Severus Alexander was Roman Emperor from 222 to 235 and the last emperor of the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his cousin Elagabalus upon the latter's assassination in 222, his own assassination marked the epoch event for the Crisis of the Third Century—nearly 50 years of civil wars, foreign invasion, collapse of the monetary economy, though this last part is now disputed. Alexander was the heir to his cousin, the 18-year-old Emperor, murdered along with his mother Julia Soaemias, by his own guards, who, as a mark of contempt, had their remains cast into the Tiber river, he and his cousin were both grandsons of the influential and powerful Julia Maesa, who had arranged for Elagabalus' acclamation as emperor by the famous Third Gallic Legion. It was the rumor of Alexander's death that triggered the assassination of his mother, his 13-year reign was the longest reign of a sole emperor since Antoninus Pius. He was the second-youngest sole legal Roman Emperor during the existence of the united empire, the youngest being Gordian III.
As emperor, Alexander's peacetime reign was prosperous. However, Rome was militarily confronted with the rising Sassanid Empire and growing incursions from the tribes of Germania, he managed to check the threat of the Sassanids. But when campaigning against Germanic tribes, Alexander attempted to bring peace by engaging in diplomacy and bribery; this led to a conspiracy to assassinate and replace him. Born between around 207 or 208 Severus Alexander became emperor when he was around 14 years old, making him the youngest emperor in Rome's history, until the ascension of Gordian III. Alexander's grandmother believed that he had more potential to rule than her other grandson, the unpopular emperor Elagabalus. Thus, to preserve her own position, she had Elagabalus adopt the young Alexander and arranged for Elagabalus' assassination, securing the throne for Alexander; the Roman army hailed Alexander as emperor on 13 March 222 conferring on him the titles of Augustus, pater patriae and pontifex maximus.
Throughout his life, Alexander relied on guidance from his grandmother and mother, Julia Mamaea. Maesa died in 223; as a young and inexperienced adolescent, Alexander knew little about government, warcraft, or the role of ruling over an empire. Because of this, throughout his entire reign he was a puppet of his mother's advice and under her jurisdiction, a state of affairs, not popular with the soldiers. Under the influence of his mother, Alexander did much to improve the morals and condition of the people, to enhance the dignity of the state, he employed noted jurists to oversee the administration of justice, such as the famous jurist Ulpian. His advisers were men like the senator and historian Cassius Dio, it is claimed that he created a select board of 16 senators, although this claim is disputed, he created a municipal council of 14 who assisted the urban prefect in administering the affairs of the 14 districts of Rome. Excessive luxury and extravagance at the imperial court were diminished, he restored the Baths of Nero in 227 or 229.
Upon his accession he reduced the silver purity of the denarius from 46.5% to 43%—the actual silver weight dropped from 1.41 grams to 1.30 grams. The following year he decreased the amount of base metal in the denarius while adding more silver, raising the silver purity and weight again to 50.5% and 1.50 grams. Additionally, during his reign taxes were lightened. In religious matters, Alexander preserved an open mind. According to the Historia Augusta, he wished to erect a temple to Jesus but was dissuaded by the pagan priests. In legal matters, Alexander did much to aid the rights of his soldiers, he confirmed that soldiers could name anyone as heirs in their will, whereas civilians had strict restrictions over who could become heirs or receive a legacy. He confirmed that soldiers could free their slaves in their wills, protected the rights of soldiers to their property when they were on campaign, reasserted that a soldier's property acquired in or because of military service could be claimed by no-one else, not the soldier's father.
On the whole, Alexander's reign was prosperous until the rise, in the east, of the Sassanids under Ardashir I. In 231 AD, Ardeshir invaded the Roman provinces of the east, overrunning Mesopotamia and penetrating as far as Syria and Cappadocia, forcing from the young Alexander a vigorous response. Of the war that followed. According to the most detailed authority, the Roman armies suffered a number of humiliating setbacks and defeats, while according to the Historia Augusta as well as Alexander's own dispatch to the Roman Senate, he gained great victories. Making Antioch his base, he organized in 233 a three-fold invasion of the Sassanian Empire.
A Roman legion was a large unit of the Roman army. In the early Roman Kingdom "legion" may have meant the entire Roman army but sources on this period are few and unreliable; the subsequent organization of legions varied over time but legions were composed of around five thousand soldiers. During much of the republican era, a legion was divided into three lines of ten maniples. In the late republic and much of the imperial period, a legion was divided into ten cohorts, each of six centuries. Legions included a small ala, or cavalry, unit. By the third century AD, the legion was a much smaller unit of about 1,000 to 1,500 men, there were more of them. In the fourth century AD, East Roman border guard legions may have become smaller. In terms of organisation and function, the republican era legion may have been influenced by the ancient Greek and Macedonian phalanx. For most of the Roman Imperial period, the legions formed the Roman army's elite heavy infantry, recruited from Roman citizens, while the remainder of the army consisted of auxiliaries, who provided additional infantry and the vast majority of the Roman army's cavalry.
The Roman army, for most of the Imperial period, consisted of auxiliaries rather than legions. Many of the legions founded before 40 BC were still active until at least the fifth century, notably Legio V Macedonica, founded by Augustus in 43 BC and was in Egypt in the seventh century during the Islamic conquest of Egypt; because legions were not permanent units until the Marian reforms, were instead created and disbanded again, several hundred legions were named and numbered throughout Roman history. To date, about 50 have been identified; the republican legions were composed of levied men that paid for their own equipment and thus the structure of the Roman army at this time reflected the society, at any time there would be four consular legions and in time of war extra legions could be levied. Toward the end of the 2nd century BC, Rome started to experience manpower shortages brought about by property and financial qualifications to join the army; this prompted consul Gaius Marius to remove property qualifications and decree that all citizens, regardless of their wealth or social class, were made eligible for service in the Roman army with equipment and rewards for fulfilling years of service provided by the state.
The Roman army became a volunteer and standing army which extended service beyond Roman citizens but to non-citizens that could sign on as auxillia and were rewarded Roman citizenship upon completion of service and all the rights and privileges that entailed. In the time of Augustus, there were nearly 50 upon his succession but this was reduced to about 25–35 permanent standing legions and this remained the figure for most of the empire's history; the legion evolved from 3,000 men in the Roman Republic to over 5,200 men in the Roman Empire, consisting of centuries as the basic units. Until the middle of the first century, ten cohorts made up a Roman legion; this was changed to nine cohorts of standard size with the first cohort being of double strength. By the fourth century AD, the legion was a much smaller unit of about 1,000 to 1,500 men, there were more of them; this had come about as the large formation legion and auxiliary unit, 10,000 men, was broken down into smaller units - temporary detachments - to cover more territory.
In the fourth century AD, East Roman border guard legions may have become smaller. In terms of organisation and function, the Republican era legion may have been influenced by the ancient Greek and Macedonian phalanx. A legion consisted of several cohorts of heavy infantry known as legionaries, it was always accompanied by one or more attached units of auxiliaries, who were not Roman citizens and provided cavalry, ranged troops and skirmishers to complement the legion's heavy infantry. The recruitment of non-citizens appears to have occurred in times of great need. A Legion consisted of a Contubernium, consisted of 8 Legionaries; these Legionaries Were accompanied by 2 slaves. The Legionaries would select a man amongst their ranks to become a Decanus this was more of an election than a decision by one person; the size of a typical legion varied throughout the history of ancient Rome, with complements of 4,200 legionaries and 300 equites in the republican period of Rome, to 5,200 men plus 120 auxiliaries in the imperial period.
In the period before the raising of the legio and the early years of the Roman Kingdom and the Republic, forces are described as being organized into centuries of one hundred men. These centuries were grouped together as required and answered to the leader who had hired or raised them; such independent organization persisted until the 2nd century BC amongst light infantry and cavalry, but was discarded in periods with the supporting role taken instead by allied troops. The roles of century leader, secon
Tarragona is a port city located in northeast Spain on the Costa Daurada by the Mediterranean Sea. Founded before the 5th century BC, it is the capital of the Province of Tarragona, part of Tarragonès and Catalonia. Geographically, it is bordered on the north by the Province of Lleida; the city has a population of 201,199. One Catalan legend holds that it was named for Tarraho, eldest son of Tubal in c. 2407 BC. The real founding date of Tarragona is unknown; the city may have begun as an Iberic town called Kesse or Kosse, named for the Iberic tribe of the region, the Cossetans, though the identification of Tarragona with Kesse is not certain. William Smith suggests that the city was founded by the Phoenicians, who called it Tarchon, according to Samuel Bochart, means a citadel; this name was derived from its situation on a high rock, between 75–90 m above the sea. It was seated on the river Sulcis or Tulcis, on a bay of the Mare Internum, between the Pyrenees and the river Iberus. Livy mentions a portus Tarraconis.
This better reflects its present condition. During the Roman Republic, the city was fortified and much enlarged as a Roman colony by the brothers Publius Cornelius Scipio and Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus, who converted it into a fortress and arsenal against the Carthaginians; the city was first named Colonia Iulia Urbs Triumphalis Tarraco and was capital of the province of Hispania Citerior. Subsequently, it became the capital of the province named after it, Hispania Tarraconensis, in the Roman Empire and conventus iuridicus. Augustus wintered at Tarraco after his Cantabrian campaign, bestowed many marks of honour on the city, among which were its honorary titles of Colonia Victrix Togata and Colonia Julia Victrix Tarraconensis. Tarraco lies on the main road along the southeastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. According to Mela it was the richest town on that coast, Strabo represents its population as equal to that of Carthago Nova, its fertile plain and sunny shores are celebrated by other poets.
The city minted coins. An inscribed stone base for a now lost statue of Tiberius Claudius Candidus was found in Tarragona during the nineteenth century; the 24-line Latin inscription describes the Governor and Senator's career as an ally of the future Roman emperor Septimius Severus, who fought in the civil war following the assassination of Commodus in 192 AD. This important marble block was purchased by the British Museum in 1994. After the demise of the Western Roman Empire, it was captured first by the Vandals and by the Visigoths; the Visigothic Kingdom's rule of Tarracona was ended by the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 714. It was an important border city of the Caliphate of Córdoba between 750 and 1013. After the demise of the Caliphate, it was part of the Taifa of Zaragoza between 1013 and 1110 and under the control of the Almoravid dynasty between 1110 and 1117, it was taken by the County of Barcelona in 1117. After the dynastic union of Aragon and Barcelona, it was part of the Kingdom of Aragon from 1164-1412.
After dynastic union of Aragon and the Crown of Castile, it remained a part of Aragon until the foundation of the Spanish Empire in 1516. During the Catalan revolt, Tarragon was captured by Catalan insurgents with French support in 1641, but it was retaken by Spanish troops in 1644, it was captured by allied Portuguese and British troops in 1705 during the War of the Spanish Succession and remained in their hands until Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. During the war, the Catalans supported the unsuccessful claim of Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen against the victorious Bourbon Duke of Anjou, became Philip V of Spain, he signed the Nueva Planta decrees, which abolished the Crown of Aragon and all remaining Catalan institutions and prohibited the administrative use of Catalan language on 16 January 1716. During the Peninsular War, in the first siege of Tarragona from 5 May to 29 June 1811, Louis-Gabriel Suchet's Army of Aragon of the First French Empire laid siege to a Spanish garrison led by Lieutenant general Juan Senen de Contreras.
A British naval squadron commanded by Admiral Edward Codrington harassed the French besiegers with cannon fire and transported large numbers of reinforcements into the city by sea. Suchet's troops stormed into the defenses and killed or captured all the defenders, it became a subprefecture center in Bouches-de-l'Èbre department of French empire. In the second siege of Tarragona, an overwhelming Anglo-Spanish force under the command of Lieutenant General John Murray, 8th Baronet failed to wrest Tarragona from a small Franco-Italian garrison led by Brigadier general Antoine Marc Augustin Bertoletti. Murray was subsequently removed from command for his contradictory leadership; the Anglo-Spanish forces captured Tarragona on 19 August. During the Spanish Civil War, Tarragona was in the hands of the Second Spanish Republi
Fortuna was the goddess of fortune and the personification of luck in Roman religion. Fortuna is depicted with a gubernaculum, a ball or Rota Fortunae and a cornucopia, she might bring good or bad luck: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Lady Justice, except that Fortuna does not hold a balance. Fortuna came to represent life's capriciousness, she was a goddess of fate: as Atrox Fortuna, she claimed the young lives of the princeps Augustus' grandsons Gaius and Lucius, prospective heirs to the Empire. Fortuna's father was said to be Jupiter and like him, she could be bountiful; as Annonaria she protected grain supplies. June 11 was consecrated to her: on June 24 she was given cult at the festival of Fors Fortuna. Roman writers disagreed whether her cult was introduced to Rome by Ancus Marcius; the two earliest temples mentioned in Roman Calendars were outside the city, on the right bank of the Tiber. The first temple dedicated to Fortuna was attributed to the Etruscan Servius Tullius, while the second is known to have been built in 293 BC as the fulfilment of a Roman promise made during Etruscan wars.
The date of dedication of her temples was 24 June, or Midsummer's Day, when celebrants from Rome annually floated to the temples downstream from the city. After undisclosed rituals they rowed back and inebriated. Fortuna had a temple at the Forum Boarium. Here Fortuna was twinned with the cult of Mater Matuta, the paired temples have been revealed in the excavation beside the church of Sant'Omobono: the cults are indeed archaic in date. Fortuna Primigenia of Praeneste was adopted by Romans at the end of 3rd century BC in an important cult of Fortuna Publica Populi Romani on the Quirinalis outside the Porta Collina. No temple at Rome, rivalled the magnificence of the Praenestine sanctuary. Fortuna's identity as personification of chance events was tied to virtus. Public officials who lacked virtues invited ill-fortune on themselves and Rome: Sallust uses the infamous Catiline as illustration – "Truly, when in the place of work, idleness, in place of the spirit of measure and equity and pride invade, fortune is changed just as with morality".
An oracle at the Temple of Fortuna Primigena in Praeneste used a form of divination in which a small boy picked out one of various futures that were written on oak rods. Cults to Fortuna in her many forms are attested throughout the Roman world. Dedications have been found to Fortuna Brevis and Fortuna Mala. Fortuna is found in a variety of personal contexts. During the early Empire, an amulet from the House of Menander in Pompeii links her to the Egyptian goddess Isis, as Isis-Fortuna, she is functionally related to the god Bonus Eventus, represented as her counterpart: both appear on amulets and intaglio engraved gems across the Roman world. In the context of the early republican period account of Coriolanus, in around 488 BC the Roman senate dedicated a temple to Fortuna on account of the services of the matrons of Rome in saving the city from destruction. Evidence of Fortuna worship has been found as far north as Castlecary, Scotland and an altar and statue can now be viewed at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.
Fortuna's name seems to derive from Vortumna. The earliest reference to the Wheel of Fortune, emblematic of the endless changes in life between prosperity and disaster, is from 55 BC. In Seneca's tragedy Agamemnon, a chorus addresses Fortuna in terms that would remain proverbial, in a high heroic ranting mode that Renaissance writers would emulate: O Fortune, who dost bestow the throne's high boon with mocking hand, in dangerous and doubtful state thou settest the too exalted. Never have sceptres obtained calm peace or certain tenure. Great kingdoms sink of their own weight, Fortune gives way ‘neath the burden of herself. Sails swollen with favouring breezes fear blasts too theirs. Whatever Fortune has raised on high, she lifts but to bring low. Modest estate has longer life. Ovid's description is typical of Roman representations: in a letter from exile he reflects ruefully on the “goddess who admits by her unsteady wheel her own fickleness. Fortuna did not disappear from the popular imagination with the ascendancy of Christianity.
Saint Augustine took a stand against her continuing presence, in the City of God: "How, therefore, is she good, who without discernment comes to both the good and to the bad?... It profits one nothing to worship her if she is fortune... let the bad worship her...this supposed deity". In the 6th century, the Consolation of Philosophy, by statesman and philosopher Boethius, written while he faced execution, reflected the Christian theology of casus, that the random and ruinous turns of Fortune's Wheel are in fact both inevitable and providential, that the most coincidental events are part of God's hidden plan which one should not resist or try to change. Fortuna was a servant of God, events, individual decisions, the influence of
The Roman provinces were the lands and people outside of Rome itself that were controlled by the Republic and the Empire. Each province was ruled by a Roman, appointed as governor. Although different in many ways, they were similar to the states in Australia or the United States, the regions in the United kingdom or New Zealand, or the prefectures in Japan. Canada refers to some of its territory as provinces. A province was the basic and, until the tetrarchy, the largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside Italy; the word province in Modern English has its origins in the Latin term used by the Romans. Provinces were governed by politicians of senatorial rank former consuls or former praetors. A exception was the province of Egypt, incorporated by Augustus after the death of Cleopatra; this exception was unique, but not contrary to Roman law, as Egypt was considered Augustus' personal property, following the tradition of the kings of the earlier Hellenistic period.
The Latin term provincia had a more general meaning of "jurisdiction". The Latin word provincia meant any task or set of responsibilities assigned by the Roman Senate to an individual who held imperium, a military command within a specified theater of operations. Under the Roman Republic, the magistrates were elected to office for a period of one year, those serving outside the city of Rome, such as consuls acting as generals on a military campaign, were assigned a particular provincia, the scope of authority within which they exercised their command; the territory of a people who were defeated in war might be brought under various forms of treaty, in some cases entailing complete subjection. The formal annexation of a territory created a province, in the modern sense of an administrative unit, geographically defined. Republican-period provinces were administered in one-year terms by the consuls and praetors who had held office the previous year and who were invested with imperium. Rome started expanding beyond Italy during the First Punic War.
The first permanent provinces to be annexed were Sicilia in 241 BC and Corsica et Sardinia in 237 BC. Militarized expansionism kept increasing the number of these administrative provinces, until there were no longer enough qualified individuals to fill the posts, good people; the terms of provincial governors had to be extended for multiple years, on occasion the senate awarded imperium to private citizens, most notably Pompey the Great. Prorogation undermined the republican constitutional principle of annual elected magistracies, the amassing of disproportionate wealth and military power by a few men through their provincial commands was a major factor in the transition from a republic to imperial autocracy. 241 BC – Sicilia taken over from the Carthaginians and annexed at the end of the First Punic War 237 BC – Corsica et Sardinia. It was annexed after a rebellion by the Achaean League. 146 BC – Africa home territory of Carthage. It was annexed following attacks on the allied Greek city of Massalia.
67 BC – Creta et Cyrenae. However, it was not organised as a province, it was incorporated into the province of Creta et Cyrenae when Crete was annexed in 67 BC. 63 BC – Pontus et Bithynia. It was organised as a Roman province at the end of the Third Mithridatic War by Pompey, who incorporated the eastern part of the defeated Kingdom of Pontus into it in 63 BC. 63 BC – Syria. The Romans controlled only a small area. In 74 BC Lycia and Pamphylia were added to the small Roman possessions in Cilicia. Cilicia came under Roman control towards the end of the Third Mithridatic War – 73–63 BC; the province was reorganised by Pompey in 63 BC. Cyprus was annexed and added to this province in 58 BC. 46 BC – Africa Nova, Julius Caesar annexed eastern Numidia and the new province called Africa Nova to distinguish it from the older province of Africa, which become known as Africa Vetus. Gallia Cisalpina was a province in the sense of an area of military command, but was never a province in the sense of an administrative unit.
During Rome's expansion in the Italian peninsula, the Romans assigned some areas as provinces in the sense of areas of militar
The Antonine Wall, known to the Romans as Vallum Antonini, was a turf fortification on stone foundations, built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland, between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. Representing the northernmost frontier barrier of the Roman Empire, it spanned 63 kilometres and was about 3 metres high and 5 metres wide. Lidar scans have been carried out to establish the length of the wall and the Roman distance units used. Security was bolstered by a deep ditch on the northern side, it is thought. The barrier was the second of two "great walls" created by the Romans in what the English once called Northern Britain, its ruins are less evident than the better-known Hadrian's Wall to the south because the turf and wood wall has weathered away, unlike its stone-built southern predecessor. Construction began in AD 142 at the order of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, took about 12 years to complete. Antoninus Pius never visited Britain. Pressure from the Caledonians may have led Antoninus to send the empire's troops further north.
The Antonine Wall was protected by 16 forts with small fortlets between them. The soldiers who built the wall commemorated the construction and their struggles with the Caledonians in decorative slabs, twenty of which survive; the wall was abandoned only eight years after completion, the garrisons relocated back to Hadrian's Wall. In 208 Emperor Septimius ordered repairs; the occupation ended a few years and the wall was never fortified again. Most of the wall and its associated fortifications have been destroyed over time, but some remains are visible. Many of these have come under the care of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius ordered the construction of the Antonine Wall around 142. Quintus Lollius Urbicus, governor of Roman Britain at the time supervised the effort, which took about twelve years to complete; the wall stretches 63 kilometres from Old Kilpatrick in West Dunbartonshire on the Firth of Clyde to Carriden near Bo'ness on the Firth of Forth. The wall was intended to extend Roman territory and dominance by replacing Hadrian's Wall 160 kilometres to the south, as the frontier of Britannia.
But while the Romans did establish many forts and temporary camps further north of the Antonine Wall in order to protect their routes to the north of Scotland, they did not conquer the Caledonians, the Antonine Wall suffered many attacks. The Romans called the land north of the wall Caledonia, though in some contexts the term may refer to the whole area north of Hadrian's Wall; the Antonine Wall was shorter than Hadrian's Wall and built of turf on a stone foundation, but it was still an impressive achievement. It was a simpler fortification than Hadrian's Wall insofar as it did not have a subsidiary ditch system behind it to the south, as Hadrian's Wall did with its Vallum; the stone foundations and wing walls of the original forts on the Antonine Wall demonstrate that the original plan was to build a stone wall similar to Hadrian's Wall, but this was amended. As built, the wall was a bank, about four metres high, made of layered turves and earth with a wide ditch on the north side, a military way on the south.
The Romans planned to build forts every 10 kilometres, but this was soon revised to every 3.3 kilometres, resulting in a total of nineteen forts along the wall. The best preserved but one of the smallest forts is Rough Castle Fort. In addition to the forts, there are at least 9 smaller fortlets likely on Roman mile spacings, which formed part of the original scheme, some of which were replaced by forts; the most visible fortlet is Kinneil, at the eastern end of the Wall, near Bo'ness. There was once a remarkable Roman structure within sight of the Antonine Wall at Stenhousemuir; this was Arthur's O'on, a circular stone domed monument or rotunda, which may have been a temple, or a tropaeum, a victory monument. It was demolished for its stone in 1743. In addition to the line of the Wall itself there are a number of coastal forts both in the East and West, which should be considered as outposts and/or supply bases to the Wall itself. In addition a number of forts farther north were brought back into service in the Gask Ridge area, including Ardoch, Strageath and Dalginross and Cargill.
Recent research by Glasgow University has shown that the distance stones, stone sculptures unique to the Antonine Wall which were embedded in the wall to mark the lengths built by each legion, were brightly painted unlike their present bare appearance. These stones are preserved in the University's museum and are said to be the best-preserved examples of statuary from any Roman frontier. Several of the slabs have been analysed by various techniques including portable X-ray fluorescence. Tiny remnants of paint have been detected by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Several of the distance slabs have been scanned and 3-D videos produced. There are plans to reproduce the slabs, both digitally and in real physical copies, with their authentic colours. A copy of the Bridgeness Slab has been made and can be found in Bo'ness, it is expected that lottery funding will allow replicas of distance markers to be placed along the length of the wall. The wall was abandoned onl
Revolt of the Batavi
The Revolt of the Batavi took place in the Roman province of Germania Inferior between AD 69 and 70. It was an uprising against the Roman Empire started by the Batavi, a small but militarily powerful Germanic tribe that inhabited Batavia, on the delta of the river Rhine, they were soon joined by the Celtic tribes from some Germanic tribes. Under the leadership of their hereditary prince Gaius Julius Civilis, an auxiliary officer in the Imperial Roman army, the Batavi and their allies managed to inflict a series of humiliating defeats on the Roman army, including the destruction of two legions. After these initial successes, a massive Roman army led by the Roman general Quintus Petillius Cerialis defeated the rebels. Following peace talks, the Batavi submitted again to Roman rule, but were forced to accept humiliating terms and a legion stationed permanently on their territory, at Noviomagus; the Batavi were a sub-tribe of the Germanic Chatti tribal group who had migrated to the region between the Old Rhine and Waal rivers in what became the Roman province of Germania Inferior.
Their land, though fertile alluvial deposits, was uncultivable, consisting of Rhine delta swamps. Thus the Batavi population it could support was tiny: not more than 35,000 at this time, they were a warlike people, skilled horsemen and swimmers. They were therefore excellent soldier-material. In return for the unusual privilege of exemption from tributum, they supplied a disproportionate number of recruits to the Julio-Claudian auxilia: one ala and 8 cohortes, they provided most of the emperor Augustus' elite regiment of Germanic bodyguards, which continued in existence until AD 68. The Batavi auxilia amounted to about 5,000 men, implying that for the entire Julio-Claudian period, over 50% of all Batavi males reaching military age may have enlisted in the auxilia, thus the Batavi, although just about 0.05% of the total population of the empire in AD 23, supplied about 4% of the total auxilia i.e. 80 times their proportionate share. They were regarded by the Romans as the best and bravest of their auxiliary, indeed of all their forces.
In Roman service, they had perfected a unique technique for swimming across rivers wearing full armour and weapons. Gaius Julius Civilis was the prefect of a Batavi cohort. A veteran of 25 years' distinguished service in the Roman army, he and the 8 Batavi cohorts had played an important role in the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43 and the subsequent subjugation of that country. By 69, Civilis, the Batavi regiments and the Batavi people had become utterly disaffected from Rome. After the Batavi regiments were withdrawn from Britain in 66, Civilis and his brother were arrested by the governor of Germania Inferior on false accusations of treason; the governor ordered the brother's execution, sent Civilis to Rome in chains for judgement by the Roman emperor Nero.. While Civilis was in prison awaiting trial, Nero was overthrown in AD 68 by an army led into Italy by the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, the veteran general Servius Sulpicius Galba. Nero committed suicide, ending the rule of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, founded a century earlier by Augustus.
Galba was proclaimed emperor. He allowed him to return home. Back in Germania Inferior, however, it seems that Civilis was arrested again, this time on the order of the new governor Aulus Vitellius, acting at the urging of the legions under his command, which demanded Civilis' execution. Meanwhile, Galba disbanded the German Bodyguards Regiment, which he distrusted due to the loyalty they had given to Nero in the latter's final days; this alienated several hundred crack Batavi troops, indeed the whole Batavi nation, who considered it a grave insult. At the same time, relations collapsed between the 8 Batavi cohorts and their parent-legion XIV Gemina, to which they had been attached since the invasion of Britain 25 years earlier; the seething hatred between the Roman legionaries and their German auxiliaries erupted in serious fighting on at least two occasions. At this juncture, the Roman empire was convulsed by its first major civil war for a century, the Year of the Four Emperors; the cause was the fall of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.
The descendants of Augustus had enjoyed the automatic and fervent loyalty of ordinary legionaries in the frontier armies. But Galba possessed no such legitimacy in their eyes. Supreme power was now open to. First, in AD 69, Galba's deputy, carried out a coup d'état in Rome against his leader, killed by the Praetorian Guard. Vitellius launched his own bid for power, prepared to lead the Rhine legions into Italy against Otho. Now in urgent need of the Batavi's military support, Vitellius released Civilis. In return, the Batavi regiments helped Vitellius defeat Otho's forces at the Battle of Bedriacum; the Batavi troops were ordered to return home. But at this point arrived news of the mutiny of general Titus Flavius Vespasianus, commander of forces in Syria, whose own massive army of 5 legions was soon joined by the legions on the Danube. Vitellius' governor in German