How To Wage War Like A Roman…

Step 1: Think like Julius Ceasar.

Step 2: Do not engage the Picts! Just put up a wall and be done with it! 😜

Step 3: Do not try to emulate the Romans (pronounced Womans) from Monty Python’s film, Life of Brian.

“I had a vewy good fwiend in Wome called Biggus Dickus.”

What you need to know:

Battle formations. Yes, this is important. You can’t win a battle if your army doesn’t have any cohesion. Sure, some of the barbarian hordes of ancient Europe mastered the chaotic method of rushing an enemy like a pack of mad dogs, but that only works if you catch your enemy with their pants down. Not going to work as well on the Romans… Except for those few times when it did… But who’s talking about that?

So, I’m writing my first big battle. There was a smaller one, but it was a case of barbarians catching their enemy with their pants down, so that was easy. Not much strategy required. This next scene, however, is far more complex.

So, what steps am I taking to develop it? Well, I’ll tell you. First, I have to know the terrain, position my army where I want them before the enemy gets to choose the battlefield. Then I have to figure out my strageties and formations. Who is going to be where and doing what? It’s so easy just to play it all out in your mind without giving any thought to the crucial details, and when you have a faceless army. But these are real people… Do they still count as real if they exist only in my mind? Anyway, some of them have faces, at least. And names, and back stories, etc, etc. They’re not just numbers.

I think I will buy myself a set of toy soldiers and paint and decorate them as dark elves. Then I will arrange them on the field of battle, which I will draw (very badly) myself. (I thought I was writing a book, but it seems I’m developing maps and role playing with toy soldiers. People will probably be very concernded if they come into my house and find my work space covered in little men with armour and swords, possibly with a few decapitated.)

Well, speaking of decapitating little men, I should get to work figuring out the best way to do just that.

Have a nice day, fellow bloggers!

Published by Jessica Urquhart

First off, who am I? My name is Jessica Urquhart. Writing has always been a hobby of mine, which got its start in middle and highschool, when I'd write short stories for the amusement of my friends and classmates. Currently, I'm working on my first book, my one true love of a story I've been saying I would one day write. Well, that day has come. If you'd care to follow my musings on the adventures and hurdles of writing my first fantasy book, then please, read my blog.

24 thoughts on “How To Wage War Like A Roman…

  1. Battle, whether between Armies or a couple of randy goats requires some thought or some pants down. Either way, the world’s history of battles were won or lost, not on good fortune but, on the mastery of the craft of war. The winner is always the one prepared to win when Victory presents her sweet but fickle smile. I do hope you will share a picture of your army. I used coins with the higher coins representing the different leaders. Pennies were the troops and I needed a lot of pennies or the quarters and half dollars were lost quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I hadn’t thought of coins! I want to personalize my soldiers. One for each character! I can borrow a toy Drayton from my daughter. She has more than enough!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! Ya right! Then it would be a perpetual battle! This one needs to be won withing about a day to avoid tired out the troops and suffering too many casualties. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You might consider getting some books on historic battles and drawing from them. There is a lot written regarding Alexander as well as other famous battles. There is especially a lot written about Anglo Saxon battles which might fit your time frame at least as far as weaponry and technology.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t get any books, but I did look up roman troop formations on Google. Happily, my formation and battle plan is finished. Now I just need to write it.


  3. Very good sound advice.

    Another piece of advice- don’t fall for a seductive and sensuous femme fatale Egyptian queen or your mind might become distracted and you’ll end up being stabbed by people you thought were your friends on the steps of the Roman Capitol or on the other hand, you might end up losing a Roman Civil War to your rival who didn’t fall for her charms. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. hehe firstly, I love the references to Monty Python 😉 Secondly, there’s a lot of really excellent advice here- especially like your tip about Roman army vs barbarians- it’s a good point and one I hadn’t thought about before (granted I don’t do battle scenes- because this is certainly an area where I’d be caught with my trousers down 😉 ) I love your dedication here though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve never written battles before, so it’s a new challenge, but I’m determined to get it right. Hence all the research and careful planning. I hope it pays off! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Haha! When I started writing this, I didn’t even have the Monty Python movie in mind, but that sentence, how to wage war like a Roman, had so many Was that it was almost a tongue twister not to say woman instead of Roman! And then that movie came to mind, and I was sitting there laughing so hard remembering all those crazy lines! 😂

      Liked by 1 person


    Not exactly a battle map, but it is a great example that quickly came to mind. It has a neat order of encounter, pre-battle talk and boasting, fighting, and disaster. How this battle was lost by a combination of ill fortune and panic is a common thing across history. The Anglo-Saxon leader Byrhtnoth was killed in the shield wall after several injuries. Not everyone in the army would have known, of course. However, a man in the shield wall broke ranks and took Byrhtnoth’s horse, which enough noticed as he rode away. Many thought that their leader was running. This set panic into all but the most loyal who saw Byrhtnoth die. The result is that many run, while the ones that hold get killed by the Vikings.

    Tactics and formation are usually secondary to the make up of an army. Artillery pieces(old or new) require stationary points to be held, as they are vulnerable. Cavalry and light infantry can focus on mobility and don’t have to worry about holding ground. Heavy infantry are good for holding ground and for line engagements. Having ranged weapons adds another factor. What makes up the army determines what will work. How well trained its components are in working together as groups and how much control a commander has over all his army’s components are important. Think about chance events and chaos. Maybe an order is ignored, maybe a plan is stupid or undoable, or maybe someone got hot headed and charged their group in without thinking of the overall battle. A very common thing throughout history is parties of soldiers getting distracted chasing fleeing enemies or plundering enemy baggage trains or camps, and so not being around to help in the rest of the engagement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Great tips! I love reading about the Saxon and viking battles, and am trying to style the battle in my book off of that, but with more strategy and larger forces. It is fantasy, and takes place in a different wold with non-humans, so there it doesn’t need to strictly conform to the smaller battle styles typical of the vikings, at least. You make a lot of good points for me to keep in mind as I’m writing.


    1. I have read all of Cornwell’s Last Kingdom series and love it. I totally agree, the action is superb! I’m just starting on the winter king, though. My first book is pretty much complete. A friend is currently going through to make suggestions for improvement, and although I would love additional feedback, with being this close to the finish line, I’m a little hesitant to share with anyone I don’t know. But if you are really interested, then maybe something can be arranged in the near future, as honest reviews would definitely be beneficial.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, of course you’re hesitant. I was just doing a catch up read on your blog having not looked at it for ages and got excited for your book. I would definitely be interested in reviewing but I’ve only ever proofread/ critiqued people’s work than reviewing and while I’m up for doing something new, it may not be what you’re after.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, how would you feel about critiquing just the first chapter for now? A friend and I are trying to get it perfect, since it’s so crucial to getting the book out there. I was contemplating posting it to WordPress for the feedback, but am a little wary of posting to a public platform.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Great! If you’d like to send me a message through the contact form, with an email address, that would be great. Do you use Google drive?


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