Army recruitment: Roman Republic vs Byzantine themata

Oct 2011
585
Croatia
How does Roman Republican, pre-professionalization (Marianization) recruitment system compare to Byzantine themata? In both systems, recruitment was based on land ownership and income from it; that is, soldiers had to own a certain amount of land in order to be soldiers. But what were exact differences? Were Republican soldiers really amateurs, and how did they compare to later thematic forces - which were at least semi-professional, as they were capable of rather complex maneuvers?

Related: is Byzantine theme system really something completely new, or it was based on Late Roman practices? I recall a text outlining how provisioning for the army under themata system was not that different from what was used for foederati under Late Roman system, and that both Carolingian and thematic systems represented a parallel evolution of said system, but I forgot what it is called.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,098
Dispargum
Did Republican legionaries have to own land? Many of them did, but I'm only aware that they had to be citizens and be able to afford to equip themselves. There are other basis for wealth. Merchants and artisans could afford a middle class lifestyle without necessarily owning any land.
 
Apr 2018
341
Italy
Related: is Byzantine theme system really something completely new, or it was based on Late Roman practices? I recall a text outlining how provisioning for the army under themata system was not that different from what was used for foederati under Late Roman system, and that both Carolingian and thematic systems represented a parallel evolution of said system, but I forgot what it is called.
I think you mean the hospitalis where the warrior recieved 1/3 of land.
 
Oct 2015
1,039
Virginia
Roman legionaries were conscripted from those free-born male citizens between 18-46 whom the censors had assessed as having enough property to be registered in the five classes of pedites. Though land was the most common form of property, apparently the censors considered personal as well as real property. All Roman citizens with sufficient property were eligible for 10-16 campaigns as a duty of citizenship.

Long ago I was taught that troops of the Themes were assigned public land contingent on their providing military service (sort of like Ptolemaic or Seleucid katoikai). Is this the current interpretation (?)
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,098
Dispargum
I can't speak about the thematic system but foederati were mentioned. Foederati were given land as compensation for military service and the expectation that the foederati would continue to serve in the future. That's a little different from republican legionaries. Legionaries were required to have property before they could serve. Foederati were given land because the state could not afford to pay them a salary. The foederati did not need money as much as they needed land. The foederati had little to offer the Roman state in exchange for land except military service. There is, of course, the theory that hospitalis did not give the foederati land so much as the tax revenues from that land. This is possible, but I believe it's still a controversial theory.

But we are talking about a fundamental change in the relationship between citizen, soldier, and state. In Republican times military service was expected of nearly everyone as a civic duty. By late imperial times military service had become something easily avoided, and those who did fight were entitled to special compensation.
 
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Oct 2011
585
Croatia
Roman legionaries were conscripted from those free-born male citizens between 18-46 whom the censors had assessed as having enough property to be registered in the five classes of pedites. Though land was the most common form of property, apparently the censors considered personal as well as real property. All Roman citizens with sufficient property were eligible for 10-16 campaigns as a duty of citizenship.

Long ago I was taught that troops of the Themes were assigned public land contingent on their providing military service (sort of like Ptolemaic or Seleucid katoikai). Is this the current interpretation (?)
I believe interpretation is that they were given land, seeing how soldiers selling their lands was quite a big problem. I do believe that land was the only type of property considered for a thematic soldier.

@Chlodio What you described for foederati is basically what was done for thematic soldiers. I will however note that expectation of military service as a civic duty may have existed in Imperial times as well; but it seems that only professional soldiers were seen as adequate for field campaigning, while citizens/conscripts were only used for defence of walled cities. Link.
 
Apr 2018
341
Italy
Until marian reform legionaries were recruited based on census because soldiers had to provide themself their equipment. After marian reforms the recruitmens was voluntary.
 
Feb 2019
7
Lithuania
I believe interpretation is that they were given land, seeing how soldiers selling their lands was quite a big problem. I do believe that land was the only type of property considered for a thematic soldier.

@Chlodio What you described for foederati is basically what was done for thematic soldiers. I will however note that expectation of military service as a civic duty may have existed in Imperial times as well; but it seems that only professional soldiers were seen as adequate for field campaigning, while citizens/conscripts were only used for defence of walled cities. Link.
Land was given for legionary in imperial period after service, class census existed in respublican pre-marian period.
 
Oct 2015
1,039
Virginia
The fact is that the sources (Plutarch, Appian, Cassius Dio, Cicero) show that the levy (dilectus) continued to be the means by which armies were raised during the first century BC. Of course recruiters were happy to accept volunteers from the capite censi as Marius did, or from the property holding classes if they were forthcoming, rather than impress men who didn't want to go. The property qualification had been reduced several times since the Second Punic War such that by the time of the Gracchi men of very small property were eligible, and after 89 BC all Italians were enfranchised adding to the pool of men eligible for service in the legions. But there were still instances when commanders had to resort to compulsion (Piso in 58 BC, Crassus in 55). The availability of "volunteers" was contingent on the popularity of the commander (Caesar and Pompey rarely had a problem) and the sphere of operations. Probably particularly on the prospect of booty, since pay was barely subsistence level, from which stoppages were made for rations and equipment; and there was no guarantee of a discharge bonus unless the commander made a special effort.
 
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