Description. Flavius Vegetius Renatus, the 4th century AD writer on military matters, was more well known during the Middle Ages than today. His “Epitoma Rei. Epitoma rei militaris. by Vegetius Renatus, Flavius; Reeve, Michael D. Publication date Language Latin; English. Book digitized by. De re militari (Latin “Concerning Military Matters”), also Epitoma rei militaris, is a treatise by the . Xii in the Royal Library, written and ornamented for Richard III of England, is a translation of Vegetius. It ends with a paragraph starting: “Here.
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Search the history of over billion web pages engish the Internet. British translation published in Dispositions for Action http: Its impressions on our own traditions of discipline and organization are everywhere evident.
Vegetius was the favorite author engpish Foulques the Black, the able and ferocious Count of Anjou. Numerous manuscript copies of Vegetius circulated in the time of Charlemagne and one of them was considered a necessity of life by his commanders.
In his Memoirs, Montecuculli, the conqueror of the Turks at St. Manuscript copies dating from the 10th to the 15th centuries are extant to the number of The first printed edition was made in Utrecht in It was followed in quick succession by militris in Cologne, Paris and Rome.
It was first published in English by Caxton, from an English manuscript copy, in Flavius Vegetius Renatus was a Roman of high rank.
In some manuscripts he is given the title of count. Raphael of Volterra calls him a Count of Constantinople. Little is known of his life. It is apparent from his book that he had not had extensive practical experience as a soldier. He states quite frankly that his purpose was to collect and synthesize from ancient manuscripts and regulations the military customs and wisdom that made ancient Rome great.
Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus
According to his statement, his principal sources were Cato the Elder, Cornelius Celsus, Paternus, Frontinus, peitoma the regulations and ordinances of Augustus, Trajan and Hadrian. The Emperor Valentinian, to whom the book is dedicated, is believed to be the second emperor of that name.
He evidently was not Valentinian I since his successor, Gratian, is named in the book. Between the reign of Valentinian II and Valentinian III, Rome was taken and burned by Alaric, King of the Goths, an event that unquestionably would have been mentioned had it occurred before the book was written. Vegetius mentions the defeat of the Roman armies envlish the Goths, but probably refers to the battle of Adrianople where Valens, the colleague of Valentinian I, was killed.
The decay of the Roman armies had progressed too far to be arrested by Vegetius’ pleas for a return to the virtues of discipline and courage of the ancients.
At the same time Vegetius’ hope for a revival of the ancient organization of the legion was impracticable. Cavalry had adopted the armor of the foot soldier and was just commencing to become the principal arm of the military forces.
The heavy armed foot-soldier, formerly the backbone of the legion, was falling a victim of his own weight and immobility, and the light-armed infantry, unable to resist the shock of cavalry, was turning more and more to missile weapons. By one of the strange mutations of history, when later the cross-bow and gun-powder deprived cavalry of its shock-power, the tactics of Vegetius again became ideal for armies, as they had been in the times from which he drew his inspiration. Vegetius unceasingly emphasized the importance of constant drill and severe discipline and this aspect of his work was very tiresome to the soldiers of the middle ages, the feudal system lending itself but poorly to discipline.
He insists upon the utmost meticulousness in drill. Recruits were to be hardened so as to be able to march twenty miles in half a summer’s day at ordinary step and twenty-four miles at quick step.
It was the ancient regulation that practice marches of this distance must be made three times a month.
Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus – Wikipedia
The second book deals with the organization and officers of the legion, the ancient system of promotion, and how to form the legion for battle. We find the Romans provided for soldier’s deposits, just as is done in the American army today; that guard and duty rosters were kept in those days as now; and that the Roman system of guard duty is only slig. The field music is described and is an ornamental progenitor of that in use in United States.
The legion owed its success, according to Vegetius, to its arms and its machines, as well as to the bravery of its soldiers. The legion had fifty- five ballista for throwing darts and ten onagri, militqris by oxen, for throwing stones. Every legion carried its ponton equipment, “small boats hollowed out of a emglish piece of cimber, with long cables or chains to fasten them together. The third book deals with tactics and strategy and it was this portion of Vegetius that influenced war dpitoma the Middle Ages so greatly.
He explains the use of reserves, attributing this invention to the Spartans, from whom the Romans adopted it. Encircling pursuit is described. The terrain englush not overlooked. His little book was made short and easy to read, so as not to frighten, by a too arduous text, the readers whom he hoped to convince.
He constantly gives the example of the “Ancients” to his contemporaries. The result is a sort of perfume of actuality, which had much to do with his success. It still is interesting reading and still is the subject of modern commentaries.
No less tei forty have appeared in Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries. Dankfried Schenk published an interesting article in Klio inwhich gives Vegetius the highest place among the writers of his time. The present edition includes the first three books of Vegetius’ work, omitting only repetitions. The fourth and fifth books, both very brief, deal with epitomw attack and defense of fortified places and with naval operations. These are of interest only to military antiquarians and for that reason have not been included.
The present translation was made by Lieutenant John Clarke and published in London in It is the best available in English and has been edited only to the minimum extent necessary eoitoma conform to modern usage.
Delpech, La Tactique au 13me Siecte, Paris,gives the best account of the influence of Vegetius on European military thought. II, Berlin,although brief, is very acute.
Preface to Book I To the Emperor Valentinian It has been an old custom for authors to offer to their Princes the fruits of their studies in belles letters, from a persuasion that no work can be published with propriety but under the auspices of the Emperor, and that the knowledge of a Prince should be more general, and of the most important kind, as its influence is felt so keenly by all his subjects.
We have many instances of the favorable reception which Augustus and his illustrious successors conferred on the works presented to them; and this encouragement of the Sovereign made the sciences flourish. Militafis consideration of Your Majesty’s superior indulgence for attempts of this sort, induced me to follow this example, and makes me at the same time almost forget my own inability when compared with the ancient writers.
One advantage, however, I derive from the nature of this work, as it requires no elegance of expression, or extraordinary share of genius, but only great care and fidelity in collecting and explaining, for public use, the instructions and observations of our old historians of military affairs, or those who wrote expressly concerning them.
My design in this treatise is to exhibit in some order the peculiar customs and usages of the ancients in the choice and discipline of their new levies. Nor do I presume to offer this work. We find that the Romans owed the conquest of the world to no other cause than continual military training, exact observance of discipline in their camps and unwearied cultivation of the other arts of war. Without these, what chance would the inconsiderable numbers of the Roman armies have had against the multitudes of the Gauls?
Or with what success would their small size have been opposed to the prodigious stature of the Germans? The Spaniards surpassed us not only in nilitaris, but in physical strength. We were always inferior to the Africans in wealth and unequal to them in deception and stratagem. And the Militaeis, indisputably, were far superior to us in skill in arts and all kinds of knowledge.
But to all these advantages the Romans opposed unusual care in the choice of their levies and in their military training. They thoroughly understood the importance of hardening them by continual practice, and of training them to every maneuver that might happen in the line and in action. Nor were they less strict in punishing idleness and sloth.
The courage of entlish soldier is heightened by his knowledge of his profession, and he only wants an opportunity to execute what he is convinced he has been perfectly taught. A handful of men, inured to war, proceed to certain victory, while on the contrary numerous armies of raw and undisciplined troops are but multitudes of men dragged to slaughter.
It is certain that every country produces both brave men and cowards; but it is equally as certain that some nations are naturally more warlike than others, and that courage, as well as strength of body, depends greatly upon the influence of the different climates.
We shall next examine whether the city or the country produces the best and most capable soldiers. No one, I imagine, can doubt that the peasants are the most fit to carry arms for they from their infancy have been exposed to all kinds of weather and have been brought up to the hardest labor.
They are able to endure the greatest heat of the sun, are unacquainted with the use of baths, and are strangers to the other luxuries of life. They are simple, content with little, inured to all kinds of fatigue, and prepared in some measure for a military life by their continual employment in their country-work, in handling the spade, digging engilsh and carrying burdens.
In cases of necessity, however, they are sometimes obliged to make levies in the cities. And these men, as soon as enlisted, should be taught to work on entrenchments, to march in ranks, to carry heavy burdens, and to bear the sun and dust. Their meals should be coarse and moderate; they should be accustomed to lie sometimes in the open air and sometimes in tents. After this, they should be instructed in the use of their arms.
And if any long expedition is planned, they should be encamped as far as possible from the temptations of the city. By these precautions their minds, as well as their bodies, will properly be prepared for the service. I realize that in the first ages of the Republic, the Romans always raised their armies in the city itself, but this was at a time when there were no pleasures, no luxuries to enervate them.
The Tiber was then their only bath, and in it they refreshed themselves after their exercises and fatigues in the field by swimming. In those days the same man was both soldier and farmer, but a farmer who, when occasion arose, laid aside his tools and put on the sword. The truth of this is confirmed by the instance of Quintius Cincinnatus, who was following the plow when they came to offer him the dictatorship.
Translation of Epitoma rei militaris in English
The chief strength of our armies, then, should be recruited from the country. For it is certain that the less a man is acquainted with the sweets of life, the less reason he has to be afraid of death. At this time instructions of every kind are more quickly imbibed and more lastingly imprinted on the mind.
Besides this, the indispensable military exercises of running and leaping must be acquired before the limbs are too much stiffened by age. For it is activity, improved by continual practice, which forms the useful and good soldier.
Formerly, says Sallust, the Roman youth, as soon as they were of an age to carry arms, were trained in the Strictest manner in their camps to all the fatigues and exercises of war.
For it is certainly better that a soldier, perfectly disciplined, should, through emulation, repine at his not being yet arrived at a proper age for action, than have the mortification of knowing it is past. A sufficient time is also required for his instruction in the different branches of the service. It is no easy matter to train the horse or foot archer, or to form the legionary soldier to every part of the drill, to teach him not to quit his post, to keep ranks, to take a proper aim and throw his missile weapons with force, to dig trenches, to plant palisades, how to manage his shield, glance off the blows of the enemy, and how to parry a stroke with dexterity.
A soldier, thus perfect in his business, so far from showing any backwardness to engage, will be eager for an opportunity of signaling himself. THEIR SIZE We find the ancients very fond of procuring the tallest men they could for the service, since the standard for the cavalry of the wings and for the infantry of the first legionary cohorts was fixed at six feet, or at least five feet ten inches. These requirements might easily be kept up in those times when such numbers followed the profession of arms and before it was the fashion for the flower of Roman youth to devote themselves to the civil offices of state.
But when necessity requires it, the height of a man is not to be regarded so much as his strength; and for this we have the authority of Homer, who tells us that the deficiency of stature in Tydeus was amply compensated by his vigor and courage.