A Roman army or legion indicates the ancient Roman army unit which was recruited specifically only from Roman citizens. The legions were mainly composed of about 6, 000 soldiers which were then divided into “cohorts” and further divided into “centuries”.
The Roman Empire and the Roman Republic had an enormous amount of military successes and has long been known as the prime ancient model for military ability and effectiveness.
In the early years of the Roman Kingdom and the Republic, forces were organised into “centuries” of one hundred men. Grouped together as required they were to answer to the leader whom had raised or hired them. This organisation continued until the 2nd century BC but was later discarded with the supporting role taken instead by allied troops.
Much of the Roman history of this time was clouded in legend but during Servius Tullius’s reign it is believed that the census, which is the accounting of the people was introduced.
Male citizens were divided into five classes depending on their wealth and then organised into centuries as sub-units of the Roman army.
A great sense of duty and a distinguishing mark of Roman citizenship accompanied a Roman citizen by joining the army. Usually with the wealthiest land owners performing the most years of military service.
The first class in which there was 82 centuries were armed with spear, sword, breast plate, helmet and a round shield, this also included two trumpeters. The second and third class were less heavily armed and acted as spearmen also carrying a large shield. The fourth class were armed with a spear or javelin and the second, third and fourth class made up about 26 centuries.
The fifth class was made up of slingers and 32 centuries were raised from this class in which two were engineers. Equestrians or equites were army officers and leading citizens whom were later placed in smaller groups of 30, which made up 18 centuries.
The mode of battle was a phalanx and battled were joined on a plain. Spearmen were arranged in tightly packed rows with their spears pointing forward, to form a shield wall.
The pay for a Roman legionnaire was 225 denarii for a year from the time of Gaius Marius and remained unchanged until Domitian who increased it to 300 denarii.
Much of the legions success was a result of the Roman organisation being more flexible than those of their opposition, which resulted in challenges being effectively handled.
The persistence and willingness of the Romans to absorb and replace losses over time than many of their opponents. Uniform discipline made commanding, maintaining and replacement of Roman legionnaires a strict and consistent exercise.
The military equipment of a Roman was stronger and more durable than many of their opposition’s. The training and logistics was organised, systematic and disciplined which helped sustain combat effectively over a longer period of time.
In the Ancient Europe, Roman engineering skills were of a high standard and their mastery of defensive and offensive warfare was a major advantage for the Roman Army.