Four Emperors
batavian index

The Conspiracy

Cananefates III
Causes of the Revolt

At this stage, the base at the Kopse Hof was taken over by the Batavians. It is possible that the absence of traces of violence means that this was the camp of the Batavian cavalry regiment that changed sides. Whatever the precise interpretation, the last garrison was now removed from the country of the Batavians. It was a tremendous blow to Roman prestige. An army of some 6,500 men, which included legionaries, had been defeated. Julius Civilis must have been a happy man, but he was not in the mood for generosity. He did not honor Claudius Labeo, who had played such an important role in the Batavian victory, but had him arrested. He still hated his enemy, one of the Claudii that threatened the position of the old aristocracy of the Batavians (above), and sent him to a place of exile among the Frisians in the north, far from any future theaters of operation.
Whatever the war aims of the rebels, they had been reached. The presence of hundreds of dead bodies proved beyond doubt that Julius Civilis had avenged his brother. The tribe had punished the Romans for the dishonorable discharge of the imperial bodyguard and the forced recruitment. Moreover, the Batavians were now regarded as the most powerful tribe in the area. If Julius Civilis wanted to be king of his tribe, he had it within reach: someone who had defeated two legions had sufficient prestige to be any tribe's leader.

The Batavians had gained their freedom, and they knew that the Romans would recognize their independence and would not retaliate. Civilis possessed a letter from Vespasian, the commander of the Roman forces in Judaea who had revolted against the emperor Vitellius. In this letter he asked Civilis, with whom he had fought during the British wars, to revolt. In that way, Vitellius could employ all his troops against Vespasian. Civilis had done precisely what Vespasian had requested him to -although for other reasons- and the Batavians were justified in their hope that Vespasian would recognize their independence. After all, the emperor Tiberius had in a similar situation, in 28, allowed the Frisians and Chauci their autonomy.
Julius Civilis had reached everything he wanted, but within weeks he had made the fateful decision that was, within a year, to be his undoing.