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Julius Caesar

Caesar-led massacre in the Netherlands

In 55BCE, a large group of German refugees crossed the Rhine seeking new farming land in GaulAn ancient region covering much of western Europe, including France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and parts of Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and northern Italy.. Sending ambassadors to Caesar, they requested safe passage and help in finding new lands. Caesar, fearing trouble and aware of the political implications of Germans foraging on Gaulish lands, marched his army to within 8 miles of their camp, where he agreed to a day of truceAn agreement between enemies to stop fighting for a limited time. to discuss options. However, his advance party fell into a skirmishSmall and unplanned bouts of fighting. with the Germans, who allegedly attacked first, losing 74 of their cavalryPeople fighting on horseback, who were therefore more mobile than foot soldiers. In modern warfare, the cavalry are those fighting in armoured vehicles.. The following day, the German leaders were captured and the mass of the army reached the German camp, fighting those with weapons and slaughtering those without (including women and children). Those who fled found themselves trapped by the Rivers Meuse and Rhine, and in trying to cross them, drowned. Caesar records 'the enemy amounted to 430,000'More infoAlthough this is probably an exaggeration. and whilst some were captured, a great many died.

Until now, no-one has been able to pinpoint the exact location of this 'battle'. However, Dutch archaeologists, led by Nico Roymans of Amsterdam’s VU University, have confirmed the site of the massacre as near Oss in Brabant. This is the first time definitive proof has been found that Caesar visited what is now the Netherlands. Over the past 30 years, large numbers of skeletons, swords, spear heads and a helmet have been found in the area, and these items have undergone historical, archaeological and geo-chemical analysis to confirm that they date from the first century BCE'Before common era', the non-religious way of saying 'BC' (which means 'before Christ')..

You can read the original article from Dutch News here.

Author Info

Debbie Kilroy

Having read history at the University of Birmingham as an undergraduate, where I won the Kenrick Prize, I worked as a trouble-shooter in the public sector until I took a career break in 2009. Thereafter, I was able to pursue my love of history and turn it into a career, founding Get History in 2014 with the aim of bringing accessible yet high quality history-telling and debate to a wide audience. Since then, I have completed a Masters in Historical Studies at the University of Oxford, from which I received a distinction and the Kellogg College Community Engagement and Impact Award. As well as continuing to write for and expand Get History, I am now a freelance writer and historian. I have worked with Histories of the Unexpected and Inside History, and my article for Parliaments, Estates and Representation won the ICHRPI Emile Lousse essay prize (2019).