Legio VI Victrix

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Legio VI Victrix
Roman Empire 125.png
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
Active 41 BC to after 2nd century
Country Roman Republic and Roman Empire
Type Roman legion (Marian)
Role Infantry assault (some cavalry support)
Size Varied over unit lifetime.
Garrison/HQ Perusia (41 BC)
Nickname Victrix, "Victorious"
Engagements Perusia (41 BC)
Cantabrian wars (29-19 BC)
Servius Sulpicius Galba

Legio sexta victrix ("Victorious Sixth Legion") was a legion of the Imperial Roman army founded in 41 BC by the general Octavian (later known as the emperor Augustus). 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.

In Republican Service[edit]

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[edit]

VI Victrix in Spain[edit]

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, Servius Sulpicius 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 Britain[edit]

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. Illustration by Thomas Sopwith, 1833.

In 119, Hadrian relocated the legion to northern Britannia, to assist the already present legions in quelling the resistance there. Victrix was key in securing victory, and would eventually replace the diminished IX Hispana at Eboracum.[3] 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, but it was largely abandoned by 164.

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; some were assigned to the VI Legion Victrix based in York and others are attested in a unit at Ribchester, south of Lancaster.

In 185, the British legions mutinied and put forward a commander of their own, named 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.

An altar to Hercules was dedicated by Gaius Vitellius Atticianus, Centurion of the Legio VI Victrix, at Whitley Castle (Epiacum).[4]

In Popular Culture[edit]

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


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

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Nitze, William A. (August 1941). "Bedier's Epic Theory and the "Arthuriana" of Nennius". Modern Philology 39 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1086/388502. Retrieved 1 November 2014.  This states that VI Victrix was based at Eburacum (York).
  4. ^ 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. 

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