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The Roman army (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...
: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of
Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
, from the
Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilis ...
(to c. 500 BC) to the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
(500–31 BC) and the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
(31 BC–395 AD), and its medieval continuation, the
Eastern Roman Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Eastern Roman Empire
(historiographically known as the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
). It is thus a term that may span approximately 2,205 years (753 BC–1453 AD), during which the Roman armed forces underwent numerous permutations in composition, organisation, equipment and tactics, while conserving a core of lasting traditions.


Historical overview


Early Roman army (c. 500 BC to c. 300 BC)

The
early Roman armyThe Early Roman army was deployed by ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th ce ...
was the armed forces of the
Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the earliest period of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilis ...
and of the early
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
. During this period, when warfare chiefly consisted of small-scale plundering raids, it has been suggested that the army followed
Etruscan__NOTOC__ Etruscan may refer to: Ancient civilisation *The Etruscan language, an extinct language in ancient Italy *Something derived from or related to the Etruscan civilization **Etruscan architecture **Etruscan art **Etruscan cities **Etruscan ...
or
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
models of organisation and equipment. The early Roman army was based on an annual levy. The army consisted of 3,000
infantrymen at the Battle of the Somme The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Euro ...

infantrymen
and 300
cavalrymen
cavalrymen
. All of which were
Equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative ...
. The
Latins The Latins were originally an Italic tribe in ancient central Italy from Latium Latium ( , ; ) is the region of central western Italy in which the city of Rome was founded and grew to be the capital city of the Roman Empire. Definition La ...
,
Sabines The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; grc, Σαβῖνοι ''Sabĩnoi''; it, Sabini, all exonyms) were an Italic peoples, Italic people that lived in the central Apennine Mountains of the ancient Italian Peninsula, also inhabiting Latium north of the An ...
, and
Etruscans The Etruscan civilization () of List of ancient peoples of Italy, ancient Italy covered a territory, at its greatest extent, of roughly what is now Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio, as well as what are now the Po Valley, Emilia-Romagna ...
under the Roman state would each provide an extra 1,000 soldiers and 100 cavalrymen. King Servius of Rome would institute the Servian reforms. These would divide the population into five classes. Each of which would have different roles in the military. The first class could afford to have a
cuirass A cuirass (; french: cuirasse, la, coriaceus) is a piece of armour that is formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material which covers the torso. The word originates from the original material; leather, from the French ' ...
, greaves, a
shield A shield is a piece of personal armour held in the hand, which may or may not be strapped to the wrist or forearm. Shields are used to intercept specific attacks, whether from melee weapon, close-ranged weaponry or projectiles such as arrows, ...
, a
sword A sword is an edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife A knife (plural knives; from Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Ge ...

sword
, and a
spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

spear
. The second class had greaves, a shield, a sword, and a spear. The third class could only afford to have the shield, a sword, and a spear. The fourth class had a shield and a spear. The fifth class would only be slingers. Any poorer citizen, called
Capite Censi ''Capite censi'' were literally, in Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the ...
would have no weapons. The Capite Censi would not serve in the army unless it was an emergency. The infantry ranks were filled with the lower classes while the cavalry (''
equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative ...
'' or ''
celeres__NoToC__ The celeres were the bodyguard of the Kings of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the t ...
'') were left to the
patricians The patricians (from la, patriciusPatricius may refer to: People * Patricius (consul 500), prominent East Roman general and consul *Patricius (jurist), 5th-century Roman jurist * Patricius (usurper) (died 352), leader of the Jewish revolt aga ...
, because the wealthier could afford horses. Moreover, the commanding authority during the regal period was the king. When the army of Rome would be brought together on the
Campus Martius 300px, The Pantheon, a landmark of the Campus Martius since ancient Rome. The Campus Martius (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally ...

Campus Martius
it was called the
Comitia Curiata The Curiate Assembly (''comitia curiata'') was the principal assembly that evolved in shape and form over the course of the Roman Kingdom The Roman Kingdom, also referred to as the Roman monarchy, or the regal period of ancient Rome, was the ...
. Until the establishment of the Roman Republic and the office of
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...

consul
, the king assumed the role of commander-in-chief. However, from about 508 BC Rome no longer had a king. The commanding position of the army was given to the consuls, "who were charged both singly and jointly to take care to preserve the Republic from danger". The term legion is derived from the Latin word ''legio''; which ultimately means draft or levy. At first there were only four
Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC– ...

Roman legion
s. These legions were numbered "I" to "IIII", with the fourth being written as such and not "IV". The first legion was seen as the most prestigious. The bulk of the army was made up of citizens. These citizens could not choose the legion to which they were allocated. Any man "from ages 16–46 were selected by ballot" and assigned to a legion. Until the Roman military disaster of 390 BC at the
Battle of the Allia The Battle of the Allia was a battle fought between the Senones – a Gauls, Gallic tribe led by Brennus (4th century BC), Brennus who had invaded northern Italy – and the Roman Republic. The battle was fought at the confluence of the Tiber a ...
, Rome's army was organised similarly to the Greek
phalanx The phalanx ( grc, φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, , ) was a rectangular In Euclidean plane geometry, a rectangle is a quadrilateral A quadrilateral is a polygon in Euclidean geometry, Euclidean plane geometry with four Edge ...

phalanx
. This was due to Greek influence in Italy "by way of their colonies". Patricia Southern quotes ancient historians
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
and
Dionysius The name Dionysius (; el, Διονύσιος ''Dionysios'', "of Dionysus Dionysus (; grc-gre, Διόνυσος) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking and wine, of fertility, orchards and fruit, vegetation, insanity, ritual madness, r ...
in saying that the "phalanx consisted of 3,000 infantry and 300 cavalry". Each man had to provide their equipment in battle; the military equipment which they could afford determined which position they took in the battle. Politically they shared the same ranking system in the
Comitia Centuriata The Centuriate Assembly (Latin: ''comitia centuriata'') of the Roman Republic was one of the three voting assemblies in the Roman constitution. It was named the Centuriate Assembly as it originally divided Roman citizens into groups of one hundred m ...

Comitia Centuriata
.


Roman army of the mid-Republic (c. 300–88 BC)

The Roman army of the mid-Republic was also known as the "manipular army", or the "Polybian army", after the Greek historian
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the ...

Polybius
, who provides the most detailed extant description of this phase. The Roman army started to have a full-time strength of 150,000 at all times and 3/4 of the rest were levied. During this period, the Romans, while maintaining the levy system, adopted the
SamniteSamnite is an adjective meaning "having to do with ancient Samnium." Samnite may also refer to: * Samnites, the people of ancient Samnium * Samnite (gladiator type), a gladiator who fought with the equipment and in the manner of a Samnite soldier * ...

Samnite
manipular organisation for their legions and also bound all the other peninsular Italian states into a permanent military alliance (see ''
Socii The ''socii'' ( in English) or ''foederati ''Foederati'' (, singular: ''foederatus'' ) were peoples and cities bound by a treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually ent ...
''). The latter were required to supply (collectively) roughly the same number of troops to joint forces as the Romans to serve under Roman command. Legions in this phase were always accompanied on campaign by the same number of allied '' alae'' (Roman non-citizen auxiliaries), units of roughly the same size as legions. After the
Second Punic War The Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to 201BC, was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading ...

Second Punic War
(218–201 BC), the Romans acquired an overseas empire, which necessitated standing forces to fight lengthy wars of conquest and to garrison the newly gained provinces. Thus the army's character mutated from a temporary force based entirely on short-term conscription to a
standing army A standing army is a permanent, often professional, army. It is composed of full-time soldiers who may be either career soldiers or conscripts. It differs from Military reserve force, army reserves, who are enrolled for the long term, but activate ...
in which the conscripts were supplemented by a large number of volunteers willing to serve for much longer than the legal six-year limit. These volunteers were mainly from the poorest social class, who did not have plots to tend at home and were attracted by the modest military pay and the prospect of a share of war booty. The minimum property requirement for service in the legions, which had been suspended during the Second Punic War, was effectively ignored from 201 BC onward in order to recruit sufficient volunteers. Between 150 BC and 100 BC, the manipular structure was gradually phased out, and the much larger
cohort Cohort or cohortes may refer to: * Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum * Cohort (floating point), a set of different encodings of the same numerical value * Cohort (military unit), ...
became the main tactical unit. In addition, from the Second Punic War onward, Roman armies were always accompanied by units of non-Italian mercenaries, such as
Numidian cavalryImage:Numidian cavalry.png, a Numidian Cavalryman Numidian cavalry was a type of light cavalry developed by the Numidians. After they were used by Hannibal during the Second Punic War, they were described by the Roman historian Livy as "by far the be ...

Numidian cavalry
,
Cretan archers Cretan Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern Greek, Modern: , Ancient Greek, Ancient: '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the List of islands by area, 88th largest island in the world and the List of islands in the ...
, and Balearic slingers, who provided specialist functions that Roman armies had previously lacked.


Roman army of the late Republic (88–30 BC)

The
Roman army of the late Republic The Roman army of the late Republic refers to the armed forces deployed by the late Roman Republic, from the beginning of the first century B.C. until the establishment of the Imperial Roman army by Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 ...
(88–30 BC) marks the continued transition from the conscription-based citizen levy of the mid-Republic to the mainly volunteer, professional standing forces of the imperial era. The main literary sources for the army's organisation and tactics in this phase are the works of
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
, the most notable of a series of warlords who contested for power in this period. As a result of the Social War (91–88 BC), all fellow Italians were granted
Roman citizenship Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its ci ...
, the old allied ''alae'' were thereby abolished and their members integrated into the legions. Regular annual conscription remained in force and continued to provide the core of legionary recruitment, but an ever-increasing proportion of recruits were volunteers, who signed up for 16-year terms as opposed to the maximum 6 years for conscripts. The loss of ''ala'' cavalry reduced Roman/Italian cavalry by 75%, and legions became dependent on allied native horse for cavalry cover. This period saw the large-scale expansion of native forces employed to complement the legions, made up of '' numeri'' ("units") recruited from tribes within Rome's overseas empire and neighbouring allied tribes. Large numbers of
heavy infantry Heavy infantry consisted of heavily armed and armoured infantrymen who were trained to mount frontal assaults and/or anchor the defensive center of a battle line. This differentiated them from light infantry Light infantry is a designa ...
and cavalry were recruited in the Roman Provinces of
Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testame ...

Hispania
,
Gallia Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. Beginning with foreign exploration during the Age of Discovery, roughly fr ...

Gallia
and
Thracia 250px, Roman empire under Hadrian (ruled 117–38), showing the imperial province of Thracia in southeastern Europe. Thracia or Thrace ( ''Thrakē'') is the ancient name given to the southeastern Balkans, Balkan region, the land inhabited by ...
, and
archer Archery is the art, sport, practice, or skill of using a bow to shoot arrows.Paterson ''Encyclopaedia of Archery'' p. 17 The word comes from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic ...

archer
s from the
Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct Amer ...

Eastern Mediterranean
, (mostly from
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
,
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
and
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...

Syria
). However, these native units were not integrated with the legions, but retained their own traditional leadership, organisation, armour and weapons.


Imperial Roman army (30 BC–AD 284)

During this period, the Republican system of citizen conscription was replaced by a standing professional army of mainly volunteers serving standard 20-year terms (plus five years as reservists), although many in the service of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
would serve as many as 30 to 40 years on active duty, as established by the first
Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Politica ...
,
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
(sole ruler 30 BC–14 AD). Regular annual conscription of citizens was abandoned and only decreed in emergencies (e.g. during the Illyrian revolt of 6–9 AD). Under Augustus, there were 28 legions, consisting almost entirely of heavy infantry, with about 5,000 men each (total 125,000). This had increased to a peak of 33 legions of about 5,500 men each (c. 180,000 men in total) by 200 AD under
Septimius Severus Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa (Roman province), Africa. As a young man he advanced thro ...
. Legions continued to recruit
Roman citizens Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its c ...
, mainly the inhabitants of Italy and
Roman colonies Colonies in antiquity were post-Iron Age city-states founded from a mother-city (its "metropolis"), not from a territory-at-large. Bonds between a colony and its metropolis remained often close, and took specific forms during the period of classica ...
, until 212. Legions were flanked by the
auxilia The lat, Auxilia (: , lit. "auxiliaries") were introduced as non-citizen troops attached to the citizen by after his reorganisation of the from 30 BC. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions ...
, a corps of regular troops recruited mainly from ''
peregrini ''Peregrinus'' (Latin: ) was the term used during the early Roman empire, from 30 BC to AD 212, to denote a free provincial subject of the Empire who was not a Roman citizen. ''Peregrini'' constituted the vast majority of the Empire's inhabitants ...
'', imperial subjects who did not hold Roman citizenship (the great majority of the empire's inhabitants until 212, when all were granted citizenship). Auxiliaries, who served a minimum term of 25 years, were also mainly volunteers, but regular conscription of ''peregrini'' was employed for most of the 1st century AD. Under Augustus, the ''auxilia'' consisted of about 250 regiments of roughly
cohort Cohort or cohortes may refer to: * Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum * Cohort (floating point), a set of different encodings of the same numerical value * Cohort (military unit), ...
size, that is, about 500 men (in total 125,000 men, or 50% of the total army). Under Septimius Severus, the number of regiments increased to about 400, of which about 13% were double-strength (250,000 men, or 60% of total army). ''Auxilia'' contained heavy infantry equipped similarly to legionaries, almost all of the army's cavalry (both armoured and light), archers and slingers.


Later Roman army (284–476 AD) continuing as East Roman army (476–641 AD)

The
Late Roman army In modern scholarship, the "late" period of the Roman army begins with the accession of the Emperor Diocletian in AD 284, and ends in 476 with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus, being roughly coterminous with the Dominate. During the period ...
period stretches from (284–476 AD and its continuation, in the surviving eastern half of the empire, as the
East Roman army The East Roman army refers to the army of the eastern section of the Roman Empire, from the empire's definitive split in 395 AD to the army's reorganization by themes after the permanent loss of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūr ...
to 641). In this phase, crystallised by the reforms of the emperor
Diocletian Diocletian (; la, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus; born Diocles; 22 December c. 244 – 3 December 311) was from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in , Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become a commander of ...
(ruled 284–305 AD), the Roman army returned to regular annual conscription of citizens, while admitting large numbers of non-citizen
barbarian A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Bioc ...

barbarian
volunteers. However, soldiers remained 25-year professionals and did not return to the short-term levies of the Republic. The old dual organisation of legions and auxilia was abandoned, with citizens and non-citizens now serving in the same units. The old legions were broken up into cohorts or even smaller units. At the same time, a substantial proportion of the army's effectives were stationed in the interior of the empire, in the form of '' comitatus praesentales'', armies that escorted the emperors.


Middle Byzantine army (641–1081 AD)

The Middle Byzantine army (641–1081 AD) was the army of the Byzantine state in its classical form (i.e. after the permanent loss of its Near Eastern and North African territories to the
Arab conquests The early Muslim conquests ( ar, الفتوحات الإسلامية, ''al-Futūḥāt al-Islāmiyya''), also referred to as the Arab conquests and the early Islamic conquests began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad ) , birth_date ...
after 641 AD). This army was largely composed of semi-professional troops (soldier-farmers) based on the
themata The themes or ( el, θέματα, , singular: , ) were the main military/administrative divisions of the middle Byzantine Empire. They were established in the mid-7th century in the aftermath of the Slavic invasion of the Balkans and Muslim conq ...
military provinces, supplemented by a small core of professional regiments known as the '' tagmata''. Ibn al-Fakih estimated the strength of the themata forces in the East c. 902 at 85,000 and Kodama c. 930 at 70,000. This structure pertained when the empire was on the defensive, in the 10th century the empire was increasingly involved in territorial expansion, and the themata troops became progressively more irrelevant, being gradually replaced by 'provincial tagmata' units and an increased use of mercenaries.


Komnenian Byzantine army (1081–1204)

The
Komnenian Byzantine army The Byzantine army of the Komnenian era or Komnenian army was the force established by Byzantine Empire, Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos during the late 11th/early 12th century, and perfected by his successors John II Komnenos and Manuel I ...
was named after the
Komnenos Komnenos ( gr, Κομνηνός; Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s ...
dynasty, which ruled from 1081 to 1185. This was an army built virtually from scratch after the permanent loss of half of Byzantium's traditional main recruiting ground of
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
to the Turks following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, and the destruction of the last regiments of the old army in the wars against the Normans in the early 1080s. It survived until the fall of Constantinople to the Western crusaders in 1204. This army had a large number of
mercenary A mercenary, sometimes known as a soldier of fortune, is a private individual, particularly a soldier, who takes part in military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societi ...

mercenary
regiments composed of troops of foreign origin such as the
Varangian Guard The Varangian Guard ( el, Τάγμα τῶν Βαράγγων, ''Tágma tōn Varángōn'') was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to ...
, and the ''
pronoia The ''pronoia'' (plural ''pronoiai''; Greek language, Greek: πρόνοια, meaning "care" or "forethought") was a system of granting dedicated streams of state income to individuals and institutions in the late Byzantine Empire. Beginning in t ...
'' system was introduced.


Palaiologan Byzantine army (1261–1453)

The
Palaiologan Byzantine army The Palaiologan army refers to Byzantine army, the military forces of the Byzantine Empire under the Byzantine Empire under the Palaiologoi, rule of the Palaiologos dynasty, from the late 13th century to its final collapse in the mid-15th century. T ...
was named after the
Palaiologos The Palaiologos ( Palaiologoi; grc-gre, Παλαιολόγος, pl. , female version Palaiologina; grc-gre, Παλαιολογίνα), also found in English-language literature as Palaeologus or Palaeologue, was a Byzantine Greek Medie ...
dynasty (1261–1453), which ruled Byzantium from the recovery of Constantinople from the Crusaders until its fall to the Turks in 1453. Initially, it continued some practices inherited from the Komnenian era and retained a strong native element until the late 13th century. During the last century of its existence, however, the empire was little more than a city-state that hired foreign mercenary bands for its defence. Thus the Byzantine army finally lost any meaningful connection with the standing imperial Roman army. This article contains the summaries of the detailed linked articles on the historical phases above, Readers seeking discussion of the Roman army by theme, rather than by chronological phase, should consult the following articles: History *
Campaign history of the Roman military From its origin as a city-state on the peninsula of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, delimited by the Alps, a I ...
*
Structural history of the Roman military The structural history of the Roman military concerns the major transformations in the organization and constitution of ancient Rome's Military of ancient Rome, armed forces, "the most effective and long-lived military institution known to histo ...
Corps *
Praetorian Guard The Praetorian Guard (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
*
Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC– ...

Roman legion
*
Roman auxiliaries The lat, Auxilia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the R ...
*
Roman cavalry Roman cavalry (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, i ...
Strategy and tactics *
Defence-in-depth (Roman military) Defence-in-depth is the term used by American political analyst Edward Luttwak Edward Nicolae Luttwak (born 4 November 1942) is a strategist and historian known for his works on grand strategy, geoeconomics, military history Military his ...
*
Roman infantry tactics Roman infantry tactics refers to the theoretical and historical deployment, formation, and manoeuvres of the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder ...
Equipment & other * Roman military equipment *
Roman military decorations and punishments As with most other military forces the Roman military adopted an extensive list of decorations for military gallantry and likewise a range of punishments for military transgressions. Decorations, awards and victory titles Crowns * Grass crown ...
Some of the Roman army's many tactics are still used in modern-day armies today.


Early Roman army (c. 550 to c. 300 BC)

Until c. 550 BC, there was no "national" Roman army, but a series of clan-based war-bands which only coalesced into a united force in periods of serious external threat. Around 550 BC, during the period conventionally known as the rule of king
Servius Tullius Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest in its class. Historically, the two d ...
, it appears that a universal levy of eligible adult male citizens was instituted. This development apparently coincided with the introduction of heavy armour for most of the infantry. Although originally low in numbers the Roman infantry was extremely tactical and developed some of the most influential battle strategies to date. The early Roman army was based on a compulsory levy from adult male citizens which was held at the start of each campaigning season, in those years that war was declared. There were no standing or professional forces. During the Regal Era (to c. 500 BC), the standard levy was probably of 9,000 men, consisting of 6,000 heavily armed infantry (probably Greek-style
hoplites Hoplites () ( grc, ὁπλίτης : hoplítēs) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa' ...

hoplites
), plus 2,400 light-armed infantry (''
rorarii ''Rorarii'' were soldiers who formed the final lines, or else provided a reserve thereby, in the ancient pre- Marian Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A ...
'', later called ''
velites ''Velites'' (singular: ) were a class of infantry Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored warfare, armored forces. A ...
'') and 600 light cavalry (''equites celeres''). When the kings were replaced by two annually elected ''
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the granted by the government of to a man acting in one of two official capacities: (i) the commander of an , and (ii) as an elected ' (magistrate), assigned to discharge various duties. The functions of the magi ...
es'' in c. 500 BC, the standard levy remained of the same size, but was now divided equally between the Praetors, each commanding one
legion Legion may refer to: Military * Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic b ...

legion
of 4,500 men. It is likely that the hoplite element was deployed in a Greek-style
phalanx formation The phalanx ( grc, φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, , ) was a rectangular mass military tactical formation, formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pike (weapon), pikes, sarissas, or similar pole weap ...
in large set-piece battles. However, these were relatively rare, with most fighting consisting of small-scale border-raids and skirmishing. In these, the Romans would fight in their basic tactical unit, the ''
centuria ''Centuria'' (, plural ''centuriae'') is a Latin term (from the stem ''centum'' meaning one hundred) denoting military units originally consisting of 100 men. The size of the century changed over time, and from the first century BC through most o ...
'' of 100 men. In addition, separate clan-based forces remained in existence until c. 450 BC at least, although they would operate under the Praetors' authority, at least nominally. In 493 BC, shortly after the establishment of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
, Rome concluded a perpetual treaty of military alliance (the ''
foedus Cassianum According to Roman tradition, the ''Foedus Cassianum'' ( in English) or the Treaty of Cassius was a treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign stat ...
''), with the combined other
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
city-states. The treaty, probably motivated by the need for the Latins to deploy a united defence against incursions by neighbouring hill-tribes, provided for each party to provide an equal force for campaigns under unified command. It remained in force until 358 BC.


Roman army of the mid-Republic (c. 300 – 107 BC)

The central feature of the Roman army of the mid-Republic, or the Polybian army, was the manipular organization of its battle-line. Instead of a single, large mass (the
phalanx The phalanx ( grc, φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, , ) was a rectangular In Euclidean plane geometry, a rectangle is a quadrilateral A quadrilateral is a polygon in Euclidean geometry, Euclidean plane geometry with four Edge ...
) as in the
Early Roman armyThe Early Roman army was deployed by ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th ce ...
, the Romans now drew up in three lines consisting of small units (maniples) of 120 men, arrayed in chessboard fashion, giving much greater tactical strength and flexibility. This structure was probably introduced in c. 300 BC during the
Samnite Wars The First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars (343–341 BC, 326–304 BC, and 298–290 BC) were fought between the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with t ...
. Also probably dating from this period was the regular accompaniment of each legion by a non-citizen formation of roughly equal size, the '' ala'', recruited from Rome's Italian allies, or ''
socii The ''socii'' ( in English) or ''foederati ''Foederati'' (, singular: ''foederatus'' ) were peoples and cities bound by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law Internationa ...
''. The latter were approximately 150 autonomous states which were bound by a treaty of perpetual military alliance with Rome. Their sole obligation was to supply to the Roman army, on demand, a number of fully equipped troops up to a specified maximum each year. The
Second Punic War The Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to 201BC, was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading ...

Second Punic War
(218–201 BC) saw the addition of a third element to the existing dual Roman/Italian structure: non-Italian mercenaries with specialist skills lacking in the legions and ''alae'': , Cretan archers, and slingers from the
Balearic islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea contai ...

Balearic islands
. From this time, these units always accompanied Roman armies. The Republican army of this period, like its earlier forebear, did not maintain standing or professional military forces, but levied them, by compulsory conscription, as required for each campaigning season and disbanded thereafter (although formations could be kept in being over winter during major wars). The standard levy was doubled during the
Samnite Wars The First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars (343–341 BC, 326–304 BC, and 298–290 BC) were fought between the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with t ...
to 4 legions (2 per Consul), for a total of c. 18,000 Roman troops and 4 allied ''alae'' of similar size. Service in the legions was limited to property-owning Roman citizens, normally those known as ''iuniores'' (age 16–46). The army's senior officers, including its commanders-in-chief, the
Roman Consuls A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic (509 to 27 BC), and ancient Romans considered the consulship the highest level of the ''cursus honorum'' (an ascending sequence of public offices to which politicians aspired ...
, were all elected annually at the People's Assembly. Only ''
equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative ...
'' (members of the Roman knightly order) were eligible to serve as senior officers. ''Iuniores'' of the highest social classes (''equites'' and the First Class of commoners) provided the legion's cavalry, the other classes the legionary infantry. The ''proletarii'' (those assessed at under 400 ''drachmae'' wealth) were ineligible for legionary service and were assigned to the fleets as oarsmen. Elders, vagrants, freedmen, slaves and convicts were excluded from the military levy, save in emergencies. The legionary cavalry also changed, probably around 300 BC onwards from the light, unarmoured horse of the early army to a heavy force with metal armour (bronze cuirasses and, later, chain-mail shirts). Contrary to a long-held view, the cavalry of the mid-Republic was a highly effective force that generally prevailed against strong enemy cavalry forces (both Gallic and Greek) until it was decisively beaten by the Carthaginian general
Hannibal Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, ''Ḥannibaʿl''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern ...

Hannibal
's horsemen during the second Punic War. This was due to Hannibal's greater operational flexibility owing to his Numidian light cavalry. The Polybian army's operations during its existence can be divided into three broad phases. (1) The struggle for hegemony over Italy, especially against the Samnite League (338–264 BC); (2) the struggle with
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...

Carthage
for hegemony in the western Mediterranean Sea (264–201 BC); and (3) the struggle against the
Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31  ...

Hellenistic
monarchies for control of the eastern Mediterranean (201–91 BC). During the earlier phase, the normal size of the levy (including allies) was in the region of 40,000 men (2 consular armies of c. 20,000 men each). During the latter phase, with lengthy wars of conquest followed by permanent military occupation of overseas provinces, the character of the army necessarily changed from a temporary force based entirely on short-term conscription to a standing army in which the conscripts, whose service was in this period limited by law to 6 consecutive years, were complemented by large numbers of volunteers who were willing to serve for much longer periods. Many of the volunteers were drawn from the poorest social class, which until the 2nd Punic War had been excluded from service in the legions by the minimum property requirement: during that war, extreme manpower needs had forced the army to ignore the requirement, and this practice continued thereafter. Maniples were gradually phased out as the main tactical unit, and replaced by the larger
cohort Cohort or cohortes may refer to: * Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum * Cohort (floating point), a set of different encodings of the same numerical value * Cohort (military unit), ...
s used in the allied ''alae'', a process probably complete by the time the general Marius assumed command in 107 BC. (The "
Marian reforms The Marian reforms were reforms of the ancient Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC–395 AD), and its mediev ...
" of the army hypothesised by some scholars are today seen by other scholars as having evolved earlier and more gradually.) In the period after the defeat of Carthage in 201 BC, the army was campaigning exclusively outside Italy, resulting in its men being away from their home plots of land for many years at a stretch. They were assuaged by the large amounts of booty that they shared after victories in the rich eastern theatre. But in Italy, the ever-increasing concentration of public lands in the hands of big landowners, and the consequent displacement of the soldiers' families, led to great unrest and demands for land redistribution. This was successfully achieved, but resulted in the disaffection of Rome's Italian allies, who as non-citizens were excluded from the redistribution. This led to the mass revolt of the ''socii'' and the Social War (91-88 BC). The result was the grant of Roman citizenship to all Italians and the end of the Polybian army's dual structure: the ''alae'' were abolished and the ''socii'' recruited into the legions.


Imperial Roman army (30 BC – AD 284)

Under the founder–emperor
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...

Augustus
(ruled 30 BC – 14 AD), the , c. 5,000-strong all-heavy infantry formations recruited from
Roman citizens Citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its c ...
only, were transformed from a mixed conscript and volunteer corps serving an average of 10 years, to all-volunteer units of long-term professionals serving a standard 25-year term (conscription was only decreed in emergencies). In the later 1st century, the size of a legion's First Cohort was doubled, increasing legionary personnel to c. 5,500. Alongside the legions, Augustus established the
auxilia The lat, Auxilia (: , lit. "auxiliaries") were introduced as non-citizen troops attached to the citizen by after his reorganisation of the from 30 BC. By the 2nd century, the Auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions ...
, a regular corps of similar numbers to the legions, recruited from the ''
peregrini ''Peregrinus'' (Latin: ) was the term used during the early Roman empire, from 30 BC to AD 212, to denote a free provincial subject of the Empire who was not a Roman citizen. ''Peregrini'' constituted the vast majority of the Empire's inhabitants ...
'' (non-citizen inhabitants of the empire – about 90% of the empire's population in the 1st century). As well as comprising large numbers of extra heavy infantry equipped in a similar manner to legionaries, the auxilia provided virtually all the army's cavalry (heavy and light), light infantry, archers and other specialists. The auxilia were organised in c. 500-strong units called ''cohortes'' (all-infantry), ''alae'' (all-cavalry) and ''cohortes equitatae'' (infantry with a cavalry contingent attached). Around 80 AD, a minority of auxiliary regiments were doubled in size. Until about 68 AD, the auxilia were recruited by a mix of conscription and voluntary enlistment. After that time, the auxilia became largely a volunteer corps, with conscription resorted to only in emergencies. Auxiliaries were required to serve a minimum of 25 years, although many served for longer periods. On completion of their minimum term, auxiliaries were awarded Roman citizenship, which carried important legal, fiscal and social advantages. Alongside the regular forces, the army of the Principate employed allied native units (called ''numeri'') from outside the empire on a mercenary basis. These were led by their own aristocrats and equipped in traditional fashion. Numbers fluctuated according to circumstances and are largely unknown. As all-citizen formations, and symbolic guarantors of the dominance of the Italian hegemony, legions enjoyed greater social prestige than the auxilia. This was reflected in better pay and benefits. In addition, legionaries were equipped with more expensive and protective armour than auxiliaries. However, in 212, the emperor
Caracalla Caracalla ( ; 4 April 188 – 8 April 217), formally known as Antoninus (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus), was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. He was a member of the Severan dynasty, the elder son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. Co-ruler ...

Caracalla
granted Roman citizenship to all the empire's inhabitants. At this point, the distinction between legions and auxilia became moot, the latter becoming all-citizen units also. The change was reflected in the disappearance, during the 3rd century, of legionaries' special equipment, and the progressive break-up of legions into cohort-sized units like the auxilia. By the end of Augustus' reign, the imperial army numbered some 250,000 men, equally split between legionaries and auxiliaries (25 legions and c. 250 auxiliary regiments). The numbers grew to a peak of about 450,000 by 211 (33 legions and c. 400 auxiliary regiments). By then, auxiliaries outnumbered legionaries substantially. From the peak, numbers probably underwent a steep decline by 270 due to plague and losses during multiple major barbarian invasions. Numbers were restored to their early 2nd-century level of c. 400,000 (but probably not to their 211 peak) under
Diocletian Diocletian (; la, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus; born Diocles; 22 December c. 244 – 3 December 311) was from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in , Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become a commander of ...
(r. 284–305). After the empire's borders became settled (on the
Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many s ...

Rhine
-
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
line in Europe) by 68, virtually all military units (except the Praetorian Guard) were stationed on or near the borders, in roughly 17 of the 42
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
of the empire in the reign of
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of Atri, Abruzzo, Atri in Picenum. Hi ...

Hadrian
(r. 117–38). The military chain of command was relatively uniform across the Empire. In each province, the deployed legions' ''legati'' (legion commanders, who also controlled the auxiliary regiments attached to their legion) reported to the ''
legatus Augusti pro praetore A ''legatus Augusti pro praetore'' (literally: "envoy of the emperor – acting for the praetor") was the official title of the governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the Executive (government), executi ...
'' (provincial governor), who also headed the civil administration. The governor in turn reported direct to the emperor in Rome. There was no army general staff in Rome, but the leading ''
praefectus praetorio The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders bec ...
'' (commander of the Praetorian Guard) often acted as the emperor's ''de facto'' military chief-of-staff. Legionary rankers were relatively well-paid, compared to contemporary common labourers. Compared with their subsistence-level peasant families, they enjoyed considerable disposable income, enhanced by periodic cash bonuses on special occasions such as the accession of a new emperor. In addition, on completion of their term of service, they were given a generous discharge bonus equivalent to 13 years' salary. Auxiliaries were paid much less in the early 1st century, but by 100 AD, the differential had virtually disappeared. Similarly, in the earlier period, auxiliaries appear not to have received cash and discharge bonuses, but probably did so from Hadrian onwards. Junior officers (''principales''), the equivalent of
non-commissioned officer A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not pursued a commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commi ...
s in modern armies, could expect to earn up to twice basic pay. Legionary
centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is ...

centurion
s, the equivalent of mid-level commissioned officers, were organised in an elaborate hierarchy. Usually risen from the ranks, they commanded the legion's tactical sub-units of ''
centuriae ''Centuria'' (, plural ''centuriae'') is a Latin term (from the stem ''centum'' meaning one hundred) denoting military units consisting of (originally) 100 men. The size of the century changed over time and from the first century B.C.E. throughou ...
'' (c. 80 men) and
cohort Cohort or cohortes may refer to: * Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum * Cohort (floating point), a set of different encodings of the same numerical value * Cohort (military unit), ...
s (c. 480 men). They were paid several multiples of basic pay. The most senior centurion, the ''primus pilus'', was elevated to
equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian sports, Equestrian sports *Equestrianism, ...
rank upon completion of his single-year term of office. The senior officers of the army, the ''legati legionis'' (legion commanders), '' tribuni militum'' (legion staff officers) and the '' praefecti'' (commanders of auxiliary regiments) were all of at least equestrian rank. In the 1st and early 2nd centuries, they were mainly Italian aristocrats performing the military component of their ''
cursus honorum The ''cursus honorum'' (; , or more colloquially 'ladder of offices') was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the cla ...
'' (conventional career-path). Later, provincial career officers became predominant. Senior officers were paid enormous salaries, multiples of at least 50 times basic. A typical Roman army during this period consisted of five to six legions. One legion was made up of 10 cohorts. The first cohort had five centuria each of 160 soldiers. In the second through tenth cohorts there were six centuria of 80 men each. These do not include archers, cavalry or officers. Soldiers spent only a fraction of their lives on campaign. Most of their time was spent on routine military duties such as training, patrolling, and maintenance of equipment etc. Soldiers also played an important role outside the military sphere. They performed the function of a provincial governor's police force. As a large, disciplined and skilled force of fit men, they played a crucial role in the construction of a province's Roman military and civil infrastructure: in addition to constructing forts and fortified defences such as
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provincia ...

Hadrian's Wall
, they built roads, bridges, ports, public buildings, entire new cities (Roman colonies), and also engaged in large-scale forest clearance and marsh drainage to expand the province's available arable land. Soldiers, mostly drawn from polytheistic societies, enjoyed wide freedom of worship in the polytheistic Roman system. They revered their own native deities, Roman deities and the local deities of the provinces in which they served. Only a few religions were banned by the Roman authorities, as being incompatible with the official Roman religion and/or politically subversive, notably
Druidism A druid was a member of the high-ranking class in ancient Celts, Celtic cultures. Druids were religious leaders as well as legal authorities, adjudicators, lorekeepers, medical professionals and political advisors. Druids left no written account ...
and
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
. The later Principate saw the rise in popularity among the military of Eastern
mystery cult Mystery religions, mystery cults, sacred mysteries or simply mysteries, were religious schools of the Greco-Roman world for which participation was reserved to initiation rite, initiates ''(mystai)''. The main characterization of this religion is ...
s, generally centred on one deity, and involving secret rituals divulged only to initiates. By far the most popular in the army was
Mithraism Mithraism, also known as the Mithraic mysteries, was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Ro ...
, an apparently
syncretist Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought A school of thought, or intellectual tradition, is the perspective of a group of people who share common characteristics of opinion or ou ...
religion which mainly originated in
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...

Asia Minor
.


Late Roman army/East Roman army (284–641)

The
Late Roman army In modern scholarship, the "late" period of the Roman army begins with the accession of the Emperor Diocletian in AD 284, and ends in 476 with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus, being roughly coterminous with the Dominate. During the period ...
is the term used to denote the military forces of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
from the accession of Emperor
Diocletian Diocletian (; la, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus; born Diocles; 22 December c. 244 – 3 December 311) was from 284 to 305. Born to a family of low status in , Diocletian rose through the ranks of the military to become a commander of ...
in 284 until the Empire's definitive division into Eastern and Western halves in 395. A few decades afterwards, the Western army disintegrated as the collapsed. The
East Roman army The East Roman army refers to the army of the eastern section of the Roman Empire, from the empire's definitive split in 395 AD to the army's reorganization by themes after the permanent loss of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūr ...
, on the other hand, continued intact and essentially unchanged until its reorganization by Theme (Byzantine administrative unit), themes and transformation into the Byzantine army in the 7th century. The term "late Roman army" is often used to include the East Roman army. The army of the Principate underwent a significant transformation, as a result of the chaotic 3rd century. Unlike the Principate army, the army of the 4th century was heavily dependent on conscription and its soldiers were more poorly remunerated than in the 2nd century. Barbarians from outside the empire probably supplied a much larger proportion of the late army's recruits than in the army of the 1st and 2nd centuries. The size of the 4th-century army is controversial. More dated scholars (e.g. A.H.M. Jones, writing in the 1960s) estimated the late army as much larger than the Principate army, half the size again or even as much as twice the size. With the benefit of archaeological discoveries of recent decades, many contemporary historians view the late army as no larger than its predecessor: under Diocletian c. 390,000 (the same as under Hadrian almost two centuries earlier) and under Constantine no greater, and probably somewhat smaller, than the Principate peak of c. 440,000. The main change in structure was the establishment of large armies that accompanied the emperors (''comitatus praesentales'') and were generally based away from the frontiers. Their primary function was to deter Usurper, usurpations. The were split up into smaller units comparable in size to the Auxiliaries (Roman military), auxiliary regiments of the Principate. In parallel, legionary armour and equipment were abandoned in favour of auxiliary equipment. Infantry adopted the more protective equipment of the Principate cavalry. The role of cavalry in the late army does not appear to have been enhanced as compared with the army of the Principate. The evidence is that cavalry was much the same proportion of overall army numbers as in the 2nd century and that its tactical role and prestige remained similar. Indeed, the cavalry acquired a reputation for incompetence and cowardice for their role in three major battles in mid-4th century. In contrast, the infantry retained its traditional reputation for excellence. The 3rd and 4th centuries saw the upgrading of many existing border forts to make them more defensible, as well as the construction of new forts with much higher defensive specifications. The interpretation of this trend has fuelled an ongoing debate whether the army adopted a defence-in-depth (Roman military), defence-in-depth strategy or continued the same posture of "forward defence" as in the early Principate. Many elements of the late army's defence posture were similar to those associated with forward defence, such as a looser forward location of forts, frequent cross-border operations, and external buffer-zones of allied barbarian tribes. Whatever the defence strategy, it was apparently less successful in preventing barbarian incursions than in the 1st and 2nd centuries. This may have been due to heavier barbarian pressure, and/or to the practice of keeping large armies of the best troops in the interior, depriving the border forces of sufficient support.


Byzantine army (641–1081)


Komnenian Byzantine army (1081–1204)

The Komnenian period marked a rebirth of the Komnenian Byzantine army, Byzantine army. At the beginning of the Komnenian period in 1081, the Byzantine Empire had been reduced to the smallest territorial extent. Surrounded by enemies, and financially ruined by a long period of civil war, the empire's prospects looked grim. At the beginning of the Komnenian period, the Byzantine army was reduced to a shadow of its former self: during the 11th century, decades of peace and neglect had reduced the old Theme (Byzantine district), thematic forces, and the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 had destroyed the professional ''tagma (military), tagmata'', the core of the Byzantine army. At Manzikert and later at Battle of Dyrrhachium (1081), Dyrrhachium, units tracing their lineage for centuries back to
Late Roman army In modern scholarship, the "late" period of the Roman army begins with the accession of the Emperor Diocletian in AD 284, and ends in 476 with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus, being roughly coterminous with the Dominate. During the period ...
were wiped out, and the subsequent loss of
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...

Asia Minor
deprived the Empire of its main recruiting ground. In the Balkans, at the same time, the Empire was exposed to invasions by the Normans, Norman Kingdom of Sicily, and by Pecheneg raids across the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
. The Byzantine army's nadir was reached in 1091, when Alexios I could manage to field only 500 soldiers from the Empire's professional forces. These formed the nucleus of the army, with the addition of the armed retainers of Alexios' relatives and the nobles enrolled in the army and the substantial aid of a large force of allied Cumans, which won the Battle of Levounion against the Pechenegs (Petcheneks or Patzinaks). Yet, through a combination of skill, determination and years of campaigning, Alexios, John and Manuel Komnenos managed to restore the power of the Byzantine Empire by constructing a new army from scratch. This process should not, however, at least in its earlier phases, be seen as a planned exercise in military restructuring. In particular, Alexios I was often reduced to reacting to events rather than controlling them; the changes he made to the Byzantine army were largely done out of immediate necessity and were pragmatic in nature. The new force had a core of units which were both professional and disciplined. It contained formidable guards units such as the Varangians, the ''Immortals (Byzantine), Athanatoi'', a unit of heavy cavalry stationed in Constantinople, the ''Vardariotai'' and the ''Archontopouloi'', recruited by Alexios from the sons of dead Byzantine officers, foreign mercenary regiments, and also units of professional soldiers recruited from the provinces. These provincial troops included Cataphract, ''kataphraktoi'' cavalry from Macedonia, Thessaly and Thrace, and various other provincial forces such as Empire of Trebizond, Trebizond Archery, Archers from the Black Sea coast of
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
. Alongside troops raised and paid for directly by the state the Komnenian army included the armed followers of members of the wider imperial family and its extensive connections. In this can be seen the beginnings of the feudalisation of the Byzantine military. The granting of ''
pronoia The ''pronoia'' (plural ''pronoiai''; Greek language, Greek: πρόνοια, meaning "care" or "forethought") was a system of granting dedicated streams of state income to individuals and institutions in the late Byzantine Empire. Beginning in t ...
'' holdings, where land, or more accurately rights to revenue from land, was held in return for military obligations, was beginning to become a notable element in the military infrastructure towards the end of the Komnenian period, though it became much more important subsequently. In 1097, the Byzantine army numbered around 70,000 men altogether.Konstam, p. 141. By 1180 and the death of Manuel Komnenos, whose frequent campaigns had been on a grand scale, the army was probably considerably larger. During the reign of Alexios I, the field army numbered around 20,000 men which was increased to about 30,000 men in John II's reign.W. Treadgold, ''A History of the Byzantine State and Society'', 680 By the end of Manuel I's reign the Byzantine field army had risen to 40,000 men.


Palaiologan Byzantine army (1261–1453)

The Palaiologan Byzantine army, Palaiologan army refers to the military forces of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
from the late 13th century to its final collapse in the mid 15th century, under the Palaiologos, House of the Palaiologoi. The army was a direct continuation of the forces of the Nicaean army, which itself was a fractured component of the formidable Komnenian army. Under the first Palaiologan emperor, Michael VIII, the army's role took an increasingly offensive role whilst the naval forces of the Empire, weakened since the days of Andronikos I Komnenos, were boosted to include thousands of skilled sailors and some 80 ships. Due to the lack of land to support the army, the Empire required the use of large numbers of mercenaries. After Andronikos II took to the throne, the army fell apart and the Byzantines suffered regular defeats at the hands of their eastern opponents, although they would continue to enjoy success against the crusader territories in Greece. By c. 1350, following a Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347, destructive civil war and the outbreak of the Black Death, the Empire was no longer capable of raising troops and the supplies to maintain them. The Empire came to rely upon troops provided by Serbs, Bulgarians, Venetians, Latins, Genoans and Ottoman Turks to fight the civil wars that lasted for the greater part of the 14th century, with the latter foe being the most successful in establishing a foothold in Thrace. The Ottomans swiftly expanded through the Balkans and cut off Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, from the surrounding land. The last decisive battle was fought by the Palaiologan army in 1453, when Constantinople was besieged and Fall of Constantinople, fell on 29 May. The last isolated remnants of the Byzantine state were conquered by 1461.


See also

*Military of ancient Rome *
Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500–31 BC) and the (31 BC– ...

Roman legion
*Roman auxiliaries *
Equites The ''equites'' (; la, eques nom. singular; literally "horse-" or "cavalrymen", though sometimes referred to as "knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative ...
*List of Roman legions *List of Roman auxiliary regiments *
Late Roman army In modern scholarship, the "late" period of the Roman army begins with the accession of the Emperor Diocletian in AD 284, and ends in 476 with the deposition of Romulus Augustulus, being roughly coterminous with the Dominate. During the period ...
*Byzantine army *
East Roman army The East Roman army refers to the army of the eastern section of the Roman Empire, from the empire's definitive split in 395 AD to the army's reorganization by themes after the permanent loss of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūr ...


References


External links

* Ross Cowan
Roman Legionary 109-58 BC: The Age of Marius, Sulla and Pompey the Great

Diocletian and the Roman Army

Life of Roman legionary

Roman Warriors: The Myth of the Military Machine

Called to the Eagle: Some Sullan Centurions
* {{DEFAULTSORT:Roman army Military of ancient Rome