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Cavalry Cohorts
#16
Nathan wrote:

If we accept that Maurikios was indeed the author, then he certainly knew what he was talking about - he was an experienced military commander turned Roman emperor!
 
And if he isn’t...................
 
Nathan wrote:
The process that created this structure began in the third century, accelerated under Diocletian and reached its definite form under Constantine and his sons. Essentially what we see is the breakup of larger formations (legions, milliarian cohorts, perhaps alae too) into smaller tactical units. Some of these tactical units kept the names of their parent formations, while others gained new names. Some were perhaps later subdivided, or recombined to make new units.
 
You won’t get me disagreeing. Nothing comes from a vacuum.
 
Nathan wrote:
These particular numeri seem to have been auxilia. A numerus auxilium of between c.500 and c.800 men seems quite plausible.
 
I agree, I have them as amounting to 12 numeri.
 
Nathan wrote:
Apparently they were not all the same size, or they would produce a round number!
 
Not necessarily, Sozomen says “about 4,000 men, which may not be a round number. It could be 3,920 men.
 
Nathan wrote:
This seems unnecessarily complex, and unsupported by evidence as far as I can see.
 
Not if you take into account that a legion had a horizontal organisation and a vertical organisation, with each producing different unit sizes. Seeing it that way makes it simple, especially when you see the diagram.
 
Nathan wrote:
A vexillation by this date was a cavalry formation, there is no such thing as a 'tribune cohort' (tribunus cohortis is the tribune of a cohort, i.e. the commander),
 
Are you sure that the infantry were still not being organised into vexillations? In 462 BC, Dionysius claims that two cohorts did not exceed 1,000 men. This is the first evidence I have of the infantry vexillation organisation, and it remains throughout the history of the Roman legion.
 
As per my legion of 406 BC, I have termed those men under the command of a military tribune, a tribune cohort. This was down to prevent confusion between the other cohort organisations within the legion.
 
Nathan wrote:
a numerus was an independent unit not a subdivision, and it seems very unlikely (outside Ammianus and his 'grand style') that cohorts and maniples had any place in the internal structure of later military formations - although I accept that opinions differ on that last point!
 
A numerus had to be created from something. Taking only part of a vexillation and giving it the name numeru, then calling any unit that had the same number of men a numerus is not beyond being unrealistic. A numerus so far is working out to be one third of a vexillation. I’ve learnt long ago that a legion had a horizontal organisation and a vertical organisation. Not many have come to this realisation.
 
Nathan wrote:
I think a lot of our confusion and debate on this subject over the years stems from our attempts to force what was perhaps a very simple, flexible, practical and dynamic late Roman military doctrine into what we think the structure of a 'proper' Roman army should be.
 
The Romans are pragmatic, and any changes would have been simply changes, not dramatic ones. The numbers throughout the primary sources relating to the Late Roman army are coherent, and all show they are coming from a mathematical military structure based on fixed unit sizes, not ad hoc numbers.
 
From the top of my head, you once mentioned references to the numerus for the principate. Can you provide them? They could be ILS numbers or CIL.
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#17
(03-11-2017, 10:46 AM)Steven James Wrote: And if he isn’t...................

...then the author was another military commander of his court, possibly his brother. Either way, somebody who knew what he was talking about!

It does seem strange though - you've stressed often enough here that we should pay attention to 'primary sources' and not dismiss evidence etc, and yet here we have a clear and emphatic statement (that tagmata were of different sizes), and you seem determined to disbelieve it - why?


(03-11-2017, 10:46 AM)Steven James Wrote: Are you sure that the infantry were still not being organised into vexillations?

Nobody can be sure of anything. But our last reference to an infantry vexillation is c.AD300, and after this the word is used officially to denote a cavalry unit - with the intermediate term vexillatio equitum. This suggests that the meaning had changed over time.



(03-11-2017, 10:46 AM)Steven James Wrote: I have termed those men under the command of a military tribune, a tribune cohort.

And this cohort is of a different size? But why invent a term to describe this formation? If you have evidence for its existence then surely that evidence refers to it as something?

However, I do not believe that the military structures of the middle Republic can be used to determine the organisation of the 4th-5th centuries AD. The armies of these diverse eras have only the vaguest resemblance to one another, I think. I understand our views differ on this, and doubtless will continue to do so.



(03-11-2017, 10:46 AM)Steven James Wrote: Taking only part of a vexillation and giving it the name numeru, then calling any unit that had the same number of men a numerus is not beyond being unrealistic. A numerus so far is working out to be one third of a vexillation.

I don't understand what you're saying here - it is unrealistic, or it isn't? A vexillation (infantry version) was a vexillation, and could be of any size, it seems. No need for another word to mean a subdivision of a division. Numerus seems always to connote an independent unit.



(03-11-2017, 10:46 AM)Steven James Wrote: The numbers throughout the primary sources relating to the Late Roman army are coherent, and all show they are coming from a mathematical military structure based on fixed unit sizes, not ad hoc numbers.

I know you believe this; you know I do not. But I suspect we are approaching a fork in the road that we have encountered many times on this forum to no great benefit, so I shall say no more about it... [Image: wink.png]


(03-11-2017, 10:46 AM)Steven James Wrote: you once mentioned references to the numerus for the principate. Can you provide them?

Do a search on the Epigraphik Datenbank using numero and numerus as keywords - you'll find over a thousand references, many of them from the principiate.
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#18
Nathan wrote:
It does seem strange though - you've stressed often enough here that we should pay attention to 'primary sources' and not dismiss evidence etc, and yet here we have a clear and emphatic statement (that tagmata were of different sizes), and you seem determined to disbelieve it - why?
 
No I do not disbelieve it, as it is outside by time zone of 410 AD. Varying sizes for a tagmata does not seem to come into play between 324 AD and 410 AD.
 
Nathan wrote:
But why invent a term to describe this formation? If you have evidence for its existence then surely that evidence refers to it as something?
 
Primary sources just say cohort. For example, for the year 462 BC, Dionysius states four cohorts numbering 600 men were stationed in front of Rome. For the same year while the army was in the field, Dionysius writes that two cohorts did not exceed 1,000 men. Here are two complete different organisations and both termed a cohort. So if I don’t put a name to them it gets difficult to write about them and refer back to them. I’ve had to come up with a few more new names in the book, like voting century and levy century to prevent any confusion.
 
Nathan wrote:
However, I do not believe that the military structures of the middle Republic can be used to determine the organisation of the 4th-5th centuries AD.
 
I have found that there is a common military organisational thread from Tarquinius Superbus to 410 AD that the Romans follow. They are quite prominent once you isolate them.
 
Nathan wrote:
The armies of these diverse eras have only the vaguest resemblance to one another, I think. I understand our views differ on this, and doubtless will continue to do so.
 
Ideas are not worth having unless they are worth defending.
 
Yes it like the Mars and Venus thing. My position is all legions from the republic to the sack of Rome have a strong resemblance to each other. However, some time back you did change my mind about the infantry vexillation not being around earlier and not after 300 AD, but the research and the continuous revising, has me returning to my original findings. There are too many mathematical bridges that exist over the centuries to ignore, and all showing the same pattern. And if an infantry vexillation does not exist after 300 AD, well its only one organisational piece and it does not affect anything else.
 
Nathan wrote:
A vexillation (infantry version) was a vexillation, and could be of any size, it seems. No need for another word to mean a subdivision of a division. Numerus seems always to connote an independent unit.
 
Here’s my position. A vexillation had a fixed size and organisation. If I was in command of 10 legions and I ordered by commanders to prepare 2 vexillations of picked men, they would know exactly how many men and how they were to be organised.
 
Suetonius (Vespasian 6 2) writes that in 69 AD, a force of 2,000 soldiers was taken from the 3 legions stationed in Moesia and sent to help Otho. My calculations show of the 3 legions, one legion provides the hastati, one legion the principes and one legion the pilani. I end up with two vexillations.
 
Nathan wrote:
I know you believe this; you know I do not. But I suspect we are approaching a fork in the road that we have encountered many times on this forum to no great benefit, so I shall say no more about it...
 
Nathan wrote:
Do a search on the Epigraphik Datenbank using numero and numerus as keywords - you'll find over a thousand references, many of them from the principiate.
 
Many thanks. I will add this to my list of things to do. At the moment I am reading Studies in the Late Roman Army

Anyway, how did you and I end up on the stage again? Where has that Julian guy gone to?
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#19
I was reading this book:

Philological and historical commentary on Ammianus Marcellinus XXIX (2013):

(p.128, 3.7) As is noted ad 27.8.7 (pp. 196–197), in the fourth century numerus is used as a generic term for army units; here the word stands for legio.

(p. 245, 6.16) Amm. Often uses expressions like miles Gallicanus (25.4.13, 25.10.10,30.10.3),numeri Gallicani (23.5.25 ), cohortes Gallicanae (30.10.1) and exercitus Gallicanus (25.10.8,31.12.6). No specific troops are meant but “einfach die Angehörigen des gallischen Heeres bzw. Das Gallienheer in seiner Gesamtheit;Hoffmann,1969–1970,vol. 1,  147.

About vexillations:


Perhaps an interesting inscription:


Vexillationes equitum electorum alarum sex (quae enumerantur), item cohortium quindecim (quae enumerantur) CIL 2724
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#20
(03-11-2017, 05:28 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: Perhaps an interesting inscription:

Vexillationes equitum electorum alarum sex (quae enumerantur), item cohortium quindecim (quae enumerantur) CIL 2724

I can't find your reference for that one (you've given an incomplete CIL number). All I can find is this, which looks to be the full text:

CIL 03, 600 / AE 2012, 1298 (Gradista) - M(arcus) Valerius M(arci) f(ilius) Quir(ina) Lollianus prae/fectus cohort(is) I Apamenorum sagitt[ariorum] / equit(atae) trib(unus) milit(um) leg(ionis) VII Gem(inae) Fel(icis) praef(ectus) eq(uitum) alae Fl(aviae) Agrip(pianae) / praepositus in Mesopotamia vexillationibus equitum electorum alarum / praetoriae Augustae Syriacae Agrippianae Herculianae / singularium item cohortium I Lucensium II Ulpiae equit(atae) / c(ivium) R(omanorum) I Fl(aviae) c(ivium) R(omanorum) I(I) Thracum III Ulpiae Paflagonum II eqquitum I / Ascalolitanorum I Fl(a)v(iae) Chalcidenorum V Petr(a)eorum IIII / Lucensium I Ulpiae Petr(a)eorum II Ulpiae Paflago{g}num I Ulpiae / sagittariorum III Dacorum I Syngambrum / viam pub[lic(am)] quae a col(onia) Byllid(ensium) / per Astacias ducit angustam fragosam [pe]riculosam / ita muni(vi)t ut vehiculis comme{e}tur item [pon]tes / in Argya flumine et rivis d(e) s(uo) p(osuit) / et inscr[ip]sit d(ecreto) d(ecurionum)


The inscription probably dates to the Parthian war of Lucius Verus, and records an equestrian officer put in command (as praepositus) of mounted detachments drawn from a number of alae (it looks like five to me, rather than six), together with fifteen cohorts.

Obviously a very sizeable 'army in miniature' command for an officer who had already completed his tres militiae - but fully in keeping with 2nd century practice, I'd say.
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#21
(03-11-2017, 06:34 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(03-11-2017, 05:28 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: Perhaps an interesting inscription:

Vexillationes equitum electorum alarum sex (quae enumerantur), item cohortium quindecim (quae enumerantur) CIL 2724

I can't find your reference for that one (you've given an incomplete CIL number).

2724 is the ILS number. It relates to the same inscription as that quoted by Nathan.
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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#22
(03-11-2017, 09:28 PM)Renatus Wrote: 2724 is the ILS number.

Thanks, Michael.

There's a paper here by David Kennedy about Lollianus' command, highlighting (among other things) the difficulties of working out how many alae were involved; Kennedy believes that the list should be dated earlier - perhaps to Hadrian's response to the 'Parthian war scare' - he also suggests that the force was all cavalry, with troopers drawn from the mounted sections of cohortes equitata; I'm not sure if that's necessary, as other big vexillations seem to combine auxiliary infantry and cavalry, and not all the cohorts listed seem to be part-mounted anyway. Depends on the reading of item I suppose?...

There are other inscriptions to mounted vexillations from the 2nd-3rd centuries, usually commanded by praepositi or duces. Valerius Valerianus's vexillation command in the early wars of Severus was probably all cavalry, with horsemen drawn from various Danubian alae.

At some point, probably late 3rd century, vexillatio(ne) eq(q)uitum shifts meaning from a mixed force of cavalry detachments to a single unit.
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#23
(03-11-2017, 09:47 AM)Nathan Ross Wrote: I think a lot of our confusion and debate on this subject over the years stems from our attempts to force what was perhaps a very simple, flexible, practical and dynamic late Roman military doctrine into what we think the structure of a 'proper' Roman army should be.

Amen to that brother!
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#24
From Military History of Late Rome 284-361 Ilkka Syvanne:

The most famous of Gallienus’reforms was the creation of the first separate mobile cavalry army, the Tagmata, in Milan as a rapid reaction force against the threats from Gaul, Raetia and Ilyria. The evacuation of the agri decumantes by Postumus opened Italy to invasions from Raetia. What was novel about the Tagmata was that the legionary cavalry forces had been separated from their mother units and joined together with the auxiliary cavalry units to form the first truly separate and permanent cavalry army( that is, it was not a temporary grouping) under its own commander. This army consisted of cavalry units/legions about 6.000 strong, the equivalent of infantry legions. But this was not the whole extent of the reform. Gallienus also separated the infantry units and detachments into their own separate 6.000 man legions. It is unlikely to be a coincidence that John Lydus( De magistratibus 1.46 p.70 3-4) also refers to the existence of separate 6.000 man infantry legions, and 6000 man cavalry legions( i.e the equivalent of later mere/meros) in the past, the practice of which I date to Gallienus’reign.

On the basis of the fragmentary papyrus P.Oxy. 43 (dated to Feb 295) analyzed by Parker (1933), Galerius’  expeditionary army (Comitatus or Sacer Comitatus) consisted of 18 legionary detachments (IV Flavia, VII Claudia, and XI Claudia being mentioned in the extant text) under nine praepositi (temporary commanders) for a likely total of about 18.000 men (that is, about 1.000 men per detachment) in addition to which came the cavalry vexillationes. This number of units divides itself nicely into three “legions” of 6.000 men each of which would have consisted of three 2.000 men ‘regiments’ each under a praepositus. We don’t know whether we should include among the detachments the bodyguard units, but probably not. If one adds to this figure at least three legions that accompanied Galerius, then the overall fighting strength of the infantry would have consisted of about 36.000 men (the equivalent of 3 legions and 18 detachments) plus some bodyguards and perhaps about 12.000 horsemen.

Now I have read the article by Parker, but he doesn’t really say anything about the cavalry vexillationes consisting of 3 legions of 6000 men.

Does the Papyrus really say there were 6.000, 12.000, 18.000 cavalry (tagmata, meros, moira) ?????
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#25
(03-20-2017, 10:04 AM)Julian de Vries Wrote: Does the Papyrus really say there were 6.000, 12.000, 18.000 cavalry (tagmata, meros, moira) ?????

No it does not.

I've avoided mentioning Ilka Syvanne in this discussion, mainly as I haven't read his book (discussed a bit here - Francis's review is worth reading). But from what I can gather Syvanne believes that 'cavalry legions' called tagma were introduced by Gallienus and numbered c.6000 men. He uses Cedrenus, Lydus and Isidore of Seville to support this. This is, needless to say, a pretty contentious theory!

Papyrus Oxy 43 has been discussed here before as well. It's a fragmentary list of units in an Egyptian expeditionary force, mentioning three legion detachments under praepositi and implying others. The detachments are in pairs, apparently two from each Danubian province. It says nothing about the size of the detachments or the organisation of the army.

This use of paired legion detachments was no innovation: there are similar pairs dating back to Hadrian and Trajan. It seems likely that each detachment comprised two cohorts from each legion (supported by tetrarchic inscriptions from North Africa, also mentioned here many times), but we can't be sure this was always the case. There is no suggestion that these detachments were then recombined into new 'legions'.

Drawing a number from this and then claiming that this number 'divides itself nicely' into some other number is not evidence and should not be used as such.
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#26
How many units of cavalry vexillationes does P.Oxy 43 contain? And does a praepositus command 1 or 2 cavalry vexillationes? I could not understand this from Syvanne’s book. I have tried to read P.Oxy 43 , but I have to admit, these papyri and inscriptions are my Kryptonite. Those scholars who analyze and reconstruct these kind of inscriptions and papyri are complete wizards.

I have one good reference to a cavalry army of 6000 men:


Joshua the Stylite

AD 503-504


When the Magister heard this, he sent Timostratus, the dux of Callinicus, with 6000 cavalry, and he went and fell upon those who were tending the horses and destroyed them, and carried off the horses and sheep and much booty, and returned to the Roman army at Ras-'ain.

I have read all the reviews of Syvanne's book.
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#27
(03-20-2017, 11:59 AM)Julian de Vries Wrote: How many units of cavalry vexillationes does P.Oxy 43 contain? ...I have to admit, these papyri and inscriptions are my Kryptonite.

You're not alone there! P.Oxy.43 is given in full in Grenfell and Hunt, available as a pdf here. It starts on p.89.

Sadly, the book dates from the days when all decent scholars were assumed to know Greek (and Latin, and French and German), so the text is given in Greek with only a few notes in English at the end (p.94).

I'd be interested to know which word G&H translate as 'company' - arithmos, perhaps? I can't puzzle it out from the Greek text. Can anyone help? Eusebius appears to be an optione to the praepositus Terentianus though, so these praepositi are probably actually centurions.

   

Anyway, from what I can gather from AHM Jones and others, the text mentions two legion groups, one of IV Flavia and VII Claudia, commanded by praepositus Julianus, and one of XI Claudia and I Italica, under praepositus Mucianus. Seven other praepositi are named, presumably commanding similar groups.

Apparently the text, or another papyrus like it, also mentions two protectores, plus a unit of Equites Promoti and (I think) the Equites Domini Nostri (Horse Guard). No numbers are given for any unit. I don't think the names of these unit types are given either - so either the legionaries are in vexillations, or the cavalry are, or both...


(03-20-2017, 11:59 AM)Julian de Vries Wrote: Joshua the Stylite the dux of Callinicus, with 6000 cavalry

Nice. Although this (if accurate) was surely not a single unit of 6000 - could have been six of a thousand, ten of 600, 20 of 300, or any combination... The Dux Osrhoenae in the ND (whose territory included Callinicum, if that's the same place) commanded nine units of Equites and six Alae, although the military situation could well have changed by c.500.
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#28
Nathan Ross:

I'd be interested to know which word G&H translate as 'company' - arithmos, perhaps?

P.Rance says in Cavalry: Late Empire:

Similarly, the two cunei stationed in Thebaid probably descend from a single unit of equites Mauri (Lewin 2003). The limited evidence suggests that cunei equitum had the new style Constantinian hierarchy (p.Oxy 4084 (339 CE)).

P. Oxy 4084:

http://aquila.zaw.uni-heidelberg.de/ddb/P.Oxy.;60;;4084;;

My interpretation of the papyrus:


Biarchou arithmou ippeon Mauron skoutarion komitatesion upo Louppianon praipositon

Is this a cunei equitum?
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#29
(03-20-2017, 10:53 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: P.Rance says in Cavalry: Late Empire:

Please write quotes in full:

Rance, Philip: 'Cavalry: Late Empire' in Y. LE BOHEC et al. (edd.), The Encyclopedia of the Roman Army (Chichester/Malden, MA, 2015).
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#30
(03-20-2017, 10:53 PM)Julian de Vries Wrote: Biarchou arithmou ippeon Mauron skoutarion komitatesion upo Louppianon praipositon

Is this a cunei equitum?

Not if your reading is correct.

'Biarchus (of) numerus equitum Maurorum Scutariorum Comitatensis (under?) Praepositus Luppianus' is, I would guess, the Latin equivalent. Not sure about the translation of the commander's name though!

So this is a unit (numerus/arithmos) of Equites Mauri Scutarii, formerly (?) of the field army.

I think Rance's suggestion is that this unit was later split into two cunei (singular cuneus).

But 'upo' looks like one of the two short words in the P.Oxy.43 excerpt I attached above - so quite possibly there is no word indicating 'company' in the original document at that point.
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