The Victorious Sixth legion

There are very few sources to the history of the LEGIO VI VICTRIX PIA FIDELIS. The tradition has been that the Legion was raised by Caesar while he was Governor in Hispania. Others believe that the Legion comes from Pompey’s original 6th Legion. However, there is consensus that the Legion served Octavian in his showdown with Marcus Antonius as a part of his forces at the battle of Phillipi in 42 BCE.

When Octavian - who was later called Augustus - had won power in Rome after the death of Caesar, he cut the number of Rome's legions from round 60 to 28. The Legio VI however, avoided being shut down and Augustus placed them in Spain where they probably got the epithet "VICTRIX" ("the victorious") in their fight against local revolts. In year 78 AD Emperor Vespasian sent Legio VI Victrix to Northern Germany to create peace. Thereafter the Legion was stationed at a fixed post at Novaesum (Neuss) on the Rhine River. Legio VI Victrix took part in the construction of the LIMES fortress, the fortified border between the Rhine and the Danube. In the year 122 AD Legio 6 Victrix was moved to Eburacum (York), Northern England to replace the 9th Legion.

The legion in Brittania

When Emperor Hadrian in the year 122 AD visited Britain and Legio VI Victrix, he decided that a fortress wall had to be built across Britain and all Roman activity north of that border had to be abandoned. It was therefore also legionaries from Legio VI Victrix, that participated in the construction of the vast fortification later known as Hadrian’s Wall.

During the uprising among the legions against emperor Severus in 196-197 AD Legio 6 Victrix experienced their first defeat in 230 years. Severus himself came to England in 208 AD to make York his headquarter and died there in 211. Legio VI Victrix would continue to influence Roman history in Britain and Northern Europe for another 200 years.

In the year of 383 AD battles with local Picts forced Legio VI Victrix to ask Rome for reinforcements, but were denied. This, was the last we hear of Legio VI Victrix. After 407 AD, there were virtually no more Roman troops left in England. The remaining may have defended York, but in 476 AD the Western Empire and Roman Britain were dissolved.