when was the roman army in its prime?

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giantlemon
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when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by giantlemon »

i have heard of various reforms such as Scipio's, Marius and the army of Augustus 'classic army' but i was wondering what time period is generally deemed when the roman army was at it's best.
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Brother Ranulf
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by Brother Ranulf »

That's got to be a matter of perception and how you measure it. If you go by results, then it would have to be the period of the maximum size of the Empire in around 214 AD. The difficulty with that theory is that most of the provinces had been gained much earlier than that and it could be argued that this maximum expansion was a huge over-use of limited resources - an implosion waiting to happen.
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by Nigel »

its a tricky question is there something behibnd this that could help with an answer ?

There are a number of periods that the romana rmy falls into
There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

the real lord duvet

Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by the real lord duvet »

between the ages of 18 and 25?

they started losing their hair at 30, and getting a bit of a paunch.

As others said its difficult to put a date of its prime cos that could be

a. when it wore the nicest kit - if your into costume
b. when it won the most battles - if your a military historian
or
c. when it controlled the state - if your interested in politics

giantlemon
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by giantlemon »

I was aiming for when it was the most effective at fighting (so battles rather than individuals or politics). i am thinking everyone always remembers the romans as the most effective military machine of it's time, but when exactly was this time?
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

At the same time as Dr Who turned up then.
OSTENDE MIHI PECUNIAM!

giantlemon
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by giantlemon »

was that before or after the gaius reforms? :D
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Brother Ranulf
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by Brother Ranulf »

There is a school of thought that says that the Roman Army was never as effective as its reputation, since for around 80 per cent of the time it was fighting inferior troops (bare-chested and generally badly-organised Celts, Britons, Gauls, Jews, Iberians, Mauretanians, Thracians, Egyptians and so on). When they came up against well-organised, well-trained and well-equipped enemies (Dacii, Roxolanni, Alanni and Parthians for example) they struggled very badly and often came out with a bloody nose.

Calculate exactly how much it cost to field several armies for the duration of the Dacian wars and what was the ultimate cost in lives, equipment, support services and time; no wonder the entire Dacian population was eventually deported and enslaved to help pay for the clear-up.

Another point to make is that it was not the same Roman Army throughout its history; the 3rd century army had nothing at all in common with that of Caesar's time and by the 4th century it was very different in make-up and purpose. It's like comparing apples and giraffes.
Brother Ranulf

"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

giantlemon
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by giantlemon »

True they were fighting far less capable enemies but the Roman's perfected that type of warfare. If the empire had risen up with more powerful enemies from the beginning they would have been better prepared for them. Since Gaul was one of the closest enemies surely it was wisest for them to adjust to that enemy initially. As for the changes in the Roman army that is what made it such an exceptional force. Adapt and improve to advance.

The thing I find difficult is comparing the different types of armies because they were so different due to their enemies they were fighting. Is it fair to compare the strength and effectiveness as a force of a lesser army against a lesser enemy compared to a stronger army with stronger enemies?
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Optio
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by Optio »

Hmmm, very difficult to say, however one thing that invariably shows through is the ability to overcome vastly superior numbers of opponants with a tried and tested form of set pattern warfare, and making a numerically superior opponant fight on terms dictated by the Romans themselves, as happened many times.

Also, when they were beaten, they learned from their mistakes and adjusted the situation to suit themselves in round two, which they then invariably won. The huge defeat in the Tuetenbergvald was due to stupid arrogance by the general, and more so by the opponant being an ex Roman Auxiallary Officer who knew the weak points of the Roman way of fighting, and used them against his former master with stunning results.

the real lord duvet

Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by the real lord duvet »

i don't know if this can also be used for the romans but a rather famous man once said "the french army has always been at its strongest during times of peace"

Sure the time when noone dared fight the romans was when they was at their prime?

Optio
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by Optio »

the real lord duvet wrote:i don't know if this can also be used for the romans but a rather famous man once said "the french army has always been at its strongest during times of peace"

Sure the time when noone dared fight the romans was when they was at their prime?
Actually yes, I think you have a very valid point there. The threat of Roman 'justice' on would be revolutionaries must have been very persuasive in its only special way (by special I possibly mean cruel, unusual and beyond the realms of good taste!) :D

the real lord duvet

Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by the real lord duvet »

of course - the reason its true about the french is completely different.

giantlemon
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by giantlemon »

Optio wrote:Hmmm, very difficult to say, however one thing that invariably shows through is the ability to overcome vastly superior numbers of opponants with a tried and tested form of set pattern warfare, and making a numerically superior opponant fight on terms dictated by the Romans themselves, as happened many times.

Also, when they were beaten, they learned from their mistakes and adjusted the situation to suit themselves in round two, which they then invariably won. The huge defeat in the Tuetenbergvald was due to stupid arrogance by the general, and more so by the opponant being an ex Roman Auxiallary Officer who knew the weak points of the Roman way of fighting, and used them against his former master with stunning results.
The mention of varus defeat if of particular use to me as I will be using this as an example of their failures. Is there an example i can use around this period to show how they weren't (preferably during augustus reign)? The battles I saw include Battle of the Lupia River of 11BC, and when Germanicus launched attacks after Augustus death against Arminius. The problem is that there is almost nothing written about the battles that I can find as useful information. It does still show however Romans never giving up and learning like you said.

The trouble is I haven't been very sensible and chosen this period with one of Rome's biggest military defeats as the time to set Rome as the greatest military machine of it's time. and after an 8 thousand word essay of how great they are i need an example to combat the failure of Teutenbergvald. Most likely there isn't one but I will have to twist the minor successess in battles and major defeat to show every army is at the mercy of it's superiors and that the army was in general the most successful except for that instance.
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Timothy
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Re: when was the roman army in its prime?

Post by Timothy »

I would say in the late tenth - early eleventh century under Basil II. That was the period in which the empire recovered the greatest amount of territory lost to many more and stronger enemies than the earlier period had had to deal with.

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