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Thread: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

  1. #121

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post

    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.
    And once the armor has taken too many cuts, in reality what were the chances of the owner being in good health or even alive? Do you forget we are dealing with an era when life was short, nasty, brutish and cruel.

    If armor could provide protection in one round of combat, it has done its most essential work.

    I'd forget the anti-leather armor argument, there's too many contemporary ancient sources that refer to its virtue.

    Many Roman soldiers would have spent their entire service without seeing a true battle.

    On it's own, sure it didn't last like maile in battle, but then it was 1/5 the weight.

    Put on the 20kg of double maile and then march 20 miles and tell me how you feel then?

    Personally I suspect the muscle cuirass was about giving legionaries the looks, the same was bearskin hats and epaulets did later. Drape maile over an ordinary body and they look underbuilt, drape it over a muscle cuirass they look like a titan.

  2. #122

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Check it out. You might have a leather/muscle cuirass wet dream. http://www.armatureromane.com/lorichecuoio.html

  3. #123
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    Do you forget we are dealing with an era when life was short, nasty, brutish and cruel.

    Personally I suspect the muscle cuirass was about giving legionaries the looks, the same was bearskin hats and epaulets did later. Drape maile over an ordinary body and they look underbuilt, drape it over a muscle cuirass they look like a titan.
    Not True, most Roman Citizens lived to be around 55 even in those days.

    Are you talking about the pileus pannonicus? I never knew it was made of bearskin, I always thought wolf or fox.
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  4. #124
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Was it simply leather, or multi-layered, hardened hide? That can make all the difference between life and death.

  5. #125

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    And once the armor has taken too many cuts, in reality what were the chances of the owner being in good health or even alive? Do you forget we are dealing with an era when life was short, nasty, brutish and cruel.

    If armor could provide protection in one round of combat, it has done its most essential work.

    I'd forget the anti-leather armor argument, there's too many contemporary ancient sources that refer to its virtue.

    Many Roman soldiers would have spent their entire service without seeing a true battle.

    On it's own, sure it didn't last like maile in battle, but then it was 1/5 the weight.

    Put on the 20kg of double maile and then march 20 miles and tell me how you feel then?

    Personally I suspect the muscle cuirass was about giving legionaries the looks, the same was bearskin hats and epaulets did later. Drape maile over an ordinary body and they look underbuilt, drape it over a muscle cuirass they look like a titan.
    Not sure how to answer this post, but I'll do so as politely as I can.

    As an ex-serviceman I had to do route marches with a 70lbs pack, which by the way is about the weight of a mail hauberk, helmet, shield and weapons combined. These marches were never less than 15 miles, sometimes they were upto 30. I have also marched in my mail hauberk, shield, helmet, sword and spear for upto 15 miles (I was in my 40's then and not as fit as I was when I was in the military). So, yes it can be done by modern men not used to wearing ancient armour, so if I could do it then someone who spent years wearing armour must have done it as a matter of routine.

    Your argument about leather armour would be greatly assisted if you could provide quotes from the sources which we could then check. It's no use throwing in comments without using quotes to back it up.

    As to damage in battle, neither mail or leather protect the wearer from a hard thrust from a spear or sword, it will punch straight through. In some respects its better to have a weapon thrust through you if your wearing leather as it will be a clean wound, with the weapon able to be pulled out quickly. A thrust through mail on the other hand tends to push the rings into the wound which can then end up with a much more ragged wound, leading to all kinds of nastiness, including the real risk of blood poisoning. Leather gives some protection against a slash from a sword or a glancing blow from a spear, more so if a padded jerkin is worn underneath. Mail gives excellent protection against slashing weapons or glancing blows and if a leather or padded garment is worn underneath even more protection is provided. Mail that has been damaged in battle is easily repaired just by replacing the missing rings. Leather armour is very hard to repair as you have to either stitch it up or apply patches if it is soft leather, and almost unrepairable if it is leather hardened by boiling it in wax.

    Oh, by the way, who really believes the Romans wore their mail hauberks directly over their clothing without there being some form of protective undergarment underneath it? My experience is that if you dont have the protective garment you suffer from chaffing of the skin and in extreme hot or cold weather conditions metal armour is unbearable to touch or wear directly next to the skin. Hence the reason all the artistic depictions of Romans wearing armour have protective petruges at the arms and waist.

    The other reason why perhaps the cuirasses may not have been made from leather is the fact that barbarians regularly scavaged armour and weapons from dead or captured Romans after a battle the barbarians won, and there have been no cuirasses found in any barbarian grave so far, not even in chieften graves. Where metal armour is found in barbarian graves it is invariably mail.

    Again, whilst I believe Late Roman infantry wore muscle cuirasses, and some may well have been made from leather or other textiles, I would not be so rash as to claim all of them were.

  6. #126
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    I would also say that if you wore a leather cuirass underneath Mail the Leather would prevent (if it's hardened or at least firm) the chainmail from getting into the wound. Also I know they wore wool padding underneath their helmets often from re-enactments so I wouldn't be surprised if they wore it underneath their armor.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
    Well then Attila just got delicious.
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  7. #127

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    I would also say that if you wore a leather cuirass underneath Mail the Leather would prevent (if it's hardened or at least firm) the chainmail from getting into the wound. Also I know they wore wool padding underneath their helmets often from re-enactments so I wouldn't be surprised if they wore it underneath their armor.
    I've seen quite a few artistic depictions of Romans wearing scarves and what appears to be some sort of soft cap under their helmets. The Phrygian cap often shown in Late Roman art could have been worn under most helmets as well. I certainly used to wear a cotton cap under my helmet.

  8. #128
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    I would wear at least Pileus Pannonicus (Pannonian Cap depicted commonly in Late Roman Army Murals etc.) under mine, and scarves were common in both the principate and late era.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
    Well then Attila just got delicious.
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  9. #129

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Magister Militum Flavius Aetius View Post
    Not True, most Roman Citizens lived to be around 55 even in those days.

    Are you talking about the pileus pannonicus? I never knew it was made of bearskin, I always thought wolf or fox.
    If you mean the average, I doubt that and late empire everybody was a citizen.

    As an ex-serviceman I had to do route marches with a 70lbs pack, which by the way is about the weight of a mail hauberk, helmet, shield and weapons combined. These marches were never less than 15 miles, sometimes they were upto 30. I have also marched in my mail hauberk, shield, helmet, sword and spear for upto 15 miles (I was in my 40's then and not as fit as I was when I was in the military). So, yes it can be done by modern men not used to wearing ancient armour, so if I could do it then someone who spent years wearing armour must have done it as a matter of routine.
    Great, now do that day after day until you've done the 1,000 miles of a late roman campaign move and without a motor vehicle to pick you up at the end of it.

    I never said it can't be done, what I've referred to is the question of speed.

  10. #130

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by AirAssault7 View Post
    Check it out. You might have a leather/muscle cuirass wet dream. http://www.armatureromane.com/lorichecuoio.html
    Looks delicious, my god that Italian leather is expensive.


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  11. #131

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Even though just about all Roman armor is fascinating, I have to say Lorica Squamata(scale) is pretty neat. Though I wonder if it was indeed quite effective?


  12. #132

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by AirAssault7 View Post
    Even though just about all Roman armor is fascinating, I have to say Lorica Squamata(scale) is pretty neat. Though I wonder if it was indeed quite effective?
    I'd say popular for its good looks when tinned and bronzed. I believe it was quite effective armor and absorbed blows well.

    Disadvantages compared to maile would be ventilation and repair. Maile is one of the all time great armors, expensive and time consuming to produce, but once you got it easy to maintain and alter.

    The vast majority of Barbarian heavy body armor would have been scale made from horn because those cultures were relatively metal poor.

    The number one importance of heavy armor was to protect from missle fire.

  13. #133

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    I'd say popular for its good looks when tinned and bronzed. I believe it was quite effective armor and absorbed blows well.

    Disadvantages compared to maile would be ventilation and repair. Maile is one of the all time great armors, expensive and time consuming to produce, but once you got it easy to maintain and alter.

    The vast majority of Barbarian heavy body armor would have been scale made from horn because those cultures were relatively metal poor.

    The number one importance of heavy armor was to protect from missle fire.
    The problem with scale armour is the weight, it can be much heavier than mail. The scales were sewn onto either a soft leather or textile backing which provided protection against chaffing.

    Horn armour was limited to those tribes that had access to large amounts of horses, thats why it tended to be favoured by the Skythians, Sarmatians etc. It was not used by the Allemanni, Greuthingi, Burgundians, Saxons, Franks, Gauls etc, the ordinary infantryman would have been unarmoured with only the Chieftens, Kings, Nobles and their retinues having body armour which tended to be mail.

  14. #134

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post
    The problem with scale armour is the weight, it can be much heavier than mail. The scales were sewn onto either a soft leather or textile backing which provided protection against chaffing.
    Well one thing about maile is the good protective stuff like the double is very heavy. Anything from 12 to 20 kg depending on the size. Would typical scale armor be as heavy as this? The metal scales could as thin as 0.6 mm.

    The segmenta reputedly could weigh less than 10 kg, so it was comparatively light.

  15. #135

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    Well one thing about maile is the good protective stuff like the double is very heavy. Anything from 12 to 20 kg depending on the size. Would typical scale armor be as heavy as this? The metal scales could as thin as 0.6 mm.

    The segmenta reputedly could weigh less than 10 kg, so it was comparatively light.
    Interesting question. I am 6' 5" tall, my hauberk sleaves hang to the elbow and the length goes down to my knees. Its made of steel rings with a diameter of about 10mm, so quite small. It is heavy, over 50Lbs in weight. Its quite comfortable to wear as long as I wear something padded underneath to prevent chaffing. I've worn leather armour, soft with studded protection and soft without studs, also quite comfortable to wear. I've only worn scale armour once, not so comfortable to wear as its not as flexible as the other armour types and from memory it appeared just as heavy as my mail (the amount of metal to make a scale hauberk is probably just as much needed to make a hauberk.). I've only worn a cuirasse once, that was a metal one. Whilst it was reasonably comfortable to wear, bending in it was a problem, I could not bend forward, only to the side and even then that was fairly difficult to do. I should imagine this would apply to a hardened leather cuirasse.

    It is more than possible that all of these armour types were in use by Late Roman infantry.

  16. #136
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    I've worn Segmentata and It's surprisingly Flexible, but still difficult to bend etc. in. It's comfortorable if you have one that's properly fitted made.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
    Well then Attila just got delicious.
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  17. #137

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post
    Interesting question. I am 6' 5" tall, my hauberk sleaves hang to the elbow and the length goes down to my knees. Its made of steel rings with a diameter of about 10mm, so quite small. It is heavy, over 50Lbs in weight.
    Well actually 10 mm is quite a large ring size, historical hamata rings don't seem to have exceeded 8 mm.

    And this would be double maile? But at 22 kg the weight is very significant.

    I should imagine this would apply to a hardened leather cuirasse.
    Well what evidence there is suggests the cuirass was quite pliable, going by this 2nd century statue showing the classic lorica musculata.
    Last edited by wulfgar610; July 12, 2011 at 09:44 AM.

  18. #138
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    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by Roma_Victrix
    Well then Attila just got delicious.
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  19. #139

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfgar610 View Post
    Well actually 10 mm is quite a large ring size, historical hamata rings don't seem to have exceeded 8 mm.

    And this would be double maile? But at 22 kg the weight is very significant.

    Well what evidence there is suggests the cuirass was quite pliable, going by this 2nd century statue showing the classic lorica musculata.
    I measured the ring size when I got home tonight, rings are on average 7-9mm, so quite a historical size (my hauberk was made in Northwest India where tribesmen still make and wear them even to this day!).

    I have seen that photograph before, and muscule cuirassesses both flexible and rigid have been discussed on RAT-

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

    http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat.htm...d=17&id=283027

  20. #140

    Default Re: Usage of Armor in the late roman army

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentinian Victor View Post

    I have seen that photograph before, and muscule cuirassesses both flexible and rigid have been discussed on RAT-
    I suspect the reason they have such fits over lorica musculata is 1500 years of christian training that the body is evil. For us the Greeco-Romans who worshiped the human form are culture shock.

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