Battle of Noreia
The Battle of Noreia in 112 BC
112 BC
Year 112 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Drusus and Caesoninus...

, was the opening action of the Cimbrian War
Cimbrian War
The Cimbrian War was fought between the Roman Republic and the Proto-Germanic tribes of the Cimbri and the Teutons , who migrated from northern Europe into Roman controlled territory, and clashed with Rome and her allies...

 fought between the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 and the migrating Proto-Germanic
Proto-Germanic language
Proto-Germanic , or Common Germanic, as it is sometimes known, is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Germanic languages, such as modern English, Frisian, Dutch, Afrikaans, German, Luxembourgish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, and Swedish.The Proto-Germanic language is...

 tribes, the Cimbri
The Cimbri were a tribe from Northern Europe, who, together with the Teutones and the Ambrones threatened the Roman Republic in the late 2nd century BC. The Cimbri were probably Germanic, though some believe them to be of Celtic origin...

 and the Teutons
The Teutons or Teutones were mentioned as a Germanic tribe by Greek and Roman authors, notably Strabo and Marcus Velleius Paterculus and normally in close connection with the Cimbri, whose ethnicity is contested between Gauls and Germani...

 (Teutones). It ended in defeat, and near disaster, for the Romans.


The Cimbri and Teutones left their home lands around the Baltic sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 in the Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 peninsula and Southern Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

. They travelled southeast and encountered the Scordisci
The Scordisci were an Iron Age tribe centered in the territory of present-day Serbia, at the confluence of the Savus , Dravus and Danube rivers. They were historically notable from the beginning of the third century BC until the turn of the common era...

 with whom they fought. Following their victory over the latter, they arrived at the Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 in Noricum
Noricum, in ancient geography, was a Celtic kingdom stretching over the area of today's Austria and a part of Slovenia. It became a province of the Roman Empire...

 (113 BC
113 BC
Year 113 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Caprarius and Carbo...

) which was home to the Taurisci
The Taurisci were a federation of Celtic tribes who dwelt in today's northern Slovenia before the coming of the Romans According to Pliny the Elder, they are the same people known as the Norici...

, allies with Rome. Unable to repel these new invaders, the Taurisci appealed to Rome for assistance. The consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

 Gnaeus Papirius Carbo
Gnaeus Papirius Carbo (consul 113 BC)
Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, son of Gaius Papirius Carbo, was consul in 113 BC, together with Gaius Caecilius Metellus Caprarius.He was according to Cicero the father of Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, who was thrice consul, whereas this latter is called by Velleius Paterculus a brother of Gaius Papirius Carbo...

 responded the following year, leading the legions
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

 into Noricum, where he took up a position on the heights near Aquileia
Aquileia is an ancient Roman city in what is now Italy, at the head of the Adriatic at the edge of the lagoons, about 10 km from the sea, on the river Natiso , the course of which has changed somewhat since Roman times...



Carbo ordered them to vacate the territory of the Taurisci at once. The Cimbri had heard many stories from other tribes about the fearsome power of Rome, and after seeing the size of the Roman army and the strength of its position, they complied. However, Carbo was not going to allow enemies of Rome (nor an opportunity to gain a triumph) to escape. He had sent guides, to escort the Cimbri and Teutones to the frontier, instead they were going to lead them into an ambush the consul had prepared. But somehow, perhaps due to being warned by their scouts or spies or possibly due to the treachery of one of the guides, the Cimbri became aware of Carbo's plan and, according to Theodor Mommsen
Theodor Mommsen
Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen was a German classical scholar, historian, jurist, journalist, politician, archaeologist, and writer generally regarded as the greatest classicist of the 19th century. His work regarding Roman history is still of fundamental importance for contemporary research...


An engagement took place not far from Noreia in the modern Carinthia
Duchy of Carinthia
The Duchy of Carinthia was a duchy located in southern Austria and parts of northern Slovenia. It was separated from the Duchy of Bavaria in 976, then the first newly created Imperial State beside the original German stem duchies....

, in which the betrayed gained the victory over the betrayer and inflicted on him considerable loss; a storm, which separated the combatants, alone prevented the complete annihilation of the Roman army.


Carbo managed to escape with his life and the remnants of his army (though the Germanic tribesmen had erroneously thought and boasted that they had caught and slain their betrayer). He was disgraced and impeached as consul by the senate, but was not exiled (such punishment was rare among the Romans according to Nate Rosenstein Imperatores Victi). Rome prepared for the worst, but instead of invading Italy the Cimbri and Teutones headed west, towards Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

. There, in 105 BC
105 BC
Year 105 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Rufus and Maximus...

, at the Battle of Arausio
Battle of Arausio
The Battle of Arausio took place on October 6, 105 BC, at a site between the town of Arausio and the Rhône River. Ranged against the migratory tribes of the Cimbri under Boiorix and the Teutoni were two Roman armies, commanded by the proconsul Quintus Servilius Caepio and consul Gnaeus Mallius...

, the Cimbri and Teutones would decisively defeat a Roman army.
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