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THE HISTORY OF THE LEGIO X GEMINA

Legions in the republican army were originally established for the duration of specific campaigns. When no longer needed units were disbanded and sent home. Except for the socalled consular legions numbered I to IV few formations established a permanent existence. Units were also occasionally renumbered preventing the development of a separate identity. However as the Imperium Romanum came to embrace ever more provinces the need for a larger standing army became more acute. During the late republican era legions were kept under arms for prolonged periods of time and started to recieve replacements rather than being disbanded and replaced by newly levied formations. These units of the more or less standing army of Rome began to cherish the identity provided by individual numbers and titles.

One of the most famous of these new legions was the legio X that is often mentioned in the DE BELLO GALLICO written by Julius Caesar. This particular unit was clearly Caesar's favourite legion and some of its exploits are described in great detail. When Caesar was to meet the German king Ariovistus he ordered his cavalry troopers to dismount and the legio X served as a mounted bodyguard. As a result of this experience the legion took the cognomen or nickname Equestris, meaning 'knightly'. It also participated in

  • the invasion of BRITTANNIA in 54-55 BC. The troops embarked on their transports were reluctant to start the amphibious assault on the beaches crawling with savage British warriors. The aquilifer of the legio X however jumped overboard to face the enemy alone. Alarmed by the prospect of losing the legion's eagle to their foes the shamed legionaries quickly followed their standardbearer.

    During the civil wars of Caesar the legion fought as hard against their fellow Romans as it had against the Gauls. Its soldiers distinguished themselves at the battles of Pharsalus, Uzittae and Munda. After the death of Caesar, the legio X Equestris was part of the army of Octavianus, the future emperor Augustus. After rebelling against his authority, the legion was disbanded. However after some time the need for its experienced soldiers led to its reconstitution. Following the end of the civil wars the depleted ranks of the legion were brought up to strength by men from other formations. For this reason the legion became known as the legio X Gemina, the tenth 'twin' legion. The old title of Equestris was soon dropped in favour of this new name.

    The legio X Gemina lived a relatively quiet existence in garrison in the provinces of Spain and Pannonia untill civil war broke out in AD 69. Though playing no major role in the battles deciding this conflict, the legion was afterwards sent with seven other formations to crush the Batavian revolt led by Julius Civilis. During the fierce fighting in the following years the legio X Gemina lost on one occasion five senior centurions and many of its soldiers in a single engagement. After the revolt had been quelled the legion was in AD 71 moved to the base built by legio II Adiutrix at Batavodurum, the present day Dutch city of Nijmegen. As part of the exercitus Germanicus inferior the legio X Gemina played an important part in the suppression of the revolt by the governor of Germania superior. A grateful emperor Domitianus then bestowed the additional titles of pia fidelis Domitiana, 'loyal, dutiful, Domitian's own', on the unit.

    The legio X Gemina was redeployed for service in the Dacian Wars of the emperor Traianus and left the base at Nijmegen around AD 104. From then on its garrison remained in the province of Pannonia, though detachments were at times deployed to other parts of the empire. The further history of the legion was not very remarkable. Failure to support Septimius Severus's bid for power however led to the legio X Gemina being omitted on series of coins minted to honour the army. The legion continued to exist into at least the fifth century AD being mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum as one of the border legions on the Danube as well as a crack infantry unit in the Syrian field army.

  • Inscriptions of the Legio X Gemina

  • Latin literary sources for the LXG
  • The history of the Gemina Project

    The Gemina Project was originally founded in 1986 by Paul Karremans, Peter de Haas and Maarten Dolmans as a Dutch counterpart of the British Ermine Street Guard. It's strength has grown over the years to a CENTURIO, a VEXILLARIUS, a CORNICEN, a SIGNIFER, an OPTIO, two auxiliary archers and a total of 18 ordinary legionaries. Every member of the society is required to produce his own equipment with the assistance of the more experienced participants. The Gemina Project also has a civilian group, which tries to reconstruct provincial Roman civilians by producing the appropriate clothes and artefacts. All materials used for reconstructions have to be those to which the Romans themselves had access to, such as leather, bone, wool, linen, felt, wood, plate-iron and bronze or brass. The use of modern materials as plastic and stainless steel is not allowed.

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