Buccelarii - the tool of personal power?

Authors

TODOROV Marek

Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Description The main concern of the paper is the topic of „private“ units of soldiers under the command of influential people from both civil and military origin in the late Roman empire. These units are most commonly called buccelarii in the sources, but it is possible to find other terms depicting conceptually very similar kind of armed forces. There are several uncertanties in the understanding of the buccelarii, which make the discussion about this topic meaningful and interesting. The paper describes the concept of the buccelarii and offers possible answers to some of the unclear questions about the buccelarii. There is the debate among the historians about the origin of the buccelarii. Even though it is hard to abandon other opinions about this subject, the most likely one is, that the buccelarii origins can be found in the Roman domestici together with some barbarian influence. The question also remains whether or not the buccelarii were truly private. Some laws prohibited the creating of personal armies or buccelarii and this has led some scholars to believe that the buccelarii are independent on the government. Other sources confirm that the buccelarii were at least partially paid by Roman state. This would suggest that the buccelarii were rather the semi-professional part of the army than completely private military units. Last but not least the paper mentions what kind of persons formed the buccelarii and whom they were loyal to. Finding out where their loyalty might help us to decide to what degree the buccelarii contributed to the personal and independent power of the elites.
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