Roman legions

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Roman Legions Video

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Bonn model Roman camp. Denario in argento, ac. Dislocazione legioni aC. Esercito consolare polibiano III sec aC originale. Exercitus romanus 80AD png.

Exercitus romanus Canne - Tattica. Karte Lage Schlachtfeld bei Wiershausen. Legione a Canne aC. Manipulus hastati - principes Polybius.

Roman Legions camps - AD Rome's Italian allies were required to provide a legion to support each Roman Legion. Each of these three lines was subdivided into usually 10 chief tactical units called maniples.

A maniple consisted of two centuries and was commanded by the senior of the two centurions. At this time, each century of hastati and principes consisted of 60 men; a century of triarii was 30 men.

These men twenty maniples of men, and ten maniples of 60 men , together with about velites and cavalry gave the mid Republican "manipular" legion a nominal strength of about men.

The Marian reforms of Gaius Marius enlarged the centuries to 80 men, and grouped them into 6-century "cohorts" rather than two-century maniples.

Each century had its own standard and was made up of ten units contubernia of eight men who shared a tent, a millstone, a mule and cooking pot.

Following the reforms of the general Marius in the 2nd century BC, the legions took on the second, narrower meaning that is familiar in the popular imagination as close-order citizen heavy infantry.

At the end of the 2nd century BC, Gaius Marius reformed the previously ephemeral legions as a professional force drawing from the poorest classes, enabling Rome to field larger armies and providing employment for jobless citizens of the city of Rome.

However, this put the loyalty of the soldiers in the hands of their general rather than the State of Rome itself. This development ultimately enabled Julius Caesar to cross the Rubicon with an army loyal to him personally and effectively end the Republic.

The legions of the late Republic and early Empire are often called Marian legions. He justified this action to the Senate by saying that in the din of battle he could not distinguish Roman from ally [ citation needed ].

This effectively eliminated the notion of allied legions; henceforth all Italian legions would be regarded as Roman legions, and full Roman citizenship was open to all the regions of Italy.

At the same time, the three different types of heavy infantry were replaced by a single, standard type based on the Principes: The role of allied legions would eventually be taken up by contingents of allied auxiliary troops, called Auxilia.

Auxilia contained specialist units, engineers and pioneers, artillerymen and craftsmen, service and support personnel and irregular units made up of non-citizens, mercenaries and local militia.

These were usually formed into complete units such as light cavalry, light infantry or velites , and labourers. There was also a reconnaissance squad of 10 or more light mounted infantry called speculatores who could also serve as messengers or even as an early form of military intelligence service.

As part of the Marian reforms, the legions' internal organization was standardized. Each legion was divided into cohorts. Prior to this, cohorts had been temporary administrative units or tactical task forces of several maniples, even more transitory than the legions themselves.

Now the cohorts were ten permanent units, composed of 6 centuries and in the case of the first cohort 12 centuries each led by a centurion assisted by an optio.

The cohorts came to form the basic tactical unit of the legions. Ranking within the legion was based on length of service, with the senior Centurion commanding the first century of the first cohort; he was called the primus pilus First File , and reported directly to the superior officers legates and tribuni.

All career soldiers could be promoted to the higher ranks in recognition of exceptional acts of bravery or valour. A newly promoted junior Centurion would be assigned to the sixth century of the tenth cohort and slowly progressed through the ranks from there.

Every legion had a large baggage train which included mules 1 mule for every 8 legionaries only for the soldiers' equipment.

To make this easier, he issued each legionary a cross stick to carry their loads on their shoulders. The soldiers were nicknamed Marius' Mules because of the amount of gear they had to carry themselves.

This arrangement allowed for the possibility for the supply train to become temporarily detached from the main body of the legion, thus greatly increasing the army's speed when needed.

A typical legion of this period had 5, legionaries as well as a large number of camp followers, servants and slaves.

Legions could contain as many as 6, fighting men when including the auxiliaries, although much later in Roman history the number was reduced to 1, to allow for greater mobility.

Numbers would also vary depending on casualties suffered during a campaign; Julius Caesar 's legions during his campaign in Gaul often only had around 3, men.

Tactics were not very different from the past, but their effectiveness was largely improved because of the professional training of the soldiers.

A re-enactor, showing a Roman miles , 2nd century. After the Marian reforms, and throughout the history of Rome's Late Republic, the legions played an important political role.

By the 1st century BC the threat of the legions under a demagogue was recognized. Governors were not allowed to leave their provinces with their legions.

When Julius Caesar broke this rule, leaving his province of Gaul and crossing the Rubicon into Italy, he precipitated a constitutional crisis.

This crisis and the civil wars which followed brought an end to the Republic and led to the foundation of the Empire under Augustus in 27 BC.

The Roman empire under Hadrian ruled —38 , showing the legions deployed in Generals, during the recent Republican civil wars, had formed their own legions and numbered them as they wished.

During this time, there was a high incidence of Gemina twin legions, where two legions were consolidated into a single organization and was later made official and put under a legatus and six duces.

At the end of the civil war against Mark Antony , Augustus was left with around fifty legions, with several double counts multiple Legio Xs for instance.

For political and economic reasons, Augustus reduced the number of legions to 28 which diminished to 25 after the Battle of Teutoburg Forest , in which 3 legions were completely destroyed by the Germanics.

Beside streamlining the army Augustus also regulated the soldiers' pay. At the same time, he greatly increased the number of auxiliaries to the point where they were equal in number to the legionaries.

He also created the Praetorian Guard along with a permanent navy where served the liberti , or freed slaves.

Augustus' military policies proved sound and cost effective, and were generally followed by his successors.

These emperors would carefully add new legions, as circumstances required or permitted, until the strength of the standing army stood at around 30 legions hence the wry remark of the philosopher Favorinus that It is ill arguing with the master of 30 legions.

With each legion having 5, legionaries usually supported by an equal number of auxiliary troops, the total force available to a legion commander during the Pax Romana probably ranged from 11, downwards, with the more prestigious legions and those stationed on hostile borders or in restive provinces tending to have more auxiliaries.

Some legions may have even been reinforced at times with units making the associated force near 15,—16, or about the size of a modern division.

Throughout the imperial era, the legions played an important political role. Their actions could secure the empire for a usurper or take it away.

For example, the defeat of Vitellius in the Year of the Four Emperors was decided when the Danubian legions chose to support Vespasian.

In the empire, the legion was standardized, with symbols and an individual history where men were proud to serve. The legion was commanded by a legatus or legate.

Aged around thirty, he would usually be a senator on a three year appointment. Immediately subordinate to the legate would be six elected military tribunes — five would be staff officers and the remaining one would be a noble heading for the Senate originally this tribune commanded the legion.

There would also be a group of officers for the medical staff, the engineers, record-keepers, the praefectus castrorum commander of the camp and other specialists such as priests and musicians.

Trajan 's first legion was numbered XXX because there were 29 other legions in existence at the time it was raised; but the second Trajanic legion was given the sequential number II.

These three legions are without titles, suggesting that in disgrace their titles may have been deliberately forgotten or left unmentioned.

As a result of this somewhat chaotic evolution, the legion's title became necessary to distinguish between legions with the same number.

Legions often carried several titles, awarded after successive campaigns, normally by the ruling emperor e.

XII Fulminata was also awarded: Pia fidelis loyal and faithful , fidelis constans and others were titles awarded to several legions, sometimes several times to the same legion.

Only the most established, commonly used titles are displayed on this table. The geographical titles indicate a the country a legion was originally recruited e.

Augusta , Flavia were either founded by that Emperor or awarded the name as a mark of special favour. This shows the castra base where the legion spent the longest period during the Principate.

Legions often shared the same base with other legions. Detachments of legions were often seconded for lengthy periods to other bases and provinces, as operational needs demanded.

Legions often sported more than one emblem at the same time, and occasionally changed them. Legions raised by Caesar mostly carried a bull emblem originally; those of Augustus mostly a Capricorn.

For legions that are documented into the 4th century and beyond, we do not know when or how they were terminated. For legions disappearing from the record before , the reason certain or likely is given as: Province names and borders are assumed throughout the Principate period as at AD, during the rule of Trajan , and after the annexation of Dacia and Arabia Petraea.

The map above shows provinces at the end of Trajan's reign, AD. They are the same as in , except that Armenia and Mesopotamia have been annexed they were abandoned soon after Trajan's death ; and Pannonia has been split into two the split occurred c.

In reality provincial borders were modified several times during the period 30 BC AD: Diocletian reorganized the Roman army, in order to better counter the threat of the Germanic peoples of northern Europe as well as that of the Persians from the East.

The army was formed by border and field units. The border limitanei units were to occupy the limes , the structured border fortifications, and were formed by professional soldiers with an inferior training.

The field units were to stay well behind the border, and to move quickly where they were needed, with both offensive and defensive roles. Field units were formed by elite soldiers with high-level training and weapons.

They were further divided into:. These units usually numbered between and soldiers and some of them kept their original numbering schemes.

The primary source for the legions of this era is the Notitia Dignitatum , a late 4th-century document containing all the civil and military offices of both halves of the Roman Empire revised in ca.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Marian reforms of Gaius Marius enlarged the centuries to 80 men, and grouped them into 6-century "cohorts" rather than two-century maniples.

Each century had its own standard and was made up of ten units contubernia of eight men who shared a tent, a millstone, a mule and cooking pot.

Following the reforms of the general Marius in the 2nd century BC, the legions took on the second, narrower meaning that is familiar in the popular imagination as close-order citizen heavy infantry.

At the end of the 2nd century BC, Gaius Marius reformed the previously ephemeral legions as a professional force drawing from the poorest classes, enabling Rome to field larger armies and providing employment for jobless citizens of the city of Rome.

However, this put the loyalty of the soldiers in the hands of their general rather than the State of Rome itself.

This development ultimately enabled Julius Caesar to cross the Rubicon with an army loyal to him personally and effectively end the Republic.

The legions of the late Republic and early Empire are often called Marian legions. He justified this action to the Senate by saying that in the din of battle he could not distinguish Roman from ally [ citation needed ].

This effectively eliminated the notion of allied legions; henceforth all Italian legions would be regarded as Roman legions, and full Roman citizenship was open to all the regions of Italy.

At the same time, the three different types of heavy infantry were replaced by a single, standard type based on the Principes: The role of allied legions would eventually be taken up by contingents of allied auxiliary troops, called Auxilia.

Auxilia contained specialist units, engineers and pioneers, artillerymen and craftsmen, service and support personnel and irregular units made up of non-citizens, mercenaries and local militia.

These were usually formed into complete units such as light cavalry, light infantry or velites , and labourers.

There was also a reconnaissance squad of 10 or more light mounted infantry called speculatores who could also serve as messengers or even as an early form of military intelligence service.

As part of the Marian reforms, the legions' internal organization was standardized. Each legion was divided into cohorts.

Prior to this, cohorts had been temporary administrative units or tactical task forces of several maniples, even more transitory than the legions themselves.

Now the cohorts were ten permanent units, composed of 6 centuries and in the case of the first cohort 12 centuries each led by a centurion assisted by an optio.

The cohorts came to form the basic tactical unit of the legions. Ranking within the legion was based on length of service, with the senior Centurion commanding the first century of the first cohort; he was called the primus pilus First File , and reported directly to the superior officers legates and tribuni.

All career soldiers could be promoted to the higher ranks in recognition of exceptional acts of bravery or valour.

A newly promoted junior Centurion would be assigned to the sixth century of the tenth cohort and slowly progressed through the ranks from there.

Every legion had a large baggage train which included mules 1 mule for every 8 legionaries only for the soldiers' equipment. To make this easier, he issued each legionary a cross stick to carry their loads on their shoulders.

The soldiers were nicknamed Marius' Mules because of the amount of gear they had to carry themselves.

This arrangement allowed for the possibility for the supply train to become temporarily detached from the main body of the legion, thus greatly increasing the army's speed when needed.

A typical legion of this period had 5, legionaries as well as a large number of camp followers, servants and slaves.

Legions could contain as many as 6, fighting men when including the auxiliaries, although much later in Roman history the number was reduced to 1, to allow for greater mobility.

Numbers would also vary depending on casualties suffered during a campaign; Julius Caesar 's legions during his campaign in Gaul often only had around 3, men.

Tactics were not very different from the past, but their effectiveness was largely improved because of the professional training of the soldiers.

A re-enactor, showing a Roman miles , 2nd century. After the Marian reforms, and throughout the history of Rome's Late Republic, the legions played an important political role.

By the 1st century BC the threat of the legions under a demagogue was recognized. Governors were not allowed to leave their provinces with their legions.

When Julius Caesar broke this rule, leaving his province of Gaul and crossing the Rubicon into Italy, he precipitated a constitutional crisis.

This crisis and the civil wars which followed brought an end to the Republic and led to the foundation of the Empire under Augustus in 27 BC.

The Roman empire under Hadrian ruled —38 , showing the legions deployed in Generals, during the recent Republican civil wars, had formed their own legions and numbered them as they wished.

During this time, there was a high incidence of Gemina twin legions, where two legions were consolidated into a single organization and was later made official and put under a legatus and six duces.

At the end of the civil war against Mark Antony , Augustus was left with around fifty legions, with several double counts multiple Legio Xs for instance.

For political and economic reasons, Augustus reduced the number of legions to 28 which diminished to 25 after the Battle of Teutoburg Forest , in which 3 legions were completely destroyed by the Germanics.

Beside streamlining the army Augustus also regulated the soldiers' pay. At the same time, he greatly increased the number of auxiliaries to the point where they were equal in number to the legionaries.

He also created the Praetorian Guard along with a permanent navy where served the liberti , or freed slaves. Augustus' military policies proved sound and cost effective, and were generally followed by his successors.

These emperors would carefully add new legions, as circumstances required or permitted, until the strength of the standing army stood at around 30 legions hence the wry remark of the philosopher Favorinus that It is ill arguing with the master of 30 legions.

With each legion having 5, legionaries usually supported by an equal number of auxiliary troops, the total force available to a legion commander during the Pax Romana probably ranged from 11, downwards, with the more prestigious legions and those stationed on hostile borders or in restive provinces tending to have more auxiliaries.

Some legions may have even been reinforced at times with units making the associated force near 15,—16, or about the size of a modern division. Throughout the imperial era, the legions played an important political role.

Their actions could secure the empire for a usurper or take it away. For example, the defeat of Vitellius in the Year of the Four Emperors was decided when the Danubian legions chose to support Vespasian.

In the empire, the legion was standardized, with symbols and an individual history where men were proud to serve.

The legion was commanded by a legatus or legate. Aged around thirty, he would usually be a senator on a three year appointment. Immediately subordinate to the legate would be six elected military tribunes — five would be staff officers and the remaining one would be a noble heading for the Senate originally this tribune commanded the legion.

There would also be a group of officers for the medical staff, the engineers, record-keepers, the praefectus castrorum commander of the camp and other specialists such as priests and musicians.

There is no evidence to suggest that legions changed in form before the Tetrarchy , although there is evidence that they were smaller than the paper strengths usually quoted.

The final form of the legion originated with the elite legiones palatinae created by Diocletian and the Tetrarchs.

These were infantry units of around 1, men rather than the 5,, including cavalry, of the old Legions. The earliest legiones palatinae were the Lanciarii , Joviani , Herculiani and Divitenses.

The 4th century saw a very large number of new, small legions created, a process which began under Constantine II.

In addition to the elite palatini , other legions called comitatenses and pseudocomitatenses , along with the auxilia palatina , provided the infantry of late Roman armies.

The Notitia Dignitatum lists 25 legiones palatinae , 70 legiones comitatenses , 47 legiones pseudocomitatenses and auxilia palatina in the field armies, and a further 47 legiones in the frontier armies.

The names also suggest that many new legions were formed from vexillationes or from old legions. In addition there were 24 vexillationes palatini, 73 vexillationes comitatenses; other units in the Eastern limitanei and in the Western limitanei.

According to the late Roman writer Vegetius ' De Re Militari , each century had a ballista and each cohort had an onager , giving the legion a formidable siege train of 59 Ballistae and 10 Onagers each manned by 10 libritors artillerymen and mounted on wagons drawn by oxen or mules.

In addition to attacking cities and fortifications, these would be used to help defend Roman forts and fortified camps castra as well.

They would even be employed on occasion, especially in the later Empire, as field artillery during battles or in support of river crossings. Despite a number of reforms, the Legion system survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire , and was continued in the Eastern Roman Empire until around 7th century, when reforms begun by Emperor Heraclius to counter the increasing need for soldiers around the Empire resulted in the Theme system.

Aside from the rank and file legionary who received the base wage of 10 asses a day or denarii a year , the following list describes the system of officers which developed within the legions from the Marian reforms BC until the military reforms of Diocletian c.

The rank of centurion was an officer rank that included many grades, meaning centurions had very good prospects for promotion. The most senior centurion in a legion was known as the primus pilus first file or spear , who directly commanded the first century of the first cohort and commanded the whole first cohort when in battle.

Within the second to tenth cohorts, the commander of each cohort's first century was known as a pilus prior and was in command of his entire respective cohort when in battle.

The seniority of the pilus prior centurions was followed by the five other century commanders of the first cohort, who were known as primi ordines.

In modern military terms, an ordinary centurion was approximately equivalent to a Warrant Officer that had a junior officer's commission.

Whereas the most senior centurion was closer to the equivalent to the rank of a full Captain. The equestrian, or military tribunes held positions equivalent to the rank of Major, while the Senatorial Tribune and the Camp Praefect were the equivalent of a Lt.

The centuries took their titles from the old use of the legion drawn up in three lines of battle using three classes of soldier.

Each century would then hold a cross-section of this theoretical line, although these century titles were now essentially nominal.

Each of the three lines is then sub-divided within the century into a more forward and a more rear century.

From the time of Gaius Marius onwards, legionaries received denarii a year equal to Sestertii ; this basic rate remained unchanged until Domitian , who increased it to denarii.

In spite of the steady inflation during the 2nd century, there was no further rise until the time of Septimius Severus , who increased it to denarii a year.

However, the soldiers did not receive all the money in cash, as the state deducted their pay with a clothing and food tax. To this wage, a legionary on active campaign would hope to add the booty of war, from the bodies of their enemies and as plunder from enemy settlements.

Slaves could also be claimed from the prisoners of war and divided amongst the legion for later selling, which would bring in a sizeable supplement to their regular pay.

All legionary soldiers would also a receive a praemia on the completion of their term of service: Later, under Caracalla , the praemia increased to denarii.

From BC onwards, each legion used an aquila eagle as its standard symbol. The symbol was carried by an officer known as aquilifer , and its loss was considered to be a very serious embarrassment, and often led to the disbanding of the legion itself.

Normally this was because any legion incapable of regaining its eagle in battle was so severely mauled it was no longer combat effective.

When Caesar's troops hesitated to leave their ships for fear of the Britons, the aquilifer of the tenth legion threw himself overboard and, carrying the eagle, advanced alone against the enemy.

The size of a typical legion varied during the history of ancient Rome. It had a complement of 4, legionaries in the republican period of Rome.

In the imperial period, the full complement was 5, men split into 10 cohorts of men each. The first cohort was at double strength with men. The remaining were cavalry plus technical staff.

Rome did not have a standing army until the reforms of Gaius Marius about BC. Legions instead were created, used, and disbanded again.

In the time of the early Roman Empire, there were usually about 25—35 standing legions plus their auxiliaries, with more raised as needed.

The development of the early legion may be seen as a Roman version of the Greek phalanx formation. Until the 4th century BC the massive Greek phalanx was the mode of battle.

Roman soldiers would have thus looked much like Greek hoplites. Tactics were no different from those of the early Greeks and battles were joined on a plain.

Spearmen would deploy themselves in tightly packed rows to form a shield wall with their spears pointing forwards. There were now three lines of soldiers when in battle formation.

Roman soldiers had to purchase their own equipment. Each of these three lines was subdivided into maniples, each consisting of two centuries of 60 men commanded by the senior of the two centurions.

Centuries were normally 60 soldiers each at this time in the hastati and principes no longer men. The mid Republican legion had a nominal strength of about men.

Later on the legions were made up of 80 strong centuries. Each century had its standard and was made up of ten units of eight soldiers who shared a tent, millstone, a mule and cooking pot depending on duration of tour.

Throughout Rome's Late Republic, the legions played an important political role. By the 1st century BC the threat of the legions under a demagogue was recognized.

Roman Governors were not allowed to leave their provinces with their legions. When Julius Caesar broke this rule, leaving his province of Gaul and crossing the Rubicon into Italy, he precipitated a constitutional crisis.

This crisis and the civil wars which followed brought an end to the Republic and led to the foundation of the Empire under Augustus in 27 BC.

With each legion having 5, legionaries plus an equal number of auxiliary troops, the total force available to a legion commander during the Pax Romana probably ranged from 11, downwards.

The more prestigious legions were stationed on hostile borders or in restive provinces tending to have more auxiliaries.

Roman legions -

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