How did naked Germanic savages defeat the Romans?

Sep 2017
738
United States
#41
Most Roman cavalry was foreign or at least non-Italian. Italy was not a good breeding ground for horses, and Italy did not produce the best stock. Cavalry also works best on flat terrain, and Italy is mountainous. (I'm still trying to understand how Hannibal's cavalry could do so well there.) At any rate, Romans and other Italians did not invest much effort in developing good cavalry. The Romans found it easier to recruit cavalry in other parts of the Empire, including Gaul.
When the army reformed, and cavalry was no longer auxiliary, were they still almost all of foreign stock (not by citizenship but by being latin or not)?
 
Sep 2017
738
United States
#42
Well, Romans are known to be not really using cavalry (at least their own). Caesar used germans as cavalrt auxiliary , numidians earlier(and still during late repiblican era). Now, i can't recall when and in what frequency they used Celtic cavalry though.
Also, saying Germanics having comparable civilization to mediterranean world of the time is a big middle finger to greco-roman-persian world. I dont think being a nice craftsmen is equel to having a high civilization in antiquity terms.
Romans adopted many things from barbarians, such as weaponry, and the very infamous triplex acies from another Italic tribe .
Well, I was making a joke :)
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,312
Dispargum
#43
When the army reformed, and cavalry was no longer auxiliary, were they still almost all of foreign stock (not by citizenship but by being latin or not)?
Sounds like you're talking about the Marian Reforms of the last century BCE. Yes, at that time the custom of recruiting non-Italian cavalry continued. The farther forward in time you come, the less Latin or Italian the entire Roman Army becomes, infantry and cavalry alike. In the final century or so in the west most of the army was recruited from various barbarian peoples living inside or outside of the Empire's borders. In the fifth century we find "Roman" cavalry consisting of Huns, Alans, Sarmatians, etc
 
Sep 2017
738
United States
#44
Sounds like you're talking about the Marian Reforms of the last century BCE. Yes, at that time the custom of recruiting non-Italian cavalry continued. The farther forward in time you come, the less Latin or Italian the entire Roman Army becomes, infantry and cavalry alike. In the final century or so in the west most of the army was recruited from various barbarian peoples living inside or outside of the Empire's borders. In the fifth century we find "Roman" cavalry consisting of Huns, Alans, Sarmatians, etc
I meant the later reforms of Constantine and Diocletian, and the use of units like cataphracts.

That you know of, were there any Italian/Latin cavalry in the last century or two before the fall of the WRE? Obviously the ERE couldn't really have Italian anything, given it didn't own Italy, though it may have been able to have some Latins.
 
#45
I meant the later reforms of Constantine and Diocletian, and the use of units like cataphracts.

That you know of, were there any Italian/Latin cavalry in the last century or two before the fall of the WRE? Obviously the ERE couldn't really have Italian anything, given it didn't own Italy, though it may have been able to have some Latins.
Northern Italy was a recruiting ground for infantry and cavalry and was also heavily garrisoned during the later Roman empire, since the Upper Danube frontier wasn't too far to the north. Indeed, northern Italy was invaded at least three times by the Alemanni in the middle decades of the third century.
 
Sep 2017
738
United States
#46
Northern Italy was a recruiting ground for infantry and cavalry and was also heavily garrisoned during the later Roman empire, since the Upper Danube frontier wasn't too far to the north. Indeed, northern Italy was invaded at least three times by the Alemanni in the middle decades of the third century.
Do you know if these troops were of largely Latin/Italian stock, or mostly settled/integrated barbarians?
 
#47
Do you know if these troops were of largely Latin/Italian stock, or mostly settled/integrated barbarians?
At least in the case of the third century I know of no specific evidence that locates barbarian settlers in Italy, but rather places them in Gaul and the Balkans. No doubt the troops in this region would have a mixture of backgrounds, but I suspect the majority would be local Italians and those recruited in the Balkans. Local/regional recruitment was the common practice since the second century, but Balkan troops were also especially prized as good soldiers, made hardy by repeated barbarian incursions across the long Danube frontier (the most heavily garrisoned frontier in the empire).
 
#48
But on the specific matter of cavalry in the third century, Moors and Dalmatians made for distinguished horsemen, and they were prominent within the cavalry-heavy mobile reserve that was founded by Gallienus and became the basis for future standing field armies. They fought as lighter cavalry rather than cataphracts. One imagines that many Syrians fought as cataphracts, considering the pattern of local recruitment and the importance of cataphracts to warfare on the eastern frontier. The Romans also used allied Armenian cataphracts. Sarmatians, as previously noted, made for good heavy cavalry.
 
#49
Zosimus narrates how Aurelian's Moorish and Dalmatian cavalry conducted themselves against Palmyra's most-likely Syrian cataphracts. Both sides demonstrate their skills.

The Battle of Immae (1.50.2-4):
As soon as the emperor was on his march thither, Ancyra submitted to the Romans, and afterwards Tyana, and all the cities between that and Antioch. There finding Zenobia with a large army ready to engage, as he himself also was, he met and engaged her as honor obliged him.
[1.50.3] But observing that the Palmyrene cavalry placed great confidence in their armor, which was very strong and secure, and that they were much better horsemen than his soldiers, he planted his infantry by themselves on the other side of the Orontes. He charged his cavalry not to engage immediately with the vigorous cavalry of the Palmyrenians, but to wait for their attack, and then, pretending to fly, to continue so doing until they had wearied both the men and their horses through excess of heat and the weight of their armor, so that they could pursue them no longer.
[1.50.4] This project succeeded, and as soon as the cavalry of the emperor saw their enemy tired, and that their horses were scarcely able to stand under them, or themselves to move, they drew up the reins of their horses, and, wheeling round, charged them, and trod them under foot as they fell from their horses. By which means the slaughter was promiscuous, some falling by the sword, and others by their own and the enemies' horses.

The Battle of Emesa (1.52.3-53.3):
Finding the Palmyrene army drawn up before Emesa, amounting to seventy thousand men, consisting of Palmyrenes and their allies, he opposed to them the Dalmatian cavalry, the Moesians and Pannonians, and the Celtic legions of Noricum and Rhaetia,
[1.52.4] and besides these the choicest of the imperial regiment selected man by man, the Mauritanian horse, the Tyaneans, the Mesopotamians, the Syrians, the Phoenicians, and the Palestinians, all men of acknowledged valor; the Palestinians besides other arms wielding clubs and staves.
[1.53.1] At the commencement of the engagement, the Roman cavalry receded, lest the Palmyrenes, who exceeded them in number, and were better horsemen, should by some stratagem surround the Roman army. But the Palmyrene cavalry pursued them so fiercely, though their ranks were broken, that the event was quite contrary to the expectation of the Roman cavalry. For they were pursued by an enemy much their superior in strength,
[1.53.2] and therefore most of them fell. The foot had to bear the brunt of the action. Observing that the Palmyrenes had broken their ranks when the horse commenced their pursuit, they wheeled about, and attacked them while they were scattered and out of order. Upon which many were killed, because the one side fought with the usual weapons, while those of Palestine brought clubs and staves against coats of mail made of iron and brass.
[1.53.3] The Palmyrenes therefore ran away with the utmost precipitation, and in their flight trod each other to pieces, as if the enemy did not make sufficient slaughter; the field was filled with dead men and horses, whilst the few that could escape took refuge in the city.
 

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