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Rome Spreads Her Wings - Territorial Expansion between the Punic Wars, Gareth C. Sampson

Rome Spreads Her Wings - Territorial Expansion between the Punic Wars, Gareth C. Sampson


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Rome Spreads Her Wings - Territorial Expansion between the Punic Wars, Gareth C. Sampson

Rome Spreads Her Wings - Territorial Expansion between the Punic Wars, Gareth C. Sampson

The three Punic Wars are probably the most famous foreign wars fought by the Roman Republic (in particular the Second Punic War, with its images of Hannibal, his elephants and his crushing victory at Cannae), but the same period also saw the Romans fight their first wars across the Adriatic, and finally defeat the Gallic tribes of northern Italy, a long standing threat to the city of Rome herself. This period also saw Carthage attempt to recover from her defeat in the First Punic War by establish a new empire in Spain.

Although the Punic Wars are fairly well documented, the gaps between them are less well served. Many of the surviving histories rush over these periods and prefer to focus on the dramatic clashes with Carthage, and in other cases the sections covering the gaps between the wars are totally lost (Book 20 of Livy being perhaps the most frustrating gap). The author doesn't brush over these problems, and in many sections the discussion of the gaps in the sources, problems with the surviving sources and the contradictions between competing sources are at the heart of the discussion. These debates are supported by sizable extracts from the various sources. One minor quibble here - sometimes two or three different sources are given in sequence, but they are only identified by book endnotes, which makes them effectively unreferenced - putting the author's names after each source would have made this excellent approach more effective.

I like Sampson's approach to this period. He largely follows Polybius, whose history is the best surviving source, but then brings in alternative versions of events, suggesting where they may provide extra details or reflect later errors. I thought I was quite familiar with this period, but I hadn’t realised how serious a threat the Gauls of northern Italy posed to Roman power at the time, how much effort went into the Gallic Wars, or how close the Gauls came to directly threatening the city - at the start of this period the Romans hardly controlled any of the Po valley in northern Italy, so their power was limited to central and southern Italy, something I must admit I hadn't realised. This is the period in which Rome completed the conquest of northern Italy, eliminating one of her most dangerous enemies, and is thus of great significance.

This is a useful book that helps fill a gap in the military history of Rome, with a good use of the limited sources.

Chapters
I - Rome Before and After the First Punic War (338-218 BC)
1 - Roman Expansion in Italy and Beyond (338-241 BC)
2 - Roman Expansion in the Mediterranean - Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica (241-218 BC)

II - Roman Expansion in Italy and the East (238-228 BC)
3 - Roman Expansion in Italy - The Gallic and Ligurian Wars (238-230 BC)
4 - Roman Expansion in the East - The First Illyrian War (230-228 BC)
5 - Carthaginian Expansion in Spain and the Roman Response (237-226 BC)

III - Roman Expansion in Spain and the Roman Response (237-226 BC)
6 - The Gallic War I - The Road to Telamon
7 - The Gallic War II - The Battle of Telamon (225 BC)
8 - The Gallic War III - The Roman Invasion of Northern Italy (224-223 BC)
9 - The Gallic War IV - The Battle of Clastidium (222 BC) and Subsequent Campaigns (222-218 BC)

IV - The Consequences of Expansion (225-218 BC)
10 - Roman Expansion in the East - The Second Illyrian War (219 BC)
11 - Carthaginian Expansion in Spain and the Roman Response (225-218 BC)

Author: Gareth C. Sampson
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 224
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2016



Gareth C. Sampson, Rome Spreads Her Wings: Territorial Expansion Between the Punic Wars (Albright)

(Pen & Sword, 2016) 278 pp. £25.00

Turning his attention a few centuries before the material for his previous book on the defeat of Rome against Persia at Carrhae, Gareth Sampson finds a profitable area of study for this thoughtful and excellent work on the territorial expansion of Rome and Carthage between the First and Second Punic Wars, managing to put the behavior of both Rome and Carthage in their proper context rather than seeing everything done during this period as simply a prelude to Rome’s war against Hannibal. A rare book-length treatment of this period, the author succeeds in bringing to life a forgotten and obscure part of Roman history and encouraging readers who are so inclined to take a glimpse at the scanty primary sources for the period.

The author’s seriousness about critically but faithfully examining the source material at hand can be gathered from the way that the mostly Roman and Greco-Roman sources are treated in the book. In the main body of the book itself the ancient sources are cited frequently, even where their accounts are apparently contradictory, and require delicacy in handling. After the main body of the book, which is slightly more than 200 pages, the author spends several pages discussing the extant and lost sources on both the Roman and Carthaginian side concerning this important but obscure period. After this the author provides a list of rulers of various areas of importance the narrative, not only Roman consuls but also the kings and queens of the Ardiaei, Epirus, and Macedon as well as the Barcids responsible for Carthage’s imperial expansion in Spain, discusses the possibility of a re-emergence of the Tribunate of the Plebs during this period, and examines the contentious matter of Rome’s manpower strength from Polybius.

The main contents of the book are no less worthy of interest among students of the military of the Roman Republic. The first two chapters give an account of Roman expansion in Italy and beyond before and after the First Punic War, showing Rome’s slow early growth and its opportunistic expansion into Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica immediately following the First Punic War. After this the author discusses the Gallic and Ligurian Wars between 238 and 230 BC, Rome’s first attack across the Adriatic in the First Illyrian War, and Carthaginian expansion in Spain and Rome’s response from 237 to 226 BC. Four chapters discuss the pivotal but often neglected Gallic War of 228-218 BC, where Rome’s initially tentative and fearful attitude towards the hated Gauls gradually changed into military dominance of northern Italy. The last two chapters of the book treat the consequences of expansion in the Second Illyrian War in the east and the Roman response to further Carthaginian expansion of Spain resulting in the outbreak of the Second Punic War.

Readers who appreciate a historical work like Robin Waterfield’s Taken At The Flood will likely find much to appreciate here as well, with a similar and similarly thoughtful examination of Roman grand strategy or its absence, the way that military and political factors influenced each other, and how the actions of Rome are not to be looked at in a vacuum but rather as part of a larger context including rival imperial powers like Carthage and Macedon as well as smaller city states and alliances of cities and where each war brought consequences and repercussions that led to further conflicts with old and new foes alike. In providing a serious and worthwhile narrative of the time between the First and Second Punic Wars, the author furthermore manages to avoid mentioning Hannibal until well into the book’s material, which is understandable given the tendency of many students of Roman history to view Hannibal as a man of destiny around whom the history of the age revolves, rather than a talented but originally peripheral character within the thoughts and ambitions and plans of Rome’s contemporary political and military leadership.

Among the author’s more worthwhile insights is a reappraisal of some of the forgotten leaders of the Roman Republic during this time, especially the brave and heroic L. Aemilius Papus, whose leadership led to the destruction of the myth of Gallic invincibility and even superiority in the course of a single massive battle at Telamon. Yet the author, as a profound student of Roman military history, shrewdly points out how the nature of the Roman political order with its short term of leadership and its rising tensions even at this early era between Senatorial and plebian interests led to Roman generals seeking personal glory at the head of armies or detachments at the occasional risk to damage or loss for the Roman Republic as a whole. Furthermore, the author’s discussion does not neglect a discussion of trade and economics as well as demographics and logistics, showing himself to be more than merely a student of battles.

The result is a book that is well worth reading for the student of classical Roman history. Both as a critical reassessment of the reputation of Rome’s obscure leaders during this period and as a book with considerable interest in military, political, and diplomatic history, this work has a lot to offer students of the Roman Republic for its research value as well as its pleasures as a book on a narrative level. Sampson shines a light on a dark corner of Roman history and finds Rome existing in a complicated world where it is rising from an Italian power to a regional power recognized and feared by others, and whose actions in order to defend the safety and security of its own realm and deal with its own political tensions lead to countermoves on the part of neighbors and rivals, making for a complicated picture of unintended consequences leading to decades of constant warfare and to the sudden and lasting rise of Roman influence around the Mediterranean basin, a subject which may very well be a future area of Sampson’s writing, given his clear interest in addressing the military history of the Roman Republic in enjoyable and well-researched books such as this one.


Rome Spreads Her Wings - Territorial Expansion between the Punic Wars, Gareth C. Sampson - History

The two decades between the end of the First Punic War and the beginning of the Second represent a key period in the development of Rome&rsquos imperial ambitions, both within Italy and beyond. Within Italy, Rome faced an invasion of Gauls from Northern Italy, which threatened the very existence of the Roman state. This war culminated at the Battle of Telamon and the final Roman victory against the Gauls of Italy, giving Rome control of the peninsula up to the Alps for the first time in her history. Beyond the shores of Italy, Rome acquired her first provinces, in the form of Sardinia and Corsica, established footholds in Sicily and Spain and crossed the Adriatic to establish a presence on the Greek mainland, bringing Rome into the orbit of the Hellenistic World.

Yet this period is often treated as nothing more than an intermission between the two better known Punic Wars, with each Roman campaign being made seemingly in anticipation of a further conflict with Carthage. Such a view overlooks two key factors that emerge from these decades: firstly, that Rome faced a far graver threat in the form of the Gauls of Northern Italy than she had faced at the hands of the Carthaginians in the First Punic War secondly, that the foundations for Rome&rsquos overseas empire were laid in these very decades. This work seeks to redress the balance and view these wars in their own right, analyze how close Rome came to being defeated in Italy and asses the importance of these decades as a key period in the foundation of Rome&rsquos future empire.

About The Author

After a successful career in corporate finance, Dr. Gareth Sampson returned to the study of ancient Rome and gained his PhD from the University of Manchester, where he currently teaches ancient history. He has made a detailed study of early Roman political history and in particular the political office of the tribunate of the plebs. He is currently engaged in a study of the power struggles and the civil warfare of the late Republic and its expansionist policies in the east.

REVIEWS

"But as a work intended primarily for a popular audience, Sampson is successful in presenting a vivid narrative of Roman expansion from 241-218."

- Res Militares

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Warfare between England and Scotland in the late 13th and early 14th centuries from the Scalacronica

In 1355, Sir Thomas Gray of Heton, warden of Norham Castle, was captured during warfare with Scotland. While being held at Edinburgh Castle, Thomas began writing the Scalacronica, a history of England up to the reign of Edward the Third, with the work ending in 1362. The sections included in this translation cover some the events where Thomas’ father, also named Thomas Gray, was involved, and the campaigns and warfare between Edward I and II against Scotland, including the battle of Bannockburn.

The said King Edward [the First] went to Scotland, invested the castle of Carlaverock and took it, after which siege William Wallace was taken by John de Menteith near Glasgow and brought before the King of England, who caused him to be drawn and hanged in London.

The said King caused the town of Berwick to be surrounded with a stonewall, and, returning to England, left John de Segrave Guardian of Scotland. The Scots began again to rebel against King Edward of England, and elected John de Comyn their Guardian and Chief of their cause. At which time ensued great passages of arms between the Marches, and notably in Teviotdale, before Roxburgh Castle, between Ingram de Umfraville, Robert de Keith, Scotsmen, and Robert de Hastings, warden of the said castle. John de Segrave, Guardian of Scotland for King Edward of England, marched in force into Scotland with several magnates of the English Marches, and with Patrick Earl of March, who was an adherent of the English King, came to Rosslyn, encamped about the village, with his column around him. His advanced guard was encamped a league distant in a hamlet. John Comyn with his adherents made a night attack upon the said John de Segrave and discomfited him in the darkness and his advanced guard, which was encamped at a distant place, were not aware of his defeat, therefore they came in the morning in battle array to the same place where they had left their commander overnight, intending to do their devoir, where they were attacked and routed by the numbers of Scots, and Rafe the Cofferer was there slain.

Because of this news King Edward marched the following year into Scotland, and on his first entry encamped at Dryburgh. Hugh de Audley, with sixty men-at-arms, finding difficulty in encamping beside the King, went [forward] to Melrose and took up quarters in the abbey. John Comyn, at that time Guardian of Scotland, was in the forest of Ettrick with a great force of armed men, perceiving the presence of the said Hugh at Melrose in the village, attacked him by night and broke open the gates, and, while the English in the abbey were formed up and mounted on their horses in the court, they [the Scots?] caused the gates to be thrown open, [when] the Scots entered on horseback in great numbers, bore to the ground the English who were few in number, and captured or slew them all. The chevalier, Thomas Gray, after being beaten down, seized the house outside the gate, and held it in hope of rescue until the house began to burn over his head, when he, with others, was taken prisoner.

King Edward marched forward and kept the feast of Christmas [1303] at Linlithgow, then rode throughout the land of Scotland, and marched to Dunfermline, where John Comyn perceiving that he could not withstand the might of the King of England, rendered himself to the King’s mercy, on condition that he and all his adherents should regain all their rightful possessions, and they became again his [Edward’s] lieges whereupon new instruments were publicly executed.

John de Soulis would not agree to the conditions he left Scotland and went to France, where he died. William Oliphant, a young Scottish bachelor, caused Stirling Castle to be garrisoned, not deigning to consent to John Comyn’s conditions, but claiming to hold from the Lion. The said King Edward, who had nearly all the people of Scotland in his power and possession of their fortresses, came before Stirling Castle, invested it and attacked it with many different engines, and took it by force and by a siege of nineteen weeks! During which siege, the chevalier Thomas Gray was struck through the head below the eyes by the bolt of a springald, and fell to the ground for dead under the barriers of the castle. [This happened] just as he had rescued his master, Henry de Beaumont, who had been caught at the said barriers by a hook thrown from a machine, and was only just outside the barriers when the said Thomas dragged hires out of danger. The said Thomas was brought in and a party was paraded to bury him, when at that moment he began to move and look about him, and afterwards recovered.

The King sent the captain of the castle, William Oliphant, to prison in London, and caused the knights of his army to joust before their departure at the close of the siege. Having appointed his officers throughout Scotland, he marched to MS. England, and left Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, as Guardian of Scotland, to whom he gave the forests of Selkirk and Ettrick, where at Selkirk the said Aymer caused build a pele, and placed therein a strong garrison.

The next section begins in the reign of Edward the Second

At this time Thomas de Gray was warden of the castle of Cupar and Fife, and as he was traveling out of England from the King’s coronation to the said castle, Walter de Bickerton, a knight of Scotland, who was an adherent of Robert de Bruce, having espied the return of the said Thomas, placed himself in ambush with more than four hundred men by the way the said Thomas intended to pass, whereof the said Thomas was warned when scarcely half a league from the ambush. He had not more than six-and-twenty men-at-arms with him, and perceived that he could not avoid an encounter. So, with the approval of his people, he took the road straight towards the ambush, having given his grooms a standard and ordered them to follow behind at not too short interval.

The enemy mounted their horses and formed for action, thinking that they [the English] could not escape from them. The said Thomas, with his people, who were very well mounted, struck spurs to his horse, and charged the enemy right in the centre of their column, bearing many to the ground in his course by the shock of his horse and lance. Then, turning rein, came back in the same manner and. charged again, and once again returned through the thick of the troop, which so encouraged his people that they all followed him in like manner, whereby they overthrew many of the enemy, whose horses stampeded along the road. When they [the enemy] rose from the ground, they perceived the grooms of the said Thomas coming up in good order, and began to fly to a dry peat moss which was near, wherefore almost all [the others] began to fly to the moss, leaving their horses for their few assailants. The said Thomas and his men could not get near them on horseback, wherefore he caused their horses to be driven before them along the road to the said castle, where at night they had a booty of nine score saddled horses.

Another time, on a market day, the town being full of people from the neighbourhood, Alexander Frisel, who was an adherent of Robert de Bruce, was ambushed with a hundred men-at-arms about half a league from the said castle, having sent others of his people to rifle a hamlet on the other side of the castle. The said Thomas, hearing the uproar, mounted a fine charger before his people could get ready, and went to see what was ado. The enemy spurred out from their ambush before the gates of the said castle, so doing because they well knew that he (Sir Thomas) had gone forth. The said Thomas, perceiving this, returned at a foot’s pace through the town of Cupar, at the end whereof stood the castle, where he had to enter on horseback, [and] where they had occupied the whole street. When he came near them struck spurs into his horse of those who advanced against him, he struck dawn some with his spear, others with the shock of his horse, and, passing through them all, dismounted at the gate, drove his horse in, and slipped inside the barrier, where he found his people assembled.

This King Edward the Second after the Conquest bestowed great affection during his father’s life upon Piers de Gaveston, a young man of good Gascon family whereat his father became so much concerned lest he [Piers] should lead his son astray, that he caused him [Piers] to be exiled from the realm, and even made his son and his nephew, Thomas of Lancaster, and other magnates swear that the exile of the said Piers should be for ever irrevocable. But soon after the death of the father, the son caused the said Piers to be recalled suddenly, and made him take to wife his sister’s daughter, one of Gloucester’s daughters, and made him Earl of Cornwall. Piers became very magnificent, liberal, and well‑bred in manner, but haughty and supercilious in debate, whereat some of the great men of the realm took deep offence. They planned his destruction while he was serving the King in the Scottish war. He had caused the town of Dundee to be fortified, and had behaved himself more rudely there than was agreeable to the gentlemen of the country, so that he had to return to the King because of the opposition of the barons. On his way back they surprised and took him at Scarborough, but he was delivered to Aymer de Valence upon condition that he was to be taken before the King, from whose [Aymer’s] people he was retaken near Oxford, and brought before the Earl of Lancaster, who had him beheaded close to Warwick, whereat arose the King’s mortal hate, which endured for ever between them. Adam Banaster, a knight bachelor of the county of Lancaster, led a revolt against the said earl by instigation of the King but he could not sustain it, and was taken and beheaded by order of the said earl, who had made long marches in following his [Banaster’s] people.

During the dispute between the King and the said earl, Robert de Brits, who had already risen during the life of the King’s father, renewed his strength in Scotland, claiming authority over the realm of Scotland, and subdued many of the lands in Scotland which were before subdued by and in submission to the King of England and [this was] chiefly the result of bad government by the King’s officials, who administered them [the lands] too harshly in their private interests.

The castles of Roxburgh and Edinburgh were captured and dismantled, which castles were in the custody of foreigners, Roxburgh [being] in charge of Guillemyng Fenygges, a knight of Burgundy, from whom James de Douglas captured the said castle upon the night of Shrove Tuesday, the said William being slain by an arrow as he was defending the great tower. Peres Lebaud, a Gascon knight, was Sheriff of Edinburgh, from whom the people of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, who had besieged the said castle, took it at the highest part of the rock, where he suspected no danger. The said Peter became Scots in the service of Robert de Bruce, who afterwards accused him of treason, and caused him to be hanged and drawn. It was said that he suspected him [Peres] because he was too outspoken, believing him nevertheless to be English at heart, doing his best not to give him [Bruce] offence.

The said King Edward planned an expedition to these parts, where, in [attempting] the relief of the castle of Stirling, he was defeated, and a great number of his people were slain, [including] the Earl of Gloucester and other right noble persons and the Earl of Hereford was taken at Bothwell, whither he had beaten retreat, where he was betrayed by the governor. He was released [in exchange] for the wife of Robert de Bruce and the Bishop of St. Andrews.

As to the manner in which this discomfiture befell, the chronicles explain that after the Earl of Atholl had captured the town of St. John [Perth] for the use of Robert de Bruce from William Oliphant, captain [thereof] for the King of England, being at that time an adherent of his [Edward’s], although shortly after he deserted him, the said Robert marched in force before the castle of Stirling, where Philip de Moubray, knight, having command of the said castle for the King of England, made terms with the said Robert de Bruce to surrender the said castle, which he had besieged, unless he [de Moubray] should be relieved: that is, unless the English army came within three leagues of the said castle within eight days of Saint John’s day in the summer next to come, he would surrender the said castle. The said King of England came thither for that reason, where the said constable Philip met him at three leagues from the castle, on Sunday the vigil of Saint John, and told him that there was no occasion for him to approach any nearer, for he considered himself as relieved. Then he told him how the enemy had blocked the narrow roads in the forest.

[But] the young troops would by no means stop, but held their way. The advanced guard, whereof the Earl of Gloucester had command, entered the road’ within the Park, where they were immediately received roughly by the Scots who had occupied the passage. Here Peris de Mountforth, knight, was slain with an axe by the hand of Robert de Bruce, as was reported.

While the, said advanced guard were following this road, Robert Lord de Clifford and Henry de Beaumont, with three hundred men-at-arms, made a circuit upon the other side of the wood towards the castle, keeping the open ground. Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Robert de Bruce’s nephew, who was leader of the Scottish advanced guard, hearing that his uncle had repulsed the advanced guard of the English on the other side of the wood, thought that he must have his share, and issuing from the wood with his division marched across the open ground towards the two afore-named lords.

Sir Henry de Beaumont called to his men: “Let us wait a little let them come on give them room!”

“Sir,” said Sir Thomas Gray, “I doubt that whatever you give them now, they will have all too soon.”

“Very well!” exclaimed the said Henry, “if you are afraid, be off!’

“Sir,” answered the said Thomas, “it is not from fear that I shall fly this day.” So saying he spurred in between him [Beaumont] and Sir William Deyncourt, and charged into the thick of the enemy. William was killed, Thomas was taken prisoner, his horse being killed on the pikes, and he himself carried off with them [the Scots] on foot when they marched off, having utterly routed the squadron of the said two lords Some of whom [the English] fled to the castle, others to the king’s army, which having already left the road through the wood had debouched upon a plain near the water of Forth beyond Bannockburn, an evil, deep, wet marsh, where the said English army unharnessed and remained all night, having sadly lost confidence and being too much disaffected by the events of the day.

The Scots in the wood thought they had done well enough for the day, and were on the point of decamping in order to march during the night into the Lennox, a stronger country, when Sir Alexander de Seton who was in the service of England and had come thither with the King, secretly left the English army, went to Robert de Bruce in the wood, and said to him: “Sir, this is the time if ever you intend to undertake to reconquer Scotland. The English have lost heart and are discouraged, and expect nothing but a sudden, open attack.”

Then he described their condition, and pledged his head, on pain of being hanged and drawn, that if he [Bruce] would attack them on the morrow he would defeat them easily without [much] loss. At whose [Seton’s] instigation they [the Scots resolved to fight, and at sunrise on the morrow marched out of the wood in three divisions of infantry. They directed their course boldly upon the English army, which had been under arms all night, with their horses bitted. They [the English] mounted in great alarm, for they were not accustomed to dismount to fight on foot whereas the Scots had taken a lesson from the Flemings, who before that had at Courtrai defeated on foot the power of France. The aforesaid Scots came in line of schiltroms, and attacked the English column, which were jammed together and could not operate against them [the Scots], so direfully were their horses impaled on the pikes. The troops in the English rear fell back upon the ditch of Bannockburn, tumbling one over the other.

The English squadrons being thrown into confusion by the thrust of pikes upon the horses, began to flee. Those who were appointed to [attend upon] the King’s rein, perceiving the disaster, led the King by the rein off the field towards the castle, and off he went, though much against the grain. As the Scottish knights, who were on foot, laid hold of the housing of the King’s charger in order to stop him, he struck out so vigorously behind him with a mace that there was none whom he touched that he did not fell to the ground.

As those who had the King’s rein were thus drawing him always forward, one of them, Giles de Argentin, a famous knight who had lately come over sea from the wars of the Emperor Henry of Luxemburg, said to the king: “Sire, your rein was committed to me you are now in safety there is your castle where your person may be safe. I am not accustomed to fly, nor am I going to begin now. I commend you to God!”

Then, setting spurs to his horse, he returned into the mellay, where he was slain.

The King’s charger, having been piked, could go no further so he mounted afresh on a courser and was taken round the Torwood, and [so] through the plains of Lothian. Those who went with him were saved all the rest came to grief. The King escaped with great difficulty, traveling thence to Dunbar, where ms. Patrick, Earl of March, received him honourably, and put his castle at his disposal, and even evacuated the place, removing all his people, so that there might be neither doubt nor suspicion that he would do nothing short of his devoir to his lord, for at that time he [Dunbar] was his liegeman. Thence the King went by sea to Berwick and afterwards to the south.

Edward de Bruce, brother to Robert, King of Scotland desiring to be a king [also], passed out of Scotland into Ireland with a great army in hopes of conquering it. He remained there two years and a half, performing there feats of arms, inflicting great destruction both upon provender and in other ways, and conquering much territory, which would form a splendid romance were it all recounted. He proclaimed himself King of the kings of Ireland [but] he was defeated and slain at Dundalk by the English of that country, [because] through over confidence he would not wait for reinforcements, which had arrived lately, and were not more than six leagues distant.

At the same time the King of England sent the Earl of Arundel as commander on the March of Scotland, who was repulsed at Lintalee in the forest of Jedworth, by James de Douglas, and Thomas de Richmond was slain. The said earl then retreated to the south without doing any more.

On another occasion the said James defeated the garrison of Berwick at Scaithmoor, where a number of Gascons were slain. Another time there happened a disaster on the marches at Berwick, by treachery of the false traitors of the marches, where was slain Robert de Neville which Robert shortly before had slain Richard fitz Marmaduke, cousin of Robert de Bruce, on the old bridge of Durham, because of a quarrel between them [arising] out of jealousy which should be reckoned the greater lord. Therefore, in order to obtain the King’s grace and pardon for this offence, Neville began to serve in the King’s war, wherein he died.

At the same period the said James de Douglas, with the assistance of Patrick, Earl of March, captured Berwick from the English, by means of the treason of one in the town, Peter de Spalding. The castle held out for eleven weeks after, and at last capitulated to the Scots in default of relief, because it was not provisioned. The constable, Roger de Horsley, lost there an eye by an arrow.

Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, traveling to the court of Rome, was captured by a Burgundian, John de la Moiller, taken into the empire and ransomed for 20,000 silver livres, because the said John declared that he had done the King of England service, and that the King was owing him his pay.

This James de Douglas was now very busy in Northumberland. Robert de Bruce caused all the castles of Scotland, except Dunbarton, to be dismantled. This Robert de Bruce caused William de Soulis to be arrested, and caused him to be confined in the castle of Dunbarton for punishment in prison, accusing him of having conspired with other great men of Scotland for his [Robert’s] undoing, to whom [de Soulis] they were attorned subjects, which the said William confessed by his acknowledgment. David de Brechin, John Logie, and Gilbert Malherbe were hanged and drawn in the town of St. John [Perth], and the corpse of Roger de Mowbray was brought on a litter before the judges in the Parliament of Scone, and condemned. This conspiracy was discovered by Murdach of Menteith, who himself became earl afterwards. He had lived long in England in loyalty to the King, and, returned home in order to discover this conspiracy. He became Earl of Menteith by consent of his niece, daughter of his elder brother, who, after his death at another time, became countess.

The King of England undertook scarcely anything against Scotland, and thus lost as much by indolence as his father had conquered and also a number of fortresses within his marches of England, as well as a great part of Northumberland which revolted against him.

Gilbert de Middleton in the bishopric of Durham, plundered two Cardinals who came to consecrate the Bishop, and seized Louis de Beaumont, Bishop of Durham, and his brother Henry de Beaumont, because the King had caused his [Gilbert’s] cousin Adam de Swinburne to be arrested, because he had spoken too frankly to him about the condition of the Marches.

This Gilbert, with adherence of others upon the Marches, rode upon a foray into Cleveland, and committed other great destruction, having the assistance of nearly all Northumberland, except the castles of Bamborough, Alnwick, and Norham, of which the two first named were treating with the enemy, the one by means of hostages, the other by collusion, when the said Gilbert was taken through treachery of his own people in the castle of Mitford by William de Felton, Thomas de Heton, and Robert de Horncliff, and was hanged and drawn in London.

On account of all this, the Scots had become so bold that they subdued the Marches of England and cast down the castles of Wark and Harbottle, so that hardly was there an Englishman who dared to withstand them. They had subdued all Northumberland by means of the treachery of the false people of the country. So that scarcely could they [the Scots] find anything to do upon these Marches, except at Norham, where a [certain] knight, Thomas de Gray, was in garrison with his kinsfolk. It would be too lengthy a matter to relate [all] the combats and deeds of arms and evils for default of provender, and sieges which happened to him during the eleven years that he remained [there] during such an evil and disastrous period for the English. It would be wearisome to tell the story of the less [important] of his combats in the said castle. Indeed it was so that, after the town of Berwick was taken out of the hands of the English, the Scots had got so completely the upper hand and were so insolent that they held the English to be of almost no account, who [the English] concerned themselves no more with the war, but allowed it to cease.

At which time, at a great feast of lords and ladies in the county of Lincoln, a young page brought a war helmet, with a gilt crest on the same, to William Marmion, knight, with a letter from his lady-love commanding him to go to the most dangerous place in Great Britain and [there] cause this helmet to be famous. Thereupon it was decided by the knights [present that he should go to Norham, as the most dangerous [and] adventurous place in the country. The said William betook himself to Norham, where, within four days of his arrival, Sir Alexander de Mowbray, brother of Sir Philip de Mowbray, at that time governor of Berwick, came before the castle of Norham with the most spirited chivalry of the Marches of Scotland, and drew up before the castle at the hour of noon with more than eight score men-at-arms. The alarm was given in the castle as they were sitting down to dinner. Thomas de Gray, the constable, went with his garrison to his barriers, saw the enemy near drawn up in order of battle, looked behind him, and beheld the said knight, William Marmion, approaching on foot, all glittering with gold and silver, marvelous finely attired, with the helmet on his head. The said Thomas, having been well informed of the reason for his coming [to Norham], cried aloud to him: “Sir knight, you have come as knight errant to make that helmet famous, and it is more meet that deeds of chivalry be done on horseback than afoot, when that can be managed conveniently. Mount your horse: there are your enemies: set spurs and charge into their midst. May I deny my God if I do not rescue your person, alive or dead, or perish in the attempt!”

The knight mounted a beautiful charger, spurred forward, [and] charged into the midst of the enemy, who struck him down, wounded him in the face, [and] dragged him out of the saddle to the ground.

At this moment, up came the said Thomas with all his garrison, with levelled lances, [which] they drove into the bowels of the horses so that they threw their riders. They repulsed the mounted enemy, raised the fallen knight, remounting him upon his own horse, put the enemy to flight, [of whom] some were left dead in the first encounter, [and] captured fifty valuable horses. The women of the castle [then] brought out horses to their men, who mounted and gave chase, slaying those whom they could overtake. Thomas ms. de Gray caused to be killed in the Yair Ford, a Fleming [named] Cryn, a sea captain, a pirate, who was a great partisan of Robert de Bruce. The others who escaped were pursued to the nunnery of Berwick.

Another time, Adam de Gordon, a baron of Scotland, having mustered more than eight score men-at-arms, came before the said castle of Norham, thinking to raid the cattle, which were grazing outside the said castle. The young fellows of the garrison rashly hastened to the furthest end of the town, which at that time was in ruins, and began to skirmish. The Scottish enemy surrounded them. The said men of the sortie defended themselves briskly, keeping themselves within the old walls. At that moment Thomas de Gray, the said constable, came out of the castle with his garrison, [and,] perceiving his people in such danger from the enemy, said to his vice‑constable: “I’ll hand over to you this castle, albeit I have it in charge to hold in the King’s cause, unless I actually drink of the same cup that my people over there have to drink.”

Then he set forward at great speed, having of common people and others, scarcely more than sixty all told. The enemy, perceiving him coming in good order, left the skirmishers among the old walls and drew out into the open fields. The men who had been surrounded in the ditches, perceiving their chieftain coming in this manner, dashed across the ditches and ran to the fields against the said enemy, who were obliged to face about, and, then charged back upon them [the skirmishers]. Upon which came up the said Thomas with his men, when you might see the horses floundering and the people on foot slaying them as they lay on the ground. [Then they] rallied to the said Thomas, charged the enemy, [and] drove them out of the fields across the water of Tweed. They captured and killed many many horses lay dead, so that had they [the English] been on horseback, scarcely one would have escaped.

The said Thomas de Gray was twice besieged in the said castle: once for nearly a year, the other time for seven months. The enemy erected fortifications before him, one at Upsettlington, another at the church of Norham. He was twice provisioned by the Lords de Percy and de Neville, [who] came in force to relieve the said castle and these [nobles] became wise, noble and rich, and were of great service on the Marches.

Once on the vigil of St. Katherine during his Gray’s time, the fore-court of the said castle was betrayed by one of his men, who slew the porter [and] admitted the enemy [who were] in ambush in a house before the gate. The inner bailey and the keep held out. The enemy did not remain there more than three days, because they feared the attack of the said Thomas, who was then returning from the south, where he had been at that time. They evacuated it [the forecourt] and burnt it, after failing to mine it.

Many pretty feats of arms chanced to the said Thomas which are not recorded here.

From Scalacronica: the reigns of Edward I, Edward II and Edward III, as recorded by Sir Thomas Gray, and now translated by Sir Herbert Maxwell, (Glasgow, 1907), p. 23-26, 48-65.


Defeat of Rome: Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East

Gareth C. Sampson

Published by Pen & Sword Military 21/02/2008, 2008

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Before we can examine the period in question (241–218 BC) we must first understand how this period fits in with the wider expansion of the Roman state and the events which took place prior to 241 BC. It is tempting to view Rome of the third century BC through the lens of the later, more famous period a Rome which was unquestioned master of Italy, able to defeat any other Mediterranean power and on an inevitable course to mastery of the Mediterranean world. However, this was not the Rome of the third century BC. By 241 BC, Rome had only recently taken control of central and southern Italy, the latter of which had seen recent attempts made to annex it to being either a part of a Syracusan empire to the south or an Epirote empire to the east. Furthermore, it is important to note that Rome’s control of Italy did not extend to the north of the peninsula, which was occupied by a collection of Gallic tribes and formed part of a wider civilisation, which stretched from Spain to the Balkans and beyond.

We must also not forget that Italy did not exist in isolation, but was part of a Mediterranean world which was undergoing a major upheaval in terms of the established world order. Less than 100 years before 241 BC, the ancient superpower of Persia had been destroyed within a decade by one man: Alexander III (the Great) of Macedon. His death in 323 BC unleashed a generation of warfare across Greece and the Near East, which by the 280s had stabilised into an uneasy balance of power between three new superpowers: Antigonid Macedon, the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt (see Map 1). Italy sat on the edges of this new world order, but within striking distance of mainland Greece, dominated by the Antigonid Dynasty of Macedon.

The Roman Federation therefore must be placed in this context. To the north lay the vast and seemingly endless expanses of mainland Europe and the tribes that dwelt within, which encompassed northern Italy itself. To the east lay the far more culturally advanced civilisation of Greece, dominated by the great power of Macedon. To the south and the east lay the Carthaginian Empire, centred on North Africa, but extending across the western Mediterranean. Compared to these great civilisations, Rome was the emerging, and in some ways upstart power, and by 241 BC had announced itself on the wider world stage by an extraordinary period of expansion.

Roman Expansion in Italy (338–264 BC)

The year 338 BC marks a decisive point in the history of Italy, as coincidently it did in Greece, albeit for different reasons. In Greece, King Philip II of Macedon was victorious at the Battle of Chaeronea, which established Macedonian suzerainty over the Greek states for the next 200 years. In Italy, another war was also ending this time between Rome and her former allies in the Latin League, with Rome emerging victorious. Rome’s victory in this war did not give her suzerainty over Italy (akin to that of Macedon in Greece), merely mastery of the region of Latium, but the political settlement that followed this victory did provide the foundation for Rome’s domination of Italy, and ultimately the wider Mediterranean world.

Prior to the Latin War, Rome had been at war with her near neighbours for over four centuries (if we are to believe the traditional chronology) and yet barely controlled any territory beyond the coastal plains of Latium itself, in western central Italy. Furthermore, Rome faced an equally powerful neighbour in terms of the Samnite Federation and the ever-constant threat of the Gallic tribes of northern Italy (who had sacked Rome itself just fifty years earlier, c.390–386 BC). Therefore, to put Rome’s efforts in perspective, they had only conquered the neighbouring city of Veii (roughly ten miles from Rome) in 396 BC after intermittent warfare lasting 300 years. Yet despite this, within sixty years of the peace settlement of 338 BC Rome had established an unprecedented control of all central and southern Italy. It is to this political settlement (which accompanied the end of the Latin War) which we must turn our focus, when looking of the reasons behind this extraordinary wave of military expansion.¹

Prior to this war, fought by Rome against their rebellious allies, Rome’s power ostensibly lay through being head of the Latin League, a defensive alliance of supposedly equal states. However, over the centuries this federation had evolved into being dominated by Rome and, as many of her allies saw it, seemed to exist solely for Rome’s benefit. It was this resentment of Roman dominance of the League which saw Rome’s allies attempt to break free from the League and thus brought about the Roman–Latin War of 341–338 BC. Unfortunately for the other Latin cities, the war merely confirmed Roman military dominance and her enemies were comprehensively defeated.

Having been freed from the need to preserve the pretence of an alliance of equals, the Romans dissolved the Latin League and in its place stood a new unofficial federation, that of Rome. Livy provides a detailed description of these reforms, which he ascribes to the Consul L. Furius Camillus.² Instead of common ties between all the participants, each of the Latin cities was tied to Rome individually by treaty. Rome secured their treaties by means of carrot and stick policies. The ‘stick’ came in the form of Roman veteran colonies planted at strategic points within the territories of the defeated Latin states, accompanied by land confiscations. The ‘carrot’, however, was two-fold. Firstly, the various cities were able to maintain their own internal political and social structures and the local elites were left free from Roman interference to pursue their own internal policies. What was sacrificed was an independent foreign policy, which was now slaved to that of Rome. However, aside from this, they were left to their own devices, speaking their own language, continuing with the own culture and carrying on business as usual.

Furthermore, the Romans introduced a new graduated series of citizenship levels. At the peak was Roman citizenship, which gave full political and judicial rights, followed by partial citizenship (civitas cine suffragio), which had no rights of political participation in Rome, and only limited legal protection from Romans.³ This system of differentiating levels of citizenship allowed Rome the ability to incorporate new peoples without diluting the original core of the Roman citizens or jeopardizing the Roman elite’s control of its institutions, especially as voting had to take place in person in Rome itself. Despite the different grades of citizenship, this was not a closed system, nor was it one restricted to race.⁴ This meant that there were opportunities for advancement within the system, to both communities and in particular their elites, giving them a stake in the Roman system and buying their loyalty.

However, at the heart of this settlement lay the obligation on all citizens (whether full or partial) to be called upon for military service in Rome’s armies. It was not only those with citizenship (full and partial) who could be conscripted into the Roman Army, but Rome’s Italian allies were duty bound to send their citizens to serve in Rome’s armies. This created a massive supply of potential manpower for Rome, which was to be the central pillar of all future Roman expansion. In the ancient world, city states were limited by the availability of citizen manpower and one heavy defeat could set a state back a generation.

The years that followed this settlement saw a series of wars against Rome’s neighbours, most prominently the Samnite Federation. Starting in 326 BC, the Second Samnite War⁵ lasted for twenty years (until 304 BC), and saw Rome’s fortunes swing between victories and humiliating defeats, such as the Battle of Caudine Forks in 321 BC, which forever ranked as one of Rome’s most humiliating military reversals. Nevertheless, by 304 BC Rome had the upper hand and the Samnites were forced to sue for peace, albeit maintaining their independence.

The period saw two major reforms to the Roman military system. In 312 BC, one of the Censors, Ap. Claudius Caecus, ordered the construction of the Via Appia, the first major paved road in Italy, connecting Rome and Capua (crossing the Alban Hills and the Pontine Marshes). This allowed Rome to move her armies far more swiftly to the south to support the war against the Samnites.

The following year saw a Tribune of the Plebs (C. Marcius) pass a law allowing for the sixteen Tribunes of the Soldiers to be elected by the people, rather than appointed by the commanders. It has long been argued that this law came at the same time as the Romans doubled their legions from two to four (having four Tribunes per legion) and that this also coincided with the abandonment of the phalanx and the development of the more flexible Roman maniple.⁶ This year also saw the outbreak of war between Rome and various Etruscan cities. The years that followed saw Rome advance into central Italy and up into Umbria, conquering a number of peoples, such as the Herenici and Aequi and allying with others, such as the Marsi. The result of this was that by the late 300s BC Roman power extended throughout central Italy.

This massive extension of Roman power naturally led to a reaction from the peoples who were not yet under Roman rule, resulting in the formation of an alliance between the Samnites, Etruscans, Umbrians and Gauls (of northern Italy). This resulted in the war that is most commonly referred to as the Third Samnite War (298–290 BC), but was far wider in scale than the name suggests. This conflict was Rome’s greatest victory to date and resulted in Rome defeating each of the opposing alliance and gaining control of all of central and much of southern Italy, stretching to the Adriatic coast. The year 295 BC saw the Battle of Sentinum, in which Rome was able to field an army of 36,000, a huge figure for the time, and defeat a combined force of Gauls and Samnites. By 290 BC the surrender of the Samnites meant that the only regions of Italy which now lay outside of Roman control were the Gallic tribes of northern Italy and the Greek city states of the south.

A further war with the Gallic tribes of northern Italy soon followed (against the Boii and Senones), which ultimately saw further Roman success, culminating in a victory at the Battle of Lake Vadimon in 283 BC. A large section of the northern Adriatic coastline of Italy was thus added to Rome’s Italian empire. This war was soon followed by the more famous war for southern Italy, where Rome faced one of the Hellenistic world’s most celebrated generals: Pyrrhus, King of Epirus. Thus, for the first time, Rome faced a Hellenistic army from mainland Greece and famously at the battles of Heraclea and Ausculum (280 and 279 BC) were comprehensively defeated. These battles, however, gave rise to the modern concept of a ‘Pyrrhic victory’ as the Romans, thanks to their system of treaties and obligations to provide manpower, were able to replace their losses and return to full strength within the year, whilst Pyrrhus found his numbers steadily declining. Following a number of unsuccessful campaigns in Sicily, Pyrrhus returned to Italy and was finally defeated at the Battle of Beneventum in 275 BC. Following his withdrawal back to Greece, Rome advanced into southern Italy and conquered the Greek city states therein.

Rome and the First Punic War (264–241 BC)

The conquest of southern Italy brought Roman territory into proximity with the perpetual warzone that was the island of Sicily. For centuries the island had seen warfare between native peoples and various external powers, who coveted the island for its natural resources and strategic position. Perhaps the longest period of fighting had been between the North African power of Carthage and the native Sicilian power of Syracuse, with neither side managing to achieve a lasting dominance.

In the 270s, however, this balance of power had been disrupted by the arrival of King Pyrrhus of Epirus. Having defeated the Romans twice in battle, but unable to conclude the war, Pyrrhus accepted an offer from the Sicilian peoples, led by Syracuse, to take command of native Sicily and drive out the Carthaginians. Unable to resist the dream of a Sicilian, and possible African, empire to add to his hopes of an Italian one, Pyrrhus accepted and crossed into Sicily with his army in 278 BC.⁸ Ironically, this invasion brought the traditional allies of Carthage and Rome closer together, as they concluded a fresh (anti-Pyrrhic) alliance. However, Pyrrhus’s Sicilian campaign followed a similar course to his Italian one, being unable to convert military victory on the battlefield into a lasting settlement. Having alienated his Sicilian allies, he quit Sicily to return to his original ambition of carving out an Italian empire in 276 BC, leaving behind a shattered island.

This chaos was exploited by a group known as the Mamertines⁹ these were Campanian mercenaries who made a bid to seize control of large swathes of Sicily for themselves. In response to this new threat, a Syracusan general named Hiero (II) formed an alliance of native forces and drove the Mamertines back into the north-eastern tip of Sicily, and the city of Messana, which controlled the strategic crossing from Sicily to Italy (see Map 2).¹⁰ Faced with defeat at the hands of Hiero in c.265/264 BC the Mamertines appealed to both Carthage and Rome to assist them. Seeing a chance to restore their Sicilian empire, the Carthaginians agreed and installed a garrison at Messina, thwarting their old Syracusan rivals.

Unfortunately for all three sides already involved in the war in Sicily, the Roman Senate continued to debate the Mamertine request, understandably, as they had never operated in Sicily before, and they and the Carthaginians were long-standing allies. Ultimately, however, it was a vote of the Roman people which determined that Rome would send aid to Sicily and the Mamertines, and the Senate thus dispatched the Consul Ap. Claudius Caudex to Messina with a Roman Army.¹¹ Thus the situation in Sicily saw the entry of a fourth military force. Given the Roman vote of support, the Mamertines threw their lot in with Rome and were able to expel the Carthaginian garrison, allowing the Romans to seize control of the city. Faced with the expansion of Roman power into Sicily, the Carthaginians and Syracusans – traditionally old enemies – found common cause against Rome and thus the First Punic War began. Thus the war started as Rome and the Mamertines versus Carthage and the Syracusans (and their allies).

Ever since 264 BC, historians have been examining the question as to why Rome intervened in the interminable struggles in Sicily, and ultimately it must be acknowledged that we will never know for sure. Certainly the stated cause of the Roman intervention itself seems weak defending rogue mercenaries who had seized a native city. This is especially the case given that a few years earlier, in 270 BC, the Romans had expelled a similar group of Campanian mercenaries who had seized the city of Rhegium, in southern Italy.

Yet, as detailed above, Rome was undergoing a major period of expansion and had just seized control of southern Italy. As history had shown, southern Italy was open to attack from both mainland Greece (Epirus), but also from Sicily. In the period 390–386 BC Dionysius, the Tyrant of Syracuse, had invaded and conquered much of southern Italy, adding it to his greater Syracusan empire.¹² Having conquered southern Italy, Dionysius then used it as a launch pad to invade Epirus itself, to place a puppet on the throne. Therefore, strategically, no control of southern Italy would be secure without securing its eastern and western flanks (Epirus and Sicily). The Mamertine appeal thus gave Rome the excuse they needed to intervene and the prospect of Carthaginian control of Messina provided the motivation. Thus, for the first time, Rome embarked upon an overseas war.

During the early years of the war, Rome experienced a number of successes. They moved swiftly from the conquest of Messina to a siege of Syracuse itself, but fared no better than either the Athenians or the Carthaginians had over the centuries. However, what they could not achieve through force of arms they achieved through diplomacy when Hiero, now Tyrant of Syracuse, was persuaded to break his alliance with Carthage and conclude a treaty with Rome instead. Thus, within a year of the war’s outbreak Rome had secured both Messina and Syracuse and had isolated Carthage.

The Romans built on this success and 262 BC saw Rome storm the city of Agrigentum, a key Carthaginian base on the southern Sicilian coast. From this high point, however, the war in Sicily became one of attrition, with the Carthaginians wisely avoiding open battle on land. In an attempt to gain the initiative in the war, Rome invested heavily in building its first wartime navy in order to tackle Carthaginian naval dominance and cut Sicily off from Carthage itself. At first the Romans proved victorious, as seen in 260 BC at the Battle of Mylae, which saw a Roman Consul, C. Duilius, celebrate the city’s first naval triumph. This was in great part due to the Roman tactic of engaging ships at close quarters, using grappling irons to tie the two ships together and then sending marines across to secure the other ship thus turning a naval engagement into an infantry one.

Unfortunately for Rome, the war in Sicily had descended into a series of prolonged sieges, with the Carthaginian withdrawing to their key bases and allowing Roman forces free reign across the island’s interior. To end this stalemate in 256 BC, the Roman Consuls undertook their boldest military manoeuvre to date when L. Manlius Vulso Longus and M. Atilius Regulus led an invasion of Africa itself, in an attempt to knock Carthage out of the war. Another naval victory, at the Battle of Ecnomus, allowed the Romans to land their army in Africa. Unfortunately the Roman Army was then comprehensively defeated in the Battle of Bagradas the following year, at the hands of a Spartan mercenary commander named Xanthippus. With this bold invasion defeated, the war dragged on for another decade of Roman sieges in Sicily and naval encounters in Sicilian waters.

Ultimately, the First Punic War became one of attrition, with the resources of both empires being stretched to the limit. In the end, Rome was able to make the most of its fiscal and human resources and by 242 BC was able to finally reduce the last key Carthaginian strongholds of Drepana and Lilybaeum. With Sicily lost and Rome vying for control of the seas, the Carthaginian Senate had no choice but to seek terms. Thus Rome had won its first overseas war, but only through attrition. For Carthage, the terms of the peace treaty were the evacuation of all its forces from Sicily and twenty years of war reparations.¹³

The Aftermath of the First Punic War – Rebellion in Italy

At the conclusion of the war, both sides were faced with rebellions amongst their own allies. In Rome’s case, this rebellion broke out in 241 BC and centred on the Falisci. The Falisci were an Italic people who lived in Etruria, some thirty miles north of Rome. Regretably, there are no detailed surviving accounts of this revolt, which is unfortunate given the oddness of its timing just as Rome emerged victorious from twenty years of warfare and had large numbers of battle-hardened soldiers already mobilised. Of the surviving accounts which do mention the revolt and ensuing war, Zonaras and Eutropius provide the most detail:


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Dr Gareth Sampson holds a Phd in Ancient History from Manchester University and now lectures on Roman history. His previous books were the _Defeat of Rome_ (2008), _The Crisis of Rome: Marius and the Jugurthine and Northern Wars_ (2011), _The Collapse of Rome_ (2013) and _The Eagle Spreads Her Wings: Roman Expansion Between the Punic Wars_ (2016), all published by Pen & Sword.


Description of English soldiers in Italy by Filippo Villani

They were all young and for the most part born and raised during the long wars between the French and English – therefore hot and impetuous, used to slaughter and to loot, quick with weapons, careless of safety. In the ranks they were quick and obedient to their superiors yet in camp, by reason of their unrestrained dash and boldness, they lay scattered about in disorderly and incautious fashion so that a courageous enemy might easily harm and shame them.

Their armor was almost uniformly a cuirass and a steel breastplate, iron arm-pieces, thigh- and leg-pieces they carried stout daggers and swords all had tilting lances which they dismounted to use each had one or two pages, and some had more. When they take off their armor, the pages presently set to polishing, so that when they appear in battle their arms seem like mirrors, and they so much more terrible.

Others of them were archers, and their bows were long and of yew they were quick and dexterous archers, and made good use of the bow. Their mode of fighting in the field was almost always afoot, as they assigned their horses to their pages. Keeping themselves in almost circular formation, every two take a lance, carrying it in a manner in which one waits for a boar with a boar-spear. So bound and compact, with lowered lances they marched with slow steps towards the enemy, making a terrible outcry – and their ranks can hardly be pried apart.

It appears by experience that they are more fitted to ride by night and steal than to keep to the field: they succeed rather by the cowardice of our people than because of their own valor. They had ingenious ladders, one piece fitting into the next as in a [slide] trumpet, the largest piece three steps long, with which they could climb the highest tower. And they were the first to bring into Italy the fashion of forming cavalry in lances [of three men each] instead of in the old system of helmets (barbute) or flags (a bandiere).

This section is from The English Traveler to Italy, by George R. Parks (Stanford, 1954)


Rome Spreads Her Wings - Territorial Expansion between the Punic Wars, Gareth C. Sampson - History

Dr Gareth Sampson holds a Phd in Ancient History from Manchester University and now lectures on Roman history. His previous books were the _Defeat of Rome_ (2008), _The Crisis of Rome: Marius and the Jugurthine and Northern Wars_ (2011), _The Collapse of Rome_ (2013) and _The Eagle Spreads Her Wings: Roman Expansion Between the Punic Wars_ (2016), all published by Pen & Sword.

Reviews for Rome, Blood and Politics: Reform, Murder and Popular Politics in the Late Republic

Murder and mayhem in the waning years of the Roman Republic what more could you ask for in a book? This is a tour de force of the public and private machinations of the different characters in this time period of the Roman Republic. I find this book to be not only an enjoyable read, but also indispensable as a handy reference of the time period that it shows. I can easily recommend Dr. Sampson's book to anyone who has an interest in not only the workings of the Roman Republic, but also the time period. -- A Wargamers Needful Things


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