Legio V Alaudae

Legio quinta alaudae ("Lark-crested Fifth Legion"), sometimes also known as Gallica, was a legion of the Imperial Roman army founded in 48 BC by the general Caius Julius Caesar (dictator of Rome 49-44 BC). It was composed of Roman settlers in Spain. The legion was destroyed in AD 86 at the battle of Tapae in Domitian's Dacian War.


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 Gallica 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 fought in the Gallic Wars until 49 BC, as one of the bravest legions of Caesar, then they were moved to Spain. They served with Mark Antony between 41 BC and 31 BC and probably fought in Actium. After Antony committed suicide, they were merged into Augustus' army in 30 BC.

Legio V was involved in a mutiny on the Rhine in AD 14.[1]

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

Known locations for V Alaudae include:

The legion suffered heavy casualties in the Batavian rebellion in the year 70.

In 86 AD, the Legio V Alaudae came to an end. With its commander, the Praetorian prefect Cornelius Fuscus, the legion perished at the First Battle of Tapae against the Dacians.

See also


  1. Tacitus, The Annals 1.45


Primary sources

Tacitus, The Annals

Secondary sources

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