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Applying the art of war to dating

Vegetius unceasingly emphasized the importance of constant drill and severe discipline and this aspect of his work was very tiresome to the soldiers of the middle ages, the feudal system lending itself but poorly to discipline."Victory in war," he states in his opening sentence, "does not depend entirely upon numbers or mere courage; only skill and discipline will insure it." His first book is devoted to the selection, training and discipline of recruits.The first printed edition was made in Utrecht in 1473.It was followed in quick succession by editions in Cologne, Paris and Rome.It was first published in English by Caxton, from an English manuscript copy, in 1489. In some manuscripts he is given the title of count.Raphael of Volterra calls him a Count of Constantinople. It is apparent from his book that he had not had extensive practical experience as a soldier..

By one of the strange mutations of history, when later the cross-bow and gun-powder deprived cavalry of its shock-power, the tactics of Vegetius again became ideal for armies, as they had been in the times from which he drew his inspiration.Between the reign of Valentinian II and Valentinian III, Rome was taken and burned by Alaric, King of the Goths, an event that unquestionably would have been mentioned had it occurred before the book was written.Vegetius mentions the defeat of the Roman armies by the Goths, but probably refers to the battle of Adrianople where Valens, the colleague of Valentinian I, was killed.The legion had fifty-five ballista for throwing darts and ten onagri, drawn by oxen, for throwing stones.Every legion carried its ponton equipment, "small boats hollowed out of a single piece of cimber, with long cables or chains to fasten them together." And in addition were "whatever is necessary for every kind of service, that the encampments may have all the strength and conveniences of a fortified city." Trains of workmen were provided to perform all the duties now performed by the various services in armies.

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The Emperor Valentinian, to whom the book is dedicated, is believed to be the second emperor of that name.

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