Reforms of the Roman Imperial Army

Reforms of the Roman Imperial Army

Probably the most famous and largest reform in the army was the complete restructuring of the soldiers, the command structure, the combat formations and the equipment of the legionnaire. This only continued to increase the power of the army. By the time of Augustus, when the “classical” legion most closely associated with the Roman army came into full force, Rome’s imperial army became the most powerful army in the ancient world.

This can be attributed to the many improvements the army underwent from the time of Marius to the reign of Augustus and beyond. Previously, the velites, hastates, principes and triarii served different purposes in battle and had to provide their own weapons, armor and Roman helmets, which varied in quality and appearance. In the first century AD, they were made into a unified fighting force by Marius and Augustus, with uniformed weapons and armor equipped with the wealth provided by the state. After the reforms, the soldiers before Marius were restructured into two main groups: legionnaires and auxiliaries. Citizens of the Roman Empire were recruited into the legions (the main heavy infantry), while non-citizens made up the auxilia (support and specialist troops such as archers, cavalry and less equipped troops).

This had another impact on Roman society, as all people living within the territories of the empire could now join the army, citizens and non-citizens alike. Allowing significant numbers of non-citizens to fight in the army, however, would have major implications for the Roman state during the late empire. The command structure was also significantly restructured. After the reforms, not only was Roman armor and clothing modified, but it was even more widely known how the excellent organization and command of the army contributed to the success of the Legion. Not a single man was ever lost in the army due to the fact that every soldier personally knew an officer and each other.

It also contributed to a more loyal and organized army. The smallest part of the army was the tent band or Contuberniun, which consisted of eight men. They shared and were responsible for their own tent, provisions and equipment. Next came the Century, which was composed of ten groups of Contuberniun, making up eighty men. A centurion was in charge of each centurion. A manipule is made up of two centuries and a cohort is made up of three maniples, making the standard 480 men per cohort.

As time went on, however, in the age of Augustus, the Manipul is believed to have dropped entirely and the Cohort remained the main standard unit in the army and was subdivided into six Centuries instead of three Manipuli. Finally, the legion was composed of ten cohorts along with 120 horsemen, meaning that the strength of the legion was about 5,000 men, excluding non-combatants. A legate commanded a legion, and a consul or praetor (as Marius became) was in charge of an entire army or a campaign.

#Reforms #Roman #Imperial #Army

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *