Great Illyrian Revolt
The Great Illyrian Revolt, (Bellum Batonianum or Pannonian Revolt ) was a major conflict between an alliance of indigenous communities from Illyricum and Roman forces that lasted for four years beginning in AD 6 and ending in AD 9.
In AD 6, several regiments of Daesitiates, natives of area that now comprises central Bosnia and Herzegovina, led by Bato the Daesitiate (Bato I), were gathered in one place to prepare to join Augustus's stepson and senior military commander Tiberius in a war against the Germans. Instead, the Daesitiates mutinied and defeated a Roman force sent against them. The Daesitiates were soon joined by the Breuci led by Bato of the Breuci (Bato II), another community inhabiting the region between the rivers Sava and Drava in modern Croatia. They gave battle to a second Roman force from Moesia led by Caecina Severus (the governor of Moesia). Despite their defeat, they inflicted heavy casualties at the Battle of Sirmium. The rebels were now joined by a large number of other communities. At risk was the strategic province of Illyricum, recently expanded to include the territory of the Pannonii, an indigenous communities inhabiting the region between the rivers Drava and Sava, who were subjugated by Rome in 12-9 BC. Illyricum was on Italy's eastern flank, exposing the Roman heartland to the fear of a rebel invasion.
Augustus ordered Tiberius to break off operations in Germany and move his main army to Illyricum. Tiberius sent Marcus Valerius Messalla Messallinus (the governor of Dalmatia and Pannonia) ahead with troops. The panic broke out in Rome  and Augustus raised a second task force under Tiberius's nephew Germanicus. He resorted to the compulsory purchase and emancipation of thousands of slaves in order to amass enough troops. This happened for the first time since the aftermath of the Battle of Cannae two centuries earlier. At one moment, in winter AD 6/7, 10 legions were deployed and an equivalent number of auxilia (70 cohors, 10 ala and more than 10,000 veterans) In addition, they were assisted by a large number of Thracian troops deployed by their King Rhoemetalces, a Roman amicus (ally) a grand total of some 100,000 men.
They faced further reverses on the battlefield and a bitter guerrilla war in the Bosnian mountains, but bitter fighting also occurred in southern Pannonia around Mons Almus (modern Fruška Gora) near Sirmium. It took them three years of hard fighting to quell the revolt, which was described by the Roman historian Suetonius as the most difficult conflict faced by Rome since the Punic Wars two centuries earlier. Tiberius finally quelled the revolt in AD 9. This was just in time: that same year Arminius destroyed Varus's three legions in Germany. The Roman high command did not doubt that Arminius would have formed a grand alliance with the Illyrians.
The fighting of the Illyrian Revolt had lasting effects on Roman soldiers. Unhappy with their payment of swampy and mountainous Pannonian lands for such harsh military service, and with abuses relating to their pay and conditions, Roman soldiers staged a mutiny in AD 14, after Augustus' death, demanding recompense. Tiberius, now the ruling Emperor, dispatched his son, Drusus, to pacify the mutineers.
The Romans, aside from committing atrocities during the war, split up Illyrian tribes into different groups than the ones they had previously composed.The administrative civitates of Osseriates Colapiani and Varciani were probably created from the Breuci. Other members of tribes were probably sold as slaves or deported in different locations, such as the Azali.
- Miller, Norma. Tacitus: Annals I, 2002, ISBN 1-85399-358-1. It had originally been joined to Illyricum, but after the great Illyrian/Pannonian revolt of A.D. 6 it was made a separate province with its own governor.
- Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992, p. 183, ISBN 0-631-19807-5. ...Pannonian Illyrians between Italy and the East. That could only be done at a great cost and not before a rebellion of Illyricum brought the regime of Augustus to the brink of disaster.
- Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992, p. 207, ISBN 0-631-19807-5. The rising began among the Daesitiates of central Bosnia under their leader Bato but they were soon joined by the Breuci. The four-year war which lasted from AD 6 to 9 saw huge...
- Velleius Paterculus, 2.110-111; Dio Cassius, 55.30,1
- Velleius Paterculus, Historia Romana 2.113.
- Rhoemetalces's kingdom was later annexed by emperor Claudius.
- Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992, p. 216, ISBN 0-631-19807-5. Further east the formidable Daesitiates of central Bosnia retained their name. The great rebellion of AD 6 had been led by their chief Bato, and their relatively low total of 103 decuriae likely reflects...
- Dio Cassius LV.29-34; Suetonius Tiberius 16, 17.
- Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0-631-19807-5,page 208
- J. J. Wilkes, 'The Danubian Provinces', in The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. 10: The Augustan Empire, 43 BC-AD 69 (Volume 10) ed. Alan Bowman, ISBN 0-521-26430-8, 1996, page 579
- Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0-631-19807-5.,page 207,"... The war was a savage affair and the main resistance to the Romans came from the Breuci and Amantini in the Sava valley. The young males were rounded up and sold as slaves in Italy, a quite exceptional action ..."
- Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992,ISBN 0-631-19807-5,page 217
Detailed and critical commentary of the sources is given in:
- M. Šašel Kos, A Historical Outline of the Region Between Aquileia, the Adriatic and Sirmium in Cassius Dio and Herodian (Ljubljana 1986), pp. 178–190.
- P. M. Swan, The Augustan Succession: a Historical Commentary on Cassius Dio’s Roman History Books 55-56 (9 B.C. - A.D. 14). American Classical Studies 47. (Oxford & New York 2004), pp. 195–222, 235-250.
- A. J. Woodman, Velleius Paterculus: The Tiberian Narrative (2.94-131) (Cambridge 1977).
Useful historical narratives of the events in English can be found in:
- J. J. Wilkes, Dalmatia (London 1969), pp. 69–77.
- D. Dzino, Illyricum in Roman Politics 229 BC - AD 68 (Cambridge 2010), pp. 149–153.
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