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The Roman Empire Army and The Legions, Uniform & Armor Information, Images, Weaponry

Updated on December 5, 2015

The Roman Empire era has always been one of the most fascinating periods in history. The Roman legions were the best trained army the world had ever seen.

Nations were conquered and trampled underfoot as the shadow of Rome advanced throughout Europe, pillaging and murdering along the way.

The Roman Legionaries Uniform

Roman uniforms were not typically standardized. Although in general they all seemed similar, each legion bore slightly different attire depending on the province their uniform was manufactured in.

Many legions uniforms were made up of a variety of styles as long as the uniform was serviceable. As the legionaries had to purchase their own uniforms, many legionnaires wore uniforms handed down through the family from retired soldiers. Others soldiers bought used uniforms if they could not afford to buy the most up to date issue.

This made it possible for one attachment of legionaries to be wearing an assortment of uniforms spanning a considerable time throughout Romes history.

The Coolus Helmet
The Coolus Helmet
The Montefortino Helmet
The Montefortino Helmet
The Imperial Helmet
The Imperial Helmet

The Roman Helmets

Galea - The distinctive legionaries helmet. As industrialization standards had not been in effect even in the Roman period, many helmets differed within the same legion. Different styles included the Coolus helmet, which was very basic and plain and is considered to be of Celtic origin.

Made of brass, this inexpensive and non-ceremonial helmet was spun on a lathe rather than hand beaten. Not the tradition form of helmet seen in many recent movies depicting the Roman Empire. Sometimes worn with riveted on cheek plates of armor and simple crests soldered onto the front.

The Roman Montefortino helmet superseded the Coolus helmet. Although this helmet was based and very similar to the Coolus helmet, there were several distinct differences.

The Montefortino design allowed neck and cheek guards to be attached to allow sword blows to glance off, rather than slicing the legionaries skin. The guards were usually made of perishable materials such as leather and were tied onto the helmet.

This was a version mass produced for the poorer legionaries serving under the banner of Rome. It is also alleged that the knob on the top was adopted by the Germans for their helmets prior to WWII.

The Imperial helmet was one of the final styles of helmets produced under the Roman Empire Symbol. This is the style of helmet which is depicted in many modern movies about the Roman Empire.

.Used in battle as well as for ceremonial occasions, the Imperial helmet was spectacular in several ways and was used between 125 AD and 300 AD.

Although there were many different styles of the Imperial helmet, the more embossed and decorative styles were more favored.

Many had embossed eye brows and metallic ear and neck pieces. Many historians believe that this was the chosen headgear of Centurions rather than the common soldier.

Roman Armour /Armor

Roman armor, called Lorica, were separate pieces which intertwined and complimented with each other to help create as much protection as possible for the wearer.

Lorica hamata, chain mail armour, was widely used in the 4th century by most of the legionaries and was made of iron or bronze.

Designed to be strong and flexible, the individual rings were 7 mm in diameter with holes of 5 mm, and approximately 30,000 were used in each hamata.

Preferred by Centurions because of the low maintenance required, the hamata could last for several decades before wearing out.

Lorica Squamata - Scale armour

Made of iron or bronze, the scale armour was used in very much the same was as hamata. Mid length in size and designed to be versatile, strong and flexible.

Each piece was laced together in rows then sewn onto a material backing so as not to rub against the skin. The average thickness of each scale was approximately 0.5 mm thick, and the sizes spread from between 6.5 mm wide and 9.5 mm tall, to 5cm wide and 8 cm tall.

The combined use of hamata and squamate armour made the centurion or legionnaire better protected than nearly all of their enemies they encountered during their 25 years service.

Lorica Segmentata

This type of body armour are broad strips of metal, shaped into arches, and especially for the shoulder and abdomen areas.

These strips of iron and steel were strapped together with lace or leather then attached to leather straps. The metal used was soft iron on the inside and occasionally harder steel on the external side to help deflect sword blows.

The stomach and back segmentata armour was fastened up at the back and the front. This made it difficult for legionaries to dress themselves for battle, but rather relied on others to help them get into their armour.

The whole segmentata armour could be folded and divided separately into four pieces, making it easy to store and carry.

Later versions, around 80 AD, became easier to put on and the shoulder and breast plates became one piece instead of several segments.

Lorica Manica - Arm Armour

The arm armour was usually worn on one arm, which would be the limb bearing the sword. Made again of bronze or iron, this armour was made similarly to the segmentata armour.

These overlapping strips of arched or convex metal were fasted with leather or lace onto larger leather straps. Only the upper part of the limb would have this type of armour, leaving the back of the arm exposed to the elements.

The design ensured that any glancing sword blows would be directed to the internal elbow area where there would be extra armament.

Dig Up Your Own Piece Of History

The Tunic

The Roman tunic was a very unique piece of clothing. Worn by virtually every person throughout Rome, including slaves, women and soldiers, the tunic was the most common accessory.

Legionaries traditional tunics were red and worn to knee length. Soldiers with more standing than the lower ranks would wear them down to their ankles, unless while horse riding, then they were also knee length.

As tunics were possibly the fashion and wealth statement of the fashion industry during the Roman period, many wealthier legionaries and centurions would have them embroided with varying lines or patterns.


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