|Digital List Price:||$17.99|
|Print List Price:||$39.95|
|Kindle Price:|| $11.99 |
Save $27.96 (70%)
Your Memberships & Subscriptions
Follow the Author
Roman Britain's Missing Legion: What Really Happened to IX Hispana? Kindle Edition
Explore your book, then jump right back to where you left off with Page Flip.
View high quality images that let you zoom in to take a closer look.
Enjoy features only possible in digital – start reading right away, carry your library with you, adjust the font, create shareable notes and highlights, and more.
Discover additional details about the events, people, and places in your book, with Wikipedia integration.
Legio IX Hispana had a long and active history, later founding York from where it guarded the northern frontiers in Britain. But the last evidence for its existence in Britain comes from AD 108. The mystery of their disappearance has inspired debate and imagination for decades. The most popular theory, immortalized in Rosemary Sutcliffe’s novel The Eagle of the Ninth, is that the legion was sent to fight the Caledonians in Scotland and wiped out there.
But more recent archaeology (including evidence that London was burnt to the ground and dozens of decapitated heads) suggests a crisis, not on the border but in the heart of the province, previously thought to have been peaceful at this time. What if IX Hispana took part in a rebellion, leading to their punishment, disbandment and damnatio memoriae (official erasure from the records)? This proposed ‘Hadrianic War’ would then be the real context for Hadrian’s ‘visit’ in 122 with a whole legion, VI Victrix, which replaced the ‘vanished’ IX as the garrison at York. Other theories are that it was lost on the Rhine or Danube, or in the East. Simon Elliott considers the evidence for these four theories, and other possibilities.
“A great and fascinating read . . . a page turner . . . The book offers some interesting and intriguing ideas around the fate of the Ninth.” —Irregular Magazine
“An historical detective story pursued with academic rigour.” —Clash of Steel
“A seminal and landmark study.” —Midwest Book Review
About the Author
- ASIN : B08Y98GSZ9
- Publisher : Pen & Sword Military (March 15, 2021)
- Publication date : March 15, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 32513 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 183 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #735,029 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In the first chapter, Simon Elliott gives an introduction into Roman legions and auxiliaries generally, the Roman navy and the fate of the legio IX Hispana before the time-frame of this book. For people who have never read about these subjects, this is for sure a good introduction, but for other people who have already heard about them, this chapter is a little bit of a repetition. In a second chapter, Simon Elliott then gives an introduction into the Roman endeavors in Britain, from Caesar’s two incursions, Claudius’ conquest, Boudicca’s revolt and Agricola’s victory at the Mons Graupius up to the end of the first century CE. Again, it’s a repetition if you already know about them. In the third chapter, Simon Elliott sets out with a general introduction into Roman legionary fortresses, but once he starts to discuss the specific one in York which was actually build by the legio IX Hispana, things start to get interesting.
Considering its stationing in York in order to protect the province’s northern flank, he takes a glance at what lies behind. Scotland could not be conquered, as it was economically too poor, so that the Romans could not apply their strategy, which Simon Elliott summarizes from Simon James , ‘open hand alongside sword’, meaning that they would conquer areas by drawing in the elites into their case so that those would realize that there was more money to be made inside as part of the Roman Empire. Consequently, the elites in conquered areas would quickly want to stay within the Roman Empire, making all occupation obsolete. When that would not work, when there was no elite rich enough to buy into that idea, the Romans could not conquer that area, as they could not occupy them with brute force. As a consequence, they could never conquer Scotland or what is nowadays Germany. They could only march in when they wanted to obtain glory, what they did twice in Scotland, but in both of these attempts, they would quickly withdraw again, after Domitian had lost interest and after Septimius Severus had died in York in 213 CE.
Next, Simon Elliott looking at the four hypotheses why legio IX Hispana might have disappeared, considers the first one, that it might have destroyed fighting the far north of Britain and explores what it might have done there. According to Adrian Goldsworthy , there are four types of conflict a Roman legion might be engaged in, 1) a war of conquest, 2) a suppression of rebellion, 3) a punitive expedition or 4) a reaction to raiding and invasion. The first one can be excluded here, as between Agricola and Septimius Severus, no such attempt was made. The other three seem possible.
Theodor Mommsen had already postulated in the 1850s that the legio IX Hispana was annihilated in their fortress in York. This seems unlikely, as there is no archeological evidence for a destruction of York. In 1954, Rosemary Sutcliff postulated that the legion might have been obliterated campaigning in the far north, and this also seems the most likely. Simon Elliott presents a nice timetable of the legion’s disappearance: it was mentioned historically for the last time in 82 CE, the last inscription that mentioned it was constructed 108 CE, at the begin of Hadrian’s rule in 117 CE, there was apparently a widespread uprising in the north, either among the Brigantes on either side of the Stonegate or even further north in modern Scotland where the legion was ultimately destroyed. Replacement forced had to be send in an expeditio Britannica and eventually even Hadrian himself would visit the province in 122 CE to oversee the first phase of the construction of a 117 km long wall. The legio IX Hispana was apparently not involved in the construction of Hadrian’s wall, no inscriptions have been found, and in 165 CE, the legion was officially absent in a list of extant legions.
Looking at the second hypothesis, that legio IX Hispana might have been destroyed in London fighting in an uprising on a similar scale than the one of Boudica fifty years earlier, Simon Elliott next introduces us to Roman London , which had its oldest buildings on Cornhill, then expanded eastwards to Tower Hill and westwards over the Walbrook to Ludgate Hill, occupying thereby an area that still today form the Square Mile of London. In the north of London, the catchment area of the Walbrook formed a marshy area that the Romans didn’t even bother of build bastions, and the building of the wall even exacerbated the marshy nature of the land outside of the wall, as it acted like a dam. There in the Walbrook and its tributaries, over 300 skulls of young men have been found; only the skulls but no skeletons. The skulls were dated to 120 to 160 CE. There are three theories how the skulls might have gotten there, they might have been 1) washed up from burials, 2) trophy heads after some kind of conflict, or 3) the heads of execution victims being placed in a votive ritual practice. Signs of trauma on some skulls are clear evidence for violence. The first theory can thus be ruled out. Considering that British and Gauls were known for headhunting before the arrivals of the Romans, and that the auxiliaries would still have been constituted from natives and Gauls, it remains a possibility that auxiliary cavalry during their policing committed a major massacre within a shorter war. Considering the last theory, Simon Elliot thinks it’s possible that traitors might have been thrown into the Upper Walbrook valley, just like they were thrown into the Tiber in Rome.
Coming to the next part of the hypothesis, Simon Elliot notes that Londinium was burnt down twice, once after Boudica’s revolt and then again in the 120s or 130s in the Hadrianic fire. And as last part of the hypothesis, Cripplegate Fort at the northeastern boundary of London, which seems to have been built shortly after the Hadrianic fire, indicates a military occupation of London at this time. Therefore, there seems to have been an insurrection in London shortly after Hadrian’s accession. The bronze head of Hadrian found in the Thames might have gotten there in this context. The rebellion seems to have been contained quickly, the rebels apparently did not reach Southwark. Simon Elliott now asks of course, what did legio IX Hispana do during this insurgence? The legion might have been called to London, only to suffer there defeat, the skulls being thus theirs or the later vanquished rebels, or it might have participated or even led the rebellion, as British legions were prone to rebellion and usurpation during the whole of Roman Britain, the skulls then being theirs once they had been put down. The case for the Hadrianic War appears to be strong one, for the involvement of the legio IX Hispana, however, there is not one shred of evidence. For me, it was a disappointment, If Hadrian faced two major insurrections during his early reign, and as we know the scale of the troubles in Judea, why insisting that legio IX Hispana had to have been destroyed in London? Couldn’t it have been attacked somewhere on its way, maybe to London, in an ambush, comparably to one the three legions faced in the Teutoburg forest?
The third hypothesis is that legio IX Hispana was deployed to and subsequently perished while defending the northern Rhine/Danube frontier. This hypothesis is based on the discovery of bricks and tiles with the stamps of legio IX Hispana that have been found in Nijmegen. In order to present this hypothesis, Simon Elliott now lays out the frontier defenses on Rhine and Danube. His introduction of the Germani falls out a little bit dated, as for example he still maintains that they had originated in southern Scandinavia… Otherwise, his introduction is solid, starting with the Cimbri and Teutones, Caesar’s fight against the Suebi while campaigning in Gaul, the defeat in the Teutoburg forest up the Marcomannic Wars. After displaying all the further Roman campaigns in northern Britain up to Septimius Severus campaign in Scotland, just to make the point again that by 122 CE, legio IX Hispana had really disappeared from Britain, Simon Elliott also meticulously works out the Marcomannic Wars, that lasted from about 165 to 183 CE, also just to show that legio IX Hispana neither appeared in that war. This analysis might have been interesting, had not Anthony Birley worked out the Marcomannic Wars in much more detail already in 1993. Concluding this chapter, Simon Elliott summarizes that there is no evidence of legio IX Hispana having perished fighting along Rhone or Danube. The bricks and tiles were probably produced by a specific vexillation of that legion that was later, after legio IX Hispana demise, integrated into other legions.
Considering the fourth and final hypothesis that legio IX Hispana was destroyed fighting on the eastern frontier, Simon Elliott then again, as before with the Rhine/Danube frontier, lines out all encounters of the Roman with the Parthians in the east, starting with Crassus ill-advised invasion in 53 BCE. The campaigns where legio IX Hispana might have participated were the Parthian invasion of Trajan in 114 CE, the second Jewish revolt in Judea in 115 CE, the contemporaneous insurrection in the newly conquered provinces Armenia, Assyria and Mesopotamia, or the third bar Kokhba revolt in 132 to 135 CE. Six legions plus vexillations were send to suppress that revolt, and one legion is known to have been lost there. However, a second legion lost would probably have made into the sources, therefore this seems unlikely. So, the highest probability that the legion would have been lost would have been the Parthian war that Marcus Antonius and Lucius Verus fought from 161 to 166 CE, where one legion was lost right the beginning, when the Romans were driven from Armenia. The two Cappadocian legions are accounted for long afterwards, making it possible that the legion lost in this ambush was the legio IX Hispana. However, as before, we lack any hard evidence of this.
For the conclusion, Simon Elliot summarizes again all we know about the legio IX Hispana, only to arrive at the most plausible scenario being that legio IX Hispana most probably perished fighting in the north, either in the province it was stationed in or far north in unconquered Scotland. This is quite a meager conclusion for this book, but as it was still a quick and relatively interesting read, I give it four stars. And I want to read now the book by Rosemary Sutcliff.
The author has an interesting style of writing. He speaks about each theory individually and doesn’t give his final opinion until the end of the book (so you could just read the end, if you wanted to). For each theory, he describes the theory and the evidence that might support it and then ends the section by speaking about the probability of that theory being correct. Some of these discussions are a bit technical and don’t allow for a quick read, but the author is obviously thorough and well-read, making these discussions very informative. While discussing the various theories, the author also adds a great deal of information about Roman society and military practice.
The author clearly lays out the various theories and systematically proves his final argument, and the scholarship is evident throughout the writing. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to study about not just Roman Britain but Roman society as a whole.
Top reviews from other countries
There is no trace of it in Britain after AD 108 but a tile with the legion’s name on it was found in Nijmegen.
However there is no further evidence of it being there.
The Roman Empire was vast for its time ,cutting a swathe through a greater part of Europe,Asia Minor, the Middle East and parts of North Africa and the author suggests that there is always the possibility that 1X Hispana was sent to another part of the Empire and disappeared there.
Certain legions were known to have been disbanded and this could have happened to 1X Hispana but there is no evidence of this.
The author suggests that it could have suffered a catastrophic defeat and was erased completely from the records on the orders of the Emperor.
Their last known posting was in Eboracum( York) but in AD 122 when the Emperor Hadrian visited Britain, he brought with him a new legion who moved into the empty barracks formerly occupied by the 1X Legion.
I wondered if the legion was renamed?
It was quite interesting but we are looking at something which happened over 1900 years ago and,until someone finds more concrete evidence of the legion’s demise ,no doubt more books will be published speculating on what actually happened.
He does offer his view about what happened to the legion at the end but I will leave it to other readers to find out for themselves.