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Roman Weaponry, Legionaries & Centurions Weapons, Swords, Daggers, Spears

Updated on April 17, 2018

Roman Weaponry, the Worlds Finest Weapons.

Roman weaponry was designed to kill, maim or torture. Mass produced by forges and small manufacturing establishments in captured provinces, the Roman weaponry helped make the Romans virtually invincible in a pitched battle

The blood-lust of the Roman Empire was insatiable.

The newly developed artillery allowed the Romans to conquer towns and cities at ease with minimal loss of life to their own troops. Balistas' and Onagers' (catapults) as well as the all impressive battering rams made rubble of many fortified castles and forts.

The awesome might and number of archers meant that the Romans could take many enemies lives without losing their own. Roman army commanders understood modern warfare, weaponry and how to use it to gain the best advantage over their foe.

Roman archery foot soldiers and specialist horse archer units were developed in the early Empire stages of Romes growth. Initially, Rome did not have their own arches and relied more on the legions strength to win battles.


The Roman Pila ( Javelin / Spear )

Each Roman soldier carried two Pilums which were the spears or javelins and along with their sword, provided most of a legionaries weaponry. This type of medieval weaponry was built in three parts which the soldiers had to put together.

It may of been this weapon above others, as to why Roman armies were the dominant force during this period.

The Phalanx was the most formidable weapon used for over two hundred years prior to Roman conquests. The Pilum helped provide gaps in the Phalanx bearers lines, allowing legionaries to infiltrate them and decimate entire armies.

The armour piercing iron shaft of the Pilum was relatively thin and consisted of a sharp barb tip, and an extra pyramid shape weight into which the main shaft was inserted. This added weight to the javelin and allowed it to penetrate straight through shields and into the body of the enemy soldiers.


The first wave of throwing spears, or pila, would be thrown towards the enemy at an effective distance of approximately 60 -70 feet. The second wave of pila would be thrown once the enemy were approximately 20 feet away. This would cause disarray amongst the enemy and allow the Roman soldiers to take the initiative of the broken ranks.

The wood used for the main shaft was extremely pliable and attached to the spear head with a small iron clip. All this allowed the spear to be thrown once only, and prevented enemy soldiers from collecting them and throwing them back at the Romans.


Roman Battle Video

The Roman Javelin would penetrate a soldiers shield. Once this happened it became virtually impossible for a person to use the shield to defend themselves. It was then discarded which left the person vulnerable to the onslaught of legionaries brandishing their gladius ( short sword )

The origins of the Pilum are allegedly from around 300 BC, as a result from the Samnite wars.

Free Link To: Roman Uniform, Armour & Helmets.




Hasta ( Thrusting Spear )

The thrusting spear was adopted by many countries as they were considered formidable military weapons. Used when attacking enemy lines or defending their own, the thrusting spear caused heavy casualties at the onset of many battles.

Soldiers would thrust this spear from behind their shields at opposing men, and withdraw them quickly. This was to enable many short thrusts in a short space of time. The casualties soon mounted up.

The 2 meter spear has a smooth pointed tip with no barb. This allowed the Roman soldier to easily pry it from their victim ready for the next thrust. The tip was usually made of iron and the spear body was crafted from ash wood.

If being charged at, lines of Roman soldiers would dig in the back of the spear into the ground behind them. This would give better bracing support for the individual legionnaire.

The severity of a combination of the thrusting spear and the throwing spear caused thousands of casualties amongst other armies before any Roman soldier got to draw their sword.



Gladius ( Short Sword )

Roman military weapons were usually adopted and improved upon from other civilizations. The short sword was adopted from Spanish origins.

Used as a close combat knife, the short sword, or Gladius, was perfect when two armies were in close combat. The use of long swords or spears was not very tactical, and the implementation of the gladius won many battles.

This was the Roman weapon that conquered land for the Roman Empire for over six centuries from 4 century BC to the 3rd century BC.

This weapon was worn on the right side of the body with the hilt just above waist height facing forward. This enabled the soldier to withdraw it from the scabbard with his right hand whilst holding a shield with his left.



Scutum ( Shield )

Although not necessarily a weapon the scutum was used for defensive as well as offensive actions. The shield could easily break bones in any part of the body as well as the neck.

It was made of thin sheets of wood. Each layer of wood was placed at right angles to the layer below, this gave extra pliability and strength.

The edges were bound with wrought iron or bronze. The outside was covered in tight leather and usually decorated with gilded bronze. Each shield bore the name of the owner and the cohort name in which he served.

The shield was hung by a strap over their shoulders when the soldiers were marching. Weighing in at approximately 10 kg, and only 5 - 6 mm thick the shape was curved to allow sword blows to glance off.

Height was approximately 42" with the width being 26". The center piece on the curved shield also provided a 'punching' source for when facing the enemy.

The original designs did not have metal edging which made them split in battle when hit by a metal sword or axe.

Other types of Roman shields included the round Parma and the Balteus


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