There were many territories that made up the Roman Empire. These territories that made up the Empire helped to make the Roman Empire one of the greatest civilizations of its time and probably of the greatest of all time. One of these territories was Germania which later developed into the present day country of Germany.
The history that we know of Ancient Germany comes from ancient sources that have been discovered through archaeology, written history, and also oral history. Archaeology is a large part of how the history of Germany has been compiled. Through archaeological digs it has been established how Roman culture influenced the Germans and also what kind of lifestyle the German people led. Archaeologists have discovered remains of German graves that show evidence of Roman influence in their dress. One such grave, in Landifay, France, contained a man and his wife. The man was wearing a typical Roman cavalry officers uniform. This evidence suggests the degree of how the two cultures may have influenced on another. Another source of information that opens up Germany culture is written history. Caesar and Tacitus both wrote about the German culture and the society in which they lived. Although many of their records are not tremendously accurate, they still give us an overview of how German society functioned and how it compared to other cultures throughout the Empire.
Germanias geography made it attractive to the Romans as a potential province to add to the already powerful Roman Empire. The combination of natural resources, agriculture, and strategic value made the Romans eager to gain acquisition of this territory. The main resources that Germany had to offer came in the form of metals, more specifically, iron. Their iron was of such quality and was acquired in such abundance that in was exported to Rome for use in most everything that was created from iron.
The German agricultural system was vital to the economy in Germany. Most of the Germans were farmers but a large portion of the population was herders. The Germans were agriculturists from the beginning of their existence. They established agricultural villages based on land plots that were grouped around a central water supply. The main crops that they raised were cereal grains such as wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Around the North Sea area there was an emphasis on cattle raising. They raised their herds in the mountainous districts in the surrounding areas.
Germany also had a great strategic advantage that was appealing to the Romans. First of all it could be used to protect Gaul north of the Danube which had already come under Rome influence. Germany also provided for a buffer from Gaul. There was no real boundary in the east so the acquisition of Germany gave the Romans the protected border that they needed.
The tribes that eventually settled in the Germanic area were tribes that had for the most part been migrating throughout Europe for many years. There were some tribes that claimed to have Germanic ties, such as the Treveri and the Sugambri and some others but for the most part the tribes that made up Germany migrated from Gaul or other surrounding areas. The physical features of each tribe were very similar to each other. Tacitus described the Germans as blond-haired, blue-eyed people with large frames. Other accounts tell of reddish-blond-haired figures that were well-built and long-skulled. Their facial features are preserved on Roman monuments.
Julius Caesar initiated the first contact with the German people. He was the first person to take an interest in Germany. This contact came during the Gallic Wars in 58 BC when he put an end to the power of the German tribes in Alsace. In 55 BC he crossed the Rhine to persuade the Germans not to interfere with the war in Gaul. He crossed the Rhine a final time in 55 BC to relieve himself of the pressure from the rebelling Gauls. Other than these few contacts with Caesar the Romans left the Germans pretty much in peace.
The invasions of Germany came later and under a new leadership. Augustus remained in Gaul until 13 BCwhen Drusus the Elder took control of the province. In 12 BC Drusus crossed the Rhine to establish his presence around Germany. The next year he pushed farther into Germany, and by 9 BC had conquered many of the German tribes. Drusus died later that year and was replaced by his brother Tiberius who fought a number of smaller wars and eventually left Germany in the hands of legates who had made friendly relations with many of the native tribes.
Augustus, satisfied with the accomplishments of both Drusus and Tiberius, pushed to make Germany a province of the Roman Empire. The Romans had over estimated their position in Germany and found the tribes unwilling to accept the offer of provincial status. The command then fell upon Varus who was caught in a surprise attack while marching through the Teutoburg Forest and was defeated with great loses. The Rhine now once again served as the frontier of the Roman Empire. After this defeat the Romans practiced frontier defense along the Rhine with ten new legions.
In AD 69 a revolt broke out involving many of the tribes. The Romans saw this as their opportunity. Vespasian and the Flavians gained control in 70 and punished the tribes for their actions. The Flavians strengthened the already existing forts and defensive lines.
One reason for Rome conquering Germany was to extend the frontier farther to the east. Another reason was to create a line of defense that the Romans could use to protect their other provinces such as Gaul.
Germany was Romanized in varying degrees. The key to Romanization was to get the German nobility on the side of the Romans by giving them grants of citizenship and absorb them into the ranks of the equites. Rome assumed the role of organizing the tribes into a Roman style of life, this left only a small mark on German civilization. Rome did succeed in spreading their language to the Roman people with mixed reactions. Roman rule was accepted with mixed emotions. During the early years when they were first invaded by the Romans the German people were very reluctant to accept Roman rule and to become a province of the Roman Empire. This attitude changed in Lower Germany where many locals lived side by side with new settlers in relative peace and accepted the new culture.
Roman rule was based on the rule of the army. Germany had to have continuous military force because of the unwillingness of Germans to accept Roman rule and become a province of the Roman Empire. Germany was in essence an imperial province with constant military rule.
Both Germany and Roman gained advantages by being in the Empire. Rome first of all had much to gain. They had extension of their territory by gaining control of Germany. Second, they gained military advantage. They now had territory north if the Rhine and they could now defend Gaul and many of their other provinces. The Germans also had much to gain from the Romans. First, they helped the Germans to establish colonies and to organize themselves in communities. The Romans also introduced the Germans to fortified cities and towns, and also to the concept of building fortifications. The Germans stayed in these colonies, which were towns and cities. The main cities that the Romans founded with the Germanic tribes were Cologne, which was the capital of Germania Inferior. Another city that became a major city was Mainz which was the capital of Germania Superior. The third major city that developed during Germanys provincial time was Trier.
By the fifth century Germany had turned into utter chaos. The Romans had lost most of their control over the territory that they once controlled. In AD 455 the Romans still controlled Germany, but later that year the Franks attacked and a conflict arose. By AD 457 Germany was occupied by a number of groups with both Roman and Frankish authority trying to prevail amongst all the strife. The last Roman soldiers entered into the Frankish army but still managed to keep their Roman identity. During this strife the Romans and the Franks seemed to coexist with each other. The Franks went so far as to elect Romans to serve as their kings. Sources have also shown that the Romans and the Germans allied together to fight the Goths and the Saxons. There are no specific incidents that suggest how Germany passed out of Roman hands, but the evidence seems to suggest that the Romans eventually merged with the many other groups that were occupying Germany at that time. This eventually led to the loss of identity by the Romans and this led to Germany being free of the Empire.