The History of Legion XX Valeria Victrix
The Roman Legion Valeria Victrix, also known as the ‘Valiant and Victorious Valerian Legion’, was one of the most famous and successful legions in the Roman army. The legion was originally founded in 101 BC by the Roman consul Gaius Marius, and it continued to serve the empire for over four centuries.
Early History: The legion’s early history is somewhat obscure, but it is believed that it was originally raised as a traditional Roman legion, consisting of 10 cohorts, each containing 480 men. The legion was named after the Roman general Quintus Valerius Falto, who had distinguished himself in the wars against the Cimbri and Teutones in the early 2nd century BC.
During the early years of the Roman Empire, the legion played a key role in the conquest of Gaul, and it was later stationed in various locations in Europe, including Britain and Germany. In AD 43, the legion was sent to Britain as part of the Roman invasion force under the command of Aulus Plautius, and it played a significant role in the subsequent conquest of the island.
During the reign of the emperor Nero (54-68 AD), the legion was stationed in the province of Britain and participated in the suppression of the Boudiccan Revolt in AD 60-61, a major uprising by the native tribes of Britain against Roman rule. The legion distinguished itself in the battle against the Iceni and other tribes, and its role in suppressing the revolt earned it the title of “Valiant and Victorious.”
Middle History: In the 2nd century AD, the legion was stationed in various parts of the Roman Empire, including Germany and Syria. It was during this time that the legion became known as the Valeria Victrix, which translates to “Valiant and Victorious Valerian Legion.” The legion also played an important role in the attempted Roman conquest of Scotland during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161 AD).
In the 3rd century AD, the legion was stationed in Britain and played a key role in the defence of the province against the incursions of the Picts and Scots. In AD 306, the legion’s commander, Constantius Chlorus, was declared emperor by his troops and went on to become the father of the future emperor Constantine the Great.
Late History: The legion continued to serve in Britain throughout the 4th century AD, and it played a key role in the defence of the province against the invading Saxons and other Germanic tribes. During this time, the legion underwent a number of reorganizations and changes in composition, reflecting the changing needs of the empire.
By the end of the 4th century AD, the legion had been reduced in size and had lost much of its former glory. It was disbanded by the emperor Honorius in the early 5th century AD, and its soldiers were likely reassigned to other legions or to local garrisons.
Legacy: Despite its eventual decline and disbandment, the Roman Legion Valeria Victrix left a lasting legacy in the history of the Roman Empire. Its soldiers, known for their bravery and discipline, played a key role in the conquest of Gaul and Britain, as well as in the defence of these provinces against hostile incursions. The legion’s enduring reputation as the “Valiant and Victorious Valerian Legion” is a testament to its many accomplishments and contributions to the Roman Empire.