Legio X Equestris

Legio X Equestris

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Legio X Equestris a Roman legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

, was levied by Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 in 61 BC when he was the Governor of Hispania Ulterior
Hispania Ulterior
During the Roman Republic, Hispania Ulterior was a region of Hispania roughly located in Baetica and in the Guadalquivir valley of modern Spain and extending to all of Lusitania and Gallaecia...

. The Tenth was the first legion levied personally by Caesar, and was consistently his most trusted. The name Equestris did not refer to the type of unit it was, but was received after Caesar mounted legionaries from the Tenth on horses as ruse to parley with the German King Ariovistus
Ariovistus
Ariovistus was a leader of the Suebi and other allied Germanic peoples in the second quarter of the 1st century BC. He and his followers took part in a war in Gaul, assisting the Arverni and Sequani to defeat their rivals the Aedui, after which they settled in large numbers in conquered Gallic...

 in 58 BC. Legio X was famous in its day and throughout history, because of its portrayal in Caesar's Commentaries
Commentarii de Bello Gallico
Commentarii de Bello Gallico is Julius Caesar's firsthand account of the Gallic Wars, written as a third-person narrative. In it Caesar describes the battles and intrigues that took place in the nine years he spent fighting local armies in Gaul that opposed Roman domination.The "Gaul" that Caesar...

 and the prominent role the Tenth played in his Gallic campaigns. Its soldiers were discharged in 45 BC. Its remnants were reconstituted, fought for Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 and Octavian
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, disbanded, and later merged into X Gemina
Legio X Gemina
Legio decima Gemina , was one of the four legions used by Julius Caesar in 58 BC, for his invasion of Gaul. There are still records of the X Gemina in Vienna in the beginning of the 5th century. The legion symbol was a bull...

.

Founding


The Tenth was founded in Spain by Gaius Julius Caesar in 61 BC. It joined the Pompey-raised 8th and 9th legions serving at the time under Caesar. It chose the bull as its emblem, because of the month the Tenth was mustered. Subsequent legions levied by Caesar—such as Legio V Alaudae
Legio V Alaudae
Legio quinta Alaudae sometimes known as Gallica, was levied by Julius Caesar in 52 BC from native Gauls. Their emblem was an elephant, and their cognomen Alaudae came from the high crest on their helmets, typical of the Gauls, which made them look like larks...

 (Larks), Legio XI
Legio XI
Legio XI was levied by Julius Caesar in 58 BC in Cisalpine Gaul. Their emblem was Neptune. The XI were disbanded in 45 BC, the year before Caesar's assassination, and settled by Caesar in the area of Bovianum Undecumanorum....

, Legio XII Victrix
Legio XII Fulminata
Legio duodecima Fulminata , also known as Paterna, Victrix, Antiqua, Certa Constans, and Galliena, was a Roman legion, levied by Julius Caesar in 58 BC and which accompanied him during the Gallic wars until 49 BC. The unit was still guarding the Euphrates River crossing near Melitene at the...

, Legio XIII Gemina
Legio XIII Gemina
Legio tertia decima Gemina was one of the most prominent Roman legions. It was one of Julius Caesar's key units in Gaul and in the civil war, and was the legion with which he famously crossed the Rubicon on January 10, 49 BC. The legion appears to have still been in existence in the fifth century...

 and XIV—all took the bull as one of their emblems. The Tenth saw its first action under Caesar in western Spain.

Gallic Wars


The Tenth played a crucial part in the Gallic Wars
Gallic Wars
The Gallic Wars were a series of military campaigns waged by the Roman proconsul Julius Caesar against several Gallic tribes. They lasted from 58 BC to 51 BC. The Gallic Wars culminated in the decisive Battle of Alesia in 52 BC, in which a complete Roman victory resulted in the expansion of the...

, fighting under Caesar in virtually every battle.

The Tenth gained its name Equestris during the Gallic War, when Caesar mounted the Tenth temporarily so that he could have his favored troops as a bodyguard, yet still conform to an agreement made between him and the German King Ariovistus
Ariovistus
Ariovistus was a leader of the Suebi and other allied Germanic peoples in the second quarter of the 1st century BC. He and his followers took part in a war in Gaul, assisting the Arverni and Sequani to defeat their rivals the Aedui, after which they settled in large numbers in conquered Gallic...

. Ariovistus, knowing that Caesar did not trust his Gallic cavalry, insisted that each could only come to the parley attended by mounted guards. One of the soldiers jokingly said that Caesar was better than his word: he had promised to make them foot guards, but now they appeared as knights.

Legio X saved the day in the Battle against the Nervians in 57 BC. Together with the IXth
Legio IX Hispana
Legio Nona Hispana was a Roman legion, which operated from the first century BCE until mid 2nd century CE. The Spanish Legion's disappearance has raised speculations over its fate, largely of its alleged destruction in Scotland in about 117 CE, though some scholars believe it was destroyed in the...

, the Xth defeated the Atrebates
Atrebates
The Atrebates were a Belgic tribe of Gaul and Britain before the Roman conquests.- Name of the tribe :Cognate with Old Irish aittrebaid meaning 'inhabitant', Atrebates comes from proto-Celtic *ad-treb-a-t-es, 'inhabitants'. The Celtic root is treb- 'building', 'home' The Atrebates (singular...

, moved against the Belgians on the other side of the river and captured the enemy camp. From that position, the Tenth could see how desperate the situation was for the XII Victrix
Legio XII Fulminata
Legio duodecima Fulminata , also known as Paterna, Victrix, Antiqua, Certa Constans, and Galliena, was a Roman legion, levied by Julius Caesar in 58 BC and which accompanied him during the Gallic wars until 49 BC. The unit was still guarding the Euphrates River crossing near Melitene at the...

 as well as the VII
Legio VII Claudia
Legio septima Claudia Pia Fidelis was a Roman legion. Its emblem, like that of all Caesar's legions, was the bull, together with the lion....

. So, it quickly charged downhill, crossed the river, and attacked the Nervii
Nervii
The Nervii were an ancient Germanic tribe, and one of the most powerful Belgic tribes; living in the northeastern hinterlands of Gaul, they were known to trek long distances to engage in various wars and functions...

 from the rear, trapping them so that there was little hope of survival.

End of the legion


In 45 BC
45 BC
Year 45 BC was either a common year starting on Thursday, Friday or Saturday or a leap year starting on Friday or Saturday and the first year of the Julian calendar and a leap year starting on Friday of the Proleptic Julian calendar...

 the legion was disbanded, and the veterans obtained lands in Narbonne
Narbonne
Narbonne is a commune in southern France in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It lies from Paris in the Aude department, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Once a prosperous port, it is now located about from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea...

, southern Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

.

During the civil war
Liberators' civil war
The Liberators' civil war was started by the Second Triumvirate to avenge Julius Caesar's murder. The war was fought by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian against the forces of Caesar's assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus in 42 BC.-Prelude:After the murder of Caesar,...

 that followed Caesar's assassination, the Legio X was reconstituted by Lepidus (winter 44/43), and fought for the triumvirs until the final Battle of Philippi
Battle of Philippi
The Battle of Philippi was the final battle in the Wars of the Second Triumvirate between the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian and the forces of Julius Caesar's assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus in 42 BC, at Philippi in Macedonia...

. The veterans obtained lands near Cremona
Cremona
Cremona is a city and comune in northern Italy, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po River in the middle of the Pianura Padana . It is the capital of the province of Cremona and the seat of the local City and Province governments...

, and an inscription reports that the name of the legion at the time was Veneria, "devoted to Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

", the mythical mother of gens Julia.

The Tenth later followed Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, during his Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

n campaign. During Antony's civil war, the legion fought for Mark Antony until the defeat in the Battle of Actium
Battle of Actium
The Battle of Actium was the decisive confrontation of the Final War of the Roman Republic. It was fought between the forces of Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII. The battle took place on 2 September 31 BC, on the Ionian Sea near the city of Actium, at the Roman...

, after which the legion moved into Octavian
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

's army. The veterans settled in Patras
Patras
Patras , ) is Greece's third largest urban area and the regional capital of West Greece, located in northern Peloponnese, 215 kilometers west of Athens...

. When the legion rebelled under Augustus, it was disbanded, stripped of its Equestris title, and, being populated with soldiers from other legions, renamed X Gemina
Legio X Gemina
Legio decima Gemina , was one of the four legions used by Julius Caesar in 58 BC, for his invasion of Gaul. There are still records of the X Gemina in Vienna in the beginning of the 5th century. The legion symbol was a bull...

.

Secondary sources

  • Dando-Collins, Stephen (2002). Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite 10th Legion and the Armies of Rome. Wiley
  • Keppie, Lawrence, The Making of the Roman Army. From Republic to Empire, University of Oklaoma Press, 1984, pp. 132–149.
  • Lendering, Jona
    Jona Lendering
    Jona Lendering is a Dutch historian and the author of books on antiquity, Dutch history and modern management...

    , "Legio X Gemina", livius.org
  • Ritterling's "Legio", "Legio X Veneria"