Imperator Germanorum: The Legacy of Arminius
Imperator Germanorum: The Legacy of Arminius
“The boy is something else. He will go places, just like his father.” – Flavus, Brother of Arminius I, Liberator of Germania
Excerpts from ‘The Son of Arminius: Limits of an Empire’ by Andreas Adrikonos.
“In order to truly understand the circumstances that led to the rise of Thumelicus I ‘Secundi Liberator’  referred to as the Son of the First Liberator by the Germans, one must first look towards the past, to the events that led to the fall of Arminius: The Battles of Teutoburg Forest and Idistaviso.
Born in 735 AVC , Arminius was the son of the Cheruscan chief Segimerus, who was allied with Rome. Like many allied Germanic tribes of the era, Segimerus sent his sons, Arminius and Flavus to Rome where they would stay as political hostages. During this time, political hostages were merely glorified guests rather than an actual hostages. As such, Arminius had a privileged upbringing during his time in Rome. He learned to speak Latin, and joined the Roman military alongside his younger brother, Flavus. He served the Roman Army between 754 AVC and 759 AVC  and received a military education as well as Roman citizenship, and the status of Equite before returning to Germania. These experiences gave the man a vast knowledge of Roman politics and military tactics. He knew all about the strengths of Rome, and he knew about their weakness as well.
A bust of Arminius today
Around the year 757 AVC, Arminius assumed command of a Cheruscan detachment of the Roman auxiliary forces, probably while fighting for the Romans during the Pannonian Wars in the Balkan Peninsula and Illyria. He returned to northern Germania in 760 AVC, where the Romans had established secure control of the territories east of the Rhenus  along the Lippe and Main rivers and their tributaries. The Romans were now seeking to expand their hegemony eastward towards the Weiser  river and Elbe River, under the command of Publius Quinctillius Varus, a high ranking administrative official appointed by Augustus himself as governor. It is said that during this time, the ill-treatment of the German auxiliary and civilians turned Arminius against his Roman benefactors.
He began to scheme, and started to plot to bring the various Germanic tribes under one banner in order to thwart Roman efforts to incorporate their lands into the empire. This was a monumental task, as the tribes were fiercely independent, and many were actually traditional enemies of one another for centuries. Between 759 AVC and 762 AVC, the Romans were forced to move around 8 of their 11 Legions present in Germania east of the Rhenus to crush a rebellion in the Balkans, known to us as the Great Illyrian Revolt, leaving Varus undermanned with only 3 legions to face the Germans, which was still around 18,000 to 6,000 men per legion. An additional amount of 2 Legions were stationed in Moguntiacum under the command of Lucius Nonius Asprenas.
A bust of Varus.
In the autumn of 762 AVC, the 25 year old Arminius brought to Varus various false reports of rebellion in Northern Germania, instigated by the Cherusci’s traditional enemies, making his case even stronger in the eyes of the Romans. He persuaded Varus to divert the leftover three legions under his command, the 17th, 18th and 19th legions which were at the time trying to wind down to winter quarters, to suppress the rebellion, lest the rebellion got extremely serious, Arminius warned the Romans.
Varus, however marched right into the trap that Arminius had set for them near Kalkriese. Arminius’s tribe the Cherusci and their Germanic allies, the Marsi, Chatti, Bructeri, Chauci, and Sicambri, around a tenth of the total tribes of Germania at the time, representing an unprecedented amount of cooperation between Germanic tribes during the time, ambushed and annihilated Varus’s entire army, totaling over 20,000 men in one of the greatest Roman military disasters of its time at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. When defeat became inevitable, Varus committed suicide by fallng on his sword. The defeat at Teutoburg Forest ensured that the German lands east of the Rhenus remained free of direct Roman control.
The Roman Empire in 762 AVC
However the Romans were not going to let a defeat of such magnitude lay lying down. Germanicus, the adopted son of Tiberius, the second Roman Emperor, led punitive operations into Germania, fighting Arminius to a draw in the Battle at Pontes Longi, and twice defeating him in smaller skirmishes. During one of these punitive raids in 768 AVC, Germanicus captured Thusnelda, the wife of Arminius, who was pregnant at the time. Arminius grieved the loss of his wife, and according to his brother Flavus who was there during his brother’s last moments, would later say that his brother thought of his wife and unborn child until the very end.
In 769 AVC, the Romans under Germanicus moved against Arminius who was hurriedly reforming the German coalition and the two commanders would meet each other in battle, at the plains of Idistavisus, near the Weiser River. The Battle of Idistaviso was a disaster for the Germans. The Roman troops under Germanicus had found out about Arminius’s traps in the forest beforehand, and Germanicus utilized this to fight the battle on his own terms.
More importantly however, Arminius, during the later stages of the battle, was surrounded by the Romans, where he demanded, to meet his brother Flavus, before the Romans inevitably killed him. Flavus, who had remained loyal to Rome, marched up to the ferocious German Chieftain, who had personally slain so many Romans in personal combat, despite the fact that he was outnumbered and encircled. According to Roman historian Tacitus, Arminius asked his brother about his wife. Flavus proclaimed that Thusnelda was being well treated, as was typical of Rome. Arminius, who had always been close to his brother, despite the two’s estrangement after Arminius’s betrayal to Rome, asked his brother to take care of his wife, and unborn child, after he was killed. According to Tacitus, Arminius is said to have asked 'In the name of our long lost relationship brother, will you take care of them?'
The Battle of Idistaviso.
Flavus, agreed to his brother’s last wish and told Arminius that his child and wife would be taken care of by Flavus personally. Arminius then attacked the Romans beside him, and was killed. In 770 AVC, the Romans returned to Rome, and despite Flavus’s best efforts, Thusnelda and her newborn son, Thumelicus, the protagonist of this historical recount, were displayed as prized trophies of the triumph granted to Germanicus. Tacitus writes that it took almost the entirety of Flavus’s political acumen and reputation to beg Germanicus to allow him to take care of his sister-in-law and nephew. And even then, it was decreed that the two would live under house arrest for the rest of their lives, and with the status of Freedmen only.
Thesnelda during Germanicus's Triumph in Rome.
Nonetheless, for Rome, it was a great victory. Their greatest German enemy was dead lying beneath the mud and rain. To the Romans, Arminius was now history, a footnote in the many pages of time, much like Hannibal, the great Punic commander. Thumelicus would be raised as a Roman, and the legacy of Arminius would be stifled in time. But as history shows us, the young Son of Arminius would return to claim his birthright, as the Roman Empire would tremble once again in fear of the House of Arminius.
 – Second Liberator in Latin
 – 18 BCE in the Roman calendar.
 – To keep up, just add the number of years after 0 AD with 753 to get a clear view of the Roman calendar.
 – Rhine
 – Weser
Author’s Note: After a few months of research, I can proudly proclaim that the prologue and scene for this TL is set. The basic PoD is that Arminius doesn’t escape in Idistaviso and speaks with his brother who was present on the Roman side, cementing his legacy as a martyr of Germania among the Germanic tribes who fought against Rome. I may be slow in updating this timeline due to RL issues, and concerns as well, I hope you guys enjoy reading this TL as much as I enjoy writing it.