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September 11, 2011


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The Quadi delegates leaving the tent afterwards... "Well. That was awkward."


I want to know, how serious was the population crisis during the late fourth century for the Romans to be so reliant on Germanic troops?

It seems odd that the Romans of the First and Second Punic wars were able to field armies (and fleets) of over 50,000 on multiple occasions with only the manpower of the Italian peninsula. But with the whole populations of the East, Valens was still reliant on Gothic levies in order to field his legions. Surely the populations of the East of the 4th century CE vastly outnumbered the population of Italy in the 3rd century BCE, right? So why the reliance on non-Roman soldiers to wage their wars?


@ Miguel I think this was addressed a few episodes back in relation to the plagues that swept through the empire and greatly diminished the population and the possible recruit numbers. From memory it was called the Antonine plague but I am open to correction on any of this.


Rofl at the ending


@Miguel It also wasn't so much a population crisis as it was a lack of interest in the military by the people in the Roman Empire; in fact there were numerous reports during the 4th century of people trying to avoid military service by cutting off their fingers to make themselves ineligible.

Another reason that I learned from a book by the author Peter Heather is that it wasn't necessarily that there were more germanic troops in the military, but that they ceased to be called auxillaries in the later years and were merely grouped with the rest of the roman solidiers.

Hope I could help :)


That works for me.
The Empire, and especially the land near it's borders wasn't about the City of Rome anymore. The Emperors didn't even bother to visit there.

The soldiers on the Danube didn't care what was going on down in Italy, and vice versa. And after several hundred years, the once conquered lands of the Empire are now just as much part of the it as anywhere else.

So you get your troops from whatever region will supply them.


To add to Ben in response to miguel...

The population of a very Marshal population of Italy during the republic and the population of now a passive Roman Empire is not the same.

The provinces aside from the border lands are ran by powerful nobles who would never let their own clients enlist.


Long time listener, first time commenter:

I know the next few episodes are probably spoken for, but some time soon can we step back from the relentless march of history and take a look around at the empire? I remember we looked at life in Rome, many episodes back; I think it was in the early empire. It would be really good to review how things have changed since then.

What is life like for a normal citizen of the empire? What do they spend their days doing? What is the economy like? How about the army? Does anybody even feel part of a greater 'whole' anymore? Would a citizen from Britiania or Gaul, even recognise somebody from the eastern provinces as being part of the same empire? Would they speak a common language? Eat similar food? Use the same currency?

After all the changes of the past few hundred years, it would be very nice to stop and have a look around.


i want to email you, but i can't get to your email address! this dumb mac wants to set up a mail client, not let me send you an email. . .


Note that Mike said in this episode that after Valentinian, emperors didn't actively participate in campaigns etc, leaving this to generals instead. Two exceptions in the West spring to mind.

Constantius III - vigorous general who could have held West together a bit longer, but went and died 6 months after being proclaimed emperor.

Majorian - vigorous general who could have held West together had he been born 20 years earlier, but by his time (d. 461) all too late


Thundering episode, really back on form... and a great punchline... Huns waiting in the wings.

M Alexanders

I have just listened to the podcasts from the beginning and have now caught up. I am in withdrawal!!

Trevor Bailey

Mike....Please help me out and put a little black line in for poor old Uncle cccclauddius.....:) He still only has his nasty Mum and naughty Wife connected to him! People ask me why it's left like that??? lol I tell them - Portland....Really hot! or something like that....:) Cheers.......Trev-Bailey Nottingham UK (the handwriting just seems a better way than a boring old Wiki print is all.....So I use yours to explain.....ta Trev)


After the last episode (Ep150) and with the way it ended I thought Mike was going to spend one episode in each half of the empire from now on.

Splitting the narrative this way would capture the growing East/West division so much better and I assumed Mike was on to this already.

In this episode, I expected to be in the eastern empire spending all the time with Valens and his troubles.

Then the narrative returned from Valens in the east to Valentinian in the west 2/3 in to the episode. Why didn't the episode just end there?

Finding out what happened to Valentinian in this episode felt somewhat anti-climactic, to be frank.

I am still seven or eight weeks behind so it is possible that Mike may have already done the logical thing and split the narrative. That worked very well in the past when Julius Ceasar was campaigning in Gaul and Crassus in Mesopotamia.

Just my two sestertius' worth.


I have spent the last four months listening to the episodes while walking my dog...I have one of the best conditioned dogs in town! I should be completely caught up by mid February but after listening to this episode today I am feeling a little scared for the future of Rome! There seems to be an ominous foreshadowing that gives me the feeling this is not going to turn out well for Rome. Don't tell, I don't want to ruin the ending! I am hoping for a Disney-esque end.....

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