Cimbric War

B.C. 112 to 101
Rome — versus — Teutones and Cimbri (Germanic Tribes)

By 112 BC, Rome had its first encounter with migrating Germanic tribes, who five hundred years hence would overthrow their empire. Before this time, most of Western Europe was inhabited by Gauls, and the Germans were confined mostly to northern Germany and Scandinavia. The Cimbri, and Teutones, were two Germanic tribes who were thought to have left their homeland in Jutland, possibly due to flooding. They were several hundred thousand strong and were searching for a new homeland, with their wives, children, and belongings packed into wagons. To the Romans they appeared to be giants—most of the men being over six feet tall, and the women nearly as large.

cimbrian war
The Romans first met both tribes when one of their allies in the region of Austria requested their help. The Roman army at first succeeded in driving them away, but later set them up for an ambush, which backfired. A large portion of the Roman army was annihilated and the remainder returned to Rome with stories of the fearsome barbarian hordes. But the worst disgrace was still to come. Seven years later, the Cimbri and Teutons were migrating around Gaul. Rome sent two legions to stop them from entering Roman territory. The leaders however, did not cooperate and as a result the legions were annihilated along with many camp followers. The resulting battle of Arausio was an unmitigated disaster, with more than 100,000 Romans killed, and several legions annihilated. The disaster emboldened the Cimbri to aggressively seek Roman territory, and horrified the Romans. It did, however, provide an opportunity for Marius, a long time veteran, to be elected Consul, and to make very important reforms of the army, before facing the Germans again.

Fortunately for Rome, the two migrating tribes split up and crossed the Alps at different passes, so Marius met them separately. He laid an ambush for the Teutones at Aquae Sextie, and then annihilated them. The entire tribe was slain or taken into slavery, and many of the women killed their children and then themselves. The following year, when the Cimbri passed over the Alps, they met the same fate at Vercellae.

DateBattle Summary
112 BC  
Battle of Noreia   Cimbri-Teutones victory
Fought B.C. 112 a Roman legion under Carbo, and a tribe of migrating Teutones and Cimbri. The teutones were retreating from the Roman territory of the Taurisci on the Danube border when they were informed of an ambushed and turned unexpectedly on, and routed the Romans, whom they far out-numbered. The victorious Teutones then headed towards Gaul rather than pressing on toward Rome.
105 BC  
Battle of Arausio   Cimbri-Teutones victory
Fought B.C. 105, when the Cimbri under Boiorix, and Teutones under Teutobod totally routed two consular armies under Caepio and Cn. Mallius Maximus. It is said that 80,000 Romans fell.
102 BC  
Battle of Aquae Sextiae   Romans victory
Fought B.C. 102, when the Teutones under the king, Teutobod, were totally routed by the Romans under Marius.
101 BC  
Battle of Vercellae   Romans victory
Fought July 30, 101 B.C., between 50,000 Romans, under Marius, and the Cimbri, under Boiorix. The Cimbri were almost annihilated, and their king slain.

Short Biography
Marius Renowned general. Modernized legions. Waged a bloody feud with party of Sulla.
Boriorix Leader of the Cimbri tribe of Germans. Defeated at Vercellae.
Teutobod Leader of the Teutone tribe of Germans. Defeated at Aquae Sextiae.

Story Links
Book Links
Swarm from the North  in  Helmet and Spear  by  Alfred J. Church
Barbarians  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Caius Marius  in  Back Matter  by  books/horne/soldiers/_back.html
Jugurtha Is Brought to Rome in Chains  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Marius Conquers the norsees  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Marius Mocks the Ambassadors of the Cimbri  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
norses and Romans  in  The History of Germany  by  Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

Image Links

Defeat of the Cimbri in the Battle at the Waggons
 in Helmet and Spear

The Teutones Passing from Italy into Gaul
 in Greatest Nations - Germany

The Teutones Wandering in Gaul
 in Greatest Nations - Rome

Defence of the Cimbrian Women at Vercellae
 in Greatest Nations - Rome

On and on they came, hungering for battle
 in The History of Germany

Marius and the Ambassadors of the Cimbri
 in Plutarch's Lives W. H. Weston