PDA

View Full Version : Roman Empire v.s Japan!!! (Alternate Reality)



DarthArminius
2012-07-11, 04:16 PM
In an alternate reality, the Roman Empire has conquered a massive continent equal in size and power to the historical Roman Empire at it's height. (population 60,000,000) Japan's island nation is neighboring "Rome", and enjoys a technological edge equal to 1300's technology. Japan is a united Empire equaling 1/10 of the Roman Empire, but is seperated from Rome via the Sea.

The question is, if Rome launches a full-scale invasion against Japan, can it lose?

kpenguin
2012-07-11, 04:18 PM
Divine wind.

Eldan
2012-07-11, 04:20 PM
How are Rome's borders and politics? I mean, traditionally, Rome very often occupied with internal struggles, uprisings, civil wars and border skirmishes, in addition to succession problems, corruption and decadence.

If the full might of an Empire of 60'000'000 and its legions crashes down on Japan? I don't think they have a chance.

Brother Oni
2012-07-11, 04:23 PM
Barring another Kamikaze, it's likely the Japanese will lose due to the Roman numerical superiority.

14th century technology isn't that more advanced than Roman technology - if you advanced it to the 16th where the Japanese had arquebuses, things would be more even.

Prime32
2012-07-11, 04:23 PM
The Roman troops would probably surrender in the face of Japan's superior bathing technology. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Manga/ThermaeRomae) :smalltongue:

snoopy13a
2012-07-11, 04:25 PM
Barring another Kamikaze, it's likely the Japanese will lose due to the Roman numerical superiority.

14th century technology isn't that more advanced than Roman technology - if you advanced it to the 16th where the Japanese had arquebuses, things would be more even.

Would the Japanese cavalry having stirrups be the only major difference?

DraPrime
2012-07-11, 04:28 PM
What point in Roman military history? Are we talking about earlier days of the republic when they still had hastati and such, or is this as late as after Constantine's reforms? All this affects what weapons, tactics, and soldiers the Romans use.

DarthArminius
2012-07-11, 04:37 PM
It's around 100 BC or some such. .. Maybe around 30 AD.

GreenZ
2012-07-11, 04:46 PM
The big question would be 'Can the Romans get ships to the shore to start a ground-level invasion?' Sure, there would be millions of soldiers but there would not be nearly that many boats.

Japan at this time period would have early-era cannons along with all kinds of boat-destroying tactics; unless numerous boats of numerous people were sacrificed and a few lucky ones ferry enough across to hold a position to begin really pouring troops into Japan, I don't see how invasion is really possible.

I personally bet that Japan could hold it's waters easily enough to make even a full-scale invasion pretty ugly for the Romans.

Eldan
2012-07-11, 04:49 PM
Did Japan have flamethrowers? I remember seeing them on Chinese pictures, used in naval warfare.

Tavar
2012-07-11, 05:41 PM
Note that even if Japan could stop an invasion, it doesn't necessarily mean it will keep that edge: gunpowder, once you know about it, is pretty easy to make.

I wouldn't discount Stirruped horses, though. Those are a huge force multiplier.

Honestly, I don't think the Japanese can hold out forever: tech gaps will close, and then numbers are one of the primary deciders. If this really is one whole continent vs an island, then it's either luck(Divine Wind) or taking a third option.

I suggest drubbing the first fleet, then arranging a marriage to join the two nations together. Much less costly, and if you're part of the Imperial family it would help one's subjects.

DarthArminius
2012-07-11, 07:32 PM
Note that even if Japan could stop an invasion, it doesn't necessarily mean it will keep that edge: gunpowder, once you know about it, is pretty easy to make.

I wouldn't discount Stirruped horses, though. Those are a huge force multiplier.

Honestly, I don't think the Japanese can hold out forever: tech gaps will close, and then numbers are one of the primary deciders. If this really is one whole continent vs an island, then it's either luck(Divine Wind) or taking a third option.

I suggest drubbing the first fleet, then arranging a marriage to join the two nations together. Much less costly, and if you're part of the Imperial family it would help one's subjects.

France v.s England scenario maybe? England's slightly superior technology allowed England to thrive despite France trying to smother it militaristically and economically.

Cikomyr
2012-07-11, 09:35 PM
I just don't see how Japan's archery-heavy armies, with limited and crappy steel could even possibly stand up to Rome's steel-clad heavy infantry post Marian reforms.

I mean, except if the Japanese were to use some solid Fabian tactics and refuse combat to starve the Romans..

Even then, the Romans were reputed to march quite quickly. And they wouldn't have been above setting fire to as many Japanese city as they needed to win.

Kinslayer
2012-07-11, 09:39 PM
France v.s England scenario maybe? England's slightly superior technology allowed England to thrive despite France trying to smother it militaristically and economically.

France also had to fight anything in the mainland that felt like taking a shot, and England had mainland allies. France also didn't have as much of a number advantage as the senario presented here.

DarthArminius
2012-07-11, 10:11 PM
Hm I see. :0)

VanBuren
2012-07-12, 02:35 AM
Japan was a very civilized country. Unfortunately for Japan, the Roman Empire is a master urbanbender. Its mastery of the nature and essence of an ordered society would render all of Japan's attacks* harmless. This also served as the Empire's Achilles Heel since they began to rely on this ability to the exclusion of all else. So when the barbarians came a-marching in with their utter rejection of a societal structure, the Roman Empire lost its trump card.

I think I read that in a book once.



*As we all know, Japan was made up entirely of Lawful inhabitants: Lawful Good Samurai, Lawful Evil Ninjas, and Lawful Neutral Peasants. The shoguns didn't have alignments because one of them killed the last guy who tried. There were no exceptions to this rule. At all.

Brother Oni
2012-07-12, 06:31 AM
Would the Japanese cavalry having stirrups be the only major difference?

You'd be better off taking that question to the real world armour and weapons thread as specifics like that are a bit beyond my area of knowledge.

As Tavar said, I'd agree they're a significant force multiplier. Enough to overcome something like a 10:1 numerical disadvantage? I doubt it since cavalry require space to manoeuver and if there's space to manoeuver, there's space for the Romans to apply their numerical advantage.


Note that even if Japan could stop an invasion, it doesn't necessarily mean it will keep that edge: gunpowder, once you know about it, is pretty easy to make.

While I don't dispute the practicality of the Romans, nor their ability to adapt and integrate new military technology, the manufacture of gunpowder has always been extremely secretative and combined with the lack of widespread use of gunpowder weaponry at the listed timeframe by Japanese armies, it's unlikely the Romans would be able to steal it.
If the Romans had contact with the Chinese however, that would be an entirely different issue.



Japan at this time period would have early-era cannons along with all kinds of boat-destroying tactics;

However, cannon use didn't really become integrated with Japanese tactics until the Portugese arrive in the mid 16th century.
Any cannons they did have would be more curiousity pieces, possibly salvaged from the earlier Mongol invasions.

polity4life
2012-07-12, 07:56 AM
If the Romans had contact with the Chinese however, that would be an entirely different issue.


There are a handful of recorded attempts from both the Han dynasty and the Roman empire to contact one another. Here is the wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romano-Chinese_relations) entry that describes the various attempts by various rulers. Of course, these are the official attempts by the political entities. Indirect relations via commerce likely have happened for some time.

Whether or not these scant and largely ineffective attempts at diplomacy could be leveraged to provide the Romans with gunpowder is disputable but at the very least the avenues to establish relations between the two empires was explored.

Flickerdart
2012-07-12, 08:53 AM
1300s Japanese would try to board Roman ships with their own and then fight them hand to hand. While this happened, the Romans would just send more ships around those ships and land troops regardless of what happens to the other ones. In land battle, the Japanese strategies of "send mobs of peasants at them" and "use samurai who try to seek out worthy opponents and then engage them one on one" would crumple in the face of Roman legions fighting in formation.

Even without their numerical superiority, Rome would win handily.

Tavar
2012-07-12, 09:26 AM
Good point Flickerdart. In fact, the lack of good metal might be one of the biggest concerns. Japanese tactics and weaponry are optimized around there being little metal suitable for armor and weaponry. This isn't the case for the Romans, who are usually shown with full mail at the time periods chosen. And their tactics are actually well adjusted for fighting large groups of non-armor wearers.

Their desire to turn naval battles into land battles matches well with the Japanese desire to do the same.

Also, something else to consider: even if there are gunpoweder weapons, those aren't necessarily a trump card. Use of Cannons on ships is much more difficult than on land, and more importantly, they simply aren't too effective at their start. Early personal firearms fall into many of the same traps, and do sometimes have trouble piercing heavy armor. Their advantage was ease of use at first, only later eclipsing armor capabilities.

polity4life
2012-07-12, 09:58 AM
On Roman military materiel from a wikipedia entry on Roman military technology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_military#Equipment):

"...whilst the uniform possession of armour gave Rome an advantage, the actual standard of each item of Roman equipment was of no better quality than that used by the majority of its adversaries. The relatively low quality of Roman weaponry was primarily a function of its large-scale production, and later factors such as governmental price fixing for certain items, which gave no allowance for quality, and incentivised cheap, poor-quality goods."

Although the argument in favor of Rome presently is that volume and capacity will win the day over Japan, I feel that the argument against Japanese war materiel pitted against Rome's is not accurately representing the reality of the matter. Against armies that were woefully ill-equipped like Celts and Germanic tribes, before the Romans armed them, the Roman military did well. Against a standing army of likewise uniformly though equally ill-equipped troops, we're talking about a different battle.

Spiryt
2012-07-12, 10:09 AM
I wouldn't trust much in quotes from very general Wiki article, really.

In "classical" Roman period of greatest power from ~ 100 BC to 200 AD, roman legionary was pretty much professional soldiers for long years, pretty constantly in service - and while the pay and general profit was high, he was expected to be ready for the hardest fights.

Veteran legionaries would be generally very well equipped.

So again, there's a lot of those 'details' that make such discussions pretty silly - if there was some freshly raised legion, that also from whatever reason didn't have many veterans, centurions, etc. to help the newbies out, then they indeed could not have money, knowledge, means etc. to equip themselves well.

polity4life
2012-07-12, 11:26 AM
The quote I used is from this book, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire (http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Strategy-Roman-Empire-D/dp/0801821584). Wikipedia really gets a bad rap and is a pretty good source for valid information.

And the point of the quote still stands: mass production of arms reduced quality. Did the Marian reforms change this? To an extent but the real power from the reforms came from the training and sustaining of a standing army, a point you made. However the quality of the gear still suffered. It makes perfect sense that a standing army with ever growing enrollment that is to be equipped with public monies would be armed by the lowest bidder whose goods were likely shoddy compared to those with higher bids.

Tavar
2012-07-12, 11:39 AM
"Majority of their adversaries" is a bit of a problem. Yeah, they had a couple barbarian adversaries, but not too many, and most of those seemed to be relatively well armored, and not the screaming, naked horde often portrayed.

Additionally, poor compared to what? A modern mid-class station wagon uses inferior manufacturing from a modern day high class Mercedes, but if you compare it to high class cars from 70 years ago, it would likely be better in several ways. This isn't factoring in that the Japanese are also using comparatively shoddy equipment, due to the lack of good quality iron located on the isle.

Really, I'd say that the Japanese army from the time period chosen would most likely be similar to the Barbarian armies of the time: some professional warriors with good equipment leading a mass of effectively millitia.

Spiryt
2012-07-12, 11:57 AM
equipped with public monies would be armed by the lowest bidder whose goods were likely shoddy compared to those with higher bids.

Cost of the equipment was taken from the pay of the soldier initially, if he didn't already provided himself with anything - and while some fresh recruit might have been interested in being cheap bloke, it wouldn't last very long, because professional soldier won't save on thing that mattered life and death to him.

It just doesn't cope, stingy legionnaire had big chance of becoming crippled legionnaire during long years of service.


Yeah, they had a couple barbarian adversaries, but not too many, and most of those seemed to be relatively well armored, and not the screaming, naked horde often portrayed.

Majority of Germanic people wouldn't be well armored, no base for it at all, generally. Just not enough metal resources around for many warriors to spend it on mail, helmets etc.

And while they wouldn't be naked, but I dunno why shouldn't they be screaming. :smallwink:

Mando Knight
2012-07-12, 12:36 PM
I just don't see how Japan's archery-heavy armies, with limited and crappy steel could even possibly stand up to Rome's steel-clad heavy infantry post Marian reforms.Not only that, but Rome made use of large shields and the defensively tight testudo formation, rendering archery much less useful.

However, cannon use didn't really become integrated with Japanese tactics until the Portugese arrive in the mid 16th century.
Any cannons they did have would be more curiousity pieces, possibly salvaged from the earlier Mongol invasions.

Large, quality cannon also requires one thing that Japan didn't have in great quantities: iron. They did make some bronze cannon, but that was also in the mid-late 16th century.

Eldan
2012-07-12, 12:47 PM
If the Romans had contact with the Chinese however, that would be an entirely different issue.

That might make an other interesting vs. thread. Imperial Rome vs. Imperial China.

J.Gellert
2012-07-12, 12:52 PM
Why is this even a contest?

We have a number of shattered feudal realms and warriors with wooden armor against the greatest empire in history.

I'll elaborate.

Any points about Rome not being able to bring its full might to the fight are moot; Romans were notoriously good at logistics.

Any points about Rome having internal struggles are irrelevant. I bet half the lords in Japan would join the Romans as soon as the ships landed - how's that for internal struggle?

Taking this down to troops, the average Roman is a professional, well-equipped and (most importantly) well-disciplined soldier. The average Japanese "soldier" is a conscript, and probably a fisherman. :smalltongue: The only "warriors" in Japanese society are the samurai, but the Romans already have their own heavy cavalry (and I dare say it's well-equipped and has much better discipline and tactics).

And I don't think Rome is that far behind in technology; Sure, they don't have gunpowder, but they'd have perfectly good siege engines and a number of professional engineers to provide the required infrastructure, vessels, and more siege weapons, plus liberal use of fire.

And you know, fire beats everything.

Eldan
2012-07-12, 12:55 PM
Taking this down to troops, the average Roman is a professional, well-equipped and (most importantly) well-disciplined soldier. The average Japanese "soldier" is a conscript, and probably a fisherman. :smalltongue: The only "warriors" in Japanese society are the samurai, but the Romans already have their own heavy cavalry (and I dare say it's well-equipped and has much better discipline and tactics).


That depends heavily on era for Rome. Choose the right era, and the army changes to "nobles bringing their own weapons" or "provincial mercenaries using mass-produced crap and whatever they have".

polity4life
2012-07-12, 01:00 PM
Additionally, poor compared to what?

My interpretation of the author's quote is that the quality of Roman materiel was comparable to that of Rome's opponents. Without purchasing the book, I don't think we can glean if that quote is being used out of context or if we're lacking something more.



Really, I'd say that the Japanese army from the time period chosen would most likely be similar to the Barbarian armies of the time: some professional warriors with good equipment leading a mass of effectively millitia.

I'm trying to find something about the history of the Japanese army pre-Tokugawa. I have a decent handle on that from Sekigahara onward but my knowledge base before that falls somewhere between "herp" and "derp". All I know is that Japanese armies during the 14th century did not have gunpowder.

My uninformed guess is that Japanese armies were comprised of very few professionals, namely nobles, who pressed peasants into service. Should that be true and if we controlled for equipment then the Romans simply can't lose against this Japanese army, which brings me to my point of contention: I think that equipment will play a huge role in determining how this war would play out though.

I'll try to do some research later tonight. Hopefully the thread won't die before then.

@ Spiryt:

Right but not all legions were well equipped or had opportunities to nab fantastic plunder to pay for superior arms. If quality was some categorical variable that we fit to a distribution then I guarantee there would be skewed in favor of those who could not afford much better gear than what was provided. This is entirely conjecture but it makes sense on its face.

I'm not sure how plunder was distributed in legions but I'm guessing it worked much like pay does now: leaders take the most and what's left is distributed among the poor multitude. Feel free to fill in the blanks on this even if only for my edification.

@ Eldan:

I thought we had a Rome vs. China thread about a year or so ago.

Ravens_cry
2012-07-12, 01:07 PM
That might make an other interesting vs. thread. Imperial Rome vs. Imperial China.

I wonder what would draw them into conflict. Disputes over trade along the Silk Road, or one simply growing until they bumped into each other?

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-12, 01:49 PM
I wonder what would draw them into conflict. Disputes over trade along the Silk Road, or one simply growing until they bumped into each other?

Han China. It is a place, correct? One that exists on the same planet as Rome? That's a good enough reason for the Romans to conquer/pacify it.

Beyond the issue of poor Japanese metal and equally poor tactics against Rome, let's just remember: It doesn't matter how many they loose, the Romans will never surrender if angry enough. Hannibal killed 1/10th of all military age Romans in the world in a single battle at Cannae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cannae), and what did the Romans do? Did they surrender? Did they cower? Hell no. They spent 10 minutes freaking out a little, and then they doubled down. They made it illegal to utter the word "Peace". They sent the survivors of the destroyed legions to Sicily because they didn't have the decency to die. When Hannibal's diplomats showed up to offer back prisoners, the Senate said "keep them".

Japan is toast.

Philistine
2012-07-12, 02:21 PM
Then again, Hadrian's Wall. Because sometimes the Romans just say, "Eh, fuggeddaboudit. It ain't worth the hassle to conquer a cold, barren, rocky island full of barbarians."

I think the answer to the OP is going to depend on the conditions of the conflict. Why are these two powers fighting at all? Is Japan a rival power (cue choruses of "Osaka delenda est")? That seems unlikely for the insular Japanese. And if it's just territorial expansion, I don't think the Romans are going to be that fired up.

ETA: I am not not not saying the Romans would be defeated militarily. What I would expect, though, is that the Legions get up a little way north of the Kanto plain and then decide enough is enough - nothing else in the islands is valuable enough to fight over.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-12, 02:36 PM
ETA: I am not not not saying the Romans would be defeated militarily. What I would expect, though, is that the Legions get up a little way north of the Kanto plain and then decide enough is enough - nothing else in the islands is valuable enough to fight over.

Possibly. It really depends on what era of Roman Legion. Punic Wars Legions means Japan is in trouble. Post Augustus less so. Anytime around Marius and the legions are earth-shattering juggernauts of unstoppable.

dehro
2012-07-12, 02:42 PM
apologies if this has been clarified and I missed it..but..
I do think, though I can't confirm it, that in the time period you posit neither nation knew about compasses.. so if the coasts of the 2 nations are further away than both of them being visible from a boat somewhere halfway inbetween them..(I know, convoluted..there's a better way to say it, I'm sure..but I'm having a black out) nothing would happen. because I don't think that their navigators ever left the coastline out of their sight..for fear of getting lost at sea.
so how close are these nations?

another issue... we know that the roman empire was massive and that it had massive numbers of legions, troops and so on.. but how many people did they actually manage to field in their biggest battles?
Sekigahara saw about 160.000 soldiers duke it out... more or lest evenly matched 80k per side.
off the top of my head, I think Philippi was one of the biggest battles the Romans ever fought..as far as numbers go.. about 100k per side.
would the romans be able to field, manage and effectively comand a force any larger than that on the battlefield, come the day? because if not, that evens things out nicely, for the japanese.

J.Gellert
2012-07-12, 03:15 PM
Han China. It is a place, correct? One that exists on the same planet as Rome? That's a good enough reason for the Romans to conquer/pacify it.

Beyond the issue of poor Japanese metal and equally poor tactics against Rome, let's just remember: It doesn't matter how many they loose, the Romans will never surrender if angry enough. Hannibal killed 1/10th of all military age Romans in the world in a single battle at Cannae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cannae), and what did the Romans do? Did they surrender? Did they cower? Hell no. They spent 10 minutes freaking out a little, and then they doubled down. They made it illegal to utter the word "Peace". They sent the survivors of the destroyed legions to Sicily because they didn't have the decency to die. When Hannibal's diplomats showed up to offer back prisoners, the Senate said "keep them".

Japan is toast.

So much this. Why can't we "like" posts? :smallbiggrin:

Tyndmyr
2012-07-12, 03:22 PM
In an alternate reality, the Roman Empire has conquered a massive continent equal in size and power to the historical Roman Empire at it's height. (population 60,000,000) Japan's island nation is neighboring "Rome", and enjoys a technological edge equal to 1300's technology. Japan is a united Empire equaling 1/10 of the Roman Empire, but is seperated from Rome via the Sea.

The question is, if Rome launches a full-scale invasion against Japan, can it lose?

Nah, probably not. It's got numbers, it's got a much more fluid culture that's more able to adjust to counter the others, it has a MUCH better history of dominating via military conquest, and I believe it even has a better naval history.

Rome wins hands down.

Brother Oni
2012-07-12, 05:47 PM
Beyond the issue of poor Japanese metal and equally poor tactics against Rome, let's just remember: It doesn't matter how many they loose, the Romans will never surrender if angry enough.

Neither do the Japanese. There are records of the defenders of besieged castles marching out to battle in a last stand when they knew they couldn't hold out any longer, and apparently this was a routine occurrence.

For a more modern view, there were significant elements of the Imperial Japanese military that wanted to continue fighting even after both atomic bombs were dropped.

While depictions of bushido are often glamorised and romanticised, there's still some truth in the determination that samurai possessed.



I do think, though I can't confirm it, that in the time period you posit neither nation knew about compasses..

The Romans didn't, but the earliest recorded Chinese use of a compass for navigation was the late 13th century, so it's highly likely that the Japanese knew about compasses, but possibly not for use in sea navigation.



Sekigahara saw about 160.000 soldiers duke it out... more or lest evenly matched 80k per side.

Sekigahara is also about 200 years after the timeframe posited by the OP, so the numbers there are of limited use in this scenario.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-12, 07:59 PM
Sekigahara is also about 200 years after the timeframe posited by the OP, so the numbers there are of limited use in this scenario.

Most numbers from historical Roman battles are also suspect, but I have it on good authority (http://www.amazon.com/The-Ghosts-Cannae-Hannibal-ebook/dp/B0036S4AOK) that Cannae at least had a Roman army nearing 100,000 soldiers, two full Consular armies. Two of these super armies supposedly did battle against each other at Phillipi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Philippi) centuries later, but the Wiki page I linked to suggests two full 200,000 man armies counting auxilia.

I don't have numbers on 14th Century Japanese armies, but I assume an island nation cannot field the same amount of troops as a continent. You were right about the Japanese in this case possessing resolve, but I would point out that they would most likely be outnumbered and outgunned (so to speak). Logistically the Romans still hold the advantage, but if the Japanese make enough trouble, Rome will go Dacia on them.

Flickerdart
2012-07-12, 10:24 PM
For a more modern view, there were significant elements of the Imperial Japanese military that wanted to continue fighting even after both atomic bombs were dropped.
The leadership did; whether or not the morale of the people actually doing the fighting would have held is another matter entirely.

Mistral
2012-07-13, 12:04 AM
Neither do the Japanese. There are records of the defenders of besieged castles marching out to battle in a last stand when they knew they couldn't hold out any longer, and apparently this was a routine occurrence.

For a more modern view, there were significant elements of the Imperial Japanese military that wanted to continue fighting even after both atomic bombs were dropped.

While depictions of bushido are often glamorised and romanticised, there's still some truth in the determination that samurai possessed.

Some of that's fair, but be careful about back-tracing modern examples like the World War 2 surrender situation; the most dramatic romanticization of bushido spirit and the glorification of the indomitable will of the samurai comes about in the 19th century, well after the samurai have been reduced as an effective fighting force, much like King Arthur mythos and the study of (frequently revisionist) folklore became really popular around the Victorian era. There has always been a pragmatic air about actual samurai in eras where they actually fight, just as you'd find in real warriors. Just in the Sengoku Jidai alone, you end up with people who betray (Mitsuhide against Nobunaga, Mitsunari against Ieyasu), people who submit (Ieyasu against Hideyoshi, Mori Terumoto and Shizumasu Yoshihiro against Ieyasu - the latter actually fought Ieyasu because he had already defected once after being defeated by Mototada under Mitsunari), and so forth. You can point to seppuku, but it's hardly a uniquely Japanese thing; there's a reason why, even in the West, we have the saying "falling on one's blade." That tradition comes to us from, naturally, our corresponding Enlightenment and Victorian glorification of Roman culture and Roman militarism. Besides, more pragmatically, by that point in your own example, Japan had already attempted to surrender twice, respectively through neutral Sweden and the then-neutral Soviet Union. Their demands were simply considered unacceptable in the first case, and in the second case, Stalin was already preparing to make his own land-grab and quietly filed it away.

Setting that aside, a perfect comparison for Japanese capabilities in this era would be the Mongol invasions, which are right in the same century. According to the ever-reputable Wikipedia, the Japanese did manage to mobilize around 40-60k on short notice against the second Mongol invasion. That was with preparation thanks to their first attempt a decade ago, mind you, but a Roman invasion would definitely stimulate a similar military mobilization, and even in the "peaceful" days of the Kamakura between the Joukyuu War and the first Mongol invasion, government was still very militarized, with a parallel system of military governors in existence (the shugo, some of whom would become styled as daimyo through their own aggrandizement as the bonds of society collapsed in the fall of the Ashikaga) alongside the increasingly-nominal civilian government. The numbers from Sekigahara may actually be a reasonable judgement for the raw manpower that Japan could call upon once forced into action, while Bun'ei (10k) is probably better for the very first few engagements, before they mobilize their forces. If you're worried about population numbers, bear in mind that even an island nation with a thousand years of agricultural development and advancement on an empire will be able to support a far larger population than the relative sizes would suggest, and proportionately, field a larger army to its size. That said, estimated population of Japan in this era would have been around 7 million, 10 if we're feeling rather generous. Estimated population of the Roman Empire around 25 BC would have been 56 million at the lowest, and more likely closer to 80-120 million judging by modern estimates. In other words, even if the Roman Empire and Japan field similar-sized armies, the Roman Empire can stomach far more losses than Japan can. Assuming they don't pull a Hadrian with this worthless, restive island, taking the most prosperous/easily secured areas and walling off the rest, they can bleed the Kamakura shogunate white and still come back for more. About the only bright side you can say is that the Romans won't be able to steal more complicated methods of controlling large armies from the Japanese, but that's because the Japanese don't have them, either; post-Mongol records attest to their lukewarm reception to not only the Mongol style of mass combat over the Japanese methods of single combat between champions that better suit antiquity Greece in the West, but also the Mongol use of drums and bells to signal advances and retreats.

As for Japanese sea navigation, look at how pathetically they managed against Korea in 1592. Yi Sun-shin was a genius, yes, but his genius was not limited to tactical matters. He literally built the Korean navy up on a basis of gunnery and mobility that Drake and Nelson would find little fault in (and such that his foes had to find someone as incompetent as Won Gyun to actually wreck it). By contrast, just looking at their capabilities in that war with centuries of lessons learned, I suspect that even the liburnians of Rome would be a good match for 16th (much less 13th) century Japanese ships, which were rarely custom-built for war (being largely modified merchant ships or light single-sail galleys even in the Imjin Wars) and less manouevrable; quinqueremes, the Roman mainstay, would likely be their superior, but definitely their equals. The Japanese were never a naval power until very recently; they simply never needed it until the Imjin Wars, which would still be three centuries away. Rome, though similar in this era (with the last Mediterranean threats eliminated and the entire Sea a Roman pond due to their land holdings alone, the navy is just beginning to enter an age of decline that won't be reversed until the 3rd or 4th centuries), still operated significant river fleets on the Rhine and other major boundary rivers. Also, don't underestimate navigation without a compass; stellar navigation, though restricted to clear nights, has existed for thousands of years, and nautical charts, by this point in Rome, have been around for five centuries. Plus, the compass, once understood, is trivial to reproduce; lodestone is already known in Rome and Greece, though its relation to the Earth's magnetic field was not. Carthaginians were already using sounding ropes to determine depth in order to identify proximity to shore even in unfamiliar waters, as well.

dehro
2012-07-13, 02:41 AM
The Romans didn't, but the earliest recorded Chinese use of a compass for navigation was the late 13th century, so it's highly likely that the Japanese knew about compasses, but possibly not for use in sea navigation.



Sekigahara is also about 200 years after the timeframe posited by the OP, so the numbers there are of limited use in this scenario.

Sekigahara was my point of reference in a "of the top of my head" kind of way..for sheer numbers.. as is Philippi. what I'm aiming at is that neither faction has ever placed more than 100.000 men on a single battlefield (yes, Philippi was 200.000, but those were 2 opposite factions). what I am getting at is that we don't know that they could do it even if they had the numbers of soldiers for it. we don't know that they could manage the supply lines for any number bigger than they fielded (otherwise, why not field more soldiers in those battles? they sure had them).. that they could keep the chain of command intact, functioning and manageable..that orders would be relayed without confusion and so on. this goes for both sides..
on a sidenote..in the century chosen for the confrontation, wasn't pretty much every japanese liable to being drafted/trained rather than "just" the samurai class?
I'm just thinking that logistics, administration and such play as big a part as military prowess in this game..after all an army doesn't march on an empty stomach..and the Romans in particular were known to cause serious trouble if they didn't get paid and fed. these impediments should somewhat even the field of battle, numerically speaking... especially if this version of the Roman empire is as large and spread out as the real one was. they simply couldn't ammass all their legions on one front or they'd face open rebellions in other areas..and even if they chose to go all out on the japanese front and ignore the issues this caused..it would still take years to move legions from one side of the empire to the other... so I don't think that "the romans would swarm the japanese by sheer numbers" is in fact a viable answer. let's also not forget that at the hight of it's power, most of the legions really were mercenaries who did fight for coin and not for country. this would affect things too, especially facing the japanese who have a history of really not wanting to give up.

Brother Oni
2012-07-13, 02:41 AM
A very sound and detailed post, Mistral, but as you've said, naval comparisons during the Imjin wars be a little too advanced technology wise, due to the regular use of cannon on ships, not to mention the small numbers of turtle ships the Koreans used absolutely messing up Japanese tactics.

Sailing conditions in the Mediterranean Sea are generally very calm and even then the Romans weren't that renown for their naval prowess. I'm not so sure that Roman ships could cope that well with rougher conditions on the Sea of Japan and certainly not with the regular typhoons they get every year.

dehro
2012-07-13, 02:57 AM
Sailing conditions in the Mediterranean Sea are generally very calm and even then the Romans weren't that renown for their naval prowess. I'm not so sure that Roman ships could cope that well with rougher conditions on the Sea of Japan and certainly not with the regular typhoons they get every year.

you may want to rethink that thought.
The misconception that because it's comparatively small and looks rather secluded compared to oceanic masses it's plain sailing, is one that has ran several people aground.
In fact, the Mediterranean is littered by wrecks of ships brought down by bad weather over the centuries.
The fact that it practically landlocked doesn't take away from the fact that sheer size of the Mediterranean Sea allows for strong currents, storms and whatnot to develop. even today, not a week goes by without the news reporting of some boat/ship full of refugees losing half the people on board due to bad weather... agreed, those are rubbish boats to today's standards..but in terms of seaworthyness and navigation equipment, they're centuries ahead of anything the romans or japanese of the day could field.
Just to name one, sometimes around 1850, a french frigate wanting to join in the crimean war was caught in a storm in that little stretch of water inbetween Sardinia and Corsica.. it smashed on the rocks and everybody on board died.. about 700 victims.
Entire fleets were scattered and sometimes sunk by bad weather and storms, during the middle ages.
no, I'm pretty sure the Romans always navigated within sight of the nearest landmass..to be on the safe side.

Xondoure
2012-07-13, 03:28 AM
Geography wise I'm sort of picturing Japan Where Britain is because nothing else makes sense in my head. If that's the case, then the Romans have this, as a Kamikaze is unlikely.

kpenguin
2012-07-13, 03:34 AM
I think the thing we need to be thinking about is that we're not actually looking at the historical Roman Empire. The historical Roman Empire was not in full command of an entire continent. It had external enemies and internal troubles and it certainly did not, and could not, bring to bear the full collective might of its armies on one group of islands.

dehro
2012-07-13, 03:54 AM
quite so, which is why I think it's fair to take the 2 top values of numbers we know they've fielded in a single battle.. 100.000 men for the Romans and 88.000 men for the Japanese as something of a guideline and reference.
of course a war is more often than not not fought in a single battle and the frontline may be more extended than that.. and involve additional troops, but those can't be quantified and sooner or later there are going to be main pitched battles...in strategic points on the map.

Killer Angel
2012-07-13, 04:08 AM
In an alternate reality, the Roman Empire has conquered a massive continent equal in size and power to the historical Roman Empire at it's height. (population 60,000,000) Japan's island nation is neighboring "Rome", and enjoys a technological edge equal to 1300's technology. Japan is a united Empire equaling 1/10 of the Roman Empire, but is seperated from Rome via the Sea.

The question is, if Rome launches a full-scale invasion against Japan, can it lose?

I have some problems with this scenario.
Rome bringing its full might against Japan: absolutely no contest.
BUT...
if we're discussing a territory large as the historical Roman Empire at it's height, and Japan is at the borders... then Rome will have problems in concentrating the blow. It's military resources are dispersed in a huge continent, the legions involved in this invasions will be a relatively small number, the governors will be far away from the central power of the empire, and if they'll find themselves in need of support, it will require a long time.
In this scenario, the roman logistic and the massive distances involved, work in favor of Japan, in the same way the expansion of Roman Empire halted, when they reached the "critical mass".

Brother Oni
2012-07-13, 06:43 AM
you may want to rethink that thought.

Let me amend my statement - sailing conditions in the Mediterranean are relatively calm compared to those in the Sea of Japan.



no, I'm pretty sure the Romans always navigated within sight of the nearest landmass..to be on the safe side.

Which makes getting to Japan tricky as the closest it is to the mainland is at the Tsushima strait (65km) and some digging indicates that at an elevation of 16m above sea level (a generous measurement of a galley mast), distance to the horizon is ~15km.

Mando Knight
2012-07-13, 09:36 AM
no, I'm pretty sure the Romans always navigated within sight of the nearest landmass..to be on the safe side.

Which makes getting to Japan tricky as the closest it is to the mainland is at the Tsushima strait (65km) and some digging indicates that at an elevation of 16m above sea level (a generous measurement of a galley mast), distance to the horizon is ~15km.
Which proves that the Romans did not always navigate within sight of a landmass: it's known they were on Cyprus, Crete, and Great Britain (is there a name for the main island?), and Google Earth shows that they're all over 40km from the next nearest landmass. Tunisia (where Carthage was) is well over 100km from Sicily, and we know they took that path to reach Carthage during the Punic Wars. The distance from Egypt to Italy is much greater than that, but it, too, is a known path for marine commerce (importing Egyptian Papyrus, for example).

Rome also policed its aquatic realms, something that early 14th century Japan apparently didn't, since the local warlords could profit from piracy. It wasn't until China tried to re-open trade with Japan that they resumed policing their waters.

Dr.Epic
2012-07-13, 09:50 AM
Based on my knowledge of anime, Japan challenges Rome to a children's card game.:smalltongue:

Mistral
2012-07-13, 10:36 AM
A very sound and detailed post, Mistral, but as you've said, naval comparisons during the Imjin wars be a little too advanced technology wise, due to the regular use of cannon on ships, not to mention the small numbers of turtle ships the Koreans used absolutely messing up Japanese tactics.

Sailing conditions in the Mediterranean Sea are generally very calm and even then the Romans weren't that renown for their naval prowess. I'm not so sure that Roman ships could cope that well with rougher conditions on the Sea of Japan and certainly not with the regular typhoons they get every year.

Actually, turtle ships were never that significant, for all that they have fired the imagination in recent times. The major Korean ships were panokseons, closer to shallow-draft galleons (in that they provided gunnery platforms and height advantage) than anything, and its from these that Korea gained its major advantage. Their most dramatic victory at Myeongnyang (12 against 400), for instance, was accomplished without a single geobukseon. I primarily considered the Imjin Wars because 13th century naval capabilities of Japan were far more primitive than the Imjin Wars, since the Japanese didn't begin any sort of naval build-up until the Sengoku era; they never challenged the Mongols while under weigh, but waited for them to come to them on land. If even their 16th century ships barely match up to Roman ships, then their (largely nonexistent) 13th century fleet stands even less chance. The Japanese "navy" in this era consisted largely of the wokou pirates (which never answered to central authority and had to be crushed by Toyotomi) and commandeered merchantmen and fishing craft, such as the light craft used to board the Mongol ships during their second attempt. Something like that would not have worked quite as well against even purpose-built ships (if the Khan had not been impatient), much less Roman warships designed entirely around that style of warfare.

Romans were never known for naval prowess, correct, but the Mediterre was far from easy. Still, dehro, I agree with Brother Oni that it was far easier than the Eastern Sea. Tidal concerns were next to nonexistent, and apart from winds that could come up without warning like the meltemi (sharp, but steady Aegean), bora (gusty Adriatic), or more intense levants (wet Western Mediterre winds that, when strong, cause heavy swells and occasional gales) and libeccios (similar, but around the Corsica/Tyrhennian area), there were fewer concerns as long as you didn't travel too close to shore and had decent charts. That said, I disagree in that Romans did make the trip to Britain and back regularly in the more inclement waters of the North Atlantic Channel as well. I think they could have made the trip, and even survived. The Mongols certainly managed in their craft, which were made on the northern tradition (primarily operating on rivers or Yellow Sea) rather than that of the Southern Song or Koreans.

Wardog
2012-07-13, 11:07 AM
it's known they were on Cyprus, Crete, and Great Britain (is there a name for the main island?)

Yes - "Great Britain".

Makensha
2012-07-13, 03:59 PM
I'm picturing a Roman phalanx walking towards an army of Japanese samurai and peasants.

With even numbers, I still don't see Japan having much of a chance.

Cikomyr
2012-07-13, 11:49 PM
I'm picturing a Roman phalanx walking towards an army of Japanese samurai and peasants.

With even numbers, I still don't see Japan having much of a chance.

This. No matter how ferocious or courageous the Japanese Samurai were at the time, they just wouldn't stand a change against a fully equipped Marian Legion. Heavily armored infantry with huge shields. Japan just doesn't have the armored military culture to deal with that kind of ennemy.

They'd throw lots of arrows at the ennemy, and might get cut down if they even dare to engage a melee. Otherwise, Samurai have little better than guerilla warfare to fight the Romans. It's no contest.

CarpeGuitarrem
2012-07-14, 12:25 AM
Based on my knowledge of anime, Japan challenges Rome to a children's card game.:smalltongue:
And then cuts through swathes of Roman infantry with a single katana. :smallbiggrin:

:smalltongue:

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-14, 02:01 AM
And then cuts through swathes of Roman infantry with a single katana. :smallbiggrin:

Too bad Rome has that infinite can-do attitude mentioned earlier. Spiral Power and all that. :smallcool::smallwink:

Story Time
2012-07-14, 04:32 AM
...Mistral has a really bad habit of impressing me with her posts...


...in this hypothetical scenario, Mongolia, China, and India still exist to some extent, I think. This is one more reason to re-enforce the repeated statement that, "Rome will not be sending more than fifty million troops, of any kind, let alone cavalry, to Japanese shores." So while I agree with Mistral that the government of Rome in this postulate could stomach more losses, much of Rome's front-line troops would still be necessary to war against main-land barbarians and other harassers.

Japan's material resources for military application is directly determined by the Japanese government's control of Hokkaido. Armin's premise in the opening post confirms that Japan would have access to the massive stores of iron, other precious metals, and lots of farm land within Hokkaido's shore lines. The shogunate would have access to this material and would significantly impact the Japanese Empire's ability to field well-equipped armies if not cannonades.

This would change the scope of the conflict to a significant degree. Not large, but significant.

Another question: Trade. Does Rome have enemies that Japan can trade with by sea? Is Japan in the habit of trading with these nations? If not, would the threat change the shogunate's policy? What Japan lacks in materials it has long made up for in craftsmanship and technological innovation, even in the restricted feudal era.


Also, another relevant factor: Espionage in the form of shinobi, geisha ( arts person ), and ninja. With all of the politics and rivalries among the Romans it should also be remembered that the Japanese sense of hospitality and serenity has a not-negligible knack for finding secrets and assassinating the officers of enemy armies. Given the potential social espionage values in Japan and Rome's ( to my knowledge ) glaring lack in this area, this is also worth considering.


...just some thoughts, really, not an argument. :smallsmile:

dehro
2012-07-14, 04:42 AM
Also, another relevant factor: Espionage in the form of shinobi, geisha ( arts person ), and ninja. With all of the politics and rivalries among the Romans it should also be remembered that the Japanese sense of hospitality and serenity has a not-negligible knack for finding secrets and assassinating the officers of enemy armies. Given the potential social espionage values in Japan and Rome's ( to my knowledge ) glaring lack in this area, this is also worth considering.
[/SIZE]

the romans didn't mingle with the locals until the latter were well on the way of being subdued. When not in battle, they holed up in their forts/fortified military cities-camps.. (kinda like what you see in Asterix).. and brought their own slaves and servants to do the laundry or other such trivial stuff.
espionage is made a whole lot harder when you don't speak the same language, use the same alphabet, dress the same way or..look anything alike.

dehro
2012-07-14, 05:03 AM
Which proves that the Romans did not always navigate within sight of a landmass: it's known they were on Cyprus, Crete, and Great Britain (is there a name for the main island?),

most of those routes were first travelled by phoenicians and greeks, and would be estabilished well ahead of the Romans developing their fleet.
on clear days you can actually see lights and landmass across the English Channel.

t209
2012-07-14, 08:02 AM
That depends heavily on era for Rome. Choose the right era, and the army changes to "nobles bringing their own weapons" or "provincial mercenaries using mass-produced crap and whatever they have".

or "the soldiers who are well armored but most of their wages were cut to pay for it (even coffin and food) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja5szehc974)" or Marian Reform (Roman Army men's equipment can be paid by State).

Tavar
2012-07-14, 09:38 AM
Umm...Story time, in this alternate scenario Rome and Japan are the only states in existence: Rome controls a continent with no other enemies.

Kinslayer
2012-07-14, 10:11 AM
Umm...Story time, in this alternate scenario Rome and Japan are the only states in existence: Rome controls a continent with no other enemies.

Rome doesn't need it's full might against the Japanese to run a crushing victory. They could use 1/10th of thier forces and be on equal footing numbers-wise. (They could probably use less than 1/10th of thier forces as they don't need a numerical troops advantage to win this senario) And have more ability to sacrifice that 1/10th's lives if nessecary, as they have more people to fufill the "replacing" (/cough) of those lives.

Mando Knight
2012-07-14, 11:36 AM
No Parthians, Britons, or wandering European tribes? Time for a lolpwnt, if they're attacking 14th century Japan, which was fraught with inner turmoil.

dehro
2012-07-14, 01:50 PM
No Parthians, Britons, or wandering European tribes? Time for a lolpwnt, if they're attacking 14th century Japan, which was fraught with inner turmoil.

seems a tad unfair that the Romans should get their optimum situation, the top of their military power and none of their disadvantages such as logistic nightmares, warring tribes, border patrol issues, invading hordes, rebellious "conquered" regions and political infighting..
and that the Japanese wouldn't get the same deal.

DarthArminius
2012-07-14, 01:52 PM
seems a tad unfair that the Romans should get their optimum situation, the top of their military power and none of their disadvantages such as logistic nightmares, warring tribes, border patrol issues, invading hordes, rebellious "conquered" regions and political infighting..
and that the Japanese wouldn't get the same deal.

Hm.Kay. Assume that Japan is still totally unified. (As it is in the OP)
But that Rome is deal with a bunch of Celtic like and Germanic like tribes.

Cikomyr
2012-07-14, 03:04 PM
Hm.Kay. Assume that Japan is still totally unified. (As it is in the OP)
But that Rome is deal with a bunch of Celtic like and Germanic like tribes.

I don't doubt the Romans would have the political cunning to find a way to break this beautiful unity.

Dealing with Gai-Jin never been above some Daymio.

Anteros
2012-07-14, 04:13 PM
seems a tad unfair that the Romans should get their optimum situation, the top of their military power and none of their disadvantages such as logistic nightmares, warring tribes, border patrol issues, invading hordes, rebellious "conquered" regions and political infighting..
and that the Japanese wouldn't get the same deal.

It's already an incredibly unfair scenario anyway. Roman military power is just much higher than anything Japan of that era could field. The only thing that would even allow Japan to hold on for a while is the fact that they are an Island. Once Rome establishes a foothold, it's over.

WitchSlayer
2012-07-14, 05:14 PM
It somewhat comes down to the soldier vs the warrior. Rome is full of soldiers. They're well trained, drilled, to work together as a unit. A samurai could probably beat a legionnaire in single combat. But Rome is full of professional soldiers, while on the other side there's peasant conscripts with warrior culture samurai behind them. And soldiers almost always win against warriors in battle.

Spiryt
2012-07-14, 05:28 PM
This "warrior - soldier" thing is rather overblown in general.

Roman sources are full of mention of decurio or some strong legionaries taking on Celtic champions/skirmishers and winning.

Roman culture was in general pretty much based on bravery and proving ones prowess, virility etc.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-14, 07:53 PM
It somewhat comes down to the soldier vs the warrior. Rome is full of soldiers. They're well trained, drilled, to work together as a unit. A samurai could probably beat a legionnaire in single combat. But Rome is full of professional soldiers, while on the other side there's peasant conscripts with warrior culture samurai behind them. And soldiers almost always win against warriors in battle.


This "warrior - soldier" thing is rather overblown in general.

Roman sources are full of mention of decurio or some strong legionaries taking on Celtic champions/skirmishers and winning.

Roman culture was in general pretty much based on bravery and proving ones prowess, virility etc.

Exactly. While Romans fought in highly disciplined formation, when you got up to the front rank you were expected to fight like Achilles. The guy doing the actual sword-swinging was very much on his own and prepared to prove his epic-warrior-ness.

There was actually something bigger than the Triumphs to Romans. It was called the Spolia Opima (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spolia_opima). If you were a Roman General, and if you won a victory worthy of a Triumph held in your honor, and if during that battle you personally slew the enemy leader/king in one-on-one combat and stripped his armor, the Senate practically named you a God on the spot. It was achieved by Romulus, Aulus Cornelius Cossus (fictional though they may be), and Marcus Claudius Marcellus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Claudius_Marcellus). It was also earned (but not rewarded) by Marcus Licinius Crassus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Licinius_Crassus_(consul_30_BC)), who did not get the same recognition since Augustus was in the habit of not letting his generals get inflated egos.

Sounds like Warriors to me.

dehro
2012-07-14, 09:38 PM
let's not forget that a fair number of the chronicles of the day were written by the victors..people who had every reason to inflate their opponents' awesomeness, numbers and reputation, all the better to inflate their own reputation for having bested them.
Caesar for one was known to be guilty of such practices.. yes, the Imperial war machine was pretty awesome, but one shouldn't forget that often the victories came from having to face smaller, un-organized, quasi-nomadic tribes of hunter-garterers..whose high command had very little in the way of an education in military strategy concerning large armies.. all those tribes that ultimately caused the disruption of the Empire managed to wreak havoc in large areas of the Empire despite said Empire still having all those legions to count on.

the Japanese were a bit more numerous, a lot more organized and structured, and a fair bit more educated in the way of warfare and strategy than most of the people who were conquered by the Romans.. would the Romans still win it? most likely, yes.. in the long run? certainly.. but not quite as easily as everybody seems to be thinking.
for one thing, Divide et Impera wouldn't work against them.

McStabbington
2012-07-14, 11:33 PM
let's not forget that a fair number of the chronicles of the day were written by the victors..people who had every reason to inflate their opponents' awesomeness, numbers and reputation, all the better to inflate their own reputation for having bested them.
Caesar for one was known to be guilty of such practices.. yes, the Imperial war machine was pretty awesome, but one shouldn't forget that often the victories came from having to face smaller, un-organized, quasi-nomadic tribes of hunter-garterers..whose high command had very little in the way of an education in military strategy concerning large armies.. all those tribes that ultimately caused the disruption of the Empire managed to wreak havoc in large areas of the Empire despite said Empire still having all those legions to count on.

the Japanese were a bit more numerous, a lot more organized and structured, and a fair bit more educated in the way of warfare and strategy than most of the people who were conquered by the Romans.. would the Romans still win it? most likely, yes.. in the long run? certainly.. but not quite as easily as everybody seems to be thinking.
for one thing, Divide et Impera wouldn't work against them.

The Etruscans, Macedonians, Greeks and Carthaginians would all like to have a word with you.

Really, this isn't a fight. At all. The Romans in the early days of the Empire possessed steel that was superior to anything produced in Japan, they had more men, and they had a much stronger core of disciplined, professional soldiers. Prior to Rome, disciplined soldiers came in one basic flavor patterned after the Spartan phalanx: you train a soldier how to hold a shield and spear, to cover another guy next to him, and to poke with his spear. It's simple, it's efficient, and in a couple of weeks you can train up a unit that's substantially more effective than the armed mobs you often see in medieval war movies. The problem, of course, is that the phalanx is a pretty unwieldy formation, and if it breaks apart, the effectiveness of the unit collapses.

By contrast, the maniple/century/legio system of regimentation that the Romans had made it possible to break units down to 20-men formations and they could then reform on their own because the officers commanding those maniples knew the strategy and how to implement it. That offers a flexibility and resilience in combat that simply cannot be underestimated: you can't break a legion by breaking the shield wall, nor can you beat it by killing one or two crucial men. Moreover things that could wreak havoc on large unwieldy formations can be handled by the legions. The strength of such advantages overwhelm any comparable advantages that the Japanese samurai might have.

CarpeGuitarrem
2012-07-15, 04:00 AM
Too bad Rome has that infinite can-do attitude mentioned earlier. Spiral Power and all that. :smallcool::smallwink:
....the awesome...too much to handle....

Julius Caesar: "Just who the Hell do you think I am?? Kick logic to the curb, and do the impossible: that's the SPQR way! VENI....VIDI.....VICIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!"

dehro
2012-07-15, 04:25 AM
The Etruscans, Macedonians, Greeks and Carthaginians would all like to have a word with you.


you're actually proving my point here.
firstly, you're talking about wars and battles that took place from 15 to 10 centuries before the selected timeframe for this thread. When the Empire, in fact, didn't even exist but Rome was still a republic.
anyway..

The Etruscans

some of their strongholds were defeated after several decades of war. Every other city either fought independently, was invaded by tribes other than the Romans or, as happened with most Etrurian settlements, they were gradually assimilated by the Romans, through alliances, intermarriages and simple annection. If I remember correctly, at least 1 or 2 of the fabled 7 kings of Rome were slated to be either Etrurians or of Etrurian descent. They never united into one common front and army to pit their might against the Romans.. a might that was already waning by the time the Romans came about.

Macedonians..
you mean those people who managed to conquer everything and then split up into warring factions the day after their king died?
if memory serves me well, there were 4 wars against them.. the first one, the Romans lost..the second and third one they won, the last one was hardly worth writing home about, because it was fought against a ragtag army of wannabe macedonian resurrectionist with little or no backing. The Romans owed their victory in no small part to playing a lot of alliances against one another and basically stamp all over treaties of which the ink was still wet.

The Greeks
once again, the Romans defeated most of them one at a time, acting as big bullies who intervened upon request to support one or the other warring faction, only to then basically annexe the victors as well as the losers. this too took several centuries.

The Carthaginians..
see above..same pattern, same strategy. both factions intervened in a local dispute in Sicily... and the Romans got into some real trouble before they managed to win.
Most of Rome's history and empire are built that way.. and likewise, so was their final demise, when they forgot their history and invited hordes of warrior tribes to fight their wars for them.. so that when the rulers of these tribes got a taste for italian cooking and decided not to leave, the Romans suddenly had the enemy at the gate..of the city, rather than of the empire..

I'll say it again, Divide et impera doesn't work against a nation where the ruler is considered a living god and behind whose banner every single Japanese would rally and fight to the death.

I will absolutely agree that the Romans would probably win..just not as easily or quickly as people seem to think.

as to Rome Vs Japanese steel... is the superiority you claim a fact..or indeed a claim? do you have a source?

Kinslayer
2012-07-15, 09:54 AM
I'll say it again, Divide et impera doesn't work against a nation where the ruler is considered a living god and behind whose banner every single Japanese would rally and fight to the death.

Despite having a "living god" ruler they still managed to have civil wars like everyone else. And a few revolutions, I'm sure.

...I guess that does lead to some serious bragging rights, though.

"Hey buddy!"
"Yeah?"
"I killed god."

dehro
2012-07-15, 10:00 AM
Despite having a "living god" ruler they still managed to have civil wars like everyone else. And a few revolutions, I'm sure.

...I guess that does lead to some serious bragging rights, though.

"Hey buddy!"
"Yeah?"
"I killed god."

yes.. but that tends to stop when someone foreign tries to join in the fun.

on a sidenote, that is actually the question that made me win a trivial pursuit game.. the question was something like "he made human out of a god and thereby won a war".. or something in that ilk.. the answer being gen. McArthur. funny bit is that my friends didn't understand the question and were confident I wouldn't know the answer.

Wardog
2012-07-15, 06:13 PM
The Etruscans, Macedonians, Greeks and Carthaginians would all like to have a word with you.


I don't think the Celts or Germans could be described as hunter-gatherers either. Nor the various steppe nomads who turned up later (they were pastoralists).

The only hunter-gatherer tribes I can think of in Europe at that time would be the Fenni (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenni) (Finns, or possibly Sami).

Mando Knight
2012-07-15, 07:09 PM
....the awesome...too much to handle....

Julius Caesar: "Just who the Hell do you think I am?? Kick logic to the curb, and do the impossible: that's the SPQR way! VENI....VIDI.....VICIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!"
"Julius is dead! He's gone! But in our Empire, and in our hearts, he continues to live on!

I'm not Julius Caesar... I'm ME! OCTAVIUS AUGUSTUS CAESAR!!!"

as to Rome Vs Japanese steel... is the superiority you claim a fact..or indeed a claim? do you have a source?
Japanese steel became famous in later days because they managed to do what they could with it. Note that they aren't famous for making metal armor, just the weapons. The iron sands used then by the Japanese (basically their best ores) is comparatively hard to extract usable iron from, compared to the ores used by Europe. Thus, unlike Rome, where even the foot soldiers frequently had some form of metal armor, in Japan even the Samurai used primarily leather-based armor until trade opened up with Europe.

McStabbington
2012-07-15, 11:32 PM
you're actually proving my point here.
firstly, you're talking about wars and battles that took place from 15 to 10 centuries before the selected timeframe for this thread. When the Empire, in fact, didn't even exist but Rome was still a republic.
anyway..


Erm, if I'm proving your point, then I'm afraid you weren't terribly clear about what your point was. Specifically, I was objecting to your contention that the dominant enemies the Romans faced could be categorized as "smaller, un-organized, quasi-nomadic tribes of hunter-garterers..whose high command had very little in the way of an education in military strategy concerning large armies." This might, might refer to the campaigns in Britain and France against the Celts, although I would strongly object to the claim that the Celts were hunter-gatherers. Vercingetorix and Boudica proved to be fairly abysmal warlords. But Epirus? Carthage? They had some of the most disciplined militaries and sophisticated military leaders of the ancient world, and the battles that they fought would remain the bloodiest for over two thousand years. The carnage inflicted at Cannae, for example, would remain unprecedented until Antietam. And yet the Romans won their wars against both Pyrrhus and Hannibal Barca.

Eldan
2012-07-16, 05:47 AM
"Julius is dead! He's gone! But in our Empire, and in our hearts, he continues to live on!

I'm not Julius Caesar... I'm ME! OCTAVIUS AUGUSTUS CAESAR!!!"

Then he uses his gigantic golden laurel wreath to beat the Anti-Imperials, thereby ensuring that Rome is Eternal.

Templarkommando
2012-07-17, 05:30 PM
My general vote is for Rome, but let me give you a bit of a history here.

There are two major eras for Rome. There's the period of the Roman Republic and then there's the period of the Roman Empire. The Republic is pretty generally strong throughout it's tenure, and does a fairly good job of maintaining an overall stability for its territory. The Romans were able to best several extremely powerful military cultures during this period including the Greece and Carthage, so the Roman legions are quite formidable during this period.

As time goes on, Rome starts to need quick decisions rather than the endless debate of the Senate in order to hold Rome's territory together. This gives birth to a series of more centralized rulers called the Caesars who eventually become the absolute rulers of Rome. There is kind of a transition phase as the Caesar's usurp more and more power from an increasingly irrelevant Senate. During the early part of this period Rome is still quite strong in a military sense, and furthermore, it has the added advantage of extremely fast political decisions from a centralized ruler. That said it is not as strong politically, as having all that power invested in one person brings about exactly the wrong sort of person to take that kind of power.

As time goes by the Caesars get the bright idea to dilute their silver coins with less valuable metals to a point where the Denarii is nearly worthless. This upsets a lot of soldiers, because that is the money they get paid with. During later reforms people who sign up for service are granted plots of land at the end of a certain tenure.

dehro
2012-07-18, 01:14 AM
I'm not really seeing the point of the history lesson. we know what period of the Roman history we should take into consideration. it's stated in the OP.

Spuddles
2012-07-18, 03:43 AM
I think the thing we need to be thinking about is that we're not actually looking at the historical Roman Empire. The historical Roman Empire was not in full command of an entire continent. It had external enemies and internal troubles and it certainly did not, and could not, bring to bear the full collective might of its armies on one group of islands.

Rome did a pretty good job turning their collective rage on Carthage a couple times, didn't they?

Mistral
2012-07-18, 09:43 AM
Rome did a pretty good job turning their collective rage on Carthage a couple times, didn't they?

Yes, but Rome wasn't in control of a full continent at that point, either. Their northern flank was effectively secured by the Alps, which were tremendously difficult to cross with the technology of the day (being higher than the American Rockies). The reason Hannibal's feat was so impressive was precisely because it was so difficult to reproduce, and it still cost him his siege engines (and with those, likely, the war, since he could no longer replace them to take Rome) and most of his elephants. The transalpine Roman settlements of a century later are as much covered by sea as by land, and even in World War 2, millenia later, the Italians barely made any headway against 5 demoralized French divisions (this being post-Dunkirk, with everyone expecting a peace settlement in the near future) with 32 fresh divisions of their own, stopped by weather and the French command of the terrain. In other words, the only threats Rome had to worry about in the Punic Wars were Carthage and, in the Second Punic War, their own treacherous allies, which only rose up piecemeal as Hannibal passed (first the Cisalpine Gauls in the north, and only subsequently their Latin and Greek allies in the south) and were thus beaten in like manner.

DarthArminius
2012-07-18, 12:19 PM
Final amendment to the OP. Japan has plenty of iron/steel available to equip their armies with high quality weapons + maybe some limited training for soldiers. What about now?

The Glyphstone
2012-07-18, 12:31 PM
If you equalize training and skill like that, it's just a battle of numbers, and the Romans win by attrition.

DarthArminius
2012-07-18, 12:32 PM
If you equalize training and skill like that, it's just a battle of numbers, and the Romans win by attrition.

Nah, I'm not equalizing training. I'm equalizing materials and upgrading training. I'm sure that Roman soldiers would still be more trained.

The Glyphstone
2012-07-18, 12:36 PM
The Romans end up winning by a greater margin, then.

As the original scenario goes, the Romans have clearly superior equipment, overwhelmingly superior numbers, and standardized superior training.

With these modifications, now the Roman advantages are only in superior numbers and moderately superior training. That's still 1.5 advantages more than the Japanese have, since their cannon apparently isn't field-grade and they need open space to use their cavalry.

Tavar
2012-07-18, 12:37 PM
Well, Rome would still likely win due to having OMGLOZ more men.

There's also the problem that, if the resource shortage is solved, then Japanese weapons and tactics don't make sense. They were largely developed due to a lack of iron. If it's plentiful, that is no longer a problem.

Spiryt
2012-07-18, 01:08 PM
Final amendment to the OP. Japan has plenty of iron/steel available to equip their armies with high quality weapons + maybe some limited training for soldiers. What about now?

Probably ending with a lot of peasants running away in some deep forests waiting for occasion to 'exchange' those weapons for something more practical in their eyes...

The whole problem is that if we completely ignore social etc. situation and all that stuff, we cannot really compare anymore...

If we assume Japan with big professional armies with solid quality weapons, organized by armies themselves with soldiers willing to use them to fight, we may end with Rome vs Japanese clone of Rome instead.

I don't know much about ~ 1300 Japan, but to best of my knowledge, Japan was generally fairly militarized society, due to being war torn - but at the same time ability of any particular power to form strong, loyal, equipped army would be limited.

AFAIR, after Mongol invasions, Hojo regents attempts to centralize rule over the country were one of the reason they in fact became overthrown by 1330.
Somebody can correct any mistakes, I guess.

Cikomyr
2012-07-18, 02:21 PM
Final amendment to the OP. Japan has plenty of iron/steel available to equip their armies with high quality weapons + maybe some limited training for soldiers. What about now?

Then it's no longer Japan.

Japan's entire warrior culture is one that grew with a specific social and economic environment. Part of that environment is the lack of quality steel to make massive quantities of armor. You cannot just say "add X", adjust the soldiers' stats and have any meaningful results. Real life ain't working like that.

You wouldn't have the cult of the Legendary Samurai Swordman, no longer mythical swordsmiths.

Hell! Might as well remove the entire fact of earthquakes in Japan and have th develop a fortification and siege culture that spreaded across all of Japan. Making them rock architecture wizs.

DarthArminius
2012-07-18, 02:42 PM
Then it's no longer Japan.

Japan's entire warrior culture is one that grew with a specific social and economic environment. Part of that environment is the lack of quality steel to make massive quantities of armor. You cannot just say "add X", adjust the soldiers' stats and have any meaningful results. Real life ain't working like that.

You wouldn't have the cult of the Legendary Samurai Swordman, no longer mythical swordsmiths.

Hell! Might as well remove the entire fact of earthquakes in Japan and have th develop a fortification and siege culture that spreaded across all of Japan. Making them rock architecture wizs.

Hm. So what you're saying is it's no longer Japan but Island China. :/

Cikomyr
2012-07-18, 02:54 PM
Hm. So what you're saying is it's no longer Japan but Island China. :/

Practically, yes. Even then, being present on an island will influence social behavior in a different way than mainland, just like being on a peninsula influenced the development of Roman culture.

My point is, I don't mind Vs threads comparing societies that wouldn't have met IRL. But we shouldn't assume fundamental change to their environment beyond positional geography. Otherwise, the entire culture you are assessing are no longer logic.

A big part of Japan's political and military culture has been shaped by Korean or Mongol invasions, by their initial conquest of Japan itself against the Jomons.

Ravens_cry
2012-07-18, 04:13 PM
Heckles cakes, even greater geographical proximity that would probably have an effect.

Cikomyr
2012-07-18, 05:35 PM
Heckles cakes, even greater geographical proximity that would probably have an effect.

That too. But Japan did develop next to another rather powerful and influential empire with China.

But we still might want to have fun in the simulation by thinking of a wormhole opening. We just shouldn't assume things that simple aren't.

It's like "how powerful the Imperium of Man would be if the Primarch had never existed to make the Spaces marines?". You can't take something like that away and hope it remains roughly the same.

dehro
2012-07-18, 06:59 PM
they need open space to use their cavalry.

:smallconfused: why wouldn't they have that?

The Glyphstone
2012-07-18, 07:56 PM
:smallconfused: why wouldn't they have that?

Because, as mentioned previously, having open space also means the Romans have the same open space to bring their crushing numerical superiority to bear, negating any advantage cavalry would have over infantry in normal circumstances.

Cikomyr
2012-07-18, 10:30 PM
Because, as mentioned previously, having open space also means the Romans have the same open space to bring their crushing numerical superiority to bear, negating any advantage cavalry would have over infantry in normal circumstances.

Romans had cavalry auxiliaries as well, and never hesitated to use them heavily for manoeuvers.

It's just that their infantry was so bloody tough they preferred having it engage whatever faced them.

The Glyphstone
2012-07-18, 10:59 PM
Well there you have it then...any battlefield where the Japanese can bring their cavalry to bear, they'll have to contend not just with masses of Roman infantry, but their opposite number in Roman cavalry.

Ravens_cry
2012-07-19, 01:29 AM
Well there you have it then...any battlefield where the Japanese can bring their cavalry to bear, they'll have to contend not just with masses of Roman infantry, but their opposite number in Roman cavalry.
Did the Japanese have stirrups at the time in question? That might help at least in a Cavalry verses Cavalry confrontation.

VanBuren
2012-07-19, 05:16 AM
Then it's no longer Japan.

Japan's entire warrior culture is one that grew with a specific social and economic environment. Part of that environment is the lack of quality steel to make massive quantities of armor. You cannot just say "add X", adjust the soldiers' stats and have any meaningful results. Real life ain't working like that.

You wouldn't have the cult of the Legendary Samurai Swordman, no longer mythical swordsmiths.

Hell! Might as well remove the entire fact of earthquakes in Japan and have th develop a fortification and siege culture that spreaded across all of Japan. Making them rock architecture wizs.

Also, the Romans have laser cannons.

The Glyphstone
2012-07-19, 08:03 AM
Yeah? Well...well...the Japanese Samurai get magical superkatanas that deflect laser blasts! So there!

Tavar
2012-07-19, 09:42 AM
I believe that in the time period in question the Japanese did have stirrups. Thus, cavalry vs cavalry is going to favor the Japanese, but that's almost a given anyways: Roman cavalry was never the best. Yes, yes, there were auxiliaries, but those were never the main or most stable force.

On the other hand, unshaken infantry can murder cavalry, and that is one thing the Romans did have.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-19, 11:29 AM
Yeah? Well...well...the Japanese Samurai get magical superkatanas that deflect laser blasts! So there!

I do believe magical katanas can do little against Dai Gurren Lagann, which we've established (page 2) is Rome's secret weapon.

"Quae nos credis!!!???"

Prime32
2012-07-19, 11:36 AM
Alright, when is the earliest version of Japan that would have a chance of defeating Rome?

Spiryt
2012-07-19, 11:50 AM
Alright, when is the earliest version of Japan that would have a chance of defeating Rome?

Well, that question assumes some kind of linear progression of 'all Japanese' military ability.

I know next to nothing about Japanese history in general, but I'm pretty sure that it was extremely varied and turbulent.

But I think that we can safely assume that Japanese armies ~ at the start of 17th century, saturated with effective guns would be extremely hard enemy for army with no idea about ranged weapons of such capabilities.

dehro
2012-07-19, 12:26 PM
Because, as mentioned previously, having open space also means the Romans have the same open space to bring their crushing numerical superiority to bear, negating any advantage cavalry would have over infantry in normal circumstances.

I seriously doubt that the romans not bringing their full numbers to the fray had ever anything to do with not having enough room for maneuver.. the african plains could easily have contained several times the numbers that they employed at any single time.

Spiryt
2012-07-19, 12:34 PM
Roman legions were in a way very precious, professional, well equipped, well paid, costly but deadly army that had to guard and fight over huge territories, so they had to be 'economical' in use of it.

There's quite a lot of battles that were fight and won entirely by auxiliary AFAIR. Legions standing back ready to engage if something went wrong.

Cikomyr
2012-07-19, 02:35 PM
Roman legions were in a way very precious, professional, well equipped, well paid, costly but deadly army that had to guard and fight over huge territories, so they had to be 'economical' in use of it.

There's quite a lot of battles that were fight and won entirely by auxiliary AFAIR. Legions standing back ready to engage if something went wrong.

That would be in the mid to late Imperial period.

Late Repulican early Imperial had very active legions.

Tavar
2012-07-19, 02:38 PM
I seriously doubt that the romans not bringing their full numbers to the fray had ever anything to do with not having enough room for maneuver.. the african plains could easily have contained several times the numbers that they employed at any single time.

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest would be a partial example. I think they also had trouble in a couple Greek battles where they were unable to flank the opposition's armies.

Brother Oni
2012-07-19, 05:05 PM
Alright, when is the earliest version of Japan that would have a chance of defeating Rome?

It's a hard question to answer due to the ossification of Japan during the Edo period.

I agree with Spiryt in that Sengoku era Japan (16th century) would put up a very stiff fight for the Romans simply due to their possession of cannon and bombard. Take Japan a bit later and the Romans would have to deal with primitive rocket artillery (hwacha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hwacha), which the Japanese captured examples from the Koreans during the Imjin War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imjin_War)), which would be just plain unfair.

The problem is after the 16th century, military development is essentially frozen until the middle 19th century where they modernise quickly during the Meiji era.

Going back to an earlier point, there was the mention of the Romans being able to adapt and incorporate gunpowder weapons/technology - why not the other way?
Couldn't the Japanese capture and start using Roman equipment and re-smelt (or just re-purpose) their superior steel?

Mando Knight
2012-07-19, 06:01 PM
Take Japan a bit later and the Romans would have to deal with primitive rocket artillery (hwacha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hwacha), which the Japanese captured examples from the Koreans during the Imjin War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imjin_War)), which would be just plain unfair.
Field artillery was not entirely unknown to Rome. They further developed the Greek ballista (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballista) for their own use. Apparently, they had operators that were skilled enough in its use that they could function as snipers, if Julius Caesar's accounts of his campaigns in Europe are reliable.

Eldan
2012-07-19, 06:03 PM
The difference would be that the Japanese could only loot Roman steel from the battlefield. The Romans, however, could easily get the resources for gunpowder from anywhere in their Empire and make their own. Charcoal is easy. They know Niter and sulphur as well, and can probably mine both.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-19, 06:16 PM
Going back to an earlier point, there was the mention of the Romans being able to adapt and incorporate gunpowder weapons/technology - why not the other way?
Couldn't the Japanese capture and start using Roman equipment and re-smelt (or just re-purpose) their superior steel?

My question to your question is: Can the Japanese military of the 13th century, primarily composed of barely armed peasants with a small core of highly trained (but under-equipped compared to the Romans) samurai defeat enough Romans in victorious battle (so they had access to the dead) for them to be able to re-smelt or re-use their enemy's armor and weapons in enough quantity to alter the balance of power by a significant margin?

I would say, no. They would have to Cannae and entire legion or two to have anything resembling the numbers necessary to do anything more than re-equip their samurai with better stuff. I'm no expert, but I doubt the Samurai class would appreciate their peasants having good weapons and armor that could be a threat to them. And even if the Japanese got a hold of lots of this armor and weapons, there might be a learning curve for understanding how the armor works, particularly how to properly clean the armor (such as the lorica segmentata (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorica_segmentata)). And finally, the Romans of the Late Republic and even Early Empire are familiar with fighting people wearing the same armor as them, what with the series of civil wars Rome of that period was so familiar with.

So yes. The Japanese could get a hold of Roman armor. It won't help because the Japanese need to kill a lot of Romans to get enough armor and weapons to come close to making a difference, and the Romans can take casualties like no one's business and keep going. It won't help because the Samurai will hold onto the equipment rather than let the dirty peasants get them because then the samurai will be attacked by peasants who can fight back. It won't help because even if they outfit their armies in enough armor and weapons to greatly increase their power and flexibility, the Romans are experts at killing things that can be killed, even themselves as evidenced by their history of civil war.

dehro
2012-07-19, 08:37 PM
I may be wrong on this, but I suspect that back then the situation samurai-rest of the people was a lot more fluid than it became later... and especially so on the soldiering front.

Flickerdart
2012-07-19, 08:55 PM
I may be wrong on this, but I suspect that back then the situation samurai-rest of the people was a lot more fluid than it became later... and especially so on the soldiering front.
Being a samurai wasn't just about having shiny stuff and running around with swords. They were trained from birth in both war and peacetime arts. An ashigaru could potentially perform such a heroic deed that his lord would bestow nobility upon him, but they wouldn't go "hey, we have extra gear now, promote some new samurai to wear it, oh and don't forget to train them how to do anything except hold a yari and die."

Cikomyr
2012-07-19, 10:11 PM
However, you have to consider that a lot of the mysticism around the samurai have been developed during the Tokugawa Shogunate, when peace was much more prevalent in the Empire and samurai had the leisure to become the famed Warrior-Poets, seeing past warfarers through a lense of nostalgia and a little bit of worshipping revionists.

Kinda like how 18th century city nobility started idealizing the ideal of Chivalrous Knights.

kpenguin
2012-07-19, 11:17 PM
So, I've heard a lot of talk of Roman steel bandied around here, which confused me because as far as I know the Romans didn't have mass produced steel arms or armor. Searching around, it seems like whether or not the Romans intentionally produced steel, or had a concept of it, is highly contentious. It seems that at the very least mass produced true steel was not a thing that the Romans did, though carburized iron was.

I don't think there's much the 16th century Japanese are going to be learning from studying 1st century Roman swords along the lines of metallurgy.

dehro
2012-07-19, 11:32 PM
Being a samurai wasn't just about having shiny stuff and running around with swords. They were trained from birth in both war and peacetime arts. An ashigaru could potentially perform such a heroic deed that his lord would bestow nobility upon him, but they wouldn't go "hey, we have extra gear now, promote some new samurai to wear it, oh and don't forget to train them how to do anything except hold a yari and die."

later on? yes I agree.. back in the OP's timeframe...not so much

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-19, 11:43 PM
So, I've heard a lot of talk of Roman steel bandied around here, which confused me because as far as I know the Romans didn't have mass produced steel arms or armor. Searching around, it seems like whether or not the Romans intentionally produced steel, or had a concept of it, is highly contentious. It seems that at the very least mass produced true steel was not a thing that the Romans did, though carburized iron was.

Sadly my Google-Fu is failing me in finding evidence. I do have Wikipedia though, and these articles on Gladii (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladius#Manufacture), Noric Steel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noric_steel), and General Roman Metallurgy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_metallurgy#Sources_of_ore) did indeed use steel, and used it a lot. This (http://www.ksky.ne.jp/~sumie99/steel.html), is all I can find in regards to Japanese steel quality. Take from that what you will. Even if it turns out Japanese had better steel, they didn't have a lot of it, and what they had was difficult to make into stuff, so what they can bring to the Roman fight is limited, whereas the Romans mass produce.

@Dehro: What do you mean?

kpenguin
2012-07-20, 12:12 AM
Mmmm. On the other hand, wikipedia contradicts itself here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_ancient_Rome#Equipment), stating that
Although Roman iron-working was enhanced by a process known as carburization, the Romans are not thought to have developed true steel production. From the earliest history of the Roman state to its downfall, Roman arms were therefore uniformly produced from either bronze or, later, iron

The citation I often see in relation to Rome and steel comes from James Hurst's piece "The Roman Sword in the Republican Period and After":


It is controversial whether the Romans used steel. According to Manning, “there is no evidence for widespread, regular, intentional production of steel in the Roman Empire,” (Manning 148). The problem is that the only essential difference between iron and steel is the amount of carbon in the metal. Regular wrought iron has a carbon content of about 0.5 percent and steel has a carbon content of 1.5 percent. It is possible that this much carbon was imparted to the blade by the charcoal used to heat the metal as the smith forger the blade. This contact between the metal and charcoal created a sort of outer layer of steel (Manning 148) in a process called carburization. It is doubtful that the Romans were aware that this process was taking place. They probably just observed that blades which were heated and reheated were stronger than those that were not (Healy 232). As the iron is reheated and hammered repeatedly, a strange thing takes place in the blade: it becomes an iron blade with thin strips of steel throughout. This works out very well because it gives the blade the strength of steel, with the “resilience of iron” (Manning 148). Once the blade meets the specifications of the blacksmith, it is quenched. This involves bringing the blade to white heat and then plunging it into a bucket of water. Quenching gives the blade its initial strength, and makes the metal quite hard. The problem with quenching is that it makes the blade quite brittle, so it must then be tempered. To temper a blade, it is reheated a final time to a very specific temperature. The temperature it is raised to determines the hardness of the blade, and how well it will keep its edge. The only way a Roman smith could determine the heat of the blade was through its color and his own experience. This is where the skill of the smith really came into play. According to Williams, however, the Romans preferred blades that were allowed to air cool after being tempered to those that were quenched (Williams 77-87).

Steel was also probably produced in the bloomery, where the ore was smelted with charcoal as the fuel. Aristotle noticed:

“Wrought iron indeed will melt and grow soft, and then solidify again.
And this is the way in which ‘steel’ is made. For the dross sinks to the
bottom and is removed from below, and by repeated subjection to this
treatment the metal is purified and ‘steel’ is produced.” (Healy 232)

So the question of iron versus steel is really a matter of perspective. The blades had steel in them because of their exposure to charcoal, but they were not made entirely of steel. Thus, it appears that the Romans did have steel and appreciated its qualities, and that a typical sword had many bands of steel in it, whether the steel was intentionally created or not.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-20, 01:05 AM
Mmmm. On the other hand, wikipedia contradicts itself here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of_ancient_Rome#Equipment), stating that *snip*

The citation I often see in relation to Rome and steel comes from James Hurst's piece "The Roman Sword in the Republican Period and After":

Very good catch. So, they had steel, but not completely, and it isn't very verifiable how much they understood about steel. I wonder if anyone else has concrete info on Japanese metal so we can finalize a position (although I doubt the general consensus of Rome = Roflstomp will change much).

dehro
2012-07-20, 02:29 AM
@Dehro: What do you mean?

mostly that it was too early in the morning for me to make sense... I think what I meant was that the situation described was that of your classic 16th century japan scenario.. and that I'm not sure it applies to earlier japan... but again..I'd slept very little by the time I posted

Spiryt
2012-07-20, 05:02 AM
Roman had pattern welded swords, with thoroughly sharpened edges, laminated swords with general lower carbon content, homogeneous swords and so on....

http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19119&highlight=roman+sword

So if they had 'mass produced' steel isn't really important question here.

As with pretty much any weapons out there there were outstanding pieces and clunkers.

Japanese problem with iron, was AFAIU, the huge headache about actually receiving piece of quality steel out of their very contaminated ores.

Steel as a product of it was perfectly fine, often of very desirable characteristics.

Cikomyr
2012-07-20, 07:30 AM
However, the Romans did have some of the first truly scaled up industrial complexes for weapon production, around te region of what is now called Milan. They were the first to have amassed enough capital to make it economically feasible.

Romans were truly financial and business wizes, as well as Militarily. Japan would never have competed with their manufacturing might, even on equal population basis.

Deadmeat.GW
2012-07-20, 08:28 AM
I believe that in the time period in question the Japanese did have stirrups. Thus, cavalry vs cavalry is going to favor the Japanese, but that's almost a given anyways: Roman cavalry was never the best. Yes, yes, there were auxiliaries, but those were never the main or most stable force.

On the other hand, unshaken infantry can murder cavalry, and that is one thing the Romans did have.

Actually...historical reconstructions of then saddles have proven that except for couched lance tactics there is not much if any difference between stirrups and military saddles pre useage of stirrups.

Edit: correct blatant typo...

Flickerdart
2012-07-20, 08:34 AM
mostly that it was too early in the morning for me to make sense... I think what I meant was that the situation described was that of your classic 16th century japan scenario.. and that I'm not sure it applies to earlier japan... but again..I'd slept very little by the time I posted
On the contrary, in an earlier time period, with crappier swords and fewer numbers of them to go around, the existing nobility are even more likely to hoard the stuff for themselves instead of giving it out. What makes you think that 1300s Japan had so much better upward mobility for its peasants?

Spiryt
2012-07-20, 08:43 AM
However, the Romans did have some of the first truly scaled up industrial complexes for weapon production, around te region of what is now called Milan. They were the first to have amassed enough capital to make it economically feasible.

That generally means bigger numbers, availability, lower prices etc. not 'better quality' which discussion seems to be about, though.

Quality of the sword is generally subtle matter and only in smaller part determined by material, despite pop cultural views about swords 'cutting trough' other swords. :smallbiggrin:


On the contrary, in an earlier time period, with crappier swords and

What do you mean by "crappier swords" though?

For the record, 16th century was the period of biggest downfall in art of sword making and actual 'mass' production by ill-qualified smiths.

Flickerdart
2012-07-20, 08:53 AM
For the record, 16th century was the period of biggest downfall in art of sword making and actual 'mass' production by ill-qualified smiths.
It's not like swordsmithing suddenly plateaued after the 1300s until the 1600s when it all instantly fell apart.

Spiryt
2012-07-20, 09:01 AM
It's not like swordsmithing suddenly plateaued after the 1300s until the 1600s when it all instantly fell apart.

Swordsmithing is not in any way linear development towards 'better' forms, (just like most things, really) and particularly in Japan it was in many ways 'stagnant'.

In Europe for example, after ~1300 swords had spread into many much more diverse forms than before - in Japan something like that haven't really happened.

So statement that nihonto were 'crappier' around 1300 than 1500 requires some serious backing up.

Cikomyr
2012-07-20, 10:40 AM
That generally means bigger numbers, availability, lower prices etc. not 'better quality' which discussion seems to be about, though.

In warfare, it's better to have 10 low quality swords over 1 exceptional.

And I can't see what the sword quality influences the battle outcome, seriously.

First of all, Japanese swords were of "okay" quality, but greatly cared after by their owners. A few might have been exceptional, but that's the case in any places if you have a craftsman of high caliber.

Second, Japanese swords were meant to fight lightly armored foes, as steel armor was the exception. The Japs didn't used massed infantry lines of swordsmen to fight their war, and even if they did, the curved slashing blade would have been innefective against the legionnaries's armor.

Think Dothraki Vs Westeros Knight

The Legionnary gladius was a thrusting weapon, easy to use in a tight formation alongside 5-feet shields.

Spiryt
2012-07-20, 11:02 AM
In warfare, it's better to have 10 low quality swords over 1 exceptional



If you don't have 10 people who can actually use those swords efficiently and will do it for you, the point of 10 low quality swords may only be back up in case of losing/damaging better ones.

Arming some random guys with swords and forcing them to fight won't generally work - even assuming that one actually success in doing so. Romans themselves were after all defeating armies of vast numerical superiority over them.



Second, Japanese swords were meant to fight lightly armored foes, as steel armor was the exception. The Japs didn't used massed infantry lines of swordsmen to fight their war, and even if they did, the curved slashing blade would have been innefective against the legionnaries's armor.

Pretty much any sword out there would be mostly for fighting "lightly armored foes". In case if somebody actually wants to use it to defeat armor by 'force approach'.

I would really bet that with greater mass and two handed hold Japanese swords would have better chance of actually thrusting trough Roman armor than vice versa.

But still such approach would not be most sensible approach at all.


By 13th century iron armor wasn't really 'exception' in Japan, legions would quite certainly have significant edge in number of armored people. But a lot of Japanese infantry would have iron scales/lammelars of pretty similar coverage to Roman armor.

Finally, Japanese swords indeed would seem as awkward weapons against someone with close quarters stabber and large shield - would be really hard to find distance and angles of attack to actually reach the hands or legs or opponent.

But they were in no way main weapons of battlefield, so that's moot point.





The Legionnary gladius was a thrusting weapon, easy to use in a tight formation alongside 5-feet shields.

Most scuta were about 4 feet, really.

Flickerdart
2012-07-20, 11:47 AM
Arming some random guys with swords and forcing them to fight won't generally work - even assuming that one actually success in doing so.
Which is kind of the point of the discussion - even if the samurai armed their ashigaru with trophy weapons and armor, it wouldn't help anything.

Spiryt
2012-07-20, 12:02 PM
Which is kind of the point of the discussion - even if the samurai armed their ashigaru with trophy weapons and armor, it wouldn't help anything.

It seems that Ashigaru came to wider use a bit later than ~ 1300, though.

Also, were they in general 'random' troops with no much worth or hope to stand ground in hard battle?

It seems that in later periods conflicts had saw determined and capable ashigaru from time to time.

Mando Knight
2012-07-20, 12:19 PM
By 13th century iron armor wasn't really 'exception' in Japan, legions would quite certainly have significant edge in number of armored people. But a lot of Japanese infantry would have iron scales/lammelars of pretty similar coverage to Roman armor.
They had it, but considering how much of the elites were equipped with armor that made extensive use of leather and silk rather than iron, I doubt that it would have been common at all among the infantry.

McStabbington
2012-07-20, 01:01 PM
I would really bet that with greater mass and two handed hold Japanese swords would have better chance of actually thrusting trough Roman armor than vice versa.

But still such approach would not be most sensible approach at all.



I'm not the most well-versed on swordsmithing, but I don't share your confidence in the effectiveness of the katana to pierce Roman armor. As I understand it, the Romans had a large curved shield and bronze or iron scales or maille. By contrast, the katana is designed to cut by drawing the edge along the surface to be cut. Against unprotected flesh, sik or laquer typical of the armor used in Japan (as I understand it), a person trained in the katana could produce effects that were absolutely devastating. But katanas aren't lightsabers; they can't cut through metal even assuming they can get through the shield wall.

Now it's true that it's not as serious a flaw as it might be: the typical weapon of the samurai was a longspear (called a yari, IIRC), and a spear would have more use against bronze scale than a katana would. But it still doesn't help enough to really overcome the problems the Japanese would face against a full Roman legion: the legions for many years carried longspears of their own rather than the Spanish-derived gladius, and they were certainly familiar with fighting those who used spears, as it was the common weapon of the common phalanx formation of the epoch they fought in.

dehro
2012-07-20, 01:06 PM
lances, short swords and various other weapons, (bow..why is nobody considering archery as a possibly relevant factor in the battle).. japanese military didn't just rely on katana

Spiryt
2012-07-20, 01:19 PM
They had it, but considering how much of the elites were equipped with armor that made extensive use of leather and silk rather than iron, I doubt that it would have been common at all among the infantry.

Dunno how knowledgeable author is, but he seems to suggest that leather as material for plates and scales gave it's place to iron and steel in more expensive cases, after 1rst millenium.

http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_jpn_armour.html


I'm not the most well-versed on swordsmithing, but I don't share your confidence in the effectiveness of the katana to pierce Roman armor. As I understand it, the Romans had a large curved shield and bronze or iron scales or maille. By contrast, the katana is designed to cut by drawing the edge along the surface to be cut. Against unprotected flesh, sik or laquer typical of the armor used in Japan (as I understand it), a person trained in the katana could produce effects that were absolutely devastating. But katanas aren't lightsabers; they can't cut through metal even assuming they can get through the shield wall.
.


Uh...

I don't have any confidence, I have written that piercing armor with swords is not really reliable occurrence.

I stated that I would sooner see katana with it's stout point going trough mail than gladius, that while optimized for thrusting, wasn't really very 'armor piercing" either with it's broad profile and small size.

Haven't written anything about cutting trough metal or shields, so not sure where's that from.

And a lacquer was obviously used to cover armor in Japan, not as armor alone.


lances, short swords and various other weapons, (bow..why is nobody considering archery as a possibly relevant factor in the battle).. japanese military didn't just rely on katana

Bow was main weapon of mounted samurai, not sure about dismounted one.
That was true at least until the ~ 15th century, later changes in warfare and guns slowly ended that.

Tavar
2012-07-20, 01:37 PM
I'd point out that the Gladius (and especially the latter Spatha) seem to be decent chopping swords as well, which might work well.

Cikomyr
2012-07-20, 02:07 PM
I'd point out that the Gladius (and especially the latter Spatha) seem to be decent chopping swords as well, which might work well.

They probably were. But they were still meant be used for stabbing while fighting in formation

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-07-20, 03:41 PM
They probably were. But they were still meant be used for stabbing while fighting in formation

Also hamstring slicing.

As to bows...how did 13th C Japanese bows compare to composite bows of the Parthians? Because horse archers were the deciding factor at the Battle of Carrhae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carrhae#The_battle) since they could partly pierce the Roman shields (though the testudo formation bought the Romans time). Under a different commander, I can see the Romans getting out of such a situation with the Japanese, but at a high cost. I'd think the Japanese would have to resort to kiting tactics like this in order to win battles against the Romans.

snoopy13a
2012-07-20, 03:50 PM
Also hamstring slicing.

As to bows...how did 13th C Japanese bows compare to composite bows of the Parthians? Because horse archers were the deciding factor at the Battle of Carrhae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carrhae#The_battle) since they could partly pierce the Roman shields (though the testudo formation bought the Romans time). Under a different commander, I can see the Romans getting out of such a situation with the Japanese, but at a high cost. I'd think the Japanese would have to resort to kiting tactics like this in order to win battles against the Romans.

I've always wondered what would have happened if Julius Caesar hadn't been assassinated and went to war with the Parthians? Would he have been defeated and his reputation tarnished?

Spiryt
2012-07-20, 04:06 PM
As to bows...how did 13th C Japanese bows compare to composite bows of the Parthians? Because horse archers were the deciding factor at the Battle of Carrhae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Carrhae#The_battle) since they could partly pierce the Roman shields (though the testudo formation bought the Romans time). Under a different commander, I can see the Romans getting out of such a situation with the Japanese, but at a high cost. I'd think the Japanese would have to resort to kiting tactics like this in order to win battles against the Romans.

Bows alone aren't really important, just as swords aren't...

With Carrhae, Romans commander(s) played it really poor, AFAIR, while Parthian ones exploited their strengths smartly. Romans had also been betrayed and fooled - as Wiki states as well.

Parthian army would always be difficult enemy on a table like terrain near Carrhae - but since Japanese medieval armies weren't really similar to Parthian, and Japan is not really flat plain at all, it's not really comparable.


I've always wondered what would have happened if Julius Caesar hadn't been assassinated and went to war with the Parthians? Would he have been defeated and his reputation tarnished?

Romans had won quite a few battles with Parthians, and Ceasar was great tactician. So he could certainly have some success, it's pretty hard to speculate.

McStabbington
2012-07-20, 07:25 PM
Uh...

I don't have any confidence, I have written that piercing armor with swords is not really reliable occurrence.

I stated that I would sooner see katana with it's stout point going trough mail than gladius, that while optimized for thrusting, wasn't really very 'armor piercing" either with it's broad profile and small size.

Haven't written anything about cutting trough metal or shields, so not sure where's that from.

And a lacquer was obviously used to cover armor in Japan, not as armor alone.



My apologies for being unclear then. My point was simply that thrusting with a katana is using a katana completely wrong. Katanas are curved edged weapons, and like all curved edged weapons inflict injury best by drawing across the surface to cut it. Using a katana in any other way is like using a screwdriver as a prise: while in theory it can be used as such, as a practical matter it's not designed for it and there's a fairly high risk of breaking the implement and injuring yourself in the process. That's even more true when we consider the generally poor quality of Japanese steel and the affect folding the blade has on tensile strength.

By contrast, the gladius is very well-designed as a stabbing implement. While it doesn't taper at the tip in favor of dual edges that allow for slashing, it's still very efficient at punching through armor. The only armor I can really see reliably besting the gladius is an armor I'm not sure the Japanese used: a form of laquered wooden armor that was used in China.

dehro
2012-07-20, 08:53 PM
The only armor I can really see reliably besting the gladius is an armor I'm not sure the Japanese used: a form of laquered wooden armor that was used in China.
like so?
http://www.nihontoantiques.com/images/samurai%20yoroi.jpg
next image is really big but I'm too lazy to crop resize etc etc (also, it takes me a long time, what with not being very good at these things). be warned!http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Cuirass_do-maru_Met_14.100.109_n01.jpg
wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_armor) being what it is, I take it with a healthy pinch of salt, but apparently scale armour, both leather and steel existed as early as in 1180, and lacquering was kinda common

Kinslayer
2012-07-20, 09:08 PM
like so?
http://www.nihontoantiques.com/images/samurai%20yoroi.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Cuirass_do-maru_Met_14.100.109_n01.jpg
wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_armor) being what it is, I take it with a healthy pinch of salt, but apparently scale armour, both leather and steel existed as early as in 1180, and lacquering was kinda common

You might want to put a warning of "Oh (Diety/Power of choice Here) Large Image" on that spoiler.

Ravens_cry
2012-07-20, 09:43 PM
You might want to put a warning of "Oh (Diety/Power of choice Here) Large Image" on that spoiler.
Indeed. Personally I would have downloaded the image, shrunk it drastically in my favourite quick image editor, and uploaded it, because that is a far, far, too large image to be useful.

Brother Oni
2012-07-21, 04:31 AM
My apologies for being unclear then. My point was simply that thrusting with a katana is using a katana completely wrong. Katanas are curved edged weapons, and like all curved edged weapons inflict injury best by drawing across the surface to cut it. Using a katana in any other way is like using a screwdriver as a prise: while in theory it can be used as such, as a practical matter it's not designed for it and there's a fairly high risk of breaking the implement and injuring yourself in the process.

I'm sorry, are you saying that there are no thrusting attacks with a katana in kenjutsu, or that such attacks are inefficient for the weapon?

First hand experience disproves the former, but I do agree with the latter to a point (pun not intended); however 'inefficient' an attack is, if it kills the opponent quickly, it's still effective.

dehro
2012-07-21, 05:14 AM
You might want to put a warning of "Oh (Diety/Power of choice Here) Large Image" on that spoiler.

my bad.. I didn't realize it was bigger than it looked like when I found it...
I'll put a warning up

Spiryt
2012-07-21, 05:29 AM
My apologies for being unclear then. My point was simply that thrusting with a katana is using a katana completely wrong. Katanas are curved edged weapons, and like all curved edged weapons inflict injury best by drawing across the surface to cut it. Using a katana in any other way is like using a screwdriver as a prise: while in theory it can be used as such, as a practical matter it's not designed for it and there's a fairly high risk of breaking the implement and injuring yourself in the process. That's even more true when we consider the generally poor quality of Japanese steel and the affect folding the blade has on tensile strength.

By contrast, the gladius is very well-designed as a stabbing implement. While it doesn't taper at the tip in favor of dual edges that allow for slashing, it's still very efficient at punching through armor. The only armor I can really see reliably besting the gladius is an armor I'm not sure the Japanese used: a form of laquered wooden armor that was used in China.


So it seems that you know better how to use a katana than actual Japanese users then? :smalltongue:

Katanas had sharp, reinforced point at the end of blade, spine was terminating to form more suitable stabbing point.

Some had more thin and pronounced points, some were shorter, there was quite a lot of variety, AFAIU.

http://www.ksky.ne.jp/~sumie99/kissaki.html


Also Japanese didn't have any "poor quality" steel, for the last time. Iron in sand ores is contaminated, spread, not concentrated, and generally acquiring any sort solid bill of good iron from it was huge pain.

Steel that was a final result wasn't really "poor" though, that's not the same.



it's still very efficient at punching through armor. The only armor I can really see reliably besting the gladius is an armor I'm not sure the

Define 'efficient' and provide a proof. There's nothing indicating that it would be any more efficient at punching trough armor than any other light, broad sword.

Some of them had reinforced points, so additional 'spine' near the rib of the sword - some not, some had thicker blades, some had longer points....

There would be a lot of variety in 'stabbing' performance, like always.


In some theoretical contest of 'stab me trough my mail' I would still probably give edge to Japanese - two handed hold, heavier sword, thicker, narrower blade...

But that's too academical even for low standards of threads like that. :smalltongue:

Starting with the fact that guy with katana would be at big disadvantage in even reaching said mail due to big shield in a way.

Deadmeat.GW
2012-07-24, 07:59 AM
Actually, going of what several historians (and we are talking Japanese here) have said the quality of the steel was poor in general but NOT if your sword was made by a master swordsmith.

The issue is that almost all of the poor quality swords that survived to this date have never been put in musea, after all what would people prefer to see?

A bunch of almost completely devoured by rust pieces of rubbish or a couple of incredibly beautifull swords...

There is very little incentive to show the poor quality stuff...

It is the reason that master swordsmiths could ask such high prices.
After all if everything is high quality and plentifull (we are talking equiping severul tens of thousands of troops...) prices simply will end up dropping.

Basic economics, large supply versus small supply...