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Horror_in_Vacuum OP t1_j19c49i wrote

Interesting, thanks for the answer.


bluelion70 t1_j1a0hmn wrote

That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Roman soldiers effectively had their gear subsidized or provided by the state, whereas in the Middle Ages a knight had to equip himself with weapons, armor, and horses, and as you pointed out, good longswords were very expensive because they take much more metal than a Gladius, and require more artisanship to make. Even peasant levies had to provide their own gear, which was why most of them showed up to war with various pieces of farm equipment as weapons.

This is not dissimilar to the Roman system prior to the Marian reforms. After Marius, Rome’s army was state funded, or at least funded by the general/politician who was in charge of it, whereas pre-Marius Roman soldiers had to equip themselves and were actually distinguished by their types of gear, (hastati, principes, triarii) which was based effectively on what the individual could afford to equip himself with.


Welshhoppo t1_j1acwwp wrote

So I might have to go check. But I'm pretty sure the Roman state was providing gear to the army prior to the reforms around the time of Marius. Or at least paying them expenses towards getting their gear in. We have records for orders of supplies from Publicani merchants I think.

Don't quote me yet, I'll come back when I double check.


bluelion70 t1_j1af6m6 wrote

From my understanding, it was the generals who were mostly paying before Marius and in the early years afterward. When Crassus went to hunt Spartacus, wasn’t it because he was the only one willing to pay to raise new legions after Spartacus destroyed the Consular army at Picenum?


Welshhoppo t1_j1ahbcq wrote

I've had a quick read of the Companion to the Roman Army and doubled checked. The legions did receive a stipendium for their service in the army, but a lot of expenses for equipment were taken out of it. Which is how the war in Hispania raged on as long as it did. There were slim pickings for soldiers to make extra cash on the side by looting things.

But yes, eventually the Roman armies got to a point where the Generals paid them. Or the generals negotiated with the state to get their soldiers the best deal for when they reached the end of their service. But it wasn't a guarantee of loyalty, just look at Lucullus for an example where the army dumped him to go home. Even though they were 'full of gold as used to luxury.'


Heyyoguy123 t1_j1mthdn wrote

If I remember correctly, even peasant levies were able to afford or make their own spears, they wouldn’t necessarily bring farming equipment because a spear would be much more effective while being feasible to obtain


Intranetusa t1_j1kagdg wrote

Correction to the post above - Roman swords were longer in the mid Republican era. The gladius actually got shorter (eg. 6 inches shorter) by the time of the early Empire compared to med Republican era swords. They only got longer by the mid to late Empire with the adoption of the spatha for infantry.