How big and what was the Roman army composed of?

2023-02-15 19:34:43Histori SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
How big and what was the Roman army composed of?

Huge, multicultural, very expensive. This was the Roman army in the last years of the empire. It had nothing in common with the first army, founded according to legend by the first king of Rome, Romulus, through the recruitment of volunteers from the 3 tribes that laid the foundations of the kingdom.

From the years of the monarchy, the basic unit of the Roman army was the legion. The first consisted of 3,000 foot soldiers and 300 cavalry, chosen from the Roman population between the ages of 17-46. The soldiers were not paid for this commitment.

They even had to pay for their own weaponry. The poorest were the infantry, while the richest were the cavalry. The first "salaries" for soldiers appeared around the 5th century BC, but at first they were very low. Often the soldiers got rich with the "spoils of war" and with the "gifts" that the generals offered to the troops from time to time.

In the time of Hannibal

With the birth of the Roman Republic, the army was divided into two legions, each commanded by a consul, and consisted of a maximum of 10,000 legionaries and about 600 cavalry. When Hannibal, the leader of Carthage crossed the Alps in 218 BC) to descend on Rome, the Roman army had already grown significantly, and numbered up to 23 legions that were spread throughout Italy, Illyria (on the Balkan peninsula), Sardinia, Sicily and Gaul (present-day France).

How big and what was the Roman army composed of?


Over 150 years later, when Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, the legions from 23 had grown to 37. And after the civil war between Caesar and Augustus Octavian, they were further increased in number. Some of them settled in Macedonia, in the East, and others in Africa. However, their management was not without problems. It was for this reason that Augustus tried to reform the legions, creating a professional army consisting of 28 legions (later reduced to 25), consisting of a total of 145,000 men serving for no less than 16 years.

To the "professional" soldiers, simple legionnaires were added: in general, the imperial army in the Augustan years included about 250,000 soldiers who controlled a very large territory, starting from the Atlantic in the West, to the Euphrates River in the East, and from the Netherlands to Egypt.

How big and what was the Roman army composed of?

Big numbers

When we talk about the Roman army, we are not just referring to the legionnaires. They were joined by auxiliaries (or support troops, recruited from conquered territories), those of the Praetorian Guard (which usually guarded the emperor and the most influential dignitaries), and troops of the military fleet.

In the early years of the Roman Empire, the army consisted mainly of Italians. But in the years of Emperor Nero's rule (AD 37-68), Rome's military began to become multicultural. And in the time of the emperor Trajan (53-117 AD) the ratio between Italians and foreigners became 1 to 4: Most of the soldiers were actually recruited from the provinces in which the legions were located.

Over time, the growth of the armed forces did not stop. During the rule of Septimus Severus (145-211) the army numbered 442,000 soldiers, while in the 3rd century the Roman war machine reached about 500,000 soldiers, of which 200,000 were legionnaires.

In those years, military expenses accounted for about 75 percent of the state budget. "Social" spending was practically non-existent. The rest of the money was spent on construction in Rome and in the provinces. The Roman army reached its peak under the rule of Emperor Constantine (272-337), with about 645,000 soldiers in total. / Focus / Vox News