François Cadiou’s book reconsiders the view that the citizen army of the Republic was unable to deal with extended campaigning overseas, prompting a military crisis culminating in the events of the civil war—a thesis shaped in no small part by the excavations of Adolf Shulten at Numantia in North-Eastern Spain between 1905 and 1912.
There has been a growing interest in the Republican army in the Peninsula since G. Ulbert’s reinvestigation of the Late Republican encampment at Cáceres el Viejo in 1984, and continues to the present. In 2007, the 20th International Conference of Roman Frontier Studies was celebrated in León and accompanied by Ángel Morillo’s synthesis El Ejército Romano en Hispania (Universidad de León, 2007).
The book is divided into three sections. The first (‘Armées et Guerre’ pp. 27-276) reconsiders the perception that the difficulties of the Spanish campaigns prompted crises in the organization and tactics of the Roman army. Instead, Cadiou stresses the conventionality of the wars, their limited scope and duration, and an underlying continuity both in policy and administration. The scale of the conflicts is difficult to determine due to the use of generalized ethnic terms in the literary sources that obscure the ethnography of the Peninsula. Roman military endeavours were reinforced by diplomatic measures particularly post-179 BC of which the treatment of the Celtiberian ambassadors in 152 BC (Polybius 35.2.3-4) is an important example.
The second section (‘Armées et Territoires’ pp. 279-473) explores the ways in which the Roman army was able to exercise control and to exploit territory. Whilst more than twenty toponyms have been identified as military bases dating to the Republic, the evidence for many of these is scanty and Cadiou argues that only three (Castra Caecilia, Castra Servilia and Castra Postumiana) can be identified with any certitude. In the absence of literary evidence, Cadiou discusses the archaeological evidence drawing upon his earlier discussion ‘Garnisons et camps permanents: un réseau défensif des territoires provinciaux dans l’Hispanie républicaine’ in Á. Morillo Cerdán, F. Cadiou and D. Hourcade (eds) Defensa y Territorio en Hispania de los Escipiones a Augusto (Universidad de León / Casa de Velázquez, 2003) 81-100. Archaeological investigation is hampered, however, by the indiscriminate identification of sites as military on the basis of literary references, location, layout and finds of weapons or imported Italian pottery. Emblematic is the site of Lomba do Canho (Arganil) that may have been situated to exploit the gold resources of the río Alva.
Roman control is normally associated with the establishment of garrisons in urban areas — in particular at Tarraco and Emporion. Cadiou finds little evidence to support ‘praesidia’ at either location. The evidence for garrisons elsewhere is scanty and Cadiou suggests that the towns referred to in the literary sources—for example, Gracchuris, Pompaelo, Valentia, Carteia, Iliturgi and Corduba—were not military or strategic but intended to restructure the settlement hierarchy along Roman lines—reinforced by the creation of a road network that integrated regions and promoted a Roman settlement hierarchy. Where garrisons were established, they were located to protect supply routes and facilitate the provisioning of the armies in the field. Logistical support was reinforced by the use of intelligence gathering to gain knowledge of the terrain and deployment of enemy forces—reiterating Polybius’ assertion of the importance of preparation (9.12.6).
The third section (‘Armées et Provinces’ pp. 477-684) examines the role of the army in the exploitation of the provinces to provide financial support through taxation, provisions and recruits. Cadiou argues that the provinces remained financially dependant upon Rome receiving regular supplies of funds and lacking any fiscal structure in the provinces—’l’absence de mise en place d’un système fiscal spécifiquement destiné aux besoins militaires’ (p. 484). As late as August 51 BC Cicero refers to the senate deciding the dispatch of funds to the Pompeian forces in Spain ( Ad familiares 8.4). The maintenance of senatorial control over the ‘stipendium’ helped preserve the sovereignty of the senate over generals holding ‘imperium’. The function of indigenous coinage has long been particularly contentious: Cadiou suggests that the coins were issued to pay Spanish auxiliaries in the same way that Italian allied troops were paid by their home cities (p. 539).
The final chapter (pp. 611-684) reconsiders the evidence for the recruitment of provincials into the army. Cadiou argues that the evidence for immigration to the Peninsula is scarce. Where the literary sources refer to the foundation of towns: Italica in 206 BC, Gracchuris in 178 BC, Corduba in 169/8 or 152/1 BC, Valentia in 138 BC and Palma and Pollentia in 122 BC; the evidence for their character and the composition of their inhabitants is lacking. It was only during the period of the civil wars that there was widespread recruitment of Spaniards into the Roman army—perhaps fuelled by an influx of refugees from the conflicts in Italy. The Spanish communities did, however, contribute large numbers of ‘auxilia’ to the Roman war effort, perhaps through similar treaty arrangements to the Italian ‘socii’—in 152 BC the inhabitants of Nertobriga provided 100 cavalry under the terms of their treaty with Claudius Marcellus (Appian, Iberica 48).
Cadiou’s book originated as a Ph.D. at the Université de Rennes in 2001. In common with many such books, Cadiou’s use of the primary sources is exhaustive. The result is an authoritative reassessment of the role of the army in the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula that deftly combines both literary and archaeological evidence to revaluate many traditional assumptions about the role of the conquest. Cadiou’s picture is not a reassuring one, exposing the weaknesses in the evidence behind many of the scholarly assumptions about the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Much of our perception is shaped by the lack of knowledge of the geography and politics on the part of our sources. The ethnocentricity of our sources has led to a denigration of the indigenous population through derogative terminology (for example Livy’s description of the ‘native savageness’ the Lacetani (34.20.2)) and a portrayal that better reflects Roman ideology than native reality.