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Late Roman Military

PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:50 pm
by Aulus Flavius
Salve amici,

I've developed an interest in the military of the Late Empire, and I was wondering if anyone could recommend any sources, online or offline?

I'm looking mainly for tactics, formations, equipment and rank structure of the comitatenses and limitatenses legions. Also information on the Roman Frontiers, particularly in Germany would be great.

I'm just trying to figure out how the comtitatus legions differed from those of the early Empire.

1) How did their equipment differ?
2) What was their rank structure like?
3) How did Limes differ from the Comitatus?
4) What were frontier fortifications like at this period?

I'm still prowling through the net, but any help on this would be much appreciated.


A. Flavius

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 1:00 am
by Quintus Servilius Priscus
I am presently reading the Stephen Dando-Collins book "Caesar's Legion". It is about the Elite 10th Legion from it's formation in Spain to the Siege at Masada. The same author has written about another book on Nero's 14th Legion called "Nero's Killing Machine: The True Remarkable Story of Rome's 14th Legion". I would highly recommend Caesars Legion to anyone.

Quintus Servilius Priscus

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:21 am
by Aulus Flavius
I just realised I've put this in the wrong thread :) If one of the mods could chuck it in the History thread, I'd feel significantly less stupid.

Mod, singular?

PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 5:22 am
by Aldus Marius
"One of the" mods? OK, which one: Aldus or Marius? >({|:-D

...Color it done!

*shoves, grunts, finally gets his neck and shoulders into it*

Other Help

PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2007 6:58 am
by Aldus Marius
Ave iterum, mi Flavi...

As promised elsewhere: More Help. >({|:-)

My personal knowledge of anything to do with the Late Imperial army is an Impressionist sketch at best (versus the Impressionist painting I can usually pull off on assorted other subjects). However, I possess the means to rectify that situation, and maybe I will now that you've got my curiosity up! Some sources:

My best concise reference for Roman military history as a whole is sold in game stores more often than in bookshops. Phil Barker's
Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome (4th ed.; illus. Ian Heath; Wargames Research Group, 1981) covers organization, tactics, dress and weaponry of the Romans (and everybody they ever mixed it up with!) from the end of Punic War III to the reconquest of Italy by the Byzantines.

The type is small. It has to be. There is a lot of information in this thing. It is profusely illustrated with line drawings taken from historical and archaeological sources; it discusses the limitations of such sources; it even reproduces the shield-patterns, with unit designations, from the Notitia Dignitatum, which I'd otherwise have to go to Oxford to inspect in any detail. The evolution of the Legions from a self-sufficient frontier garrison, to a frontier force backed up by a mobile field army, to a field army itself thumbing its collective nose at the (by then) less-prestigious frontier units, is clearly explained. (It must've been; even Mari got it.) >({|;-)

Amice, you want this book.

The other one is
The Late Roman Army by Pat Southern and Karen Dixon (Yale UP, 1996; ISBN 0-300-06843-3). This is one of an increasing number of works on Roman military matters being written by women; among others, reenactor and horse-trainer Ann Hyland has made a deep mark on Roman Cavalry studies.

Southern and Dixon describe the conditions that led to the reorganization of the army; the army itself from Constantine to Justinian; recruitment; conditions of service, which had changed considerably from those a Flavian Legion would have known; equipment; fortifications; and siege warfare. They also chase down any last mentions of Roman soldiers or units before the darkness fell; and they take on the notion that Late Roman soldiers were more poorly-trained and/or -equipped than their earlier brethren, or that they had any less spirit.

'Nuff to get you started?

In amicitia et fide,

PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 6:48 am
by Aulus Flavius
Salve amice,

You'll be pleased to know that I've been able to order in a copy of The Late Roman Army but unfortunately Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome seems to have fallen out of publication. I've been given a card to contact a company that deals with out of print books, so with any luck I may be able to get a hold of it.

However the Southern and Dixon book sounds perfect. It would work wonderfully to be able to compare and contrast both the Early and Late Imperial Armies and see the degrees to which they differ. It sounds like a perfectly accurate recount that I'm looking forward to reading.

I'm particularly interested in the German Frontier along the Limes Germanicus and the sort of conditions that a field and fronter force would have lived and fought in. All of these things I don't know :)