Thursday, January 7, 2010

Arms make the man

A brief description of the common classes of warrior and their arms and equipment.

The ruler of the battlefield in the Classical Age was the Hoplite in full panoply. These men were armoured nearly head to foot, a linen arming coat covered by a back and breast plate, vambraces, greaves, an armoured skirt and an open face helm. In addition they bore the mighty hoplon shield from which they took their name. They were armed with two throwing javelins, a long thrusting spear, a short sword and a dagger.

Peltasts were medium weight infantry fighting in looser order than teh dense phalanx of hoplites. They carried a half-moon shaped shield, often with a leather drape to protect the legs. Greaves and vambraces might be worn, as could helmets or skull caps. Most wore only a linen arming doublet rather than a breast plate. They were armed with javelins and short swords.

Psiloi were light skirmishers. Often they were unarmoured, sometimes even naked. They fought with bow and arrow, javelin, rocks, or other light missile weapons.

The knights of the day were the chariot warriors who wore full suits of plate and bore large shields and long lances.

One common type of helmet was constructed of slices of boar's teeth. It could take the tusks of as amany as 32 boars to craft a single helmet.

Shields ranged from small bucklers used by psiloi, through the peltast's shield, the hoplon and the great figure-of-eight and tower shields that could shelter a man from crown to ankle.

Warriors often fought in light armour to prove their valour and avoid the heat and cumbersomeness of armour. Arms and armour of a fallen foe were highly sought after trophies.

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