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Thread: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

  1. #261

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragases View Post
    In such a situation, during the initial engagement as The_Nord described, chain or ringmail can make a difference between life an death.
    There's no doubt about that, I wouldn't expect some medieval huscarl donned 24 kg of maile and paid at least 50 shillings (about 5 mark) of silver for the sheer heck of it.

    However leather on its own reputedly could withstand slashes as well as maile. What it couldn't take as well were razor sharp edges and thrusts. But then again leather provides some protection at a fraction of the weight and cost of maile.

    In my own opinion later legionaries appeared much like that in the Byzantine frescoes. A leather cuirass with the addition of short maile or scale shirt protecting the torso.

  2. #262

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    In my own opinion later legionaries appeared much like that in the Byzantine frescoes. A leather cuirass with the addition of short maile or scale shirt protecting the torso.
    That seems to be a reasonable statement. There's little point in wearing mail if you don't have some sort of padding underneath. Hence a leather cuirass or a gambeson would have been worn as a first layer of protection. I can tell from personal experience that even just a gambeson (=padded armour) can make a difference in combat.

    The problem of course is that contemporary suits of this type of armour would be extremely hard to preserve throughout the centuries, compared to metal armour.
    "L'homme d'entendement n'a rien perdu, s'il a soi-mÍme"
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  3. #263
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    There's no doubt about that, I wouldn't expect some medieval huscarl donned 24 kg of maile and paid at least 50 shillings (about 5 mark) of silver for the sheer heck of it.

    However leather on its own reputedly could withstand slashes as well as maile. What it couldn't take as well were razor sharp edges and thrusts. But then again leather provides some protection at a fraction of the weight and cost of maile.

    In my own opinion later legionaries appeared much like that in the Byzantine frescoes. A leather cuirass with the addition of short maile or scale shirt protecting the torso.
    i'm ready to agree about this too. the only thing that we differ is that i'm not sure about ur claims (from this thread) that leather cuirasses were usually worn on its own while the mail was used only in special circumstances (check ur post #214). i'm ready to believe that leather was worn always but, as i showed u in my post #215, there were numerous occasions, some of them in Ammianus, where barbarians chose not to flee but to stand and fight.
    in such a situation u would really want to have a metal armour cause those were really engagement, and they were quite common! Ammianus even tells us that Roman troops had a hard time fighting the Isaurians (the natives of Asia Minor) and he describes situations where the Romans locked their shields and waited for them to rush forward.

    so, i'd argue that leather of some subarmalis was worn indeed under the mail always-at least for the front line troopers! rear ranks could have worn leather only. that's why i ask u to reconsider ur opinion that:
    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    It's quite possible that late legionaries abandoned metal body armor completely for the sake of much lighter leather.
    now, it's the other question how the limitanei troops were armoured...perhaps the limitanei wore leather armour without mail over it? or we may assume that limitanie were armoured in a similar fashion as the comitatenses/palatine


  4. #264

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    so, i'd argue that leather of some subarmalis was worn indeed under the mail always-at least for the front line troopers! rear ranks could have worn leather only. that's why i ask u to reconsider ur opinion that:
    Unusual concept?, the Legionaries were swordsmen. This usually means the files rotate, as the front tires he rotates to the back allowing a fresher man to the front. This is one of the huge advantages of regular training. In barbarian units the best men fought in the front but as time progressed he was fighting fresher regulars.

    I'd go for them all being armored the same. It might be different in the case of spearmen.

    in such a situation u would really want to have a metal armour cause those were really engagement, and they were quite common! Ammianus even tells us that Roman troops had a hard time fighting the Isaurians (the natives of Asia Minor) and he describes situations where the Romans locked their shields and waited for them to rush forward.
    Most of the continental enemies had bugger all armor and were light and fast moving.

    As far as I'm concerned the legionaries can have all the metal armor they like from a central store, but it wasn't something they wore at all times. The later ones didn't personally own the maile, it was something supplied for necessary use.

    A typical barbarian raiding group is a thousand strong, against this the Roman would place 4 cohorts and a unit of cavalry in pursuit. In this case lightweight counted and the barbarians didn't stand a chance if caught.

  5. #265
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    Unusual concept?, the Legionaries were swordsmen. This usually means the files rotate, as the front tires he rotates to the back allowing a fresher man to the front. This is one of the huge advantages of regular training. In barbarian units the best men fought in the front but as time progressed he was fighting fresher regulars.
    no, they weren't swordsmen like the legionaries from the Caesar's time, and we don't know if they still employed the same in-battle rotation like the cohortal legions did. the late infantryman was much more defensively orientated and he wasn't a classical swordsman like in the earlier times but rather a mixture of both with a spear ready for melee.

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    A typical barbarian raiding group is a thousand strong, against this the Roman would place 4 cohorts and a unit of cavalry in pursuit. In this case lightweight counted and the barbarians didn't stand a chance if caught.
    well, that's it. i won't bother anymore about this cause ur again elegantly ignoring Ammianus record of multiple engagements where barbarians overwhelmed the Romans. instead, ur still stubbornly promoting the idea of the "fleeing barbarians who were scared to death at the sight of the approaching Romans".
    i gave some examples in the post #215, and this discussion rapidly gets tiring for me. have it ur way.


  6. #266
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    What evidence is there that the limitanei were swordsmen? As far as I'm concerned most Late Roman Infantry used Spears as a primary, not swords.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
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  7. #267

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by juvenus View Post
    no, they weren't swordsmen like the legionaries from the Caesar's time, and we don't know if they still employed the same in-battle rotation like the cohortal legions did. the late infantryman was much more defensively orientated and he wasn't a classical swordsman like in the earlier times but rather a mixture of both with a spear ready for melee.
    The rotation of different cohorts was something abandoned by Marius. It worked against slow moving Greek phalanxes, but not so well against fast moving barbarians.

    However ranks rotating inside a "body" of men continued. This means a fresh regular swordsman is rotated against a front rank Barbarian "Hero" who was far less likely to rotate efficiently. Even if the Barbarian does rotate he is being replaced by rear rankers of much lower motivation and equipment.

    To what extent late Roman legionaries were still swordsmen is a difficult question, but they carried the spatha which wasn't cheap.

    well, that's it. i won't bother anymore about this cause ur again elegantly ignoring Ammianus record of multiple engagements where barbarians overwhelmed the Romans. instead, ur still stubbornly promoting the idea of the "fleeing barbarians who were scared to death at the sight of the approaching Romans".
    i gave some examples in the post #215, and this discussion rapidly gets tiring for me. have it ur way.
    You're missing the point, most of the action roman soldiers saw was not fighting mass barbarians armies. But rather chasing cross border small groups of raiders looking for loot. These raiders where in bodies of 1,000 or less and could penetrate surprisingly far into the Roman interior.

    In any case the Barbarians seldom did well in a stand up fight with Roman regulars, their tool was generally the ambush.

    Make argument is for this pursuit role the roman infantry left their heavy metal armor behind, they no longer had to worry about this equipment since they no longer owned it personally. It was taken care of by a central strategic supply.

    It was an evolution. Pre-Marian legionaries were a property class that afforded their own armor. Post Marian legionaries were plebs who had to borrow money from the wealthy general who was their patron to buy equipment.

    Post Severan legionaries more often simply had equipment supplied at no cost as interest rates rose steeply from Julio-Claudian base rate low of 4% p.a. to the 3rd century inflationary interest of 12%. What this latter element indicates is the productivity of the Roman private economy was in serious decline, most likely due to increasingly burdensome taxes.

    For the Roman recruit the 20 to 30 solidi the most basic heavy kit cost was serious money. A maile shirt could cost a years laboring wages. In the USA today this is equivalent to $15,000. How would reanactors feel about forking out that, instead of the few hundred they pay Indian labor?

  8. #268
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Subarmalis was incredibly common to be used underneath the armor I think, but a leather musculata alone with no maile hauberk? I don't think so.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
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  9. #269

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Subarmalis was incredibly common to be used underneath the armor I think, but a leather musculata alone with no maile hauberk? I don't think so.
    Yes, but a maile suit today would cost you a few hundred. Modern methods produce steel very cheaply and can punch the rings off presses at low cost. After that you hire cheap Indian labor to link it together.

    In medieval England a suit of mail is priced at 100 shillings, at the time that was 2/3 a years labor wages. (steel production technology was superior to that used in Rome by the 10th century) At the same time a leather jerkin was 5 shillings.

  10. #270

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    What evidence is there that the limitanei were swordsmen? As far as I'm concerned most Late Roman Infantry used Spears as a primary, not swords.
    They carried swords? Expensive ones too! They might have deployed spears defensively and still be trained as swordsmen in the attack. Limae Legionaries were equipped much the same as field army.

  11. #271
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    The rotation of different cohorts was something abandoned by Marius. It worked against slow moving Greek phalanxes, but not so well against fast moving barbarians.

    However ranks rotating inside a "body" of men continued. This means a fresh regular swordsman is rotated against a front rank Barbarian "Hero" who was far less likely to rotate efficiently. Even if the Barbarian does rotate he is being replaced by rear rankers of much lower motivation and equipment.
    i know that, i even watched it. i was just using a general term "cohortal legions" cause the imperial legions since Marius until the chaos of the 3rd century are generally referred to as such. the new ones, the smaller legions of the latter period i simply call the late legions.

    i see that ur profound in the economy aspects and i don't dispute that. but i can't see the field armies marching out of their city-bases without mail armour.

    if ur so sure that barbarians attacked in the groups of 1k, then i don't see any reason why the Gallic field army would march from Paris just to chase off those intruders. it should've been done by the limitanie troops. and those limitanei troops could be armoured with leather only

    now, an interesting point which raises from this thread is whether we should alter the armour stats of the limitanei troops-those which are textured as unarmoured? perhaps we should understand them as wearing the leather armour...
    Last edited by juvenus; August 03, 2011 at 05:01 PM.


  12. #272

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by juvenus View Post

    if ur so sure that barbarians attacked in the groups of 1k, then i don't see any reason why the Gallic field army would march from Paris just to chase off those intruders. it should've been done by the limitanie troops. and those limitanei troops could be armoured with leather only
    Well there were a few different types of troops on the limes according to the ND. Some of these were pretty ordinary, others probably as well equipped if not as motivated as field army. But anything that was primarily close fighting would have some type of body armor.


    Cuneus equitum
    Equites
    Legio
    Auxilium (auxiliares, auxilia)
    Milites
    Numerus
    Ala
    Cohors
    Limitanei
    A thousand is just a rough number, but it is a fact that these raiders were often capable of bypassing border provinces and penetrating deep into the interior provinces. They were stealthy and fast moving, their skill in ambush and difficult terrain a worry to the Roman military. And the raiders weren't blind either, they either abducted or found willing inside help.

    Major battles only came along so often, but raiders were an annual event.

  13. #273
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Maile was mass produced by the fabricae though, you must rmember that. It's also likely the government took it back when service ended so it could be re-used.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
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  14. #274

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Much as it galls me to say this, but Wulfgar is possibly right about Barbarians not wearing armour and being banded in groups of roughly 1000.

    There is enough literary and archeological evidence to suggest that only the Kings and Nobles during the time frame of this mod had armour, the rest of the infantry having to make do with only a shield to protect themselves with. Things change as we get to the 'Dark Age' period when the Germanic's began to get their hands on captured Roman armour and also start making it themselves.

    Vegetius states that the reason why the earlier Legions were 6000 strong is that this was the typical size of a barbarian grouping. It's interesting to note that several mentions of numbers of Goth's in the hire of Roman's is quoted at roughly 3000 strong (This is the number of Goth's in the Usurper Procopius' army for example).

    I have seen in several books that barbarian infantry were grouped into roughly 1000 men whilst their cavalry were in groups of 500 strong. Again this is based on sources in the ancient texts where specific numbers are mentioned.

  15. #275

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post
    Things change as we get to the 'Dark Age' period when the Germanic's began to get their hands on captured Roman armour and also start making it themselves.
    I recall Colin McEvedy not only suggesting but treating as fact, that there was a large scale illegal arms trade with the Germans and others that steadily got worse. Border troops had the annual income of a laborer, this must have been dull. Something the Germans could always trade were slaves. An attractive young female slave could sell for a small fortune at the major markets. A fit young man could get a good price as well.

  16. #276
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post
    Much as it galls me to say this, but Wulfgar is possibly right about Barbarians not wearing armour and being banded in groups of roughly 1000.
    totally irrelevant. we're not talking about barbarians using armour. check the thread name again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post
    Vegetius states that the reason why the earlier Legions were 6000 strong is that this was the typical size of a barbarian grouping. It's interesting to note that several mentions of numbers of Goth's in the hire of Roman's is quoted at roughly 3000 strong (This is the number of Goth's in the Usurper Procopius' army for example).
    Although irrelevant (again), it is interesting data. as for the 3000 Goths in Procopius' service, i think that Dragases mentioned how ancient authors were fond on the number 3 and all numbers divided by 3.

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    I recall Colin McEvedy not only suggesting but treating as fact, that there was a large scale illegal arms trade with the Germans and others that steadily got worse. Border troops had the annual income of a laborer, this must have been dull. Something the Germans could always trade were slaves. An attractive young female slave could sell for a small fortune at the major markets. A fit young man could get a good price as well.
    which could only indicate that Romans would be having increasingly hard time fighting barbarians.


  17. #277
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post
    Vegetius states that the reason why the earlier Legions were 6000 strong is that this was the typical size of a barbarian grouping.
    This is not strictly correct. The passage VV has in mind, I assume, is Veg. 2.2.1-3. Here Vegetius states that the Macedonians, Greeks and Dardanians have phalanxes of 8000 men each, the Gauls, Celtiberians and many other barbarian nations have catervae of 6000 men each, and the Romans have legions of 6000 men or sometimes more. The figures are not correlative.

  18. #278

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    I havejust purchased a copy of 'Babarians and Bishops' by J.H.W.G.Liebeschuetz. I hadoriginally thought that this work was published after Cameron's 'Barbarians andPolitics at the Court od Arcadius'. However, I now discover that Liebeschuetzpublished his work first, having had permission to consult Cameron's unpublisheddraft before publication. The book is a goldmine of information about the events between Adrianopolis and the defeat of Gainas. The real find is that at the endof the book are a number of plates devoted to the Column of Arcadius, includinga plate of the south side of the base I had not seen before.

    This plate is a Godsend for those of us who believe thatmetallic/textile/leather cuirasses were worn by Late Roman troops as it shows a continuation of the trophy scene from the rather better known North side I put alink to. This clearly shows two muscle cuirasses on trophystands, two laying on the ground AND TWO SCALE CUIRASSES! There are also spears, oval and round shield, spatha swords, bows, quivers, axes, tubular arm/leg armour and those helmets with faces such as were worn by the Clibanarii.

    Unfortunately I cannot find a weblink to this particular view.

  19. #279
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    VV's post replicates one that he recently entered in the following RAT thread, which members may find interesting.

    http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat.htm...d=17&id=287105

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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    ill check it out in a min which one is it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
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