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Thread: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

  1. #21
    Ahlerich's Avatar Centurio Primus Pilus
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by MAXlMUS View Post
    big tough barbarian vs midget romans
    thats not a urban myths that is measured roman and germanic bones

    so the big vs midget is definately fact. the individual strenght of a person does not necessarily have to do with his size though.

    one thing is for sure - the romans where intimidated by the size of a germanic warrior (not only roman women )

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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xellos_Moon View Post
    Well gibbon says that the average barbarian warrior would drink and eat all day until it was time for war...

    I guess also looking for magic mushrooms in forests with faeries

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pious Agnost View Post
    Well the Romans hunted and farmed too, you wouldn't be finding the bankers and the lawyers in the military
    Roman Imperial soldiers farmed once their service was up. I forget which reformer made the military a career, but the Punic Wars had shown that having the military made up of farmers who were part time soldiers just didn't work for Rome's long wars in faraway lands. By the time of the Roman Empire the military was a career path.
    On topic, on 1v1 I think a barbarian would usually win, because that was their style of fighting. Most tribal armies consisted of thousands of warriors ready to fight single combats; the Romans' strength lay in discipline and training. They weren't trained for single combat.

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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ciabhan View Post
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    Arm-wrestling or picking up heavy I'd bet on a individual vs individual basis as there is no other way to do it.
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Yea more big vs midget, Im 6'0 tall, I don't think I would have some huge advantage fighting someone who is 5'9 with swords, its not a large difference really. It does not matter at all, the barbarians had height, so what. But those beserker units, they were huge. I once saw a depiction of Romans landing on a beach, attacking the Barbarians, Im not gonna look for the picture but it was shocking, it looked like the Romans were really little midgets and the Barbarians looked like 7'0+ tall nephelim giants.

    Something like that would make a difference for sure.

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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    When you take "toughness" into account mental toughness, which time and time again it was shown that a Roman soldier was much less likely to run from a battle than a "barbarian" was (due exclusively to training). Also, height doesn't mean a thing, a 5'6 guy can kick the out of a 6'6 guy. If anything height many times just leaves you more exposed due to your shield covering less of you. If one uses the argument that a barbarian could reach farther with a sword, that would be the case even if the two were even height due to the very short nature of the Gladius compared to most other swords used. Regardless, height does not turn in to physical strength.
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius Tosi View Post
    When you take "toughness" into account mental toughness, which time and time again it was shown that a Roman soldier was much less likely to run from a battle than a "barbarian" was (due exclusively to training).
    I don't think that. German armies were accompanied by their close ones in battle, and running from battle was considered a massive loss of honour. Many German and Celtic tribes used terror tactics like painting their bodies and intimidating their opponents. At Anglesey the Romans were supposedly too scared to attack the screeching Celtic force.

    In a one-on-one fight, I'd put my money on the ''barbarian''. Romans were armed and trained to fight as a unit, not in personal combat, whilst that is what the ''barbarians'' excelled at.
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    I think there are couple myths

    1- Romans was midgets, Barbarians was giants

    -this is quite wrong, romans allowed in the legions just peoples at least 1.70 (or 1.71) m high and in a resonable physical shape (meaning not too skinny or too fat)
    -diferences, even if in favour of Barbarians, was small, few centimeters at best, there wasnt in any was thousands of romans as tall as Maradona (which wouldnt be even allowed in a legion) vs thousands of Barbarians as tall as a basketball player

    2- Individualy, the Barbarians was stronger, and Romans was trained to fight just in formations as a unit

    -this is very debatable, and in no way a norm. Yes, some barbarians might be stronger or better, as equal as some romans who might be stronger or better, there is nothing sure here
    -Romans was trained for years, and was quite a hard training, they was well feed and constantly, and received training including in wrestling (probably some boxing or even pancration too) and individual ight with his usual weapons. They used even dummy swords twice as heavy as the real ones so yes, they was very well prepared for individual fighting too. In fact, many times in battle the fight come to one on one at least for short periods. I read somehwere as well that one of roman comanders, dont remember exactly where, and who (Caius Marius i think) used gladiators to train his legionars for such individual fights
    -yes, romans was much better to fight in formations, which ofcourse was helpfull, especialy since they fight usualy (with few exceptions) outnumbered (even heavy outnumbered) and keeping a good and coordinated formation was vital

    Psichologicaly speaking, i think that things are mixed.

    Romans believed in Patria, honour, glory, and that they are superior (especialy when they had good comanders), so this make them a strong psychic, reinforced with harsh punishments when was needed (even with decimation). This make them trully "war machines" who ruled the world for centuries

    Barbarians was from diferent ways, but all having at least a cast of warriors ready to fight to the death, reinforced if necessary by some mushrooms as someone said before, or other habits. Some (as Germans) bring their families with them, so know they need to fight to the death to protect them. Others (like Dacians) was a theocratic and militaristic society who believe that this world is just a temporary home and the bravest warrior will have the best life dreamed on the otherworld, so again care more about killing as much as possible enemies then about his life. Some used psichological actions as painting their faces and screaming war cries (as Celts).

    I believe this is a close one, and generaly all peoples back then was quite tough

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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by diegis View Post
    I think there are couple myths

    1- Romans was midgets, Barbarians was giants

    -this is quite wrong, romans allowed in the legions just peoples at least 1.70 (or 1.71) m high and in a resonable physical shape (meaning not too skinny or too fat)
    -diferences, even if in favour of Barbarians, was small, few centimeters at best, there wasnt in any was thousands of romans as tall as Maradona (which wouldnt be even allowed in a legion) vs thousands of Barbarians as tall as a basketball player

    2- Individualy, the Barbarians was stronger, and Romans was trained to fight just in formations as a unit

    -this is very debatable, and in no way a norm. Yes, some barbarians might be stronger or better, as equal as some romans who might be stronger or better, there is nothing sure here
    -Romans was trained for years, and was quite a hard training, they was well feed and constantly, and received training including in wrestling (probably some boxing or even pancration too) and individual ight with his usual weapons. They used even dummy swords twice as heavy as the real ones so yes, they was very well prepared for individual fighting too. In fact, many times in battle the fight come to one on one at least for short periods. I read somehwere as well that one of roman comanders, dont remember exactly where, and who (Caius Marius i think) used gladiators to train his legionars for such individual fights
    -yes, romans was much better to fight in formations, which ofcourse was helpfull, especialy since they fight usualy (with few exceptions) outnumbered (even heavy outnumbered) and keeping a good and coordinated formation was vital

    Psichologicaly speaking, i think that things are mixed.

    Romans believed in Patria, honour, glory, and that they are superior (especialy when they had good comanders), so this make them a strong psychic, reinforced with harsh punishments when was needed (even with decimation). This make them trully "war machines" who ruled the world for centuries

    Barbarians was from diferent ways, but all having at least a cast of warriors ready to fight to the death, reinforced if necessary by some mushrooms as someone said before, or other habits. Some (as Germans) bring their families with them, so know they need to fight to the death to protect them. Others (like Dacians) was a theocratic and militaristic society who believe that this world is just a temporary home and the bravest warrior will have the best life dreamed on the otherworld, so again care more about killing as much as possible enemies then about his life. Some used psichological actions as painting their faces and screaming war cries (as Celts).

    I believe this is a close one, and generaly all peoples back then was quite tough


    Training in individual combat and SPECIALISING in it are two totally different things.

    The warrior classes of the various barbarian peoples were trained from childhood to fight in individual combat. Being that the warrior classes were ranking members of society they weren't underfed either.

    Roman soldiers SPECIALISED in fighting in disciplined formations. They may have been trained to fight as individuals but they wouldn't have spent as much time on it as a barbarian warrior.

    Take a soldier from modern times. Most have been trained to fight in hand to hand but they're not at their best when engaged that way. Like any other warrior or soldier throughout history the majority of training time is spent on their particular style of warfare.

    As to individual combat, with all it's variables, on average I'd lean towards the barbarian peoples(6-7/10 times). Army to army I'd lean towards Rome(7-8/10 times).

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Can't think better sitiuation when it comes 1 on 1 combat then in ambush, and the romans so plenty of them aginast barbarians which resulted in most of them a lost battle's, so i would say the barbarian would win.
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    You must remember that in the late empire, the roman soldier and barbarian would have looked no different. We're talking this:
    Large Image


    as you can see both barbarians and romans are armored exactly the same.
    And it's not osprey, SBH has a magazine with images like these in them and none of them are osprey

    I happen to have studied the late roman army for many years. And the barbarians had no advantage over the romans. Up until 454 the Roman army could easily and effectively defeat barbarians. Large or small scale engagements. Ambush or on the field. It usually was a roman victory.
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Hhahaha, that is a stupid depiction in my opinion, their all blonde and they all look the same. Barbarians had an advantage with their swords but Roman units got longer ones in the Late period I think.

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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Yes, the barbarians used roman equipment and later adopted the roman infantry and cavalry longsword, the spatha, which was the only known late roman infantry sword. Also that depiction is a very accurate depiction of barbarian alemanni in the mid 4th century, as it's of the battle of chalons. I actually got that picture from a link COglory posted
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by diegis
    I think there are couple myths

    1- Romans was midgets, Barbarians was giants

    -this is quite wrong, romans allowed in the legions just peoples at least 1.70 (or 1.71) m high and in a resonable physical shape (meaning not too skinny or too fat)
    -diferences, even if in favour of Barbarians, was small, few centimeters at best, there wasnt in any was thousands of romans as tall as Maradona (which wouldnt be even allowed in a legion) vs thousands of Barbarians as tall as a basketball player
    Although I don't have precise details with me, the whole short Romans large Barbarians thing is actually credible. You see, Mediterranean peoples had a different diet to the people north of them who consumed primarily meat which mean that the latter would end up stronger and taller whereas i'm under the impression that Romans would tend to generally be healthier and as a result live longer.

    2- Individualy, the Barbarians was stronger, and Romans was trained to fight just in formations as a unit

    -this is very debatable, and in no way a norm. Yes, some barbarians might be stronger or better, as equal as some romans who might be stronger or better, there is nothing sure here
    -Romans was trained for years, and was quite a hard training, they was well feed and constantly, and received training including in wrestling (probably some boxing or even pancration too) and individual ight with his usual weapons. They used even dummy swords twice as heavy as the real ones so yes, they was very well prepared for individual fighting too. In fact, many times in battle the fight come to one on one at least for short periods. I read somehwere as well that one of roman comanders, dont remember exactly where, and who (Caius Marius i think) used gladiators to train his legionars for such individual fights
    This links in with my previous point with the diet of the Barbarians which would have made them generally stockier and taller than their Mediterranean counterparts. As well as this, being raised in a warrior culture meant that from a young age they would be educated in how to use weapons such as spears and swords along with a shield whereas in the case of the Polybian legions they went through exactly the same training every time the population was called up to defend the Republic (since they would be disbanded after a war which meant that to accomodate the newer generations the same training had to be undertaken if they needed to be called up again). It was only following the professionalisation of the Roman military that the army was created in to a permanent force maintained entirely by the state (rather than soldiers having to supply their own equipment) along with the training.

    -yes, romans was much better to fight in formations, which ofcourse was helpfull, especialy since they fight usualy (with few exceptions) outnumbered (even heavy outnumbered) and keeping a good and coordinated formation was vital
    Especially in Caesar's Commentaries the numbers for Barbarians are enormously inflated, so the odds were actually much more even, though yes the Romans fought well in formation.

    Romans believed in Patria, honour, glory, and that they are superior (especialy when they had good comanders), so this make them a strong psychic, reinforced with harsh punishments when was needed (even with decimation). This make them trully "war machines" who ruled the world for centuries
    I think analysing any heretical movement in history will help you realise that belief isn't enough to win anything. You make every single Roman out to be a killing machine whereas they would have been as normal as you and I. While they would have been very spiritual, it's not as if a red mist just descended upon the legions as they entered battle and they massacred everyone in front of them. Roman victories required strong use of tactics and strategy, not brute force; they learnt this at Cannae.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militae Flavius Aetius
    I happen to have studied the late roman army for many years. And the barbarians had no advantage over the romans. Up until 454 the Roman army could easily and effectively defeat barbarians. Large or small scale engagements. Ambush or on the field. It usually was a roman victory.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_...utoburg_Forest
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_Tapae
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Allia

    I think you exaggerated a little.
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militae Flavius Aetius View Post
    You must remember that in the late empire, the roman soldier and barbarian would have looked no different. We're talking this:
    Large Image


    as you can see both barbarians and romans are armored exactly the same.
    And it's not osprey, SBH has a magazine with images like these in them and none of them are osprey

    I happen to have studied the late roman army for many years. And the barbarians had no advantage over the romans. Up until 454 the Roman army could easily and effectively defeat barbarians. Large or small scale engagements. Ambush or on the field. It usually was a roman victory.

    A significant portion of the late Roman army was made up of barbarian foederati and a lot of those they fought were previously foederati.

    Looking at that picture the Roman troops appear to be wielding hasta and wearing a mix of Intercissa and later ridge style helmets. That would put this battle in the 4th-5th century AD. You'll notice as well that the barbarian forces include several lads in Roman style helmets and wielding spiculum. By this time the Roman army was over 1/2(possibly at much as 2/3) barbarian auxilia. In essence the picture is probably of barbarians fighting Roman allied barbarians(the non-Roman barbarian side likely including many former foederati).


    Yes, the barbarians used roman equipment and later adopted the roman infantry and cavalry longsword, the spatha, which was the only known late roman infantry sword.
    The earlier Roman armies adopted barbarian weapons, armour, and equipment. The late Roman army also adopted some it's equipment from it's barbarian allies. The fact that the Roman army had reasons to do so indicate that they didn't always find themselves ahead of their enemies in terms of equipment for certain situations.
    Last edited by Ciabhán; December 10, 2010 at 06:16 PM.

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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militae Flavius Aetius View Post
    Up until 454 the Roman army could easily and effectively defeat barbarians. Large or small scale engagements. Ambush or on the field. It usually was a roman victory.
    So do the Goths at Adrianople not count as barbarians? This is in addition to Lysimachus's examples. Oh, and what about the Cimbri (Arausio in particular)? Granted, the Cimbri and the battle at Allia are a bit earlier than your "late Roman army" which you've studied for "many years."
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militae Flavius Aetius View Post
    It usually was a roman victory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Croccer View Post
    I don't think that. German armies were accompanied by their close ones in battle, and running from battle was considered a massive loss of honour. Many German and Celtic tribes used terror tactics like painting their bodies and intimidating their opponents. At Anglesey the Romans were supposedly too scared to attack the screeching Celtic force.

    In a one-on-one fight, I'd put my money on the ''barbarian''. Romans were armed and trained to fight as a unit, not in personal combat, whilst that is what the ''barbarians'' excelled at.
    The reluctance of some of the Roman Army at Anglesey was due to the fact that they had to row across to fight the Celts. Once they established a beachhead the Romans proceeded to butcher the Celt force with relative ease.

    Anyways, I don't think that individual toughness can be determined from the results of a battle or all the battles. In general, I feel a Roman would have been in much better shape than a typical barbarian, who was nothing more than a farmer who occasionally would go out and fight another tribe. The Roman on the other hand was usually constantly drilling or constructing and many times marching with upwards of 60 to (arguably) 80 lbs of equipment. In addition, with the boredom of post life, it is not too far fetched to think that soldiers practiced fighting one on one again and again with their training equipment.
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Extremely idiotic question.

    A German from what is now Denmark, a German from what is now Bavaria, a Belgae, a Transalpian Gaul, a Pict, a Scotii, a Cisalpian Gaul, an Iberian tribesman, a Lustinian, an Axemite, a Dacian, a Thracian, an Illyrian, a Hun, a Samaritan, a Briton and a Goth are all extremely different.
    Last edited by Farnan; December 10, 2010 at 10:12 PM.
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    Default Re: Roman vs Barbarian How strong was the individual soldier?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiberius Tosi View Post
    a typical barbarian, who was nothing more than a farmer who occasionally would go out and fight another tribe.

    This is not true. In the times we're talking about the Celts in particular(I really don't know about the Germanic folks) had a very specific warrior class. All they did was fight and train to fight. They didn't farm, they didn't weave baskets, they didn't do anything that didn't have to do with war. They were almost constantly at war with some neighbour or the other and those that survived past teenage years would have been experienced warriors. Often if they couldn't find a neighbour to fight they'd hire themselves out to fight other people's neighbours. They were the Classical Age Celtic equivalent of feudal aristocrats and nobles.

    We're not talking about a Dark Age fyrd or other levy troops.
    Last edited by Ciabhán; December 10, 2010 at 10:22 PM.

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