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The Roman Army

The Roman army was: big, well trained and disciplined. It protected and controlled the Roman Empire.

Only men could be in the Roman army. No women. Every Roman soldier was a Roman citizen and he had to be at least 20 years old

The army was divided up into groups of about 5,000 men called legions. Each group of 80 men in a legion was called a centuria and was led by a centurion.


Standard bearers would carry long poles with flags and badges on to show which legion they were part of. The aquila was an image of a gold eagle perched with outspread wings on the top of a pole - it represented 'the spirit of the legion' and it would be a disgrace if it was captured in a battle.


For protection, a legionary soldier had: a curved shield, metal body armour and a helmet with neck and cheek guards on.

A soldier's main weapons were a short sword for stabbing (gladius) and a long javelin for throwing (pilum). 


The soldiers usually fought in lines and sometimes held their shields over their heads to form a tortoise-shaped shell.

Testudo formation

To keep fit and strong, Roman soldiers attended weapons training every morning and marched 20 miles a day carrying all their equipment (including: spare clothes, several days' ration of food and an axe or spade).

Legionary soldiers had to stay in the army for at least 20 years before they could then retire, with a pension or a gift of land to farm.