map of Germania
Thusnelda's story provides a record of events in the first century AD from a perspective different from the Roman historians of the time; it provides an insight into the mind of a remarkable woman who could have been the queen of an empire capable of challenging the Roman super power. As the devoted wife and companion of Arminius, her story resonates with particular poignancy since Arminius's destruction of three Roman legions halted the expansion of Rome's empire east of the Rhine, an event that had profound consequences for the development of European history. Her biography is also a study in the evolution of human relations, even within one person's life time. Thusnelda's account gives significant details of the lives of her closest servants. The surprising amount of attention she devotes in her biography to the affairs of her servants belies the naïve belief that persons of royalty are too far removed from their servants to consider them more than handy appendages. Thus, the distinction between princess and servants becomes increasingly blurred as her story progresses. This speaks to the inevitable transformation of human relations when lives are lived so closely together. Indeed, even in the hostile environment of exile in her enemy's territory, her closest confidant turns out to be a Roman nobleman of equestrian rank.