The Roman Army from Hadrian to Constantine (Men-at-Arms) Paperback – 1 Jun 1979
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From the Back Cover
An unrivaled source of information on the uniforms, insignia and appearance of the world's fighting men of past and present. The Men-at-Arms titles cover subjects as diverse as the Imperial Roman army, the Napoleonic wars and German airborne troops in a popular 48-page format including some 40 photographs, and eight full-colour plates.
About the Author
Michael Simkins is a respected author in the field of Ancient History, and he has written several titles for Osprey. He has a particular interest in, and knowledge of, the Roman Army in Britain, and is a keen re-enactor of this period. His interest extends to having personally recreated many of the weapon and armour pieces that the Roman leggionaire would have worn and used at this time.
The late Ronald Embelton was one of the earliest and most talented illustrators to have worked with Osprey. His unique style combined action and realism with meticulous attention to detail, winning him much affection and respect.
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Top customer reviews
As a result, much of the development of arms and armour during the third century 'crisis' seems to be absent from this book, as are the developments taking place in the Roman militray during the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine.
The contents of the book are also puzzling. Following a 4 page chronology of the history of the Empire during this period, the author then sets out on a tangent about Hadrian's Wall for about 12 pages. He discusses the building of the milecastles, the medical and funeral services and even the religious cults of the soldiers stationed there. I am not sure what this has to do with the late Roman army, and it seems as if the author was trying to use this section as filler, considering that there was not much information on the military of this period.
The remainder of the book seems outdated as well. The author discusses the arms and armour of the period, yet all he writes about is the gladius, lorica segmentata, the imperial gallic helmet and the rectangular scutum - items that were beginning to fall out of fashion by the mid third century, and had completely disappeared from the Roman armoury by the age of Constantine.
His descriptions of the Roman arms and armour from the high Imperial period seems even stranger considering that a few of Ron Embleton's illustrations show Roman soldiers wearing a 'Deurne' helmet and another with an 'intercisa' helmet - both correct for the late Roman period. Yet these aren't propelry acknowledged in the text, except for one or two sentences on the last page of the book.
Still, I can recommend the late Ron Embleton's colour plates which are detailed and expressive.
For those interested on the army of the late second to fourth centuries, it is probably best to look out for other titles - although, that said, this book would do as good introduction to the Roman military.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
For example, trying to cover all aspects of the Roman army from Hadrian to Constantine is a tall order and this book does not even try. Simkins wrote this and the earlier volume with an eye more towards armour and equipment than say recruitment, pay, drill, tactics, logistics, intelligence, siege warfare etc. The text includes a chronology of emperors and a detailed discussion of Hadrian's Wall and of the troops who garrisoned it. Unfortunately, the text does not seem to be aware of the rest of the empire or that Roman military technology was changing during this time.
The plates, on the other hand, are excellent. The artist seems to have made a good effort to show the Roman army in various guises depending on the time and the location. So you end up with the text going one way and plates going the other.
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