Caesar’s Fourteenth Legion
In the winter of 54-53bce, the Eburones of the Meuse valley attacked and destroyed Legio XIV and five newly-enrolled cohorts which were encamped in their territory near Tongres, under the joint command of Titurius Sabinus and Arunculeius Cotta. The legates made the mistake of leaving the safety of their encampment and were all but annihilated. The Aquilifer of Legio XIV saved the eagle from immediate capture by hurling it over the ramparts of the Roman camp, just before he was cut down. It was to no avail, for that night all the remaining legionary survivors committed suicide.
In the winter of the following season, 53-52bce, the newly-formed Legio XIV, under the command of Quintus Cicero [the brother of the Orator], was attacked in its winter quarters by a large contingent of maurauding German cavalry. This commander was not strong-willed enough to restrain his troops from venturing without the walls of the fort, and again, the legion was severely mauled, but Caesar himself was able to reach them in time and caused the Germans to withdraw.
The name Gemina, meaning ‘twin’, identifies the Fourteenth as a legion formed by the amalgamation of two existing formations. Although there is evidence to show Augustus’ Legio X Gemina is directly descended from the remnants of Caesar’s favourite Legio X Equestris, there is no direct evidence for the genesis of Legions XIII and XIV Gemina, but this may be due simply to the incompleteness of the literary and epigraphic record.
The Fourteenth Legion is associated with a capricorn emblem, which normally attest a foundation (or reconstitution) under Augustus. For Augustus the capricorn was an important emblem symbolising good luck, as it was the zodiacal sign under which he was conceived. Other legions with the capricorn are II Augusta, XXI Rapax, and possibly IIII Scythica (vide Legio II Augusta).
Campaign With Augustus
In AD6 Augustus planned a final campaign against King Maroboduus in Modern Bohemia and with the addition of his lands the frontier of the Roman empire would run uninterrupted from east to west along the courses of the Danube and the Elbe, the territory linking the two rivers being the prize of this expedition.
Tiberius was to lead a massive force of eight legions (comprising; VIII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XX, XXI and one other) north and west from Carnutum on the Danube, leaving another two legions (VII and XI) in the new province of Moesia just to the east.
Using a considerable part of the Rhine army under the command of Sentius Saturninus, another large force of five legions (I, and V Alaudae, and the ill-fated XVII, XVIII and XIX) were to execute a pincer movement, striking east from Germany.
Augustus’ plans were not to be, for in AD6 the whole of Pannonia and Dalmatia rose in revolt, and Tiberius, already on the march, was forced to turn back and deal with the menace to his rear. He devised a pincer of his own, and trapped the rebels between the forces under his personal command and the reinforcements arriving from Moesia.
During the entirety of Tiberius’ reign, the Fourteenth Legion was stationed in the legionary fortress on the middle Rhenus (River Rhine) at Moguntiacum (Mainz, Germany).
Service in Britain
Legio XIV Gemina were numbered among the four original legions who saw action during the Claudian invasion of Britain in AD43, under the overall command of the propraetor Aulus Plautius. It is possible that the fourteenth legion were under the personal command of the legate Titus Flavius Sabinianus, the brother of the future emperor Vespasian who was himself legatus legionis of the Second Augustan Legion during the initial invasion.
The first semi-permanent legionary fortress on British soil to house the Fourteenth was very likely in the Midlands at Manduessedum (Mancetter, Warwickshire), on the north-western edge of the tribal territories of the Catuvellauni. The fortress here was certainly occupied by AD46, and at this time was positioned at the edge of the newly fledged Roman province of Britannia.
The legion very likely saw action under the personal command of the propraetor Publius Ostorius Scapula, who was governor of Britain from AD47 until his untimely death on campaign in 52. This governor campaigned first against the pastoral Cornovii tribe of the North-West Midlands, and then against the culturally backward Deceangi of North Wales. The push of the Fourteenth into North Wales was halted due to unrest among the Brigante tribe in the north of England. This required the threat of a Roman Legion or two in order to bring the tribe to terms, very likely the Fourteenth withdrawn hastily from Wales aided by the Ninth Hispanic Legion which was stationed in Lincolnshire.
Following the Brigantian revolt, the Fourteenth Legion were pitted for most of the next decade against the Welsh tribes; the Silures in the south and the Ordovices in mid-Wales, Snowdonia and Anglesey. During this period, the legion was moved from Manduessedum to a new fortress near the Welsh border at Viroconium (Wroxeter, Shropshire), on the east bank of the Severn.
Legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix The Fourteenth Legion Gemina, Martial and Victorious
The Fourteenth, acting in concert with Legio XX Valeria from Gloucester and several Auxiliary regiments from mid-Wales managed to crush the Boudiccan revolt of AD60, perhaps near Manduessedum (Mancetter) in the Midlands, where 80,000 British tribesmen were killed, warriors mainly of the Iceni and Trinovantes tribes of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. For their part in this action the Fourteenth was awarded the victory titles ‘Martial and Victorius’.
In AD64 the veteran Fourteenth Legion G.M.V. were withdrawn from Britain on the orders of the Emperor Nero and stationed on the Rhine frontier where the German tribes were threatening. They were replaced in the fortress at Wroxeter by Legio XX Valeria Victrix who had recently been awarded the additional title victrix for their part in the Boudiccan revolt.
Epigraphic Evidence for Legio XIV Gemina in Britain
RIB249 - Funerary inscription for Marcus Aurelius [...]us
VS M AVRE
[...] EX LEG XIIII
[...] H E TEST P
RIB292 - Funerary inscription for Titus Flaminius
[...]NORVM XXXXV STIP XXII MIL LEG
[...]II GEM MILITAVI AQ NVNC HIC S[...]Ṃ
[...] LEGITE ET FELICES VITA PLVS MIN[...] Ẹ[...]
[...]I VVA VINI ET AQVA PROHIBENT VḄI
TA[...]TAR ADITIS VIVITE DVM SỊ[...]
VITAE DAT TEMPVS HONESTE
RIB294 - Funerary inscription for Marcus Petronius
L F MEN
H S E
RIB296 - Funerary inscription for Valerius
[...] F GAL
Later Stationed on the Rhine and the Danube
The Fourteenth was among the nine legions sent by Mucianus in the name of Vespasian and under the command of Quintus Petillius Cerialis and Appius Amicus Gallus to crush the revolt of Julius Civilis in Batavia and Germania Inferior in AD69. Following the capitulation of Civilis, Legio XIIII GMV were transported across the North Sea by the Classis Britannica to reduce the Tungri and Nervii tribes of Belgium. They were then posted to Moguntiacum (Mainz, Germany) on the Rhine Frontier together with Legio I Adiutrix.
The legion was moved by Domitian from Moguntiacum to Aquincum (Budapest, Hungary) c. AD93 to replace Legio XXI Rapax which was probably destroyed during earlier uprisings along the Danube Frontier.
Following Trajan?s ill-fated Parthian expedition which drew troops from the Danuvius, Legio XIIII GMV was moved from Vindobona () to Carnutum () to replace XV Apollinaris which remained in the East, and was in turn replaced at Vindobona by X Gemina.
Bibliography and Links
All Latin inscriptions and associated numbering above are from the R.I.B. by R.G. Collingwood & R.P. Wright, and translated by Togodumnus, the RBO webmaster. For footnotes, please consult the linked pages.