The Story of the Legio IX Hispana. Part 1

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Pompey is said to have founded Legio IX in Hispania, (Spain) in 65BC along with the VI, VII and VIII legions. They did not, however, stay in Hispania. They were transferred to Northern Italy, the region known as Cisalpine Gaul. Here, Julius Caesar gained the command of the IX, along with the VII, VIII and X, when he became governor of this region in 59BC.

In 49BC a dispute between Caesar and some members of the Senate led to Caesar leading his legions on Rome. Here, his old friend, Pompey, and much of the Senate fled to Greece. In Greece, Pompey thought he could more easily recruit an army to face Caesar.

Caesar could not pursue them because he had no fleet and so he set about solidifying his hold on the western Mediterranean, especially Spain, where the IX had originated. Only then did he assemble a fleet to pursue Pompey and the Senate.

Pompey’s fleet commander put up a blockade, knowing that Ceasar would pursue. However, Caesar crossed the Adriatic in the winter, against all convention, and managed to get half his fleet onto Greek shores. whether the IX was among this early landfall, I do not know.

The blockade, was successful in preventing not only the rest of the fleet from crossing, but also prevented supplies reaching Caesar from Italy. Since most of the Greek population supported the Senate, Caesar’s troops soon became hungry.

Pompey decided to let hunger defeat him, and did not attack. Realising this, Caesar tried to pursue peace with Pompey, but Pompey would not agree to talk. Because of this failure, Caesar decided to go back for the rest of his army, but his plans were disrupted by an immense storm in the Adriatic.

In the meantime. Mark Antony had been rallying troops in Italy and fought through the blockade. He eventually met up with Caesar. Still, Caesar had only half the man that Pompey had.

A battle became inevitable, but Pompey had set up camp in an impregnable position with the sea at his back and hills surrounding his position, near to the town of Dyrrhachium.

Caesar tried to cut off Pompey’s water and pasture for the horses by building a wall around Pompey’s position. Pompey responded by building a parallel wall. This left a kind of no-man’s land between the walls.

Thus a stand-off ensued that was only broken when a traitor from Caesar’s army told Pompey where Caesar’s wall was weakest. Pompey exploited this and Caesar then retreated.

Caesar was famous for his varied traps, and so Pompey decided not to pursue him. He still thought he could starve Caesar out, and so did not set up a pitched battle, but after pressure from the Senators and his commanders, he gave in.

He set up near the town of Pharsalus. He deployed the traditional 3 lines of 10 men with cavalry on the wings. They stood and waited for Caesar to charge.

Caesar did not set up in the traditional way, though. He set up 4 lines of 6 men. Seeing that Pompey was not charging, they began to advance. As the infantry fought, Pompey’s cavalry on the left flank attacked Caesar’s cavalry and forced them back. Caesar then brought forward his 4th line of infantry who harried the cavalry with their pila, a kind of javelin around 2 metres long. They used them to stab rather than throw.

Pompey’s cavalry panicked at this unusual and unexpected turn of events and fled, but not until they had suffered hundreds of casualties. The rest of the cavalry then retreated to the hills.

The left wing of Pompey’s army was now exposed . Caesar’s men broke the left wing, and Pompey lost the will to fight.

He and his wife and family fled the scene dressed as civilians and fled to Egypt, where he was assassinated shortly afterwards, and his head sent to Caesar in the hope of winning Caesar’s favour. Instead it gained a furious enemy.

The IX legion was known to have taken part in this battle. I will continue with more about it in another post.

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An Update on my work.

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Here is an update on what I’m working on at the moment. It is a story following a descendant of Ailbert from Vengeance of a Slave. It begins in the 9th century. RomeĀ  left Britain 400 years previously, and the country was subjected to a series of invasions, First it was the Saxons and the Angles, then followed the people we know as the Vikings.

The story is set in the same area as Vengeance of a Slave. In fact, much of the action takes place in what was Eberacum, but is now Jorvik. It tells of a young girl who meets and falls in love with the son of a jarl from Jorvik. Of course, things don’t go smoothly, but I don’t want to say much more at the moment.

It is at the time of King Alfred, although that monarch does not appear in the tale. Most of it is in the Danish lands, known as the Danelaw, which split the country diagonally.

I am nearing the end of the first draft. I am also trying to design a cover, Not an easy task, I’m finding. Vengeance was much easier.

 

A Hero of Ancient Britain 2

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Our men met the Roman attack with missiles. Many of the Roman soldiers died, but still they pressed forwards. They approached the walls we had set up and then formed their famous testudo. They raised their shields over their heads and those men on the outside held theirs to the side, thus making an impenetrable shield. They advanced in this manner, and our spears and arrows could not penetrate.

They had done their work well, and when they reached our walls, they tore them down. We could do nothing against their testudos. Our missiles just bounced off.

The Romans kept on advancing. They dismantled our walls and soon they were amongst our men. Our men fought bravely, but the Romans had armour and we had none. It was a massacre.

Caradoc’s wife and daughter fell into the Romans’ hands, and his brother surrendered. Caradocs himself managed to escape. He fled to the lands of the Brigantes, hoping to get aid from Cartimandua.

That queen had betrayed her people to the Romans, though. She thought more of herself and her power than her people. When Caradoc arrived in Brigantia, the queen put him in chains and took him to Eberacum where she surrendered him to the Romans.

Caradoc was a famous hero. Even the Romans admired him, to some extent, at least. He had, after all, held out against them for nine years. not a small feat. Because of his fame, the commander in Eberacum sent him to Rome.

Caradoc’s fame had reached even in Rome. Emperor Claudius arranged a great spectacle. He summoned the Praetorian Guard to draw up under arms outside their camp. Then he displayed the royal vassals, ornaments, neck chains and other spoils of war.

Next, Caradoc’s brother, and his wife and daughter were displayed, and finally, Caradoc himself.
When brought before the Emperor, he said, “Had my moderation in prosperity been equal to my noble birth and fortune, I should have entered this city as your friend rather than as your captive; and you would not have disdained to receive, under a treaty of peace, a king descended from illustrious ancestors and ruling many nations. My present lot is as glorious to you as it is degrading to myself. I had men and horses, arms and wealth. What wonder if I parted with them reluctantly? If you Romans choose to lord it over the world, does it follow that the world is to accept slavery? Were I to have been at once delivered up as a prisoner, neither my fall nor your triumph would have become famous. My punishment would be followed by oblivion, whereas, if you save my life, I shall be an everlasting memorial of your clemency.”

This speech impressed Claudius and he granted Caradoc his wife, daughter and brother a pardon. They were all freed from their bonds.

Caractacus died in Rome, a free man.