Evolution of Roman military

The people, conflicts, and daily life of the Roman army.

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Evolution of Roman military

Postby Curio Agelastus on Sat Aug 13, 2005 12:09 am

Salvete omnes,

Since Marius is courteously delaying his travels until others can accompany him, I've decided to go ahead and ask this question that's been bubbling in my mind for some time...

I'm currently writing a book set neither in the realms of alternative history or of fantasy, but somewhere between the two. It's based effectively on the existence of several different cultures, including those of Imperial Rome and 5th century (BC) Athens, and their survival to medieval times. This happens without the intervention of the various tribal movements that happened historically. I understand that this doesn't seem historically possible, but bear in mind this is set in an alternative world with various hypothetical cultures based on these (and other) such cultures.

My question is this: how would you envision the evolution of the Roman army to medieval times? How would it cope with threats such as the Mongolian horse archer (which they already faced to a certain extent in Parthia, of course), the Eastern European lancer, the French cavalier? How would their fortifications evolve to defend against the trebuchet? What tactical innovations would be made?

Also, if our resident hoplite is around, the same question applies for the Greek hoplites and their evolution. :D

It may seem like an irrelevant question, but it's important to the writing of my book, and, although I've been considering the question quite a lot, I don't have the expertise to be confident in my ideas. I'd therefore be very interested to see what y'all think!

Bene valete,
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Postby Aulus Dionysius Mencius on Sat Aug 13, 2005 2:45 pm

Salve, amice mi. A book eh? Interesting angle you are taking.

Romans pitted against the so called barbarian horsemen, the Mongols? They would be annihilated surely... :twisted:

Many greetings from a Mongol fanatic :wink:

Good luck with writing!

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Medieval Romans vs. the Mongols?

Postby Valerius Claudius Iohanes on Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:54 pm

This is an interesting notion. Does one imagine a development of the more-or-less traditional infantry legion (Republican or early Imperial)? Or does one follow history's turn to the mounted, mobile comitatenses (field armies) and the cataphractae? My guesses are premised on my incomplete knowledge of the later Roman armies, but it seems to me the former would have been obliterated a la Crassus, with the hard-hitting Mongols riding rings around them and cutting them off from any supply lines. The latter, the cataphractae, might have had a chance, however slim (although I think the general failure of both Turkic horseman and European knight argues for Mongol victory even here).
As to the Lancer and the Cavalier, a Roman Square might have fared well, I should think, against either type, for both lacked the mid-Asian bows of the Mongols, with that long-range hitting power. They would have been as Welliington's squares to Ney's cavalry. As to the other Roman development, the cataphracts, well, they were bowmen themselves and again had that advantage over both Lancers and Cavaliers. Or so it seems to me.
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