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The Legendary Prophetess Veleda: A Secret Weapon Against the Romans

Sunday, February 26, 2017 19:11
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Detail of ‘Velleda’, as imagined in a 19th-century painting by Charles Voillemot.

Legends about beautiful women who drove armies of men to glory are very familiar in history. In the case of Veleda, her story didn’t end with the loss of her people, but withstood the passage of time due to her unique talents and the weakness of a Roman Emperor. Moreover, her gift of clairvoyance was so well-known in her time that the barbarian prophetess was described by the famous Roman writer Tacitus.

Between 69 and 70 AD, the Roman province of Germania Inferior was covered with battlefields. The site that is now the southern part of the Netherlands and northern part of Rhineland struggled during the famous Revolt of Batavi – an uprising started by a small Germanic tribe known as Batavi. Although there were few fighters, they were very well prepared and militarily powerful. They inhabited the delta of the Rhine river and stepped up against the Roman Empire. As the battles continued, the revolt was supported by other tribes, including Celts from Gallia Belgica. One of the most mysterious individuals to endorse the rebels was Veleda, a prophetess whose visions warmed the warriors’ blood. According to her visions, the tribe of Batavi was about to succeed in their revolt.

The Prophetess Veleda.

The Prophetess Veleda. (CC BY 2.0) – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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