Saturday, 17 April 2010

Arms & Armour - The Fall of Rome

Later Roman infantry abandoned armour. By around ad350 the Roman legions preferred to fight by moving quickly around the battlefield instead of forming up in dense formations. They therefore stopped wearing heavy armour and instead relied upon large shields and metal helmets for protection.

Later Roman armies included mercenary archers. Roman commanders found that archers were useful for attacking barbarian tribesmen, but few Romans were skilled at archery. The Romans therefore hired men from other countries to fight as archers in the Roman army.

Roman shields were brightly coloured. Each unit in the Roman army had its own special design of shield. Some were decorated with pictures of eagles, scorpions or dolphins, while others had lightning bolts or spirals. Red, black and yellow were favourite colours.

The eagle was a sacred standard. Each Roman legion had an eagle standard, the aquila, which consisted of a bronze eagle covered in gold leaf and mounted on top of a pole about 3 metre long. The aquila was considered to be sacred to the gods and it was a great humiliation if it were to be captured by the enemy.

Later Roman cavalry had enormous shields. One type of later Roman mounted soldier was the scutari. These men wore no armour, but carried enormous shields with which they were expected to defend themselves and their horses. They would gallop up to the enemy army, throw javelins and then ride off before the enemy could strike back.

I Don’t Believe It!
The first king of Rome and the last emperor both had the same name. Rome was founded in 753bc by Romulus. The last Emperor who abdicated in ad476 was also called Romulus.

This is an extract from 100 Things You Should Know About Arms and Armour by Rupert Matthews

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