The Roman Army

1291 Words 6 Pages
The Roman Army served a critical role in the existence and development of the empire from its conception until its collapse. It was vital not only to the strength and solidarity of the empire, but to the emperor as well. As the emperor’s largest employer, the army had a significant and lasting impact on the Roman economy, and the possibility of the army collectively turning against the sitting emperor gave it a political dimension as well. The aim of this paper will be to analyze the history of the army and emperors between the reigns of Emperors Constantine I and Justinian. Through this analysis, I will argue that the Roman army ultimately deteriorated the most during this time period than any other period. This is due to certain imperial …show more content…
Thus, this will further prove that the deterioration of the Roman army is one of, if not the main reason that the Western Roman Empire ‘fell’.
To begin, the Emperor Constantine ascended to power in 307 CE upon the death of his father, Constantius, in 306 CE. Under Constantine, there was a shift in the operations and organization of the army from the way in which Diocletian’s army operated. To begin, Constantine was responsible for developing the two tier system of organization within the army. In this system, selected units would make one central field army, and the names of the troops within these armies were known as comitatenses. Although this is not necessarily an addition to the army, as Gallienus’ army in the 260s employed units that served as one field army, and they were deployed to places where crises occurred, it is still significant because Constantine’s systematic implementation of this structure would impact the army for years to come. What is more, it is also an important implementation to note because this was one of Constantine’s new movements in the shift from Diocletian’s army that
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Constantius II, in 354 CE, guided his troops to victory during these internal conflicts and had a firm control over the empire. Also, during this time period, the emergence of Ammianus Marcellinus and his writings began to circulate throughout the empire, and he soon emerged as the premier author and historian on imperial policies and militaristic endeavors of emperors until 378 CE. Ammianus is an objective historian, and his personal experience in the stories that he writes about give us a clearer understanding of the emperors and their motives. For example, in his history, The Later Roman Empire, Ammianus presents a compelling view on the excessive harshness of the emperor Gallus. According to Ammianus, Gallus received a suggestion to freeze prices throughout the east due to a famine at that time, and the emperor had the nerve to order the execution of all senators at Antioch. Constantius soon executes Gallus and appoints one of his relatives, Julian to replace the cruel emperor in the east. Upon taking control of the eastern Empire, Julian begins successful military conquests- one of which was the reconquering of Cologne, an area which had weak fortifications with little troops. This expands on the lack of attention paid to these provinces and the flawed policy of Constantine to pull back troops from these frontiers. What is more, Constantius wanted Julian to gather his troops

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