Roman Cavalry


Cavalry, although never replacing infantry as the mainstay of the Roman army, could provide useful cover on the flanks of armies, could be used as a shock tactic to cause disruption to enemy infantry formations, and could pursue an enemy during the confusion of retreat. Consequently, many an ancient battle was won or lost depending on the performance of mounted soldiers. Increasingly employed over the centuries, riders also diversified so that cavalry types ranged from lightly-armoured mounted archers to heavy cavalry with lances where both rider and horse wore metal armour to leave no part of the body exposed. Cavalry also became especially useful in the later Roman period when it became necessary to patrol increasingly contentious border states.

More about: Roman Cavalry


  • 750 BCE - 510 BCE
    The semi-legendary celeres or trossuli - a 300-man cavalry corps which the first kings of Rome incorporated into the legion - is formed, later their number is increased to 600.
  • 578 BCE - 535 BCE
    Servius Tullius, the king of Rome, increases the number of the cavalry corps (equites) to 1,800.
  • c. 400 BCE
    The Roman cavalry is expanded to include riders who can pay for their own horse.
  • Aug 216 BCE
    Hannibal wins the battle of Cannae, the worst defeat in Roman history.
  • c. 100 BCE
    Roman cavalry riders are by now classified as auxilia and organised in wings or alae.
  • 58 BCE - 51 BCE
    Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul.
  • 101 CE - 106 CE
    Trajan conquers Dacia.