Asked in Ancient HistoryRoman Empire
How was it possible for rome to conquer so quickly?
June 11, 2015 1:20PM
Rome's process of imperial expansion was far from being quick. It occurred over several centuries. Initially Rome's wars were protracted and she struggled to win them. Later it became easier for her to win battle decisively and to conclude her wars quickly. It has to be noted, however, that the conquest of Gaul was an arduous, protracted affair. It lasted for six years and the Roman army was under great stress several times. Several factors contributed to Rome becoming such a strong military power. One of them was the build-up of strength in numbers.
Rome defeated a rebellion by her Latin allies, the Volsci (an old foe) and the Campanians of the city of Capua. She annexed most of the Latin cities and gave their inhabitants full Roman citizenship. She also annexed the Volsci and Capuans and gave them Roman citizenship without the right to vote. Rome ceased to be a city-state and become regional-sized multi-ethnic commonwealth. This increased the size of the Roman army. Rome also fought three wars against the Samnites of southern Italy. At the end of the second one five peoples of central Italy became Rome's allies and at the end of the third one three more Italic peoples became her allies. These allies had to supply soldiers who fought in auxiliary troops which supported the Roman legions at their own expenses in exchange for protection and a share of the spoils of war. The allies provided 60% of the pool of military manpower available to Rome. This was the largest pool of military manpower in the Mediterranean. With such members Rome was able to defeat the other great power in the western Mediterranean and gain control of this side of this sea. She then expanded into the eastern Mediterranean. At this point the Italic allies became Roman citizens. This increased the number of Roman legionaries again. The Romans recruited the peoples of her empire as auxiliaries. This doubled the size of the Roman army. It had 150,000 legionaries and 150,000 auxiliaries. No one could match such numbers.
Other factors were tenacity, good training, tactics and leadership. When the Romans engaged in war, they pursued victory to the bitter end and with a tenacity which was rarely matched. The Roman soldiers received good training even before the Roman army was professionalised. Good discipline was also important. It meant that soldiers would execute orders to the letter and, equally importantly, did not buckle when under pressure and held their lines. The Romans developed a range of good military tactics. They also often had ingenious commanders. These factors often gave the Roman legions the edge. When the Roman army was professionalised, the Roman legionaries served for 25 years and were trained and drilled regularly and often had to do long marches to keep fit. The auxiliaries also became professional and received the same equipment and training as the legionaries.
The Romans also adopted the siege machines of the Greeks (catapults, siege towers, rams and the like) and greatly improved on them.