.
The exact reasons behind this new found desire for freedom, or indeed if it was new found, may never be known. Theories include Arminius's distaste with slavery, Varus's tyranny, or a fear that what Caesar did to the Gallic civilization could happen to his( Caesar's books were required reading for Roman officers). There is a great article which anaylyzes reasons for Arminius's betrayal here, which would have had to have been substantial as the Germans were renowned for their concepts of loyalty and honor, to the point where Roman emperors actually employed trusted foreign German bodyguards over their own Praetorian. By their very nature, the ancient Germans resisted coercion. They were rugged individualists who resisted the very concept of military discipline. They never obeyed except voluntarily – but then they obeyed willingly and consistently, even at the cost of their lives. What is known that by 9 a.d., he was out for Roman blood.
The empire of 9 a.d. was facing revolts at several parts of its empire, and its resources stretched thin. Revealing his absolutely absurd charisma and intelligence, he was somehow able to both manipulate the Romans into thinking that he was a loyal citizen, and to convince his fellow tribesmen that he wanted to drive out Rome, and that his act with Varus was just that, an act. He miraculously succeeded in both regards, a double agent the likes of which could only be seen in a Bond movie. Varus had so much confidence in him, that when Segestes, Arminius's perpetually pissed off father-in-law, gave the Roman governor real proof of his son-in-law's duplicity, the Roman governor practically threw him out. Then he allowed Arminius to lead him and his legion into a forest, at the other side of which was a rebelling tribe.
Greatest Battle: Teutoburg Forest:
* a full account of the battle would take up this entire blog, so I will shorten it
|A truly chaotic battle for the Romans|
What Varus didn't know, was that the tribe was rebelling simply because Arminius told them to do so. By now he had won over more than just the Cherusci, but the Marsi, Chatti, Bructeri, and others as well. He directed the princes of those tribes to congregate their warriors in Teutoburg Forest, which Varus had to cross on his way to deal with the supposed "rebellion" .
The route was meticulously planned by Arminius who scouted out the land for choke points, and conceived of ways to block off any possibility of retreat. Arminius knew that the long, twisting road through the forest would greatly harm the ability of the Romans to get into their formation, which would weaken them immensely.
Once they were in the forest, Arminius deserted with his auxiliaries(who would comprise of the best equipped part of the German army) under the guise of "scouting ahead". Soon after, once the legion had been stretched thin by the cumbersome wagons (which Varus had been ordered to be brought along), Arminius ordered his auxiliaries and tribesmen to let loose a hail of javelins, shattering the Roman line. His warriors rushed in, delivering blow upon blow to the Roman force and splitting them up before retreating, only to attack hours or even minutes later.
To make matters worse it began to rain, causing the heavy Romans to sink in the mud and their shields to become waterlogged. These attacks continued for three harrowing, nightmarish days until finally the Germans pinned the Romans to a hastily erected wooden palisade and massacred them; Varus committed suicide rather then get captured. Any remaining Roman was sacrificed to the gods, as the Germans inflicted the greatest defeat on Rome since Hannibal's Cannae, with 20,000 Romans dead.
(A reenactment of the Battle)
Biography Continued: The Empire Strike Back
'Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!'
-Augustus, Roman Emperor
This defeat sent shock-waves throughout the empire, causing panic even to Augustus, who allegedly banged his head against the wall crying the above quote. Arminius used this shock to drive the remaining Romans out of Germania, after which he planned to invade Gaul and, if everything went right, march on Rome itself. Yet this was not to come to pass, and although he managed to take all but one fort (who left shortly anyway), the presence of a Roman army on the other side of the Rhine forced him to abandon the invasion plan. Roman retribution was nigh, with none other then Germanicus Caesar (yes, from that family) leading the Romans.
|Arminius's greatest foe|
Arminius spent he next few years trying to build a German coalition to fight the the inevitable Roman counterattack, but had mixed success. Although most of those in his area flocked to his banner, the most powerful king in Germany, King Maroboduus of the Macromanni did not. Thus when eight more Roman Legions poured into German territory in 15 a.d. (under the orders of a new emperor, Tiberius, who Arminius may have personally known) he was unable to do much to stop them, and the countryside was thick with German blood from the massacres of German settlements. Neither women nor children were spared. The Romans utterly decimated the Chatti, and repelled several Armnius-esque ambushes (though not personally led by him). Arminius himself fought bravely and skillfully, to the point where even the Romans admitted that he never lost a battle due to his own mistakes, but Germanicus was no Varus, and could not be lured into a full-scale ambush.
To make matters worse, Segestes had kidnapped his own pregnant daughter and held her against her will in a fortified town. The furious Arminius laid siege to the town, but Segestes had sent a messenger to the Romans, who arrived there in force to relieve the siege. Segestes handed his own daughter and grandson to them. He did this before Germanicus guaranteed their safety, which shocked even the Roman a little, and revealed the depths this man would go to ruin his son in law.
|The man Arminius would have hated the most|
Arminius was distraught when he heard, and he became even more frantic in his efforts to unify the tribes. Harassment operations were stepped up, and the graves that the Romans had set up in Teutoburg forest for their dead comrades were vandalized, again. He viciously attacked Germanicus,utterly ambushing and destroying one of his Calvary regiments, but was repulsed in a two day battle, partially due to his uncle's plans being chosen over his own. His uncle Inguiomer, sensing loot to be gained, convinced the Germans to support a nighttime attack against Arminius's wishes. The attack failed, and many Germans fell. Successful, Germanicus retired to his winter camp.
The next year was full of action. In 16 AD, Germanicus again invaded Germania, this time from the north. IT was at the Battle of the Weser River, that Arminius unexpectedly offered a truce to the Romans, as there was a man on the other side who he wished to speak to, Flavus, his brother. In a shouting-match across the river, Arminius called on his brother to return to his homeland, and Flavus made an opposite appeal, asking Arminius to make peace with a stern but forgiving Roman Empire, which was, he claimed, treating his captured wife and newborn son well. Neither convinced the other and they insulted each other to the point where a duel almost occurred had not they been restrained. In the the ensuing battle the Romans were able to cross the river, but with heavy losses.
|Flavus, brother of Arminius and steadfast Roman|
The next battle took place at Idistaviso, further up the Weser, probably around Rinteln. Both sides suffered heavy casualties. and Arminius himself was wounded, but the Romans were unable to secure a strategic advantage, and had to abandon their plan to drive into the Cheruscan heartland, around Detmold. Arminius escaped by smearing his face with blood, so that he would not be recognised. The final battle took place much further down the Weser, to the north, at the Angrivarian Wall, near Steinhude Lake. Here, again, both sides suffered heavy loss, but Germanicus was unable once again to wipe out the Germanic forces, and his own losses must have been very severe by this time, for, although it was the height of summer, he once again beat a hasty retreat and completely abandoned all conquered territory.
In the end neither side succeeded, as Germanicus was recalled to Rome(possibly because Tiberius feared his growing popularity) and Arminius was unable to convince the rest of Germany to follow him. Both succeeded in some of their goals: Germanicus had recovered 2/3 of the lost eagles and decimated the various tribes of the confederation, while Arminius repulsed the Romans utterly from his lands. Despite the fact that Germanicus believed Germania could be reconquered, the Romans never again marched across the Rhine for the purpose of conquest.
Arminius continued to strive to unite the tribes, but wound up in a bitter war with Maroboduus. Despite Arminius winning all the victories, he could not penetrate into the king's land, and the war ended in a stalemate. Arminius, being still of a young age, continued to strive towards German unity, but allegedly became power hungry, and he was killed by his in-laws in 21 a.d. The Roman Tacitus, assigned him this epitaph:
"Arminius, without doubt Germania's liberator, who challenged the Roman people not in its beginnings like other kings and leaders, but in the peak of its empire; in battles with changing success, undefeated in the war."
Long Range: Sling, javelins, early longbow (limited)
|Auxiliary Germanic slingers were common in the empire, and Arminius may have led such troops|
(Assorted Slinging Styles similar to those that would have been used by the Germanic Tribesmen)
In the hands of a professional the sling possessed a high rate of fire and accuracy of up to 200 yards (though 400 yards was possible). The stones are easily capable of breaking bones and causing massive internal injuries. The blunt force trauma caused by these ingenious weapons ignores several types of armor. For this battle, the Zulus have little to no body armor, and any wound suffered from a sling stone will be crippling, especially if its one of those rare lead stones. The sling also has the greatest range of anything on the field, which will be another plus towards Arminius's side.
The downside is that this weapon will have a tough time getting past the Zulu shield, and due to the Zulu's enhanced speed (more on that in the appropriate section) they may not get many chances to get past them. The sling, as previously mentioned, was better at maiming than killing, and most foes are going to need a follow-up strike to kill
"The horseman asks no more than his shield and spear, but the infantry have also javelins to shower, several per man, and can hurl them to a great distance; for they are either naked or only lightly clad in their cloaks. " -Tacitus on the Germans
|Germanic Warriors from 9 A.D. The lead German is about to throw a Javelin|
Obviously having multiple weapons is a plus, as it will give the Germans multiple chances to inflict death upon their foes. German javelins really did a number to the Romans at Teutoburg(to be fair the conditions were too cramped and chaotic to get into their Tseudo formations) , and this was despite their Lorica Hamata (still a bit early for wide spread Segmentata use) . The Zulus have no armor, and I can see an unprepared Zulu squad being decimated by a shower of these. The Javelin is fast to throw and fast to "reload", i.e. grab another one, and it will serve as a great weapon in softening up a charge.
(Ancient Roman scum showing off his Javelin throwing skills.
The downside of course is once again that impressive Zulu shield, the Ishlongu . This shield is large enough to cover most of the Zulu's body, and was surprisingly sturdy. A hail of javelins would get stopped in its tracks by a wall of these. In addition Shaka is very aware of the concept of the Javelin; after all he is the one who deemed its use so cowardly that he all but outlawed its use, replacing it with the Iklwa . Shaka will only look upon such a weapon with disdain, as will his warriors, and unlike the Romans will not feel fear when facing down a swarm of these, only contempt. As i'll expand on later Zulu warfare used to be dominated by the javelin prior to Shaka, and warriors would have had a great deal of experience blocking or even dodging such a projectile.
Early Germanic Longbow:
|A drawing of an early bow|
Bows outlasted javelins and slings as practical weapons for combat, as they could be aimed with greater accuracy, used on horseback and stronger bows had enough draw weight to penetrate advanced armor. As mentioned a couple of time previously, Zulus have no armor and thus no protection if the archer is able to ambush them or somehow bypass their shield. A German archer is likely to possess a great deal of skill from a life of hunting, so this factor can be be particularly advantageous to the German forces.
(This Longbow would be somewhat similar to the version the Germans would have used)
On the downside once again the longbow is not an effective counter to the shield, and its limited quantity will not be as much use to Arminius as the javelin for instance will be .
Mid Range: Spears of all stripes (Ger)
|How many spears can you see here?|
(Part one of Terry Schappert's Barbarian Massacre. Spear combat can be
The pure amount of spears that the Germans possess will be an obvious boon, as well as the German skill with these weapons. The Zulus don't have much in the way of mid range, as they, like the Romans, had a preference on close. Unlike the Romans they don't have anything in the way of armor to stop such a blow, and any flesh wound is likely to be fatal. The immense skill that the Germanics bring with this weapon type, as this is one of the weapons they truly excel in, will also likely be a great advantage.
The spear has two disadvantages in that it'll need to get past the shield, and Shaka's passion for close range combat will lead to him and his forces moving as close as possible as quick as possible. This would put Arminius and his forces in a tough position, and they will need to switch their weapons if they want to have any room to maneuver. Indeed a Roman describes the Cherusci in the battle of Angrivarii as being too confined by their weapons, saying “they could neither thrust out and pull back their overlong spears, nor lunge forward and make use of their speed.”" According to Germanicus the long spear or pike would have been only found in the front-lines, if anywhere, and the Roman commander seemed to think that that was the only type of spear his men had to fear, as he assured his men that only medium sized spears could be found in the lines after.
*Little known fact
Ger=spear, or spearmen
Germany =land of many spearmen?
Close Range: Clubs, Early Langseax
Though primitive, clubs were quite common in ancient Germania . It was fast, easy to make, and surprisingly quite deadly, being able to crush bones with a force of over 400 pounds per square inch. The club was used by many ancient civilizations for these properties; if you remember my old blog posts, the Egyptians, Fijians, Huaorani, and Koa all used basic clubs. Blunt force trauma, as shown in some of my past match-ups, ignores armor in many cases and can be quite deadly even against an armored foe (though naturally armor is better then having non, and armor does give a bit of a resistance ). Some Germans also threw their clubs and though this practice wasn't common enough to bring the weapon to the mid or long range categories, it is still a factor to be considered. Shape seems to have determined the clubs use in battle, with the shorter knotted version being thrown, and the more straight, thick clubs being used to bash. On average German clubs were between one to two feet in length.
(Barbarian Massacre Part 2. The intro features clubs and if you continue watcing you will see the next weapon)
The Germans war club is fast and easy to use, and can easily cripple or kill an unfortunate Zulu. The ability to be thrown is another added advantage, though admittedly one that the Zulus would expect and see coming. Trajan's column shows a German duel wielding a club and a sword, which shows that duel wielding weapons may be a possibility for this fighter.
...On the other hand, clubs aren't anything new to the Zulu, and as I will cover in the appropriate section they are quite capable in close quarters combat. The Zulu shield is big enough to where an overhand chop to the head will be difficult to say the least, and fighting in this range means that the German will have to tangle with the Zulu's chief weapon, the Iklwa. Shaka MADE his soldiers train extensively with this weapon, and a German who overextends himself with his club may take a spear to the guy.
|Though the would not have possessed the scabbard , an early German warrior would have used a blade like this.|
Though it is of some debate as to what exactly the early Germans called their knives, it is apparent that they did in fact have iron short-swords, with several Roman authors specifically saying that one in ten Germans used a weapon like this. The single edged Iron short-sword was a step up from the simple club, and was usually around 12-40 inches in length, with the weight being situated toward the back of the blade to increase durability and striking power. It could be used to hack, slash and thrust to great effect, and seems to have been effective against chainmail. Like the club, it would have been used in conjunction with the shield.
(A short and absolutely viscous duel with the seax)
Against a Zulu warrior the quick strikes of langsaex could be used to maneuver around the Zulu's giant shield as it was used to do the same with the Romans. The langseax was almost made to duel with, and when used with the shield it is a truly horrifying weapon for the enemy to behold, as this quick weapon can tear several holes into you in no time.
Obviously a quick and deadly weapon such as this will be a boon to the Germans , but it remains to be seen whether it can compete with the Zulu's main weapon, the Iklwa short spear. The Iklwa has got the range on it, and every Zulu possesses one, in contrast to the 1/10 factor of the Germans.
Special: The Longsword
*I have been unable to find much on axes from this time period, so I had to omit them (and no, I will not include Frank weapons)
|Two Celts with Long-swords, one of which fights naked|
Prior to the Romans, the Germanic Tribes were known to have centuries of contact with the Celtic Gauls and quite often their were incidences of violence between the two cultures. Unfortunately while the full extent of these incidences may never be known, what is known the tribes near the border began showing aspects of both cultures's weaponry. The Long-sword became, and remained for the rest of German history, a great status symbol. Historically, long-swords were not plentiful in Germanic lands, because of the cost of the iron needed for a such a weapon, they were zealously treasured by the families that had them.
( A man showing off his early Spatha)
Whether they were native made, taken from a long dead Celt and passed down, or stolen by Arminius when he defected, this weapon has become common enough to where I do not consider it a rare weapon, but a special. Germanic auxiliaries were well known to favor the long-sword(now proto-spatha) over the gladius, and being primarily Calvary based who could blame them? After all the long-sword had the reach advantage on the gladius, which is a crucial element in mounted warfare.
|A German of a later era, with his Spatha.|
The Long sword had a length 3 to 3.5 feet, and was made of iron. It was as versatile as any other blade, and could slash and thrust with equal ease. Often paired with the sword, the long sword design was so successful that almost two thousand years later from when it was originally conceived it was still being used, now called the broadsword. A Zulu facing this weapon will have to deal with the swords superior length, speed, and all around lethality. Given the rarity of the sword it is very likely that whoever possesses such a sword is very skilled with it, whether it be one of Arminius's auxiliaries or a German privileged elite. Other then the shield, the long-sword really doesn't have many obvious disabilities to overcome. To end on one final note, this would have likely been the weapon of Arminius himself.
Rare Weapons : Captured Roman weaponry
|The Staple weapons of the Average Legionnaire|
(Though the series is controversial with its many flaws (including butted mail), this conquest video shows off the Roman weapons, as well as techniques that gladius style weapons can use against the longer swords of their enemies. )
The Pilum on the other hand is an acknowledged shield destroyer, and will be the Germans best bet against the massive Ishlongu shield. When it penetrates it bends so that it cannot be pulled out, weighing down the shield and making it unwieldy. A Zulu without his shield is like a baby elephant without its mother; vulnerable to a pack of hungry lions. The Germans were very skilled at javelin throwing, and they are likely to hit such a huge target should they throw their javelins. As a final bonus, the Pila could be used as a makeshift spear in times of need.
The problem with all of the Roman weapons is their rarity in Arminius's army, as German mostly kept using their own weapons for fighting in place of the Roman weapons (with the exception of the long-sword which they really seemed to like) . They would have been looted to be sure, but afterwards the Germans perhaps sold or hoarded them in their homesteads. Regardless they don't seem to have used Roman weapons as often as they should, and given the power and armor piercing properties of such weapons this would hurt the Roman against the Zulu.
Support Animal: Horse
|Here Arminius can be seen on a horse...also note the crossband helmet of the man blowing into the horn|
As mentioned earlier German horse auxiliaries were used since the time of Julius Caesar, and were exalted for their skill ever since. The horse has been used in warfare since around 2,000 b.c., and while weapons differentiated the horse didn't, and nearly every place where the animal could be found so to could a warrior be seen riding on top of it. The horse offers increased speed, maneuverability, and reach for the rider- which is one of the reasons it was used in warfare for an astonishing 4,000 years! The ancient German Calvary were known for using the lance and the javelin. Their lances were as long as the Xyston, and with a rounded ball on the end for counterweight. As said earlier Germans were well-known for their expertise with the javelin, and would have used guerrilla tactics on their foes, throwing javelins then running away or else throwing javelins then charging in to finish off their disoriented foe. Arminius himself used this tactic in 16 a.d. , to surround and destroy a Batavari column .
(Part 3 of Warrior's Barbarian Massacre.)
The Zulus don't really have anything to compete with the attributes that the horse brings, and the speed and lance charges will undoubtedly take a toll. With horses Arminius can and did perform lightning fast ambushes, and a cut off Zulu force may find itself surrounded in short order. From there the Germans will pelt them with javelins before running them through with lances.
The horse are not unknown to them thanks to the white traders, and they will not be panicked by the animal like the Aztecs were. Spears have been an anti-Calvary weapon for as long as the horse was used on the battlefield, and the Zulus face no shortages of spears. While the animal that the Zulus possess can't directly compete, I will say that it will test the limits of Arminius's leadership....
Head: Native Cross-band helmets and captured roman helmets (rare) , occasional hide
|A later version of the crossband helmet|
While the vast majority of the Germanics did not seem to have worn helmets, native helmets did seem to have existed, and Trajan's column describes them as "cross-band helmets" . They seem to have come in two varieties :open and closed, and were exclusive to the thin upper crust of the Germans (think Chieftans or Kings) . The open variety was more like crowns then actual helmets, with only a small cheek guard and a open to the elements skull. The closed variety was had a protective ridge, identified as "wala " in the Beowulf epic, and the natural angle of the ridge was used to cause sword blows to glance off, preventing the helmet from being cleaved in two. These were less often used then the open variety (which itself was rarely used at all) as German culture emphasized the showing of the hair and face , which considered the ultimate sign of a warrior. This desire so motivated Germans that they were known to have taken off their helmets in the midst of combat to reveal themselves, exposing their most important body organ to the enemy!
|The Imperial Gallic Style of Helmet|
Roman helmets would have been found in Arminius's army, particularly on top of the auxiliaries who defected with him. We are approaching the latter end of the Montefortino variety, which was simply a bronze cap. The classic Imperial Gallic variety, complete with neck-guards and a elongated slope to protect the back of the neck, was starting to replace earlier models around the time of Teutoburg forest. Finally there are some Germans warrior who the covered themselves in animal skins such as wolves or bear. These would have offered a bare minimum of protection, hardly able to turn aside a sword blow or stop an arrow.
As previously noted, the majority of Arminius's warriors would not have worn helmets.
Body: Animal Hide, simple tunic, Belt worn across shoulder cloak, Lorica Hamata (rare)
|A Fearsome Berserker|
|This is what the average Germanic warrior would have looked like, minus the helmet|
Most ordinary Germans wore a simple tunic, with long or short sleeves, usually with multiple layers stacked on top of each other. The wealthier Germans would have worn tunics made of linen, while the poorer would have had to make due with wool tunics. In summer(the time that I will use, as it would be unfair for the Zulus to fight in a German winter) the tunic would have either been a simple short sleeve or non-existing, i.e. non existing. Germans did not seem to like armor as much as other cultures, and running bare chested towards the enemy was a great way to show their courage and contempt for their opponents. Many Germans wore cloaks which spanned five feet across and were made entirely of animal skins. These often contained pouches which could hold sling stones or attached to straps to hold javelins. Belts were worn across the shoulder, often as a place to hold their shield when not fighting.
|Real Hamata was riveted, not butted like shown on the show|
Finally there was the rare Lorica Hamata or chainmail . This would have been found only on chieftains and other high ranking Germans (like Arminius) or defecting auxiliaries, and as such should be considered a rarity in this match . The chain does a fantastic job at turning aside slashing blows and stabbing thrusts, though it doesn't give much protection against crushing blows.
Arms: Long sleeved Tunic
Legs: Trousers, belts, shoes
|I had to put this guy somewhere|
Blocking: Shields, "Shield Castle"
|German shields varied in size|
In this battle the advantages of a shield are obvious; it can be used in conjunction with a melee weapon and will serve as a great defense against projectiles of all types. That being said there are some significant disadvantages. First and foremost not every single German had a shield nor wanted one; some such as the berserkers, deliberately cast aside their shields in a show of bravado. Secondly the shield seems to have been made of materials that didn't always hold up in battlefield combat , and there are descriptions of this sheild getting cleaved in two. Finally in a battle between Julius Caesar and Ariovistus a major defect was made apparent; the German shield did not cover enough of the upper body as well as it should have, and Roman soldiers were described as tearing through the German ranks with over shield stabs. Now the exact meaning of this is kind of unclear: did the Germans have trouble raising their shields while in combat, did they hold the shield in a style that the Romans could take advantage of, or was their another factor which limited its abilities? Perhaps that the Germans were fighting shield/sword masters (Romans), and were clearly at a disadvantage? Regardless of the reason this does seem to be a defect of them, and will be factored in.
() = sub category
Tactics and formations: "Shield Castle", javelin emphasis, hit and run style guerrilla warfare(wearing him down, psychological warfare) , ambushes(fake attacks, feigned retreats, encirclement ) , use of deception, attack at opportune moments, often well coordinated attacks, flank attacks, delaying tactics, Terrain exploitation .
|The Man was successful enough to earn a bronze statue of himself.|
As mentioned in the above section, the "shield castle" was a great anti projectile Germanic formation, and though only half effective against the Roman Pilum, it would have been used had Arminius encountered a significant amount of missile infantry. Once in range of the enemy, most Germanic tribesmen would unload there javelins onto the enemy before charging.
Arminius was a profound user of hit and run style warfare, as you really don't want to be caught in a stand-up fight with the Romans (and the times that he was forced into such a fight, he lost) . His ultimate goal was to completely wear down his opponent psychologically (more on this in a later section) and physically, so that when a finishing strike is ultimately launched, his opponents die. This is an effective tactic against very trained foes, and I hold no reservations about what prolonged exposure to this tactic might do to Shaka's men.
Arminius was also a master of ambushes, and was known for feigning retreats to separate his enemy from each other, after which he would then counterattack with hidden forces and surround and destroy his enemy. Fake attacks helped conceal real ambushes at times, and also played a big role in physiologically wearing the enemy down. Arminius was a master of attacking at opportune moments-like when the Roman line was stretched too thin or when the Romans were bogged down in mud- to attack. This ensured that he inflicted the maximum amount of causalities on an opposing force and the minimum on his own.
Somehow, Arminius managed to coordinate attacks with different tribes very well, even when they were separated by miles of terrain or enemy forces between them. The Cherusci was a great delayer, which gave his allies much needed time to set up new ambushes or prepare fortifications. Finally Arminius was a master of Terrain exploitation, as Teutoburg shows, and he would take into account both natural formations and weather in his battle plans, and would often use the terrain to flank his enemy.
Morale: Relatively high
|Guys like these don't need morale boosts|
For the most part, the morale in Arminius's army was relatively high, kept there in no small part by Arminius's natural charisma. His speeches could drive his men into a frenzy, and his natural person attracted many followers, some of whom became so loyal that only death would stop them from fighting for their lord. His army did rout in a few battles, but the vast majority that he fought his men either A. didn't retreat or B. conducted an ORGANIZED retreat. As I hinted before, German warriors possess a naturally high morale even without great commanders, and were capable of raising their own spirits through war chants and songs.
Motivation: Keep Germany free from oppressors, unified lands, some personal ambition
|Arminius would have wanted the Green|
Arminius was a freedom fighter at heart to be sure, and genuinely wanted to drive the Romans out of Germania forever, and to make sure they never come back. He supposedly considered a march on Rome to make sure the Romans would never enter German lands again, but the stubbornness of Maroboduus prevented a unified German coalition from happening. After the Romans under Germanicus invaded again he fought tooth-and-nail to drive them out, never giving up despite his losses.
Arminius sought the unification of all of the German Tribes, and was willing to war with other Germans in order to achieve this. According to Tacitus, he became frantic to achieve this objective once his wife and unborn son were captured, and he took more and more power for himself in order to achieve this goal. While I personally believe his overriding ambition was unification, it is also clear that by the end of his life he did have personal ambitions, and obviously wanted to be leader ("king") of that coalition. This ultimately played a role in his death.
(Final part of Barbarian Massacre)
Regardless of that last bit, expect Arminius to score very high in the Motivation category.
Loyalty of men: Auxiliaries , army loyal, beware of family
|Arminius was described as getting surrounded in a period of Turmoil and then stabbed to death by his relatives. Julius Caesar's death scene could have been like his.|
Germans were a rather unique people when it comes to loyalty and obedience. If you try to force it, then they will fight to their last breath to spite you, however if you earn it via respect then they will fight to their last breath for you. Arminius, through his charisma and ability, earned this respect, and a good portion of his fighters did fight to the death for him. The auxiliaries he commanded for years would have probably been the most loyal, as they deserted en-mass from the Roman army when Arminius did. His officers seemed to have genuinely respected the man as well. There is only one element that he needs to worry about....his relatives.
Arminius died not from a enemy Roman or German, but from the treachery of his own family members, who would have been in his coalition army and may have led powerful sections. This could be a significant demerit for Arminius.
Psychological Aspects (this will be split into two) :Raising own Morale: War Chants and Songs, dances
Destroying Enemy Morale: Nonstop attacks, taunts, Night fighters, Animal warriors, Naked Beserkers
Before battle, German troops would often raise their own morale through a frenzy of war dances, songs and chants. The songs could be of heroes and great warriors from the distant past, among which Tacitus list Hercules, whose legend had supposedly spread to this land. In later centuries, German warriors would sing of Arminius and his exploits when fighting the Romans. By singing of these ancient legends, the warriors would feel like those whose stories they were told about as children. Of these songs Tacitus says
"They also have songs (carmina) whose singing, which they call barditus,
stirs them up—they even foretell the outcome of battles from the singing
itself, for they frighten, or get frightened, by how their battle line sounds,
taking this to reflect not their voices but their manhood. Aiming above all
at a rough, fitful note, they raise their shields to the mouth so that the
sound, being reflected, gets fuller and heavier."
Before battle they would dance, which would be done to flaunt strength, taunt enemies, and raise their excitement levels until the men would give one final battle cry before charging in. Interestingly this was not just a German tradition, and examples of "war dancing" can be found even in the cultures of Rome and Greece, as well as Shaka's Zulu Kingdom.
|Scared of this man?|
"Moreover, besides leading in strength the
peoples mentioned above, the [Harii] are fierce and heighten their inborn
ferocity by artful means and timing. Their shields are black, their bodies
painted, and, choosing dark nights for their battles, they spread panic by
the fear and spookiness of an army of ghosts. No foe can withstand that
startling and, as it were, underworld-like sight, for in every fight the eyes
are overcome first"
These night fighters would seem like ghosts to their enemies, who would have trouble spotting their camouflaged bodies and equipment in the dark forests. They were trained in stealth take-outs and sneaking, making them kind of like an early special forces/infiltration unit.
Next come the various animal warriors. These men dressed themselves in complete animal hides, usually of a great predator such as a bear or wolf, and sought to take their characteristics, generally behaving like the animals they represented. Wolves would be stealthy, pack hunters, or if forced into direct battle, snarling, rabid beasts. Bears would have been massive fighters, able to take many more wounds then an ordinary man and being more savage then a wolf, and I have seen depictions of many beserkers dressed as bears. This wasn't an act, these animal warriors truly believed themselves part animal, and the improvement of their abilities helped support such claim.
As one wolf warrior said :
|Glad that it was censored?|
Finally there were the naked berserkers, who so completely disdained armor that they refused to wear even clothes(though some may have worn animal skins in combo). They loved melee combat, and were feared by the Romans for their ferocity at close quarters, as well as the insane numbers of wounds they could take before dying. While the exact mixture is unknown, they seemed to have taken some kind of pain altering drug which allowed them to sustain a great many wounds. These men know not the word of fear, and are a fearsome foe to any that will have to face them.
Rules of Combat: Javelin, Spear oriented, expend javelins then charge, unconventional operations.
|The sacred weapon of the Germans|
As mentioned numerous times, the Germans were a spear oriented people, and would have loved the mid-range the best. They were great with the javelin both on and off horse, and like the Romans they would have usually thrown them towards the enemy lines, softening them up, before charging in. While capable of it, they did often not fight standard formation battles, and were masters of the surprise using night attacks and ambushes to whittle down their foes forces.
Mobility: Light infantry, Light Calvary
The German armies were almost void of heavy infantry, and while this costs them in the defense category it helps them greatly in this category. Light infantry were well suited to the fast, hit and run style that he proffered, as heavy infantry attempting such a feat will usually get run down by their enemies. In addition he has some light cavalry, which are much faster then both types of infantry, though their charges aren't nearly as devastating as heavy (shock ) cavalry. All in all his force possesses more mobility then the average army.
Known Weaknesses: Prone to anger, proud, Family members, rulings can be over-ruled
|The uncle of Arminius. Allegedly jealous and envious of his nephew's position, and desiring of more|
This guy had severe anger management problems, and was given to launching violent, and sometimes reckless, attacks against the enemy in these fits, though he managed to salvage his army every time. He was proud of his accomplishment, and was quick to anger should anyone challenge him on this, trying to duel his own brother at one point. His biggest weakness however was not a personality problem, but family...
Simply put, kin sucks. Not only did his father-in-law's side of the family kidnap his wife and eventually kill him, but his dad's side caused him to lose a major battle, when his greedy uncle Inguiomer convinced the princes to launch an attack that Arminius was against in order to acquire loot, and their army was slaughtered because of it. A major weakness in German armies was that there wasn't always an absolute leader, and a council of princes could overrule the commander at times. When your commander is someone as good as Arminius, well that might to not be to the best advantage of your army...
Training,experience, Quality of Enemies: Little native formalized training, society of war, Roman military education, Over a decade of military experience,Quality of Enemies: Very High
|Arminius was a at dealing of these formations|
The Germans did not have much in the way of state training, warriors learned of war and weapons from hunting, raids, and paying attention to those skilled, experienced warriors of their clan. German tribes regularly fought each other for all sorts of reasons such as land, food, retribution (this was a big reason) ect. Arminius may have had some experience in this stetting prior to being carted off to Rome. In Rome he had the education of a Roman officer, and was drilled in how to wage war the Roman way, as well as reading books on great leaders such as Alexander, Scipio and Hannibal, and especially Caesar (required reading for officers) . Once training finished he fought for his overlords in the Balkans (called "Dalmatia" ) , where he helped put down may native revolts and earned many badges and honors for his actions. These would have been rescinded later of course...
While Illyrian rebels and other Germanic tribes would only barely qualify as a moderate rating, Arminius scores very high in the "quality of enemies" for his successes over the Romans not in their waning years, but in their prime. Varus was a sub-par commander to be sure, but the quality of the legion proved even in that battle, where some segments held on to their discipline even to the end. Arminius found a worthy match in the wily Germanicus, and managed to fight even him to a standstill, preventing Rome from entering German affairs ever again.
Martial Arts/Fighting Style: Master Spear-men, some Roman martial arts, wrestling
|This sport is near universal among ancient cultures|
The Germans were experienced with their seaxs/clubs, but where they really shined is with the spear. They were capable of using it even as a bludgeoning weapon, and were masters of throwing the weapon. German spears came in a variety of lengths, all of which could be found in a German army. Since Arminius and his auxiliaries had Roman training it is likely that they would have mastered their style as well, and may have had limited Pankration training. Wrestling exists in most cultures, and I have no doubt the Germans would have had some knowledge of this art.
Innovation rating: Low-Moderate
Here is where Arminius reaches a bit of a snag, if you will. While he does use innovation to exploit Roman battlefield tactics, he doesn't seem to create anything new, with much of his tactics/equipment/weapons having been already in use by his time. He doesn't introduce anything new to the army, he doesn't even adopt the Pilum, which combined with German skill at throwing javelins would do wonders against the Roman formations. He makes no effort to upgrade his soldiers armor even to light chainmail, although to be fair, he may not have had the resources. He cannot really compete with Shaka here.
Personality: Bright, Charismatic, fiery speaker, passionate
|Arminius was the secret author of this book|
Like a lot of great revolutionaries, Arminius was passionate almost to a fault. He united the Tribes though the use of own personal charisma and fiery speeches directed at the Romans, inflaming them to a point of violence. His brilliant strategy and exploitation of Roman tactics won Teutoburg forest, and prevented Germanicius from achieving total victory over the tribes. When his wife was captured he became even more determined, to the point where he was essentially obsessed with German unification and an end to the Roman presence in his lands.
As you can see, Arminius is pretty formidable, but is he formidable enough to take on the Napolean of South Africa?
War and Battle- victory of Arminius over the Romans(Note: I do not agree with the views of the site owner whatsoever) : Here
UNRV -Arminius and the history of the Teutoburg Wald : Here
Arminius the Cheruskan - Here
Tacitus on Germany Here
The Early Germans Here
Early German Warriors Here
Ancient Germanic Warriors: Warrior's styles from Trajan's Columns to Icelandic Sagas Here
Europa Barbarorum - Here and Here This mod group comprises of great Ancient historians and archaeologists, and will be one of my best sources on base German weapons.
The Cherusci Tribe (reenact-or group) Here
Varuschatt Museum Here
A bunch of German groups here
The Battle That Stopped Rome here
The Battle in Teutoburg Forest Here
Major Players in Germania - Early Imperial Rome Here
Bad Ass of the Week: Arminius Here
Battle of Indivisto here
Rome's enemies: Dacians and Germans
Cassius Dio on the Varus disaster: Here
The New American on the battle here
History of Germany here