Facing unprecedented pressures from within and without, in the early fourth century A.D. the Emperor Constantine formed a new military force, a permanent Roman field army. Withdrawing detachments from his legions defending the frontiers, in a drastic step with far-reaching consequences, he recruited soldiers from the unconquered Germans east of the Rhine. Those new detachments of auxilia gave the western Roman army a strongly Germanic, but basically loyal character.
Was Constantine's decision one of the major causes of the fall of the Western Empire? Dr. Cromwell argues that misuse of that army by later generals who wanted to intimidate their enemies rather than defend the empire led to the final economic and military disasters.