Reason for Imperial Roman centurion pay?

Mar 2015
950
Europe
Why were Imperial Roman centurions paid so well?

Early Modern European commanding officers were paid similarly. But there I can discern a reason.

The payscale for New Model Army infantry, as promised, seems to have been:
A private: 8d/day (coming to 240d, i.e £1/month and £12/year)
...
A lieutenant: 4s/-/day (i.e. 48d/day, 6x private)
A captain, leading a troop of 100 privates: 12s/-/day (i.e. 144d/day, 18x private)
...
A colonel, leading a regiment of 1200 privates: £1/16s/-/day (i.e. 432d/day, 54x private)
...
A lieutenant-general, although of cavalry: £4/day (i. e. 960d/day, 120x infantry private)

Now, the Long Parliament had trouble keeping their word, which is why they were overthrown by mutiny in 1647.
For example, they halved the pay of all officers promised over 10s/-/day, promising to pay the other half after war. And then they did not pay even the remaining salary.
The said lieutenant-general, originally promised £1460/year, had the promise officially cut to £730/year during war, but seems to have actually received under £500.
Well, it´s still a lot. Over 40 times the promised pay of an infantry private (and that was in arrears, they seem to have actually received more like £9 than £12 per year). Oliver was used to much less: his income had been under £400/year before war, and apparently under £100/year in early 1630s.

Yet Oliver seems to have been threatened by going broke all the way till 1646.

Why? What did he need so much money for?
An obvious guess: a lot of off-budget military costs. Including investments in original recruiting and equipping his army - not budgeted to him upfront, and expected to recoup either out of loot or from high salary over time.

And Oliver may have been desperate because the investment in war had not even been his money, but borrowed on his personal credit - so £500 was more than enough for his personal needs, but not enough for the interest of his creditors for the army.

If the captains and above of New Model Army were expected to pay a lot of non-itemized military costs from their "salary" and also make a heavy initial investment to recoup then the payscale makes sense.

But Imperial Roman Army?

Payscale of legionary infantry looks similar:
Private: HS 900/year
Centurion, in charge of 80 privates: something like HS 13 500/year (15x private)
...
Primipilus, ranking above 4800 privates, but below the legionary legate and 6+ staff officers (tribunes, praefectus castrorum?): something like HS 54 000/year (60x private).

So far looks like New Model Army...
but to what purpose?

New Model Army officers were creditors of State.
In time of Republican Civil Wars, maybe also. Pompey and others had been raising armies at their own cost and from their own clients, placing it "in service" of Republic, and expecting to recoup the investment from their large share of the loot...

but with the result that the armies owed loyalty to their commander, not Republic. Sulla could lead a mutiny, and if Sulla could, then why not others?

Mutiny was a threat to Emperors as much as to Republic.

If Emperors were paying their legions up front and regularly out of their own fisc, and requesting loyalty to him, what was the purpose of high officer salaries? For one, they were a waste of money. For another, paying officers too much would have meant giving them too much social status - making them credible leaders for a rebellion.

So, why the Imperial officer payscale?
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,109
MD, USA
Many centurions--and I don't know the percentage--were directly appointed from the equestrian order, mostly by provincial governors. Presumably these guys were fast-tracked for promotion, without all that tedious climbing through the ranks done by men who were rising from the bottom. BUT I honestly don't know how much data there is.

Apparently, upon discharge a centurion was automatically made a member of the equestrian class, if he hadn't been already. So his higher pay may be *because* of his social class. Paying them less would have been insulting, and damaging to the reputation of their supporters and patrons. Class was directly determined by wealth, remember, so it's important.

Bottom line, it made sense to the people back then!

Matthew
 
Mar 2015
950
Europe
Many centurions--and I don't know the percentage--were directly appointed from the equestrian order, mostly by provincial governors. Presumably these guys were fast-tracked for promotion, without all that tedious climbing through the ranks done by men who were rising from the bottom. BUT I honestly don't know how much data there is.

Apparently, upon discharge a centurion was automatically made a member of the equestrian class, if he hadn't been already. So his higher pay may be *because* of his social class. Paying them less would have been insulting, and damaging to the reputation of their supporters and patrons. Class was directly determined by wealth, remember, so it's important.
For knights, there was supposed to have been a cursus honorum of "tres militiae" - starting as a prefect of a cohort, above centurion.
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,109
MD, USA
For knights, there was supposed to have been a cursus honorum of "tres militiae" - starting as a prefect of a cohort, above centurion.
Yes, but there were only a certain number of those posts available in a particular province. The centurionate was alternate career path.

Remember, at the top of the centurion hierarchy was Primus Pilus, from which a man rose to Praefectus Castrorum, 3rd in command of a legion. Following that was either retirement (generally lucrative and glorious), or posting to some other very prestigious position, such as a fleet commander, or even a Praetorian Prefect, I believe.

If you follow the tres militiae path, you go from there to the Senate for about 10 years, and maybe from there get appointed as legatus of a legion or provincial governor.

Options!

Matthew