The Reign of Emperor Gallienus, The Apogee of Roman Cavalry

This is an unusual history of an unusual soldier of Rome who rose to Emperor. The extensive use of illustration, including specially commissioned full colour illustration makes this an engaging history of a fascinating subject – Very Highly Recommended


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NAME: The Reign of Emperor Gallienus, The Apogee of Roman Cavalry
FILE: R2910
AUTHOR: Ilkka Syvanne
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 174
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Roman cavalry, horsemen, archers, bows, long swords, spears, round 
shields, tactics, Northern tribes, Goths, northern threats, decline of Rome, Third 
Century Crisis

ISBN: 1-52674-521-6

IMAGE: B2910.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/yyxj63gc
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: This is an unusual history of an unusual soldier of Rome who rose
to Emperor. The extensive use of illustration, including specially commissioned 
full colour illustration makes this an engaging history of a fascinating subject –  
Very Highly Recommended

Roman Emperors were former soldiers, some with considerably more experience 
of war than others. Gallienus is an Emperor who has received little attention by 
historians even though he fought and ruled at one of the most turbulent and perilous 
periods of Rome's history. Much of the focus of historians has been of the rise of 
Rome and the Emperors who followed on from the Republic in the period of 
Roman expansion. Gallienus was a Third Century Emperor at the time when Rome 
was no longer expanding but hanging on against the ravages of enemies from the 
North and the East. 

This differential of coverage is evidenced in the popular impressions of Rome and 
its Legions. Most will think of the Roman soldier on foot with his rectangular shield, 
short sword and spear. Through the years of expansion the infantryman was king, 
although the Romans did have cavalry, siege artillery and engineers. They also had 
sailors and soldiers who spent much or all of their time aboard warships. By the 
Third Century, much had changed and was still changing in a period often refereed 
to as the Third Century Crisis. A visible indication of change was the uniform and 
armour of the Roman soldier which had largely copied the equipment of the 
Northern enemies.

During the period of expansion, the Roman soldiers were equipped in a distinctly 
Roman style which best suited highly drilled units of foot soldiers who fought in 
set piece battles or besieged or defended large fixed defences. They attacked fixed 
defence with giant crossbows, ballista and trebuchet siege engines and with 
battering rams under the protection of their shields. Their engineers also diverted 
water courses to deny the enemy water and mined the towers and walls of great 
defences. Although cavalry and archers were used in battle, the speed was that of a 
trained soldier on foot.

By the Third Century, the enemy employed fast moving mounted forces, frequently 
in hit and run raids and also from ambush. These tactics required new weapons and 
equipment. The round shield and the longer sword used by Northern tribes was still 
in use by the Vikings in the Ninth Century and into the Middle Ages. Armour was 
reduced to allow faster more nimble fighting and the bow, used on foot and from a 
horse became popular and effective. Where large fixed defences were employed 
they were employed by Rome and avoided by the enemies of the period who built 
most often in wood and lived in smaller settlements.

Gallienus has been considered the most purely military of the Roman soldier-
Emperors and survived in power through what was probably the most turbulent 
period of Roman history. This may be a subjective consideration because Scipio 
was first and foremost a soldier who defeated Carthage and failed as a politician, 
although it is fair to say that in the Third Century Emperors tended to be be 
politicians from patrician families who soldiered as part of their schooling.

Gallienus was a reformer and his campaigns helped to secure the survival of Rome 
through the Third Century Crisis. He was also a colourful character, being a 
notorious libertarian, womanizer and cross dresser, balancing his military skills 
as a fearless warrior, duellist and successful general.

This book lacks nothing in its research and text, with all of the elements expected 
in an academic history, but it differs greatly from other books covering the rise and 
fall of Rome in its very high standard of illustration. There is a full colour plate 
section featuring commissioned images, but there is also much illustration through 
the body of the book in the form of drawings, maps, battle plans and photographs of 
coins and other objects.