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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY

From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS

IX. THE EARLY EMPIRE: THE WORLD UNDER ROMAN RULE, 31 B.C.-l80 A.D.

Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe
Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe


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Page 11

THE PROVINCES OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

THE STANDING ARMY

The Roman Empire, at its widest extent in the second century, included forty-three provinces. They were protected against Germans, Parthians and other foes by twenty-five legions, numbering with the auxiliary forces, about three hundred thousand men. This standing army was one of Rome's most important agencies for the spread of her civilization over barbarian lands. Its membership was drawn largely from the border provinces, often from the very countries where the soldiers' camps were fixed. Though the army became less and less Roman in blood, it always kept in character and spirit the best traditions of Rome. The long intervals of peace were not passed by the soldiers in idleness. They built the great highways that penetrated every region of the empire, spanned the streams with bridges, raised dikes and aqueducts, and taught the border races the arts of civilization. It was due, finally, to the labors of the legionaries, that the most exposed parts of the frontiers were provided with an extensive system of walls and ramparts.

THE ROMAN ROADS

The Roman system of roads received its great extension during the imperial age. The principal trunk lines began at the gates of Rome and radiated thence to every province. Along these highways sped the couriers of the Caesars, carrying dispatches and making, by means of relays of horses, as much as one hundred and fifty miles a day. The roads resounded to the tramp of the legionaries passing to their stations on the distant frontier. Travelers by foot, horseback, or litter journeyed on them from land to land, employing maps which described routes and distances. Traders used them for the transport of merchandise. Roman roads, in short, were the railways of antiquity.

 

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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY: Table of Contents

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Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy

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