The Attack of the Crupellarii,

The Attack of the Crupellarii,

In 21 AD during the reign of Emperor Tiberius, two Gaulic nobles named Julius Florus and Julius Sacrovir revolted against the Roman Empire. The revolt was a result of the denial of frequent petition for tax relief and debt forgiveness among Gaulic debtors. Florus and Sacrovir managed to raise an army of 40,000 rebels, some of whom were professional gladiators. Among those gladiators was the Crupellarius, a class of gladiator that was particularly popular in Gaul. The Crupellarius was a heavily armed and armored gladiator who was typically a very tall, large, and muscular man. They wore the segmented plate armor of legionary soldiers (lorica segmentata), as well as segmented plate armor sleeves (manica), a pair of leg guards or greaves, and a large helmet similar to the Medieval great helm. The Crupellarius was typically armed with a rectangular shield or scutum and a gladius short short.

Florus and Sacrovir placed the Crupellarii as the front ranks of their army, where they were to act as human tanks, pummeling and bashing through the Roman ranks. Once in battle, the Romans found that their gladii and pilum (javelins) were practically useless against the Crupellarius’ heavy armor. Thus, Roman soldiers retrieved their engineering tools such as axes, adzes, and pickaxes. Using them as weapons the Romans were able to pierce the Crupellarius’ heavy armor and batter down the behemoths. Once the Crupellarii were defeated, the remaining Gaulic rebels were slaughtered.