The men you see here are the elite of the
Roman army. Tough, hard-bitten citizen soldiers who collectively
formed the heavy infantry responsible for winning and holding the
greatest Empire the world had ever seen.
Although citizens, these soldiers were not necessarily
from Rome or even Italy the spread of citizenship in the provinces
meant that by the time of the Claudian invasion of Britain more
than half of the legionaries came from outside Italy, a trend which
accelerated as time went on.
The army held considerable attractions
for citizens soldiers were well paid, conditions of service
were good and there was always the prospect of promotion to immunis,
principalis (NCO) or centurio with its greatly enhanced
pay and gratuities; indeed, the prospect of a grant of land or,
more frequently, of a sizeable cash handout at the end of 25 years
service must have been a considerable incentive to join up.
Of course, there was another
side to the coin continuous training, harsh discipline and
the dangers of combat, especially for centurions who always led
their men from the front, yet there was usually under the principate
no shortage of recruits for an all-volunteer, professional and immensely
Legionary soldiers were also
well equipped, with a carefully designed helmet (cassis),
usually of iron; body armour consisting of mail with shoulder doubling
or, by our period, the more common lorica segmentata, strips
of iron attached to internal leather straps which was both effective
and flexible; a military belt or cingulum with apron straps,
more for decoration than protection, two javelins or pila, a short,
thrusting sword known as a gladius, and a large semi-cylindrical
shield or scutum. Kit also included a range of tools and
personal objects which together made up a soldiers impedimenta.
The modern Fourteenth Legion
strives to keep faith with the spirit and achievements of its illustrious
predecessor which was famed as Neros favourite legion and
which gained a proud reputation as the Domitores Britannorum
or Tamers of Britain thanks to the victory
over Boudicca in AD 61. We are proud to maintain the traditions
of the finest unit in the Roman army Legio XIIII GMV.