Auxiliaries (Roman military)

Auxiliaries (Roman Military)

Auxiliaries (Roman military)

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Auxiliaries (from Latin: auxilia = "help") formed the standing non-citizen corps of the Roman army of the Principate (30 BC–284 AD), alongside the citizen legions. By the 2nd century, the auxilia contained the same number of infantry as the legions and in addition provided almost all of the Roman army's cavalry and more specialised troops (especially light cavalry and archers). The auxilia thus represented three-fifths of Rome's regular land forces at that time. Like their legionary counterparts, auxiliary recruits were mostly volunteers, not conscripts.

Auxiliary troops were mainly recruited from the peregrini, i.e. free provincial subjects of the Roman Empire who did not hold Roman citizenship and constituted the vast majority of the empire's population in the 1st and 2nd centuries (ca. 90% in the early 1st century). Auxiliaries also included some Roman citizens and probably barbarians (barbari, as the Romans called peoples located outside the Empire's borders). This was in contrast to the legions, which only admitted Roman citizens.

The auxilia developed from the varied contingents of non-Italian troops, especially cavalry, that the Roman Republic used in increasing numbers to support its legions after 200 BC. The Julio-Claudian period (30 BC–68 AD) saw the transformation of these motley temporary levies into a standing corps of regiments with standardised structure, equipment and conditions of...
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