The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribe, probably related to the Buri or the Suebi. In the 2nd century AD, the Marcomanni entered into a confederation with other peoples including the Quadi, Vandals, and Sarmatians, against the Roman Empire. This was probably driven by movements of larger tribes, like the Goths. According to the historian Eutropius, the forces of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius battled against the Marcomannic confederation for three years at the fortress of Carnuntum in Pannonia. Eutropius compared the war, and Marcus Aurelius' success against the Marcomanni and their allies, to the
Punic Wars. The comparison was apt in that this war marked a turning point and had significant Roman defeats; it caused the death of two Praetorian Guard commanders.
The war began in 166, when the Marcomanni overwhelmed the defenses between Vindobona and Carnuntum, penetrated along the border between the provinces of Pannonia and Noricum, laid waste to Flavia Solva, and could be stopped only shortly before reaching Aquileia on the Adriatic sea. The war lasted until Marcus Aurelius' death in 180. It would prove to be only a limited success for Rome; the Danube River remained as the frontier of the Empire until the final fall of the West.
Marcomanni in Give Me Back My Legions!
The Marcomannic leader, Maroboduus, received the head of Publius Varus from the Cheruscan leader, Arminius who had defeated Varus and his three legions at Teutoburg. Arminius hoped to persuade the Marcomanni to join in the fight against the Roman Empire.
However Maroboduus sent the preserved head to the Emperor Augustus, who personally confirmed that the head was Varus'. The Marcomanni remained neutral and did not fight the Romans.
Marcomanni in Household Gods
The Marcomanni and the Quardi attacked the Roman Legions stationed at Carnuntum and captured the town. Previously, they had been arrogantly walking in the streets of the town, as if it had already belonged to them from the start.
Nicole Gunther, a time traveler from the late 20th century, observed the invasion of the two tribes and could not tell the difference between them at all. She was shocked at the brutality the Germans displayed, and saw a neighbor gang-raped by a group of them.