The Roman legionary. Reconstructed after reliefs of the Trajan’s Column.

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Roman legionary

The Roman legionary.

Reconstructed after reliefs of the Trajan’s Column (Completed in AD 113). With the addition of original artefacts of the same period.

The Roman legionary was the infantryman who was part of the Roman legion. The Romans had to face various tribes that adopted different combat methods; this influenced both the organization and the structure of the legion and the type of armament used.

The simple soldier was called miles gregarius (legionary is a modern neologism derived from the Latin legionarius,  plural legionarii, which could refer to all soldiers in a legion). The next level were the immunes, who were freed from the normal daily duty (guard), but were not yet supervisors. In the Centurie these were the horn player, cornicen, and the gunner, custos armorum, but there were also immunes in the staff service or in the civil administration. According to today’s understanding, they can be compared with higher ranks in military service.

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Legionary. The same figure without coat.

From a military point of view, the legionary has always been a model of skill, experience and efficiency.

As principalis, the legionnaire then received a higher salary and superior function. In a centuria there was the optio as deputy of the centurion, who could also be optio ad spem, an optio standing in line for promotion to centurion. The signifer, the bearer of the standard, stood above the optio in rank, but not as a superior with authority to issue directives. There was also a tesserarius, a kind of company sergeant. The tesserarius received one and a half times the pay of a legionnaire (sesquiplicarius), signifer and optio twice the pay (duplicarius).

Iron helmet (Cassis), copper-plated with forehead shield, neck guard, cheek flaps and feather bush (Christa). The neckerchief (focal) is placed around the neck. Splint Mail (Lorca segmentata) consisting of two parts. Connected by hinges at the back, at the front by nestle and buckles. Special rails to protect the shoulders. Under the armour, the legionnaire wore a tunic with short sleeves, raised on both sides

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Legionary. The same figure from behind.

The thighs were covered by short leather trousers. The lower legs were uncovered. The feet were in leather sandals. A wide cinculum belt, covered with iron plates, to which four metal strips of leather were attached at the front to protect the abdomen..

The thighs were covered by short leather pants. The lower legs were uncovered. The feet encased in leather sandals. Wide, with iron plates studded girdle (cinculum) are attached to the front with four metal studded leather strips to protect the abdomen.

The wide dagger (pugio) with an iron grip in a bronze-plated leather sheath hangs on the left side of the belt. Over the left shoulder the figure of the legionnaire depicted here carries the double-edged sword (gladius) with a wooden handle and bronze-plated leather scabbard on an iron sword hanger (balteus).

The shield (scutum) made of wood covered with leather and reinforced by rich copper fittings; with large shield navel (umbo). Inside the shield there is an iron handle and a small padding. The right hand holds the throwing spear (pilum). The legionnaire wears a coat (signum) which is fastened over his right shoulder by a fibula.

Source: Knights and soldiers from ancient to modern times. The weapons collection of Karl Gimbel.

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