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Roman Army vs. Medieval Army

Discussion in 'World History' started by AceChilla, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. Verbose

    Verbose Deity

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    Not if we are talking pre-Marius republic army (though experience they might have had, granted, considering the amount of warfare Rome engaged in and expected its plebeian citizens to put up with). The Romans butchered at Cannae were citizen-soldiers after all, not professionals. And that was a big reason Rome soon fielded a new army. Had they been full professionals, that would have been it. I mean, Hannibal's army was the professional one when compare to the Romans of the day.
    Well, that does depend entirely. There certainly were professional mercenary troops in western Europe beginning in the 12th c. Otoh the iconic kind of feudal heavy cavlary we have come to expect only really spread with feudalism, which did depend largely on the French kingdom extending its reach from the heartland of feudalism in northern France, England and the German Rhineland.

    In fact 12th c. Italy seems to have led the way in the professionalisation of warfare. A lot of the mercenary bands on the HYW would in fact seem to have had parallels prior in Italy, in the struggle, often military, between the Papacy and the Hohenstaufen emperors, which of course ended with the Papacy calling in the French Angevin empire to give the Hohenstaufens the chop, incidentaly also leading to an extension of French-style feudalism to southern Italy.

    Northern Italy with its city-states were a different order entirely. I doubt the local great powers like Venice kept itself woth sub-par forces in general, though in their case power was mostly maritime. Otoh the land-based great power was Milan, and Milan was capable of fielding a citizen-soldiery of something like 30.000 men. It even became a Medieval saying, "The were as numerous as the host of Milan", i.e. they came in numbers beyond measure. And incidentally the citizen-soldiery of Milan did smash various Imperial knightly armies time after another. Considering the warlike stance of Milan as the leader of the "Lombard League", these men also had a lot of combat experience.
     
  2. Elta

    Elta 我不会把这种

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    Milan, Crossbows - The great equalizer.
     
  3. RalofTyr

    RalofTyr King

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    There are some exceptions, but we have to average out the two armies. For it's possible to pick a time when the Roman army was weak and a Medieval Army was strong and slant the results.


    Actually, in truth, any Medieval Army after 1350 would totally defeat the Romans. All it would take is a plague victim to cough on the Romans, and they would drop like flies. The Medieval Army, having already lost all those with weak immune systems to the plague, wouldn't loose as many and therefore win.
     
  4. Yeekim

    Yeekim Moderator Moderator

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    Not only that, but the medieval army would often be little more than a dirty patchwork: lord, his vassals and their retinues. Firstly, there would likely be rivalries, if not outright hatred between these vassals. And secondly, even those soldiers who were "professionals" - i.e. possessed good equipment and individual fighting skills, would've hardly had a chance to train together on a larger scale than their own "company". Cohesion of such medieval army could be close to zero - as opposed to professional, post-Marius Roman legion, composed of men who literally had years upon years of experience and training to act together as one single unit.

    Feudalism was ill suited to support large professional armies...
     
  5. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    Technological comparison pl0x?
    There are plenty of times the Romans had terribad plagues, too. The Aurelian plague and the plague of Iustinianus were both devastating events.
     
  6. RalofTyr

    RalofTyr King

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    Romans also had such rivalries, but they were less likely to indulge them. It really depends on the leadership. Can a leader keep those rivalries in check?

    True, but look at Japan.

    Yes, but never the Plague of the 1340's. A plague that they had no defense to that whipped out half the population. The Romans, being a thousand years behind in the human immune system, wouldn't have stood a chance. Probably, the common medieval cold could have done just as bad.
     
  7. Sharwood

    Sharwood Rich, doctor nephew

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    There's evidence that Bubonic Plague reached Europe before the Middle Ages - I happen to disagree iwth such evidence, but it's there - and the primary reason so many Europeans died of it was their shocking lack of sanitation, hygiene, etc. No respectable Roman would live in such a manner.
     
  8. Yeekim

    Yeekim Moderator Moderator

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    The Plague of Iustinianus was most likely bubonic plague.
    Also, if you do not know the mechanism how plague spreads, as neither party did, good sanitation per se will not save you. Pneumonic form may spread through inhalation of droplets, no matter how clean and flea-free you are...

    EDIT: Apparently, the Black Death itself may not have been bubonic....
    Spoiler :

    We most likely will never know.
     
  9. Sharwood

    Sharwood Rich, doctor nephew

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    Actually, your edit is what I was referring to. The Black Death shared symptoms of Bubonic plague, but it spread completely differently. It was likely related.

    Sanitation and hygiene certainly help in combatting disease, even if you don't know what causes it. It wouldn't stop the disease from spreading, by any means, but it would certainly slow it down and lessen kill-rates.
     
  10. Aegis

    Aegis Deity

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    Doesn't Hannibal's downfall have more to do with the fact that he was unable to lay siege to Rome and there were uprisings at home, forcing him to turn his attention elsewhere?
     
  11. Elta

    Elta 我不会把这种

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    More than anything it was the fact that he had zero support from Carthrage. It was basically a man on a expedition with people he got to come along. (mostly by paying them, he was from a well to do family)
     
  12. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    It had to do with his inability to coax Rome's socii to desert her en masse as he had assumed he could and his inability to gain any other meaningful allies to support him in Italy. Lack of support from home was part of it but I dunno how they could have reasonably done much more than they actually did, given the political problems Hannibal's family had.
     
  13. Hawkwood

    Hawkwood Man-at-Arms

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    I haven't read the entire thread, but have anyone brought up the advances in metallurgy that happened during the middle ages? Because medieval army is from the late middle ages (such as the French or Burgundian Ordonnance companies), then it's going to have massively better steel.

    EDIT: I've read the entire thread now, so I only have a few questions: Why on earth was Khaghan's posts ignored?
    Spoiler :

    And to prove that armour did evolve during the middle ages (and that the longbow isn't such a big wonder weapon as it's made out to be), compare the famous Crecy (1346) and Agincourt (1415) with Verneuil (1424) and Patay (1429)
     
  14. Flying Pig

    Flying Pig Utrinque Paratus Retired Moderator

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    Roman officers in a medieval army - there's a thought. That would beat either, since the Romans had advanced methods of waging war and in medieval times the soldiers were better. Medieval cavalry was also vastly superior to the Roman equivalents.
     

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