RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: What was Romes first flag and when.
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
What was Rome’s first flag and when did she start using it. In the republic, if troops were garrisoned, did they fly a flag or is that something that started early AD?
I think this is something modern, no? Flags and banners as we use today were introduced in the Middle Ages, I thought.
The Romans did never use any "flags"...I guess you mean the piece of textile which hangs on a stick carried by a signifer and it shows the troups name and number.

I am sorry to say, but this is Hollywood!
The only textile sign was ever found in Egypt from Roman times had the goddess Victoria on it...no name...no number.

Sometimes you meet something like it own stone-reliefes, but that is a different story.

So...no, signs were different. ;-) )
The Romans used signal flags:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/ro ... h_03.shtml

Quote:The Romans had clever signalling systems. On Hadrian's Wall an alphabetic system was used based on two groups of five flags, which allowed them to send messages letter by letter, and was similar to the system developed in England at the end of the eighteenth century. [...]

The Romans also had a coded system, with which they could send only one of a dozen fixed messages, depending on the time for which they showed a flag. The sender and receiver would have the same code book and identical water clocks, marked perhaps with numbers. To send message VI in the book, raise your flag (or flaming torch at night), wait until the receiver raises a flag to acknowledge, then lower your flag, and raise it again, starting your clock as you raise the flag. When your flag points to VI, lower your flag again. The receiver should have started the clock when the flag went up for the second time, and stopped it when the flag went down; the number VI will reveal the message.

The idea of using codes like this was taken up by the French, also at the end of the eighteenth century.
Thats a signal, not a flag for Rome, so not a flag in what I understand as a flag...for me a flag represents a state or a land.

Sorry, misunderstanding here...
textile and acusthic signs were definetly used.
But I didn´t get the point to a flag ;-) )

Also textile signs where used in normal battle...we know that several signi were moved by acoustical signals to show something to the troups (which we do not know exactly what).

In German we have a difference between "Flagge" (flag) and "Fahne" what you meant.
According to Livy, the Roman legion of the Latin War used flags (vexilla). As suspect as his description is, this part seams correct to me.
The Romans raised a flag (I believe from the Capitol) to signal, that the comitia centuriata was to convene on the campus Martius.

It has been supposed that they copied the use of vexilla from the Samnites. Various campanian fresco's show warriors flying pieces of cloth from spears. In the past these have simply been interpreted as flags. However, close examination of the pictures has shown these flags to have been tunics. Assuming this, the yellow strips at the sides must have been bronze girdles. So now the consensus is that they are trophies.
In my opinion both can be true. I.e. they started out as trophies and became regular field signs.
In support of this, some warriors carry flags in the same colour(s) as their own tunics. Also, in one instance the battle flag, flown from the tent of the commander, is described as a tunic (Plutarch, Pompey, 68 )

If style of vexillum where the cloth is hung from a horizontal stave is of a later date and possibly copied from the Gauls.
Right, the vexillum and tunic-on-a-stick could be considered "flags", but they are personal or unit designators, not NATIONAL flags, like the American flag. Rome didn't have one of those (though maybe later in the Byzantine era).

Matthew
So Rome never used a flag that said "We're Number One"?
Yep. Rome was no National State, or a state as we as we think of states nowadays.
Magnus -

No, it says R0M4 1Z 733t

:twisted:
And no flag that said:

"Ceasar made a goal in Gaul!"
:lol: