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Roman Approach to Revolts: Good or Bad?

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Lannes View Drop Down
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  Quote Lannes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Roman Approach to Revolts: Good or Bad?
    Posted: 19-Aug-2004 at 20:28

If we look at the revolts and rebellions during the Roman Empire, we can see a very obvious Roman trend of send very unprepared and often unsupported(in terms of supplies) troops to quell the revolt, only bothering to ready their troops for a hard campaign after the defeat of the initially sent anti-revolt army.  This approach to defending against evolts seems to be a rather wasteful one, in that it wasted the lives of hundreds or thousands of soldiers. 

However, there is a key strategical thought to hastily preparing an army to mobilize.  That would be the idea that if you could send troops to the quell the revolt very quickly, you could stop the revolt before it had time to become something large.  But there is another "however" to this idea:  surely, the Romans realized that if their unprepared army was crushed(and it surely did have the chance to be), the rebels would have time to grow into something fearful in the time it took for Rome to prepare and send an army to take care of the revolt...

So, I'm curious as to what your thoughts on the Roman approach to quelling revolts are.  Do you think that the apparent Roman logic of send troops quickly, quell the rebellion quickly, even if it could cost us, or do you think they should've taken the time to prepare their troops for a camapign, even though that could give the rebels time enough to become a force to be reckoned with?

 

 

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  Quote Imperatore Dario I Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2004 at 15:31

Frankly, I think both options are wrong. I mean, sending a grossly unprepared army to quell a rebellion is not really a good idea. And neither is waiting for the revolt to spread, and launching a campaign (like when Queen Zenobia conquered Egypt before being defeated). What Rome should have done is used part of the army for patrol. I mean, you know, have an army ready to squash a revolt at anytime, that way, the revolt will be crushed easily, quickly, with minimal casualties, and Rome wouldn't have to worry about enemies taking advantage by invading the empire.


Let there be a race of Romans with the strength of Italian courage.- Virgil's Aeneid
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  Quote Lannes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2004 at 16:24
Originally posted by Imperatore Dario I

Frankly, I think both options are wrong. I mean, sending a grossly unprepared army to quell a rebellion is not really a good idea. And neither is waiting for the revolt to spread, and launching a campaign (like when Queen Zenobia conquered Egypt before being defeated). What Rome should have done is used part of the army for patrol. I mean, you know, have an army ready to squash a revolt at anytime, that way, the revolt will be crushed easily, quickly, with minimal casualties, and Rome wouldn't have to worry about enemies taking advantage by invading the empire.

Well, in essence, they did have an army ready to squash the revolt at anytime,  but the problem was that the legions cam in too confident of an easy squash.  Your idea seems to be very similar to that of what the Romans' idea actually seemed to be, but the problem is that a force rapidly sent to quell the rbellion was not actually prepared for victory, keep in mind that the Romans did not permanently keep the supply trains necessary for campaigns away from the legions' bases, instead they requisitioned the baggage when the need arose, which was a time consuming process.

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  Quote Imperatore Dario I Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2004 at 18:33
No no, not the Roman army itself, but I mean a separate special army ready for these kind of revolt-warfares.

Let there be a race of Romans with the strength of Italian courage.- Virgil's Aeneid
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  Quote Lannes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2004 at 18:51

Originally posted by Imperatore Dario I

No no, not the Roman army itself, but I mean a separate special army ready for these kind of revolt-warfares.

What would be the difference between this army and the standard Legions or Cohorts that were sent to quell the revolts?

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  Quote Imperatore Dario I Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Aug-2004 at 19:23
These would be especially trained to deal with any rebellion within the Empire. Kind of like a riot police, but different.

Let there be a race of Romans with the strength of Italian courage.- Virgil's Aeneid
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  Quote Lannes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Aug-2004 at 09:43

Originally posted by Imperatore Dario I

These would be especially trained to deal with any rebellion within the Empire. Kind of like a riot police, but different.

The Romans did have troops like that:  The Urban Cohorts and the Night Watch, or are you talking about a whole army(I'm a bit confused)?

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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2004 at 08:14

i think an army, and it would crush the enemy at everywhere, everytime

and 10 legiones (additionally) in Italy.(veterans)

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  Quote Imperatore Dario I Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Aug-2004 at 10:37
Exactly, Rider!

Let there be a race of Romans with the strength of Italian courage.- Virgil's Aeneid
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  Quote Lannes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Aug-2004 at 15:31

Originally posted by Imperatore Dario I

Exactly, Rider!

I still don't understand the difference between what you two are suggesting and the the way it really was...

What you are describing seems to be something that would really just share a role of the limitanei.



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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Aug-2004 at 05:04

there couldnt be legiones in Italy because Senat was afraid.

Well if the rebellion would happen in Sicily, how would you act with it: no legiones in italy, little garrisons, closest legion in Numidia or Gaul, others, fighting in Tracia and Iberia, few in Judaea, some in Egypt. 200 men defending Rome - how would you act???

Senat should have taken in a reform to form five to ten legions more and place them in Italy.

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  Quote Cornellia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Aug-2004 at 06:55
It was this very fact - the fact that there was no standing legions in Italy - that helped Spartacus' revolt get as far as it did.  The battles he fought early on were with hastily called up troops.
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  Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Aug-2004 at 09:27
young soldiers - hastati as they were called...and the generals were stupid i'd say also...
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Sep-2011 at 20:55
Sending green troops was a strange approach, but i can see the benefits. It would give new recruits some combat experience and prevent the wasteful killing of veterans who could be better put to use in a war of conquest
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  Quote Baal Melqart Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Sep-2011 at 08:51
Originally posted by rider

i think an army, and it would crush the enemy at everywhere, everytime

and 10 legiones (additionally) in Italy.(veterans)



The upkeep of such a huge army with the sole purpose of policing revolts would be tremendous. Professional armies are very helpful whenever you need them because you only need to replenish the lost soldiers but you need to spend on them, give them land grants, make sure they are kept busy on a campaign or another. Once the fighting is done and they have nothing to go back to, they become mutinous and overthrow the state.
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  Quote Karalem Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Sep-2011 at 09:52
Romans had their ways to keep troops at hand. They had two options to consider. One was to hand them over aristocratic titles and land for their contributions. This led to an overblown aristoacratic system and diminished central power, and finally regional split, but, in essence, Rome indeed became aristocratic republic. Another option was to use mercenaries, Vandals, Tatars, whatever the name in whatever part of the world. They were scavenging  bands loyal only to the highest bidder, but they still could fight. They wanted plunder. To keep them loyal and fed, Rome needed war, one after another.  With new wars came new lands, and those lands had to be settled. The new landowners became the European nobility. They were a hodge podge of elevated mercenaries and rich merchants mostly. This is how I see the Republic, coming from the dark ages, wherever trading routes and ports had to be kept safe, bands were needed. With time, these bands of mercenaries became regulars with payroll in form of loot and newly won lands. This in turn led to the aristocratic European system, known as the Holly Roman Empire. One can not forget the church, the brains behind all that. Another thing to mull over is the different effect it had both on the east, where aristocracy thrived and multiplied, and on the west, where the numbers of noble heads was kept low.
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