The Sumerians developed the chariot, which was heavy and pulled by wild donkeys, or onagers. The wheels were solid. With that weight and propulsion, it was slow and cumbersome.
The Egyptians refined the concept, using spoked wheels made with bentwood construction and pulled by domesticated horses. This reduced weight and increased speed. Moving the axle to the rear of the chariot improved stability. Their chariots were fast and maneuverable.
Those chariots were also expensive.
The supporting logistics train required plenty of skilled craftsmen. The book says the following trades were needed to get chariots in the field:
Wheel makers (wheelwrights)
Bow makers (bowyers)
And in the field there would be people to manage the herds of horses and repair chariots.
Ongoing access to lots of light and heavy woods was needed, such as the cedars from Lebanon.
The author concludes by pointing out that warfare was pretty much the same in 1100 compared to 750. Warfare throughout that timeframe would have been highlighted by a focus on raids, taking everything of value from the enemy territory, avoiding high risk set-piece battles, and operating with limited objectives.
Previous discussions described the limits of our knowledge and battle techniques. This discussion focuses on campaigns and sieges.
Size of armies, and their mobility depended on the quality of roadwork, which deteriorated after the decline of the Roman Empire. Poor road systems suggest there was more use of pack animals than of wheeled transports, which would slow down a mobile force.
Predominant leadership model was for a commander to lead from the front. In a time when loyalties were tied to the leader this was a powerful yet risky strategy. Troops would be willing to follow their leader into combat, but if he were killed, morale would probably collapse and the force could disintegrate quickly.
Lots of modern histories assert that a wedge was a frequent Viking technique, yet the author points out there is minimal evidence to support the statement. On the other hand, there is little evidence for much of anything in the Viking era.
Another feature of the medieval battle was the lack of reserves to reinforce breakdowns in the line or reinforce success. This means a collapse somewhere on the battle line could cascade to defeat of the entire line since there would not be any troops to fill the gap.
The author explains throughout the text the dramatic limits of our knowledge of the Viking age. Much of what we know comes from written records created one or three centuries after the incidents under discussion. In additions, those discussions are frequently filtered by a Christian worldview with some additional agenda on the part of the author.
Pay for a legionnaire soldier in the Roman army increased substantially over time, from 225 denarii a year around the turn of the millenium to 600 denarri in the early 200s.
The amount of silver in a denarii was also steadily reduced over that same time. That is called inflation, which as we know from other reading, was driven by Roman Emperors intentionally debasing the currency as a way to help finance the empire.
First, let’s look at the declining value of a denarius. Here is the silver value of each coin, measured as the number of denarii minted from each pound of silver, along with my point estimate of the year of the change:
What was the payroll cost to staff a Roman Legion?
Earlier post discussed that until around 81 A.D. a Legionnaire was paid 225 sesterces a year.
With the help of a Wikipedia article, we can make a guess at the total payroll for a Legion. (A side note, amusing to me, is that several of the sources of this article are books I’ve previously read.)
As the first step, let’s look at the estimated staffing of a Roman Legion in about 100 A.D. Keep in mind this is assuming the Legion is fully staffed, which was never the case, as I’ve read in several places. This is also for a legion with 50 centuries instead of the authorized strength of 60 centuries earlier.