The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome

By Steven K. Drummond; Lynn H. Nelson | Go to book overview

III
FEEDING THE ARMY: THE AGRARIAN SETTLEMENT

Demand and Supply

The imperial administrators had no intention of supplying indefinitely the tens of thousands of troops they were moving to the new frontier. Nor would they have been able to do so if they had wanted to. They intended from the start that the army would be supplied as fully and quickly as possible from local resources and with a minimal financial burden on the imperial treasury. Levies in kind in lieu of taxes began almost as soon as the first troops arrived on station. The huge military requirements for foodstuffs provided a critical demand that necessitated a rapid increase in local production. 1

Moreover, the military attracted civilians to the frontier. These immigrants fell into two general groups. The first consisted of a nonagricultural population of administrators, craftsmen, merchants, and their families, who provided an additional market for foodstuffs and raw materials. Since both Germans and Celts had traditionally been pastoralists, particularly stockmen, there were extensive tracts of essentially free, agriculturally underutilized lands in the frontier regions, at least in the early days of frontier settlement. Free lands and the prospect of immediate profits from the sale of agricultural products attracted a second group of Roman and Romanized newcomers composed of agricultural laborers and developers; this group led the way in the agricultural development of the frontier districts. 2

Military procurement policies were of primary importance in the location and success of agricultural centers, but civil settlements also played a role. The civilian population tended to concentrate near

-42-

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The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Maps vii
  • Preface ix
  • I- The Edge of Empire 3
  • II- The Frontier Takes Shape 13
  • Notes 35
  • III- Feeding the Army- The Agrarian Settlement 42
  • Notes 70
  • IV- Pastoral Pursuits- Ranching and Grazing on the Frontier 77
  • Notes 96
  • V- Trading on and beyond the Frontier 101
  • Notes 122
  • VI- The Towns and Cities of the Frontier 127
  • Notes 147
  • VII- The Growth of Industry 152
  • Notes 169
  • VIII- The "Romanization" of the Frontier 172
  • Notes 191
  • IX- The Gods and Goddesses of the Frontier 196
  • Notes 212
  • X- Final Thoughts 216
  • Notes 224
  • Chronology of the Roman Frontier 225
  • Glossary 235
  • Selected Bibliography 249
  • Index 267
  • About the Authors 277
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