Presence of Non-Romans Throughout the History Research Paper

Pages: 11 (3232 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Military

Presence of Non-Romans

Throughout the history of Rome, there were a series of transformations that were taking place. One area where this was most evident is inside the Roman army. As these changes, were designed to deal with current and future challenges. Yet, many of these adjustments were based upon: addressing underlying needs and reflecting the social changes that were occurring in society. Over the course of time, these shifts would transform the identity of Rome itself. To fully understand what is taking place requires looking at: how these adjustments were occurring and the lasting effect they had on its characteristics / loyalty. Together, these different elements will highlight how these changes transformed the way Rome looked at itself. This is the point that these transformations will illustrate how the Roman army and society were weakened by these differences.

History of the Roman Army

The Roman army has undergone a number of transformations during the course of the republic and empire. The most notable include: the phalanx, the development / evolution of legions and the formation of a larger army. These different periods are illustrating where the Roman army's strength came from and what factors were contributing to their success.

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The Phalanx: The early Roman army utilized the phalanx as the primary weapon of choice. However, depending upon the individual's class, their underlying amounts of protection varied. What happened is there were a total of five categories. In general, the wealthy were the most heavily armed and they had greater amounts of armor. The lowest class had no protection and carried a single phalanx as their primary weapon. This system had limited success for the republic. The problem was that their units could easily be outmaneuvered by: Germanic tribes (who were utilizing unconventional tactics). After the Gauls sacked parts of early Rome, is when there was a transformation in these tactics.

Research Paper on Presence of Non-Romans Throughout the History of Assignment

The Development of Legions: In response to these challenges, was the establishment of legions. These were large units that were designed to directly engage the enemy and limit their ability to counter attack. The way that this was achieved is through creating three different rows and columns (i.e. The hastati in the front, the principes forming the middle, and the triarii in rear). The hastati was a group of young soldiers that carried a sword, javelin and fully body shield. This was created to prevent the enemy from gaining ground and to limit any kind of collateral damage from a frontal attack. The principies were in the middle of the formation and were considered to be the most experienced. This meant that they received the best weapons and protection. The triarii's were at the back of the formation and they were armed in similar fashion to the hastati. Their basic objectives were to secure the rear of the formation against any kind of sneak attack.

As time went by, these innovations continued with the legions becoming more maneuverable and capable of adapting to a variety of situations. At the same time, a series of professional standards were implemented that helped to improve the quality of soldiers in the army. This was developed through: increasing proficiency / physical standards and establishing a set period of time for everyone to serve in the army (i.e. 20 years). Moreover, legions were equipped with long spears and the armament improved for the majority of units. There was also the development of the cavalry. Their job was to move independently and in coordination with regular army units. During the battle, they were often utilized to soften and overwhelm targets.

The formation of a larger army: As time went by, the Romans were facing considerable challenges. This is because they controlled vast amounts of territory and did not have enough personnel to prevent incursions by the Germanic tribes. The problem was that Rome had faced a series of civil wars and continuing cross border attacks (which became worse). To address these challenges, the traditional legion was abandoned in favor of more lightly armored cavalry and infantry units. During this time, professional standards were reduced and many of the Germanic tribes were hired by Rome as mercenaries. This created a series of shifting alliances and loyalties that reduce the strength and professionalism of the army. Once the mercenaries were no longer working with the Romans, is when they would take this knowledge with them and utilize it to attack these units.

In 378 AD, the Goths used what they learned to wipe out the entire Eastern Roman infantry and cavalry (at the Battle of Adrianople). In response to these issues, new reforms were implemented by hiring many of the Germanic tribes as mercenaries. This caused the balance of power in the Roman army to shift and standards of professionalism to change. Moreover, the preferred weapons of choice switched to the bow and arrow. As time went by many Roman units were organized similar to the Germanic tribes (with a chief serving as the commander). There were also German words and ideas that were incorporated into various Roman military strategies.

The Impact of Christianity on the Roman Army

Until the fourth century AD, Rome did not recognize Christianity and they often viewed it as a cult. This is because Christians refused to participate in Roman public holidays and practices that were paying tribute to the Emperor / gods (most notably: the burning of incense in front of their doors). At the same time, they were discouraged from joining or serving in the Roman army.

However, over the course of time there was a transformation in attitudes. In 311 AD, the Emperor Galerian passed a series of laws calling for the tolerance of Christians in society. This opened the door for these individuals to become a part of the army. In 313 AD, Galerian and the Western Emperor Constantine agreed that Christianity should be the official religion of the empire. The biggest factor supporting Constantine's decision was based upon: the belief that God had protected his army and helped him to win critical battles. As a result, he encouraged his men to openly practice Christianity as part of their religion. This allowed the church to influence the army and the practices they were utilizing.

Evidence of this can be seen with observations from Whitby (1998) who said, "Before Constantine, although there were Christians enrolled in the army, with a closeness and connection between military service and pagan worship. This is especially true with the imperial cult, which served to reinforce military loyalties. They made it difficult for committed Christians to serve or for soldiers to be admitted to Christian communities. Once Constantine made this the official religion of Rome, is when these practices were widely accepted by everyone. This is when there was a transformation in the customs and traditions that were utilized by Roman soldiers and officers." These ideas are showing Christianity transformed the mindset of the Roman military with everyone accepting these ideas. In the future, this changed the identity of the Roman army to reflect the transformations in society.

These different areas are showing how the transformations in the Roman army were a replication of the shifts in society. This was occurring through the acceptance of Christianity and the increased number of non-Romans into the military. At first, these changes were taking place very subtly. Yet, over the long periods of time, is when these shifts became more severe which resulted in the changing practices and tactics inside the Roman army.

What was the impact of Non-Romans on the Imperial Army?

Non-Romans had a major impact in: shifting the focus, tactics, language, philosophy and mindset of the army. This was accomplished with the military adapting many of their techniques to become a part of their strategic doctrine. Over the course of time, this changed their ability to engage the enemy and the methods they were utilizing.

A good example of this can be seen with observations from the source titled the Roman Army which observed, "After achieving peace with the Goths, Constantine began to enlist every German warlord he could bribe into his services. These Germans with their horsemen were not part of the regular army. But were federates (foederati), for whose services the emperor paid for (i.e. The so-called annonae foederaticae). Only six years after the Battle of Adrianople, there were already 40,000 German horsemen serving under their chiefs in the army of the east. This changed the Roman army forever. So too had the balance of power in the empire itself. The German federates became the sole military force of real importance in the west and eventually overthrew the state (bringing about the fall of Rome). But in the east, the emperors Leo I and later Zeno managed to avoid German dominance of the army by recruiting large numbers of soldiers from Asia Minor (Turkey). It was this development which assured the survival of the east against the threat of the German federate warlords. Another development of the day, were native Roman units… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Presence of Non-Romans Throughout the History.  (2012, August 14).  Retrieved May 11, 2021, from

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