Army of the Roman Emperors

Thomas Fischer

Compared to modern standard, the Roman army of the imperial era was surprisingly small.
Date Published :
October 2019
Publisher :
Contributor(s) :
M.C. Bishop
Illustration :
574 color & black and white images
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612008103
Pages : 464
Dimensions : 11 X 8.5 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Compared to modern standard, the Roman army of the imperial era was surprisingly small. However, when assessed in terms of their various tasks, they by far outstrip modern armies – acting not only as an armed power of the state in external and internal conflicts, but also carrying out functions which nowadays are performed by police, local government, customs and tax authorities, as well as constructing roads, ships, and buildings.

With this opulent volume, Thomas Fischer presents a comprehensive and unique exploration of the Roman military of the imperial era. With over 600 illustrations, the costumes, weapons and equipment of the Roman army are explored in detail using archaeological finds dating from the late Republic to Late Antiquity, and from all over the Roman Empire. The buildings and fortifications associated with the Roman army are also discussed. By comparing conflicts, border security, weaponry and artefacts, the development of the army through time is traced.

This work is intended for experts as well as to readers with a general interest in Roman history. It is also a treasure-trove for re-enactment groups, as it puts many common perceptions of the weaponry, equipment and dress of the Roman army to the test.

About The Author

Thomas Fischer has been Professor for the Archaeology of the Roman Provinces at the Archaeological Institute of the University of Cologne since 1992. He has written widely on Roman Bavaria and was previously Scientific Adviser at the Bavarian State Office for the Preservation of Monuments.

Mike Bishop is a specialist on the Roman army, with many publications to his name including the acclaimed and widely used Roman Military Equipment (with J C N Coulston, 2006). The founding editor of Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies, he has also led several excavations of Roman sites.


Part I Iconographic sources on the Roman military by Dietrich Boschung
1. Introduction
2. Republican representations
3. The Early Empire: Augustus to Domitian
4. Representations from the middle imperial period
5. Representations from the Tetrarchic period
6. Representations from Late Antiquity
Part II General Questions on the Roman military
1. Introduction
2. A history of research
3. Armament and equipment
4. Find contexts of Roman weapons and equipment parts
5. Legionary or auxiliary equipment?
6. Rank insignia
7. On the reconstruction of Roman fighting methods
8. Comments on the re-enactment scene
9. Forgeries
Part III Costumes, weapons, and equipment of the army from original archaeological finds
1. Infantry
2. Cavalry
3. Artillery
4. Standards and instruments for signalling
5. Awards and decorations
6. Pioneer tools, tents, field pack
Part IV The buildings of the Roman army
1. Introduction
2. Roman camps and forts
3 The most important types of camps and forts
4. Late Roman fortifications
5. Military infrastructure
6 Limites and ripae
Part V Development periods of Roman military history
1. Introduction
2. Republic
3. The early Imperial period from Augustus to Nero
4. The middle Imperial period from Vespasian to Trajan
5. The middle Imperial period from Hadrian to Septimius Severus
6. The middle Imperial period from Caracalla to the reforms of Diocletian
7. The Late Roman period
Part VI The Roman navy
1. Arming and equipping the marines
2. Key points in the Roman fleets in the Imperial period by Thomas Schmidts
3. Roman Warships by Ronald Bockius
End matter
Illustration credits


"This new work excels in presenting the archaeological evidence that is critical to a complete understanding of Rome’s military might."

- Booklist

"I think this book would be an invaluable reference work for not only Roman history enthusiasts and re-enactors but aspiring novelists as well. Its extensive bibliography serves as a stepping stone to more research sources and it offers a thorough index as well."

- Roman Times

"Expertly organized and presented, while "Army of the Roman Emperors" is intended for academia, it will also have immense appeal for the non-specialist general readers with an interest in Roman history. [It] is also a informational treasure-trove for re-enactment groups, as it puts many common perceptions of the weaponry, equipment and dress of the Roman army to the test."

- Midwest Book Review

"...impressive work... The many illustrations, maps, and graphics are well chosen to help illustrate the points being made. This is an useful contribution to the literature of imperial military institutions."

- The NYMAS Review

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