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Legio VI Victrix

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Legio VI Victrix
Map of the Roman empire in AD 125, under emperor Hadrian, showing the LEGIO VI VICTRIX, stationed on Eboracum (York, England), in Britannia province, from AD 119 until the 4th century
Active41 BC to after 2nd century
CountryRoman Republic and Roman Empire
TypeRoman legion (Marian)
RoleInfantry assault (some cavalry support)
SizeVaried over unit lifetime.
Garrison/HQPerusia (41 BC)
Nickname(s)Victrix, "Victorious"
EngagementsPerusia (41 BC)
Cantabrian wars (29–19 BC)

Legio VI Victrix ("Victorious Sixth Legion") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army founded in 41 BC by the general Octavian (who, as Augustus, later became Rome's first emperor). It was the twin legion of VI Ferrata and perhaps held veterans of that legion, and some soldiers kept to the traditions of the Caesarian legion.

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In Republican Service

The legion saw its first action in Perusia in 41 BC. It also served against the Sextus Pompeius, who occupied Sicily and made threats to discontinue sending grain to Rome. In 31 BC the legion fought in the Battle of Actium against Mark Antony.

In Imperial Service

VI Victrix in Spain

The legion took part in the final stage of the Roman conquest of Hispania, participating in Augustus' major war against the Cantabrians, from 29 BC to 19 BC,[1] that brought all of the Iberian Peninsula under Roman rule.

The legion stayed in Spain for nearly a century and received the surname Hispaniensis, founding the city of Legio (modern-day León).[2] Soldiers of this unit and X Gemina numbered among the first settlers of Caesaraugusta, what became modern-day Zaragoza. The cognomen Victrix (Victorious) dates back to the reign of Nero. But Nero was unpopular in the area, and when the governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, Galba, said he wished to overthrow Nero, the legion supported him and he was proclaimed Emperor in the VI Victrix legionary camp. Galba created VII Gemina and marched on Rome, where Nero killed himself.

VI Victrix in Germany

For a brief period (approximately 110 AD to 119), the legion was stationed along the Rhine river in the province of Germania Inferior.

VI Victrix in Britain

Distance Slab of Legio VI[3][4] found near Cleddans on the Antonine Wall[5]
Dedication to Sol Invictus by a vexillatio of the VIth, (Corbridge, Northumberland, 162–168).
Altar to Hercules, naming Gaius Vitellius Atticanus, Centurion of the Legio VI Victrix, at Whitley Castle (Epiacum) in southern Northumberland. Illustration by Thomas Sopwith, 1833. The altar is now in Bedford Museum.

In 119, Hadrian relocated the legion to northern Britannia, to assist those legions already present in quelling the resistance there. Victrix was key in securing victory, and would eventually replace the diminished IX Hispana at Eboracum.[6] In 122 the legion started work on Hadrian's Wall which would sustain the peace for two decades.

Twenty years later, they helped construct the Antonine Wall and its forts such as Castlecary[7] and Croy Hill[8] but it was largely abandoned by 164. In 2020 a replica of the Eastermains stone was installed in Twechar. The original was found on Eastermains Farm (which adjoins Whitehill), west of Inchbelly Bridge, east of Kirkintilloch and is often associated with Auchendavy.[9] It has been scanned and a video produced.[10] It is similar to two other distance slabs of the Sixth Legion on the Antonine Wall.[11][12]

In 175, the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, defeated the Iazyges tribe of Sarmatians. He took them into Roman service and settled 5,500 of them in Britain; it has been claimed without evidence and contrary to legionary recruitment practices that some were assigned to Legio VI Victrix based in York. The only detachment attested in Britain is a unit at Ribchester, south of Lancaster. Less certain is evidence from Bainesse, near Catterick, where lost tiles apparently stamped BSAR may be evidence for the presence of a Sarmatian unit there.

Legio VI was awarded the honorary title "Britannica" by Commodus in AD 184 following his own adoption of the title. [13]

In 185, the British legions mutinied and put forward one legate Priscus, a commander of their own (about whom little other information is known, but possibly Caerellius Priscus), to replace the unpopular Emperor Commodus, but the former declined. The mutiny was suppressed by Pertinax, who would later become emperor himself after Commodus was murdered.

The large fort at Carpow in Scotland was occupied from about 184 by Legio VI who completed the fort with the principia and praetorium which they roofed with tiles bearing their new cognomen.[14]

The Legate of the legion in the late second century, Claudius Hieronymianus, dedicated a temple to Serapis in Eboracum in advance of the arrival of Septimius Severus in AD208.[15]

An altar to Hercules was dedicated by Gaius Vitellius Atticianus, Centurion of the Legio VI Victrix, at Whitley Castle (Epiacum), illustrated above left.[16]

Attested members

Name Rank Time frame Province Source
Marcus Pompeius Macrinus Neos Theophanes[17] legatus legionis between 100 and 110 Germania Inferior CIL XIV, 3599
Publius Tullius Varro[18] legatus legionis 118 Britannica CIL X, 3364
Lucius Valerius Propinquus[19] legatus legionis c. 120 Britannica CIL II, 6084
Lucius Minicius Natalis Quadronius Verus legatus legionis 131 Britannica CIL XIV, 3599
Quintus Antonius Isauricus[20] legatus legionis 130s Britannica CIL VII, 233
Publius Mummius Sisenna Rutilianus legatus legionis c. 135-138 Britannica CIL XIV, 3601
Lucius Junius Victorinus Flavius Caelianus[21] legatus legionis 150s Britannica
Quintus Camurius Numisius Junior[22] legatus legionis 155-158 Britannica CIL XI, 5670
Claudius Hieronymianus[23] legatus legionis between 190 and 212 Britannica CIL VII, 240
Gaius Minicius Italus tribunus angusticlavius c. 80 Hispania Tarraconensis CIL VIII, 875 = ILS 1374; CIL III, 12053
Marcus Macrinius Avitus Catonius Vindex tribunus angusticlavius 160s Britannica CIL VI, 1449
Publius Helvius Pertinax tribunus angusticlavius 170s Britannica
Lucius Funisulanus Vettonianus tribunus laticlavius c. 58 Hispania Tarraconensis CIL III, 4013; CIL XI, 571
Gaius Calpetanus Rantius Quirinalis Valerius Festus tribunus laticlavius c. 60 Hispania Tarraconensis CIL V, 531 = ILS 989
Marcus Pontius Laelianus[24] tribunus laticlavius 125 Britannica CIL VI, 1497
Quintus Licinius Silvanus Granianus Quadronius Proculus[25] tribunus laticlavius 120s Britannica CIL II, 4609
Aulus Titius Severus centurio 89-122 Germania Inferior CIL XIII, 8174

Epigraphic inscriptions

  • - Dis Manibus Gai Iuli Galeria tribu Caleni Lugduno veterani ex legione VI Victrice Pia Fideli heres a se memoriae fecit. Lincoln (Lindum), U.K. RIB 252 = CIL VII 182.
  • - Dis Manibus sacrum Nig̣ṛiṇae vixit annos XXXX Aurelius Casitto legionis VI Victricis Piae Fidelis curavit. Great Chesters (Aesica), U.K. RIB 1746 = CIL VII 740.
  • - Dis Manibus Titi Flavi Flavini legionis VI Victricis Classicius Aprilis heres prius quam obiret fieri iussit. York (Eboracum), U.K. RIB 675.
  • - Dis Manibus Lucius Bebius Augusta (tribu) Crescens Vindelicum miles legionis VI Victricis Piae Fidelis annorum XLIII stipendiorum XXIII heres amico faciendum curavit. York (Eboracum), U.K. RIB 671.
  • - Dis Manibus Flaviae Augustinae vixit annos XXXVIIII menses VII dies XI filius Saenius Augustinus vixit annum I dies III vixit annum I menses VIIII dies V Gaius Aeresius Saenus veteranus legionis VI Victricis coniugi carissimae et sibi faciendum curavit. York (Eboracum), U.K. RIB 685 = CIL VII 245.
  • - Dis Manibus Gaius Iulius Gai filius colonia Flavia Ingenuus miles legionis VI Victricis Piae Fidelis. High Rochester (Bremenium), U.K. RIB 1292 = CIL VII 1057.
  • - Dis Manibus Flavius Agricola miles legionis VI Victricis vixit annos XLII dies X Albia Faustina coniugi inconparabili faciendum curavit. London (Londinium), U.K. CIL V 25.
  • -Lucio Pompeio Luci filio / Quirina (tribu) Faventino / praefecto cohortis VI Asturum / tribuno militum legionis VI Victricis (...). Astorga (Asturica), Spain. CIL II 2637 = AE 1966, 187.
  • - Lucius Valerius Silvanus / miles legionis VI Victricis / Deo Turiaco / votum solvit libens merito. Porto (Portus), Portugal. CIL II 2374 = AE 1959, 103. ·
  • - Titus Pompeius Titi filius / Tromentina (tribu) / Albinus' domo Vienna / IIvir tribunus militum legionis VI Victricis. Mérida (Emerita Augusta), Spain. AE 2002, 929.
  • - Dis Manibus sacrum Gaius Iulius Severus veteranus legionis VI Victricis annorum LXI Iulia Danae liberta ex testamento (...).Mérida (Emerita Augusta), Spain. CIL II 490.
  • - Marcus Tavonius / Marci filius / Romilia (tribu) / Firmus domo Ateste / miles legionis VI Victricis (...). Mérida, Spain. Museo Nacional de Arte Romano - Mérida.
  • - Dis Manibus sacrum / Gaius Iulius Severus / veteranus legionis VI Victricis / annorum LXI / Iulia Danae liberta ex testamento (...). Mérida, Spain. CIL II 490.
  • - Dis Manibus sacrum Lucius Maelonius Aper veteranus legionis VI Victricis Piae Fidelis annorum LXX militavit beneficiarius (...). Mérida, Spain. CIL II 491.
  • - Dis Manibus sacrum / Lucius Maelonius Aper / veteranus legionis VI Victricis Piae Fidelis annorum LXX / militavit beneficiarius (...). Mérida, Spain. CIL II 491.
  • - Legio VI victrix. Moers, Nordrhein-Westfalen. AE 2005, 1069b.
  • - Lucius Helvius Luci filius / Papiria tribu / Rebilus Augustanus / veteranus legionis VI Victricis. Mérida, Spain. AE 2006, 616.

In popular culture

The legion is mentioned in Robert Heinlein's novel Have Space Suit – Will Travel and in the book From Scythia to Camelot by C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor. It is also mentioned in the video game Total War: Attila as the only Western Roman legion in Britannia


A modern reenactment group based in Los Angeles reenacts this legion.

Another one exists based in Denmark and Sweden found under the name Legionord

Legio VI Victrix, Eboracum reenacts this legion in York.

The Antonine Guard, a living history society based in Scotland, recreates a unit of Legio VI during the Antonine occupation of Caledonia in the 2nd century AD.[26]

See also


  1. ^ Rabanal Alonso, Manuel Abilio (coord.) (1999). La Historia de León, Vol. 1: Prehistoria y Edad Antigua (in Spanish). Universidad de León. p. 133. ISBN 84-7719-817-9. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  2. ^ Rabanal Alonso, Manuel Abilio (coord.) (1999). La Historia de León, Vol. 1: Prehistoria y Edad Antigua (in Spanish). Universidad de León. p. 189. ISBN 84-7719-817-9. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  3. ^ "RIB 2200. Distance Slab of the Sixth Legion Valeria Victrix". Roman Inscriptions of Britain. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  4. ^ Macdonald, Sir George (1934). The Roman wall in Scotland, by Sir George Macdonald (2d ed., rev., enl., and in great part rewritten ed.). Oxford: The Clarendon press. pp. 384–386. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Distance Slab of the Sixth Legion, Duntocher". 28 May 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  6. ^ Nitze, William A. (August 1941). "Bedier's Epic Theory and the "Arthuriana" of Nennius". Modern Philology. 39 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1086/388502. JSTOR 434162. S2CID 161408178. This states that VI Victrix was based at Eburacum (York).
  7. ^ "Castlecary". Roman Britain. Archived from the original on 4 June 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  8. ^ Montgomery, Alan (2022), Walking the Antonine Wall, Tippermuir Books Ltd., Perth, p. 148 ISBN 978-1-913836-12-2
  9. ^ "OS 25 inch map 1892-1949, with Bing opacity slider". National Library of Scotland. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Distance Slab of the Sixth Legion, Eastermains". 30 March 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  11. ^ Sabljak, Ema (26 December 2020). "Rediscovering the Antonine Wall £2.1m project makes mark". Glasgow Evening Times.
  12. ^ Mitchell, Jenness (28 December 2020). "Roman replica takes pride of place near Antonine Wall site". STV news.
  13. ^ The date of the award of the Britannica cognomen to Legio VI Victrix, 2006, Peter Warry
  14. ^ The date of the award of the Britannica cognomen to Legio VI Victrix, 2006, Peter Warry
  15. ^ De la Bedoyere, G. 2002. Gods with Thunderbolts: Religion in Roman Britain. Tempus, Stroud. pp174.
  16. ^ Robertson, Alastair F. (2007). Whitley Castle; Epiacum: A Roman Fort near Alston in Cumbria (3rd ed.). Hundy. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0-954-73394-0.
  17. ^ René Hodot, "La grande inscription de M. Pompeius Macrinus à Mytilène", Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 34 (1979), pp. 221-237
  18. ^ Anthony Birley, The Fasti of Roman Britain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), p. 239
  19. ^ Birley, Fasti of Roman Britain, pp. 240f
  20. ^ Birley, Fasti of Roman Britain, p. 247
  21. ^ Birley, Fasti of Roman Britain, p. 254
  22. ^ Birley, Fasti of Roman Britain, pp. 254-256
  23. ^ Birley, Fasti of Roman Britain, p. 264
  24. ^ Birley, Fasti of Roman Britain, pp. 273f
  25. ^ Birley, Fasti of Roman Britain, p. 274
  26. ^ "Antonine Guard Living History Society". The Anonine Guard. Retrieved 26 May 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 May 2024, at 21:22
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