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File:Paul Jamin – Le Brenn et sa part de butin 1893.jpg
Created: signed and dated 1893
The might of the Roman Military went unmatched for close to 900 years. Giving birth to one of the strongest fighting forces the world has ever seen by setting high standards for discipline and organization. It was the construction of this highly developed ancient army that allowed the Roman empire to dominate much of the western world.
Like Rome itself, it’s military had humble beginnings.
Because Rome started small, like every great civilization the size and prowess of its military grew with it. If one were alive at the time, it would seem unlikely that a small group of local warriors from several different tribes would then emerge to be the dominant force in the western world.
In the year 387 BC the very foundations of this new empire were threatened. At this point in history the Gaulic tribes of the north (modern day France) were moving south in an effort for land and wealth, and saw northern Italy as a target.
This loose coalition of tribes who poured over the alps in mass were lead by a warlord named Brennus. After entering Italy, the gaulic cohort started ransacking Etruscan settlements and slaughtering civilians. Eventually Brennus and his army would fortify themselves only 100 miles north of Rome.
The Romans, who understandably felt a bit intimidated, sent out three envoys to reason with the warlord Brennus, and his barbarian army. Brennus could not be reasoned with, and violence broke out during which a fellow gaulic chieftain by the name of Tan was killed. Angry and seeking revenge, Brennus and his hordes made their way to Rome.
The early Roman military inherited skirmishing hoplite armors, and fighting tactics from both the Greeks and Etruscans.
“The Gauls were dumbfounded by their sudden and extraordinary victory and did not move from the place of the battle as if puzzled. They feared a surprise and despoiled the dead as was customary for them. When they did not see any hostile action, they set off and reached Rome before sunset.” (Livy, Early History Of Rome.)
The Roman fighters were fierce, but were mostly volunteers who had paid for their own military equipment, with the richer men being cavalry and the poorer ones infantry skirmishers. This force of conscripted armed farmers were no mach for the massive hordes of Gauls that Brennus had at his command. And the Roman army was crushed, humiliated and defeated, the Romans were forced to pay Brennus 1,000 pounds of gold to leave the city.
In the years after this humiliating defeat, the Roman military transformed from being a small conscripted force to being a full time massive mechanized professional army. And would later take their revenge on their former predators a couple hundred years later when Julius Caesar conquered Gaul.