The Roman Legion Illustration

Roman Legion


The ancient Romans loved pomp and spectacle.  The Roman legion provided that.  Each legion had its own special banner, its own name, and its own number.  Within the legion, centuries (groups of 100 men) also had a banner.  The legion also had trumpet players, drummers and other noisemakers, so a Roman legion on the march was certainly spectacular.

When a legion moved camp, they would totally break apart the old camp and march away.  When stopped for the night, they would build a new camp, complete with walls towers and even roads.

Their armor - in spite of what you might have seen in the movies - most probably did not shine.  Some armor was made of leather, with metal on the inside, A legionary's uniform included a rectangular shield, a short sword, a dagger, jacket, belt, helmet, kilt, shirt, and hobnailed sandals.  The legion wore special hob-nailed sandals which were designed to make a loud noise and even create sparks on rocky ground.  A new legionnaire was issued these items.

Most legionnaires were from the plebian or poor class.  Officers were from the patrician class and they bought their own armor and weapons.  They also had to provide their own horses.

The Roman legion was very organized, and very successful.  Its reputation as an invincible fighting organization was so great that sometimes, when they moved into a new region, the people gave up without a fight.

Each legionary served for a minimum of 25 years before he could retire.  When a legionary retired, he was given land in the provinces and a small pension.  This gave Rome trained military men to help the legions and protect towns and villages all over the empire.

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