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Importance of belts in Roman army

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Balteus | Photo: Roman Republic Cultural Group

Balteus took the form of a belt decorated with silver plates or embossed with bronze. It was a symbol of a legionary, so taking it off meant “suspension” “in being a soldier.

During the year of the four emperors, in 69 CE legionaries from Vitellius’ army found themselves in the eternal city. It was then that civilians who did not have much love for the Rhine soldiers began to cut the legionaries’ belts when they were in a dense crowd. When they noticed what had happened, they started murdering all encountered civilians. Such situations contributed to the fall of Vitellius’s popularity, but his soldiers could at least defend their legionary honour.

Author: Mateusz Śniadach (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)
  • Ross Cowan, Legionista Rzymski 58 przed Chr.-69 po Chr. Wydawnictwo Napoleon V, 2016
  • Tacitus, The Histories, II 88

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