Roman Legionary Knight - 02 by Andrea Mazzocchetti
Legionary cavalry (composed of knights, or equestrian in Latin) was an integral and complementary part of some of the Roman legion's functions. The royal era was established by Romulus himself. It was abolished in two circumstances: at the time of the Marian reform of the Roman army, restored in the Augustan period, dissolved again at the time of Trajan and, finally, strengthened at the time of Gallienus.
The armament of the knights consisted of a helmet, a round shield (clipeus) in bronze, as well as a light spear and a sword.
According to Polybius, the knights in ancient times did not have a shell, but a simple trabea, so it was easy and comfortable to get on and off the horse, but in the clashes ran great risks since they fought practically naked.
Most of the knights carried a spear (hasta) and a small round shield (parma equestris). Polybius adds that, in ancient times:
"Even the lances were of no use, mainly for two reasons: first of all, being thin and fragile, they were not able to reach the target in the least and before the tip tried to stick to something, it often broke because of the vibration generated by the movement of the horse; [secondly], because they were built without the lower ferrule, they could hit the edge only the first time, then they broke and were no longer usable. »
(Polybius, VI, 25.5-6.)
Concerning the shield, Polibio writes:
"They wore a shield of oxen [...], but it was not possible to use them against enemy attacks, because it was not sufficiently consistent, and when the outer skin that covered it failed, in the event of rain it became drenched and became totally useless. »
(Polybius, VI, 25.7.)
This is the reason why, even for the Greek historian, this kind of armor gave them a bad service, and was later replaced (at least from the Punic Wars) with that of the Greek type
April 30th, 2018
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