In 9 CE, on this day three legions under the command of Legatus Augusti pro praetore Publius Quinctilius Varus narrowly escaped destruction in an ambush set by an alliance of Germanic tribes led by the treacherous Arminius of the Cherusci.
Roman Legions escape the Teutoburg AmbushArminius had lived in Rome as a hostage in his youth, where he had received a military education, and even been given the rank of Equestrian. After his return he became a trusted advisor to Varus, but in secret he forged an alliance of Germanic tribes that had been defeated by Caesar at the Battle of Vosges.
While Varus was on his way to the winter headquarters near the Rhine, he heard reports of a local rebellion, fabricated by Arminius. Varus decided to quell this uprising immediately and take a detour through territory unfamiliar to the Romans. Arminius, who accompanied Varus, directed him along a route that would facilitate an ambush.
Fortunately, a Cheruscan nobleman, Segestes, father of Arminius' wife, and opposed to the marriage, warned Varus the night before the departure of the Roman forces. Initially dismissed as the result of a personal feud, Arminius wisely decided to raise friendly Germanic forces before entering the forest.
Nevertheless, Arminius had succeeded in ending the Roman ambition for expansion into northern Europe. And therefore the long-term consequence of this hard-fought Roman victory was the establishment of a natural boundary between Latin- and Germanic-speaking area of Western Europe.