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Last Wars of the Western Empire

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The Last Wars of the Western Empire Part 5: Arles, 411

Introduction Our first scenario concerns a battle between two ‘Roman’ armies. It is one of very few battles of this period for which we have been left any reliable information about the tactics used, and that only by chance. Examining this battle allows us to pick up some points made earlier in this series about … Continue reading

The Last Wars of the Western Empire: Part 3: Barbarians and Barbarization

Fourth-century ‘barbarisation’ and fifth-century foederati The so-called barbarisation of the Roman army has sometimes been argued to have been one reason for the Empire’s fall.  The traditional view (one that goes right back to Zosimus, a pagan historian writing in the early sixth century) is that the Empire recruited ever more barbarians, who in some … Continue reading

The Last Wars of the Western Empire: Part 2: Rethinking the Fifth Century

In Part 1 I argued that the efficiency and effectiveness of the late Roman army have been much exaggerated, at least beyond the core of high-quality palatine units in the ‘praesental’ field armies (i.e. ‘in the presence’ of the emperor).  This ought to be amply demonstrated by the fate of the eastern Roman army after … Continue reading

The Last Wars of the Western Empire: Part 1

[This is a series of articles that I started writing for Wargames Illustrated or another of the ‘glossies’ but changes in the nature of the magazines and the fact that it turned out to be rather historical, as opposed to wargames, in content, I shelved it.  Then I decided that I’d post it up here … Continue reading