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Thread: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

  1. #241

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    I belive that too, but there are certain limitations: for example the Attic Helmet could be real, it would be extremly fancy for someone of extremly high rank and it would make them look powerful.
    The Attic helmet was a bronze cast job of earlier times, there's no problem with a later iron helmet having a superficial resemblance or perhaps being modeled on the Attic. Maybe there was a conscious effort to return to classic designs in an era dominated by Skythian armor.

    Check the back cover for a reconstruction.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ccg...page&q&f=false

    http://www.4shared.com/get/SgrtZoFM/...Infantrym.html
    Last edited by wulfgar610; July 30, 2011 at 07:17 PM.

  2. #242
    Pompeius Magnus's Avatar primus inter pares
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    I belive that too, but there are certain limitations: for example the Attic Helmet could be real, it would be extremly fancy for someone of extremly high rank and it would make them look powerful.
    attic-style or attic-like helmet.
    There is absolutely no indication that a classical Attic helmet was still in use.

    Quote Originally Posted by juvenus View Post
    what a syntax great, i like it!
    You are probably thinking about Belisarius. But even the 6th century has provided dozens of Magistri Militum - and therefore it is absolutely not certain what kind of "head" it is. It belongs maybe to the time frame round about 500AD (the reign of Anastasios)
    Last edited by Pompeius Magnus; July 28, 2011 at 04:35 PM.

  3. #243

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Late Roman infantry wearing Attic Helmets is another topic that gets historians all hot under the collar!
    Unfortunately, like muscle cuirasses, no Attic Helmet has been found so far and consequently the belief is that they are an artistic convention.

    Until someone like Bob Ballard's successor scours the Black Sea coasts, especially around Instanbul, and finds one of Gainus' ships sunk in a naval battle, which should then have the remains of armour and helmets on it, this is going to remain another 'what if'.

  4. #244
    juvenus's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Pompeius Magnus View Post
    You are probably thinking about Belisarius. But even the 6th century has provided dozens of Magistri Militum - and therefore it is absolutely not certain what kind of "head" it is. It belongs maybe to the time frame round about 500AD (the reign of Anastasios)
    sure, thanks


  5. #245
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    That reminds me when I checked some effigies of Theoderic (Dittrich of Bern) or Constantine the Great from the middle ages. They are always shown in medieval-like armour - accounterments of knighthood - representing weapons and armour of the dedicated centuries.
    Last year I had the privilege to visit some (3!) monasteries of Meteora in greece - and some wall paintings of those monasteries, referred to events of the seventh and eights centuries - even events from the Martyrdoms - showing scenes with soldiers of the 10th and 11th centuries.

    Works of art from the sixth and seventh centuries shows both - soldiers with attested helmets (attested due to findings) as well attic-like helmets - which are not evidenced by any finding (we must speak about attic-like or attic-style helmets - actually a classical Attic helmet is not shown in any depiction).
    But since the East Romans were enrooted into the Roman tradition far beyond the 9th and 10th centuries I have no doubt that certain classical elements survived for officers, elite units, parade units etc.
    But it is obviously a question which apprenticeship you follow.
    I'm not querelling with somebody who say that he needs an evidence in form of a real finding. I personally think that the Romans were intelligent enough to show their soldiers in their real uniforms - however, I also know that they had sometimes the tendency to give them a classical appearance concerning works of art.
    Last edited by Pompeius Magnus; July 28, 2011 at 07:25 PM.

  6. #246
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    The Attic helmet was a bronze cast job of earlier times, there's no problem with a later iron helmet having a superficial resemblance or perhaps being modeled on the Attic. Maybe there was a conscious effort to return to classic designs in an era dominated by Skythian armor.

    Check the back cover for a reconstruction.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ccg...page&q&f=false

    My mistake I meant attic-like.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
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  7. #247
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by AirAssault7 View Post
    I've thought about that, but there isn't really any army on army battles in that game. ( I love Oblivion by the way) I was just discussing some ideas for a game, (sort of like what you're saying) with one of my old buddies. It would essentially be a third and/or first person action game but with rome total war and assassins creed and dynasty warrior game mechanics. You start as a legionary and work your way up the ranks, eventually gaining command of a century, a cohort, and whole legions and start conquering territories like in Rome Total War.
    There was this mod for warband, methinks, where you can do that. You do start as a low ranking auxiliary officer, though, not rank and file.

  8. #248
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    This is not the place to talk about that though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
    Well then Attila just got delicious.
    Under the Patronage of Pikestance

  9. #249
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    I am aware of that.


    OT I find leather cuirasses being standard equipment hard to believe.

  10. #250

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Cocroach the great View Post
    I am aware of that.


    OT I find leather cuirasses being standard equipment hard to believe.
    Well there was certainly a widespread use of a cuirass, the illustrations of the time run into the hundreds right into the Byzantine times. If you think that the widespread standard equipment was a solid metal cuirass then you are barking mad. These could only be made as cast bronze at the time and were a riot in expense. As for for solid iron breast plates, they'd have to wait to the 14th century. The only iron cuirass that could have existed in the late Roman period was the segmenta.

    It simply comes down to this, most of you people don't like classical style. Your ideal is Scythian like Norman knights, you don't understand the Classical. This is nothing to so with facts but simply a fashion preference.
    Last edited by wulfgar610; July 30, 2011 at 07:21 PM.

  11. #251
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    I don't think there were many metal cuirasses. Mail or even scale simply seems more practical.

  12. #252

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Cocroach the great View Post
    I don't think there were many metal cuirasses. Mail or even scale simply seems more practical.
    Maile is not all it is cracked up to be, not really that great a defense on its own. But it is flexible and easy to repair and allows ventilation. But if it was so great, then why did the Chinese and Japanese disregard it?

    Not cheap either, a mediavel English source puts a price of 100 shillings for a knight's maile full body covering. And this was the shilling prior to the debasment of the 100 years war.

    The real trick was layers of different material for armor which "turns" blows by absorbing and deflecting energy. The all or nothing defense doesn't work too well in the end. The last layer of Mongol armor was raw silk.

    You ever wondered why they make bullets out of lead?

  13. #253
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Yes, I know mail only works with proper padding. Yes, I am aware mail was expensive. But by saying padded reinforced mail provides little protection you are wrong.

    And mail was easy to maintain and store. Since it had been in continuous use since the republic, I see no reason they would have any difficulty supplying the army.
    Last edited by Blatta Optima Maxima; July 29, 2011 at 04:00 PM.

  14. #254

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Cocroach the great View Post
    Yes, I know mail only works with proper padding. Yes, I am aware mail was expensive. But by saying padded reinforced mail provides little protection you are wrong.

    And mail was easy to maintain and store. Since it had been in continuous use since the republic, I see no reason they would have any difficulty supplying the army.
    You're the one claiming what would have the major type of padding for infantry in the late period not existing. I've never claimed they couldn't supply the maile, the question is cost effectiveness particularly in terms of weight. Do you forget that a suit going to the knees will weigh 20 kg.

    Leather armor properly treated and made will protect from general slashes as effectively as maile. Leather is inferior to maile in regards to pointed punctures. Also a razor edge will easily slice though leather, however a dull edge can barely do so. But leather does all this at a fraction of the weight and cost.

    But ultimately it is about what is revealed in the evidence, the consistent piece of armor shown for later legionaries is the muscle cuirass. People wish to ignore the evidence because it proves what they don't like.

    Even most of the serious authors on the period are suffering a major bout of intellectual dishonesty.

    Simon MacDowall claims the cuirasses are metal and then avoids exploring the proposition at all, most authors do the same. If this is the case, these are metal cuirasses, then why do they ignore it too?

    I felt the same way about the leather cuirass 30 years ago, I didn't like the idea at all. I've also had 30 years to explore the subject, I suspect Barker was fairly spot on.
    Last edited by wulfgar610; July 29, 2011 at 11:34 PM.

  15. #255
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    30 years? That's... a lot. Well, I am not going to argue with you then, but at least some troops must have used mail, like the front rankers?!

  16. #256

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Cocroach the great View Post
    30 years? That's... a lot. Well, I am not going to argue with you then, but at least some troops must have used mail, like the front rankers?!
    I never said they didn't use maile, scale or later laminae, in fact I believe generally they had maile available as a strategic issue.

    I just find it tiresome that a community is so dead set against the leather cuirass when there is a weight of evidence in its favor.

    It's possible they did give heavier armor to front rankers as was a later Byzantine practice. But then again if you increase the weight of some in the unit and reduce mobility, you may as well do it to the lot.

  17. #257
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    Also note Notice exibit A. What is it? Is it pure fiction?

    If you think that that is a fighting cuirass worne by Hadrian in battle, yes. It is probably a subarmalis or, just possibly, a simulation of a metal cuirass in soft leather that would have been more comfortable for the emperor to wear - but not in the field.

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    If you think that the widespread standard equipment was a solid metal cuirass then you are barking mad. These could only be made as cast bronze at the time and were a riot in expense. As for for solid iron breast plates, they'd have to wait to the 14th century. The only iron cuirass that could have existed in the late Roman period was the segmenta.
    Tacitus says of Otho "lorica ferrea usus est", translated as "he wore an iron cuirass" (Tac. Hist., 2.11). An emperor in a lorica segmentata? I don't see it, myself.
    Last edited by Renatus; August 01, 2011 at 11:13 AM.

  18. #258

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Renatus View Post
    If you think that that is a fighting cuirass worne by Hadrian in battle, yes. It is probably a subarmalis or, just possibly, a simulation of a metal cuirass in soft leather that would have been more comfortable for the emperor to wear - but not in the field.
    Still, what is pictured is the spitting image of what we see on relief's running for centuries into Byzantine times. I say case proved, such a cuirass existed and it was not made out of metal.

    Tacitus says of Otho "lorica ferrea usus est", translated as "he wore an iron cuirass" (Tac. Hist., 2.11). An emperor in a lorica segmentata? I don't see it, myself.
    A solid iron breastplate wouldn't have been impossible in the period, rather prohibitively expensive. Steel and iron was produced as small billets, a breastplate would be required to be "welded" together from billets using the techniques of the time. The furnace technology required for creating iron breastplates at an affordable price wouldn't exist until the 14th century.

    Simon MacDowall makes the claim that the cuirasses are iron on p.51 of "Late Roman Infantryman", but this is just plainly ridiculous.

    You can say "I don't see it", but that is a subjective emotion which is what I'm complaining about. "I can see it", it was still the "democratic" Principate, the Emperor in a common soldiers cuirass would be order of the day.

    Basically we've had a vast conspiracy of fools against the leather cuirass running for years and it is foolishness. If later legionaries used maile, then most likely they generally wore the leather muscle cuirass as a base.
    Last edited by wulfgar610; August 01, 2011 at 05:30 PM.

  19. #259
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Just weighing in here on the discussion a bit. Now, I'm by no means an expert on how fighting worked in ancient time, but I have gathered information from history books, armour and weapons experts, reenactors and so on and I just thought I'd share some of the stuff I've come up with. Some here have questioned the efficiency of maile armour in combat and I thought I'd just give my 2 cents on this.

    From what I've gathered, spear and shield fighting usually happened in what you can call two "stages". The first one being when contact between the two fighting formations were made. This would've largely been a shoving match with shield against shield and spears would be thrused over the shields as one best could. In this stage few would die, and the spear thrusts themselves wouldn't carry much strength and force, but they are still sharp enough to cut an unarmoured fighter quite badly. In this situation, where most blows made against someone would be glancing, maile is highly efficient, as the blows would be just that, glancing. However what would follow, when one side started to break was probably a sort of a trample and stampede by the victorious side where heavy spear thrusts could be made, and this would've started the second stage of the fight, the rout.
    In the rout most casualties would occur, and here armour won't matter much anymore, because wether it's ancient time where soldiers used at best maile armour or some form of plate, or in medieval times where one could be completly covered in armour, the results are the same, if your enemy is determined enough they WILL kill you. In medieval examples we see soldiers who have been heavly armoured had their kneecaps broken, necks broken and heads smashed in, often from behind.

    Ancient combat weren't what Hollywood would have you believe with glorious man-to-man duels would take place all over the battlefield, but mostly formations being locked in combat where team work was far more important. I base these conclusions I've come to based on the sources I gave in the beginning of the post, and you may dispute them as much as you'd like, infact I'd welcome it as I'm always eager to learn more. This may or may not be somewhat off-topic as I haven't discussed how widespread the use of armour was or wasn't, but I thought it could be some decent information to have anyways.

  20. #260

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    I'm not an expert on armour either (that stuff is usually reserved for archaeologists), but I can agree with The_Nord's description. I'm a reenactor myself (Viking era though) and have fought two times at the reenactment of the Battle of Hastings in 2009 and 2010. Everything depends on unit cohesion and holding the line/shield wall. In such a situation, during the initial engagement as The_Nord described, chain or ringmail can make a difference between life an death.
    "L'homme d'entendement n'a rien perdu, s'il a soi-mÍme"
    {Michel de Montaigne}

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