Roman Legion Analysis

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The fall of the Roman Empire in Western Europe can undeniably be accredited to the radical shifts in the Empire’s military as well as the belligerent and selfish policies of the Imperial court. From tragic reforms to faltering loyalties, the legions of the 4th and 5th centuries were dichotomies of the ironclad soldiers that conquered Europe; nor were the Emperor and Senate the ideal governing system that had maintained an Empire for centuries. The combination of external and internal pressures that completely changed the face of Rome’s legions also attributed to her eventual collapse in the West. The armies that once claimed the world from Spain to Syria and Britain to Egypt were transformed into sub-par soldiers. This occurred at a time of…show more content…
The ironclad legionnaires that marched across the world from the 1st-3rd centuries AD, known as the Principate, were no longer the metal fist of Rome. Years of reform and civil war forced the main army to be divided into two separate wings: the border guard limitanei and the comitatenses. The cavalry was also reformed to work independently from the infantry and a separate commander was to be designated as the commander of horse . These divisions forced, though increasing the effectiveness of cavalry, the reform reduced the number of troops in an individual legion. The old Roman legion consisted of 6000 men, which remained the number of limitanei in a border guard detachment ; individual cohorts, roughly 1000 men , were often stationed in different quarters, “sometimes in different provinces” . This effectively created a more porous frontier through which marauding, migratory hordes of migrants could penetrate into the heart of the Empire; the once staunch defenders of the empire’s borders were reduced to peasant militias . The more effective comitatenses are more aptly compared to the armies of the late Republic rather than the…show more content…
The division of Rome between the brothers Honorius and Arcadius at the death of their father Theodosius the Great was met with controversy; the two sons were but ten and seventeen years old respectively. This resulted in the appointment of the general Stilicho, a half-Vandal, as the protector of Honorius . The elder brother was also deeply influenced by his Praetorian Prefect Rufinus, a man who sought to rise to Imperial power as colleague of the young emperor. Though he failed to marry his daughter to Arcadius, Rufinus remained a powerful influence on military matters in the East. The rival ambitions of Rufinus and Stilicho brought turmoil to the Empire through their manipulation of the armies and use of barbarian insurrections in an attempt to undermine the other. The Visigothic uprising of Alaric was used as an opportunity for Stilicho to seize Illyrian territory from the East in an effort to provide more resources and the “best nursery in Europe for good fighting men” . Marching east with an army consisting of Western and Eastern Roman troops, Stilicho sought to destroy the Visigoths and cement control of the Balkan peninsula. Unwilling to allow his rival

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