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Excerpts from “The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest”

Excerpts from “The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest.”

Ludwig H. Dyck

Telamon, the Battle for Northern Italy;

“We can imagine how the Boii and Insubres ambassadors stood in the midst of the seated circle of the Gaesatae Kings, Concolitanus and Aneroestes, by whose sides sat their warrior champions and their druid advisors. With eloquent tongue, the ambassadors offered a large sum of gleaming gold, which was but a paltry amount compared to what could be looted from the rich and prosperous lands of the Romans. The Boii, Insubres and Gaesatae, proud allies, would honor the deeds of the Gauls who long ago crushed the legions at the River Allia and made themselves masters of Rome for seven months! The heroic tales roused the Gaesatae’s lust for war. “On no occasion has that district of Gaul sent out so large a force or one composed of men so distinguished or so warlike,” wrote Polybius (Polybius, The Histories, II. 27.)”

The Barbarians Before Rome (oil on canvas) by Luminais, Evariste Vital (1822-96); Musee des Beaux-Arts, Dunkirk, France; Giraudon; French

“Death March of the Legions,” The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest;

“Provisions of food were gathered, mainly millet, barley and livestock. Ordinarily meat was too precious to be eaten on a regular basis. Now, however, the warriors would need all the strength they could get. Those too old would stay behind, to look after the very young and the remaining farm animals. Aged grandparents bid emotional farewells to sons, grandsons and daughters-in-law, who they might never see again. They trusted in their gods to give them courage and good fortune. Priests took sacred emblems from their holy groves and carried them into battle. The Germanic warriors would fight side by side with their family members. Fathers, sons and brothers were comrades in arms, families were their squadrons and clans were their divisions. From thousands of tiny settlements, bands of warriors hungry for loot and vengeance gathered and followed in Arminius’ wake.”

Knackfuss low pix
‘The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest,’ H. Knackfuss (Courtesy of School Museum Zetel and of Museum and Park Kalkriese).

Caesar against the Belgae, “The Bravest of the Gauls;”

As soon as the Roman baggage train appeared over the hillside, the entire Belgae army broke out of the woods. The Nervii formed the left wing, the Atrebates the right and the Viromandui in the center. The barbarians poured down the hillside like a human avalanche, unstoppable in its fury. The Roman cavalry and light troops were completely overwhelmed and scattered, barely even impeding the enemy charge. So fast were the barbarians that Caesar wrote, “almost at the same moment they were seen at the woods, in the river, and then at close quarters!” (Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul, II. 19). The three-foot deep river proved scarcely more of an obstacle than the Roman cavalry. In no time the barbarians gained the river’s farther side to continue with seemingly unbroken momentum up to the entrenching Romans.

“The barbarian ambush would have sealed the doom of almost any other army caught in the same situation. But this was not just any army; it was the Roman legion in its prime, under the generalship of one of the great captains of history.”

Gaius Julius Caesar in battle by Mark Churms

Viriathus, Hero of Hispania;

“Galba came to the first group and asked them to lay down their arms in a gesture of good faith. The naïve Lusitanians did as they were told. Women with babes in their arms, old couples supporting each other and young warriors who clenched their fists, watched in helpless apprehension, as Roman soldiers with spades moved around them. The Romans dug as only Romans could until a vast trench surrounded the Lusitani. Swords slid out of scabbards as the legionaries moved in. Children cried, frantic women screamed and clung to their men who cursed in anger. Roman soldiers pushed their way through the panicked mob to single out the able bodied men and cut them down like sheep. The others were “saved” for the slave markets. The slaughter was repeated with the other two Lusitani groups. Of the plunder, the greedy Galba kept most of it for himself and only gave a little to his soldiers, even though he was already a man of great wealth.”

Copyright L. H. Dyck


The Roman Barbarian Wars: The Era of Roman Conquest, Review from Military Heritage Magazine, September 2016

The Roman Barbarian Wars: The Era of Roman Conquest

Review from Military Heritage Magazine, September 2016

by Christopher Miskimon


The Roman Barbarian Wars, Pen and Sword Edition
The Roman Barbarian Wars, Pen and Sword Edition

The story of Rome is often characterized through its struggles against the barbarian tribes of Europe, such as the Gauls, Germans, and Iberians. Although there is much more to Rome’s story, these tales of barbarian conquest stand out due to their drama and ferocity. The so-called barbarians were capable opponents even to the well-organized Romans, belying their actual level of civilization. Rome’s legions did not venture forth without risk, despite the end result being the expansion of its empire.

Each chapter of this book covers a different tribe, personality, or campaign. The author goes into great detail on each topic. His vivid prose makes for a gripping read. The reader can savor the chapters in a stand-alone fashion because of the way they cover different topics. On the whole, however, the book delivers on its promise to give the reader the big picture view of the conflicts between Rome and its barbarian foes.

Christopher Miskimon's review of the Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest, is featured in the September 2016 Issue of Military Heritage Magazine
Christopher Miskimon’s review of “The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest,” is featured in the September 2016 Issue of Military Heritage Magazine

The Roman Barbarian Wars: The Era of Roman Conquest – Ancient History Encyclopedia Review

Ancient History Encyclopedia

The Roman Barbarian Wars: The Era of Roman Conquest


by Lidia Pelayo Alonso
published on 24 August 2016

Audience: University
Difficulty: Medium
“The Roman Barbarian Wars: The Era of Roman Conquest” is a book about the Roman expansion through Europe where original quotes and the author’s writing style join to create an exquisite narration which can be appreciated even by those who are not used to reading history books.

The Roman Barbarian Wars: The Era of Roman Conquest by Ludwig Heinrich Dyck is not a historical novel, but an exhaustive study on one of the most interesting topics of the Roman Era: the Roman conquests. And, in particular, the Barbarian wars. At the beginning, Dyck uses the first pages to introduce the term “barbarian” and explain who were those “Barbarians” that appear over and over in the texts written by the Classical historians. Then, once the key concept is clear, he starts to explain the different, and most important, Barbarian wars in which Rome was involved in chronological order, so the reader has an organized view about the evolution of the Roman conquests and expansion of the empire.

Before finishing this book, the reader could think that Roman Barbarian wars are only the battles fought with the Germanic tribes, however, Dyck includes in his book Barbarian and Celtic tribes. Therefore, we can travel from the north of Italy, all the way through France and its Gaul tribes, Spain and the Celtic tribes and, finally, the Germanic tribes from what nowadays is Germany. Nevertheless, this is not a regular history book or manual about the Roman Empire as what makes Dyck’s publication curious is the way he has collected all the data and original quotes from Classical historians and mixed them up with the narration he himself has written. All the quotes and references are collected and classified at the end of the book by chapter and type of source, that is, by primary and secondary sources. Also, the author has included various images and pictures of specific battles and characters, which give readers a different vision of this era, mainly through artistic representations such as paintings and sculptures, introducing extra references to provide a wide knowledge of this particular moment of history.

The quotes give veracity to the text, plus they add great detail about the battles and main characters involved in those events. Of course, all the quotes come from Latin or Greek sources, conditioning our vision of the “Barbarian” tribes to the Roman and Greek beliefs and standards of the time. Still, the amount of details about the different tribes, their costumes and beliefs catches the attention of the reader and allows the public to develop a deep interest in tribes that are usually forgotten under the strength of the Roman Empire. This special attention to tribes and their political and strategic movements during the wars and their final conquest denotes a different approach to the state of Europe during the era of Imperial Rome and, in the end, that is the key element that makes The Roman Barbarian Wars an essential reading for people interested in the Roman Empire, but also, European tribes and people before the Roman expansion.

Finally, it seems interesting that even if, as it was said before, we are not dealing with a novel, this book catches the reader into the history, so too, the reader is always looking for more information. Inside The Roman Barbarian Wars the reader has almost 240 pages full of pure Roman history, details and quotes, all mixed together and written with a perfect style, so even those who are not used to reading history books and prefer novels will be delighted with this exquisite narration.


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The Roman Barbarian Wars; The Era of Roman Conquest – War History Online Review

The Roman Barbarian Wars, the Era of Roman Conquest, reviewed on War History Online, Mar 11, 2016 by William McLaughlin


Roman wars against “barbarians” can often be very difficult to cover. In victory, they can be deemed inconsequential or unworthy of special mention by ancient writers, and defeats against “inferior barbarians” were more likely to be explained away or just forgotten about. Even when we have great sources, such as Caesar’s own writings for the Gallic Wars, it can still be a topic with incredible bias. Ludwig Dyck has put together a great book that summarizes pieces of Roman military history that are often not mentioned or difficult to find sources for.

The book’s chapters are largely chronological, with coverage of certain tribes, regions and Roman war within them being the focus so some time jumps occur to give full accounts. Unlike most Roman history works, this one glosses over some of the most major conflicts of Roman history, like the Punic Wars, to give attention to such tribes as the Ligurians, and the important barbarian wars fought between these larger and more documented wars.

The author makes it known that the book is a heavily edited compilation of a series of independent articles that work together to form this complete picture of the Roman’s experience with barbarians. In a sense that makes the book easy to have as a reference, as any chapter can be read without needing to reorient with a previous chapter. The downside is that some of the details can get a bit repetitive, such as giving a lengthy overview of the backstory of a tribe that was covered in detail just pages earlier in the previous chapter.

The scope of this book should also be mentioned as many might think that the fall of Rome to barbarian invaders would be a heavy focus. Dyck tries to clarify with the subtitle “The Era of Roman Conquest” though that is still slightly unclear. Coverage of the barbarian wars stops a few years after the disaster of Teutoburg Forest. The Romans had yet to conquer Britain or Dacia, two key Roman conquests that the book only really mentions in the last overall paragraph.

The research for this must have been quite difficult, as it spans centuries of unclear and sparsely documented conflicts. Occasionally some inaccuracies occur when glossing over other conflicts, but the core of the book regarding the barbarians seems to be largely accurate. For general reading, the endnotes do a decent job, especially when dealing with controversial or undecided topics such as the lineage of certain tribes. Usually, Dyck will pick a side of the argument and move on by the endnote can go in depth on the intricacies of a particular historical argument. This is great to have as history is constantly evolving and new ideas and theories clash over countless aspects of history that many might take as simple fact.

For solid research, however, this book could use some more notes, particularly for scenes of extraordinary or improbable action. Essentially every quote has a nice note showing where exactly it came from, but many passages seem like they should have a note, for verification or as a launching point for more research. For example, when discussing a barbarian war in Spain, Dyck describes the exceptional Spanish cavalry. Special mention is made that the Spanish worshiped horses, adorned them with trappings that included bells around their neck, and that Spanish horses could kneel and be quiet on command. There is even a mention that the Spanish may have invented the horseshoe. None of this has a note, disappointing from a research perspective. A list of sources is given at the end, divided by chapter, but it would be difficult to pinpoint which source gave that particular information on Spanish horses.

Because each of these articles was written to engage the audience, they are full of fascinating depictions of battles and events. From the sources, there is simply a lot we don’t know, but Dyck does a great job of creating an uninterrupted and complete picture of these various events. Getting the feeling of being transported to another time is usually the realm of historical fiction, but Dyck does such a great job of presenting the story that he can allow the reader to really see the events.

Overall, it is a short succinct overview of the Roman barbarian wars until Teutoburg. Even knowing a fair amount about Republican Rome, I found some interesting insight on some of the lesser discussed Barbarian wars, and I enjoyed reading about the famous story of Juno’s Geese saving Rome in chapter two, as well as the iconic quote “Woe to the Vanquished” in that same chapter. Overall it is an entertaining read, great for those wishing to cover some gaps in their knowledge of Republican Rome without pushing through a 1,000-page epic.

By William McLaughlin for War History Online

Sketch Map: The Roman Gallic Wars for Italy

Ludwig Heinrich Dyck’s book, “The Roman Barbarian Wars: The Era of Roman Conquest,” features five maps to accompany the text. The maps show localities, tribes, battle sites and natural features relevant to the narrative. Dyck’s sketch map, “Roman Gallic Wars for Italy, BC 391-191,” was used by Pen & Sword to make the professional map in the book. Because of space constraints, the sketch maps actually contain more information than the book maps.

Sketch Map: Roman Gallic Wars for Italy,  BC 391-191

Roman Gallic Wars ItalyThe map “Roman Gallic Wars for Italy, BC 391-191,” covers Rome’s wars with the Celtic Gauls who had settled in northern Italy.  The period begins with the 391/90 invasion of Italy and sack of Rome by the Gallic Senones and ends with the defeat of the Boii in 191. Thereafter northern Italy, once Celtic, was absorbed into the Roman world.

The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest. Pen and Sword Edition
The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest. Pen and Sword Edition

The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest

The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest

by Ludwig Heinrich Dyck

Hardcover, Paperback and E-edition

“It is popular history at its best” – Military Heritage Magazine

“As Rome grew from a small city state to the mightiest empire of the west, her dominion was contested not only by the civilizations of the Mediterranean, but also by the “barbarians”-the tribal peoples of Europe. The Celtic, the Spanish-Iberian and the Germanic tribes lacked the pomp and grandeur of Rome, but they were fiercely proud of their freedom and gave birth to some of Rome’s greatest adversaries. Romans and barbarians, iron legions and wild tribesmen, clashed in dramatic battles on whose fate hinged the existence of entire peoples and at times, the future of Rome.”-L.H.Dyck

Far from reducing the legions and tribes to names and numbers, the “Roman Barbarian Wars, the Era of Roman Conquest” reveals how they fought and how they lived and what their world was like. Through his exhaustive research and lively text, Ludwig H. Dyck immerses the reader into the epic world of the Roman barbarian wars.

First published through Trafford Publishing in October 2011, a revised edition of “The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest,” has been re-published in 2015/16 by Pen & Sword Books, one of the U.K. ‘s leading historical publishers.

: “The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest,” Trafford 2011 edition.
The Roman Barbarian Wars, The Era of Roman Conquest. Trafford 2011 edition.


The Roman Barbarian Wars, Pen and Sword Edition


 “Dyck has produced an engaging, well-written book that not only discusses the campaigns and leaders of the period, but also gives a detailed look at tactics, clothing and weapons as well. It is popular history at its best.” – Military Heritage Magazine

“Dyck’s details of ancient battles and the people involved provide as much sword-slashing excitement as any fictional account.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Dyck has provided us with one of the few accounts of this period available to the general reader…the book is well written, researched and organized, and, above all, highly informative.”-Military History Magazine

“…the writing is colorful and the focus is on a brisk narrative of the various campaigns.”- Ancient Warfare Magazine