Around 105 B.C., the Romans realized that their newly emerging powerful empire was about to become unhinged by a ferocious tribe of barbarians from the north. This tribe was known as the Cimbri and for some unknown reason they were powerful enough to beat the well trained and well-armed forces of the Roman Empire. The Cimbri was allied with another nomadic tribe called the Teutons. Both the Cimbri and Teutons were from Germany and started to migrate across Europe as early as 120 B.C.
While they were moving from their homeland they were attacking various independent European tribes and absorbing them into their ranks. The war between Rome and this group appears on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History in the first century BC. The Cimbri and their allies eventually encountered a tribe known as the Taurisci who were allies to Rome. When the Taurisci appealed to Rome for aid against these attacking Barbarians, the empire sent them a force under the leadership of consol Gnaeus Papirius Carbo.
Once he arrived in the land of the Taurisci he displayed a considerable amount of power to the Cimbri and demanded that they leave out the area. The Cimbri decided to comply with the Romans, but they changed their stance after they figured out that Carbo had planned to ambush the barbarians as they left the area. The Cimbri turned their fury upon the Romans and nearly killed all of them in battle. Carbo nearly lost his life and the only thing that saved him and a few hundred of his men from being completely wiped out was a big storm that broke out over the area.
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Once Carbo’s Roman army was defeated the Cimbri could have marched against Rome. However, the Germanic tribes headed into the area of Gaul or modern day France and Northern Italy. Then in 109 B.C. they defeated another Roman general named Silanus in Gallia Narbonensis. Shortly after this incident the Romans lost another battle at the Battle of Burgidala. By 107 B.C., the Romans were also defeated by Cimbri allies and sympathizers known as the Tigurini.
The senate was starting to realize that the Republic was in danger of being overrun by the barbarians. They were starting to become very fearful of the Cimbri and their allies. The Roman consuls Gnaeus Mallius Maximus and Quintus Servilius Caepio gathered the largest Roman army of the time and prepared them for the ultimate conflict with the Cimbri. The Romans had amassed a 120,000 soldiers and support personnel and then split the force in half between two consuls or generals. Maximus and Caepio didn’t like each other and instead of fighting together as one unit they separated and carried out their attacks against the Cimbri on two different fronts. Caepio acted without the support of Maximus and his troops were decimated. With his defeat, the Romans under Maximus lost their morale and they too were easily defeated by the Cimbri.
All of these events took place around 105 B.C. and the Roman empire really believed that its days were numbered. Once again the Cimbri didn’t attack Rome they ended up going to Hispaniola (modern Spain) to raid that area. General Marius took over the Roman army and he amassed a huge and powerful army. He took soldiers from the masses as opposed to the rich and land owning classes. He also transformed training standards, equipment, and military tactics. In a nutshell, General Marius completely reorganized Rome’s military institution. General Marisu eventually defeated the Cimbri.
The Romans almost lost their empire until the Cimbri and their forces were defeated in 101 B.C. Julius Caesar was a commanding officer in the last Cimbri war. General Marius and the leader Sulla engaged in a civil war over leadership of the empire after this major conflict occurred.
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