They were mentioned by Julius Caesar in his commentary Gallic Wars, as living on an island formed by the Meuse River after it is joined by the Waal, 80 Roman miles from the mouth of the river. He said there were many other islands formed by branches of the Rhine, inhabited by savage and barbarous nations, some of whom were supposed to live on fish and the eggs of sea-fowl.
Tacitus described the Batavi as the most brave of the tribes of the area, inhabiting not much territory on the Rhine but an island in it. They were formerly part of the Cattans but moved after a feud to become part of the Roman Empire. He said they retained the honour of the ancient association with the Romans, not required to pay tribute or taxes and used by the Romans only for war. He named the Mattiacians as a similar tribe under homage, but on the other (Germanic) side of the Rhine.
Also the areas inhabited by the Batavians where never occupied by the Romans, they were allies. In 69 AD, a rebellion led by Claudius Civilis arose, which was defeated by the Romans the following year.