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Loyalty, the emperor and the Roman army, AD 235-395

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:45 authored by Mark Kenneth Hebblewhite
This thesis seeks to analyze the shape and composition o f the all-important relationship between the Roman emperor and the army from the beginning of the third century crisis in 235 until the death of Theodosius 1 in 395. In particular it attempts to understand the reasons a bond of fidelity (fides) could be created and maintained, or even broken between the emperor and his army. First, this thesis seeks to trace the qualities that the army demanded in their emperor if they were to maintain fidelity to his cause alone. Here, particular focus is placed on the army's demand that their emperor be an effective commander in the field (imperator) as well as a generous provider of the troops' praemia militiae. How the emperor could respond to these demands is also examined in detail. It will be shown that without successfully fulfilling these roles the emperor could not hope to maintain the loyalty of the army. Second, this thesis investigates the range of additional strategies an emperor could employ to strengthen the existing bond of fidelity he had with the army. These included a range of ceremonial interactions as well as a raft of tools designed to either prove to the troops that he was capable of meeting the criteria they demanded in their emperor; or that sought to encourage the troops to identify more closely with his cause and his cause alone. It will be stressed that all these tools could be useful but ultimately relied on the troops existing opinion of how the emperor fulfilled his key roles.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- 1. The warrior emperor -- 2. Advertising military success -- 3. Praemia Militiae -- 4. Rituals of identity -- 5. Symbols of power -- Conclusion.


"This thesis is presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Macquarie University Department of Ancient History, 8th February 2013." Bibliography: pages 350-369 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alanna Nobbs

Additional Supervisor 1

Peter Edwell


Copyright Mark Kenneth Hebblewhite 2013. Copyright disclaimer: Complete version suppressed due to copyright restrictions. However, on receipt of a Document Supply Request, placed with Macquarie University Library by another library, we will consider supplying a copy of this thesis. For more information on Macquarie University's Document Supply, please contact




1 online resource (xiv, 369 pages) colour illustrations

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