Tuesday, 23 April 2013

What's for T? - Tribune is my T for the day

 T is for Tribune

Yes! I'm still continuing my theme of Celtic/Roman Britannia AD 71-84 but today's post is short one. 

Who might the local Celts of Brigantia, in northern Britannia, have feared most in AD 71? The Governor of Britannia was not their favourite person, and neither would the Legatus Legionis of the XX and IX legions have been, but the main men of every day decisions were the next tier down on the Roman Army hierarchy – The Military Tribunes. The Tribunes would definitely have been the ones to watch!

Directly below in rank after the Legatus, and second in command in a legion was the Tribune Laticlavius, the one who bore the right to wear the broad senatorial stripe on the toga or some similar indication on his uniform. The Tribune Laticlavius would have been appointed by the Senate or by the Emperor himself.

This command would likely have been reached around the age of 25 after serving in various more junior levels and the term of office as Tribune Laticlavius would have been for a year. Though technically in control of the legion in the absence of direct orders from the Legatus, the Tribune Laticlavius was more likely to have made decisions along with the Praefectus Castrorum, the Camp Prefect, who would have held their position for a much longer duration and would have been very familiar with the current situation the Legion was finding itself in.

The tribune’s uniform remained fairly constant from Republican times into the Imperial period.  A plumed, engraved helmet was worn. A ‘muscled’ cuirass was common, with a red sash tied over it to indicate senatorial rank. The red cloak also indicated his rank. 


Below the rank of Tribune Laticlavius was the level named Tribuni Angusticlavii . These men were of equestrian class in Roman society, from families who had money and some clout but who were not yet of senatorial rank.

Each legion had 5 Tribuni Angusticlavii. Many of these were career officers who moved up through the ranks doing important administrative tasks, some of whom had first served under others in this post in junior officer positions. These men all had full tactical command during times of engagement with the enemy.

A Roman Officer's decorated helmet

I have chosen to make my main Roman Character a Tribune Angusticlavii in the sequel to The Beltane Choice. Gaius Livanus Valerius has served as a junior tribune and has gained much experience in Britannia. For part of the novel he is under the command of Gnaeus Julius Agricola when Agricola was the Legate for the Legio XX. Gaius is also under orders from Agricola when Agricola becomes the Governor of Britannia in AD 78 and marches north into what we now term modern day Scotland.    

For the Celts amongst us you might wish to know that my character, Gaius, meets a sticky end at the hands of some brave Celts near the area we now call Dundee! 

If anyone reading this post has some lovely images of a 'tribune angusticlavii'  that has free an easy usage on the internet - please share? 



  1. It sounds like you have done a tremendous amount of research for your novels. I love finding out details of daily living in distant times. Thanks for taking the time to visit/comment over at my place. ;)

    1. Nice to be able to do so, and thank you for visiting too!

  2. I'm extremely impressed by all the research you have done. I have to confess I'm entirely too lazy to ever be able to write historical fiction. But it is fun to read about when someone else has already done all the research. :-)

    1. I'm glad you're popping in to find out, Jocelyn. I love doing the reserch and putting simple work together.


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