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Aurelian and Probus (Hardback)

The Soldier Emperors Who Saved Rome

Ancient History Rome Photographic Books Colour Books Military

By Dr Ilkka Syvanne
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 304
Illustrations: 32 colour & 68 black and white
ISBN: 9781526767509
Published: 29th May 2020


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This is a narrative military history of the emperors Lucius Domitius Aurelianus (‘Aurelian’, reigned 270-275) and Marcus Aurelius Probus (276-282) which also includes the other reigns between the years 268 and 285. It shows how these two remarkable emperors were chiefly responsible for the Empire surviving and emerging largely intact from a period of intense crisis. It was Aurelian who first united the breakaway regions, including Zenobia’s Palmyra, and it was Probus who then secured his achievements.

The reigns of Aurelian and Probus have been subjected to many studies, but none of these have approached the extant material purely from the point of view of military analysis. Most importantly, the previous historians have not exploited the analytical opportunities provided by the military treatises that describe the strategy and tactics of the period Roman army. It is thanks to this new methodology that Ilkka Syvänne has been able to reconstruct the military campaigns of these two soldier emperors and their other contemporaries in far greater detail than has been possible before.

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The author has already written a number of fine books about the later period of the Roman Empire and this is a worthy addition to his portfolio. The later years of Roman history are the least known and understood, historians concentrating on the Republic and the early years of Empire. – Very Highly Recommended

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A curious and interesting documentary book/manual of two men who changed the story.

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Miniaturas JM

Syvänne is ably assisted by the inclusion of many coloured plates, photographs, and illustrations, which taken with the detailed narrative produces a valuable book for students of the Roman Empire and military history in general.

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Beating Tsundoku

The book is very well put together and I can highly recommend it much beyond simply the title of the book, the details around late roman military strategies and combat make it well worth reading.

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Medieval Sword School

There have been other studies of the reigns of Aurelian and Probus, but until now none has approached the subject from the point of view of military analysis. Yet plenty of material has survived to permit this. The author, Dr Syvanne, has made use of the military treatises that describe the tactics and strategy used by Roman army commanders at this period. He has been able to reconstruct the military campaigns of the two soldier-Emperors and their contemporaries in far greater detail than has ever been done before.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

As with books by Dr Syvanne, this follows the pattern of detailed narrative coupled with good images and maps, not least the colour plates. Recommended.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Dr Ilkka Syvanne

Dr. Ilkka Syvänne gained his doctorate in history in 2004 from the University of Tampere in his native Finland. Since then he has written extensively about ancient and medieval warfare and his publications include: The Age of Hippotoxotai, Art of War in Roman Military Revival and Disaster 491-636 (Tampere UP 2004), the multivolume Military History of Late Rome published by Pen & Sword and the critically acclaimed studies of the third century Roman emperors (Caracalla, Gordian III and Philip the Arab, Gallienus, Aurelian and Probus) also published by Pen & Sword. In the past he has served as Vice Chairman of the Finnish Society for Byzantine Studies and as Affiliated Professor of the University of Haifa. He lives in Kangasala, Finland.

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