Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


30.1.10
  The Romans in Germania - A Geography Lesson

In order to make it easier for you to put a location to the places I keep mentioning in context of the Romans in Germany, this post will provide you with some maps.

The first one shows the Roman provinces at the time of Augustus. The provinces have been restructured and renamed several times in Roman history. For example, part of what on this map is Gallia Belgica about 90 AD became Germania Inferior, and the land between Rhine and Danube then protected by the Limes would be called Germania Superior.

The Roman provinces at the time of Augustus

The red and orange ones are all provinces of the Roman Empire that started in the middle of Italy (that high heel boot kicking Sicily) a few hundres years earlier. You can see that there's a nice chain of provinces all around the Mediterranean Sea. After they, ahem .... collected those, the Romans pushed north. Southern Britain was conquered after Augustus' time, so it's still green on that map.

The borders of Germania (also green) are marked by the Rhine (running south-north) and the Danube (running west-east into the Black Sea). Under Hadrian, the angle formed by those two rivers was integrated into the Empire and protected by the German Limes. The provinces along the Danube include Pannonia where Arminius fought on the Roman side against rebellious tribes prior to his return to Germania.

Next comes a map of the Romans in northern Germany during the time of Drusus' and Tiberius' invasions in 16-9 BC until Germanicus' campaigns in 14-16 AD.

Roman supply bases and forts in Germania Magna

Since I photographed both maps in the Hedemünden exhibition, that fortress / supply base figures prominently right in the middle (the map only shows the northern half of Germany) at the Weser/Werra (Visurgis) river. Göttingen is a bit north of it, and if you follow an imaginary line to the Leine river, you'll see the Harz on the right, that's where the recently discovered battlefield of Kalefeld is situated.

You can see the two legionary forts at Mainz (Moguntiacum) and Xanten (Castra Vetera). The Limes would later start a bit north of Mainz. The Lippe (Lupis) river that from Xanten runs east into Germania was the location of several Roman forts, among them Haltern that also had a naval base. Kalkriese, the probable Varus battlefield, lies further north.

Close to the Rhine, but on the 'wrong' side lies Waldgirmes, a Roman town in Germania that was destroyed after the Varus battle. Another place on my To Visit list. The Elbe, the river that for some time was supposed to become the new frontier of a Roman empire that included Germania Magna, runs in the east.

Germany (map found here)

Germany today extends the borders of the planned Roman province. Since not all towns are shown on that map, you'll have to place Mainz near Wiesbaden. The Limes cut from there to Regensburg at the Danube. Xanten (also not shown) is at the border to the Netherlands; the Lippe runs between the line Duisburg, Essen Dortmund and Münster further north.

You can see that the whole Berlin area and Baltic Sea coast is north-east of the Elbe which confluences into the North Sea near Hamburg, while in the south part of the old province of Raetia in the Alpes now is Germany (the other part is mostls Switzerland), and in the west, Germany stretches towards Trier on the 'Roman' side of the Rhine.

Hedemünden is situated between Kassel and Göttingen, Kalefeld a third on the way between Göttingen and Hannover, and Kalkriese near Osnabrück.

The following maps show the Limes Germanicus:

The Upper German - Raetian Limes (map found here)

This is an overview over the Limes, the German border between the Roman Empire - namely the provinces of Germania Superior and Raetia - and Germania Magna or 'free Germania' that extended east of the Rhine and north of the Danube.

West of that straight north-south line in the midst of the map (the Odenwald Limes) you can see another line of forts along the Neckar river. That was the extent of the Limes under Hadrian; Antoninus Pius then pushed it a bit further east (about AD 150-160).

The Saalburg Fort can be found near the town of Koblenz (Confluentes) though that closeness is due to the small scale of the map. It's actually closer to Frankfurt which is not shown but can be found on the map above. But Moguntiacum (Mainz), the capital of the province Germania Superior, is listed, as is Xanten further north in the province of Germania Inferior.

The Limes in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria (map found here)

This maps shows the places along the Limes I've visited in 2014, namely Aalen and Weissenburg (Biriciana) but also Walldürn and Osterburken at the Odenwald Limes which I visited a few years ago. Aalen is close to the spot where the Limes takes a sharp turn east to rejoin the Danube.

The towns of Nuremberg (Nürnberg) and Regensburg are also shown.
 
Comments:
Those are really helpful maps, thank you. You'll have to link them prominently in your side bar so readers can refer to them easily when reading your next posts! Are they from a museum exhibition? If so, full marks to the museum.
 
The first two are from the Hedemünden exhibition in Hannoversch Münden (that nice little half timerberd town at the Weser/Fulda confluence i posted about im summer), the third I found on Google. :)

I got a good map of the Limes from the Saalburg museum as well, so that will appear at some point here. Photographable Medieval maps are a bit trickier to find; it may be that I'll just have to put up a modern map of fe. the Harz area. It's something I plan to do in near future, but not several posts in a row, that would become boring. ;)
 
Gabrile

Great maps!

Maps really make things clearer, publishers who do miltary history/fiction without maps hould be turned over to mercies of you plot bunnies!
 
These are very helpful maps! I'm really hoping to get to Xanten one of these days - it's not too far from here, but somehow I haven't made it there yet. :-)
 
Cool! I love maps. All the better to plan invasions by! If I were a renegade engineer that is. And 'collected' provinces. :)
 
Thank you, Hank. My plotbunnies are pretty quiet these days. I suspect they've figurered out what happens to plotbunnies in my stories, mwuahaha. :)

Kathryn, I have Xanten on my list, but it had been pretty low there because I thought it's too much of a Roman Walt Disney. But there's a new museum now, so it may be worth a visit if you can catch it outside the tourist season.

Constance, you innocent eyes are not fooling me (the Corgies taught you that look). :D Of course, you plan an invasion.
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.


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