The Emperor and the Army in the Later Roman Empire, AD 235-395: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

The Emperor and the Army in the Later Roman Empire, AD 235-395

1st Edition

By Mark Hebblewhite


240 pages | 20 B/W Illus.

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With The Emperor and the Army in the Later Roman Empire, AD 235–395 Mark Hebblewhite offers the first study solely dedicated to examining the nature of the relationship between the emperor and his army in the politically and militarily volatile later Roman Empire. Bringing together a wide range of available literary, epigraphic and numismatic evidence he demonstrates that emperors of the period considered the army to be the key institution they had to mollify in order to retain power and consequently employed a range of strategies to keep the troops loyal to their cause. Key to these efforts were imperial attempts to project the emperor as a worthy general (imperator) and a generous provider of military pay and benefits. Also important were the honorific and symbolic gestures each emperor made to the army in order to convince them that they and the empire could only prosper under his rule.


"Hebblewhite does an admirable job of presenting the ofttimes contradictory literary, epigraphic, and numismatic evidence (both inscriptional and iconographic), confronting the issues it raises, and coming to conclusions […] The book is clearly written and well organized."

- R. T. Ingoglia, Saint Thomas Aquinas College, USA, CHOICE Reviews

"This is a stimulating work that provides an easy-to-use catalogue of the coinage and legal sources showing the relationship between the Emperor and the Roman army […] If they’d read Hebblewhite’s book, many late Roman emperors might have been more successful."

- Hugh Elton, Trent University, Canada, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017

"Au total, nous pensons que ce livre aura sa place dans toutes les bibliothèques bien composées."

-Yann Le Bohec, Paris-Sorbonne University, France, Sehepunkte Rezensionsjournal für die Geschichtswissenschaften 2017

"Hebblewhite made a masterful study, being able to bring together a wide range of literary, epigraphic, as well as numismatic evidence, and present us with a convincing and concise analysis of nature of the relationship between the emperor and the army in what was politically and militarily turbulent period for the Later Roman empire […] Hebblewhite’s book is a valuable contribution to the field that nicely complements Campbell’s earlier work and provides us with a badly needed insight into the emperor’s relationship with the military in the late antiquity. As such, it should be a mandatory addition to every university library"

- Vedran Bileta, De Re Militari, The Society for Medieval Military History

"….Hebblewhite’s study is filled with new materials and original viewpoints, especially in the economic, monetary and numismatic spheres relating to the Roman army. It will surely be of value and importance to scholars and students of the period for many years to come."

- Haggai Olshanetsky, Scripta Classica Israelica

"As such, his book provides a useful introduction to this specific historiographical problem, a thought-provoking reading, and a good starting point for more nuanced and comprehensive analyses."

- Luisa Andriollo, Bamberg

"In this learned, clearly written, and visually pleasing monograph, Mark Hebblewhite explores the fraught relationship between the emperor and the soldiers he led."

Byzantina Symmeitkta 28 (2018)

"This book offers a compact and source-oriented access to the relationship of emperor and army in the 3rd and 4th centuries."

- Christoph Begass, Univeristat Mannheim, Germany, Historische Zeitschrift vol. 308/1, 2019

"Questo studio dettagliato e bene argomentato esamina i modi in cui gli imperatori del periodo compreso fra l’ascesa al potere di Massimino il trace fino alla morte di Teodosio cercarono di rinsaldare la propria popolarità presso l’esercito"

- GNOMON, 7/91/2019

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Preface and Acknowledgements

Selected Roman Emperors and Usurpers



Fides, the Army and the Emperor

The Ancient Sources

Modern Perspectives

Chapter 1 – Dawn of the Warrior Emperor

Dynastic Rule Redefined?

A Dynastic Resurgence?

The Emperor as Commilito?

Chapter 2 –Advertising Military Success

Coinage and the Projection of Military Power

Virtus, Victoria and an empire in crisis

Virtus: The courage to lead

Victoria: An emperor’s duty

Emperors Armed for battle

Diocletian to Theodosius the Great: new messages for a new age

Portraits of Power

The Titulature of Military Success

Projecting success in crisis

Tetrarchs and dynasts: the titulature of shared military success


Chapter 3 – Praemia Militiae

Praemia Militiae of the Republic and Early Empire

A Severan Mercenary Army?

Praemia Militiae 235-395


Regular donativa

Irregular donativa

Ceremony and the donativum

Fides guaranteed?

Stipendium: A Dying Praemium?

The Annona Militaris: Dona

Praemia Veteranorum

The Economics of Praemia Militiae

Chapter 4 - The Emperor, The Law and Disciplina Militaris

Legal Benefits

The later empire

Soldiers and their families

Barbarians in a citizen army

Disciplina Militaris

Chapter 5 – Rituals of Identity

Acclamatio: The First Act of Fidelity?

Acclamatio in the age of the soldier emperors

Ceremonial legitimisation

Adlocutio: Presence and Power

The ceremony of adlocutio

The impact of adlocutio

Sacramentum Militiae: The Military Oath of Fidelity

Empty words in an age of chaos

The imperial perspective

An oath honoured?

Chapter 6 – Symbols of Power

Signa Militaria and Imagines

Signa Militaria: Heart of the Unit?

Imperial Co-option of the signa militaria

Images of Identity, Images of Power

Potestas Purpurae?

Christ’s Emperor?

Epithets of Identity

Emperors of the Third Century Crisis: Caracalla’s Heirs?

Diocletian, Constantine and the honorific epithets of the Notitia Dignitatum

Honorific Coinage

Concordia, Fides and Crisis

Virtus, Gloria and the Fourth Century Army




About the Author

Mark Hebblewhite completed his PhD at Macquarie University, Australia, in 2012 and has taught widely in the field of Ancient History. His research interests centre on the ideology and politics of the later Roman Empire, with particular reference to the role of the army. He is currently an Adjunct Associate Lecturer at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies