The Huns and the Parthians

May 2014
1
China
#1
Did these two enemies not have broadly similar methods of waging war?

I am curious why the Roman Empire was able to maintain a long-running stalemate with the Parthians but suffer such greater problems with the Huns. I'm sure there is a good reason for this and I have a few ideas, but without having a very deep knowledge of the period I am curious what anyone else may suggest as the reason.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,413
#2
Huns were a very shifty confederation of tribes with varying agendas. When Rome looked weak they might converge sensing easy loot but without a strong leader like Attila disunited tribes were still a danger but not one requiring massive armies and long campaigns.

Parthians had access to steppe warriors and by tradition were descended from such men but also could rely on urban industry and were more organized. Still Parthians could rarely match Roman organization or field similarly large armies or sustain long offensive campaigns. The next dynasty to rule Persia was much stronger for for Rome.
 
Feb 2011
866
Scotland
#3
Both Huns and Parthians placed strong reliance on horse archers: they were similar in that respect.

The Romans maintained themselves militarily against the Parthians for nearly 300 years and obviously coped with horse archers to some degree as during much of that period the Romans were on the offensive.

The Huns did not commence contact with the Romans till around 400CE. During much of the next 40 years the Romans utilised their services rather than fighting them, though when they did fight the Roman record was respectable.

The real period of problems with the Huns was quite brief, c441-453, when Attila's Hunnic empire was at its height. At this time in fact great part of the large Hunnic armies consisted of allies/conquered peoples such as Gepids and Goths, who were not horse archers. Again, the Romans acquitted themselves respectably, though they were handled roughly at times such as at the Utus in 447. Allied with the Goths and Burgundians, the Western Romans came off winners at Chalons in 451.

During the 5th century the Roman army does not seem to have been particularly effective at winning battles, certainly not decisively, and in the 440s the Western Empire was entering its final period of decline.

After Attila's death in 453 the Romans dealt successfully on the whole with Hunnic attacks.
 
Aug 2013
1,415
South Korea
#5
Did these two enemies not have broadly similar methods of waging war?

I am curious why the Roman Empire was able to maintain a long-running stalemate with the Parthians but suffer such greater problems with the Huns. I'm sure there is a good reason for this and I have a few ideas, but without having a very deep knowledge of the period I am curious what anyone else may suggest as the reason.
The Roman Empire at the times of the Roman-Parthian Wars would have fended off the Huns quite easily, but the Huns arrived when the Empire was dying.

Despite that, however, the Huns were mauled at the Catalaunian Plains(Chalons).
 
Jan 2014
915
Virginia
#6
The Roman Empire at the times of the Roman-Parthian Wars would have fended off the Huns quite easily, but the Huns arrived when the Empire was dying.

Despite that, however, the Huns were mauled at the Catalaunian Plains(Chalons).
The fact that Rome defeated the Huns is even more impressive when you realize that Adrianople was basically Rome's last stand as a superpower.
 
Mar 2012
2,288
#7
A lot of people have touched on the decline in the legions as the answer to the question, but I would just like to say that it is a bit of a misnomer to say that the Romans had a "stalemate" with the Parthians. Even before the dawn of the Byzantine era they had already seized and burned Ctesiphon 3 times. Under Trajan they actually carved provinces out of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, which were given back by Hadrian.

It would be more accurate to say that the Romans invaded Parthia many times with varying degrees of success, and the Parthians were able to thwart some of these invasions with high quality armies, and survive others merely by taking the worst and allowing logistical difficulties to wear the Romans down.
 
Feb 2011
866
Scotland
#8
A strategic stalemate. Neither Romans nor Parthians were able to project power deep enough and long enough into the opposing heartlands to consolidate any long term conquest. The balance was towards the Romans though, who were clearly able to counter horse archer tactics.

I agree they would have dealt effectively with the Huns, had they arrived 200 or 300 years earlier.
 
Dec 2011
71
Viceregal Residency, Calcutta, the Second City of
#9
I would recommend a reading of this:

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/War-In-World-History-Technology/dp/0070525846"]Amazon.com: War In World History: Society, Technology, and War from Ancient Times to the Present, Volume 1 (9780070525849): Stephen Morillo, Jeremy Black, Paul Lococo: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ENQYzD0wL.@@AMEPARAM@@51ENQYzD0wL[/ame]

While it is not as detailed as one would like it to be, it gives a sufficiently detailed overview of these nomadic Central Asian (roughly) powers.
 

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,577
USA
#10
Huns mauled the Romans so well due to the conflict between the Eastern and Western Empires, plus the West was already overrun by Visigoths and Vandals. Huns were very prominent in siege warfare with massive battering rams.
 

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