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The Roman Army Essay

1883 words - 8 pages

“The Roman army stands as a military institution without parallel in the history of the world” . The Roman Army was considered the most advanced of its time. It created the Roman Empire - a huge part of Western Europe – and Rome itself greatly benefited from the riches that the army brought back from its conquered territories. But one must ask why such an army was able to convincingly conquer the world for so long? The answer is multi-faceted, the success of the Roman Army was not due to one entity or feature that gave it overwhelming power, rather, the cause was due to a well-cohered military structure. The aspects that will be raised in this paper are the army’s training and technology, ...view middle of the document...

Those who were more likely to be killed in the initial phase of a battle were at the front . The hardened and experienced legionnaires were at the rear. The Roman Army could ill afford to lose experienced legionnaires whereas if a new legionnaire came through a battle alive, he would be blooded and experienced and a valuable addition to the army . If he were killed, then the loss of his inexperience would not be too great.

There are several things we must note with the military dimensions of the Roman Army. One thing is that every little thing that contributed to battle was well thought off and planned out. The Roman’s did not leave things to chance, as Adcock puts, ‘The Romans did not in general admire war; still less did they romanticize it: but they understood it’ . And they knew that victory came long before the battle, the battle was won in the training of their men and the organization of their army, this can be seen the columns of Trajan.

The Roman Army is made up of legions that had between 4,000 and 6,000 men, which varied during different times of the Empire . The legion consisted of Roman citizens who joined freely on their accord; however the empire created benefits for the soldiers therefore effectively modifying the status as a profession. In the Roman Empire, a legionary served in the army for 25 years, so he could make his fortune. The leader of a legion was called a legatus and his officers were called tribuni . A legion is made up of heavily armored infantry (foot soldiers) who were a well-trained and feared force. They were equipped with two pilums (javelins) and a gladius (sword). The Cavalry given supplies by the auxiliaries (the second line of troops/part time soldiers) and was made up of mainly units of 500 people .

Furthermore, to assist the legionnaires were the auxiliaries. These men were often recruited from an area that the Romans were trying to conquer and occupy. They were not fully trained soldiers and their usual task was not to fight when the legionnaires attacked, but to assist them by acting as scouts or archers who would fire at the enemy while the legionnaires attacked. Those auxiliaries who fought on foot would be used to attack an enemy position before the legionnaires did – in this way; an enemy position would be softened up before the main assault .

The Roman Army was officially divided into two sections. The Comitatensis (the mobile fighting force) and the Limitanei (the troops that guarded the frontier). This worked until the end of the Western Roman Empire. The idea of this kind of army was so that it could get from place to place easily and take care of trouble quickly, thus quashing any potential turmoil before it could escalate. Foes of the empire found this difficult to overcome. Thus, displays that the Roman’s thought long term, they built their army so that it could sustain an expanding empire.

The Romans used a tried and tested attacking technique. Legionnaires would...

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