Roman Legion Inhaltsverzeichnis
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The Equestris Legion was in the thick of the action when the Gallic Wars broke out. In fact, it was involved in pretty much every war Caesar declared upon his enemies.
It was the composure and bravery of the soldiers of the 10th Equestris Legion that brought about the defeat of the Helvetii tribes.
Because of victories on this front, the Romans were able to blockade any Helvetii moving into contemporary western France. Legio Duodecima Fulminata, or simply the Thunderbolt 12th Legion, was a famous legion from the days of imperial Rome.
The legion was enlisted by Caesar in 58 BC with his sights set on scoring a thumping victory in the Gallic Wars. The 12th Fulminata had a thunderbolt as its emblem.
Once the majority of conflicts were over and the legion had helped Caesar achieve an all-round victory in grabbing power over imperial Rome, the legionaries were pensioned off and given lands in Parma.
However, the legion must have been levied again sometimes later as this unit has been documented as guarding the crossing of the Euphrates River as late as the beginning of the fifth century.
The Cyrenaica Legion was active in different shapes and sizes from its formation in 31 BC all the way up to the early years of the fifth century.
From the Battle of Actium in 31 BC to one of the many Jewish revolts between and AD, the Cyrenaica Legion had an influential presence during many major events in ancient Roman history.
The name could also have been given to mark some of its notable achievements in that region. Regardless of the mystery shrouding its inception, Legio III Cyrenaica was definitely used by Emperor Augustus to maintain control over contemporary Egypt which he has annexed around 30 BC.
From then on, historians state that the legion was under the command of either Lepidus or Marc Antony, both being members of the Second Triumvirate.
The legion went on to stay in Egypt for more than a century and a half and became so adapted to Egyptian culture that many Cyrenaica legionaries started to worship the Egyptian god Ammon.
Many of the conservative Roman republicans had fled to Greece. The Legio IV got its first taste of action in the battles of Dyrrhachium and Pharsalus when Caesar scored a decisive victory over Pompey.
The legion then settled in the province of Macedonia whereupon it became known as the Macedonica Legion. Soon, Caesar enlisted the Macedonica Legion to fight in his campaign against the Parthians.
But right around this time, he was brutally murdered and plans for the Parthian invasion were called off. Mark Antony seized the opportunity to tap in the Macedonica force and actively involved it in his campaigns in eastern Italy.
It has been documented that the Roman commander was particularly impressed by the bravery and heroics of Legio IX in the battle against the Nervians.
When Caesar fell, the legion was again levied into the Roman military by his heir Octavian. Commander Octavian immediately tasked it with annexing the city of Sicily which was then under the control of his arch enemy Sextus Pompeius.
The Legio Hispana Triumphalis, along with other legions enlisted in the campaign by Octavian, soon brought the whole of Sicily under Roman rule.
Once Sicily was annexed, Octavian declared himself the emperor and became Augustus. He also sent the Ninth Legion to maintain control of the Balkans.
It was around 43 AD when the legion was brought back into action in the Roman invasion of Britain. Historians state that the legion suffered a massive defeat at the Battle of Camulodunum during the infamous rebellion of Boudica.
A huge number of legionaries was killed and whatever force remained was then used to reinforce the Germania provinces. Contrary to the popular belief that it got the Germanica cognomen because its soldiers originated in Germany, almost all the Germanica legionaries were Roman.
It was their outstanding service in contemporary Germany that earned them the said cognomen. The Germanica then took part in a decade-long conflict against the Cantabrians under the leadership of Augustus.
Together with the Second Augusta Legion, Germanica helped build the whole new colony of Acci in Spain during the same period. Of course, new recruits were regularly enlisted and soon the legion was stationed to defend the Rhine where, historians suggest, Germanica might have helped Tiberius in his war against the Celtic kingdom of Vindelicia.
The First Germanica Legion remained active from the year of its formation up until the waning days of 70 AD. Also known by the name Legio II Augusta, one can easily conclude that this famous legion got its cognomen from the legendary emperor of imperial Rome, Augustus himself.
It is rather unclear if the legion was actually formed by Augustus during his command days or if he renamed an existing legion Legio II Augusta.
The first known documentation of Augusta dates back to around 26 BC, when it took on the Cantabrians alongside seven or more other legions in the Cantabrian Wars of 29 to 19 BC.
Once the war was won, Augusta legionaries stationed themselves in Spain alongside other legions. When the era of imperial Rome began, Legio II Augusta stood true to its cognomen and swore its allegiance to Augustus.
The legion was a formidable force in the Battle of Actium that took place in 31 BC. It was almost always accompanied by one or more attached units of auxiliaries , who were not Roman citizens and provided cavalry , ranged troops and skirmishers to complement the legion's heavy infantry.
The recruitment of non-citizens was rare but appears to have occurred in times of great need; For example Caesar appears to have recruited the Legio V Alaudae mostly from non-citizen Gauls.
The size of a typical legion varied throughout the history of ancient Rome, with complements of 4, legionaries and equites drawn from the wealthier classes - in early Rome all troops provided their own equipment in the republican period of Rome, the infantry were split into 10 cohorts each of 4 maniples of legionaries , to 5, men plus auxiliaries in the imperial period split into 10 cohorts, 9 of men each, plus the first cohort holding men.
In the period before the raising of the legio and the early years of the Roman Kingdom and the Republic, forces are described as being organized into centuries of roughly one hundred men.
These centuries were grouped together as required and answered to the leader who had hired or raised them. Such independent organization persisted until the 2nd century BC amongst light infantry and cavalry, but was discarded completely in later periods with the supporting role taken instead by allied troops.
The roles of century leader later formalised as a centurion , second in command and standard bearer are referenced in this early period.
With this all Roman able-bodied, property-owning male citizens were divided into five classes for military service based on their wealth and then organised into centuries as sub-units of the greater Roman army or legio multitude.
Joining the army was both a duty and a distinguishing mark of Roman citizenship; during the entire pre-Marian period the wealthiest land owners performed the most years of military service.
These individuals would have had the most to lose should the state have fallen. The first and wealthiest common class was armed in the fashion of the hoplite with spear, sword, helmet, breast plate and round shield called clipeus in Latin, similar to the Greek aspis , also called hoplon ; there were 82 centuries of these of which two were trumpeters.
Roman soldiers had to purchase their own equipment. The second and third class also acted as spearmen but were less heavily armoured and carried a larger oval or rectangular shield.
The fourth class could afford no armour; perhaps bearing a small shield and armed with spear and javelin. All three of the latter classes made up about 26 centuries.
The fifth and final class was composed only of slingers. There were 32 centuries raised from this class, two of which were designated engineers.
The army officers as well as the cavalry were drawn from leading citizens who enrolled as equestrians equites. The equites were later placed in smaller groups of 30 that were commanded by decurions which means commander of ten.
There were 18 centuries of equites. 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 flat terrain. Spearmen would deploy themselves in tightly packed rows to form a shield wall with their spears pointing forwards.
They charged the enemy supported by javelin throwers and slingers; the cavalry pursued the enemy, sometimes dismounting to support infantry in dire situations.
The phalanx was a cumbersome military unit to manoeuvre and was easily defeated by mountain tribes such as the Volsci or Samnites in rough terrain.
Early civilian authorities called praetors doubled as military leaders during the summer war season. A declaration of war included a religious ceremony ending with the throwing of a ceremonial javelin into the enemy's territory to mark the start of hostilities.
At some point, possibly in the beginning of the Roman Republic after the kings were overthrown , the legio was subdivided into two separate legions, each one ascribed to one of the two consuls.
In the first years of the Republic, when warfare was mostly concentrated on raiding, it is uncertain if the full manpower of the legions was summoned at any one time.
In BC, when three foreign threats emerged, the dictator Manius Valerius Maximus raised ten legions which Livy says was a greater number than had been raised previously at any one time.
Also, some warfare was still conducted by Roman forces outside the legionary structure, the most famous example being the campaign in BC by the clan army of gens Fabia against the Etruscan city of Veii in which the clan was annihilated.
Legions became more formally organized in the 4th century BC, as Roman warfare evolved to more frequent and planned operations, and the consular army was raised to two legions each.
In the Republic, legions had an ephemeral existence. Except for Legio I to IV, which were the consular armies two per consul , other units were levied by campaign.
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 : armed with two heavy javelins called pila singular pilum , the short sword called gladius , chain mail lorica hamata , helmet and rectangular shield scutum.
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.