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Thread: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

  1. #1
    One of the Undutchables Member The Stranger's Avatar
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    Default The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    The title may be deceiving but what i'm trying to discuss/ask is whether the politics and political changes or the roman nation (kingdom, republic and empire) on the Roman Army and particulary the reforms.

    Did the change of the roman kingdom to republic change the makeup and style of the roman army, or did the change of the roman army trigger the event of the roman kingdom changing into republic. Did the marian reforms trigger the republic to change in to empire, or did the process of the republic changing into empire trigger the marian reforms.

    Its kinda a mess because I dont really know how to put it... I have my own theory about it but im in a hurry so ill post it later...

    Any vision on this matter is HIGHLY appreciated

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  2. #2
    One of the Undutchables Member The Stranger's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    The title may be deceiving but what i'm trying to discuss/ask is whether the politics and political changes or the roman nation (kingdom, republic and empire) on the Roman Army and particulary the reforms.
    it must be

    The title may be deceiving but what i'm trying to discuss/ask is whether the politics and political changes of the roman nation (kingdom, republic and empire) had any impact on the Roman Army, particulary the military reforms.

    We do not sow.

  3. #3
    Kanto Kanrei Member Marshal Murat's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    The Marian reforms definitely caused a shift in Roman politics.
    The Marian reforms allowed everyone to join the army. Great idea, except the Generals who raised the legions paid for them, so the soldiers were very loyal to the general. This caused a loyal, armed group of men.
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    The Real Ad miN Member Tran's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    I'm not sure about this but I think somewhere between late Republic and early Empire period the Roman begin to remove compulsory military service (conscription that is) and replace it with a more professional (and voluntary) military.
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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Actually the shift was partly pure logistical necessity. Most of the farmland in Italy had been taken over by the huge latifundias of the rich, and the farmer-soldier "hoplite" class that had furnished the backbone of the Republican reservist armies was duly gone. The Romans simply no longer had a manpower base wealthy enough to provide their own war gear to call for war.

    So they made an about-face, hired whoever met the requirements, gave him the war gear (paid off his wages over time AFAIK), and made a full-time professional army out of such men. As the army promised regular pay, a roof over your head and steady meals (plus the prospect of a pension and a small plot of land for a veteran to support himself and his family once the term was over), the attraction was doubtless considerable for the poor driven to the teeming suburbs of the cities from the manoralized countryside. For non-citizens (AFAIK only recruited into the auxilia formations) there was the added perk of gaining hereditary full Roman citizen rights.
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    Kanto Kanrei Member Marshal Murat's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    So in addendum, you have a large and loyal support base to enhance your power. As in Lord of War, bullets change governments faster than votes. Here a gladius and a trained hand are that, and if you have that sort of military power at your call, you can loot, gain fame and glory, popularity, and power.
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    Have you just been dumped?

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Private armies have their attractions, certainly. Combine that with the sort of fanatical loyalty capable and charismatic war leaders can inspire in their soldiers...

    Well, the many civil wars Rome had post Marius didn't come out of nowhere.
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Watchman sums it up well. The change (which was in any case necessary for further expansion) in recruitment from conscription of citizens in graduated property classes to proletarian volunteers was at the heart of the patron-client relationship which developed in the Roman army and resulted in numerous civil wars in the first century BC. I'd also add that you need to remember that the relationship was reciprocal- client-soldiers did not simply give the politically ambitious the means to obtain power with the use or threat of violence, they compelled them to obtain power. The major incentive for soldiers to serve a general loyally was the anticipation of being granted a plot of land at the end of their service, and the only way for a general to get them the land was to hold office themselves or get one of their allies in office to do it, hence the violent competition for consulships and other positions of power. Furthermore, soldiers who had gotten their plots of land were extremely grateful for it and many such retired soldiers became partisans for their former leaders during crises.

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    One of the Undutchables Member The Stranger's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    And what about the change of hoplite warfare to the acer triplex with the hastati, principes and triari.

    Did it have any effect on the politics of Rome or vica versa. Or did the loss to the gauls and the loss of many nobles in that batte lead to the change of hoplite warfare to the more mobile legionary makeup

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  10. #10

    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    As far as I know the development of the manipular legion was just a response to the wars with the Samnites. If it had any effect on politics I am not aware of it, but I haven't studied that period in detail.

    Also I'd just like to add that Marius' reforms were not an abrupt about face- the system was already in a state of flux and there had been recruitment of armies of proletarian volunteers before.

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    The drunken Duke Member Suraknar's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Yes, Watchman sums it up very well actually, as far as the military changes are concerned.

    what I would wish to add here is in relation to your reference of the Roman Kingdom, such a Kingdom as is being uncovered from recent archeological discoveries, did not really exist per se.

    It is now beleived that Roma was founded by Etruscan Kings, not Latins, albeit by a large Latin population, and that the Etruscan Kings were overthrown by the Latin population headed by both Etruscan and Latin influencial famillies, Patricians. Which reformed Rome in to a Republic. So it can be said that the Latin Rome started as a Republic right off the bat, however being governed by the Senate composed of the more wealthy and influential famillies which of cource sought to increase their influence and wealth lead to the Latifundia situation and the consequences of logistical nature that Watchman is describing as well as the civil war that Furious Mental is mentioning.
    Last edited by Suraknar; 05-24-2007 at 17:33.
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  12. #12
    One of the Undutchables Member The Stranger's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Yeah, i knew that but i thought this would be easier, Thanx anyway ;)

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  13. #13

    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    On top of all that the suspect way in which military leaders took and exercised power, especially in passing "land reform" legislation (i.e. grants to their soldiers), led to constant attempts by others to prosecute them, and therefore they sought so-called "extraordinary commands" which gave them a proconsular command (provincial governorship) for several years, and hence immunity to prosecution. Alot of famous campaigns had their origins in these extraordinary commands, for example Caesar in Gaul. And it was the threat of his Gaulish command being cut short and him being prosecuted as a result that was the immediate cause of his invasion of Italy.

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    Just your average Senior Member Warmaster Horus's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Actually, the various extraordinary commands were not necesarily due to a risk of prosecution. I felt it was more for glory, than do avoid that risk. Think of Pompey; adored by the people, protected by his tribunes (who could veto legislation against him), he feared almost nothing.

    The idea that the Invasion of Italy by Caesar was because of prosecution is true, although that was only the beginning. What Caesar wanted was for Pompey to lay down arms alongside him. He'd have gone to Rome, if Pompey had done that. Pompey refused, and hence the Civil War.
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    That is true. Sorry, I shouldn't have phrased it in terms that suggested immunity from prosecution was the reason for obtaining an extraordinary command, as opposed to a reason.

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    One of the Undutchables Member The Stranger's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Thanx, this is very helpful

    Maybe you also know what kind of impact the military reforms of Constatine the great had (limitanei and comitatenses). I know it kinda was one of the reasons the empire survived for another century.

    Also; what kind of army was the "New model army of the late empire"

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Basically the limitanei were "static" frontier garrisons - essentially local milita formations whose job was to deal with minor incursions and delay major ones. The comitanenses were conversely partly a developement of the old professional legions and partly local "big men's" private armies (to keep them safe from their political rivals and their armies natch - not that the old legions hadn't had this role too), full-time mobile forces that acted as a strategic reserve that reacted to problems the limitanei of threatened areas couldn't habdle by themselves and who also formed the backbone for foreign offensives.
    Last edited by Watchman; 05-25-2007 at 17:03.
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    Sovereign Oppressor Member TIE Fighter Shooter Champion, Turkey Shoot Champion, Juggler Champion Kralizec's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Quote Originally Posted by The Stranger
    And what about the change of hoplite warfare to the acer triplex with the hastati, principes and triari.
    In the 4th century BC, the Sennones (a Gallic people) sacked and plundered Etruria and Rome (wich was already independent)
    This disaster forced them to rethink how their army should operate. Most of the inspiration, and the scutum shield, came from the Samnite tribes in southern Italy, though the Samnites fought with only one line of reserve plus skirmishers IIRC.

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    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    The fact that the Greek-style hoplite phalanxes kinda sucked in the rugged terrain of Samnite territory, and the Samnite proto-maniples didn't, doubtless also kind of had an influence given how much the Romans had to fight with those guys.
    "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. --- Proof of the existence of the FSM, if needed, can be found in the recent uptick of global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Apparently His Pastaness is to be worshipped in full pirate regalia. The decline in worldwide pirate population over the past 200 years directly corresponds with the increase in global temperature. Here is a graph to illustrate the point."

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    Sovereign Oppressor Member TIE Fighter Shooter Champion, Turkey Shoot Champion, Juggler Champion Kralizec's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Greece isn't flat either. The Greeks though generally engaged eachother on open plains because that was generally the most valuable land and it seems to have become tradition anyway, as noone bothered to rethink the hoplite concept till fairly late. The Samnites were an entirely different bunch.

  21. #21

    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Well I think Iphikrates came up with some changes. Also peltastai were more suited to difficult terrain.

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    One of the Undutchables Member The Stranger's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Quote Originally Posted by Watchman
    Basically the limitanei were "static" frontier garrisons - essentially local milita formations whose job was to deal with minor incursions and delay major ones. The comitanenses were conversely partly a developement of the old professional legions and partly local "big men's" private armies (to keep them safe from their political rivals and their armies natch - not that the old legions hadn't had this role too), full-time mobile forces that acted as a strategic reserve that reacted to problems the limitanei of threatened areas couldn't habdle by themselves and who also formed the backbone for foreign offensives.
    so the comitatenses were basicly the forerunners of the later armies of the feudal lords. They were private armies of generals and such untill a foreign offensive came along and they were merged.

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  23. #23
    Ming the Merciless is my idol Senior Member Watchman's Avatar
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    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    Not really, by what I know of it. The feudal hosts were based on the personal retainers of landlords, often sub-feoffed minor landlords themselves, and only called to arms when necessary. The European version of the theme traces its ancestry mostly to the sworn household troops of Germanic kings and nobles.
    The comitatenses were full-time professionals still to at least some degree paid by the central governement, even if they now in practice tended to answer to a local strongman when the push came to shove. It must be remembered that they were mobilized for foreign campaigns far from their normal base areas after all.
    Last edited by Watchman; 05-30-2007 at 22:32.
    "Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. --- Proof of the existence of the FSM, if needed, can be found in the recent uptick of global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. Apparently His Pastaness is to be worshipped in full pirate regalia. The decline in worldwide pirate population over the past 200 years directly corresponds with the increase in global temperature. Here is a graph to illustrate the point."

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  24. #24

    Default Re: The influence of politics on the Roman Army and vica versa

    As far as private armies, I think those were the so-called bucellarii

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