Around 50 B.C., the Roman Republic was expanding its power all throughout the world. The Romans were already pushing their influence into Asia Minor, Africa, the Middle East and deep into Europe. They had managed to capture the ancient land of Gaul in 58 B.C., and they also conquered various areas near Iberia (Spain) and regions around Italy. When the Romans arrived in Gaul, they encountered various tribal groups that were based on ancient German. Ancient Germany was formally known as Germania and the various tribal groups that resided there threatened the stability of the Roman Republic while they occupied Gaul. All of this is on the Biblical Timeline in the first century BC.
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Important German Rivers.
The German tribes were a nomadic people, and they had been moving around for hundreds of years. The Rhine River runs through western Germany near the border of Gaul (modern day France). This river system was used for transportation and as a source of food for the ancient Germans. When Rome fought against the tribes from this region, they positioned their armies along the Rhine.
The Elbe is another major river system in Germany that is positioned in the northeastern part of the territory. The Elbe River is located about 350 miles from the Rhine, and the Weser River was about half that distance. The Elbe and Weser rivers were important to the ancient Germans because many tribes had settled there before moving westward to the Rhine and into other parts of Europe.
Roman Efforts to Stop Germanic Advances
As the German tribes were pushing west and southward from their territories, they began to conflict with the Romans who were spreading north and east. At first the Romans were able to keep them under control but in time they quickly became a problem. Julius Caesar had encountered the Romans in 60 B.C. and launched a series of campaigns against them that officially started Rome’s struggle with the Germans. Caesar was successful in his efforts at containing the Germans and the next Emperor. Augustus had managed to settle the Germans in a town named Ubian so that they could be used to control the inflow of Germanic tribes into different parts of Europe.
About 16 B.C. this situation changed as German leaders became bolder in their efforts to enter into foreign lands. The Germans had pushed hard into Gaul and defeated a Roman governor named Lollius. Augustus amassed a huge army with about 50,000 soldiers along the Rhine so that he could stop the Germans once and for all. Emperor Augustus put his adopted son Nero Claudius Drusus in charge of his forces along the Rhine. With the leadership of Drusus, the Romans would fight an ongoing campaign against the Germans for almost 10 years.
Drusus Defeats the Germanic Tribes along Elbe and Weser Rivers
General Drusus could not just wipe out the Germans, and he had to carry out a series of campaigns against them for many years. He had lost many soldiers during the process, but he was winning great victories that were weakening the tribes resolve to continue to keep fighting. Even though this was the case, the Germans kept pushing back hard against the Romans. Ultimately Drusus was able to fight his way through the German forces, and he conquered them starting along the Rhine and then all the way back to the Elbe. Drusus’ efforts managed to keep the Germans contained but after his untimely death, the Romans were defeated at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. Once this major defeat had taken place, the Romans seemed to have lost the desire to continue with the conquest of Germania. Even though the Germans did not make any more major advances into Roman territories, they still continued to migrate to Europe.