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Hello
What would look like a unit of the very last (west) Roman soldiers?
Could one depict a mixed unit of Roman army with foederati German, operating together?
Would these foederati be equipped with a mix of native and roman equipment?
what is representative of the very last roman soldier appearance (arms , armour, etc), circa 470 AD?
Best regards
JP Vieira
Quote:What would look like a unit of the very last (west) Roman soldiers?
He'd be running. Fast. No arms, no armour, no shield.

OK, OK, joking aside.

Quote:Could one depict a mixed unit of Roman army with foederati German, operating together?
Would these foederati be equipped with a mix of native and Roman equipment?
No problem. Most of them would already be operating in 'mixed'units.
Limitanei livbed close to the border, and no doubt new arrrivals, Germanic or not, would be included in these units, which according to Procopius still proundly displayed their standards in the 6th century (when they belonged to the Frankish army). The same goes for local militia, based on the civitates, which are reported by Gregory of Tours as good troops.
Comitatenses would not be around much, but if such units still existed, they would surely work together with other units that were pulled together for the task at hand, and most of these had been ready-hired Germanic troops since the time of Constantine and before. Elite troops were as we know incorporated into the Frankish army, and we also know Romans served in the Gothic army. Times change.

As to the equipment, when state supply fails you look for local products, so yes to that as well, and similar for the Roman troops. Romans had supplied and equipped federates with state-produced arms & armour for centuries, btw.

Quote:what is representative of the very last roman soldier appearance (arms , armour, etc), circa 470 AD?
shoes, trousers, tunic. Probably no armour, maybe a helmet if he's lucky. Possibly a sword but don't bet on it. Shield yes, spear also likely, javelins probably.
Roman economy had crashed during the 5th c., crashed heavily. Where barns had tiled roofs before, now only a monastery in Rome could afford roof tiles. Same with imports of African slip wares. Economy had been hit that bad. So swords and armour would have been very very expensive by 470 AD. Cataphracts you say? Don't make me laugh. It hurts.

EDIT

I should add here, of course, that the 'last' Roman soldiers never ever thought of themselves as such. It's a question of identities, and like us today, they had several identities back then. First as individual, then family, then what-have-you: cultural, religious, etc. At some point during the 5thc., the 'Roman' identity became less important than the 'local' identity: the citizens of Gaul at some point first looked to their region, and then only to Rome as the group they felt they were loyal to.
Germanic soldiers of the Roman army could fight other Germans - they had no problem with these identities and valued them equally.

Until, at some point, Rome sank beneath the horizon. Some actively decided to value Rome less, others may never have realised their changing values. What some saw as treason around 410, became accepted by 460, to give an example.

But the 'last' Roman soldier no doubt fought for a general whom he saw as his military commander, but who might have been seen as a Gothic king by the man fighting next to him - while both faced the same enemy.
Very good of you to point that out. The Late Roman empire was utterly dependent on people who no longer considered themselves truly Roman, so is it really a wonder that the system fell apart? The Roman system was brilliant and effective, that is not in question, but it seems far more fragile even at its height than most seem to think. For the Late Roman soldier Rome was just the name on the paycheck so to speak. I'll fight for you as long as the money and incentives are good or I may as well be fighting for myself. The motivation of land wasn't as great if you have the ability to take what land you need and gone where the days of you're a Roman soldier we're paying you and letting you fight deal with it. If there was more room for expansionism Rome probably could have kept things together for longer since there would have been more of a cause, but they offered little that could not be gained elsewhere.
Blame Octavian! It's all his fault!!
Quote:The Late Roman empire was utterly dependent on people who no longer considered themselves truly Roman

I've read this too but think that was only or especially true for citizens living in frontier zones. We should probably remember that the Romano-British were literally begging for help from Rome 40 years after the island was abandoned by imperial troops. And once the barbarians in the western provinces started to impose their pagan or heretical religion onto the orthodox Christian population the people longed for the days of having the Emperor's protection. Roman identity lived on for quite some time in some areas more than others.

Quote:, so is it really a wonder that the system fell apart?

Civil wars without end killed the empire, I think most people would agree. The real deathblow for the Western Empire came with the Vandal capture of Carthage, it's economic engine. (Although some still like to date the fall to 410 AD for some unfounded reason.) Money to the imperial coffers dried up quickly after the loss of Africa.

~Theo
Quote:Very good of you to point that out. The Late Roman empire was utterly dependent on people who no longer considered themselves truly Roman, so is it really a wonder that the system fell apart? The Roman system was brilliant and effective, that is not in question, but it seems far more fragile even at its height than most seem to think. For the Late Roman soldier Rome was just the name on the paycheck so to speak. I'll fight for you as long as the money and incentives are good or I may as well be fighting for myself. The motivation of land wasn't as great if you have the ability to take what land you need and gone where the days of you're a Roman soldier we're paying you and letting you fight deal with it. If there was more room for expansionism Rome probably could have kept things together for longer since there would have been more of a cause, but they offered little that could not be gained elsewhere.


Not sure that I agree with you that the army was no longer 'truly Roman'. Yes, they did rebel and the lack of pay was always an incentive to rebellion, but the majority of major rebellions could easily be ascribed to either the poor quality of the Roman leaders at the centre, or the fact that they were being overwhelmed by the volume of requests for help. Did the troops mainly rebel when they were struggling to defend themselves against invaders? When the central government did not send any help, did they take matters into their own hands?

It is the duty of a government to protect its citizens. When they fail in their duty, is an attempt to correct that failure evidence that the troops are 'not really Roman'?

It is difficult to find examples of even so-called barbarian leaders and troops betraying the Empire. Even when Belisarius invaded the West, many Vandal and Gothic Princes would have preferred life as an Imperial lacky to that of a 'barbarian' potentate - Procopius gives several major examples of this phenomenon.

Both the Roman elite and the modern historian may have been too judgemental of those that they believe were not 'truly' Roman.
Quote:
Ironhand:frll9ypb Wrote:Very good of you to point that out. The Late Roman empire was utterly dependent on people who no longer considered themselves truly Roman, so is it really a wonder that the system fell apart? The Roman system was brilliant and effective, that is not in question, but it seems far more fragile even at its height than most seem to think. For the Late Roman soldier Rome was just the name on the paycheck so to speak. I'll fight for you as long as the money and incentives are good or I may as well be fighting for myself. The motivation of land wasn't as great if you have the ability to take what land you need and gone where the days of you're a Roman soldier we're paying you and letting you fight deal with it. If there was more room for expansionism Rome probably could have kept things together for longer since there would have been more of a cause, but they offered little that could not be gained elsewhere.
Not sure that I agree with you that the army was no longer 'truly Roman'. Yes, they did rebel and the lack of pay was always an incentive to rebellion, but the majority of major rebellions could easily be ascribed to either the poor quality of the Roman leaders at the centre, or the fact that they were being overwhelmed by the volume of requests for help. Did the troops mainly rebel when they were struggling to defend themselves against invaders? When the central government did not send any help, did they take matters into their own hands?

It is the duty of a government to protect its citizens. When they fail in their duty, is an attempt to correct that failure evidence that the troops are 'not really Roman'?

It is difficult to find examples of even so-called barbarian leaders and troops betraying the Empire. Even when Belisarius invaded the West, many Vandal and Gothic Princes would have preferred life as an Imperial lacky to that of a 'barbarian' potentate - Procopius gives several major examples of this phenomenon.
My point was to stress that the Roman citizens began to lose their Roman identity. The attention here seems to be too much on either the army and the non-Roman newcomers, but I think that it was the change of mind on behalf of the citizens themselves that ended the Roman Empire in the West. When you don't care who is your lord, a Roman or a Goth, then that's basically it, right?

Indeed, Britain called for help (or Bruttium in Italy), but that was at the start of the 5th c. when Rome seemed powerful enough. Fifty years later, the citizens of Gaul had learned the hard way that if they could get protection from a Goth in command of Romans, or a Frank commanding Franks, it hardly mattered. Demands from a Greek emperor must have seemed like the rumble of a receding thunderstorm.

Sonic is correct about barbarian loyalty, that hardly differed from Roman loyalty - both military supported who they thought offered the best opportunities, both changed sides easily too. Barbarian soldier were never more treacherous thatn Roman soldiers though.
Quote:
sonic:105f3iz4 Wrote:
Ironhand:105f3iz4 Wrote:Very good of you to point that out. The Late Roman empire was utterly dependent on people who no longer considered themselves truly Roman, so is it really a wonder that the system fell apart? The Roman system was brilliant and effective, that is not in question, but it seems far more fragile even at its height than most seem to think. For the Late Roman soldier Rome was just the name on the paycheck so to speak. I'll fight for you as long as the money and incentives are good or I may as well be fighting for myself. The motivation of land wasn't as great if you have the ability to take what land you need and gone where the days of you're a Roman soldier we're paying you and letting you fight deal with it. If there was more room for expansionism Rome probably could have kept things together for longer since there would have been more of a cause, but they offered little that could not be gained elsewhere.
Not sure that I agree with you that the army was no longer 'truly Roman'. Yes, they did rebel and the lack of pay was always an incentive to rebellion, but the majority of major rebellions could easily be ascribed to either the poor quality of the Roman leaders at the centre, or the fact that they were being overwhelmed by the volume of requests for help. Did the troops mainly rebel when they were struggling to defend themselves against invaders? When the central government did not send any help, did they take matters into their own hands?

It is the duty of a government to protect its citizens. When they fail in their duty, is an attempt to correct that failure evidence that the troops are 'not really Roman'?

It is difficult to find examples of even so-called barbarian leaders and troops betraying the Empire. Even when Belisarius invaded the West, many Vandal and Gothic Princes would have preferred life as an Imperial lacky to that of a 'barbarian' potentate - Procopius gives several major examples of this phenomenon.
My point was to stress that the Roman citizens began to lose their Roman identity. The attention here seems to be too much on either the army and the non-Roman newcomers, but I think that it was the change of mind on behalf of the citizens themselves that ended the Roman Empire in the West. When you don't care who is your lord, a Roman or a Goth, then that's basically it, right?

In which case, surely the main question is when did the 'Roman Citizens' begin to lose their identity? In fact, the question surely arises as to whether the average citizen actually saw himself as either a 'Roman', or, for example, a 'Gaul'?

I now begin to doubt whether there really was such a thing as a 'Roman' soldier in Late Antiquity, or whether all of the troops would have considered themselves primarily 'Gallic', or 'British', or 'Thracian' etc., and only had 'Roman' as a secondary consideration. In much the same way, for example, that somebody from the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire in England consider themselves 'Lancastrian' or 'Yorkist' first, 'English' second.

Hmm. This needs some thought!

_____________________________

Ian (Sonic) Hughes
Quote:In which case, surely the main question is when did the 'Roman Citizens' begin to lose their identity? In fact, the question surely arises as to whether the average citizen actually saw himself as either a 'Roman', or, for example, a 'Gaul'?
Well, since we know of people feeling themselves to be 'Roman' long after the empire had ceased to be meaningful (for instance the monk Gildas in Britain c. 500), we can be sure that such an identity exited for sure! However, the 'nation' idea was a long way awy into the future. Most likely, then, people felt 'Roman' AND (fill in the blanks).

Later, that changed to (..) AND Roman, then the 'Roman' ceased. This process seems to have started earlier in the border provinces than in e.g. Gaul. We see it in Britain a good 50 years before Gaul, but it's impossible to say how widespread the notion was among the population as opposed to the elite, whom we hear more of in the sources. But see als Gildas c. 500.
It is definately a difficult subject to try and sum up without a thesis so I think I'll bow out before I end up misrepresenting myself more. I fully agree that "barbarians" had a very strong tendency towards loyalty and it is given example in countless writings from Tacitus clear to later period sagas and is something that seems to be common even in seeming biased writings. That said the atmosphere is the Late Roman world was very different and I think soldiers had a lot more options available to them and had to put up with a lot less than previous soldiers. They had a lot more leverage to make demands and it shows in writings of the time where ever increasing concessions were demanded and made to try and keep soldiers happy. What could be seen as a small issue and overlooked before could easily lead to desertion and warfare. Not that it did not happen before, but I think it happened a bit more lightly in the Late Roman world. Loyalty was to your commander and comrades in arms, not necessarily anonymous fiqureheads in Rome. That said, I bow out of the discussion before I'm forced to write my thesis.

P.S. Please don't make me write a thesis. I don't have the time and I'm sure there are those who could do it better. Confusedhock: Big Grin
Quote:It is definately a difficult subject to try and sum up without a thesis so I think I'll bow out before I end up misrepresenting myself more. I fully agree that "barbarians" had a very strong tendency towards loyalty and it is given example in countless writings from Tacitus clear to later period sagas and is something that seems to be common even in seeming biased writings. That said the atmosphere is the Late Roman world was very different and I think soldiers had a lot more options available to them and had to put up with a lot less than previous soldiers. They had a lot more leverage to make demands and it shows in writings of the time where ever increasing concessions were demanded and made to try and keep soldiers happy. What could be seen as a small issue and overlooked before could easily lead to desertion and warfare. Not that it did not happen before, but I think it happened a bit more lightly in the Late Roman world. Loyalty was to your commander and comrades in arms, not necessarily anonymous fiqureheads in Rome. That said, I bow out of the discussion before I'm forced to write my thesis.

P.S. Please don't make me write a thesis. I don't have the time and I'm sure there are those who could do it better. Confusedhock: Big Grin

Oh go on, please write a thesis!! :lol: :lol:
Bacraut!!! Big Grin D D It was important for me to learn the word since I'd probably get called it quite often.

I didn't think they'd let me curse in English or Latin so I'll send you a full link for translation.

www.housebarra.com/EP/ep04/12norsecurse.html

Cheers
After Ironhand writes his thesis then the rest of us can draw up an antithesis :wink:

~Theo
And after the rest have written their antithesis I'll write a synthesis of both the thesis and antithesis.. Big Grin
Quote:Bacraut!!! Big Grin D D

Naughty Ironhand!! :lol:

When you've all written your theses, antitheses, and syntheses, I'll write a review criticising all of your hard work, just because I can!! :lol: :lol:

__________________________________________

Ian (Sonic) Hughes
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