The Batavians
The Revolt
batavian index

The Attack On Vetera

The Empire Strikes Back
Julius Civilis

The most conspicuously brave of all the German tribes, the Batavi, hold little of the riverbank, but do hold the Rhine island. They were once a section of the Chatti, and on occasion of a civil war they migrated to their present home - destined there to become a part of the Roman Empire. But they still retain an honourable privilege in token of their ancient alliance with us. They are not subjected to the indignity of tribute of ground down by the tax-gatherer. Free from imposts and special levies, and reserved for employment in battle, they are like waepons and armour - 'only to be used in war'.

The Batavians, while they dwelt on the other side of the Rhine, formed a part of the tribe of the Chatti. Driven out by a domestic revolution, they took possession of an uninhabited district on the extremity of the coast of Gaul, and also of a neighbouring island, surrounded by the ocean in front, and by the river Rhine in the rear and on either side. Not weakened by the power of Rome or by alliance with a people stronger than themselves, they furnished to the Empire nothing but men and arms. They had had a long training in the German wars, and they had gained further renown in Britain, to which country their cohorts had been transferred, commanded, according to ancient custom, by the noblest men in the nation. They had also at home a select body of cavalry, who practised with special devotion the art of swimming, so that they could stem the stream of the Rhine with their arms and horses, without breaking the order of their squadrons.