Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Random question: what follows an army?

A lot of how the Roman Empire spread its culture was sending the military to new places, defeating anyone who opposed them, and setting up shop.  Everything else came to the army without having to be asked.

Things came at different rates, though.  You didn't exactly have playwrights and poets saying, "Hey, there's a military camp over there.  No buildings yet, just a bunch of soldiers in tents, I should move there to pursue my dreams."  On the other hand the brothels were set up pretty much as fast as the military pitched their tents.  Buildings could come later, soldiers were willing to pay for sex now.

So what I've found myself wondering is what follows the army and at what rate.  Who's there pretty much as soon as the soldiers, who is a bit later, and all the way down to "these people don't show up until it's most definitely become a town or city in its own right."

I've got three posts in the works in an active "I actually want to finish and post this soon" kind of way and I've got a couple more in development, but I'm going to be busy with other things, so they won't be done today.

I've had this question on my mind for a bit, especially in a context where there aren't yet decent trade routes set up, so I figured I'd ask it as a post for today.


  1. On the other hand the brothels were set up pretty much as fast as the military pitched their tents.

    Or just slightly before, IYKWIM.

  2. Yeah, suppliers of things that soldiers will buy are wave one. They do a lot of their own repairs to weapons and armour, but still need the occasional new bit of kit that they don't have with them. And food and drink that isn't the issued ration.

    So then you have drinking-houses. Which means they need replacement drinking-vessels, barley to make the beer, and so on. And eventually you get an actual local economy.

  3. I imagine it goes first-line-supplies. Prostitution, food, and maybe some music and drama (entertainment as well as a place to meet the prostitutes and eat the food).

    Nigh-immediately after would be protection. Bouncers, people to enforce payment. Depending on how much free time the soldiers are allowed, maybe even hiring the soldiers themselves.

    Firedrake has it better down than me.