Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are more powerful than we can imagine.

Posts tagged ‘army’

Historical sword fighting in Antiquity and Medieval times: a review

Before I begin, just to clarify my position, I am a History student at a Master’s level; I have done a year of Historical European Martial Arts, mainly working on swords and shields and I study historical fighting in my free time. What I am writing about today is the nature of Ancient to Medieval European fighting that will clarify different principles and myths that surround sword and shield fighting (much of it being fabricated on television and films). What I aim to accomplish as an objective is to outline how sword fighting developed from Antiquity to the Late Medieval era and make the reader aware of the principles involved.


The principle of sword fighting or using a sword is the process of pulling and pushing: The sword is used to cut either forwards or backwards. For example, if you are cutting a steak and simply hack at it, it won’t cut through as well. To really get at it you cut the steak by going backwards and forwards in a motion with your knife. Sword fighting works on a similar principle. Many films and television series’ show long swords’ hacking through enemy armour but that is not possible. Most cutting consisted of landing a blow and then drawing the wound by either pulling out or pushing inwards and this is the basis of blocking, leverage, binding and striking.


Within Antiquity to the Late-Medieval era, the shield was the main weapon: Shields have often been stereotyped to just ward off blows however the shields of this time shows that this is was not viable. The shield is used as a main weapon while the sword is used in a supporting role to deliver the killing blow. We see this based on two prevalent aspects: size and shield handle.

Size: The large shield sizes indicate that they were used, like swords, as an extension of the arm. Therefore the shield plays a pivotal role in both re-directing strikes using biomechanical principles (e.g. turning swords away) to find vantage points. This also included using the shield’s edge to strike the opponent.

Handle: The handle becomes a key factor in how the shield operates at this time. For example, the arm strap (for formation soldiers such as hoplites) ensured the user was able to hold and control the shield more effectively. The single handle doesn’t offer this support, for example during the medieval period single handled shields were overlapped in a shield wall to compensate for the lack of arm control; it ensured the user was able to keep their shield up in formation and this is evident in Germanic, Viking and Saxon style combat. The single handled shield signals a transition to single combat and small skirmishes, which Scandinavian and German cultures were obsessed with. These gave birth to their own biomechanical principles.

For example, the Vikings and Germanics often utilised a ‘flapping door’ effect with their shields, in which the single handle enabled the shield to rotate both ways. This weakness was used to move around the enemies swing. It enabled greater flexibility and to simply use the weight and momentum of the opponents attack against them.

The exception to both formation and single fighting is the Roman style of fighting because it adapted both types of shield handling and attempted to mediate between both. This is evident from the vertical handle Roman shields had. This meant single handled shield mechanics (that are found with Viking shields) were applicable with Roman shields and it is no coincidence that the oval shield was issued to Roman auxiliaries over rectangular ones, because of its similarity to ‘Barbarian’ shields at the time. In many ways this represented the Romans combining Greek and Germanic styles of fighting together. In 212 AD Emperor Caracella declared all inhabitants of the Roman Empire citizens and this has a fundamental impact on combat style for the legions. As auxiliaries were not longer distinguishable from the legions integration meant the barbarian dominated Roman military integrated familiar weapons that the different Germanic elements were farmiliar with. By the 4th century, the short gladius stops being used in favour of the long spatha and the oval shield replaced the rectangular one. This signifies a transition from fighting up close to fighting “at arm’s length” that also meant fighting lasted for a longer period of time. This illustrates similarities in fighting between Antiquity and the Early Medieval period.

For example, both Roman and Viking fighting show the shield as an offensive weapon. The Roman’s oval shield’s narrow end meant it could be dug into the other person’s shield or be used as a ram, meaning the legionary could disarm his opponent, breach the distance and disable the combatant. In Viking style fighting, the size of the shield (from 80cm to 120cm) means the Viking would be able to ram the shield into his opponent’s arm and render him unable to use his sword.


During fighting, swords rarely ever touched: The size of shields and the techniques that developed around them meant swords rarely ever binded or crossed, if they ever did usually the weight of the sword would be used in a pulling or pushing motion to use the opponent’s weight against themselves. During antiquity, swords were usually too short and the shield had predominance over how warriors would fight. Even in Germanic cultures the sword, being notoriously tall, revolved around using the shield (which was passed down to Viking style fighting). Sword binding became recognisable with the innovation of sword hand guards (to incorporate long swords in disciplined formations). By the late Medieval and Early Renaissance period, swords became the stereotype we recognise today (the type X long sword, predominant from the 13th century onwards) and as a result the shield size decreased, which meant the user became more dependent on the sword to take over the responsibilities the shield once had.

The nature of formation fighting in antiquity and the Early Medieval period meant there was no need to bind swords. For example in these periods, sword handles  were much smaller and, until the late medieval period, hand guards were be wooden. This served as an advantage in two ways. Firstly, the lack of hand-guards indicated the hand was easily protected and rarely vulnerable; putting the sword hand outwards meant the possibility of a severed hand. Secondly, the wooden hand guard meant the opponent’s sword would get caught on it (if the hand was swung for) and that made it difficult to remove. This is especially evident with the small ‘half-bowl’ Roman hand guards that were designed for the opponent’s sword to get caught, for last-ditch protection (the fact it was also predominant in longer, cavalry, swords meant there was more of a risk of cavalrymen exposing their arms).

Shield Butts were not for pummelling the opponent: To put it simply, why pummel your opponent at arm’s length with a longer shield? In most cases, the shield was large enough to cover the whole body. To go in simply to punch the opponent with the shield butt was not practical, the enemy would simply go around the strike. The reason why this stereotype is so common is because of films and series’. Shield butts served the purpose of making the enemy’s sword get caught on the shield and made it harder for them to draw their sword away and that enabled the warrior to go in for the kill.

Sword fighting was a process of feeling: Different cultures have different terminologies for this but essentially it boils down to feeling the motion and mechanics of interacting with the opponent. This becomes prevalent with Antiquity and Early Medieval sword fighting. It is literally feeling the movement and physics of combating a foe and accustoming oneself to it. For example, Vikings would emphasise this in binding shields to practice moving and turning (something emphasised by the later treatises).


Did we do a good job in Afghanistan?

So Nato forces are officially out of Afghanistan after ten years. A lot of people ask “was it worth it in the long run?” and though I can’t provide a definitive answer, a comparison to provide some perspective might bring some insight.

In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and occupied it for 10 years and, like the Bush administration, the same rhetoric was used: to prevent Islamic terrorism, battle ‘international terrorism and rebels’ and prevent Islamic fundementalism from spreading (in the USSR’s predominantly Muslim populated areas). The USSR, like the U.S, had invested the equivalent of billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s infastructure, government and Army. It conducted joint operations with the Afghan army and attempted to secularise it’s society; it also attempted to impose a communist government (as ISAF has attempted to impose a Democratic government).

However, that’s really where the similarity ends. Three huge differences stand out, which suggests the war in Afghanistan has been successful compared to the way we peceive it. 1) Militarily, 2) Treatment of the population and 3) The political process.
1) In military terms, Afghanistan has been relatively successful for ISAF forces. It had a standing of 41,124 ISAF personnel and 352,000 Afghan security personnel. In terms of casualties, 3,479 military personnel have died (the majority being the United States Army), 23,000 have been wounded (though there is no detail on what sort of incarsertations). With private contractors and the Afghan Army, casualties have ammoutned to 14,859 which is not particularly high compared to previous occupational wars fought in the past. It has also managed to maintain Afghan national forces and delegate complete control to them by early 2014. It also has the backing of the international community.

In contrast, some 620,000 Soviets served in the 10 years of occupation. Out of those, 75,000 were killed, 469,685 became sick or wounded from malnourishment, disintery and combat and 10,751 became invalids. Among the equipment lost were 118 jets, 333 helicopters, 147 tanks, 1,314 APCs, 433 artillery pieces and mortars, 1138 communication vehicles and 11,369 trucks. Comparatively, ISAF losses are minute and unlike the Soviet Army, all of ISAF’s military objectives have been completed. By 1989, the Afghan army was still suffering from mass desertions and constant sabotages from inside by Mujahadeen fighters. At it’s peak, the Afghan army numbered 55,000 but was constantly having to stabalise itself. The Soviet Army also, as well as treating the Afghan population brutally, treated its own personnel with the same level of brutality.
2) Treatment of the population has been relatively mixed (due to public perception) but overall things have been successful. Though there have been cases of suspects being terrorized, being sent to quantanamo bay, bombings in civilian areas etc (the ugly and inhumane part of the war), these have been relatively small. According to United Nations reports, 76% of civilian casualties have been from the Taliban and this has been due to using civilians as human shields, deliberately targeting civilians and both IED’s (improvised explosive devices) and suicide bombings (which has been massivley condemned by Islamic communities in the West as un-Islamic). Civilian casualties are estimated to have been 16,725–19,013 with none displaced. Treatment wise, Nato has adopted a “winning the hearts and mind’s” approach as well as delegating control for Afghanistan to conduct their own operations and be self-sufficient. Treatment by the Taliban has been brutal, esepcially for ISAF soldiers captured. Often soldiers have been tortured or beheaded.

The Soviet Invasion was anything other than a success. The war can be generalised as a war of oppression and terror. Though that was not the intention, it became the outcome from the early years of occupation. Deprivation in the Soviet Army meant soldiers often pillaged and looted from the local population. The Soviet doctrine of ‘imposed control’ meant a show of force was implemented where it was never needed. For example, though Afghans initially welcomed the invasion, the Soviet Army illustrated indescriminate torture and killings. Prisoners of war were often killed or set alight with gasolene or thrown off helicopters as many of the soldiers couldn’t be bothered to take them back to base. These killings were also accidental and through the war, Soviet soldiers and pilots often dismissed caution. In one account, a caravan was shot up which turned out to be a marriage procession. In another, miscommunication meant villages were destroyed by helicopters before pilots realised their mistakes. Thousands of Soviet mines were laid which incacerated a lot of Afghans killed or incacerated and still pose a problem today. Whole villages and town were destroyed by the Soviet Army and airforce indescriminately because they suspected Mujahadeen fighters were there (rather than any of the attacks being based on intelligence). Brutality was also characterised by the weed and heroine addiction of many of the soldiers which exaggerated brutality further. It was a strategy to pummel the Afghan population into submission and was a failure. The Afghan Army were constantly plagued by desertions and soldiers would usually join the Mujahadeen, taking their weapons with them.

Afghanistan’s losses were staggering. Roughly 1.3 million Afghans were killed. A third of the pre-war population of 5.5 million people had fled abroad and another 2 million were internationally displaced. By the end of 1989, the whole of the Afghan population (with the exception of the Army, the government and administration personnel) were either fighting the Soviets or housing fighters. Soviet soldiers were skinned alived, tortured or forced to convert to Islam and fight their own army (beheadings on came when the Taliban rose to power).
3) For ISAF, the political process has been favourable. Many members of the Afghan government make up former Mujahadeen members who fought the Soviets. ISAF has always had the advantage of former Mujahadeen who have fought the Taliban during the Afghan civil war (the Mujahadeen hate the Taliban, it’s leader Massoud was killed a day before 9/11 and the remnants have formed the Northern Alliance which provide the modern political structure for Afghanistan’s government today). That has been tremendous help and it seems the hearts and minds of the majority of Afghanistan’s population have benefitted from it due to political stability after ISAF left in early 2014. Literacy has grown drastically in an otherwise illiterate population and now there is a greater calling for the education of women and equal rights, something that was unimaginable 10 years ago.

The Soviets were never as successful in forming a stable government giving control over to the Afghan government. Before the invasion, the communist leader Amin was in power and was characterised as a brutal and shrewed politician, often purging his own party and indescriminantly killing what he considered were ‘political enemies’. His brtuality sparked the formation of mujahadeen resistance and his forcing of secularisation on a largely traditional Islamic society caused conflict. His modernisation policies such as collectivisation also caused farms to be destroyed (something the Soviet war also caused) which meant farmers supplemented their former crops with poppy’s, leading Afghanistan to be the number one supplier of heroine in the world.

From this, I conclude the war in Afghanistan has been an overall success. There’s probably information to say otherwise and I think we like to point the finger the majority of the time and say “the war was immoral, we tortured and killed the population and it’s an illegal war”, but to what extent? (in the most dispassionate way possible) that children get an education, women get equal treatment and don’t have the fear of having acid thrown in their faces? That slowly but surely Afghan society will become stable and able to defend against Islamic extremism? That they will be able to provide their children with a rich and encouraging future and soon we may see more Afghans around the world prospering from the global economy like we do?

Don’t get me wrong, there are a whole list of problems that stretch all the way to the British coast and that’s undeniable but I like to think (compared to previous wars), with the resources and military we have and the results, we have made a positive impact that will have long term effects that can’t be imposed on Afghanistan as many powers as many have attempted to in the past.

I don’t know what the future has but I like to think we did a good job. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Beyond the Golden Gate: The Byzantine Army at War

Relatively little has been discussed in relation to the Byzantine army. It is only recently that finds and historical academia have begun to put together a more coherent image of the Byzantine Army by analysing its tactics and formations.  This article will effectively outline the way the Byzantine army operated during its existence in brief and concise way.

Before I begin, it is important to analyse the context of the Byzantine Empire itself: indeed an ‘army’ is representative of the society it derives from and an army can provide context to social, economic and cultural structures. The word ‘Byzantine’ itself is inherently problematic. It was coined by the Historian Hieronymus Wolf in 1557, a century after Constantinople was conquered by the Ottomans, which referenced the Ancient Greek town Byzantion that existed before and during the Roman Empire. The Byzantines simply referred to themselves as ‘Romaion’ (Romans) and this is important in understand how the the inhabitants of the Empire perceived themselves. The Byzantines didn’t simply view themselves as successors to the Roman Empire, they saw themselves as the Roman Empire manifested in the present and the direct manifestation of God’s Kingdom on earth. Its introverted culture constantly analysed its own identity and this constant re-defining of identity was based on the celestial (its theological relation to God on earth), cultural and its past glories. From this, it justified itself as the synergy between Greco-Roman culture. With an abundance of economic wealth, one of the oldest surviving capital cities and a large standardised army, the Byzantine Empire can be regarded as the superpower of the medieval age.

It is also important to analyse the constant biases and prejudices that are attached to Byzantine sources. Byzantine sources followed the tradition of Greco-Roman Sources that held cultural and generalising connotations and this was not something exclusive to medieval times. There had always been an issue of biasness and source reliability in the Greco-Roman world. The ‘father of History’ Herodotus constantly makes generalising comments on ‘barbarian’ cultures (those who were considered non-Greek speaking/cultured) and places the value of his own culture as paramount. Indeed many Byzantine sources share similar features. For example, many Byzantine military manuals were prescriptive rather than descriptive.

This cultural biasness is also embodied by etymological generalisations. For example, in reference to the Vikings, there are constant problems made by Byzantine terminology. The word ‘Viking’ itself is a feminine Norse term which means ‘expedition’. This group was defined as Rus/ Rhos by the Byzantines, meaning ‘related to rowing’ but the terms was widely stretched to include a vast array of cultures which in appearance looked similar but in detail differed substantially. For example, this can be observed from linguistic, physical and cultural differences in Slavic, Rus Slavs and Scandinavians who formed the traders, explorers and warriors that came to Constantinople. Even the Thematic Emperor’s guards, the Varangians (meaning ‘sworn men’) consisted of a diverse group of Norsemen, Rus and Anglo-Saxons (which were grouped and separated from other Western Units in the Byzantine Empire). In this sense, these cultural definitions should be seen as generalisations, as the term ‘barbarian’ was in the Ancient Greco-Roman World, and should be taken for granted.

To gain an understanding of the Byzantine army and its constant changes in the Medieval Age, the Army will be split into Early, Thematic and Byzantine Armies. However there are similar overlaping themes. As with most medieval armies, the majority of Byzantine soldiers were seasonal fighters (with the exception of a few professional institutions such as the Athanatoi created by the Emperor John I Tzimiskes). However, unlike the armies of Western Europe, the Byzantine army was not dependant on feudal obligations to raise large amounts of manpower but was reliant on bureaucratic system and a stable system of pay by coin and land (which was known as the theme system). This, coinciding with adapting different methods of fighting, meant it could easily field a flexible and mobile army consisting of specialised elements.

Much of what we know of Byzantine warfare comes from the Byzantine military manuals- they provide us with a wealth of information on equipment, doctrines, tactics and deployment. However there is an inherit danger of readings these manuals as descriptive. Most of them, especially the Strategikon, were probably more prescriptive than descriptive in nature.


  1. The Early Byzantine Army


At the time of Justinian, the ideal soldier was the double-armed cavalryman, equipped with iron armour, a spear or a long cavalry lance (kontos), a buckler strapped to the shoulder and a powerful composite bow. In this way, the cavalry was considered at the forefront of medieval warfare (a method adapted from the Parthians and later the Sassanid Persians). As the Kontos was 12 feet long, it is likely that the role of elite cavalrymen in the army had the diverse skill to use both weapons. This differed from Germanic units which had little experience in horse archery and preferred the kontos or a shorter spear.

From the last decades of the 6th Century and onwards, the heavy cavalry units, both Cursores (‘runners’ or ‘attackers’) and Defensores (‘defenders) were combined formations, consisting of both lancers and bowmen (as opposed to the previous period where each cavalryman ideally carried both lance and bow). Their main defensive weapon was a complete set of armour, covering their entire body from head to toe (or angle as mentioned in the Strategikon). The most common type of armour was scale and chain mail, but lamellar armour was increasingly used. To complete the armour, a sturd, tasselled helmet and a shield was prescribed. The men in the front ranks used kontarion as their main weapon whilst the rear ranks used composite bows (or javelins if they lacked proper training). The front cavalrymen were expected to ride horses with frontal armour, made of either iron or felt.


Although the Strategikon describes infantrymen equipped like Late Roman heavy infantry, it is highly unlikely that most Early Byzantine heavy infantry wore metal armour. The chapters on heavy infantry in the Strategikon were copied from an earlier Late Roman military manuscripts and there is little reason to believe that the best heavy infantryman had more than a shield, cloth armour and perhaps a helmet for protection. His main offensive weapon was a spear, around six feet in length that could be thrust or cast. In the Strategikon, infantrymen were instructed to throw their spears when facing infantry and thrust their spears when facing cavalry. Behind the first ranks of spearmen, archers or javalinmen were drawn up to provide missile support.



Uniforms were probably only used by the elite of the infantry. Most infantry units were therefore distinguishable by their shield patterns and standards. Cavalry units and the best infantry were issued uniforms and equipment from the Imperial Factories- elite cavalry units are described as wearing white uniforms on parade. Colours for other units included different shades of red, greyish white, light green and light blue.

Late Roman Infantry carried draco standards, while the cavalry units had either draco or vexillatio standards. By the time of Maurice, the swallow-tailed bandae flags replaced the draco and vexillatio. Like other pieces of equipment this was probably adopted from the Avars. The bandum was a simple square or a rectangular flag with two, three or four streamers, each measuring several meters in length. Units in the same division (mere) were to use the same or similar banner, and the cavalry unit’s pennons, the flammulae, were used to distinguish one unit from another (although they were probably stowed away before battle).

The general’s banner stood out in both shape and design and would have been of a different pattern than the other banners in the army.



In the earliest of Byzantine Armies, the standard battle deployment was to form one or several battle lines- the troops in each line supporting the line in front of them. As in Late Roman armies, the infantry (or dismounted cavalrymen) occupied the centre while the cavalry were placed on the flanks. From the second part of the 6th Century onwards, the Byzantines could field all-cavalry campaign armies with any infantry acting only as a rear guard. In such armies, the centre of the second battleline would be made up of the elite and best equipped heavy cavalry, such as the Optimates. A battle deployment several lines deep may have been used in historical battles, but in battle accounts, the armies seem to have been drawn up in a single line with only one or two units held back as an emergency reserve.


As Justinian’s campaign armies were almost always outnumbered, they often chose to let the enemy come to them. The infantry or dismounted cavalry centre was expected to hold the enemy charge, giving the cavalry on the flanks time to decimate the enemy ranks with bowfire before moving against their flanks. This was the tactic used by Belisarus at Dara aginst the Persians, by Narses at Taginae against the Goths and at Casilinus against the Franks

The Strategikon introduced cavalry maneuvers that called for heavy cavalry to be able to fight as both attacker and defender in close order formation. Whole units or even army wings would take on the role of attackers while their comrades acted as defenders. The attackers would break out of each unit from their positions on both wings, and then advance towards the enemy, either in close or open order formation. The defenders in the centre of the unit remained in place in close order formation, providing the attackers with a safe rallying point. If the enemy was defeated, the defenders would advance with the attackers. Should both the attackers and defenders be swept away in an enemy charge, the troops in the second line would act as a rallying point and turn back the enemy. In the prescribed deployment of a cavalry army, the best and most reliable troops, such as the Optimates and the general’s Bucellarii, were stationed at the centre of the second line, while regular regiments, such as the Vexillationes, Foederati and Illyrikiniani regiments were drawn up in the first line.


  1. The Thematic Byzantine Army

During the reign of Leo and that of his successor in the Syrian Dynasty, vast territories were lost By the Islamic and Bulgar conquests. A new organisation of provinces, probably found by Heraclius in 660 AD- 662 AD was employed. Anatolia, and later the Balkans and Greece, were divided into themes. The themata (roughly meaning provinces) was almost an entitiy in itself, with an army of soliders who received land grants as payment for their military service. During the reign of Constantine V (741- 775 AD), the Byzantine army was further strengthened by the introduction of the tagmata– an imperial force of professional soldiers based in and around Constantinople.

The themata became the backbone of the Byzantine Military. In Each theme, a strategos held command of the theme’s troops which consisted of both cavalry and infantry units. Through the hard and attritional struggles with Bulgars and Islam, the Byzantines devised a new way of dealing with intruding enemies: shadowing warfare- essentially guerrilla tactics. Avoiding most pitched battles, the themata soldiers would retreat to strongholds, then make hit-and-run attacks on an advancing army’s flanks and baggade train. The most famous such border warriors were the Akritai cavalrymen, described in the heroic poem Digenes Akrites.

In early themes, the strategos had the command in each theme. The theme was divided into turmai of up to 5,000 men, commanded by a Turmaches. Each turma was further sub-divided into druggoi of up to 1,000 men, commanded by Comites (counts).

From the mid-10th Century, theme armies became gradually smaller, and as a consequence, units decreased in size. In such smaller themes, a Doux, not a strategos held command. Druggoi, commanded by Drungarios, were now usually up to 400 men in size. Several in so called taxiarchia or chiliarchia of around 1000 men, which were commanded by a Taxiarches or Chiliarches. Two such units (2000 men) were collectively called turma, commanded by Turmaches. In the mid- 10 Century, Emperor Nikephorus II phokas added a fiscal dimension to the theme system- basically meaning that individuals with enough money could avoid military duty. As a result, each theme now had a small professional force in addition to its regular semi-professional units. Such professional provincial forces were called tagmata– however, these should not be confused with the ‘real’ Imperial Tagmata.

The Imperial Tagmata armies were based around Constantinople. In case of larger enemy incursions, one or more tagmata armies, led by a Domestikos or the Emperor himself, could rapidly support a themata army. This was founded by Constantine V to limit the power of themata Armies. For example, troops from the large Obsikion theme had rebelled five times since the creation of the theme. The tagmata he created consisted of six tagma (units), each with 2000-4000 men.


Thematic Byzantine Army at War

In a number of military treatises written in the 9th and 10th centuries, various emperors and generals emphasised the importance of thorough training and the issuing of good equipment. The best deal with the different enemies the Byzantines faced, specialised troop types and formations appeared. The theme system was generally effective and ensured troop morale was high. As many generals moved on to become emperors, the army had high priority and it showed on the battlefield.

The 10th Century marked the pinnacle of Byzantine military sophistication. The expected standard of drill and discipline in the 10th Century manuals were high; the importance of well-trained heavy infantry was repeatedly stressed. Unlike the 6th Century, heavy infantry were now seen as an indispensible part of any campaign army.

The Paecepta Militaria, attributed to Emperor Nikephorus II Phokas, described the role of both cavalry and infantry and detail. As in previous manuals, the main shock arm of the army was the heavy cavalry, but blocks of heavy infantry augmented by slingers, javalinen and archers were deemed essential as they provided the cavalry with an effective rearguard and a safe rallying point. As in the Strategikon, it also described the enemies of the Byzantines, their tactics and how to counter them.

In broad terms, the development during the Thematic period moved towards increasingly specialised and better equipped troops. Armies became more professional as the size of themata armies decreased.


Heavy Cavalry-Throughout this period, heavy cavalry formed the backbone of the Byzantine army. Themata Kavallaroi were generally less well-equipped and trained than their tagmata counterparts, but in some themes, heavy cavalry participated in campaigns frequently, and had years of experience in cavalry warfare. Tagamta cavalry wore chain or lamellar armour, wooden or iron greaves, mail hoods and iron helmets. Themata heavy cavalry probably had more modest protection. The main close combat weapon was the kontarion (which unlike it’s early counterpart measured 10-12 feet)- other weapons included long spathion straight sword and the sabre-like paramerion sword. From the rear ranks, archers equipped with comparatively short composite bows supported by their front rank comrades. Like their predecessors, Byzantine Kavallarioi were trained to fight as Cursores and Defensores.

Light Cavalry- Two types of light cavalry are described: hyperkerastai (acting as outflankers on the right flank and as guards on the left flank) and the prokousatores (scouts or forerunners). The prokousatores forerunners had few archers than regular kavallarioi.

The Kataphraktoi were a unique unit of extra-heavily armoured cavalry. They were drawn up in a new blunt-nosed wedge formation, especially designed to smash the enemy infantry line. The front and sides of the wedge formation was made up of cavalry clad in armour from head to toe. The majority of these cavalrymen were armed with siderorabdion– heavy all-rion maces, almost a metre in length, with a sharp three, four, or six cornered heads. The formation had a ‘soft’ centre, consisting of horse archers.


Heavy infantry- The basic equipment of a themata Kontaratoi (‘spear bearers’) was his shield and his spear. Byzantine infantrymen were noted for their spears, 3 meters (9 feet) or more in length. Shields came in both regular and large sizes. In the early Thematic period, oval shields were used- from the mid-10th Century and onwards, almond-shaped, and later kite shields, became increasingly common. Body armour was fairly modest in nature, and consisted of a coat of coarse silk padded with cotton, ‘as thick as can be stitched’. Though fairly effective against missiles, it must have offered less protection against lance heads and concussive weapons. To complete their protective equipment, kontaratoi wore cloth wrappings around a felt hat, meaning they effectively wore turbans. Veteran kontaratoi probably had access to such prized pieces of equipment such as iron helmets and even lamellar armour or chain mail armour.

Light infantry- By the mid- 10 Century, each taxiarchia of heavy infantry spearmen (approx. 1000 men) had two light infantry attachments: 200 javalinmen, archers and slingers, and 100 menulatoi. Archers and slingers wore no armour, but were protected only a small circular shield strapped to their left arm. Javalinmen had a slightly higher degree of protection- they wore padded armour and carried medium sized shields.

The Menulatoi First described in the Tactica treatise by Emperor Leo VI, the Menulatoi were especially courageous spearmen equipped like heavy infantrymen though with smaller, round shields. Instead of the standard spear, the Menulatoi carried shorter, sturdier spears made from a single piece of cornel wood. Each Kontaratoi spearman unit had an attachment of Menulatoi who were used specifically as a countermeasure against enemy heavy cavalry charges. In case of a cavalry charge, the Menulatoi rushed forwards from their position behind the kontararoi. They then formed a line in front of the kontaratoi and lowered their spears to only a foot or two above ground, thus striking the unprotected bellies of the charging horses.


From the early Thematic period onwards, the appearance of the Byzantine army changed markedly. In each theme, the imperial work shops were responsible for manufacturing arms and equipment for the troops, and as a result, a typical Byzantine force looked much more uniform than in the 6th and 7th Centuries. Shields, banners and uniforms of each unit were if not identical, then at least similar.

Theory and practice

Much of what the treatises describes (or prescribes) is echoed in accounts of battles in the Thematic period. Especially in the reigns of Nikephorus II Phokas and his successor John Tzimisces, heavy Byzantine cavalry supported by infantry were fielded in battles in both the East and West. From Arab historians, we have accounts of Byzantine extra-heavily armoured cavalry, ‘who advanced on horse which seemed to have no legs’, completely covered in iron.

By the time Basil II led his campaigns against the Bulgars, elite heavy infantry, most notably the Varagian guards, had become the army’s most important troops- the rugged Balkan terrain simply was not suitable for heavy cavalry.



  1. The Late Byzantines

The battle of Manzikert in 1071, loses by Alexios Komnenos and the distintergration of the theme system due to large landowners becoming increasingly powerful, meant the Byzantine army began to slowly disintegrate. It could no longer provide the army with a body of trained and equipped semi-professional soldiers. During the ten years following Mazikert, a civil war rendered the Byzantine army useless and the victorious Turks quickly seized most of Asia Minor where they found their own empire with the impudent name of Rum (Rome). As most of the eastern themes had been lost, the Theme system was now finally shattered. Although the old Tagmata were reinforced with newly found regiments, the major part of the army was now drawn from allies and mercenaries.

The military successes of the 10th and early 11th centuries were followed by a period of complacency and eratic government. The army and navy were left to decline, and were subject to drastic reductions. From the middle of the 11th century, the Theme system was largely replaced by wholly professional regiments, and the number of mercenary units grew. As mentioned, both the standing and imperial forces were now called tagmata. Initially there were differences in quality and equipment between the two types of tagmata, but by the end of the Komnenian period they had largely become indistinguishable. Formally, the thematic names and titles of regiments and commanders remained unchanged until Manzikert, but both the size of units and their efficiency shrank.

In the late 11th Century, various emperors tried to re-establish a reasonably dependable military, Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes being the most successful. But his efforts failed to produce any long term results, and after the defeat at Manzikert and the civil wars that followed, the army become almost non-existent. When Alexios Komnenos assembled forces in Constantinople in 1081, a mere few hundred men was all that could be mustered. Needless to say, Alexios Komnenos had to start from scratch. He and his successors did manage to recreate some native Byzantine regiments (such as the Athnatoi), but as a whole, Komnenian Byzantine Emperors had to rely mostly on mercenary troops; European knights, Turkish horse archers, Slavic and Balkan warriors and horsemen all served under the Imperial banner. Most guard units were also made up of foreigners: Turcopoloi (descendants of settled Turks), Skythikoi (horse archers from various nomadic tribes), Latinikoi (Western knights) and Varangoi (increasingly consisting of mercenaries of from all over Europe).

Some of Alexios’s successors tried to revitalise the Byzantine army by reintroducing militia systems (such as the Pronoia system introduced b John II Komnenos) but neither proved very successful.

To some extent the Komnenian Byzantine armies used the tactics and deployment described in the great treatises of the 11th Century. Although the overall quality and skill had declined, the Byzantine army still managed to restore some of its previous glory. But as a large part of the army was made up of mercenaries, the hired unit’s individual type of tactics dictated the way they were used. The fighting style was no longer distinctly Byzantine but more a reflection of whatever mercenaries were employed at that particular time.

While European military technological advances had resulted in improved armour, better crossbows and bows, the Byzantines stubbornly held on to their tactics and armoury.



  1. Early Byzantine Armies
  • Macdowall, Simon: “Late Roman Infantryman/Cavalryman”. Osprey
  • Dennis, George T.: “Maurice’s Strategikon. The Strategikon, attributed to Emperor Maurice”.
  • Regan, Geoffrey: First Crusader- Byzantium’s Holy Wars. On Emperor Heraclius’ campaigns against the Persians”.
  • Procopius: “The Persian Wars”, “The Vandalic Wars”, “the Gothic Wars”.
  • Agathias: “The Histories”
  • Theophylacy Simocatta: “The History: The history of Byzantium in the late 6th Century”.

     2. Thematic Byzantine Armies

  • Blondal, Sigfus: “The Varangians of Byzantium”.
  • McGeer, Eric: Sowing the Dragon’s Teeth”.
  • Dennis, George: “Three Byzantine Military Treatises”.
  • Theophanes Continuatus Leo the Deacon and Johannes Skylitzrs (These are in German and are hard to come by!)

3. Late Byzantine Armies

  • Heath, Ian: “Armies and Enemies of the Crusade”.
  • Heath, Ian: “Byzantine Armies 1181-1461 AD”. Osprey
  • Nicolle, David: Hungary and the Fall of Eastern Europe. Osprey.


Surrender in the British Expeditionary Force during August 1914

In the hot summer of August 1914, the British Army was in retreat. Against a German army group twice its size, it desperately struggled to fall back. Since the end of the First World War, it has been popularized that the British Army managed to escape through superior quality of its men and training. This romanticising of the British Army, which is still embedded in popular memory, has left the assumption that the British army was an extremely disciplined and well-skilled army from its experiences in colonial wars. However, recent evidence of the BEF’s conduct has brought to light fundamental flaws in this interpretation. One aspect in particular makes this evident which is that as the Historian Alexander Watson has pointed out, the surrender to death ratio of the BEF during 1914 was I : 0.65, with 19,915 British soldiers being taken prisoner. This was larger than 1915 (I : 5.64), 1916 (I : 6.92) and 1917 (I : 5.67).[1] It is only in 1918 when large scale surrenders occur again (I : 0.75). The question the thesis will attempt to answer is why in 1914 was there such a loss of men to surrender in the opening stages of the First World War?

The interpretation that the British Army was a fantastic and glorious fighting force has long been ingrained in British historiography. This has been understandable due to the early nature of sources that fed into this assumption. Historians, such as John Terraine,[2] and John Gooch[3], who spent their careers studying the BEF in detail have been held in high regard for their use of regimental diaries and firsthand accounts from senior personnel (such as Sir John French and Kitchener). Other historians such as Edward Spiers,[4] Richard Homes,[5] and Adrian Gilbert,[6] have adapted a similar framework through the 20th century and added to it, which has validated the generalised claim more that the BEF was heroic during the retreat from Mons. This is understandable because the sources Terraine and Gooch have sited have been from institutional sources (Regimental and High military ranking accounts) which display the underlying theme of the ‘British Bulldog’ tradition of bravery under overwhelming odds. Even to this day, this perception remains prevalent; popular Historians such as Allan Mallinson have justified that the British Army, though inadequately prepared, escaped through bravery and discipline alone.[7] However this viewpoint has been questioned in recent years. Compared to other European Armies the nature of the primary, regimental and scholarly sources of the British Army have excluded the subject of why large surrenders took place in 1914 and why it became a problem. Current historians such as Alex Watson and Alan Kramer have begun to show that surrender was an issue predominantly in the British Army. They have posed the question: If the British Army has been proclaimed as inexhaustibly great by British Historians, why was the loss of men so prevalent in 1914?

Using a mix of primary sources (in the form of personal and regimental diaries and institutional investigations into surrenders); secondary sources (in the form of regimental diaries) and scholarly sources as a point of reference, it is assumed that a balanced perspective can be provided. However, the sources used in this thesis will carry the same dilemmas that previous historians have experienced and are not without their problems. The most predominant is the sources hold a range of underlying biases towards the events of 1914. For regimental diaries positions of responsibility, as to what happened, have always been ambiguous because the causes of surrender have always been attributed to fatalistic conditions. For example, the History of the Irish Regiment went as far as to deduce that surrender had been caused by a lack of trenching equipment.[8] As a result, responsibility is drawn away from the participants to denote that these situations were beyond the army’s control. This also becomes apparent in high ranking-officials who constantly emphasise acts of valour, which hold little significance to the outcome of battle, over so called ‘cowardly’ ones. In this way, it is inevitable the surrenders would be stigmatised. The point is furthered by investigations into captures which implement a moral bias against the captured. For example, Colonel Elkington of the 1st Warwickshires and Colonel Mainwaring of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, who attempted to surrender themselves and their men at St Quentin were court-marshalled and discharged for cowardice. Even on a basic level, there are inherent biases within the diaries of soldiers and officers who experienced the retreat personally. For the soldiers, the sources are often non-descriptive and many of the writings simply state the events unfolding and what action was taken in reaction; overall there is a lack of emotive writing. Officers on the other hand are better able to articulate their feelings on paper in order for the reader to empathize with them. The discrepancy between both illustrates an educational bias between the soldiers and their officers, which means whereas the soldiers would have had difficulty in expressing themselves; officers hold a better vantage point to express their opinions and their perspective is more likely to be taken for granted. Nevertheless, the limitations of the sources are acknowledged and it essential to take these biases for granted when analysing the evidence because of the abundance of primary and secondary sources. The sheer volume of referencing will succeed in providing a dynamic and diverse range of perspectives that will enable better empathy with the events that unfolded during August 1914 and this will give the reader a greater feel for the people experiencing it.

From the previous points, it is clear where the dissertation is leading. Unlike the static nature of trench warfare, the early months of the First World War were illustrated by dynamic and mobile warfare. At any point during the fight, soldiers would have been attacking, counter-attacking or retreating and this tested the soldier’s physical and psychological fitness. As a result, it is more difficult for commanders and officers to keep track of units during battle and surrender is more likely, as is the possibility of soldiers willing to give themselves up to the enemy. However, questions need to be asked about the nature of these surrenders. Was it simply that the conditions and demands of modern warfare were harder for British Military Personnel? Or does it illustrate fundamental flaws within the British Army that led to surrender? The thesis will point to the later. But then this displays a further problem; if the British army did have fundamental flaws how did these take form? And how did they relate to surrender? The thesis will therefore be valuable as it will uncover un-studied ground, which will provide a base work for future historians to further analyse this relatively esoteric phenomenon.

The thesis will be split into two parts. Part one, The BEF on the Battlefield, will put the BEF’s surrenders into context and analyse the demands of modern warfare that the British Army faced, which will illustrate that battlefield conditions made surrender more likely. Part two, The British Army in 1914, will analyse the BEF’s structures and its fundamental flaws within the officer corps, which laid the foundations of ill-trained staff. It will point the dissertation to conclude that though the conditions were important in contributing to surrender, it was the officers on the ground who ultimately gave themselves up as prisoners of war.


  1. The BEF on the Battlefield

1.1 Context

To gain an informed perspective, it is vital that context is provided for the events which occurred during August 1914. The British Army declared war against the German Empire on the 4th August and began to land troops in the French ports of Boulogne, Le Havre and Rouen by the 9th. Troops were continuously unloaded until the 20th and then orders were given for the BEF to march to Mons. The journey was 138 miles over a two day period. On the 23rd, The BEF engaged the Imperial German Army for the first time and by the afternoon it was given the order, By Sir John French and Sir Smith Dorrien, to fall back. Suddenly the British Army was in a full scale retreat. For three days, while fighting rear-guard attacks, it travelled 42 miles where it was finally reinforced by reserves. On the 26th Smith Dorrien organized a joint counter-attack with the French Army under General Joffre at Le-Cateau, after which the BEF retreated a further 91 miles to the Marne River where a successful counter-attack was launched which finally halted the German Army. It set an allied victory and forced the Germans to abandon their plan to capture Paris. Instead they retreated northwest, setting the stage for four years of static trench warfare. Altogether the series of events including the march to Mons stretched a distance of 271 miles over ten days, something which displays the long and exhausting journey for British military personnel that required both physical fitness and constant endurance.

With context given, it is easy to empathise with how the strenuous conditions of modern combat (exhaustin long marches and retreat) led to surrender. However two revealing cases have shown that conditions, though important, were not as significant as the military personnel on the ground. Both of these are revealing in the fact they create a direct correlation between officers and capture; these are the near surrender 1/ Royal Warwickshire’s and the 2/ Royal Dublin Fusiliers at St Quentin and the surrender of the 500 1/ Gordon Highlanders, 2/ Royal Scots and 2/ Royal Irish at Bertry. At St Quentin, both regiments found themselves exhausted and unable to go on under Colonel Elkington of the Warwickshires and Mainwaring of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Having retreated with a sense of confusion as to where the rest of the BEF were located, they planned to organize some evacuation of exhausted soldiers after finding that the town train station (that was promised by Sir John French to evacuate soldiers) was abandoned. After consulting with both non-commissioned officers and soldiers, both were persuaded that resistance could still be mounted. The prospect of surrender was dashed after the Mayor of St Quentin proclaimed that both Colonels needed to surrender in order to save the town. This, coinciding with the idea the men needed to be saved from pointless killing, compelled both Colonels to unconditionally surrender. The surrender was prevented at the last moment by Major Tom Bridges of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guard who instructed both Colonels to re-organise the men and inspired the men by playing a tin whistle and drums from a local toy shop. This miraculously inspired the men to march out of St Quentin. In the aftermath both Elkington and Mainwaring were court-martialled.[9]

The Surrender at Bertry also displays similar themes. On the road to Bertry, Colonel Gordon and Colonel Neish of the Gordon Highlanders realised the three regiments were left behind and marched back to Bertry. During the night, on the 26th August at midnight, the column ran into French civilians who told the officers the main body of the BEF had come the same way earlier in the day. Shortly, these were discovered to be German soldiers disguised as French civilians and after a scuffle, German ambushers opened a volley of fire into the column. Some resistance was mounted but this was stopped by Neish who ordered the column to surrender in order to prevent loss of life, after which both accompanied by several officers attempted to flee on foot. During this time, Neish compelled the other officers to go back for reasons of duty and honour and this succeeded. However by the time they returned the column had unconditionally surrendered. After the war, an inquiry was launched into how the retreat occurred which concluded that cowardice of both Gordon and Neish was the main factor.[10]

Both cases display similar themes. Firstly, there is a turning point in both cases where officers advocate the least line of resistance. Secondly, this compelled the organized formations with recognizable chains of command to surrender because these formations saw no reason to defy their superiors. Thirdly, it displays situations of isolation where the British formations are separated from the main body of the BEF. Smaller situations such as these permeate throughout the retreat from Mons. For example on the 27th August at the village of Etreux, 3 companies of the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers, part of 1st Division’s rearguard, did not receive the order to retreat and were cut off. The death of the Munster’s commander Major Paul Charrir during a counter-attack destroyed morale and lack of relief, coinciding with isolation, meant the companies needed to go through a German corp in order to get back to their parent division. Around 9pm 4 surviving officers agreed that duty and honour had been fulfilled and two hundred and fifty men of the companies surrendered.[11] It displays the same underlying factors which contribute the surrender in the BEF as well as the fashion in which units gave themselves up.


1.2 Battlefield Conditions

The demands of a modern war meant the BEF needed to rapidly adapt to new battlefield conditions that it was not prepared for. The case for this is varied and play a large and integral part in contributing to large loses of men as prisoners. Mass exhaustion, fatigue, escape from a highly determined enemy and a seemingly endless culmination of problems contributed greatly to the context in which surrender took place.

The key element when considering the retreat from Mons is fear of the German Army during the retreat and this is best represented in the of scale, which brings into context how outnumbered the British Army was compared to its German counterpart. In 1914, the British Army number 118,000 and comparatively this was minute in the face of the European Armies. The Imperial German Army on the other hand fielded a standing army of 1,318,000.[12] Between both, the BEF was hopelessly outnumbered in the face of German offensives. During the Battle of Mons, the British Army was not at full capacity and numbered an estimated 80,000 men 300 guns. It faced the German First Army under General Von Kluck, an army that numbered 160,000 men and 600 guns and gave the German army a 2:1 advantage in manpower and weapons.[13] Thus, it is easy to empathise with the sense of inadequacy that the British Army felt against the relentless, and seemingly limitless, attacks the German Army was able to mount. It contributed to the constant sense of hopelessness that permeated throughout the British Army. According to Niall Fergusson, an army only needs to perceive that defeat is imminent in order to surrender, rather than actually be inflicted physical damage.[14] Thus it is understandable that the perception of an aggressive German Army catching up and destroying the British Army caused panic amongst the soldiers and officers; for them fear and anxiety of being captured or killed, by a foe which could not be located, stretched them to breaking point. For example in St Quentin, Captain N.P. Clarke expressed anxiety and fear about the fact they would eventually have to fight the Germans at any moment who had: ‘unknown strength in unknown places at any time’.[15] This context of uncertainty created ideas of hopelessness and was reflected by the officers and the men who followed them. John F. Lucy described how officers encouraged their soldiers to move forwards desperately, saying capture would result in death or 4 to 5 years or torture in a German fortress. [16] Colonel Elkington at St Quentin was only to keen to unconditionally surrender for the reason of sparing innocent lives in the wake of inevitable German destruction. [17] This sense of uncertainty of what was to come was further exacerbated by battlefield conditions such as night fighting, where sight is scarce. For example the Surrender at Bertry was stimulated by an ambush during the night, which caused Colonel Neish to surrender within a small period of time:


Heard Lt. Col Neish say “oh this is aweful”… He then said “I have surrendered; Col. Gordon is gone and says the officers are to save themselves but I say that the officers are to stay with the battalion. Is that you Fraser? Come here” I went up to him and stood there and after a few minutes he sent me to tell the enemy that we had surrendered.[18]


The mixture of uncertainty, an overwhelming enemy and the perception that defeat was imminent was a dominant factor in surrender for many of the officers and the men who followed their orders and therefore was an overbearing concern for isolated British officers and their units.

Modern battlefield conditions require precise communication between units. Though the BEF was superbly disciplined in relaying information, the means to communicate between command on strategic and tactical levels were inadequate. In this way, organizational difficulties were intrinsically linked to communication. Messages were hand written or orally passed down. These were inadequate when dealing with modern battlefield conditions such as fast-moving units and deafening noises of gunfire. Such cases meant it was impossible for units to keep coherency and mis-communication had a detrimental effect as various units who were left behind. For example, Captain G.A. Eliot of 2nd Royal Irish Rifles illustrated the terrible intelligence on the ground, being informed: ‘30,000 French Cavalry were coming to reinforce us from Arras… having received no instruction that the rest of our brigade had retired’.[19] Such false information had the effect of blurring the lines between fabricated and factual information of what was occurring around units, coinciding with paranoia of German aggression that was heard from French soldiers and civilians. For example Major C L Brereton, having spoken to an American journalist was made paranoid by the fact the people around him had suspected the man of being a German spy.[20] Mis-communication went so far as to effect individuals as well as units. For Captain Owens, after halting for two hours, he received orders to rendezvous with his battalion but had found they were nowhere in sight and none of the soldiers at the ordered location knew anything.[21] Similar accounts like these, of messages of units that were not in their designated locations or individuals who found themselves stranded and unable to return to their units, were commonplace throughout the BEF and many of them became confused during the fighting as to where they needed to go.

If lack of communication illustrated anything it was that the sense of isolation was an underlying factor which motivated capture for officers. Like communication problems, isolation created confusion among the men and their officers; reinforced the fear and anxiety of being captured as well as ignorance pushed military personnel to breaking point. If situations where units are reinforced is analysed, cases of surrender are avoided due to units being connected back to the main body of the British Army. In the situation of St Quentin, Major Tom Bridges gave an ultimatum to rally the men, ‘giving them half an hour’s grace…but letting them know that I would leave no British soldier alive in St. Quentin’,[22] and the use of the tin whistle and drums had an obvious effect on morale: ‘They sat up and began to laugh and even cheer. I…made them a short exhortation and told them I was going to take them back to their regiments. They began to stand up and fall in’.[23] This is also observed in minute cases. During the battle of Mons, a platoon was spotted retiring without orders. The Battalion CO was furious and threatened to have the sergeant shot. When being ordered back, the men under him ‘did not seem to mind coming back in the very least. The CO asked no questions then, but the sergeant was left missing after the action and so nothing more was said about it’.[24] Like Bertry, Captain R Whitbread’s unit had been ambushed at night but was saved due to reinforcements.[25] Thus, the sense of isolation for the soldiers permeated feelings of helplessness in the wake of German aggression. For many, that sense of helplessness contributed to officers giving their units up in order to save their units integrity.

In order for an army to complete military operations, it needs to be able to transport men in order to attack and react to dynamic conditions on the battlefield. Without the use of transports an army simply marches. Though motorized transport had been used to transport soldiers to the British coast, much of the transport for supplies was still horse drawn and for the soldier marching was the standard method of travelling. In terms of marching, a drastic transition to long distances can result in physical exhaustion if soldiers are not physically trained to do so; it also further contributes to deteriorating morale because it provides an endless collective doubt whether the unit will reach their destination. Inadequate physical fitness posed a huge burden which was due to the condition of the soldiers themselves. Reservists alone accounted for 61.8% of all personnel on mobilisation due to the fact battalions were linked with their over-sea battalions.[26] This meant a reliance on personnel who had not seen active service for years and only received 6 days worth of training to become physically fit again. Within this context, the consequences were diminishing morale and precarious expectations as to where the soldiers were going to end up. For example, Samuel Knight of the Welsh Regiment records:


We are off again: marching, marching, marching. Nobody seems to know our destination… we halt to go to billets; a meal and prospects of a rest. Will they be realised? Again the order “fall in” is given. Wearily we move off…….Is it possible for us to march another 30 miles?…… Few words are spoken: legs move mechanically: dust and perspiration begrime our haggard and bearded faces.[27]


Another private, Walter Bentham described a march of 38 miles with no rest.[28] Such long distances seemed to disintegrate any hopes of survival on the battlefield and, more importantly, it would contribute to the perception that British soldiers were unable to continue marching. For example St Quentin, which had been a staging area for stragglers and the wounded, had turned into a safe-haven for exhausted soldiers. For the officers overseeing them, it seemed as though it was pointless for the men to continue because it meant their men would be sacrificed needlessly (with the added concern of civilian casualties). When Elkington ordered the unconditional surrender, he remarked:


It was Thursday afternoon; I had not slept since Monday morning; I had seen villages burning and others shelled….The consequences was that when I came to sign the paper I felt my duty was to make our purpose quite clear… as I wrote the words I paused; but the state of my brain was such that I felt if I argued as to the conditions it might leave an opening for the Germans to shell the town and kill the civilian population…Prostrated with Mental and physical exhaustion, I wrote these words.[29]


For the soldiers, the constant physical exertion deteriorated the will to go on and the officers witnessing this confirmed this. The difference was that whereas the British soldiers failed to analyse this failure within a wider military context, the officers provided a framework (on a tactical level) in which the surrenders could be understood: for them, wasting valuable men who were exhausted physically in battle was the final straw and was the determining factor for many of the officers who let their units be captured.

Physical fatigue is also a factor that contributes to mass exhaustion. Put simply, physical exhaustion, coinciding with sleep deprivation, leads to a decrease in physical performance and a complete breakdown for those who are not physically capable. The underlying consequences for the soldiers were sleep deprivation and in many cases, soldiers lost consciousness while marching. For example, Lucy described the effects of extreme fatigue on his comrades: ‘Men slept while they marched, and they dreamed while they walked….Commonplace sensible remarks turned to inane jibberings. The brains of the soldiers became clouded…Our curse was loss of sleep’.[30] Even for non-reservists such as Lieutenant Colonel J V Ramsden, marching whilst having only 45 minutes sleep in 36 hours was too much.[31] For those not marching, the sudden relief of having temporary rest had a detrimental effect because it gave them the opportunity to stop permanently and due to this, it is understandable that units were left behind in an attempt to escape from the enemy. Indeed fatigue formed the majority of cases where troops found themselves suddenly behind enemy lines. For example, at Estree fifty men of the Royal Welch Fusiliers were left behind due to sleep and only managed to scatter away in scarce time.[32] Lieutenant Loyd of the Scots guard reported that two Officers of the Irish Guard, ‘were left behind and awoke to find themselves surrounded by Germans holding the town. They crept out of their house and along garden walls, across some meadows’.[33] For many men, the prospect that they could rendezvous again with the main body of the BEF was futile. For example Gordon, though adamant later in expressing his contempt for surrender, expressed his doubts to Neish about escaping with the 500 men after waking up to find the main division had left his battalion and himself.[34] Thus fatigue became an underlying reason as to why officers considered the least line of resistance for their men after not having the physical determination to continue.

Even with personnel that are not physically fit, exhaustion and fatigue are preventable if armies are well supplied. If not, soldiers and officers are unable to obtain the energy to go further. In the context of 1914, distribution of food was a major concern and continually posed a problem; it also commented on inadequate levels of organisation in the BEF. For example, on average the British soldier carried two days worth of rations and “Iron rations” which consisted of an emergency supply of bully beef, jam and biscuits; a staple diet which had been relied on in colonial wars. However the demanding burden of long distance walking resulted in many of these supplies being finished during the march. Private H.D. Bryan of the Scots Guards expressed frustration after his rations had been used up during the march to Mons, ‘we were told that dinner would be up in 2 hrs time… & great was our disappointment to find that instead of a good dinner waiting for us there was only hot water with which to make tea…the Interpreters are our great friends and also prove invaluable foragers’. [35] The adequate means of keeping up supplies resulted in two means of acquiring food. The first was the food that was piled on the roadside in desperation, by Royal Engineers, which worked to an extent because soldiers were able to pick up any food that was needed and to a degree this had a psychological effect. According to Loyd, ‘An A.S.C. (Army Service Corps) Depot of dumped food for the 1st Div. Proved a great benefit and were filled surreptitiously our haversacks from the supplies piled by the roadside. We needed food’.[36] The Second alternative was scavenging from the local French population. Though soldiers managed to obtain the necessary supplies to continue on, this negatively affected the troops psychologically by firstly creating the obligation they could sanction the taking of local supplies and secondly, in many cases alcohol was distributed which severely destroyed any will to continue. A good example is Dunn’s testimony of an officer who forcefully requisitioned a shop’s food, ‘During the short halt I was sitting in a doorstep when the door opened and a large jug of beer was passed out…they must have thought we were winning’.[37] The long period of food deprivation and the sudden over-consumption of food and alcohol led to soldiers permanently stopping, as was the case with German Soldiers during the Ludendorff offensive in 1918. As a result, discipline and unit coherency deteriorated rapidly. Upon entering St Quentin, Captain Arthur Osburn, the medical officer of the 4th Dragoon Guards commented:

The whole square was thronged with British infantrymen standing in groups or wandering about in an aimless fashion… Some few, obviously intoxicated, wandered about firing in the air at real or imaginary German aeroplanes. The great majority were not without their arms but had apparently either lost or thrown away their belts, water bottles and other equipment.[38]

Such chaos, coinciding with a lack of energy from mass exhaustion and fatigue, for the officers meant units became more susceptible to capture because deprivation diminished willpower and for the officers witnessing their unit’s deprivations it reinforced the sense of hopelessness on the ground.

The effectiveness of an army is reflected in the way it is utilized and directed on the ground, both from a strategic and tactical level. It illustrates the pragmatic and initiative of ‘command and control’ which directs the flow of battle. For the BEF, this two distinct command styles succeeded in having detrimental effects on performance and morale. British military thinking highlighted two contradictory military philosophies: ‘restrictive control’ (to follow an officer’s order unconditionally) and ‘umpiring’ (when a commander abdicates his responsibilities by letting his subordinates use their initiative). The polarized opposite means of ordering soldiers on the battlefield often meant officers stubbornly held on to one method or ambiguously switched between both. For example, Wollocombe recorded how constant switches between orders during enemy shelling at Audencourt resulted in casualties because of the fashions in which the orders were distributed.[39] In many ways the indecisive switching between both command styles represented officers as being a beacon of moral authority rather than practical force; this coincided with the fact subordinates were nervous of using their initiative because it was culturally assumed that higher ranks denoted more knowledge than a junior rank and were de facto superior.[40] For example, before the surrender at Bertry, disputes broke out between Neish and Gordon about seniority and whether there could be a retreat without written orders; Gordon arguing that he was entitled to full authority being the regimental officer.[41] It illustrated the un-prepared nature of the officer corp in coping with the dynamic conditions of the Western Front that stemmed from lack of practical training; in practice a commander was a subordinate for discipline rather than a director of soldiers.[42] For example, Colonel Stevens and Major Jones of the 37th (Howitzer battery), surrendered after having no orders to retire, coinciding with the sudden arrival of retreating horse teams; all of the soldiers he commanded immediately did so afterwards.[43] Thus, the inability to command on a tactical level by officers resulted in indecision and a better likelihood of being captured. However it is important to emphasize that whereas battlefield conditions made surrender more probable, responsibility still falls on the officers who made the decision to do so.




  1. The British Army in 1914

The previous section has brought to light the conditions that led to elements of the British Army giving themselves up to capture. Though it is valid to claim that the rigours of modern battlefield conditions contributed to this occurring, it is also a reflection of an army’s combat effectiveness. An army can have well-trained soldiers with experience but if not directed properly in battle, this can have a detrimental effect on its performance. With this premise in mind, it is understandable that surrenders originated from fundamental flaws in the British Army that took shape through the officer corp. Differences in performance, between officers and soldiers, can be deduced from German field intelligence reports in 1914 which usually spoke with admiration on the conduct of British soldiers, as well as their resentment at being taken prisoner, their unwillingness to co-operate and their mental resilience.[44] For example, Brigadier- General Gleichen of the Cheshire’s (who had been captured on the 24th August), recorded: ‘The Germans were astonished at their rifle fire, and owned to very heavy loses. They asked whether we trained our men to fire at the enemy’s balls, as most of their men were hit thereabouts’.[45] This was in stark contrast to reports of the Territorial Force, ‘Kitchener’s Battalions’ or British conscripts who were seen as deprived of masculininity.[46] Therefore, the factors contributing to surrender lie with the inefficient command system that was separated between lower and senior officers.


2.1 Lower Officers: Command on a tactical level

The BEF in 1914 had been quoted to be ‘incomparably the best trained, best organized, and best equipped British Army that ever went forth to war’,[47] and it is understandable how the statement is accurate. In terms of training and discipline, the British army was ahead of its European counterparts. This is because the system of training was made to be rigorous and disciplined. From the moment the British soldier woke up, his day was set by a rigid framework that the regimental system provided and training was strictly conformed to timetables. For example from 6am to 12pm, British Soldiers abided by a routine that included physical training, long marches, drilling and target practice.[48] Emphasis on discipline is supported by the fact between 1902-1913 the rate of soldiers court-martialled dropped to only 30 per 1000 each year, compared to 77 per 1000 between 1868 and 1893.[49] Training also reflected previous lessons learned on the battlefield. Though the last major war Britain fought was the Boer War from 1899-1902, experience gave it the benefit of how to effectively utilise tactics on the battlefield. The Boer war ended the tactic of mass volley fire and marching in close ranks. After the Haldane reforms of 1905, training drastically changed to emphasise marksmanship and use of cover and space. Soldiers were often encouraged to utilise this to its full potential by meriting higher wages to soldiers who had better marksmanship skills.[50] Even for reservists who were mobilised in 1914, their regiment was not just a military organization, it was a self-contained society. It formed a daily hierarchal life where the individual was never to forget for a moment they were not part of their regiment.[51] Therefore the emphasis on training and discipline denoted that British soldiers were trained to be combat effective on the battlefield.

For officers, inefficiencies in combat were intrinsically linked to training. Like British soldiers, officers went through similar training and discipline that was physically and mentally demanding. For example, officers were governed by same standing orders and took extraordinary amounts of preparation. This is emphasised by the idea of ‘lead by example’ that many of the officers embodied; it was believed not doing so would have a detrimental effect on the soldier’s morale.[52] However, despite this the British officer was hopelessly inexperienced. For example, annual military manoeuvres were very limited. An officer spent a total of six weeks of which four days were actually spend on the field, meaning that in active service sixteen days were spent on testing military tactics.[53] Even for experienced officers who had served in colonial wars, the conditions on the Western Front were overwhelming. For example, at Bertry, the sudden volley of fire into the column immediately caused Neish and Gordon (veteran officers) to issue the order to surrender. [54] The effect of this was monumental because unless the officers were in the field, they had little simulation of battlefield conditions; it showed many lacked sufficient a mixture of leadership training and instructions which intended to make officers psychologically cope with battlefield conditions, making them more susceptible to panic than the soldiers under their command. For example, both cases at St Quentin and Bertry represent situations where leading officers become incapacitated by indecision. At St Quentin, the mayor’s demand that the British officers give out of fear of civilian deaths and soldiers unnecessarily dyingwas the final straw that panickedElkington and Mainwaring into unconditionally surrendering.[55] Thus, lack of preparation for real combat on the battlefield meant officers were unable to deal with extreme situations their positions demanded.

Lack of any real training also coincided with the burden of administrative and executive duties that constantly plagued officers. The effect was a diversion away from any real training and signified the officer as a maintainer of discipline rather than an effective leader. For example, the quarter-master general as well as being in charge of troop movements was also in charge of logistics.[56] The cost of this was also evident compared to other European Armies. Multi-skilled personnel increased the cost of maintenance. To mobilise just two corps of infantry, the treasury needed to pay an annual budget of £14.5 million whilst Germany fielded 19 corps for £19 Million because German Staff focused exclusively on military matters (and conscripts on the European Continent were paid significantly less than British soldiers).[57] Thus, the overbearing administrative job that being a British officer embodied diverted them away from their military roles and hampered any possibility of focusing on a higher level of leadership.

Lack of preparedness for combat was also due to flaws in British officer selection. After 1906, the British Army had attempted to centralise itself and emphasise selection by merit. For example, British High Command put in place policies which would assist officers by organizing lectures which taught strategy and military history. In 1908 Major General. W. E. Franklyn, organized an ad hoc ‘War School’ For forty officers. It was run by his General Staff officers, lasted for two weeks and consisted of a mixture of lectures and practical problems.[58] On the other hand, the selection for British Officers made little headway in the eyes of the older generation of British officers. For example, by 1914 British regimental officers recruited most of their officers from public schools that placed ‘character’ above intellectual attainments, or technical performance, and many reports about performance were either unduly favourable or so vague as to be practically useless. For example, the CGS Sir William Nicholson rejected the idea of merit outright based on the cost it would entail but there was a lack of any real evidence to support his assumption.[59] For regimental officers, battalions tended to send their badly performed staff preferring stubbornly to keep talented personnel. This was because the regimental system, with its glacially slow rate of promotion, failed to promote professional zeal. It produced officers with little commitment to taking their profession seriously or, at best, an inward-looking professionalism that encouraged them to believe their regiment was the centre of their profession. Statistically on average, a subaltern in a line infantry regiment became a captain when he was 39, and majors did not become lieutenant-colonels until they were 47.[60] Even if the British officer did go to Cadet College to be an officer, there was no guarantee they would be selected by performance. For example, up to a third of entrants to staff college were guaranteed their places due to patronage, arms of service or pay rather than ability and this undermined the status of the officer corp.[61] Brigadier –General Sir James E. Edmonds found that examiners were instructed to compulsorily fail 5% of all candidates regardless of marks in entrance exams even though by 1913 the ratio of applicants to places at the staff college was between four and five to one, with 185 applicants for 36 places.[62] Though there had been intellectual requirements for recruiting staff, these tended to be bypassed because the pass mark was too high and by 1913 it was scrapped so there was no measurement of empirical progress.[63] From the evidence provided, it is understandable how the transition to higher rank for many officers was not incentivised by merit or experience. In 1908, of seven infantry generals at the War Office, only one had commanded a battalion. Colonel Elkington only managed to gain his position because his father had been a Major-General and unlike his father, he had no experience of war.[64] Therefore, the selection process only succeeded in dampening any prospects of well trained officers who took their role seriously and this had a psychological effect. Once officers were confronted with situations they had not experienced in training, the possibility of panic and giving up was substantially higher.

The mixture of inadequate training, patronage and poor officer selection had a cumbersome effect on the battlefield which drastically increased the possibility of officers willingly giving themselves up, and their units, to the enemy. This was further exasperated by battlefield conditions in 1914. A mixture of exhaustion, fatigue and a breakdown in communication meant the command structure of the BEF began to fall apart; this took the form of a breakdown between officers and arguments over authority. Neish recalls how he received no instructions from Gordon.[65] Gordon later justified this by implying his position was a ceremonial one (which contradicted his claim beforehand that a ceremonial position have him greater authority): ‘Lt. Colonel Neish, asked me to issue orders… I invariably pointed out to him that my positions did not warrant me taking this responsibility because so long as General Doran did not become a casualty, I remained merely a Regimental Officer and could not possibly assume the position of commanding’.[66] Therefore, a breakdown in command warranted indecisiveness which put British soldiers and officers in a state of real danger, which was reinforced by fear of being overrun by the German Army.


                 2.2 Senior officers: command on a strategic level

The success of battlefield operations are determined by the way in which command and control is able to act and react to situations in the theatre of war. In this case the stakes are higher because the scale of operations becomes larger from regimental (2000-4000 men) to corps (20,000-40,000) size units. The BEF was no different and cases of surrender are contributed to fundamental flaws within high command. The unexpected retreat from Mons was the signifier that British Army was outnumbered. It also showed conflict between command styles. The conflict between direct control and ‘umpiring meant senior officers only enforced their orders with a degree of moral authority than demanding expectations.[67] In many ways this lack of control represented the idealistic and disconnected attitude of the General Staff in reference to what was going on, on the battlefield. The stubborn regimental tradition, and the sense the regiments had not been beaten, fed into the emotions of the General Staff witnessing the retreat from Mons. General Smith Dorian, for example, outlined his feeling of optimism at the sight of battered, exhausted and fatigued British soldiers: ‘It was a wonderful sight. Men smoking their pipes, apparently quite unconcerned… no formation of any sort and men from units mixed up altogether. I likened it at the time to a crowd coming away from a race meeting’.[68] On the other hand, onlookers who also witnessed the retreat expressed the opposite opinion. General Joffre’s (of the French Army) liaison officer, witnessing the same event, expressed his doubts to Joffre. Joffre was appalled at his report:

The situation is extremely critical. For the moment the British Army is beaten and is incapable of any serious effort. The third and fifth divisions are nothing more than disorganised bands, incapable of offering the smallest resistance. Conditions are such that for the moment the British Army no longer exists.[69]

It confirmed the opinion of onlookers that the British Army was on the verge of collapse and the naivety of the Generals is reflected towards surrender. For example, Field Marshal Haig vaguely suggests that surrender was unequivocally an act of cowardice rather than factors such as fatigue or isolation.[70] It confirmed that Generals of British High command simply did not understand the situation on the ground and that lack of understanding did little to prevent surrender from taking place when it was preventable.

The naivety of British Generals towards the situation on the ground can be seen from their general bias towards who was responsible for surrender. The denials that surrender was due to voluntary actions meant senior officers excluded the possibility that surrender was possible in the British Army (and if it was, it needed to be categorised as cowardice). This is understandable because Senior British officers adopted a passive approach to suggest they played little part in the battles and suggested failure was due to external events (as a way of maintaining their own careers and absolving them from any blame). Descriptions of isolated heroic acts, for example, were given prominence to the outcome of battle. When commenting on 5th Division’s retreat, Dorian concluded Major Yate of the Yorkshire Light infantry was responsible for holding the Germans off by sacrificing himself.[71] According to Colonel Bond’s report, Yate’s charge had no effect on British defence.[72] This also appealed to the cultural mentality of British officers, which emphasized heroism. This is further shown by regimental diaries which blame surrender on circumstantial factors. In the case of Bertry, the regimental diary of the Gordon highlanders states that they were overpowered by superior numbers.[73] Other perspectives at Bertry have said otherwise. Captain Fraser commented, ‘I think if we charged the column in the village we should probably have scattered them and taken the village’.[74] Captain Stewart had immediately, on being fired upon built a strong firing line.[75] It was only the decision of Gordon and Neish surrender occurred. At St Quentin, for the officers, the soldiers were in a semblance of order and could be directed onwards and some groups of riflemen were formed as a rearguard.[76] It is this bias towards surrender by senior officers and their absolution of blame that prevented measures, to deal with capture, from occurring and that was exacerbated by conditions o on the ground. Thus, the naive mentality of senior command contributed greatly to large numbers of soldiers being captured.

Direction of troops on a strategic level requires large amounts of experience. Like lower ranking officers, problems on the battlefield were directly caused by lack of preparation or training. The purpose of the army is to fulfil its political objectives. In the case of the BEF, the objectives set were ambiguous. For example, Britain’s war aims under Sir Edward Grey were not certain, as was the strategy of how to defeat Germany. Even when war did break out, political policy of Edward Grey was ‘business as usual’ and British strategic thinking revolved around a purely naval strategy; the BEF was seen as a ‘Projectile to the fired by the British Navy’.[77] Indecision was exemplified by the fact at the outbreak, the cabinet to sent just four infantry divisions and cavalry divisions to France on the 5th August. It was only when Kitchner was recalled from Egypt did he send the last remaining divisions to France on the 3rd September.[78] This was also emphasised by lack of training; only one of the nine members in the Great General Staff had any combat experience and the war council itself consisted of four civilian ministers and a civilian chief of staff. Furthermore, there was little preparation for senior officers for the battlefield. At any one time, an officer could only command a battalion during the 4 days of manoeuvres which meant there was no real practical sense of how to direct large formations in battle.[79] From the beginning of the BEF’s conception there was always confusion on how it could be used in a European War. Ergo, It is arguable that from the start, the lack of decisiveness in the BEF’s role proved to be a major disadvantage and that indecisiveness was carried on to a tactical level that displayed all the problems lower-ranking officers faced.



Observing surrender in the BEF in August with a simple explanation, one would conclude that battlefield conditions played a significant part. A combination of mass exhaustion and fatigue exhausted British personnel, who were clearly unprepared for the long and cumbersome march that the retreat caused. Lack of supplies increased exhaustion and this was emphasised by lack of communication between units due to outdated methods of relaying messages. A combination of these factors means surrender can be attributed to the demands that modern combat entails. However, this explanation is simplistic. A valuable question that can be asked then is why did the rest of the BEF refuse to surrender? In the general retreat from Mons, the majority of the British Army managed to stay intact. The coherent effect of the regimental system and physical hegemonic presence of the army together, played a significant part in keeping the BEF together. It also means that the cases of surrender need to be analysed with cautious eyes. After the retreat, the British army managed to re-organise itself successfully, with its French allies, halt the German Army completely. With counter-offensives at the Marne and Aisne, the trenches were dug and German plans for taking Paris were halted permanently. This would also support the claim that surrender was contributed to psychological factors that British officers and soldiers experienced during the retreat. Fear of being enveloped by a much larger, and aggressive, German army played a domineering factor for British officers giving themselves up. For them, the idea of wasting their men needlessly to a determined enemy was not worth the sacrifice. This coincided with the sense of isolation and confusion that the drastic nature of the retreat caused; the sense of being cut off from the main body of the British Army and being killed at any place at any time by an unknown number of troops pushed the anxiety of officers to breaking point.

All of these points suggest two key factors: Firstly, that surrender circulated in the mind of officers rather than soldiers. Even for reservists, who had not seen military combat for years, experience in colonial wars, training and disciplined life of the regiment was more than enough to make them believe surrender was not a viable option. In these cases, it is only when British soldiers suddenly found themselves individualistically behind enemy lines that surrender occurs. Secondly, responsibility points to both senior and lower ranking officers which highlights fundamental flaws within the framework of the British Army. Progression through patronage, lack of combat simulation training and administrative duties failed to put officers in the mindset of war. It resulted in indecisiveness for many officers in extreme conditions (coinciding with conflicting command styles) something their training was supposed to gear them towards. As a result, in these situations British officers simply broke down and gave themselves up and the well disciplined nature of the battalions under them meant they too easily followed the least line of resistance. On a senior level, the inability to apply large scale strategic thinking in training meant Generals simply were not able to prepare for a European War. This was the result of political indecisiveness as to the BEF’s role, lack of experience personnel and naivety of officers. The combination of all three factors meant surrenders were often stigmatised, and isolated acts were glorified, as a way for senior officers to absolve responsibility. Ergo, this thesis concludes that lack of preparation and inexperience in the officer corp, due to flawed means of choosing viable officers, was an overriding factor in surrender. Though this was exacerbated by battlefield conditions, it is the position of army leaders to train themselves so situations such as these do not occur in battle.

[1] Alexander Watson, Alexander Watson, Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918 (New York: Cambridge University Press: 2008), p. 145.

[2] John Terraine, Mons: Retreat to Victory (London: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2002).

[3] John Gooch, The Plans of War: The General Staff and British Military Strategy, C. 1900-1916 (London: John Wiley and Sons Inc, 1974).

[4] Edward Spiers, Army and Society 1815-1914 (Detroit, Addison-Wesley Longman Limited, 1980).

[5] Richard Holmes, Riding the Retreat: Mons to the Marne 1914- Revisited (London: Pimlico, 2007).

[6] Adrian Gilbert, Challenge of Battle: The Real Story of the British Army in 1914 (Oxford: Osprey, 2013).

[7] Allan Mallinson, 1914: Fight the Good Fight, Britain, the Army and the Coming of the First World War (London: Bantam Press, 2013).


[8] Stannus Geoghegan, The Campaigns and History of the Royal Irish Regiment: Volume 2, From 1900 to 1922 (London, William Blackwood & Sons Ltd, 1927), p. 150.

[9] Peter T. Scott, “Dishonoured”, The “Colonels’ Surrender” at St. Quentin, The Retreat From Mons, August 1914, (London: Tom Donovan Publishing Ltd, 1994), p. 6.

[10]TNA, WO 141/ 37 (‘Inquiry into the surrender of the 1st Gordon Highlanders Intelligence reports and prisoner interrogations’ (GHQ).

[11] Alan Kramer, ‘Surrender of soldiers in World War 1’ in How Fighting Ends: A history of Surrender, ed. By, Holger Afflerbach and Hew Strachan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 279-308 (p. 281).

[12] Watson, p. 157.

[13] D. Lomas, Mons, 1914 (Wellingborough: Osprey, 1997), p. 19.

[14] Niall Fergusson, ‘Prisoner Taking and Prisoner Killing in the Age of Total War: Towards a Political Economy of Military Defeat’, War in History, 11 (2004), 148-192 (p.152).

[15] Captain N.P. Clarke, “Through German Lines” in BlackWood’s Magazine (June, 1915).

[16]J.F. Lucy, There’s a Devil in the Drum (London: Faber & Faber, 1938), p. 147.

[17]Lieutenant- Colonel A.E. Mainwaring, A Statement [by] A.E.M. N.p.,N. d, p. 7.

[18] Captain Fraser, Gordon Highlanders, NA, WO 339/22031, p. 135.

[19] Captain G. A. Elliot, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, in NA, WO 141/ 37 (‘Inquiry into the surrender of the 1st Gordon Highlanders Intelligence reports and prisoner interrogations’ (GHQ), p. 136.

[20] Private Papers of Major C.L. Brereton, IWM Documents. 2615, p. 5.

[21] Private papers of Captian H.B. Owens, IWM Documents. 4788, p. 18.

[22] Lieutenant Colonel Sir Tom Bridges, Alarms and Excursions (Harlow: Longmans Green, 1938), p. 87.

[23] Mainwaring, p. 8.

[24] Lieutenant-Colonel T.S. Wollocombe, IWM Documents. 130 p. 51, IWM

[25] Private Papers of Captain R Whitbread, IWM Documents. 4460, p. 5.

[26] Martin Samuels, Command or Control? Command, Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies, 1888-1918 (London: Frank Cass, 1995), p. 119.

[27] Private papers of Samuel Knight, Welsh Regiment, IWM, Documents. 7061, p. 12.

[28] Private papers of Walter Bentham, IWM Documents.15272, p. 4.

[29] Mainwaring, p. 7.

[30] Lucy, p. 147.

[31] Private Papers of Lieutenant Colonel J V Ramsden, IWM Documents. 482, p. 4.

[32] Captain J.C. Dunn, The War the Infantry Knew 1914-1919 (London: Penguin Group, 1989), P. 30.

[33] Diary of Geoffrey Archibald Loyd- Lieutenant, Scots Guards, IWM Documents. 7631, p. 8.

[34] TNA, WO 141/ 37 (‘Inquiry into the surrender of the 1st Gordon Highlanders Intelligence reports and prisoner interrogations’ (GHQ) ‘Testimony of Colonel W.E. Gordon.

[35] Private papers of H.D. Bryan- 1st Battalion Scots Guards, IWM, Documents. 138331, p.4.

[36] Loyd, p. 8.

[37] Dunn, p. 30.

[38] Arthur Osburn, Unwilling Passenger (London: Faber & Faber, 1932), p. 78.

[39] Wollocombe, p. 45.

[40] G. J. De Groot, Douglas Haig, 1861-1928 (London: Unwin Hyman. 1988), p. 51.

[41] Lieutenant Colonel Neish, NA CAB 45/197, p. 55.

[42] Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King’s College London, Strand, London (KCL). Brigadier- General Sir James E. Edmonds paper. Papers, III/7, p. 15.

[43] Henning, NA CAB 45/ 196.

[44] Gilbert, p. 256.

[45] Gleichen, letter to Smith Dorrien, NA CAB 45/206.

[46] Joanna Bourke, Fear: A Cultural History (London: Virago Press, 2005), p. 8.

[47] J.E. Edmonds, History of the Great War Based on Official Documents: Military Operations France and Belgium 1914, Vols I and II (London: Macmillan, 1922, 1925), p. 2.

[48] Military Identities: The Regimental System, the British Army and the British People, C.1870-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 102.

[49] Ibid, p. 182.

[50] Mallinson, p. 80.

[51] Anon, The Standing Orders of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1934), p.4.

[52] Gilbert, Challenge, p. 157

[53] Edmonds paper. papers, III/7, p. 15.

[54] Captain A.D.L. Stewart, Gordon Highlanders, p. 13.

[55] Lieutenant- Colonel A.E. Mainwaring, A Statement, p. 7.

[56] Captain O. Wheeler, The War Office: Past and Present (London: Methuen, 1914), p. 252.

[57]Edmonds, Brugadier-General J.E., General S. H. E. Franklyn, Brigadier C. N. Barclay and Major D. M. A. Wedderburn, “Four Generations of Staff College Students- 1896 to 1952”, AQ 65(1) (Oct. 1952). p. 46

[58] David French, Military Identities: The Regimental System, the British Army and the British People, C.1870-2000, p.159.

[59] Ibid, p. 151.

[60] Ibid, p.150.

[61] Ibid, p. 47.

[62] Edmonds paper, III/2. p.7.

[63] Edmond papers, III /2, 4 and III/5, pp. 14- 16

[64] Peter T. Scott, “Dishonoured”, The “Colonels’ Surrender” at St. Quentin, The Retreat From Mons, August 1914, (London: Tom Donovan Publishing Ltd, 1994), p. 6.

[65] Lieutenant. Colonel Neish, p. 8.

[66] Major and Brevet Colonel W.E> Gordon, V.C.A.D.C. Gordon Highlanders in NA, WO 141/ 37 (‘Inquiry into the surrender of the 1st Gordon Highlanders Intelligence reports and prisoner interrogations’ (GHQ)

[67] Samuels, p. 49.

[68] Terraine, p. 138.

[69] Ibid, p. 148.

[70] Brian Bond, Nigel Cave, Haig- A Reappraisal 70 Years On (London: Pen and Sword, 2009), p. 122.

[71] Horace Smith-Dorian, Memories of Forty-Eight Years’ Service (Murray, 1925), p. 407.

[72] R.C. Bond, History of the KOYLI in the Great War (P. Lund, Humphreis, 1926) p. 95.

[73] Cyril Falls, The Life of a Regiment Volume IV, The Gordon Highlanders in the First World War, 1914-1919 (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1958), p. 168.

[74] Captain Fraser, Gordon Highlanders, p. 25.

[75] Captain A.D.L. Stewart, Gordon Highlanders, p. 36.

[76] Scott, p. 52.

[77] Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War (London: Penguin Books, 1999), p. 55.

[78] Ibid, p. 167.

[79] W.S. Hammer, The British Army: Civil-Military Relations, 1885-1905 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1970), p. 140.









Primary Sources

Imperial War Museum

Diary of Geoffrey Archibald Loyd- Lieutenant, Scots Guards, Documents. 7631


Private papers of Captian H.B. Owens, Documents. 4788


Private Papers of Captain R Whitbread, Documents. 4460


Private Papers of Lieutenant Colonel J V Ramsden, Documents. 482


Private Papers of Lieutenant-Colonel T.S. Wollocombe, Diary, Documents. 130


Private Papers of Major C.L. Brereton, Documents. 2615


Private papers of H.D. Bryan- 1st Battalion Scots Guards, Documents. 138331

Private papers of Samuel Knight, Welsh Regiment, Documents. 7061


Private papers of Walter Bentham, Documents.15272



National Archives, Kew

TNA, WO 141/ 37 (‘Inquiry into the surrender of the 1st Gordon Highlanders Intelligence reports and prisoner interrogations’ (GHQ)

Fraser, Captain, Gordon Highlanders, NA, WO 339/22031

Gleichen, letter to Smith Dorrien, NA CAB 45/206

Henning, NA CAB 45/ 196

Neish, Lieutenant Colonel, Gordon Highlanders, NA CAB 45/197


Liddel Hart Centre for Military Archives, King’s College London

Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King’s College London, Strand, London (KCL). Brigadier- General Sir James E. Edmonds paper. papers, III/7, III /2, 4 and III/5




Memoirs and first-person accounts

A.E. Mainwaring, Lieutenant- Colonel, A Statement [by] A.E.M. N.p.,N. d


Bridges, Tom, Lieutenant Colonel, Alarms and Excursions (Harlow: Longmans Green, 1938)


Edmonds, Brigadier-General J.E., General S. H. E. Franklyn, Brigadier C. N. Barclay and Major D. M. A. Wedderburn, “Four Generations of Staff College Students- 1896 to 1952”, AQ 65(1) (Oct. 1952).

Horace Smith-Dorian, Memories of Forty-Eight Years’ Service (Murray, 1925)


J.F. Lucy, There’s a Devil in the Drum (London: Faber & Faber, 1938)


Osburn, Arthur, Unwilling Passenger (London: Faber & Faber, 1932)


  1. Wheeler, Captain, The War Office: Past and Present (London: Methuen, 1914)


N.P. Clarke, Captain, “Through German Lines” in BlackWood’s Magazine (June, 1915)



Secondary Sources

Regimental histories

Anon, The Standing Orders of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1934)


  1. Bond, History of the KOYLI in the Great War (P. Lund, Humphreis, 1926).


Falls, Cyril, The Life of a Regiment Volume IV, The Gordon Highlanders in the First World War, 1914-1919 (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1958)

Geoghegan, Stannus, The Campaigns and History of the Royal Irish Regiment: Volume 2, From 1900 to 1922 (London, William Blackwood & Sons Ltd, 1927)




Academic Sources

Bourke, Joanna, Fear: A Cultural History (London: Virago Press, 2005)


  1. Lomas, Mons, 1914 (Wellingborough: Osprey, 1997)


De Groot, G. J., Douglas Haig, 1861-1928 (London: Unwin Hyman. 1988)


Edmonds, J.E., History of the Great War Based on Official Documents: Military Operations France and Belgium 1914, Vols I and II (London: Macmillan, 1922, 1925).


Ferguson, Niall, The Pity of War (London: Penguin Books, 1999)


French, David, Military Identities: The Regimental System, the British Army and the British People, C.1870-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)


Gilbert, Adrian Challenge of Battle: The Real Story of the British Army in 1914 (Oxford: Osprey, 2013)

Holmes, Richard, Riding the Retreat: Mons to the Marne 1914- Revisited (London: Pimlico, 2007).


John Gooch, The Plans of War: The General Staff and British Military Strategy, C. 1900-1916 (London: John Wiley and Sons Inc, 1974).


Mallinson, Allan, 1914: Fight the Good Fight, Britain, the Army and the Coming of the First World War (London: Bantam Press, 2013)


Samuels, Martin, Command or Control? Command, Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies, 1888-1918 (London: Frank Cass, 1995)


Spiers, Edward, Army and Society 1815-1914 (Detroit, Addison-Wesley Longman Limited, 1980).


Terraine, John Mons: Retreat to Victory (London: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2002)


  1. Scott, Peter, “Dishonoured”, The “Colonels’ Surrender” at St. Quentin, The Retreat From Mons, August 1914, (London: Tom Donovan Publishing Ltd, 1994)


Tuchman, Barbara, August 1914 (London: Constable, 1914).


Watson, Alexander, Enduring the Great War: Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914-1918 (New York: Cambridge University Press: 2008)


W.S. Hammer, The British Army: Civil-Military Relations, 1885-1905 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1970)




Articles and Chapters

Fergusson, Niall, ‘Prisoner Taking and Prisoner Killing in the Age of Total War: Towards a Political Economy of Military Defeat’, War in History, 11 (2004), 148-192.


Kramer, Alan, ‘Surrender of soldiers in World War 1’ in How Fighting Ends: A history of Surrender, ed. By, Holger Afflerbach and Hew Strachan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 279-308.






What was the role of provincial governors, during the Late Republican period, and to what extent was this position specialised militarily?

  1. Introduction

In the Late Republic, the relationship between military and political roles was often a common theme. The dissertation will argue that this theme was a defining role for provincial governors, which enabled them to gain both the allegiance of their men and political influence. The dissertation will be split into three sections. Part one, Context, Will outline the politics and military of the Late Republic. Part Two, Historic cases, will focus on Cicero‘s letters to friends and the senate and Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, which will be used as case studies to assess the relationship between Roman politics and the military. Part Three, Provincial Governing and the Roman Military, will examine the political obligations and power a provincial governor faced and how that linked with their military jurisdiction.

  1. Context


2.1   Roman Politics and constitution

The Roman political structure during the republic had been constitutional however its constitution was not formal. Rosenstein illustrates framework by defining the Roman constitution as: “the set of rules and principles, written or not, which defines what is permitted or forbidden within the established framework of sovereignty”.[1] Essentially, these frameworks were based on a long legacy of traditional customs. Like British constitutionalism, these customs were assimilated over a long period of time.[2] According to Rosenstein the Romans: “believed that their system had developed over generations through the accumulating wisdom of their ancestors, not through a single act of legislation” and that provides a firm basis when the Roman political system is looked at.[3] Roman constitutionalism was not based on a single document but on different voting assemblies which dealt with specific matters, for example the Comitia Centuriata dealt with military matters. Unlike modern constitutionalism, the process was largely un-institutional in the sense political position held multi-requirements that covered social, political and military boundaries.[4]

Roman politics and constitutionalism was a democratic process however there are many aspects which would be deemed ‘un-democratic’ today. This is because political system operated in a wider socio/economic context. Alexander Yakobson’s summarises this context by coining the term “iron Law of Oligarchy”, whereby political and military power was bestowed on wealthy aristocratic members of Roman society.[5] However, this was perceived as valuable to the Roman socio-economic order. These values are recognised today as patronage (support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another in return for favours)[6] and clientelism (A social order that depends upon relations of patronage; in particular, a political approach that emphasizes or exploits such relations),[7] which were used to create economic and social ties when institutions were absent.[8] These procedures created a way of communicating between different social classes however the process solely depended on the relationship between the patron and the client. For the client it meant social and economic stability. For the Patron, it increased their chances of acquiring wealth and without it, a Roman noble could find themselves socially naked.[9]

The late republican political system comprised of different magistrates. The highest elected was the consulship and two consuls were elected to make military, civil and legal legislation. They also had the power to veto each other which was a political mechanism that attempted to prevent autocratic rule and both consuls shared power. Consulate power was also limited to a yearly term but could be extended in circumstances such as war. As well as legislation, many of the obligations a consul faced were also based on traditional customs. For example consuls had to serve their term outside of Rome to gain practical experience however, towards the end of the republic, this was not enforced. The only position which was legally higher than the consuls was the censor who was responsible for maintaining the census and overseeing financial matters. Underneath the consuls were the praetors who were commanders, replacements when the consuls were absent and were delegated legal duties such as judicial cases. The Curus Aedile was responsible for the maintenance of buildings and public order. The lowest position was the junior magistrate the Quaestor who supervised financial affairs and was a starting point for politicians who wanted to start their careers. These formed the Cursus honorum (course of honors : succession of offices of increasing importance).[10]

Exceptional positions also existed in the Roman political system which magistrates were dependant on, being the Roman senate and the position of dictator. The Senate was a debating council which was an advisory body to the magistrates. Though senators were not executive magistrates, the magistrates participated in it and therefore the senate had an active political role. The political role of the senate also came from their corporate authority, such as the legionnaire’s wage, and could decide which provinces would be consulate provinces. These regulatory powers meant they it was politically necessary for the magistrates to listen to the senate.[11] The emergency position of dictator would temporarily be issued imperium in order to restore order in times of a crisis or rebellion.



       2.2 The Late Republican Roman Military

To outline the Roman military, it is important to underline what is meant by the military today. In its basic form, the military is defined as “Members, of an armed force”.[12] The definition implies that an organisational and hierarchal structure exists in times of war. The ambiguity of the term also means that it is a subjective, which is relative to specific historical periods or geographical locations. For example, the Ottoman military was largely based on a feudal organisation of and nobles, with a professional body of forced religious converts called the Janissaries. Therefore the military can also be a comment of the society they derive from.

Today’s idea of the military consists of a body of full time professional soldiers whose occupation is separate from the rest of society, which takes place in an industrial and post-industrial context. This is because the industrial revolution resulted in greater innovations to meet demands for supplies on the battlefield. These coinciding technological advances and European colonisation of the 19th century meant militaries became largely standardised. By putting the military into a framework, a referencing point has been formed which the Late Republican military can be compared to. Compared to today’s military, the Roman military differed according to legality, structure and logistics and these are the three categories which will be used.



Legality and discipline

The separation between society and the military today is dictated by a separation between military and civic law. However the soldier is still held accountable for both. When a citizen enlists in the military, they still subject to the regulations and laws that citizens abide by and additionally they abide by military law which incurs a greater amount of obligations, which universally regulates all personnel. The law can shift between civic or military depending on context, for example if a riot was to ensue soldiers would need to abide by civil laws when dealing with rioters and, if disproportionate force is used, they or their commander are liable to be judged in a civil court.[13] This is the relative basis which shows the military is dependent on the society it derives from, and that it develops over time. For example, British Military Law in times of peace did not developed until the first mutiny act of 1689 and before military law only existed in times of war.[14] Therefore the military is subordinate to the law of the land.

The legality of the Roman military differed extensively. In overview, this was an inter-related system for civil and military matters.[15] In order to join the Roman military, the main requirement was to be a free citizen, which constituted being a patrician (an aristocratic member of Roman society) or a plebeian (land owning Roman citizens) though the relationship between the two was not equal. Socially, the patricians viewed the plebeians to be an inferior class because of their inability to assert political influence.[16] However, through prolonged struggle, the plebians began to hold higher political and social positions and filled the positions of the diminishing Patricians.[17] Non-citizens, such as peregrini, were able to serve in the Roman military but as auxiliary troops who would be granted citizenship after their service.[18] However greater social mobility meant military authorities did not adhere to distinctions between citizen and non-citizen as these distinctions became increasingly blurred. In the late republic, the command of troops was based on the influence of powerful individuals.[19] This meant the military of Rome were shaped by its people and loyalty was regulated through traditional customs such as patronage. This is evident from the fact many politicians depended on clients rather than soldiers.[20] The idea of advancing through the social ladder could also be a motivation for many plebeians and many centurions retired with the title of equite and the right to sit on Rome’s judicial tribunals. In many ways, this showed that the Roman army was not bound by laws but by customs and gifts; embodied by short-lived pride.[21]

A similar case can be applied to discipline. In today’s society, discipline is largely based on non-physical punishment. In the late republic, punishment greatly varied and was applied in the empirical sense. Capital and corporal punishment was commonplace, which varied according to social standing. Roman of higher class birth and honestiores (more honourable) were legally exempt from punishment whereas ordinary legionnaires were perceived to not deserve this privilege. The purpose of punishment was to serve as a wider commentary about honour and social status. To discipline a legionary, in front of his peers, was to deny him his honour and lower his reputation. However the punishments that were dealt would be severe, such as decimation of a legion if it deserted.[22] Promotions were based on the actions of the person and rewarded with highly physical appearances and honours which were acted in front of the military as a motivation for other legionaries to aspire. For example heroes were presented with gifts, such as the military crown for those who were the first to climb the walls of enemy cities.[23] Therefore discipline and promotion, according to Sara Elise Phang, were relative, never fully rationalised and remained subject to the commander’s jurisdiction and personal whims.[24]



Structure and logistics

The structure of the Roman military commented on the structure of Roman society but the Marian reforms had re-structured it into an administrative system. Nevertheless, the social and political structure stayed the same and its evolution was reactive rather than proactive.[25] The patricians still formed the body of Roman cavalry (the equites) and ideologically this was based on factors such as wealth, political power and privileges.[26] The social standing of patricians meant they were able to lead Roman armies and this coincided with their educational backgrounds. Because politicians were obligated to command legions for reasons of prestige and legality, it was essential for these leaders to need military experience to enter a higher political office.

Compared to today’s military, the logistics of the Roman military differed entirely. The inability to mass mobilise supplies meant the supply of arms and food was limited to each campaign. Though armour and weapons were standardised, commodities, such as horses, were still being paid for by equites based on wealth. As was the case in ancient warfare, supplies came from ‘living off the land’ which consisted of pillaging and in times of stationing, legionaries would raise cattle to keep an adequate supply of food. Since the Roman military lacked today’s institutions for pay, wages were sometimes inadequate and corruption was always a problem because legionaries would extract money from provinces.[27] However when pay did come, it would be paid to the legions in coin. Personal wealth in the Roman military was agriculture which enabled governors to equip their own troops.[28] The Marian reforms rewarded legionaries by allocating land to veteran soldiers and this would be one of the factors which for Rome’s geographical expansion because politicians became motivated to give land suitable for retired legionaries.

Patronage was also a constant factor because legions increasingly began to align themselves to their military commanders, rather than Rome. This is because troops attributed their loyalty to commanders based on trust and experience, which was evident during the classical republican period. For example in the 2nd century BC, troops gave their trust to their tribunes who dealt with the majority of administrative matters. Even the commander of the allied and foreign troops (the praefecti sociorum) retained the position of tribunes and gained favour from the men underneath.[29]


     2.3 Provincial Governors in the Late Republic

It is important to emphasise that provisional governing depended on the size of the Roman Empire. When Julius Caesar was murdered, the number of provinces was fifteen but this grew as the Empire expanded under Augustus. By the time Trajan was emperor in AD 117, the number of provinces had increased to forty-seven. The increase in territory meant provincial governors were delegated more political power, which originated from the 4th Century BC when the republic faced a shortage of experienced commanders and began to give political figures military authority.[30]

A provincial governor’s occupation was complex because the position’s obligations and tasks cannot be categorised by modern standards. There were no clearly defined institutions that represented political individuals, like in the 19th century colonial era.[31] Therefore the position was very fluid because the provincial governor had to abide by Roman legislation but also had to use their own initiative in province they ruled. They also had to reside with other delegates, who were appointed by the senate, which could use their positions to cause political conflicts.[32] A good example is the Publicanus who were privately hired citizens that collected taxes and the provincial governor could allocate a percentage of tax that they could keep.[33] If seen to be unjust, the publicanus could use legislation to charge provincial governors on legal grounds such as corruption, if they were disliked. This illustrated the precarious situation provincial governors found themselves in if they did not moderately balance their power and relationships with the people underneath them.

Regulation in the provinces also took form in how the Roman legal system operated culturally. For example pre-existing urban cities already existed in the Hellenic East and therefore had some form of autonomous status. In the West, urban self governance did not exist before Roman colonisation, most communities were tribal and therefore lacked any special status.[34] Provinces also categorised its inhabitants according to different social classes which fundamentally boiled down to four categories: Roman citizens, Latini (free non-citizens), peregrini (free men who were not Roman citizens) and slaves. These different types of social classes determined how the provinces were ruled because Roman rule fundamentally depended on cultural domination over un-Roman or un-Hellenised people.[35] This mentality of superiority is summarised by Andrew Lintott who states: Such was what the Romans termed a foedus aequum, a reciprocal agreement in which the contracting parties appeared to be on the same level, even if the interests of the greater power, Rome, would tend to prevail”.[36]


Diplomacy also played a key role in the provinces, especially on the frontiers. This is especially seen with the republic’s relationship with client states, which can be summarised as pragmatically applied.[37]As mentioned before, this depended on the geographical location, for example the Western areas relied on Roman rule but the Urban Hellenic East ruled semi-autonomously (though were regulated by Roman figures).[38] The rule of the client king’s could also be specifically engineered by Rome in order to keep good relations with the republic. A good example is King Herod of Judea who granted the title of Philo-Roman for his assimilation of Roman and Hellenic culture. Monarchs like these were specifically chosen from neutral political backgrounds, so there was a lack of political rivalry. Cicero’s letter to his friends and the senate outline this practice: “And I have been all the more studious to inform you because I believe I have seen in King Ariobarzanes such evidence of character, intelligence, loyalty and good will towards you as appear to justify the care and concern you have lavished upon his welfare”.[39]



  1. Historical Cases


     3.1 Cicero and Cicero’s letters

Marcus Tullius Cicero was the epitome of ideal Roman politician. In his life (from 106 B.C to 43 B.C) he was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, constitutionalist and one of the greatest orators and prose stylists in Roman history. He was also the first man of his family to be elected to a magisterial office in Rome; something which was unprecedented at the time which meant he became revered as Homo Novus. He sought a political career in the Cursus Honorum and it paved the way for an aspiring political career because he was regarded as one of the youngest males to do so; and did so in the time span of twelve years. His political career also obligated him to have military experience because it included at ten year military service into as an equite, during the social wars, from 91 BC to 88 BC, which would be needed if military situations were ever to arise again. The link between military and political positions Cicero experienced can also be seen from his legal career afterwards. For example he defended Sextus Roscius for an account of patricide and in 80 BC he travelled to Athens and accused Lucius Cornelius Chrysogonus, whom Sulla put in charge of proscriptions and corruption.

The main primary sources that represent Cicero’s role as provincial governor are his political letters to his brother Quintus, friends and the senate during his provincial governorship in Cilicia. Cicero’s letters were express the ideals of Roman governance and his fears of Parthia invading Cilicia; his requests for military support and his political protection of the Cappadocian client-king Ariobazanes Eusebes, who fears that his family members are conspiring to overthrow him. His letters are orientated towards providing a picture of the situation that was unfolding in Cilicia and attempting to gain political assistance.


In order to gain an understanding of Cicero’s letters, it is important to comprehend Cicero’s writing style as well as the context of his writings. Cicero’s writing style is in many ways the epitome of Roman rhetoric because it took a precautionary style; to not be used as a political tool by opposing Roman politicians. The emphasis is on Cicero’s ability to encompass the events surrounding himself, whether they are the most trivial or determining points.[40] Understanding Roman oratory is arduous, however for the purpose of this dissertation the key aspects of Cicero’s writings will be outlined; which requires some understanding of his philosophical writings. Cicero’s writings can be embodied by his search for Otium, or leisure, in the sense of pursuing a Roman life which relished maintaining a political status (by the quality of favour from others) to ensure his writings represented his historical importance; as writers, such as Plato, had also established themselves. Cicero strove to cite his account like that of previous Greek Scholars by attempting to fill the gap of their legacies.[41]

In his Letters to friends and the senate, his philosophical ideal was applied to the political situation of the time and is foreshadowed by his exile due to the execution of four conspirators of Cataline under his consulship. It also coincides with his fear of a Roman dictatorship from the Triumvirate of Caesar, Pompey and Crassus, though Cicero seems to have politically sided with Pompey out of the preservation of the republic. During this time, there is an imagining of Cicero’s public image by the potency of his writings. During his provincial governorship in Cilicia in 51 BC, there is an emphasis on narrating for the sake of narrating and a distinction on how Cicero views himself compared to the reality of events which unfold around him. For example, Cicero’s letters to his brother Quintus from 60 BC to 59 BC are far more concerned with his own relationship with Pompey and Caesar.[42] His work therefore is often affiliated to his own subjective points of emotional writing and this is necessary in understanding his deep political alignings.

Cicero’s writings can be shown in the way he dilutes the distinction between fact and fiction. The mentality of Cicero was that one should neither venture to say anything false but, at the same time, fail to venture to say anything true.[43] This is understandable because the inadequate means of establishing reliable sources and records meant accuracy was determined by the potency of one’s language; the distinction between right and wrong was not as relevant as today’s world and this ethos surrounds Cicero. In Cicero’s letter to his brother Quintus, he tries to advice the principle that his brother must rule with all efficiency, moderation and a greater stoic personality; contrary to the overwhelming long serving experience Quintus held as provincial governor.[44] The example displays a sense of Cicero altering the reality of Quintus experience and altering reality to suffice his own ideals. Ergo the purpose of Cicero’s rhetoric was to observe reality and inductively make it relative to his own logic.

Nevertheless, unlike the Roman political writings of the time, which emphasised formality, many of Cicero’s works are largely informal in their nature. In his letters, the intention is to make his work self-verifying by making the rationale speak for itself. For example, in a letter to the Senate, Cicero’s advises that his protection of King Ariabarzanes was almost accidental to illustrate the fortunate nature of his governing. His style envisioned distributing his political writings for all people to view, for political support, (the letters to the senate) which differed from his personal emotive letters (the letters to Quintus). Much of this is summarised in Cicero’s philosophical writing, res publica which emphasises the virtuous idea of Roman constitutionalism; similar to the constitutional debates in Plato’s the republic. Much of it emphasises the higher obligations of the person, in comparison with the community and the application of stoic thought by applying law to all people at all times.[45]



3.2 Cicero’s letters and relating to Cicero’s role in provincial governing

Cicero’s letters, during his provincial governing highlight his ideals of Roman politics. The Letters to Quintus had illustrated Cicero’s motives in creating an ideal figure, which the Greeks would relate to as self-controlled to reflect their previous veneration of Hellenic Kings.[46] This also coincided with his ideals of de republica where he is informative of his military and diplomatic actions in the name of the community.[47] However this emphasises the idealistic bubble that Cicero inhabits. For example, in his letters to the senate, he expresses his concerns about the subjects who are under his jurisdiction when he arrived in Tarus and the political enemies that may exist; however Cicero fails to give an adequate level of detail, such as the legal cases that would have occurred under his rule.[48] Many of the other details are cases which emphasise Cicero’s fears rather than concerns about the wellbeing of Rome’s allied king. In his letters to the senate, he expresses his intention to gain more cohorts to defend Cilicia against the Parthian threat, which were speculated.[49] It was not in reaction to any detail of any tangible threat.

Cicero’s provincial governing orientated around military matters. Caesar had waged military conquest for political prestige but Cicero had to used military assets in situations where it was necessary to protect the frontiers of the Roman Republic.[50] He viewed that military action was motivated by casus belli, which is supported by the fact Cicero was never a military enthusiast. Though Cicero had been given imperium, he had no enthusiasm for the task and this also coincided with his frustration at being away from Rome’s political centre of events. In fact, the only reason he had been appointed as provincial governor was because those who never administered a province were obliged to take the position, which Cicero had to fill.[51] Thus the military position of Cicero as a provincial governor had been a legal obligation but it also illustrates the fact Cicero had military experience and used that experience when necessary.

The weight of military responsibilities Cicero faced, as a provincial governor, should not be understated. Sherwin White creates this emphasis by stating Cicero was responsible for the internal security of the region but also of the Cappadocian Kingdom, which was in the hands of an inexperienced Client king.[52] This responsibility coincided with the units that Cicero oversaw which consisted of a garrison of two depleted legions, supported by inadequately trained auxiliary units. It took Cicero’s appeal to the senate and magistrates, with the excuse that Rome’s economic assets in the East were in jeopardy, in order to gain some form of military support in the form of fully trained and equipped cohorts.[53] The idea of appealing to Rome showed that, although Cicero’s authority did contain imperium, it was nothing without logistical support. The underlying urgency in Cicero’s letter to the senate outlines this logistical need:The present situation is this: Unless you send to these provinces without loss of time a grand army… there is the gravest risk that all the provinces on which the revenues of Rome depend may have to be given up”.[54] Imperium was limited to the logistical assets available in the province and Rome could easily leave a provincial governor to their own devices. Therefore experienced military governors, such as Cicero, were essential because military experience could be used as a means of political control and this enabled him to successfully wage a military campaign in Anatolia against the Parthians.

Cicero’s role in diplomacy also illustrated that the military was an integral part of his job as provincial governor. For example Cicero quotes the Galatian King Deiotarus as a faithful ally because he trusted Cicero with military units; doubled the amount of troops available to Cicero and carried the title Philoromaios with full respect. At the time, client kings would prove to be valuable assets in experience and resources;[55] This would come in handy, especially for Cicero who had no military experience since the time of the Social Wars and because the Cappadocian territory formed an area of space where Cicero could manoeuvre his soldiers logistically.[56]

Provincial governorship and command of Roman and non-Roman soldiers also illustrated Cicero’s political power. Cicero’s concerns about King Ariobarzanes and the inter-domestic rivalry in the Cappadocian royal family meant there was always a possibility the king would be overthrown and Cicero’s influence would prevent that. This is expressed in Cicero’s letter to the senate and the magistrates: ”I had your resolution charging me to take good care of King Ariobazanes Eusebus and Philo-rhomaeus to defend his welfare security and throne, and to protect king and kingdom”.[57]Cicero’s obligation was to use the Roman garrison at his disposal in order to keep Ariobazanes Eusebus in power. In other words, command of the Roman military coincided with the necessities that the Roman frontiers called for; it meant that provincial governors were able to assert political power based on the amount of troops they commanded. In cases like Cicero’s, the men under his command would be loyal to him rather than Rome and Client kings would diplomatically look to him for support.



     3.3 Julius Caesar and The Gallic Wars

Gaius Julius Caesar had been Roman general, statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose but, unlike Cicero, he came from a long standing aristocratic background. His family (Jens Julia) was a traditional family which would provide the foundations for a prestigious career since it was one of the longest serving patrician family’s that pre-dated the late republic. In many respects, he too embedded the Roman idea of a politician because he linked military and political roles together. From 100 B.C. to 44 B.C, he held a variety of different governmental positions which also gave him military experience. In his early career, Caesar served under Marcus Minucius Thermus, the provincial governor of Asia and Servilius Isauricus, the provincial governor of Cilicia, which provided the political and military experience he needed. His stationing in Asia, where he repelled an attack by Pontus with auxiliaries, enabled him to be elected as military tribune. Military tribune enabled him to move on the first political steps on the Cursus Honorum like Cicero. As aedile he brought allegations against the officials who had benefitted from Sulla’s proscriptions, many having key military roles. After praetor he was appointed to govern Hispania Ulterior and conquered the tribes of the Callaici and Lusitani in 59 B.C and was hailed imperator by his troops. All these cases show an intertwined nature between the political and military authority and would form the basis for his conquest and governing of Gaul.

Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars is far more ambiguous than the political rhetoric of Cicero’s letters. His work centres on his conquest of Gaul and his justification to protect Rome from the so called ‘barbarian’ Celtic tribes. The main reason for Caesar’s ambiguity is his political and personal agendas are not clear. His work is one of the only written accounts he produced and this creates a range of methodical factors which will be detailed in this section.

It is important to understand the context of when the Gallic Wars was written and finished. As Caesar conquered Gaul, he adapted his writing to the rhetoric of the time and was more along the lines of ‘instant feedback’ than a request.[58] The dynamic politics of Late Roman Republicanism and the First Triumvirate had created a power relationship whereby Julius Caesar was able to pursue the conquest of Gaul to advance his political prestige. However his work in 58 B.C (the start of the Gallic wars) differed to that of 50 B.C (the war’s end). The beginning of the conquest had pushed this political prestige further but any military endeavour was likely to destroy his political career as it was to increase it. However by 50 B.C, manipulation was in the art form of cautious oratory; as was with Cicero. The text cannot just be analysed as merely a political writing. It needs to be seen as Caesar’s own expressionism which took form in a verbal and written context. Since the Roman perception of rhetoric was to be performed to an audience, the often written and non-written would be intertwined and, in the time of the late Republic, the changing nature of Roman politics meant Caesar could not outright fabricate his personal accounts and this coincides with the growing difficulty of Caesar’s career towards 51 B.C. as, by Roman law, his acts were becoming seen as less justifiable in the eyes of the senate.

The Gallic Wars is a text which essentially highlights a contradiction in logic: it strides to provide an account in Roman Stoic thought but is embellished with the personal testimony of Caesar’s accounts. He needed to use the entire verbal and written skills that were available to him to appeal to people and he strode to use a personal account to influence those who did not already have hard-set political views. Thus the purpose of the text was to sway intellectuals and aristocrats who Caesar knew would take an undecided and pragmatic position.[59] It also suggests that Caesar’s writings are themselves pragmatic as he would need to adapt and alter his work to suit his audience as the conquest of Gaul changed over time. For example, in the context of fighting the Nervii in 57 BC, Caesar writes in Book 2 that he wipes out the tribe but in 51 BC, in Book 5, the Nervii altogether number sixty thousand.[60] Also among Books 1 and 2 there is a pre-assumption that the tactics of Gallic tribes are repetitive in warfare but in Book 3 Caesar alters his claim that the tactics employed varied, which as a result promoted Caesar’s ingenuity as a military in varying circumstances.[61] This example shows Caesar’s method of modifying his previous claims to justify any changing circumstances to glorify his own actions.

The constant ability of Caesar to change his writings, and the fact his work was not one compiled text but a series, further implies the nature of Caesar’s opinions in military and political matters. Caesar’s description of Gaul as a disunited 3 tribes rather than a homogeneous force in Book 1 indicates Caesar’s ability to play each tribe off one another and illustrate his contribution to a greater military victory.[62] The ability to utilise his own account, from his political position, meant Caesar was able to manipulate his self-advertisement. As the position of consul suited his style of oratory and literary style, he was able to regulate when his works could be produced. It is true Caesar did not entrust the final production of his work to any other colleagues and he waited for the end of his period of office/ provincial sovereignty to publish them.[63] This specific publishing strategy enabled Caesar to justifiably proclaim himself as Roman Imperator and therefore placed less emphasis on the role of other political figures who were given more trivial roles. For example, in book one, Titus is the only named Legate,[64] and other figures, such as Publicus Crassus, a prefect of the equites, are only minimally mentioned.[65] The purpose of this method was to integrate the effort of the Roman army in the overall context of Caesar’s greatness.[66] The end result was a text that portrayed Caesar’s achievements as a product of providence, which would immerse appeal to popular memories and audiences of intellectual and political Romans (whose support he depended on).



     3.4 The Gallic Wars and relating it to Julius Caesar’s role in provincial governing

The problems that The Gallic Wars produced are basic but essential to understanding the military obligation of Caesar’s governing. The largest danger the text poses is it’s culturally bias because it illustrates the ‘barbarian’ other as well as Caesar’s personal prejudices. The text shows his political naivety, whilst engineering harsh military justifications as answers to often complex ethical dilemmas. In many cases, Caesar appealed to the self-pity of common Romans killing Gauls and did it to ensure that Roman moral standings were justified by his account of events, such as massacres. For example in Book 3, it was Caesar’s military absence that created the possibility of Gallic rebellions and it was his tactical genius that subsequently led them to being crushed as a result.[67] The creativity of Caesar’s literary and rhetorical skills made it possible for him to justify a range of Casus Belli by presenting situations that only he could solve. For example, he considers both the Celtic and Germanic tribes to be lesser fighters than Roman soldiers, links their inferiority with a lack of tactical variation and often puts the blame of military incompetence to his petty officers.[68] Stigmatisation also coincides with Caesar giving important oppositions to auxiliary soldiers and barbarian aristocrats if they showed ideals of Roman goodwill.[69]

As a primary source Caesar links military and political responsibilities as provincial governor and in all cases he considers both to be the same. In this specific case, The Gallic Wars was used as a means of promoting Caesar’s career by illustrating that taking a military role was Caesar’s choice, rather than a necessity in the case of Cicero. In Caesar’s career, military campaigns could be conducted as a means of gaining prestige, wealth and greater political influence. In this case he used the fear that the Gallic tribes would ransack Italy; his motive being to pay back the debt to his creditors as well as having the potential to raise legions and gain victories and rival Pompey.[70] Political campaigns would cost a fortune and so this would be paid back in the spoils of foreign wars.[71]


Like Cicero, Julius Caesar’s military responsibility was vital to political goals. However what differs from Cicero is Julius Caesar’s conquest was a personal ambition to expand Rome’s frontiers. His proconsulship in Spain shows this common theme of Caesar attempting to carve his own political destiny: “Many of the characteristics he would later display during his governorship in Gaul were already in evidence during his time is western Spain and Portugal…Caesar showed the same energy in administration that he had shown on the battlefield.”[72] The easy access to these military assets, due to his political standing, meant he was able to gain resources from other politicians such as Crassus. The political influence implies imperium was relative, based on the amount of resources and military assets a provincial governor could acquire and, in the case of Caesar, this was through political patron-client relations.

Caesar’s position implies a cyclical relation between the military and politics; being provincial governor stereotyped his opportunity to gain control politically through the Roman military. The positioning of four legions in the provinces of Illyricum and Cisalpine Gaul enabled him to gain the basis of a major recruitment centre.[73] Lawrence Keppie illustrates that in nine years Caesar had increased his army from four to twelve legions which consisted of long-serving legionaries, each legion having strength of about 5000 men. The conquest of Gaul meant that from 58 BC to 50 BC Julius Caesar had a large standing army of military personnel that far outweighed the experience or numbers his co-consul Pompey could muster.[74] The conquest of Gaul underlined how, through military action, a provincial governor could effectively gain popularity with the Roman people and assert influence in the Roman political arena.[75] In the end, the amount of logistical and military support from the imperium Caesar was delegated culminated in his crossing of the river Rubicon and his march on Rome. It showed if a provincial governor had enough power, they could de facto step out of the bounds of their own legal power.[76]



  1. Provincial governing and the Roman Military


4.1 Provincial Governors and the Roman Military: an assessment

The Roman military was essential in shaping the identity of provincial governors and it is evident that both aspects were inextricably inter-related.[77] For example, in most cases, many of the provincial governors were Praetors and this position was especially important in overseeing both the province and the Roman military; as illustrated by Corey Brennan: “the magistracy expected to cope most readily with the developments in the Roman attitude toward administration, warfare, law and empire”.[78] It also coincided with an increase in their numbers to cope with the workload the Republic demanded geographically.[79] As the Roman Republic expanded its boarders the need for experienced military personnel also expanded; therefore the responsibility of pro-consuls arose out of a shortage of delegates and ‘pro-consul’ became a blanket term for a Roman Governor who served in a Roman province and who was delegated legislative power.[80]

The hands of Roman power were legally given to provincial governors and were often determined by imperium. Eric Cline provides an explanation for the responsibilities of provincial governors which would often be a combination of formal and informal mechanisms which widely determined how power was distributed.[81] As indicated during Pompey’s naval campaign against pirates in the Aegean Sea, he was given the authority to commandeer supplies of: 6000 talents, 120,000 troops, 500 ships and the right to appoint twenty-four legates to deputy commanders.[82] The result was provincial governors such as Caesar, were trusted, by the senate, with larger resources based on their military experience, such as in the pacification of Hispania.[83] This enabled military figures to be more eligible for provincial governing.

Military experience could also dictate how provincial governors could determine their own political fate. For governors such as Crassus or Pompey, war provided the opportunity to acquire a fortune and that influenced the politics in Rome. According to Nathan Rosenstein: “war was a consul’s primary road to riches seems beyond question”.[84] Crassus was the wealthiest man in Rome and was one of the few individuals in the republic who had effectively bought his position because of his influence politically.[85] Even though military authority was the same for each provincial governor, de facto power lay in the imperium of provincial governors who were allocated the most resources and military assets, which they would spend and increase their power more. In cases, such as Verres in Sicily, rising politicians borrowed huge sums of money with realistic expectations that they could pay it back, which usually came out of exploiting the provincial population.[86] Since long term planning and budget were non-existent, the power of creating taxes also created the possibility of governors to solve the problem of cash flow.[87] This represents a cyclical process whereby militarily experienced officials were more eligible to be provincial governors and, in turn, manipulated the Roman political process. Figures such as Julius Caesar, having imperium enabled him to gain resources during the Gallic Wars and exercised his power by using taxes to raise legions, as well as a growing sense of unity between Caesar and his legions.[88] The power also enabled him to exert political influence by using these legions to secure a range of political supporters.[89]

The different degrees of military power testified to how important the roles of provincial governor were in the Late Republic and how their roles could be expanded to encompass a full time military position than governing such as in the case when Caesar was delegated naval architects, ship wrights and naval personnel, by the senate, to combat Gallic pirates.[90] In Cicero’s letters to the Senate, Cicero comments how he’s governorship enabled him to acquire material support, and auxiliary units from King Deiotarus which he used to repel a Parthian invasion of Cilicia.[91] It can also be illustrated by Cicero’s presence in Cilicia where a lot of the intelligence militarily was based on his own judgement and power, rather than Rome’s, and the service of allied scouts.[92] Once provincial governors were given the responsibility to commit military action in expanding or defending the frontier, the allocated resources and authority was vast. The professional nature of the Roman legion meant long term morale and increasing indifference to Rome enemies and thus was a valuable asset to have for any provincial governor wanting to assert their political authority, for example Caesar managed to gain political favouring by creating a personal horse guard which arose out of experience and payment.[93] An increase commands to deal with specific problems, such as Octavian’s creation of provinces which were militarily necessary after the civil war, also meant an intricate link between Republic and Empire as Rome became an ever increasing geographical power.[94]



       4.2 The role of the Roman military in assisting provincial rule

It is useful to understand the Roman military and its role to gain a more contextual perspective. Since the military power of provincial governors was based on the backbone of seasoned troops, it is only necessary that provincial governors would be dependent on these troops to establish Roman legitimacy.[95] Reliance on the Roman military coincided with necessity of the army to have other skills such as experience in various kinds of terrain.[96] The knowledge of military personnel meant provincial governors depended on these people. Wilkes maintains a good percentage of auxiliaries came from their home provinces and contributed to building infrastructure.[97] Education in the Roman Army also proved to be a valuable asset because education was a highly regarded value at all levels of society; the Roman army depended on a high degree of competence and literacy from officers.[98] The Roman army had an important part in non-military roles because of its ability to regulate services in the provinces; especially when authority from Rome was absent.

Recruitment also plays a large part in illustrating the authority of provincial governors. Little primary evidence exists; however since provincial governing changed little during the Late Republic and Empire, it is reasonable to assess that Imperial governors would have held similar experiences. Pliny the younger’s letters to the Emperor Trajan from 111-113 AD illustrates this case however the emperor’s judgement had replaced Roman legislation and provincial governors had to balance this authority with theirs. In the case of Pliny, he dispatches two equites and six armed men to escort procurator Maximus to collect grain.[99] It suggests that recruitment and allocation became largely part of a wider context but was expected to operate independently from central Roman authority. Authority fell to the provincial governor however the way the authority was conducted was contextualised as a military compromise between Roman legislation and the decisions of the provincial governor. Since Pliny is ruling over one of the Urban Hellenic provinces, not only were recruits given the Roman system on enlistment but most of the enlistments were Romans who had settled in the provinces by heritage.[100] The case of the recruitment process indicates geographical separation in terms of method and illustrates if in the right province, a provincial governor was able to recruit a large number of soldiers using imperium in the republican period.



  1. Conclusion

The role of provincial governor militarily formed a solid basis in Roman politics. This is because the imperium of the provincial governor formed a de facto power which enabled them to be delegated independent military power. If the provincial governor was in a situation where he could acquire the resources, it would be a means of gaining political influence. This underlines a key theme in Roman politics. There were a small number of men who were able to command large professional military groups and who could influence Roman politics more directly as a result. It is this theme which eventually leads to Caesar seizing power in Rome by forcibly marching on it. Military authority of the provincial governor was specialised to the point where it played a vital role in the way provincial governors operated as the Rome away from Rome and were the product of a long line of governors who fully immersed themselves in the Roman military.



[1]Nathan Rosenstein and Robert Morstein-Marx, A Companion to the Roman Republic, (London: John Wiley and Sons, 2010). p. 256

[2] Karl Loewenstein, The Governance of Rome, (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1973). p. 42

[3] p. 257

[4] Clifford Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire, (California: University of California Press Ltd, 2000). p. 19

[5] p. 386

[6] George A. Miller. 2012. The Definition of Patronage [online]. New Jersey: Princeton University [Cited 2nd November 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn).

[7] Farlex. 2012. The Definition of Clientelism [Online]. Huntington Valley [Cited 2nd November 2012]. Available from World Wide Web (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Clientalism)

[8] Brenda Longfellow, Roman Imperialism and Civic Patronage, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011). p. 5

[9] Wallace Handrill, “Patronage in Roman Society: From Republic to Empire” in Patronage in Ancient Society, ed. Wallace Handril, (New York: Routledge, 1989), p. 65

[10] Noah Webster. 2012. Definition of Cursus Honorum [online]. Massachusetts, Springfield [Cited 14th November 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cursus%20honorum)

[11] Pat Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, (California: ABC- CLIO Inc, 2006). p. 61

[12] Farlex. 2012. The Definition of Military [Online]. Huntington Valley [Cited 7th January 2013]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/military)

[13] A.V. Dicey. Introduction to the Study of The Law of the Constitution, ed. (Liberty Fund: Indianapolis, 1982). p. 195

[14] British War Office, Manual of Military Law, (London: War Office, 1929/1939). p. 8

[15] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 77


[16] Erich S. Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, (California: University of California Press, 1974). p. 358

[17] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 51

[18] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 71

[19] Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, 371

[20] Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, 377

[21] Rosenstein et al, A Companion to the Roman Republic, 294

[22] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 147

[23] p. 151

[24] Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic, 150

[25] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 245

[26] Sara Elise Phang, Roman Military Service: Ideologies of Discipline in the Late Republic and Earl Participate, (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2008). p. 13

[27] pp. 172- 174

[28] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 70

[29] Michael Dobson, The Army of the Roman Republic: The Second Century BC, Polybius and the Camps at Numantia, Spain, (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2008). p. 53

[30] Rosenstein et al, A Companion to the Roman Republic, 408

[31] Andrew Lintott, Imperium Romanum: Politics and Administration, (New York: Routledge, 1993). p. 24

[32] E. Badian, Publicans and Sinners: Private Enterprise in the Service of the Roman Republic, (Dunedin: John McIndoe Ltd, 1972). p. 95

[33] Rosenstein, Nathan. And Morstein- Marx, Robert. p. 410

[34] pp. 36-40

[35] David Bederman, International Law in Antiquity, (Cambeidge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). p. 45

[36]pp. 16-17

[37] W.T. Arnold, The Roman System of Provincial Administration to the Accession of Constantine the Great, (Oxford: Simpkin, Marshall & Co. Limited, 1903). p. 12

[38] Lintott, Imperium Romanum: Politics and Administration, 21

[39] CLF. 105, XV.2.

[40] Andrew Lintott, Cicero as Evidence: A Historian’s Companion, (New York: Oxford university Press, 2008). p. 3

[41] P. 216

[42] CLQ. 1.2

[43] Lintott, Cicero as Evidence: A Historian’s Companion, 3

[44] CLQ. II.9

[45] Lintott, Cicero as Evidence: A Historian’s Companion, 233

[46] p. 254

[47] p. 234

[48] CLF. 104, XV.1

[49] CLF. 105 XV.2

[50] Richard Sullivan, Near Eastern Royalty and Rome 100- 30 BC, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990). p. 189

[51] Magnus Wistrand, Cicero Imperator: Studies in Cicero’s correspondence 51-47 B.C, (Sweden: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1979). pp. 3-4

[52] Sherwin- White, A.N, Roman Foreign Policy in the East, ( London: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd, 1984). p. 291

[53] p. 294

[54] CLF. 105, XV.2

[55] Stephen Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor. Volume I: The Celts in Anatolia and the Impact of Roman Rule, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). p. 34

[56] Sullivan, Near Eastern Royalty and Rome 100- 30 BC, 175-176

[57] CLF. 105 (xv.2)

[58] Kathryn Welch and Anton Powell. Julius Caesar as Artful Reporter, ed. (Swansea: The Classical Press of Wales, 1998). P. X

[59] David McLintock, Caesar, (London: Fontana, 1995). p. 253

[60] Welch, Julius Caesar as Artful Reporter, 2

[61] JCGW. Book Three. 28

[62] JCGW. Book One. 1.1

[63] Welch, Julius Caesar as Artful Reporter, 86

[64] JCGW. Book One. 1.10

[65] JCGW. Book One, 1.52

[66] Rice Holmes, Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul: An Historical Narrative, Ed. (University Of California: Macmilan, and Company Ltd, 1911). p. 228

[67] JCGW. Book 3, 29

[68] Holmes, Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul: An Historical Narrative, 24

[69] p. 101

[70] Nic Fields, Warlords of Republican Rome: Caesar versus Pompey, (Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2008). pp. 110-111

[71] Richard A. Billows, Julius Caesar: The Colossus of Rome. (New York: Routledge, 2009). p. 111

[72] Michael M. Sage, Roman Conquests: Gaul, (Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2011). p. 24

[73] p. 25

[74] Lawrence Keppie, The Making of the Roman Army: From Republic to Empire, ed. (London: Routledge, 1998) p. 99

[75] QST. P. 21

[76] QST. Pp. 23-24

[77] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 44

[78]Correy Brennan, The Praetorship in the Roman Republic: Volume I, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000). p. 3

[79] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 65

[80]Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire, 313

[81] Eric Cline and Mark Graham, Ancient Empires: From Mesopotamia to the Rise of Islam, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011). p. 246

[82] Michael Pitassi, Navies of Rome. (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2009). p. 156

[83] Peter Greenhalgh, Pompey: The Republican Prince, (London: George Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd, 1981). p. 59

[84] Hans Beck et al. Consuls and Res Publica: Holding High Office in the Roman Republic, ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).p. 133

[85] William Smith and Leonard Schmitz, The History of Rome by B.G. Niebuhr: Volume Third, (Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard, 1908). p. 23

[86] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 55

[87] p. 71

[88] p. 150

[89] Arthur Keaveney, The army in the Roman Revolution, (New York: Routledge, 2007). p. 43

[90] Pitassi, Navies of Rome, 160

[91] CLF. 105. XV.2

[92] Rose Mary Sheldon, Rome’s Wars in Parthia: Blood in the Sand, (Middlesex: Vallentine Mitchell, 2010). p. 51

[93] Michael P. Speidel, Riding for Caesar: The Roman Emperors’ horse Guards, (London: B T Batsford Ltd, 1994). p. 12

[94] Southern, The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, 57

[95]Rosenstein et al, A Companion to the Roman Republic, 293

[96]L. De Blois, The Roman Army and Politics in the First Century B.C, (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 1987). p. 13

[97] p. 5

[98]Denis Saddington, “Paaideia, Politeia and hegemonia”,in Literature, Art, History: Studies on Classical Antiquity and Tradition. In honour of W.J. Henderson, ed. A.F. Basson and W.J. Doninik. (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2003). p. 324

[99] PLT. Book X, 27

[100] A.N. Sherwin White, The Letters of Pliny: A Historical and Social Commentary, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966). pp. 601- 602










Modern Scholarship


A. Billows, Richard. Julius Caesar: The Colossus of Rome. (New York: Routledge, 2009.)


Ando, Clifford. Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire. (California: University of California Press Ltd, 2000.)


Andrew Lintott, Cicero as Evidence: A Historian’s Companion, (New York: Oxford university Press, 2008.)


Arnold, W.T. The Roman System of Provincial Administration to the Accession of Constantine the Great. (Oxford: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., Limited, 1903.)


A.V. Dicey. Introduction to the Study of The Law of the Constitution, ed. (Liberty Fund: Indianapolis, 1982.)


Beck, Hans., Dupla, Antonio., Jehne, Martin., Polo., Francisco. Consuls and Res Publica: Holding High Office in the Roman Republic, ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.)


Bederman, David. International Law in Antiquity. (Cambeidge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.)


Brennan, Correy, The Praetorship in the Roman Republic: Volume I, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.)


British War Office. Manual of Military Law. (London: War Office, 1929/1939.)


Cline, Eric and Graham, Mark. Ancient Empires: From Mesopotamia to the Rise of Islam, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.)


Dobson, Michael. The Army of the Roman Republic: The Second Century BC, Polybius and the Camps at Numantia, Spain. (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2008.)


E. Badian, Publicans and Sinners: Private Enterprise in the Service of the Roman Republic. (Dunedin: John McIndoe Ltd, 1972.)


Elise Phang, Sara. Roman Military Service: Ideologies of Discipline in the Late Republic and Earl Participate. (Cambridge:Cambridge University Press, 2008.)


Fields, Nic. Warlords of Republican Rome: Caesar versus Pompey. (Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2008.)


Greenhalgh, Peter. Pompey: The Republican Prince. (London: George Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd, 1981.)


Handrill, Wallace. “Patronage in Roman Society: From Republic to Empire” in Patronage in Ancient Society, ed. Wallace Handril, (New York: Routledge, 1989)


Holmes, Rice. Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul: An Historical Narrative, Ed. (University Of California: Macmilan, and Company Ltd, 1911.)


Keaveney, Arthur. The army in the Roman Revolution. (New York: Routledge, 2007.)


Keppie, Lawrence. The Making of the Roman Army: From Republic to Empire, ed. (London: Routledge, 1998.)


L. De Blois. The Roman Army and Politics in the First Century B.C. (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben, 1987.)


Lintott, Andrew. Imperium Romanum: Politics and Administration. (New York: Routledge, 1993.)


Loewenstein, Karl. The Governance of Rome. (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1973.)


Longfellow, Brenda. Roman Imperialism and Civic Patronage. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.)


Mary Sheldon, Rose. Rome’s Wars in Parthia: Blood in the Sand. (Middlesex: Vallentine Mitchell, 2010.)


McLintock, David. Caesar. (London: Fontana, 1995.)


Mitchell, Stephen. Anatolia: Land, Men and Gods in Asia Minor. Volume I: The Celts in Anatolia and the Impact of Roman Rule. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.)


M. Sage, Michael. Roman Conquests: Gaul. (Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2011.)


Pitassi, Michael. Navies of Rome. (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2009.)


P. Speidel, Michael. Riding for Caesar: The Roman Emperors’ horse Guards, (London: B T Batsford Ltd, 1994.)


Rosenstein, Nathan and Morstein-Marx, Robert. A Companion to the Roman Republic. (London: John Wiley and Sons, 2010.)


Saddington, Denis. “Paaideia, Politeia and hegemonia”,in Literature, Art, History: Studies on Classical Antiquity and Tradition. In honour of W.J. Henderson, ed. A.F. Basson and W.J. Doninik. (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2003.)


S. Gruen, Erich. The Last Generation of the Roman Republic. (California: University of California Press, 1974.)


Sherwin- White, A.N. Roman Foreign Policy in the East. (London: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd, 1984.)


Smith, William and Schmitz, Leonard. The History of Rome by B.G. Niebuhr: Volume Third. (Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard, 1908)


Southern, Pat. The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History. (California: ABC- CLIO Inc, 2006.)


Sullivan, Richard. Near Eastern Royalty and Rome 100- 30 BC, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.)


Welch, Kathryn and Powell, Anton. Julius Caesar as Artful Reporter, ed. (Swansea: The Classical Press of Wales, 1998.)


White, A.N. Sherwin. The Letters of Pliny: A Historical and Social Commentary. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966.)


Wistrand, Magnus. Cicero Imperator: Studies in Cicero’s correspondence 51-47 B.C. (Sweden: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1979.)


Web citations

George A. Miller. 2012. The Definition of Patronage [online]. New Jersey: Princeton University [Cited 2nd November 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)


Farlex. 2012. The Definition of Clientelism [Online]. Huntington Valley [Cited 2nd November 2012]. Available from World Wide Web (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Clientalism)


Noah Webster. 2012. Definition of Cursus Honorum [online]. Massachusetts, Springfield [Cited 14th November 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cursus%20honorum)


Farlex. 2012. The Definition of Military [Online]. Huntington Valley [Cited 7th January 2013]. Available from World Wide Web: (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/military)



What are the core causes and outcomes of the Great Depression?

The following essay attempts to analyse the causes and effects of the Great Depression. The essay will be split into two parts. The part Causes, will sketches the economic, political and international reasons for the Great Depression. Outcomes, will illustrate the drastic changes the Great Depression brought to both American society and the rest of the globe.



The Wall Street Crash and the Depression

In popular memory the Wall Street crash of 1929, played a large part in the Great Depression. This is a myth. The Wall Street crash of 1929 succeeded in creating a panic among investors and stock brokers, but its overall effect was not felt outside Wall Street until one year later. Neither did the laissez faire economy of the United States suffer immediately. When analysing the Market itself, this is understandable because it showed a quick recovery. Large losses for investors did not immediately become felt but in the process of two years. Harold Bierman comments on how the market lost 11.9% of its value in 1929, after gaining 37.9% in the previous year; however, this was not an unusual phenomenon.[1] America had gone through previous cycles, where the value of stock dropped substantially and had suffered depressions in 1873, 1884, 1893-95, 1907 and 1914. Thus, 1929 was, at first glance, not something out of the ordinary for investors. Many well known economists of the time such as John Maynard Keynes, expected the market to recover, and by 1930 the market had indeed recovered the majority of its losses. Therefore, it is a mistake to assume that the loss of value in the market after the Crash of 1929 was the overriding cause of the overall economic crises of the United States that became known as the ‘Great Depression’.

If the statistics of the stock market are analysed in proportion the population, the impact of the stock market is minimal and the loss in value cannot be assessed in terms of quantity. Though investors on the stock market did provide a firm basis for investors and traders, their activity cannot be demonstrated in proportion to investors in other institutions, such as commercial banks. The numbers of Americans who owned stock, is estimated to number from 500,000 to 750,000 which was only 3% of the United States population. Logistically, there was not a substantial enough number of investors to make a drastic influence to the pattern of consumerism, and the commercial sectors of the American Economy.[2] Even with disproportionate value in stock, the Stock Market’s effect on the economy falls to the actors of the American economy rather than the statistics, or the prices of stock themselves. Even when talking about the actors of the stock market crash various investors such as J.P. Morgan, had raised $20-30 Million to raise the value of stocks and this attempt was successful.[3] It was only when the Depression took hold in commercial banking did the bolstering of stock prices become inadequate. Therefore to calculate the causes of the depression, it is over-simplistic to simply suggest the financial state of the stock market played a domineering part. It is on this premise alone that the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression need to be separated.

Analysing the Wall Street Crash is also problematic as there is no underlining consensus as to why it happened. There are several arguable factors as to why this occurred and these are often debated. For example, Gene Smiley argues the Wall Street crash was due to the decrease in profit expectations, which eventually impacted Wall Street.[4] Other Historians such Hugh Brogan have simply argued that the Crash was caused by the selling of six million shares, which seemed to have changed hands overnight.[5] However, the points themselves are debatable and this must be seen in the wider context of United States society. For example, Robert Sobel explains that over-production of consumer goods had led to a decrease in the price of materials, and this led to stagnation in stock prices.[6] The fact that the causes for the Wall Street Crash are debatable, means that its responsibility for the Depression becomes increasingly ambiguous.

The separation between the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression are also characterised by their popularized symbols. These play an integral part in understanding both events and how they came to be formed. The Wall Street Crash is characterised by a minority of investors who lost a large sum of money from over-speculation. However, the Great depression is characterised by a number of factors. It is often represented by mass unemployment, decadent forms of poverty; the never-ending employment search for 20 million American citizens; unstable commercial institutions and indecisive American policies.[7]


The actual causes of the Great Depression


The Great Depression can be viewed depending on the sector of the US economy. For agriculture, it is arguable that the depression arrived early and continued until the Second World War. During the Progressive Era from 1890 to 1920, agricultural education was increased which planned to expand methods that would increase the amount of agricultural food available on the American market. During the First World War, American agriculture had increased exponentially in order to feed The United States Army on the Western Front. By 1918, the number people who owned farms stood at 2,251 and a record high $1,600,000 was spent expanding agricultural holdings. [8]

After the War had finished, prosperity would cause severe financial strains. The large abundance of food being produced meant the price of wheat decreased, which lowered the amount of pay each farmer received. This led to overproduction which was also characterised by technological progression. During the First World War, famers were encouraged to mechanise their farming methods. However, the majority of these machines were out of their financial reach, which forced farmers to pay for new technology on credit with high interest rates. As a result, the new income and purchasing power of famers declined by 25%, and the total of farm products fell by half. As cereals were over-produced, the price of crops also fell by half. Since the average wage for farmers varied from $1000- $1500 per year, the most vulnerable farmers were not able to pay back their credit and farmer’s properties were closed. The situation was not helped by the introduction of prohibition which meant the amount of crops produced also decreased at alarming rates, because there was a large surplus of crops which was not being viably sold.[9] The pattern shows a credit bubble which finally burst and caused an alarming loss in finance. For farmers, this had been the short financial boom and continuing depression which was to last until the Second World War. It puts into perspective the term ‘Great Depression’ and how it should be used with caution, if historians are going to use it to symbolise a specific period of time in American History. This is important, especially when the population of American farmers was 33 million in 1929, at the height of the agricultural depression.[10]


The American Economy: Major Trends

The Great Depression as understood from 1930 onwards, can be understood from the dominant form of economics that emerge out of the 1920s, the so called ‘roaring twenties’. This was underlined by the circulation of free market capitalism, with the Federal Government interfering as little as possible. The government encouraged this as it always had before the First World War, and was summarised by Calvin Coolidge’s phrase, ‘The return to normalcy’. This would mean business went largely unregulated. Therefore a main reason for the Great Depression can be said to lie with the structure of American Economics, which links with the idea of consumerism on credit and the de-regulated banking system.

The growth of consumerism is something which greatly exacerbated the Great Depression because it enabled a growth of spending on domestic products, which coincided with an increase in productivity and wages. Gene Smiley comments that between 1923 and 1929, the income per person increased from $763 to $859 and earnings of employees rose by 15.7%. Manufacturing increased by 23.5% and productivity rose by 14% as new innovations, such as assembly line manufacturing were created.[11] The result was more employment and fewer hours for workers which meant more leisure time for employees. It also meant families could purchase domestic goods and services based on credit. New innovations such as the dish washer represented a new concept, of borrowing money to pay for goods and services that were not available before. The fact the rate of credit was relatively high compared to what Americans could afford, paved the way for an unstable financial system. This succeeded in encouraging the Great Depression as by 1930, American citizens found themselves in a state of crisis as their credit was recalled.

The effects of consumerism became magnified by America’s weak banking system, which imploded on itself when the depression happened. The vast majority of America’s banks were small self-sufficient institutions, which relied more on investment than commercial ventures. For example, New York’s banks formed a complex system of 57 branches, with more than twenty subsidiary real estate corporations, and an insurance company. When the Stock Market crashed in 1929, the panic caused wealthy holders to withdraw their money, generating a mass panic. Depositors rushed to withdraw money out of their banks, and banks closed if they did not have adequate reserves. Since the minimum capital requirement for banks was less than $25,000, banks found they were unable to pay and bankers to called in loans and sold assets, which meant credit froze up.[12] When credit froze up, less money was in circulation in the U.S. economy which led to deflation. The price of goods dropped and businesses had to cut costs by laying off workers. Because unemployed workers could not purchase goods any longer, inventories continued to build up and Americans could no longer borrow money to pay for these. The effect was immediately felt because as businesses went bankrupt, people no longer could afford services that would keep these businesses open by borrowing money.[13] The effects of this can be seen by the fact at the end of 1931, 20 Million workers were unemployed and 4,905 banks had closed. [14]


American Politics

The Presidency of Hoover can be seen as a key element as to why the Great Depression occurred, and why a lack of measures was taken to prevent it. Hoover has often been cited as an indecisive President who did little to help the American people. His general assumption had been that the Depression would sort itself out, and the role of government was to assist rather than interfere. For example, when the depression began Hoover managed to persuade major industrialists to maintain wage rates.[15] In 1932, he invested $140 million in public works such as the construction of the Hoover dam.[16] Overall, he doubled the Federal Public Works Expenditure to $700 Million. However, none of these measures were nearly enough to curb the effects of the depression. Hoover did not allow the Federal government to directly interfere in finance or welfare. Instead, he relied on business’ to stimulate the economy which is understandable because in 1929, federal expenditure only constituted 3% of the Federal GDP.[17] Until the New Deal, the United States Government had hardly ever interfered in domestic affairs. The question had never been ‘when’ the Federal Government would interfere but ‘if’ they would, and the orthodox political process had always favoured doing little. The closest to any sort of large scale assistance for example was the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which was financed to issue emergency loans but by this time the Great Depression was blindingly evident.

In Hoover’s memoirs, he puts the blame FOR the Great Depression on the First World War and this holds some validity. After the First World War the United States had sought to separate itself from the rest of the world, but paradoxically included itself in a web of economic debts which were caused by the War. Thus, President Hoover’s sentiments are understandable since America dominated world economics after the First World War (with the exception of the USSR). The First World War had caused the major European powers such as Britain, France and Germany, to borrow money to reconstruct their economies. It was hoped that by doing so, there would be a greater European importation of American goods, as would be the case during the Cold War. For example, American foreign trade globally jumped from $4.5 Billion in 1913 to $10.2 Billion by 1929.[18] Debt also played a large part in this policy, which had drastic consequences during the depression. Germany the defeated power, paid reparations to France and Britain through loans borrowed from America. Altogether, Germany had borrowed $1.28 billion in loans, and United States Bankers earned an estimated $50 million in net profit.[19] Britain and France borrowed an estimated $10 billion from the Federal bank, which was paid back through German debt.[20] When the Great Depression occurred, it meant the web of debts paid through American finance collapsed on itself.

America’s foreign policy during the Hoover administration therefore also plays a role because of its global repercussions. Hoover responded to the crises by cutting any possibility of international trade. For example the Hawley-Smoot tariff was enacted in 1930 and put the rate of American tariffs up to an all time high. The intention behind this was to protect American goods and workers, which would encourage foreign investors to purchase goods and invest in American domestic products once again.[21] However, the opposite effect occurred. European countries responded by raising their own tariffs and this meant there were fewer buyers to purchase American goods, less trade and less employment. Hoover also proposed a range of debt solutions, but this did not have a wide effect because central European bankers refused to let go of the gold standard (an economy measured in the amount of gold), which prevented governments from pumping necessary money into their economies. This is because financiers were more anxious about where their money was being invested; a solution paper based economies (such as Britain) would solve. When Britain abandoned the gold standard altogether in 1931, the U.S. government did not follow suit and this meant international trade froze. It resulted in Britain and its dominions, establishing an economic bloc of their own, which discriminated against non-empire producers and cancelled American orders.[22] The halting of international trade succeeded in causing more deflation which caused more economic stagnation. Thus, Hoover’s foreign prejudices and policies, though intending to preserve American economics, only succeeded in weakening it.






The Great Depression has been disputed, unclear and largely mythologized. However its effects have been plainly evident. The result of the Great Depression was intervention by the Federal Government in economic affairs by mass mobilising the work force. Internationally, its effects were greatly felt as nations increasingly strode to become self-sufficient to balance lack of trade.

New American Economics: The New Deal

The New Deal can be said to have had a long lasting effect on American Economics and society, and ushered in a new way in which the ideas of American security and freedom would be interpreted. It was headed by Hoover’s successor Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose ideas of fixing the economy came from Keynesian economics (which adopted the idea of borrowing money and going into large deficit, to circulate money into the economy). This would fund mass projects for conservation and infrastructure, which intended to give 20 million unemployed American workers jobs.[23] More importantly, the New Deal attempted to use government programmes to prevent a future Great Depression.

When analysing the New Deal, it is important to split it into three aspects: relief, recovery and reform. Relief would give welfare to the unemployed in the form of handouts; recovery intended to fix the economy in the short run and reform would regulate the economy for long term prosperity. These categories were important because they worked in accordance with the state of the Great Depression. For example in 1933, Roosevelt ended prohibition which provided a viable source of income for starting The New Deal and would help to relieve southern farmers, who could sell their crops for higher prices.[24] This largely was to provide finance for relief. Also, the boundaries are often blurred in some cases and categories would often overlap with each other. The Emergency Banking Act for example ended a month long series of runs on the banks, by preventing gold hoarding and exchanged gold bullion for paper dollar notes. This meant after the banks were opened, confidence in the banks was restored and eager citizens lined up to deposit their money. The act also resulted in the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which guaranteed future deposits against future disasters.[25] In this case, the Emergency Banking act emphasised relief, recovery and reform.


The First New Deal

Roosevelt’s policies before 1935 have been quoted by most American Historians as the First new Deal, which primarily focused on relief and recovery. These would introduce programmes which intended to extend the powers of the Federal government. For example, congress passed laws establishing the civilian conservation core, which employed young people to build national parks and maintain by building forests.[26] The Glass- Steagall Act of 1932, prevented commercial banks from buying and selling stock and separated financial and commercial banking.[27] Most importantly, the National Industrial Recovery Act was passed, which established the National Industrial Recovery Administration. It was designed for government planners and business leaders to work together, to co-ordinate industry standards for production, prices and working conditions.[28]

The problems with many of these acts were that they did not provide immediate help to the starving and unemployed worker. Therefore attention was turned to immediate relief. The Federal Relief Emergency Administration provided $500 million in grant aid to states, who would give welfare payments to the unemployed in desperate conditions. One section of the National industrial Recovery Agency created the Public Works Administration, which appropriated $33 Billion to build projects such as the Triborough Bridge in New York.[29] Also, the Civil Works administration was created, which employed 4 Million people and operated through work and construction projects directly. By December 14th 1933, there were 2,610,451 workers employed and by the middle of January, this had more than doubled with 400,000 projects.[30]

In agriculture, a similar strategy was adopted with the intent of bettering life for Southern farmers. For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority built a series of dams in the Tennessee River valley, to control flooding, prevent deforestation and provide electricity to rural communities in several Southern states. However, the act was controversial because it put government in direct competition with private companies.[31] A similar case became apparent with the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which gave the government power to raise farm prices by setting production quotas and paying farmers to produce less food. The result was a reduction of all food types and 6 million pigs were slaughtered to balance supply and demand.[32] Unlike other acts passed by Roosevelt, the policies on agriculture produced mixed results. The fact that responsibility for agriculture was delegated, meant provincial level officials often determined distribution and these applied racially. Only property farmers saw the benefits of the AAA and African Americans who were tenants or sharecroppers, continued to live the same conditions as before.[33]


The Supreme Court and the Second New Deal

Judicially, the New Deal created problems for the Supreme Court. In 1935, the Supreme Court invalidated the National Industrial Recovery Administration because it delegated legislative powers to the President and attempted to regulate business. Roosevelt responded by announcing a new law, which would allow him to appoint new Supreme Court justices if they reached the age of 70 and failed to retire. However, this caused a huge backlash from the American public and opponents of the plan enjoyed widespread support.[34] The Result was a compromise between the President and the Supreme Court, whereby government regulation of the economy was allowed under a very broad reading of Supreme Court jurisprudence. Thus, the conflict between Roosevelt and the Supreme Court signalled the Second New Deal.

The Second New Deal primarily focused on Reform and economic security, and these were determined both by the National Labour Relations Act (the Wagner Act) and the Social Security Act. These represented a transformation in the relationship between the Federal Government and American citizens. The Wagner act guaranteed workers the right to unionise and created a national labour relations board, to hear disputes over unfair labour practices. Projects such as the Congress of Industrial Organisations set out to unionise all forms of industry and by 1939union membership rose to 9 million.[35] The Social Security act subsidised people with unemployment insurance, aid to poor families and children and retirement benefits. It was funded through payroll taxes, though local governments held a discretion over how benefits would be distributed.[36] The idea of these was to provide security, so American workers would spend their money on consumer goods rather than services.


International Reverberations

The Great Depression would have a drastic international effect. Though America had attempted to isolate itself from the rest of the world during the interwar period, its economic and cultural influence succeeded in spreading to Western Europe after the First World War. This meant when the Great Depression did hit it had an instrumental effects on the global economy, with the exception of the USSR which had attempted to make itself self-sufficient. In Western Europe since most debts were paid with American credit, the system of borrowing collapsed. In 1929, the Depression had a monumental effect on German industry which crashed and between 1929 and 1932, unemployment rose from 8.5% to 29.9%.[37] In Britain, unemployment had risen to 2.5 million by the end of 1930, and exports had fallen by 50%, which had resulted in very drastic cuts to restore confidence in the pound.[38] The Japanese economy had shrunk by 8% from 1929 to 1930 and like America, had decided to implement Keynesian economics to stop deflation.[39] The similarity in these cases shows a decrease of trade and an increasing emphasis on internal affairs. The outcome of the Great Depression would have an effect on shifting emphasis, from international trade to self-sufficiency.

The transition to self-sufficiency would also have long term political effects, especially with the rise of extreme right wing and ultra-nationalist parties. The phenomenon was felt by many countries to be caused by the view that liberal democracies and capitalism had failed. Though Japan had effectively used Keynesian economics to restore its economy, the depression had caused a rise in militarism which saw appeasement to the Western world as decadent. Following a series of military coups up to 1936, Japan became increasingly militaristic and sought to expand in order to sustain its economy, which was signalled by a shortage in material goods. Imperialistically, it attempted to attain an Eastern Asia co-prosperity sphere by uniting all Eastern Asians into one rule, as well as become a major global power. In 1931, Japan invaded and annexed Manchuria and in 1937 invaded China, an occupation which only ended after the Second World War.[40]

The outcome of the Depression had been a growth of right wing national parties, as well as new empires which were determined to replace the older European ones. In 1933 the National Socialist Party under Adolf Hitler was democratically elected. It established a Racialist state that attempted to make Germany a self-sufficient global superpower. In a series of centralised economic policies, he established similar projects to those under the Hoover administration but made these compulsory by the enabling act. He sanctioned mass projects, such as the construction of the Autobahns and agricultural projects to build forests. This had also mass industrialised German industry by co-operating with major industrial companies such as the Krupp works, by re-arming and mass-mobilising German industry. By 1939, military spending was more than 10% of Germany’s GDP.[41] However, this had massively decreased consumerism and meant Germany became increasingly dependent on European imports. From 1933 to 1935 imports rose by 9%, which came from Central and Eastern European neighbours and also meant Germany increasingly had influence over these nations after the Great Depression.[42] By 1937, all Eastern and Central European Countries (with the exception of Czechoslovakia) based themselves on the fascist economic framework (such as corporatism), and large industrial companies mainly exported to Germany.[43] This became finalised during the Second World War, which also coincided with the ‘hunger plan’, which would use large parts of the USSR as farming land to make up for inefficient sectors of German Farming.[44]

Most importantly, the Great Depression was one of the main causes for the Second World War. In 1940, Germany, Italy and Japan signed the Pact of steel that made the axis, whose aims were to break the Capitalist powers of the West and Communism. Hitler’s idea of Lebensraum had caused Germany to re-arm itself and invade Poland in 1939. By 1941, Germany controlled a continental Empire which stretched from France, to the USSR, to Greece. This coincided with Mussolini’s visions of a modern Roman Empire, which caused him to invade Greece and British controlled Egypt. Japan was at war with China by the start of the Second World War but due to American embargo on Japanese oil, the Imperial Japanese navy attacked the American Naval base at Pearl Harbour in 1941. The attack drew America into a global war, and formally allied itself with Great Britain. Ironically, the large mobilisation of American society, effectively recovered the United States economy from Depression. By 1944, the American economy was in overdrive and the Federal Government had taken control over key industries. During the war, America’s GDP had increased by 60% from $91 billion to $214 Billion.[45]



The Great Depression had a profound effect on American society. It was caused by the growth of consumer culture on credit, and the precariousness of de-regularised American banks. However, the definition of the ‘Great Depression’ is debatable. For American farmers, the Great Depression happened after the First World War, due to overproduction. Also, a lack of intervention by the Federal Government, during the Hoover administration, meant the Great Depression began to have long term effects. This encompassed assistance rather than interference which did little to help the millions of unemployed Americans. Due to America’s economic dominance after the First World War, the cycle of loans that were given to European nations to recover became exacerbated. The outcome of the depression was greater government intervention, which attempted to regulate the economy and apply Keynesian economics. However, the Great Depression also caused nations to look to them in order to be self-sufficient. This helped the rise of right wing authoritarian regimes, which contributed largely to the Second World War, which would eventually involve the United States and cause the Great Depression to end.




[1] Harold Bierman, Jr, The Great Myths of 1929 and the Lessons to be Learned (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), p. 5.

[2] Robert Sobel, The Great Bull Market: Wall Street in the 1920s (New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc, 1968), p. 74.

[3] p. 135.

[4] Gene Smiley, Rethinking the Great Depression (Chicago: R. Dee Publisher, 2002), p. 11.

[5] Hugh Brogan, The Penguin History of the USA (London: Penguin Books, 1999), p. 510.

[6] Robert Sobel, Panic on Wall Street: A History of America’s Financial Disasters (Washington, D.C.: Beard Books, 1999), p. 351.

[7] Michael E. Parrish, Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company), pp. 405- 421.

[8] Grant McConnell, the Decline of Agrarian Democracy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1953), p. 25.

[9] Michael E. Parrish, Anxious Decades, pp. 83-84.

[10] Ibid, p. 82.

[11] Gene Smiley, Rethinking the Great ‘Depression. p. 4.

[12] Susan Estabrook Kennedy, The Banking Crisis of 1933 (Louisville: University Press of Kentucky, 1973), p. 1.

[13] Ibid, p. 6.

[14] Wyn Derbishire, Dark Realities: America’s Great Depression (London: Spiramus Press, 2013), p. 95.

[15] Paul D. Moreno, The American from the Civil War to the New Deal: The Twilight of Constitutionalism and the Triumph of Progressivism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013) p. 213.

[16] Vincent H. Gaddis, Herbert Hoover, Unemployment, and the Public Sphere: A Conceptual History 1919-1933 (Oxford: University Press of America, 2005) p. 122.

[17] Bill Jenkins & Edward C. Page, The Foundations of Bureaucracy in Economic and Social Thought (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004) p. 57.

[18] Frank Costigliola, Awkward Dominion: American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with Europe, 1919-1933 (London: Cornell University Press, 1984), p. 142.

[19] Ibid, p. 146.

[20] Gerald Hardach, The First World War, 1914-1918 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press),   p. 290.

[21] Joan Hoff Wilson, American Business & Foreign Policy: 1920- 1933 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 96- 97.

[22] Frank Costigliola, Awkward Dominion: American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with Europe, 1919-1933, pp. 243- 244.

[23] William E. Leuchtenburg, The New Deal: A Documentary History (Columbia, S.C: University of South Carolina Press, 1969), p. XV.

[24] Anthony J. Badger, The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933-40 (London: MACMILLAN EDUCATION LTD, 1989), p. 59.

[25] Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr, The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal (Massachusetts, Cambridge: The Riberside Press, 1959), pp. 7, 443.

[26] Anthony J. Badger, The Depression Years, 1933-40, p. 170.

[27] Helen M. Burns, The American Banking Community and The New Deal Banking Reforms, 1933-1935 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1974), p. 16.

[28] Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal, p. 99.

[29] Ibid, p. 264.

[30] Ibid, P. 270.

[31] Ibid, pp. 327-333

[32] Ibid, p. 146

[33] Kimberly L. Phillips, Daily Life During African American Migrations (California, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2012), p. 107

[34] William E. Leutchtenburg, Frankin D. Roosevelt’s Supreme Court “Packing” Plan” in Essays on the New Deal, ed. By Harold M. Hollingsworth and William F. Holes (Texas, Arlington: University of Texas Press), pp. 69-76.

[35] Robert H. Zieger , Gilbert J. Gall, American Workers, American Unions: The Twentieth Century (Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press, 2002), p. 66

[36] Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal, p. 313.

[37] Bernd Widdig, Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001), p. 223.

[38] Frank Trentmanm, Free Trade Nations: Commerce, Consumption and Civil Society in Modern Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 333.

[39] Francisco E. Gonzalez, Creative Destruction?: Economic Crisis and Democracy in Latin America (Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press, 2012). p. 214

[40] Janis Mimura, Planning for Empire: Reform, Bureaucrats and the Japanese Wartime State (New York: Cornell University Press, 2011).

[41] Has-Joachim Braun, The German Economy in the Twentieth Century (London: Routledge, 1990), p. 85.

[42] William Carr, Arms, Autarky and Aggression (London: Edward Arnold, 1972), p. 53.

[43] Bernd Jurgen Fischer, Balkan Strongmen: Dictators and Authoritarian Rulers in Southeast Europe, ed. By Bernd JUrgen Fischer (London: C. Hurst and Co, 2007).

[44] Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (London: Penguin Books, 2007), pp. 538-549.

[45] N. Gregory Mankiw, Principles of Economics (Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning, 2009), p. 766.







Bierman Jr, Harold, The Great Myths of 1929 and the Lessons to be Learned (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991)

Braun, Has-Joachim, The German Economy in the Twentieth Century (London: Routledge, 1990)

Brogan, Hugh, The Penguin History of the USA (London: Penguin Books, 1999)

Carr, William, Arms, Autarky and Aggression (London: Edward Arnold, 1972)

Costigliola, Frank, Awkward Dominion: American Political, Economic, and Cultural Relations with Europe, 1919-1933 (London: Cornell University Press, 1984)

Derbishire, Wyn, Dark Realities: America’s Great Depression (London: Spiramus Press, 2013)

D. Moreno, Paul, The American from the Civil War to the New Deal: The Twilight of Constitutionalism and the Triumph of Progressivism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013)

E. Leuchtenburg, William, The New Deal: A Documentary History (Columbia, S.C: University of South Carolina Press, 1969)

E. Parrish, Michael, Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company)

Estabrook Kennedy, Susan, The Banking Crisis of 1933 (Louisville: University Press of Kentucky, 1973)

E. Gonzalez, Francisco, Creative Destruction?: Economic Crisis and Democracy in Latin America (Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press, 2012)

Hardach, Gerald, The First World War, 1914-1918 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press)

H. Gaddis, Vincent, Herbert Hoover, Unemployment, and the Public Sphere: A Conceptual History 1919-1933 (Oxford: University Press of America, 2005)

Hoff Wilson, Joan, American Business & Foreign Policy: 1920- 1933 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971)

H. Zieger, Robert, Gilbert J. Gall, American Workers, American Unions: The Twentieth Century (Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press, 2002)

J. Badger, Anthony, The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933-40 (London: MACMILLAN EDUCATION LTD, 1989), p. 59.

Jenkins, Bill & C. Page, Edward, The Foundations of Bureaucracy in Economic and Social Thought (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004)

Jurgen Fischer, Bernd, Balkan Strongmen: Dictators and Authoritarian Rulers in Southeast Europe (London: C. Hurst and Co, 2007)

L. Phillips, Kimberly, Daily Life During African American Migrations (California, Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2012)

Mankiw, N. Gregory, Principles of Economics (Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning, 2009)

McConnell, Grant, the Decline of Agrarian Democracy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1953)

M. Burns, Helen, The American Banking Community and The New Deal Banking Reforms, 1933-1935 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1974)

Mimura, Janis, Planning for Empire: Reform, Bureaucrats and the Japanese Wartime State (New York: Cornell University Press, 2011)

M. Schlesinger Jr, Arthur, The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal (Massachusetts, Cambridge: The Riberside Press, 1959)

Smiley, Gene, Rethinking the Great Depression (Chicago: R. Dee Publisher, 2002)

Sobel, Robert, Panic on Wall Street: A History of America’s Financial Disasters (Washington, D.C.: Beard Books, 1999)

Sobel, Robert, The Great Bull Market: Wall Street in the 1920s (New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc, 1968),

Tooze, Adam, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (London: Penguin Books, 2007)

Trentmanm, Frank, Free Trade Nations: Commerce, Consumption and Civil Society in Modern Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Widdig, Bernd, Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001)


Articles and chapters

E. Leutchtenburg, William, Frankin D. Roosevelt’s Supreme Court “Packing” Plan” in Harold M. Hollingsworth, eds, and William F. Holes Essays on the New Deal (Texas, Arlington: University of Texas Press), pp. 69-76.


A conversation with God

*you get one question to ask God*


Person 1: God, beyond positive and negative what is reality?


God: Well, there’s no reference point. My child, your question has no meaning.


*goes to person 2 and says “I wasted my question. Go to him and ask “what question should I ask you?”


Person 2: Oh God, what question should I ask you?


God: Why do you want a question? So you do have a problem…