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Roman legion vs medieval army

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posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 06:21 PM
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Longbow arrows vs. tortoise... I vote for arrows




posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 06:39 PM
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Originally posted by HowlrunnerIV
The tortoise.

You beat me to it
but I will add to it . Basicly what they would do is stand there in a tortoise formation until the longbowmen ran out of arrows



posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 06:52 PM
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Originally posted by Heckman

Originally posted by HowlrunnerIV
The tortoise.

You beat me to it
but I will add to it . Basicly what they would do is stand there in a tortoise formation until the longbowmen ran out of arrows



Or they would use the tortoise formation to distract the enemy missile units to allow a cavalry/heavy infantry unit to flank the enemy - and by the time they've wasted all their efforts on the tortoise the flank would be in place and shred the winded and morale crushed missile units!



posted on Dec, 20 2005 @ 11:41 PM
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Originally posted by PsykoOps
Longbow arrows vs. tortoise... I vote for arrows


Clothyard shafts vs Roman shields, yes. The problem with this whole thread is that Roman armour was from a previous metal age, basically. Although they did invent the Toledo sword.

However, Roman tactics were far superior to Dark and Middle Ages Europe. For that matter, most Romans were to some extent literate. Most Europeans were less than functionally illiterate.

Everybody, please remember, the English were almost unique in their ability, let alone use, of longbow archers. They used them twice to massive effect, at Crecy and Agincourt. But have a look how far apart those battles were and look for other examples of the English dominating battles in Europe this way.

The Swedes were the first to use muskets effectively, serpentine matchlocks, of all things, in a similar method to English longbows. The Swedes introduced the system of ranks cycling through each other to keep loaded muskets at the front, firing.

At their height, and even during Byzantium, the Romans were the most adaptable force on earth. Any tactic that delayed or defeated them, they adopted or countered. They travelled with fortifications, they understood logistics and they could read, write and count.

European troops of the era we are talking about were a few nobles, accompanied by a few more men-at-arms and a mass of indentured, and thus conscripted, serfs. The great mass of whom had little or no training.

The Swiss were different, but even their methods caused serious problems of their own.

Even after clothyard shafts have pierced their shields, Roman discipline will hold the legions together as they advance.

The next time that kind of discipline was seen was the British during the Napoleonic wars, first in Spain/Portugal and then at Waterloo. Because they were professional troops. With logistical support.



posted on Dec, 21 2005 @ 04:59 PM
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romans also used auxirallry[is that how you spell it] to weaken the enemy and discourge them. so in other words since the moral of the medieval armys would be crap anyway [because there a bunch of guys with swords who don't wanna be there] to fight of reapted attacks and know the actual troops are behind them itching to fight. then theres the curtan effect. the roman army would send a small ammount of troops out front to hide there actual numbers. they wouldn't feel to great even if they had a couple of guys with amor and horses.
sorry for the bad spelling.

[edit on 21-12-2005 by TeenAgnst64]

[edit on 21-12-2005 by TeenAgnst64]



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 01:04 PM
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Interesting topic, sorry if my response is a bit repetitive.

As people have said, the answer obviously depends on how you define your terms- are we talking about an republic/post marian roman army, does the medieval army get longbows, do the romans have the advantage in numbers you might expect them to have, are we talking about a one off take them as you find them battle, a campaign, a war etc...

I guess I think that the following things are pretty certain.

-In a one off engagement with comparable numbers on both sides and neither having any experience with the others (eg, one of Caesar's legions just randomly time travels and finds itself despoiling 14th century France, who mobilize to attack the invaders...) a roman army would almost certainly be pretty badly mauled and most likely lose.

Even in their own time, roman legions had serious trouble with goth heavy cavalry (iirc that was what caused the disaster on the danube or something?) and medieval knights with trained warhorses, lances and plate armor would be unlike anything they'd ever experienced. The reason knights were so dominant during the early medieval period was that only extremely deadly missile troops or disciplined pikemen could handle them- everything else was just so much dead meat in front of a cavalry charge. Even though Roman legionaries were arguably the best heavy infantry in a melee the world has ever seen, in a first up engagement they'd have no answer to a cavalry charge by knights, their lines would be broken and eventually even their discipline would collapse- their tactics might have been excellent for the time, but asking them to handle heavily armed and armored cavalry on warhorses trained to press home a charge would be like asking Wellington's men to stand in line and receive a charge of WWII tanks- no matter how good your tactics are, commanders can only plan for things they understand and have experience with.

-but-
As people have pointed out, the romans had access to extremely good commanders, and were far better organised and disciplined than an average medieval army, were capable of raising larger armies due to their professional status, and with the exception of the relatively few genuine military innovations (plate armor, crossbows, longbows, stirrups) in the 1000 years following their decline, were actually more advanced than pre-renaissance medieval civilisations in a lot of other ways.

If, instead of it just being a random, one off encounter, we imagine that the Julius Caesar era roman peninsula is picked up and plonked on a medieval map of europe, I think they'd have reestablished a europe-wide empire in the space of 50 years. After the first few nasty defeats at the hands of new technology, they'd have the ability to analyse and adapt (even just training up pike armed legionaries to fight in phalanx style formation would pretty much wipe out the major medieval advantage). Their ability to recruit large armies would start to be very important, but the other huge advantage they'd have is that roman engineering = roman roads, which means they'd have far better supply lines and the ability to move troops en masse to battles, and always dramatically outnumber the opposition. Given the opportunity to learn, they'd end up crushing pretty much any medieval nation with not much more difficulty than they saw to the gauls.

To sum up with a tired cliche, a roman army would lose the first battle but roman civilisation would win the war.



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 10:24 PM
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Medieval foot soldiers had heavy armor and their weapons were heavier and slower. This ofcourse made the average medieval soldier slow but packing a powerful wallop. They would tire much much faster in long drawn-out battles.

In the end, I think it would be a victory for the Legions. The discipline, the training, the numbers, and the considerably lighter weapons and armor of Legions would get them the victory.



posted on Dec, 22 2005 @ 10:30 PM
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I think the average Roman Legionaire was more armored than the average medieval foot soldier. The nobles and knights were in heavy armor but the peasants who formed the bulk of the army were not.



posted on Dec, 23 2005 @ 03:42 AM
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What if i put a flame-arrow on crossbow?



posted on Dec, 23 2005 @ 05:50 AM
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Romans had in general better armour than the most of the medival armies. The medival armies had theire knights but they werent that common. I doubt that the majority of the medival army had heavy weapons. I guess most of them had shorts spears and swords.



posted on Dec, 23 2005 @ 06:00 PM
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if i remember correctly,

the legion uniform look like skirts..

okay,

william tell



posted on Dec, 24 2005 @ 06:40 PM
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Originally posted by secretthrone
if i remember correctly,

the legion uniform look like skirts..

okay,

william tell


actually the "skirt" was just a long shirt or tunic worn under the armor.



posted on Dec, 24 2005 @ 06:56 PM
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Originally posted by TeenAgnst64
actually the "skirt" was just a long shirt or tunic worn under the armor.


..fascinating..and underwear?
did they use any depilatory cream?


curious mind



posted on Jan, 12 2006 @ 02:44 AM
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The Roman armies did not just consist of legionaries. These were the guys who held the line/most of the killing.

But there was also a force of auxilia, usually featuring spearmen, archers, and cavalry.

It's so difficult to compare as you have to ask what the terms of the engagement would be for a "fair" fight. And no fight is ever a "fair fight" anyway.



posted on Jan, 12 2006 @ 12:29 PM
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Originally posted by namehere
legions were poor defenders tho, they were an offensive force more than anything.


No way man - they Romans had a defensive tactic called the Tortoise. A couple dozen Romans got in a tight square formation. The guys on the outside edges of the box put their sheilds out to defende the sides, and the guys in the middle of the square put their shields up to defend from arrows... like a cute little tortoise.

All Roman soldiers had armor, swords, and shields. The vast majority of European medieval fighters carried wooden spears, had no armor, and no shield. They had tons of lightly armored archers. The cavalry would be a force to be reconed with, but all the Romans also carried a one-use-only spear for such an occasion.

Europeans favored the Large Sword / Small Shield combo, while the Romans were Short Sword / Huge Shield guys. They were just as trained to use their shields as weapons as their swords. They had more control with a little stab than with a huge wind-up with a claymore or bastard sword.



posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 02:51 PM
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An easy win for the Romans. The medievals did not have a standing army, and their forces could only be fielded for a couple of months. The Romans were full-timers with a complete supply chain. All they need to do it maneuvre for a while and harass until the medieval logistics fall apart and everyone goes home because they're term is up.

This approach was used successfully against Hannibal's superior army when it invaded italy, see en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Jan, 16 2006 @ 06:26 PM
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Sorry, know this was a while back but:


Originally posted by pavil

My favorite would be who would win: Alexander the Great's Macedonians vs Temujin's Mogol Horde. I think that would be a great battle.


Problem with that is Temujin(Genghis Khan) brought more than sheer military power. His troops did well b/c his commanders had tremendous initiative.
Alexander also had excellent supply skills, as evidenced by his ability to maintain a rapidly expanding empire with his army.

But from a purely military standpoint, the Mongols, easily. They had excellent tactics, discipline, morale, better mobility, and in a sense, greater firepower. The composite bow was comparable to the English longbow in strength despite being smaller.

Of course, the Macedonian cavalry was reputed to be outstanding, but the Mongols heavy cavalry would also have had the benefit of having stirrups, allowing them to maintain a close fight, while the Macedonians would have relied on the charge shock impact. Not to mention that the light screen that preceded most Mongol formations would have "fled" while shooting backwards, as they were known to do.

[edit on 16-1-2006 by ORIEguy]



posted on Jan, 19 2006 @ 12:24 PM
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Originally posted by ORIEguy
Sorry, know this was a while back but:


Originally posted by pavil

My favorite would be who would win: Alexander the Great's Macedonians vs Temujin's Mogol Horde. I think that would be a great battle.



But from a purely military standpoint, the Mongols, easily. They had excellent tactics, discipline, morale, better mobility, and in a sense, greater firepower.
[edit on 16-1-2006 by ORIEguy]


While the mongols were a force to be reckon with they most certainly did not have the excellent discipline and morale. They weren't exactly the most trained army in the world and were not an actual professional army. These guys were the poeple who would plunder, rape, kill, and get drunk everyday once they taken over a city. Genghis was an alcoholic too.



posted on Jan, 19 2006 @ 02:35 PM
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Originally posted by Fingon

Originally posted by ORIEguy
Sorry, know this was a while back but:


Originally posted by pavil

My favorite would be who would win: Alexander the Great's Macedonians vs Temujin's Mogol Horde. I think that would be a great battle.



But from a purely military standpoint, the Mongols, easily. They had excellent tactics, discipline, morale, better mobility, and in a sense, greater firepower.
[edit on 16-1-2006 by ORIEguy]


While the mongols were a force to be reckon with they most certainly did not have the excellent discipline and morale. They weren't exactly the most trained army in the world and were not an actual professional army. These guys were the poeple who would plunder, rape, kill, and get drunk everyday once they taken over a city. Genghis was an alcoholic too.


Like I said it would be a great clash of two very different styles of warfare. The more I read about the Mongols the more impressed I am with their whole style of warfare. They were probably the first army to really use Psy-ops on their foes. They could get an entire city to surrender based on the fear of the "horde" descending upon them.

In fact they were pretty disciplined, only pillaging cities that they were ordered to. If a city surrendered to them, they for the most part would extend an honorable peace. Course sometimes they just went crazy but that goes back to the Psy-ops aspect. Both were definetely overacheiving armies thats for sure.



posted on Jan, 19 2006 @ 03:23 PM
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The hard thing about understanding the Mongols is that the history of the Mongols is frequently one sided.

If you only take the perspective of the people they conquered(being most of Eurasia), they were a ravenous horde with no self control.

However, they were actually very, very rational.

Discipline was NOT an issue. There are many clear examples of this where they achieve a level of discipline far beyond their contemporaries, and even some modern armies today. They had a clear command structure which in addition to being a total meritocracy, allowed commanders individual initiative as well. Genghis did not fight all the Mongol campaigns, he sent commanders OUT on campaigns.

Morale was excellent. They were a victorious army, and they were jaded, used to a much harder existence. They starved on the steppes, now they were conquering, raping the greatest looking women in the cities, and eating civilized food. No, morale definitely was not a problem. And they understood the relationship between PSYOPS and morale. A large part of their game plan relied on the use of PSYOPS and denying enemy battlefield situational awareness.

You also have to differentiate between the Mongol conquerors and settled Mongols. Once they had finished conquering, it's true that the Mongols "got soft" which is when their organization began to break down. But for the decades where they were an army, they were absolutely amazing warriors.

From what I have studied, I would opine that they were clearly the masters of cavalry warfare. The only problem was that this meant they could only fight in open terrain. However, they were so good with intel, comms, and maneuvering that they almost always managed to fight on their terms. The Japanese are quite lucky that the Mongols never managed to push signifcantly off the beach.
It's a little known fact that both Patton and Rommel, in writing up their armored cav tactics, intensely studied the Mongol campaigns.

[edit on 19-1-2006 by ORIEguy]



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