Eupedia Forums
Site NavigationEupedia Top > Eupedia Forum & Japan Forum
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Worst military defeats in Roman history

  1. #1
    Satyavrata Achievements:
    Three FriendsRecommendation First ClassVeteran50000 Experience PointsTagger First Class
    Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    8,981
    Points
    751,653
    Level
    100
    Points: 751,653, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 99.0%


    Ethnic group
    Italo-celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    4 members found this post helpful.

    Post Worst military defeats in Roman history



    Here is the summary of the worst military debacles suffered by the Romans during over 1000 years of history from the beginning of the Republic to the end of the Western Roman Empire.

    In chronological order:

    Battle of Heraclea (280 BCE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Roman Republic Epirus & Magna Graecia
    Strength 45,000 (8 legions + cavalry) 35,500
    Losses 7,500 to 15,000 killed
    + 1800 captured
    7,000 to 11,000

    Battle of the Trebia (218 BCE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Roman Republic Carthage
    Strength 40,000 (4 or 5 legions + auxiliaries) 40,000
    Losses 26,000 to 32,000 4000 to 5000

    Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BCE)

    Type of battle : ambush

    Belligerents Roman Republic Carthage
    Strength 30,000 55,000
    Losses 15,000 killed
    + 15,000 captured
    1,500 to 2,500

    Battle of Cannae (216 BCE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Roman Republic Carthage
    Strength 86,400 (8 legions + cavalry) 50,000
    Losses 67,500 to 85,500 5,700

    Battle of Noreia (113 BCE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Roman Republic Cimbri & Teutones
    Strength 30,000 300,000
    Losses 24,000 light

    Battle of Burdigalia (107 BCE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Roman Republic Cimbri, Teutones, Volcae + others
    Strength 40,000 unknown but very large
    Losses 10,000 light

    Battle of Arausio (105 BCE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Roman Republic Cimbri & Teutones
    Strength 120,000 (10–12 legions) 200,000
    Losses 120,000 15,000
    Remarks Defeat caused by personal
    bickering between the two
    consuls, Quintus Servilius Caepio
    and Gnaeus Mallius Maximus

    Battle of Carrhae (53 BCE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Roman Republic Parthian Empire
    Strength 36,000–43,000 (7 legions + cavalry) 10,000 cavalry
    Losses 20,000 killed + 10,000 captured 38 cataphracts
    Remarks Marcus Licinius Crassus killed


    Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (9 CE)

    Type of battle : ambush

    Belligerents Roman Empire Germanic tribes
    Strength 16,500 to 22,500 (3 legions) ~ 15,000
    Losses 16,000 to 20,000 minimal
    Remarks 3 legions destroyed

    Battle of Edessa (260 CE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Rome + Germanic allies Sassasian Persians
    Strength 70,000 unknown
    Losses over 60,000 minimal
    Remarks Emperor Valerian captured

    Battle of Adrianople (378 CE)

    Type of battle : pitched battle

    Belligerents Eastern Roman Empire Goths & Alans
    Strength 15,000 to 30,000 (7 legions) 12,000 to 20,000
    Losses 10,000 to 20,000 unknown
    Remarks Emperor Valens killed



    Worst defeats by number of casualties


    1. Battle of Arausio (105 BCE) : 120,000 dead
    2. Battle of Cannae (216 BCE) : up to 85,500 dead
    3. Battle of Edesa (260 CE) : over 60,000 dead
    4. Battle of the Trebia (218 BCE) : up to 32,000 dead
    5. Battle of Noreia (113 BCE) : 24,000 dead
    6. Battle of Carrhae (53 BCE) : 20,000 dead + 10,000 captured
    7. Battle of Lake Trasimene (217 BCE) : 15,000 dead + 15,000 captured
    8. Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (9 CE) : 16,000 to 20,000 dead
    9. Battle of Heraclea (280 BCE) : up to 15,000 dead + 1,800 captured
    10. Battle of Adrianople (378 CE) : 10,000 to 20,000 dead
    11. Battle of Burdigalia (107 BCE) : 10,000 dead



    Note that, except for Adrianopole, none of these battles took place during the declining phase of the empire from the late 2nd century to the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE. The reason is that battles during the Late Empire were typically smaller in size. There were plenty of small battles against barbarian incursions or local rebellions, but also numerous clashes between emperors and usurpers (Emperor Gallienus had to fight at least 12 usurpers). The few major battles were usually won by Rome (such as the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains in 451 CE).
    Last edited by Maciamo; 21-03-20 at 14:31.
    My book selection---Follow me on Facebook and Twitter --- My profile on Academia.edu and on ResearchGate ----Check Wa-pedia's Japan Guide
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?", Winston Churchill.

  2. #2
    Regular Member Achievements:
    3 months registered500 Experience Points

    Join Date
    11-11-19
    Posts
    102
    Points
    775
    Level
    7
    Points: 775, Level: 7
    Level completed: 13%, Points required for next Level: 175
    Overall activity: 14.0%

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    E-V13

    Country: Albania



    Romans totally evolved themselves from the fight against a superior person mentally as Hannibal. Hannibal totally owned them, and i think world history would have better pages if Hannibal sacked Rome. But, their stubbornness and luck won them, as well the jealousy of Carthaginian aristocracy against Hannibal's potential.

    Just as the Numidian general said to him: You, Hannibal, know how to gain a victory; you do not know how to use it.

  3. #3
    Regular Member Achievements:
    Three Friends50000 Experience PointsVeteran
    Awards:
    Community Award
    Salento's Avatar
    Join Date
    30-05-17
    Posts
    3,735
    Points
    68,465
    Level
    81
    Points: 68,465, Level: 81
    Level completed: 25%, Points required for next Level: 1,285
    Overall activity: 87.0%

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    T1a2 - BY143483
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H12a

    Ethnic group
    Italian
    Country: United States



    No one knows for sure what kind of “pages” could've been written if history would have been different.

  4. #4
    Regular Member Achievements:
    1 year registered10000 Experience Points

    Join Date
    25-06-18
    Posts
    912
    Points
    11,229
    Level
    31
    Points: 11,229, Level: 31
    Level completed: 97%, Points required for next Level: 21
    Overall activity: 47.0%

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R1b-M269 (LDNA)
    MtDNA haplogroup
    U5a1b

    Ethnic group
    Thracian
    Country: Greece



    Quote Originally Posted by Salento View Post
    No one knows for sure what kind of “pages” could've been written if history would have been different.
    I thought like most other empires, the Romans did not know when to stop expanding.They should have stopped at defensible borders. Italy + Balkans would have been defensible. You add the Gaul, Iberia, part of Germany and Asia Minor and it's no longer defensible.

  5. #5
    Satyavrata Achievements:
    Three FriendsRecommendation First ClassVeteran50000 Experience PointsTagger First Class
    Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    8,981
    Points
    751,653
    Level
    100
    Points: 751,653, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 99.0%


    Ethnic group
    Italo-celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    Quote Originally Posted by bigsnake49 View Post
    I thought like most other empires, the Romans did not know when to stop expanding.They should have stopped at defensible borders. Italy + Balkans would have been defensible. You add the Gaul, Iberia, part of Germany and Asia Minor and it's no longer defensible.
    The Roman empire grew somewhat "organically" without a plan to to conquer the world. It is mainly through the three Punic Wars that Rome asserted its domination over the western Mediterranean. That was because Romans and Carthaginians were mortal enemies. After that regions started to fall under the protection of the Roman Republic on their own. Greek cities asked the help of the Romans to regain their independence from the Macedonians and thus became allies and vassals of the Romans. Lacking an heir, Attalus III of Pergamum chose to bequeath his kingdom to Rome upon his death. Several other regions of Anatolia sought the protection of Rome against the kingdom of Pontus' expansionist policies.

    In Gaul, several tribes were allies or client states of the Romans long before Julius Caesar attempted to conquer the region. In fact it was the Aedui, an allied tribe honoured with the title of brothers and kinsmen of the Roman people, that requested Roman assistance to fight the invasion of the Germanic Suebi. Then a few years later the same Suebi pushed into the Alps and caused the Helvetii to migrate in mass toward western Gaul, causing upheaval among Gallic tribes who once again sought Roman assistance to sort their problems. The Sequani started pillaging the lands of the Aedui, Ambarri, and Allobroges, and these tribes, as Roman allies, asked for Caesar's help. Thus started the Gallic Wars, that were in fact Romans and Gauls against other Gauls.

    As for Egypt, the kingdom became allied to Rome thanks to Cleopatra's relationship with Caesar then Mark Antony, and was annexed without a fight after Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra.

    The Balkans were actually one of the regions that had to be conquered with arms through several campaigns, and it really started under Augustus. The Danube frontier was the most difficult to defend throughout Roman history. It could be argued that the empire would have been much easier to defend if the border had run along the Julian Alps and Macedonia, leaving Illyricum/Dalmatia, Pannonia and Moesia to the barbarians like Magna Germania.

    Central and Northwestern Iberia were also tough to conquer but remained pacified for centuries afterwards.

  6. #6
    Banned Achievements:
    10000 Experience Points1 year registered

    Join Date
    10-05-19
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    1,261
    Points
    17,472
    Level
    40
    Points: 17,472, Level: 40
    Level completed: 28%, Points required for next Level: 578
    Overall activity: 6.0%

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    T1a2 - BY143483
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H95a1

    Ethnic group
    North Italian
    Country: Australia



    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    The Roman empire grew somewhat "organically" without a plan to to conquer the world. It is mainly through the three Punic Wars that Rome asserted its domination over the western Mediterranean. That was because Romans and Carthaginians were mortal enemies. After that regions started to fall under the protection of the Roman Republic on their own. Greek cities asked the help of the Romans to regain their independence from the Macedonians and thus became allies and vassals of the Romans. Lacking an heir, Attalus III of Pergamum chose to bequeath his kingdom to Rome upon his death. Several other regions of Anatolia sought the protection of Rome against the kingdom of Pontus' expansionist policies.

    In Gaul, several tribes were allies or client states of the Romans long before Julius Caesar attempted to conquer the region. In fact it was the Aedui, an allied tribe honoured with the title of brothers and kinsmen of the Roman people, that requested Roman assistance to fight the invasion of the Germanic Suebi. Then a few years later the same Suebi pushed into the Alps and caused the Helvetii to migrate in mass toward western Gaul, causing upheaval among Gallic tribes who once again sought Roman assistance to sort their problems. The Sequani started pillaging the lands of the Aedui, Ambarri, and Allobroges, and these tribes, as Roman allies, asked for Caesar's help. Thus started the Gallic Wars, that were in fact Romans and Gauls against other Gauls.

    As for Egypt, the kingdom became allied to Rome thanks to Cleopatra's relationship with Caesar then Mark Antony, and was annexed without a fight after Octavian defeated Antony and Cleopatra.

    The Balkans were actually one of the regions that had to be conquered with arms through several campaigns, and it really started under Augustus. The Danube frontier was the most difficult to defend throughout Roman history. It could be argued that the empire would have been much easier to defend if the border had run along the Julian Alps and Macedonia, leaving Illyricum/Dalmatia, Pannonia and Moesia to the barbarians like Magna Germania.

    Central and Northwestern Iberia were also tough to conquer but remained pacified for centuries afterwards.
    Once Macedonia allied with Hannibal against Rome, Rome had no choice but take Albanian held Macedonian lands from Macedonia to stop any supplies and reinforcements aiding Hannibal, clearly Rome had no choice but to enter the Balkans......then after Hannibal was defeated, Rome turned their attention on Hannibal ally , Macedonia with IIRC a first war at pydna in 168BC ...........the die was cast at this point

    Philip of Macedon allies with Carthage

    After hearing of Rome's disastrous defeat at the hands of Hannibal at Cannae in 216 BC, Philip sent ambassadors to Hannibal's camp in Italy to negotiate an alliance. There they concluded in the summer of 215 BC a treaty, the text of which is given by Polybius.

    The First Macedonian War (214–205 BC) was fought by Rome, The Romans fought the ensuing war ineffectively, and in 205 the Peace of Phoenice ended the conflict on terms favourable to Philip, allowing him to keep his conquests in Dalmatian Illyria ( actually modern Montenegro.)

    The Second Macedonian War (200–196)
    https://www.britannica.com/place/Cynoscephalae

    Third Macedonian War (171–168)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pydna

  7. #7
    Satyavrata Achievements:
    Three FriendsRecommendation First ClassVeteran50000 Experience PointsTagger First Class
    Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    8,981
    Points
    751,653
    Level
    100
    Points: 751,653, Level: 100
    Level completed: 0%, Points required for next Level: 0
    Overall activity: 99.0%


    Ethnic group
    Italo-celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    Quote Originally Posted by torzio View Post
    Once Macedonia allied with Hannibal against Rome, Rome had no choice but take Albanian held Macedonian lands from Macedonia to stop any supplies and reinforcements aiding Hannibal, clearly Rome had no choice but to enter the Balkans......then after Hannibal was defeated, Rome turned their attention on Hannibal ally , Macedonia with IIRC a first war at pydna in 168BC ...........the die was cast at this point

    Philip of Macedon allies with Carthage

    After hearing of Rome's disastrous defeat at the hands of Hannibal at Cannae in 216 BC, Philip sent ambassadors to Hannibal's camp in Italy to negotiate an alliance. There they concluded in the summer of 215 BC a treaty, the text of which is given by Polybius.

    The First Macedonian War (214–205 BC) was fought by Rome, The Romans fought the ensuing war ineffectively, and in 205 the Peace of Phoenice ended the conflict on terms favourable to Philip, allowing him to keep his conquests in Dalmatian Illyria ( actually modern Montenegro.)

    The Second Macedonian War (200–196)
    https://www.britannica.com/place/Cynoscephalae

    Third Macedonian War (171–168)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pydna
    I suppose you are referring to what I wrote about Illyricum/Dalmatia being better left outside the empire? But you are referring to the region of Epirus (Albania and northwestern Greece), which was part of ancient Greece, not Illyricum/Dalmatia.

    I summarised as quickly as possible the timeline of Roman expansion above, but obviously the war against Macedonia is linked to the Punic Wars too.

  8. #8
    Banned Achievements:
    10000 Experience Points1 year registered

    Join Date
    10-05-19
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    1,261
    Points
    17,472
    Level
    40
    Points: 17,472, Level: 40
    Level completed: 28%, Points required for next Level: 578
    Overall activity: 6.0%

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    T1a2 - BY143483
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H95a1

    Ethnic group
    North Italian
    Country: Australia



    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I suppose you are referring to what I wrote about Illyricum/Dalmatia being better left outside the empire? But you are referring to the region of Epirus (Albania and northwestern Greece), which was part of ancient Greece, not Illyricum/Dalmatia.

    I summarised as quickly as possible the timeline of Roman expansion above, but obviously the war against Macedonia is linked to the Punic Wars too.
    I agree with you 100% on your first sentence

    I just included why Rome had to go to the Balkans. It was not their intention.

    The illyricum/Dalmatia/Pannonia events came to a climax in the 4 year war called the, Great Illyrian revolt, which was much later under the Empire and not the Republic.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •