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Question about Marian Reforms

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Can someone please briefly explain the recruitment practices of the Roman Army before Marius?

 

What I am trying understand is why there was a property qualification to serve in the army before Marius suspended the property qualification for military service in 107 B.C.

Part of the reason I guess is that you wish to ensure the soldiers can afford the military equipment. But if someone shows up with the shield and sword and helmet and so on, which he bought by selling his land or inherited, why did the army care if the person had sufficient land before accepting him into the service?

Furthermore, who attended to the land of these soldiers while they were away? Did they usually have slaves to take care care of their land while they were on campaign?

In addition, was service in the army primarily a privilege and therefore restricted to higher social classes? If so, what was to be gained from it beyond prestige and honor (which were very significant gains to be sure)? Was there any financial gain to be had from service? In later times, commanders allowed soldiers to sell slaves from the conquered populations, but was this a common practice before the Marian reforms, when soldiers were not dependent on war spoils, financially?

 

Thanks in advance

 

 

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Part of the reason I guess is that you wish to ensure the soldiers can afford the military equipment. But if someone shows up with the shield and sword and helmet and so on, which he bought by selling his land or inherited, why did the army care if the person had sufficient land before accepting him into the service?

Furthermore, who attended to the land of these soldiers while they were away? Did they usually have slaves to take care care of their land while they were on campaign?

 

Because soldiering was also greatly bound up in Roman politics. The same classes who made up the various ranks had corresponding political standing to decide political questions as well. In the end its probable that there was an avoidance of allowing the head count to participate in battle as much for political rationale as anything. I suspect the fear was any allowance of the head count to participate in battle might lead them to a greater share of corresponding political power.

 

The problems of serving soldiers, what happens to their farms and land in general becomes one of the major themes in the late Republic.

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I think the Capite Censi were excluded because they did not have property, thus did not have a stake in Rome. Having propertied men serve probably made enforcing discipline easier since you were less likely to desert or commit any other crime if everyone knew where you lived and who your patron was. The other factor is that most Romans didn't actually live in Rome. The same issues we face today with crime in urban slums must have been around in 107 BC, many probably looked down on the headcount believing they would make poor and undisciplined soldiers. Patronage would have also played a major political reason as many of the newly enlisted lower classes would have gone to Marius as a patron since their rise was accredited to him. They gave him their loyalty, he provided land for them after the campaign and their enlistment ended.

 

As for what happened to the farms when the men were away fighting; I remember reading somewhere, can't remember the source unfortunately, that many Romans would take loans to hold the families over until they got home. As service was for longer periods in foreign wars men spent longer periods away and couldn't repay the loans so they lost their farms. The men who loaned them the money were already rich and after gathering many such properties from debtors would buy an army of slaves and create a latifundium, a massive plantation like farm designed that since was run on slaves was very profitable. Many of the "Populares" like Marius and then Caesar argued against this issue, the rich pushing out the small plot farmers for profit. I think the Gracchi brothers did as well when they served as Tribune of the Plebians.

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Can someone please briefly explain the recruitment practices of the Roman Army before Marius?

Ploybius did in some detail. I don't remember off hand whether it was book six or ten of his histories, but it shouldn't be hard to find.

 

What I am trying understand is why there was a property qualification to serve in the army before Marius suspended the property qualification for military service in 107 B.C.

That's because the Romans considered that land-owning classes had every reason to volunteer to defend their property. Those without land were of no account. Remember also that Romans soldiers (sorry, 'levies' - Augustus was the first to call legionaries 'soldiers') were expected to to pay for arms and equipment, so obviously the land owning wealthy tended to turn up better equipped than some poor god for nothing who hasn't a sestercii to rub together.

 

Part of the reason I guess is that you wish to ensure the soldiers can afford the military equipment. But if someone shows up with the shield and sword and helmet and so on, which he bought by selling his land or inherited, why did the army care if the person had sufficient land before accepting him into the service?

Social status. Martial virtue was highly prized in Roman society and although from our perspective the man who sells his land to buy armour and weaponry is a choice he makes as an individual to perform his part in war, to the Romans he was immediately reduced to a lower class by reducing his circumstances. The Romans were far more concious of social status than we are.

 

Furthermore, who attended to the land of these soldiers while they were away? Did they usually have slaves to take care care of their land while they were on campaign?

This was inded a problem for the Romans. While the men were away the land was less likely to be effectively farmed. Although slavery always existed, it wasn't until victory in large scale wars that slaves were available in abundance (It was said the slave market of Delos handled ten thousand slaes of slaves in one day) and only toward the latter half of the Republic was large scale slavery a feature of rural life as the patrons accumulated small armies of servants to handle big country estates. For the legionaries you're discussing, the land would more likely be taken care of by friends and family.

 

In addition, was service in the army primarily a privilege and therefore restricted to higher social classes?

Military service was seen as an essential qualification for social status. There are stories of politicians ripping open their toga in the senate to reveal their war wounds, declaring that they had fought for Rome and were entitled to be listened to.

 

If so, what was to be gained from it beyond prestige and honor (which were very significant gains to be sure)? Was there any financial gain to be had from service?

Since regular pay was a feature of the post marian era, the ealier legionary had to make do with booty won from the enemy. Pillaging settlements is not an unusual practice for soldiers of any era and the Romans saw no problem with grabbing what they wanted from those that had defied them.

 

In later times, commanders allowed soldiers to sell slaves from the conquered populations, but was this a common practice before the Marian reforms, when soldiers were not dependent on war spoils, financially?

Strictly speaking, no. The best example is an event described by Wikipedia as follows...

 

Since 193 BCE, the Lusitanians had been fighting the Romans. In 150 BCE, they were defeated by Praetor Servius Galba: springing a clever trap, he killed 9,000 Lusitanians and later sold 20,000 more as slaves in Gaul.

 

What Servius Galba did was offer a cessation of hostilities to the Lusitanii and told them that if they surrendered their weapons at any of three camps, they could live peacefully as Roman allies with their own land and no hard feelings. Galba was of course lying, and immediately the weapons were surrendered he slaughtered the hapless barbarians and profitted mightily from selling the rest in Rome. In fact, the Senate was outraged by this example of immoral behaviour and had Galba prosecuted. The wily ex-general had his young children brought into the senate house crying their eyes out because they'd been told daddy was to be executed. The senators couldn't bear to see children so upset and so let Galba off.

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