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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old April 6th, 2016, 08:30 AM   #31
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The lack of troops came after the disaster of the battle of manzikert. There moral was low and then the use of a theme was shattered due to the rise of Seljuk Turks. But the ERE from Justinian to Heraclius and the soldier emperors of the Macedonian dynasty like Nikephoros phokas, tzimikes, and Basil II made the Roman army a formidable force.

As Kirialax and ANAX will tell you this. Roman soldiers still had their classical legionary moral and followed their emperors and worshipped their military saints. And the use of mercenaries were limited since they actually had a very large army. But during the Komnenian and Palaiologan dynasty...not much.
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Old April 6th, 2016, 10:47 AM   #32

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From what i've been studying up on roman history, it seems that even the roman empire during the 3rd century had a hard time with lack of troops as well. Main factor was the overwhelming disease that killed people left and right. It seems that at least with romans, even if they still had numbers of citizens and senators and equestrians, soldiers were a different class or job so these non-soldiers couldn't become a soldier right away. Instead emperors like Aurelian resolved to hiring or even conscripted defeated germanic tribes to their forces.
I guess similar thing could apply to Byzantines, that even though the empire itself had citizens and people, that didn't mean soldiers were easy to get.
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Old April 6th, 2016, 10:54 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by VHS View Post
I know the Warring States period of China was somewhat extreme (a lower estimate, the state of Han should have about 150,000 troops; taking out zero does not make sense at all), but I would assume a 100,000 army from any given empires.
Byzantine Empire suffered severe lack of troops from 11000 HE (Holocene calendar) on; a mere 40,000 strong military force sounded like a poor excuse for an empire.
Can any people explain the details?
During the time of the Greek city states and the Roman Republic, citizens were expected to train and being able to fight, and for ambitious Romans would wanted to advance politically, some combat experience was highly desirable. With the rise of the Empire, there wasn't that incentive for the wealthy to participate in military service, and the Roman empire actively banned groups from forming, out of concern that they could source of potential problems in forming rebellions.

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The banning of perceived opposition groups with the potential for collective political activity was common Roman policy and identifies the Roman understanding of the use of repression and coercion in the suppression of politically motivated collective violence. .....

The letters between Pliny the Younger and the emperor Trajan regarding the possible establishment of a new association (Hetaeria) in Nicomedia to act as a fire brigade is an interesting example of this legislation in action, as it demonstrates the importance that emperors placed on the suppression of these clubs. In this instance Trajan would not allow Pliny to establish the new club as the region had previously suffered from civil disobedience due to the involvement of local associations. ...Minimising Rebellion in the Roman Empire and the banning of a fire brigade in Nicomedia
If groups couldn't even get together to form a fire brigade, they certainly couldn't get together to train as a militia. Roman imperial policy ensure that its citizens were untrained in military matters, to the Empire had a monopoly on military training and experience. But it meant that they also had to rely on mercenaries and professional soldiers, which is more expensive than augmenting their army with militia and trained citizen soldiers. The Byzantines had to find people physically able to fight as soldiers, and willing to do so at what the Byzantines were willing to pay, and it may have been difficult to find those to meet both criteria. Those who might have made good soldiers might have wanted more money than the Byzantines were prepared to pay. A soldiers life is hard, you are often away from home for extended periods of time, and there is the very real risk of death and injury, there were easier ways to make a living.


The Byzantine areas were highly urbanized, and urban poor often are not physically in good enough shape to make good soldiers - food is more expensive in the cities, and in the early stages of the industrial revolution, the poor who joined the British army were often on the short side. (Note, with the use of guns, physical strength became less important, it took a lot less strength to load and fire a gun than to stab with a sword and spear, or cock an arrow, even with a crossbow.)

In the case on Italy, the disappearance of the small farmers resulted eliminated one of the prime areas for recruiting for the legions - the 2nd and 3rd son of a small farmer, who wouldn't inherent the farm, might look more favorably on a military career, and being use to hard farm labor, made good soldier material. Perhaps the situation was similar in the East. In the Western empire, they had to resort to recruiting barbarians to man the legions, but I read that the Eastern Empire/Byzantines rejected the use of barbarians after their experience with the Goths (Adrianople), and instead relied on their own citizens.
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Old April 7th, 2016, 12:53 PM   #34

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once the major germanic empires expanded, leading to the emergence of modern european states, and the Arabs emerged, Eastern Rome never would have had much prominence. Western Rome had prominence since it managed to defeat major empires and peoples, and for centuries had no real competition. Besides, who else in the medieval period could raise a 40000 strong army? I doubt Charlegmane could even.
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Old April 7th, 2016, 07:29 PM   #35

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Originally Posted by notgivenaway View Post
once the major germanic empires expanded, leading to the emergence of modern european states, and the Arabs emerged, Eastern Rome never would have had much prominence. Western Rome had prominence since it managed to defeat major empires and peoples, and for centuries had no real competition. Besides, who else in the medieval period could raise a 40000 strong army? I doubt Charlegmane could even.
The army of the Northern Song Dynasty swelled to around 1 million strong (it was a trade for quantity for quality; when the quality of the troops could not be guaranteed, the attempt
was to fill the gap in quality with quantity).
When the army was "small and competent", it was around 200,000 strong.

Last edited by VHS; April 7th, 2016 at 07:33 PM.
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