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Hi there!

I have a question about the late roman army.

do you know where i can get more detailed info on the equipment and fighting styles of various units?

I know about the set general set up and troop types but couldn't find any more detailed info, except for the discussion about katafractarii and clibanarii in Junkelmann's Reiter Roms volume II and III.

an example...I know the troops used the spatha and there are several throwing weapons, like javelins, plumbatae a.s.o., then we have troops using the lancea and other things. is there any source ro else indicating which type of infantry used which weapons? did they differ within units? is there any kind of standardized equipment for lets say limitanai or comitatenses? it doesn't seem to me that the stationary troops were that much worse equipped than the field army at least during the 4th century.

so what do you know? :wink:


btw if anyone could tell about personal experience with late weapons (use of the spatha for inf or plumbatae) that would be interesting as well. and my special interest lies in the army of the divine emperor Iulianus because I'm going to write a paper on that but anything else is great as well.

thank you all very much in advance
Perhaps I am stating what is obvious, but have you already tried [url:1c8ag1as]http://www.fectio.org.uk/groep/groep.htm[/url]?
Quote:do you know where i can get more detailed info on the equipment and fighting styles of various units?

You should see Procopius, "The Persian war", I, 1, 6-17.
mhm, but procipius is describing the army under Iustinianus which is quite late, isn't it?
Read Ammianus Marcellinus, he served in Julian's Persian campaign.
Vegetius' Epitoma Rei Militaris could be a good contemporary source as well.

What to say about the Late Roman army... :roll: Too many things... About my personal experience, It's easier to wear a long spatha if you lift it up until the left axila, otherwise it will be hitting your legs all day long while walking!

There were different types of units, in order of importance and quality:
Legiones Palatinae and Auxilia Palatina under direct supervision of the emperor himself, they were elite units and the best equipped. Legiones Comitatenses that were regional mobile field armies, well equipped as well and worked as a defense in deepness when the border troops: the Limitanei and the Ripenses failed in halting foreign invasions.
When the Comitatenses were not enough, units of limitanei could be sent to the battle field being called then Legiones Pseudocomitatenses.
There were also cavalry units called Vexillationes Comitatenses and the well known Cataphractarii and Clibanarii heavy cavalry units.

I know this was a very brief description of the Late Roman army... but I'm sure that my commilites Robert Vermaat and Aitor Iriarte will surely tell you many, many, many things more accurately and full in rich detail as well as with aecheological evidence... and corrections to my mistakes! :wink:
Quote:mhm, but procipius is describing the army under Iustinianus which is quite late, isn't it?

Isn`t it Late Rome?

Quote:Read Ammianus Marcellinus, he served under Julian's Persian campaign.

And Eunapius Sophist, "Universal history". He paid special attention to Julian`s wars as well.
I have thrown plumbatae and received them, and they get my vote over javelins every time. Unbelievable things - volleys of them must have been a terrifying thing to receive in battle.

Andrew
Received :?: :!: Confusedhock:
Quote:Received


Had thrown at. In my case - fortunately only dummies.

Andrew
Quote:an example...I know the troops used the spatha and there are several throwing weapons, like javelins, plumbatae a.s.o., then we have troops using the lancea and other things. is there any source ro else indicating which type of infantry used which weapons? did they differ within units? is there any kind of standardized equipment for lets say limitanai or comitatenses? it doesn't seem to me that the stationary troops were that much worse equipped than the field army at least during the 4th century.
No, there is no standard equipment for the units you mention. Of course there were specialist troops such as archers and slinger and so on, but the status of the units (comitatenses vs. limitanei) would not have mattered. We think the former had first choice in equipment, but the sort of equipmement would have been the same. Standard units had different roles though, in which equipment could change. Infantry could fight with the sword but could also act as phalanx, in which the lance had a primary role. But we also know of nightly commando-like raids, where heavy stuff like helmets would have been left at home.

Quote: btw if anyone could tell about personal experience with late weapons (use of the spatha for inf or plumbatae) that would be interesting as well.
I've thrown javelins, I've thrown plumbatae, I did a small bit of spatha fencing. Plumbatae (as you maybe know) are my absolute favorites, and also the most typical of Late Roman weapons. I recently made a few. The lance is also an awesome weapon. Mine is 4 ft - any longer and it won't fit in the car, mostly the reason why most re-enactors have too short lances Big Grin
Ask Mithras about his heroic marches in Late Roman gear!

Quote: and my special interest lies in the army of the divine emperor Iulianus because I'm going to write a paper on that but anything else is great as well.
Read the works of Ammianus marcellinus, the best author we have on this topic, and a big fan of Julianus to boot!
Quote:
Quote:mhm, but procipius is describing the army under Iustinianus which is quite late, isn't it?
Isn`t it Late Rome?

Nah. When the Western Empire is gone (Julius Nepos, the last west Roman emperor, dies in 480) we can officially speak of the Byzantine period.
But it's not a fixed rule or anything.
Quote:There were different types of units, in order of importance and quality:
Legiones Palatinae and Auxilia Palatina under direct supervision of the emperor himself, they were elite units and the best equipped. Legiones Comitatenses that were regional mobile field armies, well equipped as well and worked as a defense in deepness when the border troops: the Limitanei and the Ripenses failed in halting foreign invasions.
When the Comitatenses were not enough, units of limitanei could be sent to the battle field being called then Legiones Pseudocomitatenses.
There were also cavalry units called Vexillationes Comitatenses and the well known Cataphractarii and Clibanarii heavy cavalry units.
In that case I know you won't mind if I make some tiny corrections to your decription:
Legiones Comitatenses were not regional field armies, there were part of field armies. Actually the comitatenses were a class, in which units that were ranked there received higher pay. The limitanei served as the first line of defence (I hate the term 'border guards', don't you?), but went on campiaign as well. Limitanei units were classed pseudocomitatenses when they were upgraded to comitatensan status (but demoted comitatenses had no special designation, except maybe: losers! Big Grin
I'm constantly facing books saying that the regional field armies consisted of cavalry so that when there's trouble they can quickly ride to places they were needed to face the invaders and kick them in the nuts. (like two times in my school books) but come on. I thought the bulk of the Comitatenses was still the infantry like the legionairs and auxilia...

....right? (see I'm already doubting myself! Confusedhock: )
Quote:I'm constantly facing books saying that the regional field armies consisted of cavalry so that when there's trouble they can quickly ride to places they were needed to face the invaders and kick them in the nuts. (like two times in my school books) but come on. I thought the bulk of the Comitatenses was still the infantry like the legionairs and auxilia...

....right? (see I'm already doubting myself! Confusedhock: )

The thing about cavalry is that it is tactically fast, not necessarily strategically fast. Horses are finicky creatures and don't like being pushed to their limits. UNless you have strings of remounts for every manm, you can't spend the entire time in the saddle, and unless you have prepared fodder dumps, you need to spend much time and effort finding stuff for the mounts to eat that could otherwise be spent marching. Once the first few days are over and the horses bneed regular rest periods, a well-organised infantry column with a working supply train can actually outpace a cavalry unit.

Whatever reasons the army might have had for making the comitatenses cavalry-heavy (and there are good ones, not least that it is much easier to get off a horse you have than to get on one you don't have), I don't see improved strategic mobility featuring majorly.
Quote:The thing about cavalry is that it is tactically fast, not necessarily strategically fast. Horses are finicky creatures and don't like being pushed to their limits. Unless you have strings of remounts for every man, you can't spend the entire time in the saddle, and unless you have prepared fodder dumps, you need to spend much time and effort finding stuff for the mounts to eat that could otherwise be spent marching. Once the first few days are over and the horses need regular rest periods, a well-organised infantry column with a working supply train can actually outpace a cavalry unit.

Whatever reasons the army might have had for making the comitatenses cavalry-heavy (and there are good ones, not least that it is much easier to get off a horse you have than to get on one you don't have), I don't see improved strategic mobility featuring majorly.
Calton, I agree completely!
It's a common misconception to think of cavalry-heavy forces as 'mobile field armies'. I've read (Junkelmann comes to mind) that even until the First World War, infantry outpaced cavalry when marches took longer than 7 days in a row.
Cavalry is fast, but that's battlefield speed and impossible to keep up without remounts.

On of the reasons for large cavalry forces to stay spread out in the hinterland is the impossibility to kep large cavaly forces all the time at one point - the grass and fodder would run out soon.
Of course the other reason is that it's much better positioned there (the hinterland) as a reaction force.
The 'mobile' is a logical result of both.
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