The Roman Army Page imperial service guarantees citizenship

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The Roman Army Page



Last update 10th of July 2002: links updated.

1. The army of the empire - the principate.

The power of the Roman emperors rested on their control of massive armed forces, paid for out of the emperor's privy purse and bound to him by an oath of personal allegiance. The vast majority of soldiers were stationed in so called imperial provinces, commanded by direct appointees of the emperor. The Roman imperial army was thus in effect very much a private army.

The imperial army was a standing professional army. It contained both conscripts and volunteers serving a minimum term of sixteen years, though most had to serve for 25 years or more before they were up for retirement. To preserve the loyalty of the soldiers on which their position of power rested, the emperors looked well after their interests. Pay was regular and comparatively generous and on occasion supplemented by donativa, special bonuses of up to five years pay. On completion of their term of service soldiers received a large retirement grant of thirteen to seventeen years' worth of pay. In addition to these monetary rewards serving soldiers and retired veterans were also granted numerous legal privileges.
3. The auxilia
The service conditions

There is much debate on the actual service conditions enjoyed by soldiers serving in the auxilia. Recently published evidence seems to indicate that basic pay under the principate was either 1/6th part less or even equal to that of the legionaries. Auxiliaries were also included in the occasional distribution of donativa. These similar service conditions help explain why legionary soldiers were transferring freely to posts in auxiliary units. An important service condition for non-citizens enlisted in the auxilia was the grant of Roman citizenship. Generally this was awarded after 25 years of service, though on occasion grants were made during service as a reward for bravery in battle. An additional retirement grant of money for the auxilia is very likely, though the evidence available is ambiguous. The often cited difference in dimensions of the living space between the larger bases of legions and the smaller frontier forts may not have served to accentuate status differences between the legions and auxiliaries. Not only were legionary soldiers regularly stationed in the smaller forts, but the larger forts were also in part garrisoned by units of the auxilia.

The Roman army pages

The hierarchy of the imperial army is detailed on:

Imperial Roman army rank structure

Information on the army in other periods of Roman history is provided at:

The Roman army in Britain

Roman army formations

Arma: on line Roman military equipment encyclopedia

Database Legio XX Valeria Victrix (cool!)

Collection of AE and CIL inscriptions (great resource!)

Epigraphic search engine

Epigraphic database Heidelberg

Inscriptiones Latinae Eystettenses

Zeitschrift fuer Papyrologie und Epigraphik site

Greek and Latin epigraphy

APIS: Greek and Latin papyri

Forum Romanum list of Latin sources on the web

Ancient sources handbook *good informational site*

Cool Roman army pictures

The mighty Roman legions

The Roman army of the republic and empire

Virtual Legion * Dead link restored *

Bread and Circuits (and the Roman army)

The Roman army Dead link

The republican Roman legion

Republican Roman army (in German) Dead link

The Punic Wars Dead link

The Roman navy in the First Punic War * Dead link restored *

The Second Punic War * Dead link restored *

The Roman army of the middle and late republic

The Roman art of war in Caesar's time

Navigare necesse est - Roman navy

The Roman navy

The Roman navy Dead link

The Roman fleet and frontier policy (in German)

Roman empire net army page

The Roman legions

The Roman army

Roman army page (in German) Dead link

Signa inferre (in Italian)

Romerska Armén (in Swedish)

Czech page on Roman army

Het Romeinse leger (in Dutch)

Roman army interactive page

The Roman military

Das Roemische Militaer (in German) * Dead link restored *

Roman military cults

History of Legio XIV Gemina * Dead link restored *

The Roman army and navy (in Russian)

Auxiliaries in the Roman army

Victori - the Roman military

BBC Roman army informational page

Housesteads fort

Life at Vindolanda

Roman army composition Dead link

Legiones Romanas (in Spanish)

Arms and organisation of the Roman legions

Het Romeinse leger (in Dutch) Dead link

De Rijn als limes (in Dutch)

Trajan's Campus Martius

Roman military

Roman military strategy

Roman warfare and weaponry Dead link

Roman catapults

Roman torsion artillery Dead link

Fortifications and artillery

Roman army resources

Richard Campbell's Roman world digest

The Society of Ancient Military Historians

Roman military glossary

Bill Thayer's Roman sites

Resource Central

The Ancient World Web

Lateinforum - Roman army (in German)

Any Time, Any Place: Ancient

Weapons and warfare in the ancient world

Living History Roman links

Roman 365 links

The Roman army

The glory that was Rome

The Chester Project

Limesmuseum Aalen (in German)

Roman army information (in French) * Dead link restored *

The late Roman army (in French) * Dead link restored *

The battle of Adrianople * Dead link restored *

Vortigern studies: late Roman/sub Roman Britain

Romaioi: the Byzantine army Dead link

Roman army reconstructions (in Italian)

Roman triumphs

Trajan's column

Frontier and army of the Germanies, Rhaetia and Noricum

The Roman army in Britain

The Vardulli Roman army site

Roman army forum

Roman army talk

Roman army mailing list

The Varus film site

The Varian disaster (in German)

Kalkriese museum site

Legio XIX (in French)

AHB: Stumbling Through Gaul: Maps, Intelligence, and Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum

AHB: Polybius’ Lost Tactica

AHB: Roman Legionary Forces in Sicily During the Second Punic War

AHB: Soldier and emperor

AHB: Nobilitas and The Political Implications of Military Defeat

AHB: Military Defeat and Electoral Success in Republican Rome

AHB: Soldiers’ Marriages and Recruitment in Upper Germany and Numidia

AHB: A Note on Arrian’s Ektaxis Kata Alanon

Roman wargaming page

Society of Ancients (Wargaming)

Supplier of Roman and other ancient toy soldiers

Development of Roman helmet types (in French)

Greek and Roman armour reconstructions

Roman reenactment societies
Roman reenactment

Reenactor Net Roman empire

Legio I Italica (ITALY)

Legio I Italica (ITALY)

Legio I Italica (USA)

Legio II Adivtrix (UK)

Legio II Avgvsta (UK)

Legio II Avgvsta (USA)


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The Roman Empire was probably the greatest empire in the history of the world. It was the largest, richest, best-organized and longest lasting. Between the years of 553 to 953 AUC (200 BC to 200 AD), the empire spread from the Italian heartland across all of Western Europe, the Balkans, the lands around the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and even parts of the Soviet Union.

Guarding this vast area was a Roman Army consisting of about 28 Legions, a force of approximately 160,000 legionaries, plus an additional force of some 220,000 auxiliary troops in other types of units. It was this army that created the Roman Empire and protected it for over 600 years. The heart and strength of this protective fighting force was the legionary.

You have shown interest in becoming a member of this historical society. Upon acceptance into the ranks, you will be assigned to Legio X Fretensis - IV Cohort.

If you elect to first try the Roman Training Camp program, then you will be required to bring this Introductory Information cover sheet to your first event in order to be admitted into the Training Camp. A modest $5.00 admittance fee will be requested: You will be allowed to attend two events on a trial basis. If you decide to continue your Roman experience, then you will be requested to pay the balance due for a full Membership status, which is $30.00 for the calendar year.

When you attend your first event, in order to enrich your living history experience, you should bring with you the following outfit and equipment: a "T" pattern Tunic, a rope or leather belt, sandals, a mess kit consisting of a wood or metal bowl or plate, a spoon, knife (optional), a cup, and a bag to carry it. A leather water bag or a plain, uncovered metal canteen is recommended if you plan to spend the entire day with Legio X. If you plan to spend the night in the camp tent, you should bring with you a plain colored wool blanket. You may be asked to post guard duty during the night. Legio X will provide for all meals. Please RSVP one week prior to the scheduled event in order to insure sufficient food for you. The status of new reruits at these events will be that of militae mutatio - Lowest ranking soldiers.

If you wish to only receive this Legio X newsletter, then the rate is $10.00 for a year's subscription.

In order to become an official member of Legio X, you must first determine what will be your Roman name. Please refer to the page on selecting your Roman name. When you approach the Centurio for enlistment, you are requred to bring with you a handwritten Letter of Introduction from someone who knows an army officer. This is a fictional letter that you can write up yourself. In historical reality, this is what the new recruit had to do. A sample letter is provided here.

I, (your relative or friend's name) highly offer (your name) to be fit in both body and spirit for enlistment into the Roman Army, to serve our Emperor (Augustus - if you are 36+ years of age; and Tiberius - if you are younger than 35 years of age) for the glory of Rome. As a true friend of (officer's name) of the (Legio unit name), I present him to you for acceptance into the ranks of Legio X Fretensis.

(Signature of your relative or friend)

Upon receipt of your Letter of Introduction by the Centurio, a Legio X Physician will examine you to determine if you are truly fit for duty. You will be questioned about your citizenship to eliminate the possibility of you being a runaway slave, a criminal, or an undesirable foreigner. If you pass this interview, you will be allowed to take the Legio X Army Oath of Allegiance. This was also historically done to insure the soldier's commitment to be brave, obedient, honest, and loyal to Rome.

Note: This Oath to Rome, the Emperor, and Legio X is NOT to be considered a real oath of binding commitment from you. It is done as part of your personal living history experience.

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