In the little world of Roman Army reenactment, France is not well known, in spite of numerous and good events on the subject. Maybe because the French don’t speak that much in English, and participate even less at English forums like Roman Army Talk… As a French reenactor myself, I feel the need to show how it is in modern Gaul. Let’s travel until Burgundy, to the small city of Autun, were I was, as a Roman legionary.
The city of Autun, ancient Augustodunum, was founded by Augustus himself, as a reward for the Eduans, a Gallic tribe who fought alongside Julius Caesar. Modern Autun is then very aware of this ancient past, and it’s where we, at LEG VIII AUG, are based. It’s no use to say that an event in Autun is very important to us, even more when it’s the first time that our association have the full responsibility to organize it.
This year, the event took place in the beginning of August, the month of Augustus. As always in this time of year, a lot of foreign people are in holidays in Burgundy, where Autun is. Mostly Dutch people, a good occasion for us to train our English. We had thousands of visitors during the weekend, enjoying the good weather in this season.
We, the Legionaries, are of course the main attraction of the event, called “Journées Romaines d’Autun”, or in English, Roman Days of Autun. We, as a group, along with marching, and showing our equipment, show to the public classic formations of the Flavian Roman Army, visually impressive:
- Contra Equites, a formation against cavalry
- Cuneum, a formation where the centurion is in the front middle of his men.
- Testudo, the well-known formation of approach of an enemy fort.
We of course have a little roman camp, with contubernia, the roman tent, in which 8 legionaries were supposed to sleep. 4 of us sleep in it each night. It’s more likely that even in ancient times, the 8 soldiers didn’t slept all together. Maybe half of them were guarding the camp while the other four were sleeping…
In front of each contubernium, a different aspect of the roman army was explained. As a walker, I showed our marching equipment. Others showed the military equipment, the officers, the musicians, the cooking and so on. Each one of us is passionate about his field.
To complete our event, we invited other reenactment groups. One of them, the Augustus Caesar Praetoria, reenacts Hadrian and is court. It’s our Imperator, even if they are at least 20 years after the death of Domitian, the last of the Flavians.
What is a roman event without gladiators? ACTA, specialized in recreating ancient forms of combat, showed to Autun how it was to be a gladiator in the Roman Empire. Sportsmen, champions, idols: that’s what they were.
To show a little bit of the daily life in the Roman Empire, we also had stalls, each one explaining a particular aspect: the gardens, the games, the textiles, a thermopolium… and a potter. The pottery was made exactly like in the ancient times!
In France, reenactment is gaining more and more success and interest from the public. The different associations involved are also increasing their quality. Maybe someday we will have an event at Paris, who knows? Until then, we travel in all France, north to south, to give to general public a glimpse of what was the Roman Empire and his army, our ancestors. My goal: to change from “our ancestors the Gauls” to “Our ancestors the Romans”. That would be more correct, since we are latins, speaking a romance language, heirs of their cultural heritage.
Pictures of Roman Reenactment Event at Autun
Some pictures more? Look at the page dedicated to the event.