The Roman Army S.P.Q.R.
Roman Army Rome depended on its army: growth was essential to the Roman Republic’s survival. The Romans were very successful at war and conquered large areas of Europe because they were disciplined, well trained, and very well led – increasingly so over time.
Soldier Farmers In the beginning, the army was made up of able-bodied men from Rome and its territory. The vast majority of them were farmers. This meant that any wars had to be fought during a ‘campaigning season’ that lasted from the middle of spring to the middle of fall. This was for two reasons: 1) so that the farmer-soldiers were available to plant crops and then harvest them to feed the Republic, and 2) because its a lot easier to fight in the summer.
Lessons Learned The Punic Wars taught the Romans a few lessons. Hannibal was too successful. The Romans wanted to ensure that their soldiers had more time to train to become better at fighting. They needed a professional army. Having a permanent fighting force also meant that they didn’t have to worry as much about farmers being back home and could spend more time expanding the empire.
Reform Around 100 BC, a Roman consul and general named Gaius Marius reformed the army. He solidified its structure and set up the first truly professional armies in Rome. Service in the army became mandatory for Roman men. Service in the army was held up as very honourable in Roman society. Not doing so would be social suicide. Roman men had to serve for 20 years. The first 16 in the army, and the final 4 as veterans in an emergency reserve force. After 20 years, each soldier was given a pension and land to farm and live on.