Roman Imperial Armed Forces (1248 - 1369)

Imperial Armed Forces of Roman Empire
Exceritus Imperialum Romani Imperium
Aftokratorikó Strató tou Romaïkí Aftokratoría
Founded 300 B.C.
Current form 1250 (Imperial Restoration)
1432-1450 (Tiberius reforms)
1612 (Imperial Interregnum)
1750 (End of Last Imperial Civil War)
Service branches Imperial Army
Imperial Fleet
Imperial Air Forces (1700-present)
Imperial Aerospace Forces (1780-present)
Imperial Guard Regiment
Headquarters Constantinople
Megaloi Stratégos Roman Emperor or appointed person
Supreme Stratégos Severus Septimius Flavius (1248-1249), Alexios Strategopulos (1249-1276)
Marcellius Argyros (current)
Megaloi Doukes

Megaloi Stratopedarchés

Admiral Philantropenos
Constantine Argyros
Military age 18-55
Conscription Wartime (until Tiberius reforms)
Male only (until 1615)
Both sexes (after 1615, partially enforced)
Available for
military service
25,000,000 (1750), age 15–49
Fit for
military service
300,000 (1250, officially)
155,000,000 (1750), age 15–49
Reaching military
age annually
20,000 (1250, officially)
17,500,000 (1750)
Active personnel 30,000 (1250)
75,000 (1290)
100,000 (1312)
350,000 (1450)
1,800,000 (1590)
32,500,000 (1750)
Reserve personnel 20,000 (1250)
50,000 (1312)
175,000 (1450)
2,100,000 (1590)
9,500,000 (1750)
Deployed personnel 70,000 (1271)
300,000 (1450-1469)
1,000,000 (Constantinian reign)
11,850,000 (1750)
Budget 240 million $ (1250)
2 billion $ (1312)
16 billion $ (1450)
263 billion $ (1592)
3.76 trillion $ (1750)
160 trillion $ (2015)
Percent of GDP 8% (fixed since 1290)
Domestic suppliers Imperial Trade Company
Local armorers
Constantinople Arsenal
Palaiologos Dynasty
National Armament Corporation
Imperial Arsenal of Alexandria
Annual imports 300,000 Hp (15 million $) (1270)
900,000 Hp (45 million $) (1312)
Annual exports 1,500,000 Hp (75 million $) (1270)
8,000,000 Hp (400 million $) (1312)
Related articles
History Imperial Restoration, Imperial Civil Wars, First Pan-European War, Second Pan-European War, Separatist Crisis, Colonial War, Imperial Campaign of Rus, Imperial Campaign of Persia, Imperial Campaign of Egypt, Constantinian Expansionist Wars
Ranks Non-Commissioned Officer

Commissioned Officer

Historical background

When Fourth Crusade arrived to Constantinople, remnants of former Imperial Army were not able to defend capital city and after only few days, city of Constantine the Great, fortified by Theodosian Walls, was captured and plundered. Varangian Guard retreated to northern Black Sea, while remnants of Imperial Army went to rump states, especially Trapezunt and Nicean Empire.

Under Nicean Empire, Imperial Army preserved with few exceptional military leaders, especially later eunuch and exile Sirius and General Severus Septimius Flavius, who changed his own name in honor of Emperor Alexander Severus and one of last great Roman General Septimius Flavius. While Sirius was betrayed and despite many victories his career was ended by paranoia of former Emperor John III, Flavius continued in Nicean general career until 1249.

Flavian Reforms

Flavian Reforms is unofficial name for reforms created by General Severus Septimius Flavius through his "Field Military Manual" and his book "On Army", written between 1246 to 1248. These two sources were comprehensive and complex full-scale reform of Imperial Armed Forces based on experiences of fall of Constantinople, decaying of Imperial Army before Fourth Crusade and experiences of Nicean Army until 1248.

Organizational Reform and end of Themata

General Flavius claimed that "Themata system" and former organization of Imperial Army was basic problems. General in IAR called for dissolution of "Themata" system and for professionalization and reconstruction of military organization. As this, he based new table of units and table of ranks.

Instead of "Themata" system, General Flavius proposed forming centralized professional standing army with highly disciplined officer corps and elite units, modern form of former Roman Army. Core of this army would be group of super-fortresses placed in whole Empire, on in Constantinople, one in Angora to defend eastern borders and one in Banja Luka, to defend Balkan imperial territories and northern borders. In each province was also founded one much smaller, but well fortified fortress, near provincial capitals. Building of this "Fortress System" was highly expensive, but unprecedented strengthened Imperial Armed Forces. Each fortress was capable to eliminate banditism, while earth super-fortress formed from group of barracks, two line of high walls, large granaries, training fields, own armories and blacksmiths, were able to secure about 6,000 troops. In Constantinople was also built own Varangian Fortress and Varangian District for Varangians and their families, as reward for their loyalty to Emperor. Fortress System later undergone intensive changes as result of Second Imperial Civil War experiences.

This table of units and ranks was crucial to reconstruction and restoration Imperial Armed Forces and from this reform, all later changes in Roman Empire military forces, were based and initiated. From application of table of ranks and units, until many later centuries, this table undergone many changes and updates, but basic guideline remained intact and was respected by all imperial military reformers and Supreme Stratégos and Emperors.

Unit Infantry Cavalry Commander Rank of Units
Soldier Rank Legionnaire
Contubernium 8 1 Subauditor
Maniple 20 5 Auditor
Supramaniple 25 10 Suprauditor
30 20 Subservator
Vexillum 40 30 Servator
50 40 Supraservator
Turma 100 50 Sublegatus
Cohort 250 125 Legatus
Campus Legion 800 250 Supralegatus III Class
Legion 2,500 1,250 Supralegatus II Class
Division 8,000 3,500 Supralegatus I Class
Vexillatio 20,000 10,000 Stratégos III Class
Praesidium 40,000 10,000 Stratégos II Class
Regiocorpus 80,000 20,000 Stratégos I Class
Imperial Army All All Megaloi Stratégos

Morale, wages and discipline

Flavius as man of 40 years of military experiences, as he served in Imperial Army since he was 16 years old, understood necessity of morale and high discipline in army. He understood that lack of morale and discipline have origin point in corruption and laziness of officers and in his reform, he proposed capital punishment for corrupted officers, but also increasing wages for officers and rank-and-file soldiers, with increasing 5% per first five years, 10% per next five years and 15% per year after serving ten years. Lowest troop could after 15 years of service increased his wage from six Hyperpyrons per year to 22 Hyperpyrons (from 300 to $1100), while this is only basic wage rate without wages per rank. I Class Stratégos with 25 years of service could earn 200 Hyperpyrons (about $10,000),

All fortress also had to had "Relaxation Area" with connection to prostitutes, gambling and alcohol, to prevent soldiers from any violent act against local population. Another important element to secure discipline and morale was establishment of "Cohortes Vigilum", disciplinary security forces with authority to arrest and punish criminals in units. Every fortress had one Cohortes Vigilum troop per 25 troops and Cohortes Vigilum had permanent access to armoury and permanent used weapons, while regular troops had to hand weapons to armoury while they were out of service.

However, Flavian Reforms contained two other elements to support morale and discipline: Flavian Reforms established military courts in Constantinople, Thessaloniky, Athens, Smyrna, Nicomedia, Banja Luka and Nicea. These courts were appointed by Supreme Stratégos with consent with Emperor.

Second was "Ten Commandments of Imperial Soldier":

Imperial Soldier is envoy of Emperor, defender of Emperor, first representative of Emperor will and mighty!
Imperial Soldier never hurt harmless people!
Imperial Soldier never plunder or pillage!
Imperial Soldier defend order and justice!
Imperial Soldier defend borders, territories and people of Empire!
Imperial Soldier do not associate with disruption elements!
Imperial Soldier discourage himself from sodomy, gambling and alcoholism!
Imperial Soldier proudly serve and proudly fight!
Imperial Officer must care of his troops, like of his own sons!
Imperial Soldier and Officer are first and last defense line of Roman Empire and His Imperial Majesty!

Military Intelligence and Technology

General Flavius understood critical situation in manpower of Imperial Army and Imperial Fleet and he decided that "quality is above quantity" and to achieve this status, Imperial Army must have all possible qualitative advantages, especially in technology superiority and information familiarity with all potential enemies and allies. More information on separate page.

Last of the Romans

Reforms introduced title "Last of the Romans", which was special title for excellent military strategist and leaders. Everytime, only one "Last of the Romans" title can be awarded (except posthumous awards) and under many strict conditions. Aside of other, claimant must serve in Imperial Military for 20 years (or less with exception), achieve at least rank Stratégos III Class, participate in 15 and more battles and sieges, led Roman troops in at least 5 battles and achieve at least one important strategic victory. Very important and curious condition was, that award can not be grant to Emperor or his heir. Relatives can be only awarded in case they are not in line of succession on Imperial Throne.

Title was introduced in 1266 and firstly awarded under special situation in 1271. After Second Battle of Kosovo, first title "Last of the Romans" was awarded posthumously to stratégos Constantine Argyros and also to still living stratégos Alexius (not Alexios Strategopulos!)

Recipient Service Year of Award Note
Constantine Argyros 1252 - 1271 1271 Served 19 years, but defeated enemy and died heroically
Marcian Alexius 1250 - 1289 1271 For Second Battle of Kosovo and command of armies
Lucius Maxentius 1302 - 1327 1327 Liberation of Sicily, died shortly after campaign on typhus
Irene Asenina 1320 - 1334 1330 First woman, Command of Second Khuzestan Campaign
Augustus Iulianos 13?? - 1379 1368 Victory of Baltic Campaign
Constantine Lajin 13?? - 1370 1370 Posthumous, defeat of Persian Empire
Laurentius Decimus 13?? - 1382 1374 Imperial Campaign of Rus
Martin Allesander 1570 - 1622 1615 Bainar Swamp and loyalty to Imperialists
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