The second of three categories of heavy infantryman in the Roman Legion of the mid-republican period (3rd and 2nd century BC). The Principes were the men in their late twenties and early thirties, considered by the Romans to be at the peak of their fighting ability. The standard legion contained ten maniples of Principesi, each numbering between 120 and 160 men. They were equipped with two Pila, the famous Gladius, and a long semi-cylindrical body shield, made of calfskin stretched over plywood. As the soldiers had to pay for their own armour, most made do with a simple bronze chest plate, while the wealthier soldiers had either a mail or scale cuirass. The Principes were expected to win the battle after the hastati had taken the sting out of the enemy army. The final line, the Triarii would only enter the fray if the Principes had been defeated.
The Complete Roman Army, Adrian Goldsworthy. A very good history of the Roman army from the early Republic to the end of the Empire.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (20 December 2002), Principes,

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