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The Roman Army

The Roman army boasted one of the most successful and powerful armies the world has ever seen. They used their superior weapons and innovative formations to conquer large parts of Europe, Asia and northern Africa, helping to grow one of the largest empires in history.

Weapons and Equipment

The Roman army was well equipped with an array of sophisticated weaponry and armour. Equipment for the average legionary would include a scutum (shield), a pilum (javelin) and a pugio (dagger). In addition to this, a soldier would also carry a primary weapon, which would be a gladius (sword) or a hasta (spear). Each piece of equipment was used in a different way. The pilum, which looked similar to the hasta, was used in a very different way. Soldiers would throw them at the enemy before a battle to kill as many as possible before close-quarter fighting. Once thrown, the pilum would break, meaning it was unable to be thrown back at the Roman army. On the other hand, the hasta would be used for stabbing enemies at a distance, especially as part of the ‘testudo’ formation. As well as equipment for attacking, soldiers would also carry equipment to protect themselves. This included lorica segmentata (plate armour) or chainmail to protect the upper body, a galea (helmet) to protect the head and a tunica (tunic) to wear under the armour. The Roman army also deployed siege equipment such as the catapult and ballista for attacking fortified settlements.

Why was the Roman army so successful?

The Roman army was successful for a number of different reasons. One of the main reasons was because of how well trained they were. As a result of regular training and strict discipline, the Roman army was a very cohesive and well-organised unit. This meant that they were able to adapt quickly to different situations that would take place on the battlefield. In addition to this, the Roman army was also able to adapt to different terrains and climates. This was important as it allowed them to conquer areas in different parts of the world with a wide-range of temperatures.The Romans also had superior weapons and equipment to the enemies they were fighting. This, along with new battle formations such as the ‘testudo,’ meant that the Roman army was capable of defeating most of its enemies.

Joining the Roman army

To join the Roman, there was a number of different requirements. First of all, you had to be a man over 1.7m tall and between the ages of 17 and 25. Recruits would have to commit 25 years of their life to the Roman army and would not be allowed to have a wife or children. Soldiers who joined would have to go through vigorous training to ensure they became proficient fighters. New soldiers needed to be physically fit and in good health. Although this was difficult, it could also be very rewarding for people who joined. After retiring, soldiers would be given a good pension and may also receive Roman citizenship if they weren’t already a citizen. Additionally, some soldiers would also be given land within the Roman Empire for their service, which they could then use for themselves. Although it was risky, Roman soldiers were well-respected by the citizens and it was seen as a honour to have served within the army.