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Romans vs Germans

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Argentum Draconis View Drop Down
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  Quote Argentum Draconis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Romans vs Germans
    Posted: 08-Oct-2005 at 12:58
Who had the upper hand?
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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Oct-2005 at 13:36

 For the vast majority of the time the Romans had the upper hand, there was the disaster at the Teutoburg in 9AD but in a pitched battle the Roman legions could smash almost any force in the known the world and the Germanic tribes atleast for awhile were not the most difficult army to face.

 During the crisis of the 3rd century when the Roman empire was collapsing coordinated invasions from the Goths, Vandals, Franks, Alemanni and many many more tribes still couldnt break the Romans and at the Battle of Naissus in September 268 a massive army of Goths was annihilated.

 At the same time when the Roman army was smashing the Goths at Naissus the Alemanni the big threat to the west had occupied parts of northern Italy, however at the lake Benacus in November 268 the Emperor Claudius II Gothicus with some 35,000 men crushed an Alemanni force of 100,000 leaving half of them dead of captured and the rest running for their lives.

 Soon the Roman empire was reunited and the Germanic tribes expelled from imperial territory. A sure sign that the Roman empire was far from dead and was more than capable of resisting the barbarian threat.

 The Germanic threat then dwindled for some time and although invasions still occurred it didnt reach the chronic levels of the 3rd century again until the late 4th century when the eastern Roman armies were smashed at Adrianople in 378 by the Goths, not long after that the western empire began to seriously unravel and the tribes simply could not be held back any longer.  

 So army V army in a pitched battle the Romans were highly likely to win, if however there was incompetance in the leadership of the Roman army like at Adrianople then the Germanics could take advantage of it and their often superior numbers began to tell as the Imperial army rushed from one crisis point to another.

 Many successes of the Germanics coincided with internal chaos for the Roman empire which the Germanics exploited, civil wars, corruption and the decaying of the Imperial army meant it was eventually unable to hold the frontiers on a regular basis and the empire fell away as the tribes were pushed westward by the seemingly unstoppable Huns and the frontiers collapsed, the pressure on the empire was then irresistable and destruction was inevitable for the west.

 The general rule is I think that a well led Roman army would probably defeat anything the Germanics could throw at them, a good example is the Roman/Byzantine reconquests in which the Vandals and Ostrogoths were defeated by small but extremely well led Roman armies. There are also many examples of superior Roman tactics overcoming Germanic numerical superiority, however as the Roman army slowly decayed the Germanic army advanced and the balance was broken.

 I still strongly believe however that the Roman legions were superior to the the Germanic armies and that view is justified in the various examples ive pointed out, even when in dire crisis the Romans were able to defeat and expel the Germans. Also had the Germans been superior the Roman empire would surely not have survived as long as it did.

  Even though the Germans obviously contributed the collapse of the empire the internal decay was far more serious than the common invasions from across the Danube and Rhine. They only added to the chaos the empire was already in and eventually helped tip the balance and the empire was unable to recover.

 The last century or so of general German superiority was one out of 4 or 5 centuries of general Roman dominance.



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  Quote Abyssmal Fiend Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-Oct-2005 at 16:33
The Romans. They had discipline, the Germans did not. The Germans were fierce individual fighters, the Romans were fierce group fighters. Obviously, in massed numbers, the side that fights as a group will triumph over the side that does not.

The Romans only really lost when they faced insuperable odds or screwed up badly, like in Teutoberg. Varus was an idiot.

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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Oct-2005 at 19:41
One interesting point I want to raise about the Byzantine reconquest is that Germanic armies had changed since the days of the Great Migrations. I read a particularly intersting work by R. W. Koch which claims that one of the greatest assets of Germanic armies early on was that they were an organic unit that had strong blood and tribal ties. Because of this, their solidarity in battle was vastly enhanced. When they settled down in North Africa  and Italy, they were forming armies of huge levies who were only united by genetic stock and not so much family ties any longer. This consequently weakened their battlefield morale and solidarity.
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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Oct-2005 at 20:34

 I did wonder why the *tribes* if they could even be called that by the time of the reconquests, seemed to be far less effective as they used to be, against Byzantine armies which quite frankly left alot to be desired if im honest. Ruthless largely uncivilised mercenaries as likely to attack their own commanders than the enemy they had come to defeat.

 Also the numbers seem to have vastly decreased i'm more familiar to seeing Germanic tribes having armies of 100,000 men in the field, obviously the tribes where no longer on the move and had settled but still the size of the armies Belisarius faced in North Africa for example were pretty small, I mean Belisarius only had 15,000 men when he landed in Africa.

 Had the warrior culture which had so characterised the Germanic tribes deteriorated so fast and so considerably? I wonder was the Vandal army for example made up of a mixed blooded force of Vandal-Libyan troops and that the culture the Vandals had come into contact to greatly diluted there own to the point were Vandal males were more likely to be merchants or something like that instead of the fierce warriors of days gone by? I mean it was only 75 years or so before when they had sacked Rome under Geiseric.

 Probably miles off but I find it odd how the Vandals who were once a ferocious germanic tribe were defeated by a pretty hit and miss Byzantine army.



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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Oct-2005 at 20:45

Well one thing that needs to be considered when looking at the numbers is the Ostrogoths could naturally field more men in the days when they were on the march. "Wherever I might roam, where I lay my head is home", and how true it was for them. Either they stick together, travel together and above all fight together, or else they die. When they took over Italy things suddenly changed, because now they had land to til, towns and cities to guard, and borders to defend. Not only that, but they also had a navy with dozens of ships (though much of this was manned by local Italians). All this used up thousands of men, so much that Belisarius' impending invasion made the Ostrogoths realize they had conquered a territory which they lacked the manpower to hold. They ceded Provence to the Franks simply because they didn't have the men to hold it.

I wouldn't say their numbers were all that much different from the time they were rampaging around, Vitigis was still able to muster a force of 80,000 men to besiege Belisarius at Rome. But overall settlement meant using men to defend the lands that had been taken, migratory mentality and pressures no longer applied and so men were less willing to serve as they had been in hard times of the migrations.

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  Quote Janissary Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Oct-2005 at 21:00
GERMANS
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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Oct-2005 at 09:16
Janissary,please stop trolling. If you have an insightful comment, please accompany it by a full explanation.
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  Quote Praetorian Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Oct-2005 at 19:42

"The Romans. They had discipline, the Germans did not. The Germans were fierce individual fighters, the Romans were fierce group fighters. Obviously, in massed numbers, the side that fights as a group will triumph over the side that does not.

The Romans only really lost when they faced insuperable odds or screwed up badly, like in Teutoberg. Varus was an idiot."

 True.... 

I say Romans. Because the Romans conquered the know world, and they had the longest Empire in history. The Romans also had the most organized army on Earth, dude a average Roman soldier can mach 20 to 25 mils in 5 or 6 hours. They even Fought big bad battles like 40,000 Romans VS 255,000 others the Romans bin known to win.

They also Romanized Europe and influents the world we live in. I mean (correct me if Im wrong, politely ) the Germans at one point in history saw them selves as Romans and named there ruler Kaiser meanig Caesar, and help build the Holy Roman Empire.


 



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  Quote Komnenos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Oct-2005 at 02:20
Originally posted by Praetorian


They also Romanized Europe and influents the world we live in. I mean (correct me if Im wrong, politely ) the Germans at one point in history saw them selves as Romans and named there ruler Kaiser meanig Caesar,and help build the Holy Roman Empire.


As you asked so nicely, to be corrected.
I don't think we can get so far as to state that the Germans understood themselves to be Roman, in the sense that it would define an ethnicity.
Before Charlemagne, most of the Germanic kingdoms that popped up everywhere in Europe and Africa, made a point of seperating themselves from the indigenous population that they had conquered, by outlawing interrmarriage for example.
The title that Charlemagne adopted, "imperator romanum gubernans imperium", refered more to the concept of the Roman Empire as a unified and centralised state, than to the Romans as an ethnic group. The Franks had realised the cultural superiority of the lost West-Roman Empire, but continued to see themselves as Germanic, being its heirs by becoming the dominating force in Western-Europe.
As discussed many times on AE, Charlemagne himself, having conquered most of the Western-European half of the former Roman Empire, including Italy, probably understood himself as the rightful successor to the vacant West-Roman throne.
In the 16th century to the official title "Holy Roman Empire" the suffix "of the German Nation" was added, possibly recognising political realities, or because the idea of nationhood began to dawn.
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Oct-2005 at 15:27

I believe Roman success had more to do with excellent leadership rather than superior troops. The list of great Roman generals is unending, Ceasar, Pompey, Lucullus, Aetius, Scipio, Belisarius, and Narses just to name a few. No matter how disciplined a force is, unless it is well led it will be defeated. This can be seen in various Roman disasters like Cannae, Carrhae, Teutoburg, and Adrianople, where the Roman command was not competent enough, or simply made too many mistakes, though in a battle, one mistake is already too much.

In a muscle to muscle confrontation, the barbarians would simply have overpowered the Romans. They were physically more hardy and possessed superior numbers. It was Roman tactics that won the day, not just the legionnaires.

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  Quote Heraclius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Oct-2005 at 16:24

 The Roman army was no braver than its enemies, when the Romans appear to have been more courageous over a longer period of time its almost certainly due to their training and self-confidence.

 It seems biased to say many of the great Roman defeats were due to incompetance of leadership than the army itself, however when you look at these heavy defeats as Belisarius points out you can see major problems with the commanders in those battles.

 Varro (Cannae), Crassus (Carrhae), Valens (Adrianople) and Varus (Teutoburg forest).

 None of them appear to have been skilled commanders, in the hands of a Trajan or Aetius or indeed Belisarius those same Roman armies that were crushed would almost certainly not of been. If the commander is poor then even the great army can be annihilated.

 I personally feel its a grave injustice how Roman defeats are infinitely more famous than its victories.



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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Oct-2005 at 16:57
Let's ask ourselves how it was that Rome ensured such brilliant men led her armies. I think this is the product of the Roman political system itself, in the Republican period ambitious men had to achieve results to get anywhere in the Roman political scene. The Empire itself always showed itself capable of great social mobility and one of the best ways again was via military success.
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  Quote Janissary Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Oct-2005 at 18:38

o yeah, Crassus was the worth general

U know what?????

When u guys, western guys, when Rome or any other western or European states won the war, u always will say thet, sure, this battle was theirs, there is no problem with other side, Romans were powerfull and that is why they won

But when Rome loses, u ganna say that, well, The commonders were weak, or there was no discipline in that army, or something else that will try to cover "your" lost

Am I not right?????

Did I wrote any nationalist ideas here????-NO

Becouse that is reality, Because there was 300 senators in Roman Senate, and Each of them had their own mass, and each of them were elected twice and had to fought one major battle in order to be Consu!!!

I think, Crassus was not weak, but Parthians were stronger, But Suren was Smarter, ok?????

What u ganna say now???

Suren was Iranian, not Turkish

I know, u ganna close this topic tooo

 

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  Quote Janissary Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Oct-2005 at 18:39

Is that so Hard Morally to Accept That????????

 

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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Oct-2005 at 23:51
Who is this gentleman? I had noticed him one month ago. Is he a new arrival?

When I posted my comment, I made sure to include in the words 'I believe' in the begining. This is to make certain my point was only a theory, nothing absolute, and of course open to discussion. You're more than welcome to disagree. Nothing moral about it.

Surely, the Parthians were the greatest rival the Romans had, the Sassanids even more so. However, Crassus was not a capable Roman general. He was a businessman. His only military experience before Carrhae was against the slave rebellion of Spartakus, to whom he lost several times. I'm sure the Persians had their own share of military geniuses. They were a true superpower of the time. However, if they were stronger than the Romans, then why were they unable to take and hold Roman territory?
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  Quote Janissary Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Oct-2005 at 00:10

Becouse they were not stronger

But Rome was not stronger that Pathia toooo

And also, Do u know the tactics that Crassus used to defeat Spartacus?

Did u read Chavanyoli-Spartacus?

Crassus was not a businessman, He was a I consul, II businessman

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  Quote Janissary Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Oct-2005 at 00:11

I am Gentleman

hm

thank u

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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Oct-2005 at 00:50
Well what makes an empire stronger than another? My opinion is that the amount of resources an empire possesses makes it stronger than another. The Roman Empire was wealthy, possessing more fertile and resource-rich land, as well as having more people. I have read that the Sassanid Empire at its height had only about 12-15 million people compared to 60 million living in the Roman Empire. Population means manpower, and theoretically Rome could field much more men. Their wealth would assure than these men recieve proper training and equipment as well.

The reason why the Romans could not hold Mesopotamia for long was because it risked overextending itself. On the other hand, ruling over the Levant, Anatolia, and Egypt would have been much easier for the Persians since these lands were in much closer proximity to their heartland.
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  Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Oct-2005 at 03:08
Originally posted by Janissary

o yeah, Crassus was the worth general

U know what?????

When u guys, western guys, when Rome or any other western or European states won the war, u always will say thet, sure, this battle was theirs, there is no problem with other side, Romans were powerfull and that is why they won

But when Rome loses, u ganna say that, well, The commonders were weak, or there was no discipline in that army, or something else that will try to cover "your" lost

Am I not right?????

Did I wrote any nationalist ideas here????-NO

Becouse that is reality, Because there was 300 senators in Roman Senate, and Each of them had their own mass, and each of them were elected twice and had to fought one major battle in order to be Consu!!!

I think, Crassus was not weak, but Parthians were stronger, But Suren was Smarter, ok?????

What u ganna say now???

Suren was Iranian, not Turkish

I know, u ganna close this topic tooo

 



Settle down dude, no one is having a go at anyone else. Rome succeeded for a variety of factors, the fact that they promoted commanders by merit and experience being an important one.
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