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The military and administrative reforms of the emperor Gallienus

Britton, P. D. (1981) The military and administrative reforms of the emperor Gallienus. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The military and administrative reforms of Gallienus affected the tactical organisation of the army, the composition and structure of the officer corps, and the social composition of the provincial administration. Gallienus' tactical reforms created a powerful body of cavalry, which represented the culmination to a century of increasing mobility and depth in defence. This "battlecavalry" was not the direct ancestor of the later comitatenses. but its tactical value and elite status paved the way for a "dual" system of defence involving frontier garrisons and centralised field-armies. His reforms of the officer corps involved the replacement of senatorial officers by equestrians, and the introduction of the protectorate. He hoped thereby to bind military commanders more closely to himself. The administrative reforms involved increasing the number of equestrian governors. Though senatorial governorships continued to occur, senators were henceforth without any real military power. Whether Gallienus ever issued an "edict" to this effect is uncertain, as is the motive behind the reform. Most scholars see in it an attempt to improve the quality of military leadership, but there is little evidence for this. It is preferable to agree with Aurelius Victor, that Gallienus feared the senators, and so deprived them of their commands. Together, Gallienus' creation of the "battlecavalry" and his reforms of the officer corps and provincial administration created the pre-conditions for the recovery of the Roman empire under the Illyrian emperors, and laid the foundations to the "Military Monarchy" of the later Roman empire.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1981
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Jul 2013 10:54

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