The Cimbrian War 113-101 BC

Review by Martin Koenigsberg

If you want to know what happened in the Roman republic between Carthage and Julius Caesar, this may be a book for you. Veteran and Academic Nic Fields gives us just not the story of the War itself, but preparation for it- the innovations that were developed and the story of the Commander Caius Marius whose reforms won it. The Cimbri- and their allied group the Teutones were as you might expect- Germanic or Celtic/Germanic tribes or language groups that moved into Roman holdings in this period . Marius beat them both. Although he was to show his political skills were not as well honed as those for battle- the Marian reforms and the Marian Legion were to prove better able to deal with more different types of foes the Romans were encountering- now that they had the basis of their Empire. The Early Legions had been built for fighting Hoplites and other Medium and Heavy Infantry. The three lines of Spear men in maniples were not as effective as they once had been . To build numbers, Marius opened the army up to more classes- even those with no property to defend. He got his numbers- but this opened the way for Armies beholden to their Generals over the state. The tactics moved from spear and sword to pilum and sword, the pilum being a throwing spear that would break off in an opponent’s shield, weighing it down- if it did not kill the man himself. Fields explains the War- and the Numidian War before it- with the usual Osprey Publishing plethora of pictures, graphs, maps, diagrams and lovely colour plates by Johnny Shumate, but is also always discussing Caius Marius as the main character. I learned a lot as my classical history is quite rusty from college… There are few adult themes save politics, and no graphic injury passages, so this book is a fine choice for the Junior Reader over 10/11 years with a historical interest.. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast, this book is quite useful. The gamer gets at least two Ancient battles as scenarios- as well as good tactical information that might inform future games. I’m not sure how one might game both manipular and Marian legion to contrast and compare using modern rules- but it sounds worth a try. The Modeler gets quite a bit of help for builds and dioramas- but may need more. The Military Enthusiast gets a good look at the Roman Legion at a key time in its development- moving from the Mediterranean Basin to fighting in Northern and Central Europe. It’s a nice package on an often forgotten Roman war- with a good bibliography if one wants to do further reading…

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