Roman Armor – A Mixed Bag

When you see someone dressed to the nines in a full Roman armor ensemble, you have to admit there’s a certain appeal. Their appearance is powerful and confident, not to mention that it just looks really cool! If this attire inspires you to seek out a Roman costume of your own, or if you are simply interested in learning about what exactly these Romans wore, it’s your lucky day to be enlightened.

For starters, it should be stated that Roman armor was not put on over bare skin, as this would have been quite uncomfortable.   Roman soldiers began with a linen undergarment followed by a knee-high wool tunic on top. Scarfs around the necks were also a part of the typical to protect the skin against metal armor. Trousers became part of their dress later, but initially they were viewed as effeminate and not allowed.

As for Roman armor its self, it was comprised of metal strips hinged and tied together in such a way that mobility was as fluid as possible. Interestingly enough, there was no standard composition for ancient Roman armor. Even factory manufactured armor varied in style from province to province. On the plus side, this gave Roman soldiers liberty to construct their own, wear armor passed down through a family line, wear discontinued styles, or buy it from other soldiers who had served their term.

There was a variety of styles, but the most popular ones are as follows. The loricahamata was a chainmail armor. The loricaplumata and loricasquamata were types of scale armor. The loricasegmentata was a type of segmented metal strips fastened to interior leather straps. The loricamanica were arm guards. In addition, greaves were worn to protect the legs. The metals used for these pieces included bronze, iron, brass, and various other types.

Roman Armor blog pictureThe head gear of the day, soldiers sported bronze helmets, but after some fatal encounters with swords, it was discovered that bronze just didn’t have the stamina needed to withstand enemies’ blows. So iron helmets became the standard.Over time, other materials were used for construction as well. Roman helmets were also symbols of status and rank with crests and medals on the front for distinguishing officers such as centurions.

A few of the most recognizable helmets of the day are as follows. The Coolus was a globe shaped helmet made of brass which featured raised panels for the cheeks and a riveted crest knob. The montifortino was also a widespread piece and was of a round shape with a protruding neck guard and side plates for cheek protection. Then there was the Imperial Helmet which resembled the Coolus. It was very instrumental in advancing Roman head gear.

The Roman armor ensemble also included various accessories to make things more convenient on the battlefront. One of the most common pieces was the baldric, which was worn over the shoulder and allowed soldiers to store swords or other weapons for quick and easy access. Another widespread accessory was the localus, which was a sachel that legionary soldiers kept with them for storage during marching. And last, but not least, was the balteus, which was your tyical belt. It was used by soldiers to tuck their clothes into and to store weapons.

As you can see, it is a bit challenging to nail down everything about Roman armor, as it was such a vast assortment of styles and construction. Nonetheless, no one can deny its lasting legacy and the fact that wearing it is still in fashion.

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