Veleda was a völva (priestess) of the Germanic tribe of the Bructeri who achieved some prominence during the Batavian rebellion of AD 69 - 70, headed by the Romanized Batavian chieftain Gaius Julius Civilis, when she correctly predicted the initial successes of the rebels against Roman legions. Her name means "she who sees".


The name may actually be a generic title for a prophetess (cf. Old Norse "vala"). The ancient Germans discerned a divinity of prophecy in women and regarded virgin prophetesses as true and living goddesses. In the latter half of the first century AD Veleda was regarded as divine by most of the tribes of central Germany and enjoyed wide influence. [Harry Thurston Peck, "Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities", 2nd edition, p. 1640. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, Inc., 1965. Originally published in this form in 1897.] She lived in a tower near the river Lippe, a tributary of the Rhine. [Sir James George Frazer, "The Golden Bough. A Study in Magic and Religion", One-volume abridged edition, p. 97. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947. Originally published in this form in 1922.] The inhabitants of the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (now Cologne) accepted her arbitration in a conflict with the Tencteri, an unfederated tribe of Germany (i.e., one outside the boundary of the Roman Empire). In her role as arbitrator, the envoys were not admitted to her presence; an interpreter conveyed their messages to her and reported her pronouncements. [ibid.] .

The Batavian leader Civilis originally raised his force as an ally of Vespasian during the Roman power struggle in AD 69, but when he saw the weakened condition of the legions in Romanized Germany he openly revolted. It is not clear whether Veleda merely prophesied the rebellion or actively incited it; given the Germans' adoration of her as a goddess, remote in her tower, the distinction may not have been clear at the time. Early in AD 70 the revolt was joined by Julius Classicus and Julius Tutor, leaders of the Treviri who like Civilis were Roman citizens. The Roman garrison at Novaesium (now Neuss) surrendered without a fight, as did the one at Castra Vetera (near modern Xanten in Niederrhein, Germany). [Michael Grant, "The Army of the Caesars", pp. 207-208. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974. ISBN 0-684-13821-2] The commander of the Roman garrison, Munius Lupercus, was sent to Veleda, though he was killed en route, evidently in an ambush. Later, when the praetorian trireme was captured, it was rowed upriver on the Lippe as a gift to Veleda. [cite web | url = | title = Veleda | accessmonthday = December 2 | accessyear = 2006 | last = Lendering | first = Jona | authorlink = Jona Lendering | work = Livius]

A strong show of force by nine Roman legions under C. Licinius Mucianus caused the rebellion to collapse. Civilis was cornered on his home island of Batavia on the lower Rhine by a force commanded by Petilius Cerialis; his fate is unknown, but in general Cerialis treated the rebels with surprising lenience, so as to reconcile them to Roman rule and military service. [Grant, op. cit.] In Veleda's case, she was left at liberty for several years.

In AD 77 the Romans either captured her, perhaps as a hostage, or offered her asylum. According to Statius, her captor was Rutilius Gallicus. [Statius, "Silvae" 1.4, line 90; J.G.W. Henderson, "A Roman Life: Rutilius Gallicus On Paper and In Stone". Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 1998.] A Greek epigram has been found at Ardea, a few kilometres south of Rome, that satirizes her prophetic powers. ["Année Épigraphique" 1953, 25.] Veleda may have acted in the interest of Rome by negotiating the acceptance of a pro-Roman king by the Bructeri in AD 83 or 84. [Lendering, op. cit.] She was evidently long since deceased by the time Tacitus wrote his "Germania" in AD 98. [Tacitus, "Germany", 8.2. Translation with Commentary by Herbert W. Benario. Warminster, UK: Aris & Phillips Ltd., 1999. ISBN 0-85668-716-2]


In her 1795 novel "Velleda, ein Zauberroman" (Velleda, a Magic Novel), Benedikte Naubert conflated the lives of two contemporaries, Boudicca and Veleda, whom she romanticized as Boadicea and Velleda. In Naubert's work, Velleda is portrayed as a sorceress who offers Boadicea's daughters access to immortality in the magical world of Germanic goddesses, while Boadicea draws her daughters back to the real world. A large extract from of Naubert's novel appeared in Shawn C. Jarvis and Jeannine Blackwell's "The Queen's Mirror", as did Amalie von Helwig's 1814 story "Die Symbole" (The Symbols), in which she was called Welleda. [Shawn C. Jarvis and Jeannine Blackwell (eds. and trans.), "The Queen's Mirror. Fairy Tales by German Women, 1780-1900", pp. 33-74, 117-125. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8032-6181-0] The forms "Velleda" and "Welleda" appear to be attempts to render the name in modern German (much as Richard Wagner rendered Odin or Woden as Wotan in his "Ring" cycle).

Other 19th-century works incorporating Veleda/Velleda/Welleda included Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué's 1818 novel, "Welleda und Gemma"; Eduard Sobolewski's 1835 opera "Velleda"; E.H. Maindron's 1843-44 marble sculpture "Velleda", and Franz Sigret's drawing "Veleda, Prophetess of the Bructeri".

More recently, Veleda's story was fictionalized by Poul Anderson in "Star of the Sea" (1991) and by Lindsey Davis in "The Iron Hand of Mars" (1992) and "Saturnalia" (2007). Veleda is also referenced as a prophetess turned saint/goddess in "The Veil of Years" (2001) by L. Warren Douglas.

In November 5, 1872, Paul Henry of Paris discovered an asteroid that was named 126 Velleda in honor of Veleda, a woman whom the ancient Germans had revered as a living goddess.


ee also

* Germanic paganism

External links

* [ Veleda]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Veleda — ist der Name einer germanischen Seherin, die im 1. Jahrhundert n. Chr. bei den Brukterern wirkte. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Überlieferung und Namensetymologie 2 Historische Ereignisse 3 Rezeption …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Veleda — fue una völva, o profetisa sagrada, de la tribu germánica de los brúcteos. Historia Durante el Año de los cuatro emperadores, crisis dinástica que sacudió el Imperio romano en el 69 d. C., la Frontera del Rin quedó desguarnecida dando… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Veleda — Veleda, so v.w. Velleda …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Veleda — (Velleda), nach Tacitus Historien eine germanische Seherin vom Stamme der Brukterer, wohnte verborgen in einem hohen Turm an der Lippe und antwortete den Ratsuchenden durch einen auserwählten Verwandten. Sie sachte 69 n. Chr. den Aufstand der… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Veleda — Velĕda (Velleda), priesterliche Jungfrau der alten Bructerer zur Zeit des Aufstandes des Civilis (70 n. Chr.), durch ihre Weissagungsgabe von polit. Einfluß …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Veleda — Veleda, weissagende Jungfrau bei den Brukterern, als diese unter Civilis 71n. Chr. die Römer bekriegten; sie scheint später als Gefangene nach Rom gebracht worden zu sein …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • VELEDA — Virgo fatidica, apud veteres Germanos longe lateque imperans, pro Dea in sua gente habita legitur, apud Tacitum, l. 4. Histor. c. 61. Mumius Lupercus, Legatus Legionis, inter dona missus Velledae. Ea virgo, nationis Bructerae, late imperitabat,… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • (126) Veleda — Veleda Descubrimiento Descubridor Paul Pierre Henry Fecha 5 de noviembre de 1872 Elementos orbitales …   Wikipedia Español

  • (126) Veleda — Veleda (Velleda). Asteroide nº. 126 de la serie, descubierto el 5 de noviembre de 1872 desde París por Paul Pierre Henry (1848 1905). Parece ser el nombre de una princesa alemana del siglo I de nuestra era, que provocó la rebelión de las tribus… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Веледа — (Veleda, Velleda)         (1 в. н. э.), одна из пророчиц древних германцев. Согласно римскому историку Тациту, происходила из племени бруктеров, жила затворницей в высокой башне, окруженная почтением и тайной. Через особых посредников В. посылала …   Большая советская энциклопедия

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