Legio IIII Flavia Felix, a Vespasian’s legion
The fourth legion, also known as Legio IIII Flavia Felix was a legion of the Roman Imperial army initially stationed in modern day Croatia. The legion was founded during the year 70 AD on the remains of Legio IIII Macedonica. Macedonica played a major role in suppression of the Batavian Revolt (69-70 AD). Macedonica was disbanded after rebellion was extinguished due to political reasons rather than battle performance (Commander Petillius Cerialis supported emperor Vespasian’s internal enemy, Vitellius, so Vespasian had no other choice but to disband the legion). These circumstances gave birth to a brand new legion – Legio IIII Flavia Felix.
Early years of Flavia
During the early days, Flavia (short name for the legion) was stationed in Burnum, Dalmatia (today a small town of Kistanje, Croatia). It replaced XI. Legio Claudia which was transferred to the Rhine to fight the Germanic tribes of the region. The legion stayed there for almost 18 years until the Dacian invasion when it was transferred to Moesia Supeprior (modern day Serbia) in order to push back the intruders.
Campaigns and conflicts
The symbol (signum) of Flavia was a lion. The suffix Felix translates as fortunate, lucky. It was probably given to the legion after Macedonica was disbanded due to it’s last battle outcome. Some historians say that this suffix was added only after the Dacian campaign. This was probably due to fact that Flavia narrowly escaped the fortune of another legion that participated in the camping – Legio V Alaudae. Fifth legion was completely annihilated during Domitian’s Dacian War that resulted in Roman defeat. Flavia managed to regain the lost teritories and even conquer the Dacian capital later as the conflict continued.
The legion also fought against the Sarmatians, a tribe that settled in modern day Hungary. They were firece warriors that managed to annhiliate the whole XXI Legio Rapax. This explains the historical evidence of Flavia’s presence around Budapest. Legion also participated in Marcomannic Wars (166-180 AD) against multiple germanic tribes in the Danube region. This event was also portrayed in a Holywood movie The Gladiator where Maximus Decimus Meridius acted as the legion’s commander. The legion was stationed in Moesia Superior until the fall of Western Roman Empire (mid 5th century).