Pannonian uprising

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The lower Danube countries in Roman times

The Pannonian Uprising is also more correctly referred to as the Pannonian-Dalmatian Uprising because it included both regions, Pannonia and Dalmatia , which were parts of the Illyricum province , the northwestern part of the Balkan Peninsula . The uprising under two eponymous leaders named Bato developed an intensity and a scope that brought the imperial Rome, newly organized by Emperor Augustus , into existential difficulties.

The ausersehene of Augustus as the successor general Tiberius broke 6 n. Chr. On the news of the uprising toward his campaign against the Marcomanni -König Maroboduus off and moved his troops immediately after Illyria.

With extreme efforts - especially through supply problems - and only after massive reinforcements, he succeeded in 8 AD to defeat the Pannonian and in the following year, 9 AD, the Dalmatian rebels.

The uprising thwarted Augustus' plans to conquer Germania . There the Romans suffered the defeat in the Varus Battle in the same year, 9 AD .

The campaign in Illyria has been handed down by the historian and Tiberius biographer Velleius Paterculus , who accompanied the general as a staff officer.

The region

The rebellion region, the 'Inner Illyria', was bordered on almost all sides by Roman-dominated territories - in the west by Noricum and in the south by the long cultivated, urban Illyrian coastline along the Adriatic to the province of Macedonia , in the east by the province Moesien and only in the north bordered Pannonia - separated by the Danube - on the Marcomanni empire of Marbod, with which Rome was in increasing tension at the turn of the ages.

Historical background

Strategically, the north (Alps and Germania) and the northeast (the mountainous landscapes of the Balkans) were a coherent problem for Rome, since from there 'barbaric' peoples permanently threatened the borders of Gaul, Italy and the fertile strip of land along the Adriatic coast. In part, this directly affected their own heartland and the memory of the devastating invasion of the Cimbri and Teutons (113-101 BC) was present to the Romans. After the civil war , which after the decision brought calm to the Mediterranean area, Augustus could and had to deal with a Roman pacification of the conditions on the northeastern borders.

Gaul and Germania

Caesar had in the years 58–51 BC Chr. Gaul conquered and thus created the Rhine border. He had also undertaken expeditions to the right bank of the Rhine, but the quiet in the north lasted as long as it took the Romans to wage the civil war over the legacy of Caesar, which began in 31 BC. Chr. With the triumph of Octavian over Mark Antony ended and then to pacify the situation in their own kingdom.

During this time, Gaul and the Rhine border were opened up by road and urban development, but when the Romans tried to collect tributes on the right bank of the Rhine , conflicts arose. Finally the Sugambrians succeeded in 16 BC. BC to beat a Roman legion under Marcus Lollius in Gaul . In addition, the Raetians and other tribes in the Alps made their way through raids into the new province and also to northern Italy.

The reaction of the Romans went according to plan: within three years the troops were moved from the interior of Gaul to the Rhine border and distributed to new forts . The Alpine region was founded in 15 BC. Occupied, subjugated Raetians and Vindelicers , and explored the source of the Danube in the process. The Upper Rhine line between Augusta Raurica , the Roman camp Dangstetten and Lake Constance was set up to protect against the north .


Towards the end of the civil war, Octavian had an expedition carried out in the Balkans up to the Sawelinie and into southern Illyria to shield his base in the Orient ruled by Antony and Cleopatra (from 35 BC). This enabled him to provide contingents of troops by land to Greece and set up naval bases on the Adriatic coast, which was advantageous for him in the run-up to the Battle of Actium (31 BC). In the long run, however, these connections were too sketchy and for the most part only like support points.


In connection with the preparations in the north on the Rhine border and the Alpine campaign, from 14th BC A second campaign in the Balkans began - with an attack through Dalmatia to Greece and an advance to Pannonia (today's Hungary). These undertakings seemed to the Romans at the beginning of 12 BC. BC, so that tax rebellions in Gaul, which had also induced Germanic tribes to intervene, could now provide the occasion for the prepared Germania campaign (beginning of the Drusus campaigns 12 to 8 BC). Drusus led the campaigns in various advances and stages and with a fleet company along the North Sea coast at least as far as the Ems. The battles were varied and eventful and ended in 8 BC. Under the command of Tiberius (Drusus was killed in an accident in Germania in 9 BC) with complete Roman success.

With the conclusion of this military action, Augustus saw his goals achieved: In Germania, submission and bases “permanently maintained the presence of the empire to the right of the Rhine, ensured calm in the center of Germanic resistance. [… And in Illyria] the longed-for goal of the land connection between the western and eastern halves of the empire […] was achieved as well as the displacement of the tribes from the Italian border. "

The calm lasted for almost a decade. During the unrest in Germania ( immensum bellum , "mighty war" 1–5 AD), Tiberius again took command of the Rhine border in AD 4 and successfully ended the war the following year.

The Pannonian-Dalmatian War


In the course of the Germanic campaign of Drusus, the Marcomanni also suffered in 9 BC. A devastating defeat against the Romans. “With the blessing and support of Rome [the Romanized Germanic prince Marbod] came to head the Marcomanni. [...] he wanted to import the state model that he had got to know in Rome to Germania. [...] The Marcomanni left their homes, moved east and occupied the Bohemian Basin. ”Marbod had good relations with Rome, but he was constantly expanding his empire and copying the Roman army . When he de facto “acted as the protector of Germania” and systematically expanded his troop power, for the Romans “the principle of forward defense dictated the further course of events. In the spring of 6 AD Tiberius attacked the king. "

Bust of Tiberius (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen)

In a comprehensive pincer movement - from the south via Carnuntum on the Danube with six to seven legions and from the west with two to three legions under Saturnius along the Main - two military campaigns advanced against the Bohemian Forest.

“In the middle of the campaign, five days' march across the Danube and shortly before the point where the two army groups were to unite, one of the worst rebellions that ever shook the Roman Empire broke out: the Pannonian-Dalmatian uprising. 'The worst of all foreign wars since the Punic Wars ', the historian Suetonius characterized him - and they were 200 years ago. It covered all areas from the east coast of the Adriatic to the Danube that had been pacified for 15 years. Tiberius and his legions immediately turned south into the rebellion areas. Saturnius returned to the Rhine. "

- Ralf-Peter Märtin : The Varus Battle. VIII. Province of Germania. P. 132.

Marbod received a peace treaty on extremely favorable terms.

The uprising in the Balkans

The uprising, the causes of which have not been handed down, but is seen in the general, oppressive rule of the Romans and in particular in the tax system, probably broke out in Pannonia and Dalmatia at about the same time, and in the north of Bato was made up of the Breuker tribe and in the south by a leader of the same name from the “Desidaten tribe living near today's Sarajevo (stoked). [...] Whoever called himself a Roman citizen was slain as well as the Roman merchants, as well as the reservists, with whom one preferably occupied 'quiet' outposts outside the legionary locations. The resistance broke only on the walls of the Roman cities. "

The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the Romans had also drawn up their auxiliary troops here against Marbod, which now turned against them. "The serving Roman soldiers (made up) the core of the rebels." The historian Velleius Paterculus estimated (as a participant in the campaign) that the rebels mobilized 200,000 foot troops and 9,000 horsemen (with 800,000 inhabitants) in the area larger than Gaul.

Tiberius, who "commanded an army of six legions (approx. 30,000 men) [...] did not rush anything, did not fritter away his troops, but steadily improved his position." He secured the supply lines to Italy and pulled the Roman fleet in support of the Adriatic cities approach. The defensive tactic is explained in the research with the fact that he wanted to wait for the behavior of Marbod, who also behaved calmly.

Reinforcements came from Italy and Syria:

“In the end, fifteen legions listened to Tiberius's orders (75,000 men), 70 cohorts of auxiliary troops (35,000 men), ten Alen Reiter (5,000 men) and for maximum pay […] 10,000 veterans […] only with […] almost the Half of the total strength of the Roman army, the general ventured into the Illyrian cauldron. "

- Märtin : Varus battle. IX. The School of Arminius , p. 139.

It is noteworthy that the Cheruscan prince Arminius “in the years 6–8 AD [...] made an amazing military career in this theater of war, he advanced to the position of Roman officer and commander (prefect) of the Cheruscan auxiliary troops and even became awarded the rank of knight. "

The fighting in Pannonia

Gold coin of Augustus (Aureus) from the Cabinet des médaillies in Paris

The war dragged on, as both sides proceeded with the utmost rigor and caution - “The rebels used the scorched earth tactic to destroy all food within the legions' range of action. […] Each legion needed around 200 tons of grain per month. So grain was shipped in from Italy, but the harvests had not delivered the expected yield, and to make matters worse, a Berber revolt broke out in the breadbasket of the empire, the province of Africa . The result was a famine in Rome, combined with a severe financial crisis ”, which Augustus only managed with extremely unpopular tax collections and tough austerity measures.

Map of the Pannonian Uprising in 8 AD

In addition, on the Pannonian scene near Sirmium in the Savetal, there was a severe defeat of five legions at the Volcean Swamps, which the legionnaires defeated without a central leadership and "which almost ended in a complete defeat." Then Tiberius succeeded through a methodical approach Devastation of the country and skillful diplomacy to force the Pannonians to surrender first. The local leader Bato laid down his arms on August 3, 8 AD. Tiberius demobilized part of the army and "also Arminius (returned) with his Cheruscan riders back to Germania in the late summer of this year." Tiberius gave his nephew Germanicus his first independent command: he was supposed to end the Dalmatian uprising next year.

The fighting in Dalmatia

The Dalmatian Bato had attacked his namesake in the spring and had him executed as a traitor. Then he withdrew and defended the Romans with such losses “that mutiny was in the air. In the early summer of 9 AD, Augustus lost his patience, "as a new famine threatened, and Tiberius ordered back:" Obviously, Germanicus was not up to his task. "The last Bato was only able to fight the systematic combing of the country by Tiberius with great difficulty withdraw and he “sent his son to the Roman general in late summer with the message that he would surrender if he remained unpunished. […] Tiberius called Bato and asked him why he had started this war in the first place. He replied: 'You are to blame for it; You don't send dogs and shepherds to your flocks as guards, but wolves! '”Later, as emperor, Tiberius was to look after the provinces in an exemplary manner and“ governors, who advised that they should be taxed higher, in response (written have), it is the job of a good shepherd to shear the sheep, not to strip their skin. "

“While still in Dalmatia, shortly before the crossing to Italy, Tiberius received the bad news: Varus dead and three legions destroyed. Lured into perdition by Arminius, who had distinguished himself in Roman service. "

consequences of war


When the campaign against Marbod was broken off and the Roman legions withdrew to Pannonia, the area between the Weser and Elbe became a neutral zone: “Both sides were careful not to invade here. With this, Rome had definitely withdrawn its border on the Weser and Marbod established its rule in the Elbe valley. For three years, during the entire period of the Pannonian-Dalmatian uprising, Varus successfully kept his back free with his politics. ”“ If Varus had done nothing else ”, says Ralf-Peter Märtin,“ would be a continuation of the war against Marbod next year or the year after, with Tiberius as general and with the rested Rhine legions, it was well within the scope of expectations. [… But Varus] suddenly pulled together the Lower Rhine legions, the XVII. , XVIII. , XIX. , and began to march eastward along the Lippe towards the Weser. "


The governor of the province of Moesia, Aulus Caecina Severus, was initially involved in the suppression of the uprising , but then had to return to Moesia, where he was able to repel an invasion of the Sarmatians with great difficulty in 7 AD, using five legions narrowly escaped defeat.

“At the borders, the successful conquest and incorporation of the crucial connections between East and West - Raetia, Noricum, Pannonia and Illyria - brought about the final geostrategic unification of the empire. From then on, Illyria in particular was the central military link of the imperial system in the Mediterranean. "

“After the uprising, there was calm in Dalmatia. [...] (Not until) AD 395, troops of the Goths reached Salonae . "


  1. “Octavian succeeds in the Illyrian Wars in 35 BC. To reach Sawelinie and subjugate the southern Illyricum in the following years. The northern part, the Pannonian Plain, still remains outside of Octavian's strategic plans. Not until 14-12 BC Chr. This area is also subject to the Sawelinie under M. Vinicius and M. Agrippa . "
  2. Märtin, p. 131. The previous information in the article is transferred here: “In 6 AD Tiberius led at least eight legions ( Legio VIII Augusta from Pannonia, Legio XX Valeria Victrix and Legio XV Apollinaris from Illyricum, Legio XXI Rapax from Raetia , Legio XIII Gemina , Legio XIIII Gemina and Legio XVI Gallica from Germania superior and an unknown unit) from the south against Marbod, the Marcomann king in the area of ​​the Boier , while the Legio I Germanica , Legio V Alaudae , Legio XVII , Legio XVIII and Legio XIX Augusta approached from the north. The commanding officers also included the governors Aulus Caecina Severus and Gaius Sentius Saturninus as well as Germanicus . “The number and designation of the legions and the directions of the military campaigns in this information do not reflect the latest research.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Velleius Paterculus, Roman History .
  2. Ralf-Peter Märtin: The Varus Battle. Rome and the Teutons , Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2010, p. 84 ff.
  3. ^ Velleius Paterculus, Historia Romana 2, 104, 2
  4. Ralf-Peter Märtin: Varus Battle. VIII. Province of Germania - Marbod , p. 130 f.
  5. ^ Suetonius, Tiberius 16, 1.
  6. Velleius Paterculus 2, 110, 3 and 6. Quoted in: Märtin, p. 137.
  7. Velleius Paterculus 2, 110, 5 and Cassius Dio 55, 29, 1-3.
  8. Märtin, p. 137.
  9. Märtin quotes various authors to determine the troop strengths in the course of the campaign, see note 372 f .: Several modern authors "based on Vell., II, 113.1, assume ten legions". Here the legions could be withdrawn from Moesien (This is how Theodor Mommsen , Das Weltreich der Römer, Kettwig 1990, p. 68, solved the question). Martine: Varus battle. IX. The School of Arminius , p. 139.
  10. Märtin, p. 134.
  11. Märtin, p. 147
  12. Velleius Paterculus 2, 112, 6. According to Cassius Dio 56, 33, 3, "the Romans were saved by their camp, which the Batos unwise attacked and where they failed with bloody heads." Märtin, p. 148.
  13. Märtin, p. 149.
  14. ^ After Cassius Dio 56, 16, 1.
  15. Cassius Dio 56, 16, 3. Quoted in: Märtin, p. 150.
  16. Sueton, Tiberius 32, 2. Quoted in: Märtin, p. 150.
  17. Märtin, p. 150.
  18. Märtin, p. 157.
  19. Märtin, p. 159.
  20. Cassius Dio 55, 29–30 and 32.
  21. Perry Anderson: From Antiquity to Feudalism. edition suhrkamp, ​​vol. 922, Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 85.
  22. dtv-Lexikon der Antike, Volume 1 (3079), Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1971, p. 259.


  • Velleius Paterculus : Roman History. Edited and translated by Marion Giebel, Stuttgart 1992.
  • Cassius Dio : Roman History. Translated by Otto Veh, with an introduction by Hans Jürgen Hillen, 5 vols., Düsseldorf 2007


  • Perry Anderson : From Antiquity to Feudalism. Traces of the transition societies. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1978. Original edition: Perry Anderson: Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism. NLB, London 1974. It is quoted from: edition suhrkamp 922, 1981.
  • Ralf-Peter Märtin : The Varus Battle. Rome and the Teutons. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-596-17662-5 .

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