On This Day
9 – The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest ends: The Roman Empire suffers the greatest defeat of its history and the Rhine is established as the border between the Empire and the so-called barbarians for the next four hundred years.
The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, described as the Varian Disaster (Clades Variana) by Roman historians, took place at modern Kalkriese in AD 9, when an alliance of Germanic peoples ambushed Roman legions and their auxiliaries, led by Publius Quinctilius Varus. The alliance was led by Arminius, a Germanic officer of Varus’s auxilia. Arminius had acquired Roman citizenship and had received a Roman military education, which enabled him to deceive the Roman commander methodically and anticipate the Roman army’s tactical responses.
Teutoburg Forest is commonly seen as one of the most important defeats in Roman history, bringing the triumphant period of expansion under Augustus to an abrupt end. The outcome of this battle dissuaded the Romans from their ambition of conquering Germania, and is thus considered one of the most important events in European history. The provinces of Germania Superior and Germania Inferior, sometimes collectively referred to as Roman Germania, were subsequently established in northeast Roman Gaul, while territories beyond the Rhine remained independent of Roman control. Retaliatory campaigns were commanded by Tiberius and Germanicus and would enjoy success, but the Rhine would eventually become the border between the Roman Empire and the rest of Germania. The Roman Empire would launch no other major incursion into Germania until Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–180) during the Marcomannic Wars.
Some of the descendants of the vassal kingdoms, like the Suebi (by suzerainty), that Augustus tried to create in Germania to expand the romanitas and the Empire in a peaceful way would be the ones that invaded the Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries.
490 BC – Battle of Marathon: The conventionally accepted date for the Battle of Marathon. The Athenians and their Plataean allies defeat the first Persian invasion force of Greece.
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. The battle was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate Greece. The Greek army inflicted a crushing defeat on the more numerous Persians, marking a turning point in the Greco-Persian Wars.
The first Persian invasion was a response to Athenian involvement in the Ionian Revolt, when Athens and Eretria sent a force to support the cities of Ionia in their attempt to overthrow Persian rule. The Athenians and Eretrians had succeeded in capturing and burning Sardis, but they were then forced to retreat with heavy losses. In response to this raid, Darius swore to burn down Athens and Eretria. According to Herodotus, Darius had his bow brought to him and then shot an arrow “upwards towards heaven”, saying as he did so: “Zeus, that it may be granted me to take vengeance upon the Athenians!” Herodotus further writes that Darius charged one of his servants to say “Master, remember the Athenians” three times before dinner each day.
At the time of the battle, Sparta and Athens were the two largest city-states in Greece. Once the Ionian revolt was finally crushed by the Persian victory at the Battle of Lade in 494 BC, Darius began plans to subjugate Greece. In 490 BC, he sent a naval task force under Datis and Artaphernes across the Aegean, to subjugate the Cyclades, and then to make punitive attacks on Athens and Eretria. Reaching Euboea in mid-summer after a successful campaign in the Aegean, the Persians proceeded to besiege and capture Eretria. The Persian force then sailed for Attica, landing in the bay near the town of Marathon. The Athenians, joined by a small force from Plataea, marched to Marathon, and succeeded in blocking the two exits from the plain of Marathon. The Athenians also sent a message to the Spartans asking for support. When the messenger arrived in Sparta, the Spartans were involved in a religious festival and gave this as a reason for not coming to help the Athenians.
The Athenians and their allies chose a location for the battle, with marshes and mountainous terrain, that prevented the Persian cavalry from joining the Persian infantry. Miltiades, the Athenian general, ordered a general attack against the Persian forces, composed primarily of missile troops. He reinforced his flanks, luring the Persians’ best fighters into his center. The inward wheeling flanks enveloped the Persians, routing them. The Persian army broke in panic towards their ships, and large numbers were slaughtered. The defeat at Marathon marked the end of the first Persian invasion of Greece, and the Persian force retreated to Asia. Darius then began raising a huge new army with which he meant to completely subjugate Greece; however, in 486 BC, his Egyptian subjects revolted, indefinitely postponing any Greek expedition. After Darius died, his son Xerxes I restarted the preparations for a second invasion of Greece, which finally began in 480 BC.
The Battle of Marathon was a watershed in the Greco-Persian wars, showing the Greeks that the Persians could be beaten; the eventual Greek triumph in these wars can be seen to have begun at Marathon. The battle also showed the Greeks that they were able to win battles without the Spartans, as Sparta was seen as the major military force in Greece. This victory was overwhelmingly won by the Athenians, and Marathon raised Greek esteem of them. The following two hundred years saw the rise of the Classical Greek civilization, which has been enduringly influential in Western society and so the Battle of Marathon is often seen as a pivotal moment in Mediterranean and European history, and is often celebrated today.
Born On This Day
1182 – Minamoto no Yoriie, Japanese shōgun (d. 1204)
Minamoto no Yoriie (Japanese: 源 頼家, September 11, 1182 – August 14, 1204) was the second shōgun (1202–1203) of Japan’s Kamakura shogunate, and the first son of first shōgun Yoritomo. His Dharma name was Hokke-in-dono Kingo Da’i Zengo (法華院殿金吾大禅閤).
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1415 – John de Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (d. 1461)
John Mowbray, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, KG, Earl Marshal (12 September 1415 – 6 November 1461) was a fifteenth-century English magnate who, despite having a relatively short political career, played a significant role in the early years of the Wars of the Roses. Mowbray was born in 1415, the only son and heir of John de Mowbray, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, and Katherine Neville. He inherited his titles upon his father’s death in 1432. As a minor he became a ward of King Henry VI and was placed under the protection of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, alongside whom Mowbray would later campaign in France. He seems to have had an unruly and rebellious youth. Although the details of his misconducts are unknown, they were severe enough for the King to place strictures upon him and separate him from his followers. Mowbray’s early career was spent in the military, where he held the wartime office of Earl Marshal.[note 1] Later he led the defence of England’s possessions in Normandy during the Hundred Years’ War. He fought in Calais in 1436, and during 1437–38 served as warden of the east march on the Anglo-Scottish border, before returning to Calais.
Mowbray’s marriage to Eleanor Bourchier in the early 1430s drew him into the highly partisan and complex politics of East Anglia, and he became the bitter rival of William de la Pole, Earl (later Duke) of Suffolk.[note 2] Mowbray prosecuted his feuds with vigour, often taking the law into his own hands. This often violent approach drew the disapproving attention of the Crown, and he was bound over for massive sums and imprisoned twice in the Tower of London. His enemies, particularly de la Pole, also resorted to violent tactics. As a result, local gentry looked to Mowbray for leadership, but often in vain; De la Pole was a powerful local force and favourite of the King, while Mowbray was neither.
As law and order collapsed in eastern England, national politics became increasingly factional, with popular revolts against the King’s councillors. Richard, Duke of York, who by the 1450s felt excluded from government, grew belligerent. He rebelled twice, and both times Mowbray defended King Henry. Eventually Mowbray drifted towards York, with whom he shared an enmity towards de la Pole. For much of the decade, Mowbray was able to evade direct involvement in the fractious political climate, and aligned with York early in 1460 until York’s death later that year. In March 1461, Mowbray was instrumental in Edward’s victory at the Battle of Towton, bringing reinforcements late in the combat. He was rewarded by the new regime but did not live to enjoy it. He died in November 1461, and was succeeded as Duke of Norfolk by his only son, John.
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