Friday, December 2, 2011

Close of the Dacian War

Throughout much of 697 AUC (57 BC), the war between Dacia and the Roman Republic proceeded as a series of sieges and skirmishes, rather than set battles.  Caesar's legions would, at various points, lay siege to one Dacian city or another, while Burebista's army would attempt to wear away at the supply lines of the Romans, while they were held down in sieges.  When Caesar would pursue Burebista's army, seeking battle, the Dacians would turn and lift the current siege.  Thus, neither force was able to accomplish anything of note, other than delay.

This stalemate fit into Burebista's strategy, as he hoped to simply outlast the Roman invasion, counting on victory being simply 'not losing.'  Understanding that Caesar was largely after glory and the political capital that went with it, he made every effort to harass and humiliate the Romans.  He may, however, underestimated Roman tenacity and vindictiveness.

Burebista's greatest victory was, as it turned out, something of the set battle which he sought to avoid.  While marching to the relief of the city of Buridava, in the late summer,  Burebista's army was overtaken by a Roman force of two legions, marching to reconnect with Caesar.  Though Burebista did not have any intention of engaging the enemy force, as they were comparable in number, the situation was forced upon him.

However, the Roman commander, Lucius Antonius Hybrida, overconfidently spread his lines dangerously thin, in an effort to envelop the Dacian force.  Burebista, seeing the opportunity present to him,  was able to punch through the Roman lines in two separate spots, enveloping the troops between.  Over half of the Roman soldiers were killed in this battle, and Antonius was soon recalled to Rome in disgrace, to be replaced by the more competent Gnaeus Domitius Regulus.

More heartening developments were to be found in the west, where the Roman allies, the Boii, a celtic tribe, were winning a series of victories over the Jazyges and the Dacian army in their vicinity.  At the start of the war, the Boii were a waning tribe, under intense pressure from the Dacian invasions of their territory, as were their neighbors, the Taurisci and the Scordisci.  However, under their king, Artebudes, they deftly negotiated alliances with the other tribes, and began to coordinate their defenses against the Dacians.

The Boii had the advantage of having the other two tribes in between them and the Dacian kingdom, thus allowing them some breathing room while the Taurisci and Scordisci took the brunt of the raids.  Artebudes also made all possible haste to assist in the defense of those that supported his war plans, while his army would arrive just too late to assist those that were opposed to him.  Thus, he was able to allow the natural course of war to eliminate many of his rivals.  On one noteworthy occasion, his army was not far from the site of a battle between the Dacians and a rival of his, Moges.  Artebudes made sure his army arrived just after Moges and his retinue had been killed in battle, saving the bulk of the leaderless army and defeating the Dacians.  Such perfect timing was the exception, rather than the rule, however.

Artebudes' strategy was quite effective, and the Boii were, by 697 AUC (57 BC) pre-eminent among the three tribes, and were the only capable of sending troops to assist Caesar's army directly.  His fame, already quite noteworthy among his people and neighboring tribes, was to skyrocket with the defeat of the Jazyges by his army.  It was not even half a decade before that the Jazyges were one of the most feared tribes in the entire region.  Now, they had been attrited by constant war, as well as the tendency of generals to use overwhelming force against them, for fear of their reputation.

Meanwhile, to the north, several barbarian tribes, including the Germanic Quadi, and the Venedae and Navari, began to raid the northern regions of Dacia.  Burebista's army could not defend against these raids, as well as those of the Boii and Bastarnae, and hold back Caesar's Legions.  As the war ravaged the land, many people suffered and some began to lose their faith in Burebista's leadership.

The coming winter was harsher than usual, and exacted a cruel toll on the populace.  Caesar spent the winter, forging ties with many of the Dacian tribes to the north; those that suffered the most from the constant raids.  He brought food and other gifts for the nobles, and soon won over the Costoboci and Carpi tribes.  He left with them garrisons to defend against the barbarians.

With the loss of the Carpi and Costoboci, Burebista knew that he could no longer avoid open battle with Caesar.  His strategy of bleeding the Romans white had worked just as well, if not better, against his own people.  He made every effort to pin down Caesar's army on favorable terrain, while Caesar made similar effort.  Eventually, the two armies met several miles northeast of the Burebista's capital of Argadeva, near Apulum.

As the two armies approached each other, Caesar began to make preparations and built up extensive fortifications around his army.  Burebista's army made a few attempts to assault the fortifications before building their own circumvallation, in imitation of Roman siege methods.  However, by doing so, the Dacian army was deprived of the mobility with which they had foiled the Roman attempts to defeat them.  Pinned down, Burebista's army was soon forced to defend against attacks from the allies of Rome, led by Octavius, Spartacus, and Artebudes.

The Dacian army did what they could to build defenses against the incoming armies, but their forces were soon stretched too thin by the double assault.  Caesar's troops assaulted the Dacian fortifications just as the outer lines were being completed.  As the battle raged, the outer army also renewed their attacks.  It was not long before the situation was hopeless for the Dacians, and Burebista, as his army disintegrated around him, took his own life, effectively ending the war.

The remainder of the Dacian military and government quickly surrendered to Caesar after one more minor skirmish.  Dacia was divided up, with some western territories being granted to the Boii and the northern areas, where the Costoboci and Carpi tribes resided, were established as allied client states of the Roman Republic.  The rest of Burebista's kingdom was divided into provinces.  Those territories to the south of the Danuvius river were organized into the province of Moesia.  The province of Dacia was organized out of the rest of the territories, stretching from the Danuvius in the south, to the Tisia in the west, up to the territories of the Costoboci and Carpi in the north, reaching around to the river Tyras, beyond which lay the Bastarnae, who were still allied to the Republic.

Once the civil affairs were in order, a process taking much of the remainder of the year, Caesar made preparations for further campaigns, against the barbarians beyond the territories of the states newly allied to Rome.  This campaign took up the better part of the year  698 AUC (56 BC), and the Roman forces were largely successful against the tribes, defeating armies of Quadi, Venedae, and Navari in efficient order.  Caesar, however, mainly sought to impress, by force of arms, the power of the Roman Republic and its faithfulness to its allies.  Therefore, he accepted peace with the tribes on generous terms and returned to Dacia before the close of summer.

Caesar, of course, could afford to be generous, given the wealth that which flowed into his coffers after the conquest of the Dacian gold mines.  Much of this went directly to his veterans, many of whom were also settled in Dacia on land confiscated from the conquered.  He also used the wealth to support the campaigns of his allies in Rome itself, including Lucius Octavius, who had returned to the city to run for Consul, and was elected.  By the end of  698 AUC (56 BC), Caesar himself was in Rome, celebrating a triumph for his victory.

While researching the Boii, I came across some information on Noric, one of the most eastern Celtic languages, spoken in Austria and Slovenia.  About as close to the Boii as I could get.  One of the few Noric inscriptions known references a man named "Artebudz," whose name is theorized to mean "bear penis."  Originally, the Boii king was to be named Moges, but, quite frankly, you have to go with the funnier name. 

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