Ala Gallorum et Thracum Classiana

The Ala Gallorum et Thracum Classiana [civium Romanorum] [invicta] [bis torquata] [victrix] (translated as the German Ala of the Gauls and Thracians of Classius [the Roman citizens] [the undefeated] [twice awarded with torques] [the victorious]) was a unit of Roman auxiliary forces. Its existence is confirmed through military diplomas and inscriptions. Referred to as Ala Classiana in diplomas from 105 and inscriptions, the unit’s name comprises several elements:

  • Ala: Signifying a cavalry unit within the Roman auxiliary troops.
  • Gallorum et Thracum: Indicating its composition initially of Gauls, with Thracians being incorporated around 26, likely after a Thracian rebellion. This Thracian inclusion might have occurred between 105 and 122.
  • Classiana: Named after an unknown commander, Classius, likely during Augustus’ reign.
  • civium Romanorum: Meaning members were Roman citizens. Soldiers recruited after the unit received this status attained citizenship after 25 years of service, as noted in military diplomas from 105 to 127 and an inscription (CIL 11, 6033).
  • invicta: Denoting ‘the undefeated,’ as found in the inscription (CIL 11, 6033).
  • bis torquata: Referring to ‘twice awarded with torques,’ mentioned in the same inscription. In 127, the unit was described as torquata in diplomas.
  • victrix: Meaning ‘the victorious,’ appearing in the 127 diplomas.

The unit, not identified as milliaria (1000 men), was an Ala quingenaria with a standard strength of 480 men, divided into 16 turmae (squadrons) of 30 riders each.

History of Ala Gallorum et Thracum Classiana

The Ala was deployed in Britannia and Germania Inferior, documented in military diplomas from 105 to 178 AD. Its first recorded presence in Britannia comes from a 105 diploma, listing it among the province’s troops. Subsequent diplomas from 122 to 178 confirm its presence there. Additionally, two 127 diplomas place the unit in Germania Inferior as part of the stationed forces.


2401-3 - Middlewich (Salinae) Fragmentary diploma

The Emperor Caesar Nerva Traianus Augustus, conqueror of Germany, conqueror of Dacia, son of the deified Nerva, pontifex maximus, in his ninth year of tribunician power, four times acclaimed Imperator, five times consul, father of his country, has granted to the cavalrymen and infantrymen who are serving in … alae and … cohorts called: (ala) Classiana, Roman citizens and ……………, and are stationed in Britain under … …, who have served twenty-five or more years, whose names are written below, citizenship for themselves, their children and descendants, and the right of legal marriage with the wives they had when citizenship was granted to them, or, if any were unmarried, with those they later marry, but only a single one each.
Three or four days before … . , in the consulships of Caius Julius Bassus and Gnaeus Afranius Dexter (a.d. 105, 4 May-13 July).
To … . . us, son of Rammio (?) from (?), and Amabilis, daughter of Firmus, his wife.
Copied and checked from the bronze tablet set up at Rome.
[Witnessed by]: Tiberius Julius Urbanus; Quintus Pompeius Homerus; Publius Caulius Restitutus; Publius Atinius Amerimnus; Marcus Julius Clemens; Tiberius Julius Euphemus; Publius Caulius Vitalis.

Conflation of inner and outer faces: [Imp. Caesar, divi Nervae f(ilius), Nerva Traianus Augustus Germanicus Dacicus, pontif(ex) maximus, tribunic(ia) potestat(e) VIIII, imp(erator) IIII, co(n)s(ul) V, p(ater) p(atriae) equitibus et peditibus qui militant in alis …. et cohortibus …. quae appellantur … … Classiana c(ivium) R(omanorum) et … … … et sunt in Britannia1 sub … … … 2 qui quina et vicena] etc. [quorum nomina subscripta sunt, ipsis libens posterisque eorum civitatem dedit et conubium cum uxoribus quas tunc habuissent cum est] civitas i(i)s data, a[ut], [siqui caelibes] e[sse]nt, cum i(i)s quas post[ea duxissent] [dumtax]a[t s]inguli singulas. [a. d.] II[… … . .]3 [G(ai)] Iulio [Basso], Gn(aeo) Afranio [Dextro cos.]4 a[la]e Classianae c(ivium) R(omanorum),5 [cui praest] [… …]nicius6 [… … .], gregali7 […]o Rammi f(ilius), [… …8 et A]mabili Firmi [fil(iae)]9 [uxori eius]. [Descri]ptum et recogn[itum] [ex tabula aenea] quae fixa est R[omae].10 [Ti. Iu]li [Urbani]; [Q. Po]mpei [Homeri]; [P. C]auli [Restituti]; [P. At]ini [Amerimni]; M. [I]uli [Clementis]; Ti. Iuli [Euphemi]; P. Cauli [Vitalis]11