The Chatti
from whom the Batavians and Cannanefates split


The Chatti, a germanic grouping first mentioned by Tacitus around 100 AD, were said by modern historians to have first entered and settled the region of Hesse during the 1st century BC. And we likewise learn from Tacitus that first Germans were encountered during the 50's BC, in Gaul/Belgium.

Roman historians thought it unusual that the Chatti were the only Germans at night to dig entrenchments. (Something which was required by Roman guidelines for each legion to do when on the march.) And the Chatti took notably more iron implements with them while on the move, likely including turf cutters and shovels for such entrenchments.

Early Roman accounts also commented how the Chatti, unlike other tribes in Germany, would choose their battles and retreats as if considering a a broader strategic campaign, rather than a risk-everything-in-one-battle rashness.

Where did the Chatti get such discipline and strategy?

The young men among the Chatti are said by Tacitus to have had the tradition of growing their hair and beards out, with such wild-haired ones stepping forward to form their front ranks, where they would continue to serve until each such new recruit had fulfilled their duty to defend their people. Only then could they trim their hair, and step back deeper into the ranks.

I have stated elsewhere that there is sufficient cause to believe that Julius Caesar's legate Sabinus was not killed on the march, as Caesar claimed. But that he and many of his men instead went native, over to the side of the German/hermano "brother" people, whose Tencteri/Tungri name meant "the faithful," who even many in the Roman Senate sided with instead of Caesar...at least until extensive bribes arrived from Caesar.

Based on things such as those outlined in the prevous paragraphs, I believe that based on what we're told of the Chatti around 100 AD, that their tribe is the most likely candidate to contain the descendants of Sabinus and his men from 150 years earlier. And that Sabinus defection and crossing east across the Rhine and joinging the troops reserve among the women and children in safety there, subsequently allowed some of the "Germans" there to consider themselves relieved, wheel north, and become the spinoff clans later known as Canninefates and Batavians, occupying the strategic large island at the mouth of the Rhine.

The reader might reasonably ask, how could these newly-arrived people called Germans, a few thousand newcomers arriving by 57 BC, somehow snowball by 100 AD to encompass vast regions, and many tribes and peoples. The answer lies not just with calculating a reasonable steady 3% growth rate, compounded over 150 years.

Consider also Spartacus, and how quickly, in a few short months, he freed slaves and gladiators throughout Europe to form a massive army challenging Rome's finest legions.

So, twenty years after Spartacus, the proto-Lombards, by their own testimony, marched through Europe offering freedom to slaves, similar to what Lincoln did during the Civil War. And even Caesar's account attests that they besieged the winter camps of his legions one by one, and attempted to persuade them to lay down their arms and fight them no more, which I believe included the invitation to inducing them to wheel out of formation and instead join their cause. It is for such reasons that Caesar likely hunted and attacked them, even violating truces and promises of safe passage to do so.

If I am right about Sabinus, he and his men going native, and crossing the Rhine eastward to reinforce the German place of retreat, likely allowed others there to consider themselves duly relieved of their post, and subsequently wheel out of formation and take up position at the mouth of the Rhine River, on the strategic Batavian island, to later become known as Canninefates and Batavians.

So, in short, my current assessment is that proto-Lombards were joined early on by Roman troops and freed Gallic slaves, and that such an ongoing snowballing and unifying, and other tribes allying with them (as they did against Rome in Gaul), combined with a modest birth rate spanning the next 150 years, easily accounts for the more vast array of Germanic peoples, clans and tribes that Tacitus presents us with in 150 years later in 100 AD.



Copyright 2017 John D. Nelson