historical background to vengeance of a slave

This book is the first in a series, following a family from their origins in Roman Britain.

The Batavian revolt indirectly led to the taking of Adelbhert and his sister as slaves, and hence began the tale told in Vengeance of a Slave.

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This revolt took place between the years 69 and 70 CE. The Batavi was a small tribe living in Germania Inferior, near the Rhine delta. They sent some conscripts to Rome, who became what was known as The Germanic Bodyguard and were personal guards of the emperor.

The emperor Nero was becoming more and more despotic, and so the governor of Gaul, decided to try to do something about it. He found what he thought as a worthy successor to the emperor. A man called Galba. He fomented a revolution, Galba became emperor and Nero committed suicide.

Galba disbanded the Germanic Bodyguard because he mistrusted them as they had been loyal to Nero. The Batavian people took this as an insult.

After the death of Nero, Rome was plunged into civil war. There followed what is known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Galba’s deputy, Otho, overthrew him in a coup, then Vitellius prepared to take the Rhine legions to Rome to overthrow Otho. The Batavi joined the Rhine legions and overthrew Otho at the battle of Bedriacum.

After the battle, the Batavi were ordered to return home, but then Vespasian, commander of the forces in Syria, revolted. He was joined by the legions of the Danube.

Vitellius tried to conscript more than the agreed number of conscripts from the Batavi. This, on top of the insult of disbanding the Germanic Bodyguard, the brutality of the conscripting centurians and the sexual assaults on Batavian boys brought things to a head.

In the summer of 69, Civilis was commander of the Batavian troops in the Rhine regions. He persuaded the tribe known as Cananefates, to revolt and to attack a number of Roman forts.

This was a good time to do this since most of the troops were fighting the civil war in Rome.

The commander of the Rhine regions sent troops to put down this rebellion, leaving the rest of the area vulnerable. Civilis and his men defeated the Romans near what is now Arnhem.

To deal with this insurrection, the commander sent two legions, V Alaudae and XV Primigenea to fight them. These legions included some Batavian cavalry, who defected to their countrymen during the battle and so the Romans lost, after which the Batavians were promised independence.

Civilis wanted vengeance, however. He wanted to destroy the two legions. He besieged their camp. With the civil war in Rome, the Romans could do little about this. They did not have the troops to spare.

Then came the news of Vitellius’s defeat. This had been helped by Civilis pinning down two legions, but his aim was not to help Vespasian. He launched an attack on Krefeld, sending his eight best cavalry troops. This time, the Roman army was successful, destroying all eight troops, but at great loss to themselves.

Civilis then lifted the siege, saying that the legions could have free passage, providing they left everything behind for his men to loot. The two legions left with nothing, but a few kilometers away, they were ambushed and all of them destroyed.

Vespasian, once he had established himself on the throne, sent an enormous army to deal with Civilis and his rebels. On hearing of the approach of the army, one of Civilis’s allies surrendered, but Civilis himself continued to fight.

He made a series of raids from land and from the river, once capturing a Roman flagship. The Romans then invaded Batavia and the revolt was over.

It is against this chaotic time in the Roman Empire that Vengeance of a Slave is set. Adelbehrt’s father and some of the other villagers take the opportunity of a weakened army on the Rhine to raid across the river into the Roman lands. This leads to the terrible punishment of the men at the beginning of the book.

Here is a review of the book.

R. J. Krzak, Award-Winning Author

5.0 out of 5 stars 

A Riveting Story Set in Roman Times

Reviewed in the United States on 30 December 2019

Verified Purchase

Vengeance of a Slave by V.M. Sang is a riveting story set during the period when Rome controlled Britannia. Follow the trials and tribulations of Adelbhert after he and his sister are taken by the Romans from their mother. They eventually end up as slaves in what is modern-day London. Adelbhert performs a nightly ritual to remind himself of the suffering he and his sister have endured, beginning with the crucifixion of their father. He vows to escape and punish those who have wronged him.

V.M. has created a moving story which will keep you turning the pages to find out how Adelbhert and his sister handle their new life. Experience their sorrow, anguish, and finally hope as they adapt to their changing situation. This is the first novel I’ve read of V.M.’s and it certainly won’t be the last! Well done and highly recommended!

And a brief taste of the story.

In this extract, Adelelbehrt is growing up and is not the pretty small child he was when he became a pet. There is a threat to his life with his current owners.

One day, when the children had been slaves for six years, Marcus approached Adelbehrt.
“Have you a minute?” the older man asked.
Adelbehrt looked at Marcus. “What do you want?”
The boy sat on the edge of the impluvium and trailed his hand in the water. The domina did not seem to want him at the moment. In fact, she had not had much for him to do for a while now. He thought the novelty of his appearance might be wearing off, especially as he was now beginning to grow up.
He crossed to where Marcus emerged from the office of the dominus. What did the accountant want? He had little reason to ask Adelbehrt for anything. Marcus was an important man, even if a slave.
As Adelbehrt approached, Marcus began to speak. “How long have you been here now, Adelbehrt?”
“Six years.”
“That will make you about twelve then.”
The boy nodded “About that, I suppose.”
“Now I don’t want to worry you, but you’re growing up. You’re still an attractive boy—attractive enough to still be a pet—but as you get older, yes, from now on probably, the domina will find you less like her pretty, little slave boy.
“Your unusual hair colouring is no longer a novelty. No one comments on it any more. Soon the domina won’t want you as her slave and will find a new pet. Or perhaps she has already. Look at how she dotes on that little dog the dominus bought her.”
Adelbehrt looked at the older man. He had thought long about this himself. He noticed how the domina played with her puppy and spent less time with him. He wasn’t jealous. Not really. In fact, he often felt glad she had another toy to play with. After six years of petting and fussing he felt heartily fed up. Still, he found it galling to be ignored.
Marcus continued and he pricked up his ears and listened. It did not do to ignore one’s elders.
“I spoke to the dominus yesterday. It seems he’s noticed how his wife seems more concerned with her puppy than you and he talked about selling you.”
Adelbehrt drew in a sharp breath at that news and looked at Marcus.
“He said he’d noticed you liked the horses and are good with them, but he doesn’t need another slave in the stables. He thinks he can sell you as a stable lad, though.”
“But…” Adelbehrt did not know what to say. He thought of Avelina. Oh, the little girl seemed happy enough as Claudia’s slave, but she was still only ten summers old. She could not really remember their home by the Rhenus and had completely forgotten their native language.
Claudia treated her well. In fact, they were almost like friends rather than mistress and slave, but Adelbehrt had promised his mother he would look after her. How could he do that if the dominus sold him?

If you are interested in reading more about Adelbehrt and his sister Avelina, click on the link below.

The e-book is on offer for a mere 0.99 (£or $) from today, Saturday 28th until Wednesday 1st September.

It is also available in several other formats, including audio.

2 thoughts on “historical background to vengeance of a slave”

  1. The history is so fascinating, Viv. Men and their power trips. Wars and more wars. And all the innocent victims. This was a good read, and it was fun learning the backdrop that led to the stark beginning of the novel.

    Liked by 1 person

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