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.
For a while now I’ve been pondering how the Vikings knew where and when to raid. How did they figure out where to find the large collections of gold and silver?
As the Vikings approached the shore of England or Ireland, they would not have been able to send ahead their camera-laden remote-controlled drones to locate monasteries in the region.
They would not have been able to look at the photos from a recon jet or check out the area with an L-5 observation plane.
The Vikings landing at Lindisfarne in 793 probably didn’t make a random landing, walk around for an hour or two, and just happen to stumble on a monastery laden with gold and silver. They must’ve had some idea it was there.
Likewise, while on a looting spree through Frankia, they would not have been able to enter “monastery” or “silver storage” on their GPS to get the distance and direction to the nearest loot. While traffic on the river might give away there is a prosperous city somewhere upstream, it would not have been visible from the water that there was a monastery a day’s walk to the northwest of the bend in the river.
Another indication of average pay for Roman foot soldiers can be found in Wikipedia’s articleImperial Roman Army.
This pay rate applied during the reigns of Emperors Augustus and Vespasian, which means until about 81 A.D. After that point, debasement of the currency led to inflation and rising pay for soldiers. More on that later.
For general framework, this is the pay structure in effect during the time of the New Testament.
In The Vikings – A History Robert Ferguson suggests a different idea on the reasons for the start of the Viking Age, particularly in terms of the violence.
Chapter 3 on Causes of the Viking Age links together several things I’d not seen before.
One introductory comment points out that a Viking longship could be seen at a distance of about 18 nautical miles with good visibility. This is based on observations using modern reconstructions. If the sailors had a favorable wind, they could cover that distance in about an hour. If there were watchers on the shore there would be perhaps one hour notice before the arrival of a raid.
Author explains there were three major political powers that controlled Europe at the time. The Frankish Empire controlled most of Western Europe from what is today France to about the Oder river. The Byzantine Empire controlled what is currently Greece and Turkey. Several Muslim caliphates controlled Spain, Northern Africa, and what we call the Middle East.
Charlemange’s forced conversion of the Saxons
Starting in around 772, Charlemagne had as one of his main goals converting to Christianity the Saxons living on the northeast corner of his territory. The conversion was by force, of course, which is the way things were done in the middle ages.
In 772, his troops destroyed Irmensul, which was considered to be a sacred tree to the Saxons. That would have given great offense, obviously.
I will write a number of post on some of the more interesting items I learned from Robert Ferguson in his book The Vikings – A History.
Dating the start and end of the Viking Age.
He makes a number of interesting points in his opening chapter. For example there are multiple ways to define the start of the Viking age and multiple ways to define the end. Different writers and people groups have defined the end in 1016, 1020, 1066, , or even as late as 1263 (p 3).
The author’s more status-based definition is that at the start of the Viking age generally speaking all of the Scandinavian people were pagans (he uses the word heathens). By the end of the Viking age essentially all Scandinavians were Christians.
Watch out for agendas
Another interesting point is he asserts most writers and historians have agendas when writing about the Viking age.