Humanities › History & Culture Equites, the Roman Knights Share Flipboard Email Print Print Collector / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Rome Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Asia Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated August 19, 2018 Equites were Roman horsemen or knights. The name is derived from the Latin for the horse, equus. The equites came to be a social class and a single member of the equestrian class was called an eques. Originally, there were supposed to have been 300 equites during the time of Romulus. 100 were taken from each of the three tribes Ramnes, Tities, and Luceres. Each of these patrician hundreds was a century (centuria) and each century was named for its tribe. They were called "celeres." Under Tullus Hostilius there were six centuries. By the time of Servius Tullius, there were 18 centuries, the last twelve drawn from the richest, but not necessarily patrician, men. The Equites and the Roman Army The equites were originally an important division of the Roman army, but over time, they lost their military prominence moving to the wings of the phalanx. They still voted first in the comitia and kept two horses and a groom each—more than any others in the army. When the Roman army started to receive pay, the equites received three times that of the ordinary troops. After Punic War II the equites lost their military position. Roman Politics An eques was bound to a certain number of campaigns, but no more than ten. Upon completion, they entered the first class. Later Equites had the right to sit on juries and came to occupy an important third place in Roman policies and politics, standing between the senatorial class and the people. Disgrace and Dismissal When an eques was deemed unworthy, he was told to sell his horse (vende equum). When no disgrace was involved, someone no longer fit would be told to lead his horse on. There was a waiting list to replace the dismissed eques.