The Late Roman Army

Pat Southern and Karen Ramsey Dixon

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From the reign of Septimius Severus at the end of the second century A.D., the Roman Empire was continuously beset by internal unrest, revolts, usurpations, civil wars, and attacks along its far-flung frontiers. Scarcely a part of the empire was unaffected, and some areas were forced to deal with several serious problems at the same time. This book is the first comprehensive discussion of the Roman army during this period, and it shows how the army adapted itself to meet these growing threats and how effective it was in combating them.

Using a full range of original literary sources, modern Continental scholarship, and current archaeological research, Pat Southern and Karen Dixon provide a stimulating overview of the historical period, the critical changes in the army, and the way these changes affected the morale of the soldiers. The authors discuss in fascinating detail the organization and fighting methods of the army: the recruitment of soldiers, the physical conditions under which they served, the equipment they used, the fortifications they built, and the siege warfare they waged. They also describe the reforms of Diocletian and Constantine—particularly the creation of the field army and the frontier army—that shaped the final version of the late Roman army up to the beginning of the sixth century. Numerous illustrations accompany the text.

Pat Southern is head librarian in the department of archaeology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Karen Ramsey Dixon is a research fellow at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

A selection of the History Book Club

"An excellent account of the organization and equipment of the late Roman army, and of the physical and administrative setting in which the army functioned. The material is well chosen and carefully described. Given the present interest in late Roman studies, the book should appeal to both a general and an academic readership."—John Matthews, author of The Roman Empire of Ammianus

"[Southern and Dixon] have succeeded in providing an introductory survey that is likely to be widely useful. The structure is simple and lucid, comprising eight main chapters: the first two describe changes in the Roman army from the Severan period down to Justinian; the next six consider, respectively, recruitment, conditions of service, equipment, fortifications, siege warfare, and morale."—T.D. Barnes, American Historical Review

"Covering the historical development of the Late Roman Army and its internal structure as well as its equipment and tactics, this comprehensive discussion may serve as a reliable introduction for all those interested in the army itself or in the essential role it played in the war-shaken history of Late Antiquity."—Bernhard Palme, The Journal of Military History

"Southern and Dixon keep the student, the intended audience, in mind with high-quality photographs and useful reconstruction drawings, plus chronological tables, a glossary of Latin terms, and many maps."—Marlene B. Flory, Religious Studies Review

ISBN: 9780300194685
Publication Date: August 1, 1996
224 pages, 6 x 9
102 b/w illus.