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A Roman Legionary's Armor and Weapons

Updated on July 29, 2011

Wepaons and Armor used by Roman Legionaries (History)

Along with strength and tactics, The Roman Legion required effective weapons and armor in order to be the powerful army it was. Generally, the legionary solder was equipped with the same amount of weapons, armor, and equipment, unless specialized. Each soldier bought their own equipment for war. The Legionary, like any other soldier, wore armor obviously to protect themselves from attacks. To attack, they needed weapons of course - each held about 4-5 weapons on them, for different conditions to get by. And along with that, they carried extra equipment for certain needs. Basic armor on a legionary was a helmet, torso armor, limb armor, shield, and clothing underneath.

Imperial Gallic Helmet
Imperial Gallic Helmet

Helmet

Most Used One!

The most protective helmet the Roman army used was the Imperial Gallic Helmet. It was typical for the roman legionary to use this helmet during the 1st century AD. It is made of iron and brass. It protected the head, neck, and cheeks. Replicas of the helmet is made with Steel instead of Iron.

Lorica Segmentata
Lorica Segmentata

Torso Armor

The two most common torso armor were the Lorica Segmentata, and the Lorica Hamata. The Lorica Segmentata was kit armor, made of 4 parts, made of iron, and leather to hold it together. It protected the stomach, chest, shoulders, and back. This armor was only used by Roman Legionaries at about from 50BC to 4th century AD. The Lorica Hamata, or chain mail armor, was used more than the kit armor, so this is the most common one. It was much lighter than the Lorica Segmentata, so one could move faster. One of this armor was made of several thousand bronze and iron rings linked together. This type of armor was used the longest time, from when the Lorica Segmentata was popular, to the fall of the Roman Empire.

Manica
Manica

Limb Armor

On Arms and Legs

The roman armor worn on the legionary's limbs were the Manicae and the Greaves. The Manica, meaning "sleeve" was an armguard. It was made of iron and bronze, with curved and overlapping metal segments, fastened to leather straps. It was usually worn on only one arm, for more flexibility on the other. It was first used only by gladiators, then soldiers realized it could help them, so they started to use it too. Records of its use go from 1st century AD to as late as around 400 CE. A greave was a piece of steel armor that protected the front of the leg. They were usually wore in pairs and protected the ankle to below the knee, or to the thigh. Greaves were always used by soldiers, all throughout the Roman Empire.

Scutum
Scutum

Shield

In combat, shields were very important. The most commonly used shield by the legionaries was the rectangular Scutum. It was large, rectangular, and semi-cylindrical. The body shield was made of wood, then covered in calf-skin, then reinforced with iron in the middle, and on the edges. The rectangular Scutum was used up until the Imperial times, where it was replaced by an oval Scutum. The Scutum helped the roman army greatly, as the soldiers would line up with their shields raised, covering their bodies and advancing through the enemy, together.

Caligae
Caligae

Clothing and Boots

Worn Under the Armor

All roman soldiers wore tunics and braccae under their armor. A tunic was a one-piece clothing made of wool, and the length extended to above the knees normally. While it was typical to wear just the tunic, sometimes soldiers wore Braccae, or trousers, especially in colder climates. Soldiers also wore a Focale, or scarf, on their necks to prevent chafing caused by contact with the armor. And sometimes, soldiers wore Sagum. It was a cloak made of wool. It was a garment of war, a symbol. It was usually dyed red. Caligae are Roman military boots, which look more like a sandals nowadays. But they had heavy soles. They were made of laced leather, and iron hobnails, for reinforcement, and to allow the caligae to be a weapon to inflict damage when kicking or stomping.

Gladius
Gladius

Roman Weapons - Swords

They carried several ones!

Each roman soldier equipped different weapons for certain uses. They carried about 5 weapons - sidearm, short sword, long sword, spear or javelin, and darts. Romans used a dagger, called a "Pugio" as a sidearm. It was about 10 inches long, and had a sort of leaf-shaped blade. It was used a stabbing weapon. Marcus Brutus stabbed Julius Caesar with one. The Legionaries used a short sword called the "Gladius". It was about 2 feet long. This was the only weapon gladiators were allowed to use during their fights, and it is also the weapon used the most by the Roman army. A Spatha is a long sword used by the Roman Army. While it was more common to use the Gladius for most of the time, Legions started to prefer used the Spatha in the 4th century and on. It was about 3-4 feet long.

Ancient Plumbatae, the real stuff!
Ancient Plumbatae, the real stuff!

Roman Weapons - Javelin and Darts

All roman soldiers at war carried a Pilum, or javelin. It was about 2 meters long, with a shank on the edge. It was used to stab, and mainly to be thrown at the enemy before charging, and to kill the enemies' horses and war elephants. It was very effective on the battlefield. Soldiers also carried throwing darts called Plumbatae. Each carried about 6 of them, and threw them far when the javelins were thrown. The darts were aimed for the people far from the enemy, farther than the javelins and spears.

Sketch of a Sarcina
Sketch of a Sarcina

Extra Equipment

They were required to carry more stuff!

Along with the weapons and armor on them, Legionaries had to carry extra equipment for everyday needs in their journey through war. They brought along with them a Sarcina, which is a military pack with items suspended from a carrying pole. A sarcina included a leather satchel, a cloak bag, waterskin, food, cooking equipment, and entrenching tools.

Their Armor and Wepaons Helped a lot!

Roman Legion (reenactment)
Roman Legion (reenactment)

Along with the weapons and armor on them, Legionaries had to carry extra equipment for everyday needs in their journey through war. They brought along with them a Sarcina, which is a military pack with items suspended from a carrying pole. A sarcina included a leather satchel, a cloak bag, waterskin, food, cooking equipment, and entrenching tools.

Want Replicas? - Buy them on Amazon!

There are many cool replicas on Amazon, go purchase some and you can look like real life, full-equipped Roman Legionary!

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Roman Reenactments - redoing the good ol ancient days..

These videos are entertaining and have lots of info!

Leave a Comment! - Tell us what you think of all this.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      This is all wrong. Seriously. You people need to not believe everything you see on random websites

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 6 years ago from Idaho

      You have a wide variety on lenses, interesting stuff!

    • dogface lm profile image

      dogface lm 6 years ago

      Interesting!