Book Review: On Roman Military Matters by Vegetius

This little tome by the Roman scholar Flavius Vegetius Renatus was written sometime in the 5th Century A.D. and is known by several titles, the original Latin title is De re Militari but is variously known as the Epitome of Military Science and On Roman Military Matters, the copy I have uses the latter title. This is one of the few works that survived from antiquity in continuous publication, if you will. It was used as a text on military operations throughout the Middle Ages and has survived to this day. Just about every king, noble, and military leader of the Middle Ages had a copy of this book and had read it. It is quite simple and easy to read and is divided into two parts. The first part is describes the raising, organization, and training of a Roman Legion while the second part describes formations, strategy, and tactics during war. The most significant thing about this work is the influence it has had on the development of western warfare. The sections on battle formations was especially influential, pick just about any medieval battle and compares the formation used to those described in Vegetius and the influence is plain to see.
This book should be required reading for any student seeking a degree in military history, but at least at my school, it was not. The insights in Vegetius are not earth shaking. They do however; provide a framework for understanding why medieval battles were fought the way they were.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: On Roman Military Matters by Vegetius”

  1. Pingback: Book Review: On Roman Military Matters | Patrick's Military €¦ | Bahamas Cruise Vacation Packages

Comments are closed.