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Articles (War and army)

The Roman state existed in practice for XIII centuries, being the power which was impacting the history. Therefore, I decided that I would tell the history of ancient Rome in the articles below, which will not necessarily cover only the Eternal City.

I encourage you to send articles and point out any corrections or inaccuracies.

Gain and loss of Agri Decumates

On the European continent, the Roman Empire based its border on two great rivers: the Rhine and the Danube. There was, however, a fundamental problem with this concept – both rivers in their initial course diverge, creating an obtuse angle on the map. This meant that the area between them cut quite deep into the Roman territory to the southwest. So it was a sensitive place where barbarians could easily enter the Empire. To prevent this, the Romans took over the lands between the upper reaches of the Rhine and Danube rivers. These areas in ancient times were called Agri Decumates, which means “tithe lands” in Polish. Today, the area is mostly located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Germany.

Roman territorial expansion in southwestern Germany in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE

Veterans in Late Republic

An army has always been an extremely important element in Rome’s politics. His influence was manifested in every field of life in the state. The early Roman army was non-professional and functioned as a citizen militia. When necessary, citizens were called to arms. However, not all of them, because each citizen should arm himself, and for this, he needed the appropriate means.

Julius Caesar at the head of the Roman army

Hostilities in Sardinia during Second Punic War. Rise of Ampsicora

At the end of 216 BCE, the strategic position of the Romans was not interesting. Barkida operated in Campania, and the second army, led by Hanno son of Bomilcar, operated in Bruttium. In response, the Republic recruited masses of troops; but in many cases, they were untrained recruits. Some southern Italian cities went over to Hannibal’s side, seeing the defeats of Rome. In addition, Hannibal’s countrymen from the motherland came to the aid of Hannibal in Italy, who sent Magon with 12,000 infantry, 1,500 cavalry and 20 elephants to the Apennines.

Roman soldiers from the 3rd-2nd century BCE

Phalanx in Caracalla’s army?

In the history of the Roman army, the phalanx was nothing new. This system was adopted by the Etruscans in the early period of Rome’s existence. During the second war with the Samnites, the greatest disadvantages of this formation were revealed, namely the lack of manoeuvrability. The Romans decided to move away from the phalanx after the infamous battle in the Caudine Forks, in favour of a manipulative order.

Alexander the Great’s influence on the emperor

Silhouette of a Roman soldier fighting Parthians as phalangaria

If we were to indicate the greatest authority of Caracalla, it would certainly be Alexander the Great. The emperor was so fascinated by the figure of the Macedonian king that he wanted to connect Rome with Parthia by marrying the daughter of Artaban IV, but he was refused, which resulted in new wars. So it was only a matter of time before the crazy emperor created his own phalanx.
Cassius Dio says that in 217, Caracalla, preparing for the war, formed a phalanx consisting of about 16,000 people from Macedonia and armed in the ancient way (pikes and linen armour). Herodian confirms Dion’s account and adds that a similar unit of Spartan phalanxes was formed.

Real image of the imperial phalangaria

The tombstones of the Spartan phalangites have survived to this day, such as the one above belonging to Aurelius Alexianus. The soldier depicted is armed with: lorica segmentata, a mid-length sword commonly used in the 3rd century CE, an oval shield that will begin to replace the cylindrical scutum, the traditional Spartan, pilos and club – a symbol of Heracles or fustis – in the 3rd century CE.
Alexianus’ armament is therefore typical of a legionary of the first half of the 3rd century, and there is no indication that the legions or auxiliary troops changed their tactics.

Therefore, one can guess that Caracalla, going to war with the Parthians, wanted to match Alexander, who conquered the east thanks to the phalanx.
The “Macedonians” of the emperor were most likely praetorians and II Parthica legionnaires from Macedonia and Thrace. Numbers close to 15/16 thousand soldiers would be true. Reference to pikes may refer to spears or pila, and cloth cuirass to thoracomachus or subarmilis, quilted caftans worn under armour. Alexander Severus, who was at war with the Parthians in 231-233, also had his own phalanx, but this too was not armed in the ancient Macedonian manner:

Finally, he provided himself with soldiers armed with silver shields and with golden, and also a phalanx of thirty thousand men, whom he ordered to be called phalangarii, and with these he won many victories in Persia. This phalanx, as a matter of fact, was formed from six legions, and was armed like the other troops, but after the Persian wars received higher pay.

Historia Augusta, Alexander Severus

Real image of imperial phalangaria

Most likely, the II Parthica legion was the only composed of the phalanx, since it was the only legion that made up the entire field army. The Historia Augusta and the image of Alexianus on the tombstone prove that the phalanx was just an honorary title given to a unit fighting in the East, imitating the deeds of Alexander the Great.

Coin with the image of Caracalla

Reconstruction of Roman legionary in movies on biblical themes

One of the most famous events in human history is undoubtedly the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in the early 30s of the 1st century CE. For this reason, along with the development of cinematography, many works were created to show the life of Christ: his birth, teaching, death and resurrection. Most of these works show Roman soldiers, specifically – legionarys, who most of the time appear only as a background.


War of two Scipio. Warfare in Spain in 218-211 BCE

In the second half of the third century BCE, the Iberian Peninsula was inhabited by three peoples divided into tribes. In the west, in the areas roughly equivalent to today’s Portugal, the Lusitannians lived. In the north were the lands of the Celtybers – a people created by the mixing of migrating Celts with the Iberians. The Celtybers created a culture distinct from both the Celts and the Iberians. The latter inhabited the south and middle of the peninsula.

The Carthaginian army consisted of various nationalities. In the picture we can see Iberian, Celt and Numidan

IX Legio Hispana, what happened to it? Historical outline and theories of disappearance

History hides unfathomable layers of secrets and puzzles, the solution of which is sometimes at your fingertips, and other times it is lost in the abyss of oblivion and will never be found again. This is one of the things that attracts me to it – searching, discovering, wandering among possibilities. The knowledge of the ultimate truth is not always the most important thing, sometimes the enigmatic nature stimulates the imagination and allows theories to be made, developing intelligence and motivating for research. This is also the case here – IX Legio Hispana.

Legio VIIII Hispana vexillum

Destruction of Aquileia (452 ​​CE)

Aquileia was founded by the Romans as a colony in 181 BCE, during battles with the Illyrian tribes. The city was located on the Natisa River, south of the Julian Alps, several kilometres north of the lagoons. It had an important military significance at the very beginning of its existence – it was a fortress protecting the Pre-Alpine Gaul from the east, and, if necessary, enabling the support of the Venetians – solid Roman allies. The colony was granted the Latin law by the triumvirs: Publius Cornelius Scipio Nazyka, Caius Flaminius and Lucius Manilius Acidinus. Soon after its founding, it probably had approx. 20 thousand. inhabitants, most of whom were Latins.

Ancient Aquileia

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