Arminius was born around 17 B. C. E., in what is now Northern Germany. His father, Segimer, was a tribal leader , and a distinguished member of the Cherusci tribe. Arminius had a brother named Flavus, who would later serve with Arminius in the Roman army. Arminius was a prince with great standing within the Cherusci tribe, and was known for his leadership qualities. For years the Cherusci were one of the most resistant tribes to Roman incursions, and yet many from the tribe would fight along side the Roman army. Arminius, and his brother Flavus, rose up the ranks of command, and Arminius became a commander of auxiliary troops that were made up of his own people. An auxiliary unit ranged from 5 - 10,000 men, and his command would have been several hundred strong.
Arminius must have served well with the Roman Legions because he was given Roman citizenship, which was a high honor. The Romans also granted to Arminius the title of Equestrian, or Knight, which was a high rank in Roman society. Social status was very important in Roman society, and for a non- Roman to attain a high level was a great honor indeed. During his years of service he taught himself to speak Latin, and learned the customs of the Romans. It is estimated that he left the Roman Auxilaries in around 7 C.E.
About two years later Arminius ran away with the daughter of Segestes. Her name was Thusnelda, and she would later give him a son Thumelicus. His father - in - law, Segestes, was a firm ally of the Romans, and believed that cooperation with the Romans was beneficial to the Germanic peoples. Arminius probably had similar views about the Romans until the Roman Legions crossed the Rhine river, and threatened the Cherusci tribal lands. His loyalties then shifted, and he decided to defend the lands of his ancestors.
It was his military service with the Roman army that made him the perfect leader when he returned home sometime after 7 C.E. Arminius knew from his time serving with the Legions that a conventional style attack against the highly disciplined Roman army would be a disaster. He understood that if the the Legions were allowed to form into battle formation his Germanic warriors had little chance against such a highly skilled force. He also needed to restrict the use of the Roman cavalry, which in open fields could launch devastatingly lightning fast attacks on an enemies flanks. He formulated a plan that would use deception, and confinement, to limit the Roman army's ability to manuever, and use their battle tested formations. He had the perfect place in mind . A heavily wooded, marshy forest, with a swamp on one side. Here he would fight one of the greatest battles in Germanic history. This battle would later become known as the Battle of the Teutoberg forest.
Publius Quinctilius Varus, better known to history as just Varus, was in command of three Roman Legions; The 17th, 18th, and the 19th. With him he also had 3 cavalry, and 6 infantry auxillary units. As they marched on that September day in 9 C.E. each carried a tall staff topped with the imperial eagle, the legion's name, and number. As he rode tall and proud upon his horse, Varus was confident that his elite Roman troops could handle any barbarian Germanic force that they encountered. What he did not realize was that he and his men were marching into infamy.
Arminius had actually served with Varus as the commander of a small unit , and had distinguished himself in battle. Varus had come to trust Arminius, so when Arminius told him of an uprising, started by a small tribe that was just a day or two march away from the Roman camp on the Weser River, Varus believed him and jumped at the chance to crush this revolt. Ironically, Arminius' father - in - law, Segestes, tried to warn Varus, but he trusted Arminius more.
Varus thought that Arminius was going to go ahead and rally some of his own people to join the Roman Army in putting down the rebellion, but Arminius had something much more sinister planned. Arminius had planned an elaborate ambush in what is now known as the Teutoberg Forest. And what an ambush it was ! Though the path that the Romans marched on had been worn down over the years, the Roman Army could not march in their normal formation which was six men across. As they moved along this forest lane they had to fill in holes of mud, and remove fallen trees that blocked the way of their supply carts. They would emerge occasionally out of the dense forest into fields of grain bathed in sunlight, but mainly they were funnelled , by Arminius, into as confined a space as was possible.
The arrogant Roman Army was so confident and arrogant that they carried with them their baggage train, which would have made so much noise that they could never have surprised anyone along the way. The local Germanic people would have had more than enough time to evacuate themselves, and their valuable livestock long before the Romans passed by. The Romans probably did not see a soul as they marched along their way into history. However the Roman Army was more than likely being tacked by Arminius' spies, which would not have been difficult with all that noise, all the way to the spot where the Germanic tribesman were waiting to ambush the Roman Legions.
At the Kalkrieser Berg, Varus had to detour around this small hill, and through a bog. Because it was swampy on both sides the Roman troops were confined to a path only about a 100 yards wide. It was here that Arminius and his brave Germanic troops were waiting. It was here that thousands of nervous eyes searched the horizon for the first glint of Roman armor. It was here that thousands of ears listened for the first sounds of an army on the move. And it was here where the Germanic tribesman would change the course of history and stop the spread of Roman civilization. The trap was about to be sprung !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !