Legio V Alaudae

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Legio quinta alaudae ("Lark-crested Fifth Legion"), sometimes also known as Gallica, was a legion of the Imperial Roman army founded in 52 BC by the general Gaius Julius Caesar (dictator of Rome 49-44 BC). It was levied in Transalpine Gaul to fight the armies of Vercingetorix, and was the first Roman legion to comprise non-citizens. Historians have been divided as to whether the legion was destroyed in AD 70 during the Batavian rebellion or in AD 86 at the First Battle of Tapae.[1]


Signum of Legio V Alaudae (simplified reconstruction).

Its emblem was an elephant, and their cognomen Alaudae came from the high crest on the soldiers' helmets, typical of the Gauls, which made them look like larks. The French word "Alouette" is a direct descendant of "Alauda", itself not a proper Latin noun, but a loan word from Gaulish, possibly the first reason for the legionary name.

V Alaudae was the first Roman legion composed of provincial soldiers, as opposed to Roman citizens. Caesar paid the soldiers with his own resources, but the legion was later recognized by the Roman Senate. V Alaudae was raised to fight Vercingetorix in the Gallic Wars, and stayed in Gaul until 49 BC, when it was moved to Spain. The legion served with Mark Antony between 41 BC and 31 BC and probably fought in Actium. After Antony committed suicide, it was merged into Augustus' army in 30 BC.

Legio V was involved in a mutiny on the Rhine in AD 14.[2]

Its emblem was awarded in 46 BC for bravery against a charge of war elephants at the Battle of Thapsus.

Known locations for V Alaudae include:

Attested members[edit]

Name Rank Time frame Province Source
Cethegus Labeo legatus legionis c. 28 Rhine frontier Tacitus, Annales, iv.73
Tiberius Plautius Silvanus Aelianus legatus legionis between 37 and 43 Rhine frontier CIL XIV, 3608
Cornelius Aquinus legatus legionis 68-69 Rhine frontier Tacitus, Histories, i.7
Fabius Fabullus legatus legionis 69-70 Rhine frontier Tacitus, Histories, iii.14
Gnaeus Domitius Lucanus military tribune c. 65 Rhine frontier CIL XI, 5210
Gnaeus Domitius Tullus military tribune c. 65 Rhine frontier CIL XI, 5211

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jones (1992), pp. 138-139.
  2. ^ Tacitus, Annales, 1.45


Primary sources[edit]

  • Tacitus, Annales

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Jones, Brian W. (1992). The Emperor Domitian. Routledge.
  • Parker, HMD (1971). The Roman Legions. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons LTD. p. 110. ISBN 0852700547.

External links[edit]