What was the largest battle fought by ancient Rome?

What was the largest battle fought by ancient Rome?

What was the largest battle, by number of participants, in which ancient Rome took part? Not counting sieges.

A quick Google search reveals nothing authoritative, but some discussion threads mention the battles of Adrianople (295K), Arausio (280K), Vercellae (260K), and -although a bit of a siege- Alesia (260K) - suggested by @ed.hank.

All these numbers come from Wikipedia, and can vary a lot, so I'm looking for something more reliable. My hope is some historian has addressed this, being the question so basic (and quite infantile).


According to wikipedia I would say that Adrianople is the biggest battle, not only because it was a battle between Romans (so it has sources from both sides), but also because only eastern parts of the Empire and Italy were able to support such huge numbers in an army. While other battles might look great as well, all of them were against barbarians, whose numbers can't be that big counting only warriors.

But I'll also put another battle that might potentially be bigger, battle of Phillipi, during the civil war after Caesar's death. Where 36 legions were in battle, and it might have numbers above 300,000 if those legions had auxiliary forces.


The Largest Naval Battles of All Time

The Battle of the Philippine Sea, from June 19 to June 21, 1944, between the Japanese and US navy fleets.

Since the early days of civilization, various naval battles have been fought up until the early 20th century. In each of these naval battles, technological advances have been a factor in victories and defeats. Also, the sheer scale of these naval battles have made a select few achieve the distinction of being the largest naval battles of all time.


The Biggest Battle Ever Fought - Ancient World

This may seem out of the clear blue sky, but I am very curious about something. I'm sure one of you many history buffs can inform me. In reference to the ancient/medieval world - what was the largest battle ever fought? In both numbers/and/or losses on both sides?

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Ancient Roman Christianity

Religion was something that was very important for the Romans. The Romans had a religion of their own. There was no central belief as such. There were a lot of rituals, traditions, superstitions, and taboos. The religion in Rome was less of a spiritual experience and more of a relationship that man has with the forces.

In fact, Roman Christianity was punished for a number of years. It was an entertainment for the people to feed the Christians to the lions. People used to enjoy this site.


5. The Sasanian Empire

The Sasanians proved to be just as problematic for Rome as the Parthians, with the exception that the former were more interested in looting the cities they defeated instead of adding them to their empire.

The conflict between the two powers first escalated under King Shapur the Great, the second ruler of the Sassanid Empire, which historians also call the Neo-Persian Empire. He had the benefit of being able to use intrigues and plots occurring at the Roman court in his favor. Even though he lost his initial skirmish with the Romans around 243 AD, he still gained the upper hand when the Roman Emperor Gordian III died under suspicious circumstances. His successor (and likely the man who plotted his assassination), Philip the Arab, was eager to obtain peace so that he could return to Rome and consolidate his power, so he agreed to what historians described as “a most shameful treaty” with Shapur in order to end the war.

Of course, no matter how advantageous, this treaty only satiated Shapur briefly. Less than ten years later, he launched a new campaign against the Romans, and pillaged many of their cities. Then, in 260 AD, King Shapur started a third military campaign, and this one had the most shocking result of all, as the Sasanian king managed to capture Valerian, the Roman Emperor at the time. Valerian was taken prisoner, giving him the ignoble distinction of being the only Roman Emperor to be captured and die in captivity.


How was naval warfare fought before the invention of cannons?

Naval warfare before the invention of cannons resembled land warfare, but on the sea. I'll confine my answer to northern and western Europe, as all I know about warfare at sea in Asia comes from video games.

What we know about naval warfare in and around Britain in, say, the period of the Norse invasions, is that ships were primarily used to move troops and their equipment around. There was no true naval warfare, if by naval warfare we mean warfare unconnected to war on land. Rather, ships were used to project power on the land, and the seas remained a debatable place. That meant that, on the one hand, there was little one could do to prevent an enemy landing troops on one's land, but on the other hand, one could equally as well count on using one's own ships and forces to force a landing on an enemy's coast. The scouting systems used at sea that would prevent that didn't develop before the 16th century or so.

When we see accounts of naval battles, they are universally fought inshore, usually in a bay, an estuary or even in larger rivers, and are usually fought as an auxiliary to a land warfare engagement. There were no missile weapons that could sink ships, and it wasn't possible to fit rams to the ships of the Norse and their imitators, so it was only inshore that grappling and hand-to-hand fighting could take place. Also, inshore communications were quick enough that they could on occasion call for help when a landing occurred, a prerequisite of getting ships together to fight.

Naval warfare in this era has been compared to mounted warfare on land: ships were a way to transport a group of raiders quickly to a destination and achieve strategic surprise. Shallow-draft ships could also carry raiders hundreds of miles into the interior of a country, using rivers for transport.

A scenario might be that a group of raiders has landed at a village, dragging their ships onto the strand, and that a counter-force manages to trap them with beached ships and burn their means of escape the raiding force could then be hunted down on land. Many of the battles that we know about during this time period seem to take that form (the details of naval battle are very incomplete). Alternatively, there are some accounts of battles on the water between two fleets, where it seems likely that individual ships grappled with one another, with boarding being the decisive factor in their success. We do know that defense against ships in this era required a combination of fixed defenses (bridges, forts) and squadrons stationed at spots where they could quickly be called to respond. The accounts of battles that we do have tend to list a prince and his achievements (Alfred of Wessex went to sea with a "fleet" (sciphere) in 875, fought seven enemy ships and captured one . etc.)

What we do know is that the type of ship used for warfare at sea in northern Europe was generally of the "longship" type, although the size varied by design. Ship-houses that have been excavated in Norway point to ships of maybe 80 feet long and only 15 wide, which accounts for them being called "longships" or "snakes." The size of those ships was measured in "rooms," being defined as the space between thwarts. The Skudelev 2 ship is a 25-room ship, about 100 feet long and 12.5 wide that would have carried probably 75-80 men (apologies for Wiki link).

Ships of less than 20 rooms don't seem to have been counted as warships, generally, and the size of a king's ships was bandied about in chronicles as a measure of his power. In the Norwegian fleet around the year 1000 or so, ships of 20-30 rooms were called "esnecca" or "snekkja," snakes, while those of 30 or more rooms were "drekkar," dragons, and considered quite unusual.

Hopefully this will help -- sorry for the quick response, but I have to run out for a bit. Let me know if you have follow up questions.


Below are some of the major battles fought in ancient China-

The battle of LiZhe (478 B.C)

This was the final major decisive battle of the Spring and Autumn periods. and some marked it as the beginning of the Warring States. The Yue army was 50,000, the Wu army was unknown but probably comparable. It resulted in Yue victory and the Wu king field to his capital, where he was seized for 3 years and eventually fell, marking the end of the Wu kingdom.

Battle of Guilin ( 354 B.C.)

It was fought between the State of Wei lead by Pang Juan and the State of Qi lead by Sun Bin and Tian Ji. The armies consisted of roughly 80,000 people total on both sides.

Battle of Maling ( 342 B.C.)

It was also fought between the State of Wei lead by Pang Juan and the State of Qi lead by Sun Bin and Tian Ji. The same combatants of the battle of Guilin met up against a decade later in a very similar battle with similar results. The State of Wei had recovered from the debacle of the battle of Guilin and returned to its original goal. This time they launched a massive offensive against the other state of the 3 Jin, the Han again lead by Pang Juan, which resulted in a similar cry for help to the Qi as it resulted in Qi victory.

Battle of Chang Ping ( 260 B.C)

It was fought between the Kingdom of Zhao lead by Lian Po and Zhao Gua and the Kingdom of Qin lead by Wang He and Bai Chi. The armies consisted of 650,000 people on the Zhao side and 500,000 people on the Qin side. The war was started due to a dispute over a border province, the Province of Shan Dong was a province of the Kingdom of Han, but it had been cut off by the Qin forces during a war in 262 B.C.

The Hanking intended to surrender it to the Qin forces in return for peace, but the local governors instead surrendered the province to Zhao. Immediately both sides send troops to the area hoping to secure this region for themselves. Its outcome was an epic Qin victory but over 450,000 of the Zhao soldiers perished.


Found: Shipwrecks, Helmets, and Clues From an Ancient Roman Naval Battle

A 3D-model of a helmet found at the site, created by William Murray. Courtesy RPM Nautical Foundation

Just because a battle took place over 2,000 years ago doesn’t mean we can’t uncover what happened. A team of archaeologists exploring a Mediterranean site near Sicily is using their findings to piece together a narrative of the Battle of the Aegates Islands, a naval conflict between ancient Rome and Carthage.

According to Live Science, the team has been surveying the site for years, recovering six bronze ship rams, along with some helmets and pottery, in 2018 alone. As the findings have accumulated, they have both raised new questions and suggested new answers as to how the events of March 10, 241 BC played out.

It was already known, for example, that the Romans won the battle decisively, forcing the Carthaginians to evacuate Sicily, and collecting a Carthaginian payment of 2,200 talents to compensate for the Romans’ lost ships. The resounding Roman victory would suggest that most of the site’s shipwrecks would have belonged to Carthage—but so far, that has not been the case. In fact, 11 of the 19 rams identified at the site appear to have been Roman, according to William Murray, an historian of ancient Greece at the University of South Florida and a member of the research team. In addition, many of the helmets recovered at the site are in the “Montefortino” style associated with the Romans.

A Roman ram found at the site. William Murray/Courtesy RPM Nautical Foundation

One way to explain this seeming contradiction is to propose, as Murray has, that the Carthaginian navy was using many Roman ships in this battle, as it had taken some 93 of them from a prior battle. The Montefortino helmets, meanwhile, may have belonged to mercenaries from Gaul and Iberia, who fought for Carthage and were known to sometimes wear Montefortinos.

Equally curious is the scattering of amphorae—liquid-holding pots—around the ships’ wreckage. These kinds of pots, Murray explained to Live Science, would have been packed together in clusters on each ship, so something seems amiss in finding them just lying about, apart from one another. They may well have been thrown overboard by Carthaginian sailors who, knowing that they were losing the battle, wanted to make their ships lighter and faster, and give themselves a better chance of escaping the Romans.

The amphorae also, however, present another question that lacks such a likely answer. These pots were not tarred with the material that would have prevented liquids from evaporating inside them, leading the researchers to wonder what their use would have been. The amphorae are undergoing chemical tests in an attempt to trace their contents, and the researchers are gearing up to return to the Mediterranean and piece together more of the battle this year.


Circus Maximus in ancient Rome

The Circus Maximus was considered the largest and most famous circus complex in the ancient world. First and foremost, chariot races were held in the Circus. The Circus Maximus is located in Rome between the hills Palatine and Aventine. Today only land elevations from Circus were left, where once stood whole walls and stands. But during the imperial era, the circus was the city’s main racetrack. The construction of the circus dates back to the 6th century BC. However, it was build of wood at that time, gates and the stands were built as well from wood. Only under the Emperors Claudius and Trajan wooden structures replaced by stone and the circus were became one of the famous monument of ancient world.

According to Pliny the Elder the Circus Maximus could accommodate 250,000 spectators and other sources says that it could fit up to 400.000 spectators, but these numbers are probably unrealistic . Overall, the circus was 600 m long and 150 m wide, making the arena from above seen an oval shape. Through the middle of this arena was again a 344 m long brick strut (Spina) in the longitudinal side direction. On this spina were various objects and monuments, including a 24m large granite obelisk by Ramses II (obelisk was brought to Rome in 10 BC by the command of Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus).

Other objects on “spina” served for practical purposes, including seven moving eggs and seven artificial dolphins for counting the seven laps of a race. The grandstands, as in the Great Coliseum, were build on multi-layer basis to accommodate more spectators and provide a better view. In 1936 AD, when excavating the well-preserved south-east curve of the Circus, it was discovered that the grandstand was based exclusively on arched substructures, also called arcades. Up to 3 floors, the grandstands were once high.

Modern look of the Circus Maximus

With their sturdy construction, the arcades secured the grandstands above and provided space for the stairs and passageways. The masonry consisted of bricks and clad cement. In the center of the south curve stood a marble decorated triumphal arch, which granted a direct entrance into the arena. Opposite, in the north curve, were the twelve start gates of the Circus, the so-called Carceres.

Chariot racing in Circus Maximus

At the time of the Roman emperors chariot races were maintained very professionally. The drivers of the various chariots belonged to a crew and each crew was marked by its own color. Most of the time there were four teams whose charioteers wore garments in the colors white, red, blue and green. The teams (factiones) consisted of the magistrates (organizers), and the drivers. For this they were under imperial patronage and each crew provided by the emperors the stables on the Campus Martius, as well as coaches, veterinarians, blacksmiths and zookeepers. They were paid for their performances in the circus. Most charioteers were professionals who served as slaves. If a driver was very successful, he could buy the freedom from the prize money. Each of the teams also had their own fan base, just like today’s football fans and also sometimes there was fought street battles between rival fans. On the day of the race, regular processions took place in the circus and all bets were stopped at that time.

Example of Chariot racing. Posted by Pinterest user Tim Smith

The presiding magistrate signaled start by dropping a cloth napkin from his hand. There was a trumpet blast and the race started. The gates of the starting boxes in the north curve of the Circus were designed to open with the help of a catapult system. The catapult pulled back latch at the gates all at once, and they flew open. The chariots had to race counterclockwise and circle the “Spina” seven times. Especially at the beginning of the race, when all chariots pushed into the right lane, the risk of collision was very high. There were races with teams of two or four chariots. Curiosities sometimes took place as well, such as art riding on a chariot pulling by ten horses. A race day consisted of 24 races. The prizes awarded to the fastest drivers were the gold, gold crowns and necklaces. Unofficially, they also earned a lot of money around 40,000 sesterces.

During the reign of Diocletian, seating section of circus collapsed and killed around 13,000 people. After the VI century AD, the Circus Maximus fell into disuse and decay, and was quarried for building materials. At the beginning of the XVI century the area was used as a market garden and also two obelisks were removed.