Jump to content
UNRV Ancient Roman Empire Forums
  • Time Travel Rome

Sign in to follow this  
Legio X

Constantine reforms

Recommended Posts

Hi! I wonder if you think Constantine the greats military reforms were good or bad for the empire in the long run.. for an example he took away the preatorians and made limitateii to bordertroops..well you can read about it yourself and tell me what you think ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that taking out the Praetorians was a good thing. They were to powerful, and were more committed to killing the Emperor's than actually protecting them. I don't agree with his disbanding the Urban cohorts as well though, as they were needed at that time to prevent riots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm afraid I am not an avid fan of Constantine. He destroyed, once and for all, Rome's primacy, which ultimately led to the division of the Empire, and the eventual sack of Rome, which was allowed to happen by a weak emperor who had gotten used to the by then century-old idea that Rome was just another city in 'Romania'. His victory over Maxentius killed the Augustan system for good, and his reduction of the legions to a watchtower militia caused irrevocable damage whilst field armies, miles back from the frontiers, had a century - long free lunch at the expense of the dwindling cities. In the meantime, frontier areas became depopulated as limitaneii proved increasingly ineffective.

 

His re-invented mystery religion, now centralised and fixed in dogma, heralded a lack of religious tolerance which persists to this day, and assisted in a decline of literacy, rational thought and scientific enquiry which lasted, in the West, for a thousand years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Diocletian and Constantine were trying to find ways of stabilizing an empire that had been in the toilet for half a century thanks to constant civil wars. Disbanding the praetorians and reorganizing the provincial military were instrumental as they were the main forces of insurrection.

 

It seems the results were mixed. If you read Goldworthy's latest book, he lays the blame for the collapse of the empire at these various reforms and trends that changed the empire from the Augustan model. He makes some valid points ... but the Eastern empire managed to survive, ne?

 

I agree with Northern Neil that I don't really care for his religious policies, but that is a separate issue from the military reforms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The reforms started earlier when the empire was at the point of collapse and for me they make good sense, much more then the augustan model. The principate army was placed in a thin line along the borders, often to thin to stop a large invader striking a point and as there was no strategic reserve the romans had to pull other units from the border, gather them in an area and then chase the enemy. In the process the border areas were laid waste. The reforms created a larger, politically more reliable and cheaper force that defended better constructed fortifications along the borders - the limitanei, while field armies acting as highly mobile strategic reserve were concentrated under the watchful eye of an important official (sometimes even an august or caesar) ready to move and meet the enemy.

The military, political and religious reforms of that period prove that the empire was still capable to reform itself in order to survive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The military changes made by Diocletion and Constantine achieved their goals. They put an end to the continual military rebellions and usurpations that came close to causing the disintigration of the Empire in the third century, and they provided a sound strategic framework and army organization that defended the Empire (at least the Eastern half) for 300 years.

 

Luttwalks "Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire" gives an interesting take on Imperial defense. He says that the Flavian method of "preclusive security" and "forward defense" had become inadequate due to the multiplication of "endemic threats" and evolved into a system of "defense in depth". In spite of the modern jargon, his arguments make a lot of sense. The essence of strategy doesn't change that much over time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also a great fan of Luttwak's thesis.

The military reforms from the Tetrachy perod were presumably too extensive for being attributted to just a couple of rulers; they were essentially the Darwinian adaptation of the Late Empire as a whole to its new conditions.

These reforms were indeed quite successful in the Eastern side.

If the Western Emoire eventually fell, it was in spite of those reforms, not because of them.

Edited by sylla

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unless one accepts the theory that the enormous cost of the army and the taxation needed to maintain it is what wrecked the economy of the urban centers in the West.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Unless one accepts the theory that the enormous cost of the army and the taxation needed to maintain it is what wrecked the economy of the urban centers in the West.

That's a good point and I agree it was indeed a major contributor, but hardly enough by itself, because as with any other theory, we ought to explain why the East didn't fell, as their army was similar or even a bit bigger than the western one.

 

I think that as a whole, Ward-Perkins

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Map of the Roman Empire

×