Roman Empire (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: The Roman Empire developed a sophisticated military system while expanding its holdings around the Mediterranean Sea and in Britain.
Beginning in the second century b.c.e., the Roman republic fell sway to military dictators, the most important of whom was Julius Caesar (ruled 46-44 b.c.e.). The emergence of the dictators altered the character of the Roman army. Originally the legions had been manned by small farmers who fought for the notion of the republic. However, when Octavian became Augustus, Rome’s first emperor, in 27 b.c.e., all hope of restoring the old republic ended. By this time, the Roman soldier often owned no land and fought primarily for himself and his commander, who could give him land, money, and a good position if he lived out his long service. As the Roman Empire grew, the legions came to defend a frontier that stretched thousands of miles—a daunting challenge that eventually overtaxed both the Roman military and the Roman state, which was built on military power.
The Pax Romana
From 27 b.c.e. to 180 c.e., a time of economic growth and relative peace called the Pax Romana (the Roman peace), the Roman legions maintained the empire’s borders with great efficiency. Each legion was organized around a unit of eighty men called a century and led by a centurion. Two centuries placed back to back formed a maniple, and three maniples formed a cohort....
(The entire section is 1108 words.)
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