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Thread: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

  1. #101

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by AirAssault7 View Post
    Okay, that makes sense then. Leather Cuirasses as a back up standard, then quite possibly yes. Whether or not whole units flew into battle with them on is also up for conjecture.
    Depends what the battle was about. If it was must have been the lot of late Roman troops most of the time, that is pursuing raiders. Then a leather cuirass weighing 3kg might have been choice over maile weighing 12 to 20 kg.
    We have the historical example with Harold of England telling the huscarles and select fyrd to abandon maile for boiled leather armor to pursue lightly armed Welsh.

  2. #102

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Sounds like a job for the limitanei then.

  3. #103

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by AirAssault7 View Post
    Sounds like a job for the limitanei then.
    One of the characteristics of later barbarian raids is they weren't just bothering the limitanei, but were raiding deeper and more effectively than they had in the past. They were getting good at it.

  4. #104

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Yes I'm aware of this. Like the Alemanni in the 260s and 270s. We have to take into consideration as well the fact that the emperors were letting them do this to an extent, in order to exhaust the invading army. But more so with Constantine's policies from what I've noticed.
    Last edited by First Citizen Gallienus; July 10, 2011 at 01:02 PM.

  5. #105
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Don't forget the goths in the 3rd century. So yes, I am willing to aknowledge Leather Cuirasses would have been used. But in major battles like Milvian Bridge, Adrianopolis or Chalons? I'm gonna say no they weren't.
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  6. #106

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Don't forget the goths in the 3rd century. So yes, I am willing to aknowledge Leather Cuirasses would have been used. But in major battles like Milvian Bridge, Adrianopolis or Chalons? I'm gonna say no they weren't.
    Let's take a comtemporary image of Milvian Bridge, whoops....the good ole muscle cuirass yet again.


  7. #107

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Have you ever thought that maybe it's you that has muscle cuirass fetish? LoL Just playin'. I bet you anything the Romans were fighting over the same issue back in their day.

  8. #108

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by AirAssault7 View Post
    Have you ever thought that maybe it's you that has muscle cuirass fetish? LoL Just playin'. I bet you anything the Romans were fighting over the same issue back in their day.
    Well yes I might like a leather brestplate!

    I don't know what the real answer is.

    But fact, the leather cuirass has the copius evidence century after century.

    Against bugger all evidence that late infantry wore mail. The only reason is it is opinion of wargamers and reenactors is they like maile.

    The "evidence" works like "Late Roman Infantrymen 236 to 565" portray are of the desperate kind Von Daniken uses to prove ancient astronauts.

  9. #109

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    This is a debate that has gone on for years i.e. did Late Roman infantry wear muscle cuirasses?

    From my side I would say yes, based not only on monumental works, but also Roman wall paintings, murals, mosaics etc. That is not to say that Late Roman infantry also wore other types of armour such as mail or scale, as that also appears in Late Roman art.

    As to what the cuirasses were made out of, well, art works show them in a variety of colours, brownish (Leather or Bronze?), light blue (Iron?), dark blue, white, green, red and possibly more. Those that are not brownish or light blue in colour suggest that they have been either painted or dyed, either of which could be correct as there is a depiction of two sleeping Late Roman infantry wearing scale armour, one of which is blue coloured, the other green.

    The surviving line drawings of the destroyed Column of Theodosius show the infantry as either unarmoured or wearing muscled cuirasses. The destroyed Column of Arcadius shows infantry wearing not only cuirasses but wearing mail or unarmoured.

    The main reason why historians are loath to admit that Late Roman infantry wore cuirasses is that to date no such cuirasses have been found. I did see an interesting archeological report where a large lump of corroded metal was discovered at a Late Roman dig and the team were perplexed as to what on earth it could have been. Could that have been the remains of a cuirasse? Who knows.

    The recent 'Staffordshire Hoard' find in the UK contained amongst many other things what appears to be two shoulder clasps which may well have been part of a a cuirasse. The date of some of the items in the Staffordshire find do appear to relate to the Late Roman period, so again perhaps evidence of a cuirasse.

    There is a slight chance of finding evidence if archeologists ever get around to digs at Amida or Nsibis, where parts of those cities walls collapsed during the sieges, possibly burying some of the defenders.

    Anyway, as I said, the debate has raged for years and will possibly never be resolved unless definate evidence one way or another comes to light.

    P.S. One 'evidence' for 'leather armour' is contained in the 'De Rebus Bellicis' in the form of the 'Thoracomachus'. This appears to have been designed to either be worn under armour or could be worn as armour by itself. It was made from 'Lybian Hides', which suggests some form of leather, although some historians state it could equally have been wool.
    Last edited by Valentinian Victor; July 11, 2011 at 07:58 AM.

  10. #110

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post
    This is a debate that has gone on for years i.e. did Late Roman infantry wear muscle cuirasses?

    From my side I would say yes, based not only on monumental works, but also Roman wall paintings, murals, mosaics etc. That is not to say that Late Roman infantry also wore other types of armour such as mail or scale, as that also appears in Late Roman art.
    Well a man on two legs with maile or scale could be cavalry, especially since such figures are pictured so often leading horses.

    The interesting thing is the absence of metal armored footmen in combat pose.

    My personal pitch however is the standard uniform for at least Legionaries became the muscle cuirass.
    I don't rule out that strategic maile was worn over the cuirass when circumstances arose.

    A man could be outfitted with spear & shield, cheap helmet & cheap sword and the cuirass for 6 to 8 solidi. Ad a good double maile suit and that is 12 solidi by itself.

  11. #111

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    Well a man on two legs with maile or scale could be cavalry, especially since such figures are pictured so often leading horses.

    The interesting thing is the absence of metal armored footmen in combat pose.

    My personal pitch however is the standard uniform for at least Legionaries became the muscle cuirass.
    I don't rule out that strategic maile was worn over the cuirass when circumstances arose.

    A man could be outfitted with spear & shield, cheap helmet & cheap sword and the cuirass for 6 to 8 solidi. Ad a good double maile suit and that is 12 solidi by itself.
    There are quite a few depictions of mail clad Late Roman infantry in battle scenes, have a look at the books I suggested in another thread that deal with Late Roman art and you will find some.

    The usual counter to the 'every Late Roman infantry man wore a leather cuirasse' argument is that mail armour is very easy to repair, leather armour become totally useless once its taken too many cuts. I know as I have both leather armour and a mail hauberk!

    The issue of cost becomes less of an issue if the cost of repair of the more expensive armour outweighs the replacement cost of the inferior armour.

    But, as I said before, I do believe Late Roman infantry wore cuirasses as well as other types.

  12. #112
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Also, don't forget that on murals, columns, and Arches the sculptors may have been using "artistic liscence" and using leather-styled cuirasises for decorative purposes.

    Also, about the two sleeping infantry it might have been green to depict corroded bronze or Steel.
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  13. #113

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Also, don't forget that on murals, columns, and Arches the sculptors may have been using "artistic liscence" and using leather-styled cuirasises for decorative purposes.

    Also, about the two sleeping infantry it might have been green to depict corroded bronze or Steel.
    I doubt very much if the Roman's would ever depict their infantry in armour that was in any way less than perfect!

    The fact that there are depictions of cuirasses in green and other colours suggests that the scales could have been individually coloured, or they could be horn, from horse hooves, which is a blue'ish green in colour.

    Artistic licence cannot explain why then the infantry have contemporary shields, helmets and weapons!

  14. #114
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    True, and also, I think the Huns used scale cuirasses made of Bone and Hrse Hooves, so that oculd explain it. Hunnic Federates in Roman Service (depending on the era of the mural/statue/etc.) but what do you mean by Contemporary?
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  15. #115

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    True, and also, I think the Huns used scale cuirasses made of Bone and Hrse Hooves, so that oculd explain it. Hunnic Federates in Roman Service (depending on the era of the mural/statue/etc.) but what do you mean by Contemporary?
    When you have Late Roman infantry shown with Oval/Round shields, typical Late Roman style helmets and with Spiculum/Veruta (Spear or Javelin) then that indicates that they are bearing the arms and armour of a typical 4th century infantryman. Therefore, why portray the body armour as a 'classising' style of a much earlier age?

  16. #116
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    True, but again don't forget Vegetius portrayed the Army as the classic one, so why couldn't Artists?
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  17. #117

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    True, but again don't forget Vegetius portrayed the Army as the classic one, so why couldn't Artists?
    It's not known what time frame the legione Vegetius was describing was, but some references in Vegetius suggest it was in vogue upto the reign of Diocletian, so within the Late Roman period.
    I'm not saying that artists did not use classical images on monuments, many depictions of Emperors contain a classical elements. But why give infantry classical armour when their shields, helmets and weapons are typically 4th Century in origin?

  18. #118
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Hmm... an excellent point.

    But I think Wulfgar is right, that Roman troops would wear leather Cuirasses of some sort when on guard duty or on the march and would only wear chainmail in battle.

    Also BTw the latin term is coriaceus, or made of leather. So for example "ego sum coriaceo" WOuld be "I am wearing a Cuirass"
    Last edited by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius; July 11, 2011 at 10:38 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
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  19. #119

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Hmm... an excellent point.

    But I think Wulfgar is right, that Roman troops would wear leather Cuirasses of some sort when on guard duty or on the march and would only wear chainmail in battle.

    Also BTw the latin term is coriaceus, or made of leather. So for example "ego sum coriaceo" WOuld be "I am wearing a Cuirass"
    If the Thoracomachus existed its not outside the realms of possibilty that the infantry would have worn only that whilst on the march and then switched to their armour before battle was joined.

    Unfortuanatly it appears there are no references in Late Roman literature to troops wearing muscle cuirasses, the more general term 'lorica' tends to be used, and that word covers a multitude of types.

  20. #120
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Yeah, Segmentata, Hamata, squamata etc. Lorica Just means pretty much Armor so it could be anything really when reffered to as such.
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