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Hello folks. I have a few specific questions on random minutiae related to Roman military service in late antiquity, specifically the late 4th - early 5th centuries, roughly Stilicho's time.
• How many years was the term of service? I've seen 25 years mentioned as the standard, but if I'm not mistaken weren't the foederati recruited on a more short-term basis?
• In countless armies throughout history, there has been a system whereby soldiers deployed in the field could send money home to their families. Is it safe to assume the Roman legions had something similar?
• Did the Roman state still supply the weapons, armor, etc. for each soldier? I read that before the Byzantine emperor Anastasius I (491-518), the troops were provided gear by the state but the cost of it was deducted from their pay, and that one of his reforms gave the troops their pay "in full" but with the caveat that they had to purchase their own gear. Was this the situation in the Western Empire too?
• What was the citizenship status of a person born to a "barbarian" father and a Roman mother?
• What were the procedures for recruiting and enlistment of soldiers? Did they do recruiting drives at regularly scheduled intervals, say, each January or each spring? Was there a standard "boot camp" as with modern armies, or were Roman soldiers trained on an ad hoc basis? Did they have specifically designated staging/muster grounds that they used in the empire's heartland, say in Ravenna, Antioch, etc., where the recruits were assembled and trained before being assigned to a legion?
• Would it be safe to assume that the bulk of the recruits were teenagers? I seem to remember reading somewhere that 17 was the age at which a kid became eligible for Roman military service.
Others will answer most of your questions, but the one regarding citizenship is about Roman law.

Easiest way of acquiring roman citizenship was being born from a roman marriage of at least one roman citizen, otherwise a maternal citizenship was enough. Until Hadrian, lex Minicia (created sometime in 1st century BC) stated, that in a mixed marriage, the offspring follows the legal status of the lower (citizen - latinus - peregrinus) parent. This was abolished in a senatus consultum under Hadrian. (Gaius: Institutio 1, 80)
You can also work backwards from Diocletian's requirement that sons of soldiers become soldiers. As barbarians joined the Roman army on a voluntary basis - except when they had been captured and made prisoners of war - it then follows that the sons of barbarian soldiers were citizens, as only subjects of the empire could be conscripted.
Quote:Hello folks. I have a few specific questions on random minutiae related to Roman military service in late antiquity, specifically the late 4th - early 5th centuries, roughly Stilicho's time.

Let's see what I can do for you.


Quote:• How many years was the term of service? I've seen 25 years mentioned as the standard, but if I'm not mistaken weren't the foederati recruited on a more short-term basis?

I've heard 20 was standard for the Professional Army (or Barbarians recruited into Roman units). As for foederati they generally came and went as they were needed until the death of Aetius. After that they replaced the professional army.


Quote:• In countless armies throughout history, there has been a system whereby soldiers deployed in the field could send money home to their families. Is it safe to assume the Roman legions had something similar?

I don't know, but I'd imagine it would be possible. Many families tagged along with the armies in this era, especially barbarian armies.


Quote:• Did the Roman state still supply the weapons, armor, etc. for each soldier? I read that before the Byzantine emperor Anastasius I (491-518), the troops were provided gear by the state but the cost of it was deducted from their pay, and that one of his reforms gave the troops their pay "in full" but with the caveat that they had to purchase their own gear. Was this the situation in the Western Empire too?

No. In the Western Roman Empire until the death of Aetius we have evidence that the Roman Army recieved their equipment from the state-run Fabricae.


Quote:• What was the citizenship status of a person born to a "barbarian" father and a Roman mother?

I don't think it mattered, Aetius was born to a Gothic father (Gaudentius who was a citizen) and a Roman mother. He became the most powerful man in the empire. Stilicho was the same way, although I think he was 100% Vandal. Citizenship no longer mattered.


Quote:• What were the procedures for recruiting and enlistment of soldiers? Did they do recruiting drives at regularly scheduled intervals, say, each January or each spring? Was there a standard "boot camp" as with modern armies, or were Roman soldiers trained on an ad hoc basis? Did they have specifically designated staging/muster grounds that they used in the empire's heartland, say in Ravenna, Antioch, etc., where the recruits were assembled and trained before being assigned to a legion?

I don't know, but someone else might.


Quote:• Would it be safe to assume that the bulk of the recruits were teenagers? I seem to remember reading somewhere that 17 was the age at which a kid became eligible for Roman military service.

I'd imagine most recruits were in their 20's or 30's until the collapse of the Roman frontiers in 406-onward. After that it was anyone and everyone you could get because manpower ran short.
Actually, in the 2nd century romans still had to pay for their equipment and food and other stuff, as some papyri show. However, it seems that during late 2nd and 3rd century this changed as a kind of compensation for inflation or indirect salary rise. Latest with Diocletians system of annonae militaris it did not make sense anymore, to let the soldiers pay for anything with money which was worth nothing. IIRC, the emperor who finally stopped inflation also for silver and copper currency by accident was Maiorianus. And this was close to the end already.

Again for early and high empire, there is some analysis, which shows, that the recruits were usually 20-24, even if they could enter the army with 17. Equestrian officers and some Centurions coming from a civil career often were older than 30. However, we know of a centurio, who died with 19. I doubt, that we have comparable good data for late empire, because such data mainly come from epigraphy, which dropped significantly in late empire.
I think Flavius Stilicho's mother was a provincial Roman. He was obviously a citizen as he was made Consul - just about as "Roman" as you could get.
• What were the procedures for recruiting and enlistment of soldiers? Did they do recruiting drives at regularly scheduled intervals, say, each January or each spring? Was there a standard "boot camp" as with modern armies, or were Roman soldiers trained on an ad hoc basis? Did they have specifically designated staging/muster grounds that they used in the empire's heartland, say in Ravenna, Antioch, etc., where the recruits were assembled and trained before being assigned to a legion?

I believe there were many volunteers to be a soldier, but Legionaries were also levied when men were needed, such as before a major campaign. Somewhat like a draft or conscription, it was called a dilectus.[i][/i]

• Did the Roman state still supply the weapons, armor, etc. for each soldier? I read that before the Byzantine emperor Anastasius I (491-518), the troops were provided gear by the state but the cost of it was deducted from their pay, and that one of his reforms gave the troops their pay "in full" but with the caveat that they had to purchase their own gear. Was this the situation in the Western Empire too?

Though I believe equipment was issued free of charge upon enlistment - any replacements were to come out of the man's pay. Take the case of an arrow piercing a shield - the shield must be repaired at the cost of the Legionary.
Thanks for the help, I knew this was the place to ask these questions.

Quote:You can also work backwards from Diocletian's requirement that sons of soldiers become soldiers. As barbarians joined the Roman army on a voluntary basis - except when they had been captured and made prisoners of war - it then follows that the sons of barbarian soldiers were citizens, as only subjects of the empire could be conscripted.

Was that law still in effect around 395, so the sons of soldiers would be required to serve whether they wanted to or not? I remember reading that there was an edict pased to punish potential conscripts who cut off their thumbs to avoid military service; is it safe to assume because of this that military service was an onerous, mandatory burden that citizens commonly tried to avoid? From what I've read, it seems like the only young men actually volunteering to serve in the legions at this point were foreigners who lived beyond Rome's borders.

Quote:I'd imagine most recruits were in their 20's or 30's until the collapse of the Roman frontiers in 406-onward. After that it was anyone and everyone you could get because manpower ran short.

If the minimum age was 17, wouldn't recruiters be looking for kids as soon as they became eligible? It just seems like if military service was mandatory, most young men would have already been approached by a recruiter by the time they turned 20 (at least if the recruiters were doing their jobs diligently, which might not necessarily have been the case).
Hugh Elton's study of records of soldier's names suggests that in the field army from 350-500 AD other ranks included 16 definitely Roman, 94 probably Roman, 6 definitely barbarian and 21 probably barbarian soldiers. This is the only valid method I have come across of estimating barbarisation in the late army. As Elton rationalises, any soldier of more remote barbarian ancestry given a Roman name will have been so thoroughly Romanised as to make his origins immaterial.