The Roman Empire, which lasted for 1484 years (if you count the Byzantine) was one of the most powerful, and formidable empires in years. But what made the Roman Empire just so formidable? The answer is both complex and fascinating. The Romans used advanced techniques in warfare which included massive siege weapons, battlefield surgery, and never before seen tactics. From the revolutionary tactics used by the Roman army, to the engineering marvels they made to expand their cities, and supplement their armies. This is a list of reasons why the Roman Empire was so formidable.
Italy was one of the most populated countries in Europe during the time of the Romans. This large human mass gave them the ability to create large armies without much trouble. This also allowed their economy to flourish, as they could have both a large army, and a large civilian population growing their economy. At the Battle of Teutoburg forest, the Romans lost three entire legions. This massive loss of human life, would be the end of many empires, but not Rome.
The Roman Empire’s population was so large, that they could simply hire more soldiers to fill the gap. Roman armies would often outnumber their enemies, so even without any sort of tactical or strategic advantage, they would stand a good chance of winning. Most civilizations couldn’t replace their armies at the same rate as the Romans, so even a draw was much more devastating for them, than it was for Rome.
The Romans being situated in the Mediterranean gave them a huge advantage over other civilizations, especially landlocked ones. The Romans had access to the Mediterranean Sea, which gave them access to fish, rich with nutrients and protein. It was easy for them to gain, nutrient rich food, and build a large and relatively healthy populace. The Mediterranean weather also makes it easier to grow food there, than it does in other parts of the world. Rome was well defended due to two mountain ranges, the Alps, and the Apennines, which protected them from invasion. Its central location also made it easy to trade with many different cultures.
The Legion was a Roman military unit, and it was one of the most effective units in military history. Warriors going up against the legions were often running to their own slaughter. The Legion was the elite heavy infantry of the Roman army. It was a large, 48,000 man killing machine, and even defeated the mighty Greek Phalanx in battle. Most of them were recruited from the Roman citizenry but they also had an auxiliary unit accompanying them, made up of cavalry, skirmishers, and ranged fighters.
No empire can survive for long without effective leadership. The prime examples of this are the five good emperors of Rome. They were five consecutive emperors who all contributed to it in their own unique ways. Want to learn more about them? Read our article on them here. Some of their most famous leaders include Marcus Aurelius, Hadrian, and Trajan.
Astounding Feats Of Engineering
The Roman Empire was formidable partly due to its constant feats of engineering, not just militarily, but civil engineering as well. One of these amazing innovations was the Roman aqueduct. The Romans innovated the aqueduct in a way that meant they could produce never before seen numbers of them. An aqueduct was a structure that carried water from mountains and springs into cities, or towns. This amazing source of water allowed the population of cities to grow massively while still being healthy. Some aqueducts were over 62 miles long. By using arches the Romans could build strong bridges that reached further than any in history. These bridges still exist today, simply because they are that strong. The longest Roman bridge was almost 600 ft long. Roman roads allowed for easy transportation of goods, and armies across large distances. Their roads went from Northern England all the way to Egypt. Roman innovation reached levels of ingenious but it’s impossible to list them all here, just know there were many, and that they shaped the world as we know it.
One of the main strengths of the Roman army was its innovation. Not just in engineering, but tactically as well. The Roman navy is a perfect example of this. Rome didn’t have much of a navy at first, but they decided that they would try to defeat the world’s foremost naval power anyway. For this, they really did need a navy. After getting their hands on a Carthaginian ship, they worked out how to build one of their own. Only three months later, they had established a fleet equal to that of Carthage. But there’s more to the story than that. They didn’t simply copy the Carthaginian ships, they made them better. They built their’s so that it only needed close to half as many men in it, to use it. The innovation of the Roman Empire is one of the main reasons they were so formidable.
On the front row, soldiers would hold their large shields in front of them. The rows behind them would hold their shields above their heads. With them standing tightly together, this made them almost impenetrable to direct arrow fire. They were only open at the sides, and the back. This tactic is known as the Tetsudo, and was used to defend against arrow fire. The wedge was another brilliant tactic. Soldiers would stand in an arrow shape, with the point facing the enemy. They would then charge at the enemy. The shape made them easily get deep into the enemy’s formation. The romans used powerful siege weapons to aid them in taking cities. These were often colossal in size, and allowed to take cities which were considered impossible to take before then. They used siege towers, mines, battering rams, onagers, and ballistae.