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Eth. LEGIO VII, GE´MINA (Itin. Ant. p. 395; Λεγίων ζ Γερμανική, Ptol. 2.6.30: Leon), a [p. 2.154]Roman city of Asturia, in Hispania Tarraconensis, admirably situated at the confluence of two tributaries of the Esla, at the foot of the Asturian mountains, commanding and protecting the plain of Leon. As its name implies, it grew out of the station of the new 7th legion, which was raised by the emperor Galba in Hispania. (D. C. 4.24; Tac. Hist. 2.11, 3.25; Suet. Galba, 10.) Tacitus calls the legion GALBIANA, to distinguish it from the old LEGIO VII. CLAUDIA, but this appellation is not found on any genuine inscriptions. It appears to have received the appellation of GEMINA (respecting the use of which, and GEMELLA see Caesar B.C. 3.3) on account of its amalgamation by Vespasian with one of the German legions, not improbably the LEGIO I. GERMANICA. Its full name was VII. GEMINA FELIX. After serving in Pannonia, and in the civil wars, it was settled by Vespasian in Hispania Tarraconensis, to supply the place of the VI. Victrix and X. Gemina, two of the three legions ordinarily stationed in the province, but which had been withdrawn to Germany. (Tae. Hist. 2.11, 67, 86, 3.7, 10, 21--25, 4.39; Inscr. ap. Gruter, p. 245, no. 2.) That its regular winter quarters, under later emperors, were at Leon, we learn from the Itinerary, Ptolemy, and the Notitia Imperil, as well as from a few inscriptions (Muratori, p. 2037, no. 8, A.D. 130; p. 335, nos. 2, 3, A.D. 163; p. 336, no. 3, A.D. 167; Gruter, p. 260, no. 1, A.D. 216); but there are numerous inscriptions to prove that a strong detachment of it was stationed at Tarraco, the chief city of the province. (The following are a selection, in order of time:--Orelli, no. 3496, A.D. 182; no. 4815 ; Gruter, p. 365, no. 7.) In the inscriptions the legion has the surnames of P. F. ANTONINIANA, P. F. ALEXANDRIANA, and P. F. SEVERIANA ALEXANDRIANA; and its name occurs in a Greek inscription as ΛΕΤ. Ζ. ΔΙΔύμη (C. I. vol. iii. no. 4022), while another mentions a χιλίαρχον ἐν Ἱσπανίᾳ λεγεῶνος ἑβδόμης. (C. I. vol. i. no. 1126.) There is an inscription in which is found a “Tribunus Militum LEG. VII. GEMINAE FELICIS IN GERMANIA,” from a comparison of which with two inscriptions found in Germany (Lehne, Schriften, vol. i. nos. 11, 62; Borghesi, sulle iscr. Rom. del Reno, p. 26), it has been inferred that the legion was employed on an expedition into Germany under Alexander Severus, and that this circumstance gave rise to the erroneous designation of Γερμανική in the text of Ptolemy. (Booking, N. D. pt. ii. pp. 1026, seq.; Marquardt's Becker, Röm. Alterthum. vol. iii. pt. 2, p. 354; Grotefend, in Pauly's Realencyklopädie, s. v. Legio.

The station of this legion in Asturia grew into an important city, which resisted the attacks of the Goths till A.D. 586, when it was taken by Leovigildo; and it was one of the few cities which the Goths allowed to retain their fortifications. During the struggle with the Arab invaders, the same fortress, which the Romans had built to protect the plain from the incursions of the mountaineers, became the advanced post which covered the mountain, as the last refuge of Spanish independence. After yielding to the first assault of the Moors, it was soon recovered, and was restored by Ordoño I. in 850. It was again taken by Al-Mansur in 996, after a year's siege; but was recovered after Al-Mansur's defeat at Calatañazor, about A.D. 1000; repeopled by Alonso V., and enlarged by Alonso XI., under whose successor, Don Pedro, it ceased to be the capital of the kingdom of Leon, by the removal of the court to Seville. The greater portion of the Roman walls may still be traced. (Ford, Handbook of Spain, p. 318.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.11
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 3.25
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.6
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