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David Richardson

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For many the Legion and its individual Legionary, represent the true might and power of Roman culture. Prior to the Roman Army there was no true free standing armed forced in the Mediterranean basin. The Greeks came the closest but failed to make the required changes to their politics and recruitment techniques to truly capitalise upon the extent of their culture and its expansion.

Much would change over the years from Republic to Empire for the Roman Legionary. Developments in tactics, technology and the purpose of the army would all make their impressions upon the equipment that the men carried into battle and how they conducted themselves during peacetimes. The seasonal soldiers common to many cultures in Europe at this time were replaced in Rome with the standing professional career soldier. Reforms over many years changed the standard methods of recruitment and some may say it was not until Rome started to look wistfully back in time that it truly lost its ascendancy. At the time that LEG II AVG holds the majority of its demonstrations the army was, to most of us, at its most stable and immediately recognisable.

During this time, the 1st to 2nd Century AD a soldier citizen would be expected to carry out 20 years of active service in the work of the Empire, joining with a letter of recommendation at (preferably) a young age he could look to retire from the army with a lump sum pension at around 35-45 years of age. During his service he might be expected to be drafted anywhere within the Empire. LEG II AVG saw itself posted all across modern Europe over a period of some 150 years until it stabilised in the United Kingdom. Legionaries were not allowed to marry, although it is thought that some certainly had 'wives' if not by certificate then in name, although officers were permitted to marry.

Text Box: Legionaries formed the core of the Roman army, primarily made into groups of 80 soldiers under the command of a Centurion (pr. Ken - turio). They would live together in 8 man tents, in a unit called a contubernium. Here is a rough diagram demonstrating how the Roman Army might have been constructed during the 1st & 2nd Centuries AD.

1x8 = 8men called a Contubernium
10x8 = 80men called a Century
6x80 = 480men called a Cohort
10 cohorts made a Legion of around 5000 men including officers and other camp workers.

The soldiers of LEG II AVG cover all aspects of military life from the young Legionary to the veteran to specialist roles such as medicus, archer and armourer and artillerymen all of which gain either direct mention in the arena displays, have their own static displays during a show or both.

Life In The Legion