Roman Warfare


Roman warfare was remarkably successful over many centuries and across many territories. This was due to several important factors. Italy was a peninsula not easily attacked, there was a huge pool of fighting men to draw upon, a disciplined and innovative army, a centralised command and line of supply, expert engineers, and effective diplomacy through a network of allies.

More about: Roman Warfare


  • 750 BCE - 510 BCE
    The semi-legendary celeres or trossuli - a 300-man cavalry corps which the first kings of Rome incorporated into the legion - is formed, later their number is increased to 600.
  • 578 BCE - 535 BCE
    Servius Tullius, the king of Rome, increases the number of the cavalry corps (equites) to 1,800.
  • c. 508 BCE
    Lars Porsenna, Etruscan king of Chiusi, lays siege to Rome.
  • 498 BCE - 493 BCE
    Rome defeats the Latins.
  • 437 BCE - 435 BCE
    Rome defeats Etruscan Veii in the Veientine War; the Etruscan king Lars Tolumnius is killed.
  • c. 400 BCE
    The Roman cavalry is expanded to include riders who can pay for their own horse.
  • 396 BCE
    Rome sacks the Etruscan town of Veii after a ten-year siege.
  • 396 BCE
    Roman expansion begins with the capture of Veii from the Etruscans.
  • 390 BCE
    Gauls sack Rome.
  • c. 390 BCE
    "Gallic Catastrophe:" Brennus of the Senones defeats the Romans at Allia, and subsequently sacks Rome.
  • 356 BCE
    307 Roman prisoners are sacrificed in the forum of the Etruscan city of Tarquinia.
  • 343 BCE - 341 BCE
    First Samnite War (Rome vs. Samnites).
  • 326 BCE - 304 BCE
    Second Samnite War.
  • 298 BCE - 290 BCE
    Third Samnite War. Victory for Rome, peace with the Etruscans.
  • 298 BCE - 290 BCE
    Third Samnite War between Rome and the Samnite people.
  • 297 BCE
    Celts and Samnites join forces and defeat the Romans at Camertium.
  • c. 295 BCE
    In a battle lasting all day, Romans narrowly defeat a force of Celts and Samnites at Sentinum.
  • 295 BCE
    Roman victory over Samnites, Gauls and Umbrians at Sentinum.
  • 294 BCE
    A Roman army led by L. Postimius Megellus defeats an army from Etruscan Volsinii.
  • 285 BCE - 282 BCE
    Rome defeats the Celts in Italy. Rome's dominance in central Italy is secured.
  • 284 BCE
    Gauls of the Insubres and Boii tribes defeat the Romans at Arretium.
  • 283 BCE
    Rome decisively defeats the Senones at Picenum.
  • 280 BCE - 275 BCE
    King Pyrrhus of Epirus wages the Pyrrhic War against the Romans in Italy, defence of Tarentum being the pretext.
  • 280 BCE
    The Romans conquer the Etruscan cities of Tarquinia, Volsinii and Vulci.
  • 280 BCE - 272 BCE
    Roman war against Tarentum. Rome conquers Tarentum. Rome's dominance in lower Italy is secured.
  • Jul 280 BCE
    Pyrrhus defeats the Romans at the Battle of Heraclea.
  • 279 BCE
    Pyrrhus defeats the Romans at the Battle of Asculum.
  • 275 BCE
    The Romans defeat Pyrrhus of Epirus at the Battle of Maleventum.
  • 273 BCE
    Rome conquers the Etruscan town of Cerveteri.
  • 264 BCE
    The Mamertines at Messana on Sicily call for Carthaginian and then Roman help in defence against Syracuse, sparking the First Punic War.
  • 264 BCE - 241 BCE
    First Punic War. Carthage cedes Sicily to Rome.
  • 262 BCE
    Rome besieges and sacks Agrigento on Sicily in one of the first actions of the First Punic War.
  • 260 BCE
    First Roman naval victory against Carthage off Mylae in the First Punic War.
  • 260 BCE
    Rome builds a fleet of 120 ships in just 60 days to fight the First Punic War.
  • 258 BCE
    Rome wins a naval battle against Carthage at Sulcis during the First Punic War.
  • 256 BCE
    Roman naval victory against Carthage off Ecnomus during the First Punic War.
  • 256 BCE
    Rome lands an army of four legions on African soil at Clupea during the First Punic War.
  • 256 BCE
    Rome wins a land battle south of Tunis during the First Punic War.
  • 255 BCE - 253 BCE
    Roman fleets are wrecked by storms off Pachynus and Palinurus during the First Punic War.
  • 255 BCE
    A Carthaginain army led by the mercenary Spartan commander Xanthippus defeats two Roman legions near Tunis during the First Punic War.
  • c. 250 BCE - c. 200 CE
    Originally a Celtiberian weapon, the Gladius Hispaniensis was commonly used by Roman soldiers for more than four centuries.
  • Jun 250 BCE
    A Carthaginian army led by Hasdrubal is defeated by Roman consul Metellus near Palermo in the First Punic War.
  • 249 BCE
    Carthage defeats Rome in a naval battle at Drepanum during the First Punic War.
  • 241 BCE
    Roman naval victory off the Aegates Islands leads to victory over Carthage, ending the First Punic War.
  • 229 BCE - 228 BCE
    Rome fights Illyrian pirates. Queen Teuta pays tribute to Rome.
  • 223 BCE
    Romans successfully campaign against Celtic tribes of Cisalpine Gaul.
  • 222 BCE
    Rome conquers Cisalpine Gaul (modern-day Provence, France).
  • 219 BCE
    Hannibal crosses the Ebro river in Spain and sacks the city of Saguntum, Rome's ally, sparking off the Second Punic War.
  • 218 BCE - 201 BCE
    Second Punic War.
  • Mar 218 BCE
    Rome declares war on Carthage after Hannibal sacks Saguntum in Spain. The Second Punic War begins.
  • Apr 218 BCE - May 218 BCE
    Hannibal leaves Spain to cross the Pyrenees and Alps into Italy.
  • Nov 218 BCE
    Hannibal wins the battle of Ticinus.
  • Dec 218 BCE
    Hannibal wins the battle of Trebia.
  • Jun 217 BCE
    Hannibal wins the battle of Lake Trasimene.
  • Aug 216 BCE
    Hannibal wins the battle of Cannae, the worst defeat in Roman history.
  • 215 BCE
    A Carthaginian army led by Hasdrubal is defeated at the battle of Ibera in Spain.
  • 214 BCE - 205 BCE
    First Macedonian War: Rome defeats Philip V of Macedon.
  • 212 BCE
    A Carthaginian army is defeated in Sicily by a Roman army led by Marcellus. Syracuse falls to Rome who now control the island.
  • 211 BCE
    A Carthaginian army defeats two Roman consuls and their armies in the Tader valley, Spain.
  • 210 BCE - 207 BCE
    Scipio Africanus conquers Spain for Rome.
  • 209 BCE
    Scipio Africanus captures the Carthaginian base and treasury Carthago Nova in southern Spain.
  • 208 BCE
    Scipio Africanus defeats a Carthaginian army led by Hasdrubal at Baecula in Spain.
  • 207 BCE
    Hannibal, harassed by Roman forces, is reduced to controlling only Bruttium in southern Italy.
  • c. 22 Jun 207 BCE
    Rome defeats a Carthaginian army at the battle of Metaurus.
  • 206 BCE
    Scipio Africanus wins the battle of Ilipa in Spain.
  • 204 BCE - 203 BCE
    Scipio Africanus wins two battles and besieges Utica in North Africa.
  • 204 BCE
    Scipio Africanus sails to North Africa in the Second Punic War.
  • 203 BCE
    Carthaginian commander Mago is unable to join forces with Hannibal and his army is defeated in Cisalpine Gaul.
  • 203 BCE
    Scipio Africanus defeats a Carthaginian army led by Hasdrubal in North Africa.
  • 203 BCE
    Hannibal is recalled from Italy to defend Carthage against Scipio Africanus.
  • 19 Oct 202 BCE
    Battle of Zama: Scipio Africanus defeats Hannibal, ending the Second Punic War.
  • 200 BCE - 196 BCE
    Second Macedonian War: Roman victory.
  • 197 BCE
    Romans are victorious over Philip V of Macedon at Cynoscephalae.
  • 194 BCE
    Romans defeat Antiochus III at Battle of Magnesia.
  • 193 BCE
    The Boii are defeated by the Romans, suffering, according to Livy, 14,000 dead.
  • 190 BCE
    Battle of Magnesia ad Sipylum, disastrous defeat for Antiochos III against Romans.
  • 172 BCE - 168 BCE
    Third Macedonian War: Perseus of Macedon challenges Rome and is defeated.
  • Jun 168 BCE
    Romans defeat Perseus of Macedon at Pydna.
  • 150 BCE
    The Lusitani are betrayed and slaughtered by the Romans.
  • 149 BCE - 146 BCE
    Third Punic War.
  • 149 BCE
    Rome sends an army of 80,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry to attack Carthage.
  • 148 BCE
    The Roman siege of Carthage, in its second year, remains unsuccessful.
  • 147 BCE
    Viriathus leads the Lusitani in victory against the Romans.
  • 146 BCE
    Viriathus leads the Lusitani to a second victory against a Roman army, capturing Segobriga in Spain.
  • 146 BCE
    Scipio Africanus the Younger sacks Carthage and enslaves its population.
  • 133 BCE
    Rome captures Numantia. End of Iberian resistance.
  • 113 BCE
    Romans defeated at Noreia by the Cimbri.
  • 107 BCE - 100 BCE
    Gaius Marius reforms the Roman army.
  • c. 100 BCE
    Roman cavalry riders are by now classified as auxilia and organised in wings or alae.
  • 88 BCE - 63 BCE
    Mithridates of Pontus fights three wars to free Greece from Rome.
  • 86 BCE
    The Roman general Sulla sacks Athens and the port of Piraeus.
  • 82 BCE - 80 BCE
    Volterra is besieged and sacked by Roman general Sulla.
  • 69 BCE
    Licinius Lucullus leads a Roman army which defeats Armenian king Tigranes II and his capital Tigranocerta is captured. Artashat becomes the capital again.
  • 67 BCE
    Pompey assembles a naval fleet and attacks Pamphylia and Cilicia, principally to repress piracy.
  • 66 BCE
    Pompey the Great attacks the Armenian kingdom of Tigranes II and makes it a Roman protectorate.
  • 63 BCE
    The Roman general Pompey defeats the Seleucid Antiochus XIII and incorporates Syria as a province of the Roman empire.
  • 58 BCE - 51 BCE
    Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul.
  • 58 BCE
    Caesar attacks the Helvetii while on migration and defeats them.
  • 57 BCE
    A Roman army under Caesar narrowly defeats an army of Nervii, Atrebates, and Viromandui.
  • 56 BCE
    The navies of Rome and the Veneti Gauls clash resulting in a Roman victory. This is the first recorded naval battle in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 55 BCE - 54 BCE
    Julius Caesar's expeditions in Britain.
  • 53 BCE
    Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus compels Armenia to provide troops for his campaigns against Parthia.
  • 53 BCE
    Battle of Carrhae. Crassus is captured and executed by the Parthians.
  • 52 BCE
    Julius Caesar is defeated at Gergovia by Vercingetorix.
  • 52 BCE
    After becoming trapped and besieged at Alesia, Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar.
  • 49 BCE
    Julius Caesar besieges Massilia.
  • 38 BCE
    Octavian amasses a naval fleet to defeat Sextus Pompey.
  • 36 BCE
    Agrippa defeats the naval fleet of Sextus Pompey in the battle of Naulochos.
  • 2 Sep 31 BCE
    The Battle of Actium. Octavian defeats Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII.
  • 27 BCE - 19 BCE
    Cantabrian Wars: Roman conquest of the Iberian Penninsula.
  • 6 CE
    Augustus creates the aerarium militare, a treasury drawn from taxes in order to fund a professional Roman army.
  • 9 CE
    The Rhine River is established as the boundary between the Latin and German speaking worlds, following the defeat of the Roman army, under the command of Varus, at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
  • 15 CE
    Germanicus leads 12,000 men across the Rhine to attack the Chatti.
  • 43 CE
    Claudius commences the Roman conquest of Britain.
  • 43 CE
    Maiden Castle, a Celtic hilltop fort in southern Britain, is captured by Roman legions.
  • 54 CE - 60 CE
    Roman general Corbulo successfully campaigns in Armenia.
  • 58 CE - 63 CE
    Roman-Parthian War.
  • 60 CE - 61 CE
    Boudicca's Revolt in Britain.
  • 70 CE
    The city of Jerusalem is besieged and captured by Rome; the Second Temple destroyed.
  • 75 CE - 77 CE
    Romans defeat the last of the Northern tribes; Roman conquest of Britain complete.
  • 101 CE - 106 CE
    Trajan conquers Dacia.
  • 114 CE
    Roman emperor Trajan annexes Armenia and declares war on Parthia.
  • 167 CE - 180 CE
    Marcomannic Wars.
  • 192 CE
    Emperor Commodus is murdered, civil war ensues (until 197 CE).
  • 195 CE
    First Parthian war.
  • 232 CE
    Emperor Maximinus Thrax commands a legion in Egypt.
  • 293 CE
    Emperor Carausius assassinated by Allectus.
  • 312 CE
    Constantine defeats Maxentius at Milvian Bridge.
  • Sep 324 CE
    Constantine I defeats Licinius at Chrysopolis.
  • 367 CE
    Picts, Scots, Saxons, and Franks attack the Roman Empire.
  • 402 CE
    Alaric invades Italy.
  • 410 CE
    The Romans withdraw from Britain.
  • 24 Aug 410 CE
    Alaric sacks Rome.
  • 455 CE
    Vandals sack Rome.
  • 488 CE - 493 CE
    Theodoric the Great of the Ostrogoths conquers Italy.
  • 536 CE - 562 CE
    The Byzantine Empire conquers Italy.
  • 607 CE - 627 CE
    East Rome defeats Sasanian Persia.
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