Germania Inferior

Germania Inferior ("Lower Germany") was a Roman province located on the west bank of the Rhine and bordering the North sea.

Provincia Germania Inferior
Province of the Roman Empire
Location of Germania Inferior
The province of Germania Inferior within the Roman Empire, c. 117
Capital Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (CCAA)
Historical era Antiquity
 •  Established after the Gallic wars 83
 •  Gallic Empire 260-274
 •  Frankish Empire 475
Today part of  Netherlands
Roman Empire 125
The Roman empire in the time of Hadrian (ruled 117-138), showing, on the lower Rhine river, the imperial province of Germania Inferior (NW Germany/S. Netherlands, E. Belgium), and the 3 legions deployed there in 125. Note that the coast lines shown in the map are those of today, known to be different from those in Roman times in the North Sea area.


According to Ptolemy (2.9), Germania Inferior included the Rhine from its mouth up to the mouth of the Obringa, a river identified with either the Aar or the Moselle. [1] The territory included modern Luxembourg, the southern Netherlands, part of Belgium, and part of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, west of the Rhine.

The principal settlements of the province were Castra Vetera and Colonia Ulpia Traiana (both near Xanten), Coriovallum (Heerlen), Albaniana (Alphen aan den Rijn), Lugdunum Batavorum (Katwijk), Forum Hadriani (Voorburg), Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum (Nijmegen), Traiectum (Utrecht), Atuatuca Tungrorum (Tongeren), Bona (Bonn), and Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne), the capital of Germania Inferior.


The army of Germania Inferior, typically shown on inscriptions as EX.GER.INF. (Exercitus Germaniae Inferioris), included several legions at various times: of these, Legions I Minervia and XXX Ulpia Victrix were the most permanent. The Roman Navy's Classis Germanica (German fleet), charged with patrolling the Rhine and the North Sea coast, was based at Castra Vetera and later at Colonia Agrippinensis.

Germania inferior roads towns
Borders of the Germania Inferior, with main roads and cities/forts

The first confrontations between a Roman army and the peoples of Germania Inferior occurred during Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars. Caesar invaded the region in 57 BC and in the next three years annihilated several tribes, including the Eburones and the Menapii, whom Caesar called "Germanic" but who probably were Celtic or at least mixed Celtic-Germanic. Germanic influence (mainly through the Tungri) increased during Roman times, leading to the assimilation of all Celtic peoples in the area.

Germania Inferior had Roman settlements since around 50 BC and was at first part of Gallia Belgica. Although it had been occupied since the reign of Augustus, it wasn't formally established as a Roman province until around AD 85, with its capital at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (modern Cologne).[2] It later became an Imperial province. It lay north of Germania Superior; these two together made up Lesser Germania. The adjective Inferior refers to its downstream position.

As attested in the early 5th century Notitia Dignitatum, the province was renamed Germania Secunda (Germania II) in the 4th century. It was administered by a consularis and formed part of the Diocese of Gaul. Up to the end of Roman control, it was an intensely garrisoned province that was inhabited by Romans and Ripuarian Franks in the 5th century. Its capital remained at Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, which also became the seat of a Christian bishopric, in charge of an ecclesiastical province that survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

After the final abandonment of the province it became the core of the Frankish Kingdom.

See also


  1. ^ "Obringa" in Bruzen la Martiniere, Le Grand Dictionnaire Geographique Volume 6, 1737; Albert Forbiger, Handbuch Der Alten Geographie Volume 3, Mayer und Wigand, 1848, fn (***) p. 126f.
  2. ^ Rüger, C. (2004) [1996]. "Germany". In Alan K. Bowman; Edward Champlin; Andrew Lintott. The Cambridge Ancient History: X, The Augustan Empire, 43 B.C. - A.D. 69. 10 (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 527–528. ISBN 0-521-26430-8.

Lendering, Jona (2000). De randen van de aarde. De Romeinen tussen Schelde en Maas. Amsterdam.

External links

Aulus Bucius Lappius Maximus

Aulus Bucius Lappius Maximus was a Roman senator who flourished during the Flavian dynasty; Brian W. Jones considers him one of Domitian's amici or advisors. He held the consulate twice. He is primarily known through inscriptions.

The polyonymy of his name indicates an adoption; according to Olli Salomies, he was born a Lappius Maximus adopted by an Aulus Bucius. Salomies also notes that "all A. Lappii seem to have something to do with the senator". Ronald Syme notes the gentilicum "'Lappius' is very rare."The career of Lappius Maximus included being proconsular governor of Bithynia et Pontus during 83/84 prior to being consul for the first time for the nundinium September–December 86 with Gaius Octavius Tidius Tossianus Lucius Javolenus Priscus as his colleague. Then he was consular legate of Germania Inferior during 87 to 89, during which time he assisted in crushing the revolt of Lucius Antonius Saturninus in the adjacent province of Germania Superior. Afterwards he was immediately assigned to the consular legateship of Syria from 89 to 92, before holding the fasces a second time for the nundinium May–August 95 with Publius Ducenius Verus as his colleague.Salomies writes that Lappia A.f. Tertulla, mentioned in a Roman inscription (CIL VI, 31106) "is probably this man's daughter".


The Cananefates, or Canninefates, Caninefates, or Canenefatae, meaning "leek masters", were a Germanic tribe, who lived in the Rhine delta, in western Batavia (later Betuwe), in the Roman province of Germania Inferior (now in the Dutch province of Zuid-Holland), before and during the Roman conquest.

Apparently, the name had its origins in the fact that the Cananefates lived on sandy soils that were considered excellent for growing Alliums such as leeks and onions.At the beginning of the Batavian rebellion under Gaius Julius Civilis in the year 69, the Batavians sent envoys to the Canninefates to urge a common policy. "This is a tribe," says Tacitus (Histories Book iv) "which inhabits part of the island, and closely resembles the Batavians in their origins, languages, and in their courageous character, but is inferior in numbers." This would imply a similar descent as the Batavians from the Chatti. In the failed uprising that followed, the Canninefates were led by their chieftain Brinno, the son of a chief who had faced down Caligula.

The capital of the civitas of the Cananefates was Forum Hadriani, modern Voorburg.

In modern times, the region Kennemerland is said to derive from the name of the Cananefates.

Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium

Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium was the Roman colony in the Rhineland from which the German city of Cologne developed.

It was usually called Colonia and was the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior and the headquarters of the military in the region. With the administrative reforms under Diocletian, it became the capital of Germania Secunda. Many artifacts from the ancient city survive, including the arch of the former city gate with the inscription 'CCAA', which is today housed in the Romano-Germanic Museum.


The Cugerni (or Cuberni or Guberni) was Germanic tribal grouping with a particular territory within the Roman province of Germania Inferior, which later became Germania Secunda. More precisely they lived near modern Xanten, and the old Castra Vetera, on the Rhine. This part of Germania Secunda was called the Civitas or Colonia Traiana (polity or colony of Trajan), and it was also inhabited by the Betasii.The Cugerni are amongst the Germanic tribes who crossed the Rhine from east to west, and were settled in the Roman Empire. Similarly, to their south were the Ubii who also lived on the Rhine, around the modern city of Cologne in their Colonia Agrippenses. To the west of the Cugerni and Betasii were the Batavi, and to their southwest were the Tungri, along with other tribes such as the Toxandri, living in the Civitas Tungrorum.

Apart from the area of Xanten, places which were apparently in their region were Gelduba (Gellep near Krefeld), Asciburgium (Asberg, also near Krefeld), Burginatium (near Kalkar), and Quadriburgium (Qualberg near Kleve). However nearby Neuss was in the region of the Ubii, with its capital at Cologne.The name of the Cugerni is not recorded as one which ever existed on the east of the Rhine, unlike the Ubii, but the Cugerni are thought to descend at least partly from a part of the Sicambri, who had already been present just over the Rhine in the time of Caesar, and then moved over the Rhine. However as with the Batavi and Tungri and other tribes of the region during Roman times, the ancestry of the Cugerni was probably mixed, and may have included other tribes from the east of the Rhine, plus survivors of the Menapii or Eburones who lived in this region in the time of Caesar, when it was considered to be part of Gaul, and not yet part of the Roman Empire.

The region of the Cugerni was in the centre of action during the Batavian revolt, with different tribal groups taking different sides. The Cugerni took the side of Gaius Julius Civilis.

The population of Germania Inferior reduced significantly in late Roman times, as new waves of Germanic tribes raided, and the Roman empire lost military control. Tribes such as the Chamavi, Chattuarii, and Sallii were eventually allowed to settle semi-independently within Germania Inferior, and were referred to as Franks. They united under kings and then proceeded to conquer a large part of Western Europe. Therefore any surviving Cugerni who stayed in the area were later absorbed into the Frankish kingdom.

Didius Julianus

Didius Julianus (; Latin: Marcus Didius Severus Julianus Augustus; born 30 January 133 or 2 February 137 – 1 June 193) was the emperor of Rome for nine weeks from March to June 193, during the Year of the Five Emperors.

Julianus had a promising political career, governing several provinces, including Dalmatia and Germania Inferior, and successfully defeating the Chauci and Chatti, two invading Germanic tribes. He was even appointed to the consulship in 175 along with Pertinax as a reward, before being demoted by Commodus. After this demotion, his early, promising political career languished.

He ascended the throne after buying it from the Praetorian Guard, who had assassinated his predecessor Pertinax. A civil war ensued in which three rival generals laid claim to the imperial throne. Septimius Severus, commander of the legions in Pannonia and the nearest of the generals to Rome, marched on the capital, gathering support along the way and routing cohorts of the Praetorian Guard Didius Julianus sent to meet him.

Abandoned by the Senate and the Praetorian Guard, Julianus was killed by a soldier in the palace and succeeded by Severus.


Fectio, known as Vechten in Old Dutch, was a Roman castellum in the province Germania Inferior established in the year 4 or 5 AD. It was located at the place where the river Vecht (Fectio) branched off from the Rhine, leading to Lake Flevo, which was later to become the Zuiderzee. This was near the modern hamlet of Vechten in the municipality Bunnik, Utrecht, Netherlands.

Under emperor Claudius, Fectio became part of the Limes Germanicus. The archeological site contains the remains of a fort, port, cemetery, and a civilian settlement. In 1995, it was submitted to be a World Heritage Site and is currently on the tentative list.

Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo

Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo (Peltuinum c. 7 – 67 AD) was a Roman general, brother-in-law of the emperor Caligula and father-in-law of Domitian. Loyal and honorable to the end, Corbulo's devotion towards his country was such that, when his emperor ordered him to commit suicide, he fell on his own sword, saying, "Axios!", meaning "I am worthy!"

Gnaeus Julius Verus

Gnaeus Julius Verus was Roman senator and general of the mid-2nd century AD. He was suffect consul, and governed several important imperial provinces: Germania Inferior, Britain, and Syria.

Legio I Minervia

Legio I Minervia ("Minerva's First Legion", i.e., "devoted to the goddess Minerva") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army founded in AD 82 by emperor Domitian (r. 81–96), for his campaign against the Germanic tribe of the Chatti. Its cognomen refers to the goddess Minerva, the legion's protector. There are still records of the I Minervia in the Rhine border region in the middle of the 4th century. The legion's emblem is an image of goddess Minerva.

Legio I Minervia first, and main, camp was in the city of Bonna (modern Bonn), in the province of Germania Inferior. In 89, they suppressed a revolt of the governor of Germania Superior. Due to this, Domitian gave them the cognomen Pia Fidelis Domitiana (loyal and faithful to Domitian) to acknowledge their support.

Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix

Legio trigesima Ulpia victrix ("Trajan's Victorious Thirtieth Legion") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army. It was founded in AD 100 by the emperor Trajan (r. 98-117) for service in the Dacian Wars. The legion was active until disbandment of the Rhine frontier in the beginning of the 5th century. Their emblems were the gods Neptune and Jupiter and the Capricorn. Ulpia is Trajan's own gens (Ulpia), while the cognomen "Victrix" means "victorious", and was awarded after their valiant behaviour in the Dacian wars.

The legion's first base camp was in the province of Dacia in the Danube frontier, although it's likely that at least some of its legionaries took part in the Parthian campaigns of Trajan. In 122 they were moved to Colonia Ulpia Traiana (modern Xanten) in Germania Inferior, where they remained for the following centuries. Their main tasks were public construction and police affairs.

In the 2nd century and the beginning of the 3rd century, units of the XXX Ulpia Victrix were allocated in Parthia, as well as Gaul, Mauretania and other Roman provinces, due to the peaceful situation in Germania Inferior.

In the civil war of 193, XXX Ulpia Victrix supported Septimius Severus, who granted them the title of Pia Fidelis ("faithful and loyal").

Limes Germanicus

The Limes Germanicus (Latin for Germanic frontier) was a line of frontier (limes) fortifications that bounded the ancient Roman provinces of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior and Raetia, dividing the Roman Empire and the unsubdued Germanic tribes from the years 83 to about 260 AD. At its height, the limes stretched from the North Sea outlet of the Rhine to near Regensburg (Castra Regina) on the Danube. Those two major rivers afforded natural protection from mass incursions into imperial territory, with the exception of a gap stretching roughly from Mogontiacum (Mainz) on the Rhine to Castra Regina.

The Limes Germanicus was divided into:

The Lower Germanic Limes, which extended from the North Sea at Katwijk in the Netherlands along the then main Lower Rhine branches (modern Oude Rijn, Leidse Rijn, Kromme Rijn, Nederrijn)

The Upper Germanic Limes started from the Rhine at Rheinbrohl (Neuwied (district)) across the Taunus mountains to the river Main (East of Hanau), then along the Main to Miltenberg, and from Osterburken (Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis) south to Lorch (in Ostalbkreis, Württemberg) in a nearly perfect straight line of more than 70 km;

The Rhaetian Limes extended east from Lorch to Eining (close to Kelheim) on the Danube.The total length was 568 km (353 mi). It included at least 60 forts and 900 watchtowers. The potentially weakest, hence most heavily guarded, part of the Limes was the aforementioned gap between the westward bend of the Rhine at modern-day Mainz and the main flow of the Danube at Regensburg. This 300-km wide land corridor between the two great rivers permitted movement of large groups of people without the need for water transport, hence the heavy concentration of forts and towers there, arranged in depth and in multiple layers along waterways, fords, roads, and hilltops.

List of Roman governors of Germania Inferior

This is a list of Roman governors of Germania Inferior (and Germania Secunda from 395 until the deposition of Romulus Augustulus in 476). Capital and largest city of Germania Inferior was Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (CCAA), modern-day Cologne.

Lower Germanic Limes

The Lower Germanic Limes (German: Niedergermanischer Limes) is the former frontier between the Roman province of Germania inferior and Germania Magna. The Lower Germanic Limes separated that part of the Rhineland left of the Rhine as well as the Netherlands, which was part of the Roman Empire, from the less tightly controlled regions east of the Rhine.

The route of the limes started near the estuary of the Oude Rijn on the North Sea. It then followed the course of the Rhine and ended at the Vinxtbach in present-day Niederbreisig, a quarter in the town of Bad Breisig, the border with the province of Germania superior. The Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes then started on the opposite, right-hand, side of the Rhine with the Roman camp of Rheinbrohl.

The Lower Germanic Limes was not a fortified limes with ramparts, ditches, palisades or walls and watchtowers, but a river border (Lat.: ripa), similarly to the limites on the Danube and Euphrates.

The Rhine Line was guarded by a chain of castra for auxiliary troops. It was laid out partly by Augustus and his stepson and military commander, Drusus, who began to strengthen the natural boundary of the Rhine from the year 15 A. D. The decision not to conquer the regions east of the Rhine in 16 A. D. made the Rhine into a fixed frontier of the Roman Empire. For its protection, a large number of estates (villae rusticae) and settlements (vici) were established. The names and locations of several sites have been handed down, mainly through the ‘’Tabula Peutingeriana and Itinerarium Antonini.Together with the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes, the Lower Germanic Limes forms part of the Limes Germanicus

Netherlands in the Roman era

For around 450 years, from around 55 BC to around 410 AD, the southern part of the Netherlands was integrated into the Roman Empire. During this time the Romans in the Netherlands had an enormous influence on the lives and culture of the people who lived in the Netherlands at the time and (indirectly) on the generations that followed.

Quintus Petillius Cerialis

Quintus Petillius Cerialis Caesius Rufus, otherwise known as Quintus Petillius Cerialis (born ca. AD 30—died after AD 83) was a Roman general and administrator who served in Britain during Boudica's rebellion and who went on to participate in the civil wars after the death of Nero. He later crushed the rebellion of Julius Civilis and returned to Britain as its governor.

Because he probably succeeded Caesius Nasica as commander of Legio IX Hispana, and since brothers are often attested as serving in succession in the same post, Anthony Birley suggests that Cerialis was the younger brother of Nasica, and had been adopted by Petillius Rufus, who was known as praetor in AD 28. However, in his monograph of naming practices in the first centuries of the Roman Empire Olli Salomies argues that Cerialis was actually the biological son of Petillius Rufus by a Caesia, who may have been the daughter of a Caesius Cerialis, and Caesius Nasica would not be his brother, "but a close relative."

Titus Vestricius Spurinna

Titus Vestricius Spurinna (ca. 24–after 105 AD) was a Roman senator, consul, and a friend and role model of Pliny the Younger. He was consul at least twice, the first time possibly in 72, and the second in the year 98 as the colleague of the emperor Trajan. Spurinna is one of the correspondents in Pliny's Letters, and had literary interests of his own, including writing lyric poetry. Pliny says dinner parties at his home were often enlivened by scenes from Roman comedy.Pliny admired Vestricius Spurinna for his active but orderly life as a septuagenarian. He enjoyed conversation, reading and writing, exercise, and bathing. His diet was simple but good, and he enjoyed the full use of his faculties, remaining both physically and mentally vigorous.

Traiectum (Utrecht)

Traiectum was a Roman fort, or castrum, on the frontier of the Roman Empire in Germania Inferior.

The remains of the fort are in the center of Utrecht, Netherlands, which takes its name from the fort.


The Tungri (or Tongri, or Tungrians) were a tribe, or group of tribes, who lived in the Belgic part of Gaul, during the times of the Roman empire. Within the Roman empire, their territory was the Civitas Tungrorum. They were described by Tacitus as being the same people who were first called "Germani" (Germanic), meaning that all other tribes who were later referred to this way, including those in Germania east of the Rhine river were named after them. More specifically, Tacitus was thereby equating the Tungri with the "Germani Cisrhenani" described generations earlier by Julius Caesar. Their name is the source of several place names in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, including Tongeren, and several places called Tongerloo, and Tongelre.


Vitellius (; Latin: Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Augustus; 24 September 15 – 22 December 69 AD) was Roman Emperor for eight months, from 16 April to 22 December 69 AD. Vitellius was proclaimed emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors.

Vitellius was the first to add the honorific cognomen Germanicus to his name instead of Caesar upon his accession; the latter name had fallen into disrepute in many quarters because of the actions of Nero.

His claim to the throne was soon challenged by legions stationed in the eastern provinces, who proclaimed their commander Vespasian emperor instead. War ensued, leading to a crushing defeat for Vitellius at the Second Battle of Bedriacum in northern Italy. Once he realised his support was wavering, Vitellius prepared to abdicate in favor of Vespasian but was executed in Rome by Vespasian's soldiers on 22 December 69.

History of the Germanic peoples
Pagan society
(until about
Early Middle Ages)
History of the Roman-Byzantine Empire by modern territory of nations and regions
Late Roman provinces (4th–7th centuries AD)

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.