Caesar’s Rhine bridges

Hello everyone! I’m sorry if I’m writing only now, but I had a lot of stuff to do: tutoring some students everyday, studying hard for my exams (I had criminal and civil law this week), attending university and playing basketball too! But I’m quite OK right now, so let’s go writing new stuff about the Ancient Roman time!
Today I’m going to speak about the Caesar’s Rhine bridges, but before let’s introduce the historical mainframe. Between 58 and 50 BC in fact Julius Caesar was in France (called Gaul at the time), trying (and definitely succeding) to conquer the region. Caesar_s_Campaigns_in_Gaul__1st_century_BCWhile he was defeating some Gallic tribes in 55 BC, Caesar had to fight against some Germanic groups, who crossed the river Rhine (yes, the one that makes up the border between France and Germany nowadays) to help their Gallic allies to defeat the Romans. Germanic raids were so frequent that Caesar decided to arrange a punitive expedition in Germany in order to show what the Romans could do when they were angry at someone. As a consequence, Caesar ordered his legions to build a wooden bridge to cross the river in order to punish the Germans. sacking and burning their villages and killing as many people as possible. After the expedition, Caesar came back to Gaul and destroyed the bridge, believing that Germans wouldn’t have had the brave to cross again the river Rhine. Foolishly the German tribes kept crossing the border, trying to help the Gauls in their war against the Romans.
ftg4497.jpgTwo years later (53 BC) Caesar decided to solve the issue and he came to a so-called final decision: he ordere his legions again to build a wooden bridge to cross the river Rhine. But this time his soldiers took only 10 days to finish the building, which was 500 meters long and 4 meters wide. He crossed the river slaughtering his enemies and taking with him a lot of Germanic riders as mercenaries. When he came back to Gaul, Caesar established not to destroy the bridge again, so that German tribes would have remembered the Roman power, which managed to build a bridge and cross the river Rhine.
Julius Caesar described directly this story in his book De Bello Gallico, which was a kind of diary that Caesar had while conquering Gaul.
Caesar’s strategy was effective, as he was able to secure the eastern border of Gaul. He demonstrated that Roman power could easily and at will cross the Rhine and henceforth for several centuries significant Germanic incursions across the Rhine were halted. Further, his feat served him in establishing his fame at home.
With Roman colonization of the Rhine valley more permanent bridges were built later at Castra Vetera (Xanten), Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Cologne), Confluentes (Koblenz), and Moguntiacum (Mainz).


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