Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>21 Gallo-Roman eques
Subjecteques auxiliary cavalry trooper
Culture: Gallo-Roman
Setting: Julio-Claudian Principate, Roman Europe 27BC-197AD
Evolution390BC Celtic raider > 21 Gallo-Roman eques 

Context (Event Photos, Period Sources)

* Cowan 2011 p38
"In the final years of the Republic and throughout the Imperial era, cavalry was mostly recruited from subject and allied peoples.  These auxiliaries were readily assimilated into the Roman army and rewarded with citizenship on completion of service.  By the late 2nd century AD, cavalry battle groups were organised for particular campaigns and deployed in great outflanking manoeuvres to assail unsuspecting enemies in the rear.  The generals of Septimus Severus were particular exponents of this tactic, routing the armies of his imperial rivals at Issus and Lugdunum in AD 194 and 197."

* Grbasic & Vuksic 1993 p50
"After the end of the Civil War, the Roman state was consolidated and the army reorganized.  Auxiliary units (auxilia) became a regular part of the army.  In the first century AD, most Roman citizens served as heavy infantry in one of the 25 legions, while cavalry and other auxiliary units were made up of Germans, Gauls and Spaniards.  It was mainly for this reason that cavalry was considered an auxiliary force.  The cavarly units (alae) were named after provinces or towns where they were founded -- Ala Noricum, Ala Petriana or Ala Longinaria.  Each had its distinctive sign, shown on its standard and on the men's shields.  The main standard was carried by the vexillarius, while the standard of the turmae was carried by the signifers.  At parades, the imaginifer preceded the alae on foot, bearing their symbols, usually in the shape of some animal, and with numerous additional ornaments."


* Fields ill. Hook 2006 p12-13
"Roman helmets, which were influenced by Celtic styles, were made of iron or copper alloy (both bronze and brass are known).  The main features are the skull-shaped bowl, a large nape-guard at right angles to the head to deflect blows to the neck, and large cheek-guards to protect the sides of the face.
"The helmet was invariably left the face and ears exposed, since the soldier needed to see and hear to understand and follow battlefield commands.  Unlike infantry helmets, however, cavalry helmets covered the ears, the extra protection to the face clearly considered to be more important than some loss of hearing.  Also the nape-guard was very deep, reaching down to close to the shoulders, but it was not wide, since this would have made the rider likely to break his neck if he fell from his horse.  The cavalry helmet, therefore, protected equally well against blows to the side and the back of the head, vital in a cavalry mêlée when the two sides soon become intermingled." ...

* van der Veen 2012 p38
"It has long been thought that Roman masked cavalry helmets were merely for parades and tournaments and not for actual battle.  Modern research, however, seems to suggest otherwise."

* D'Amato & Sumner 2009 p190 f276
"The psychological terror of enemies facing such a vision make it unlikely that the helmet was merely decorated for games.  A distinction between a 'parade' helmet and a 'war' helmet was not conceivable in the ancient world: both could be used for war, with the most beautiful specimens used also for parades and games."

* Hyland 1993 p96
"Some of the masks with elegant facial contours must have enhanced the overall glamour of the individual trooper; others which present a decidedly ugly visage must have been designed to instill fear into an opponent.  No doubt if some of the spectators [of the hippika gymnasia] were visitors from client kingdoms, or members of embassies of foreign monarchs, they went away duly impressed by the Roman cavalry's expertise and obvious battle readiness."

* Cowan 2011 p35
"Recent research on Talmudic texts has revealed that Roman soldiers of the 2nd century AD wore the scalps of slaughtered Jews on their helmets.  This ... suggests why some Imperial cavalrymen wore odd-looking helmets covered in horse hair; it was presumably to emulate human hair."


* Wilcox ill. McBride 1985 p9
"Large numbers of ... torcs must have fallen into the hands of victorious Roman forces in their wars with the Gauls; perhaps more significant is the Romans' copying of this and other fashions from their deadly but impressive enemies."


* Dixon & Southern 1992 p48-49  [PLAGIARIZED: Fields ill. Hook 2006 p16]
"The cavalry used a long slashing sword called the spatha, which ranged in overall length from 65cm (26in) to 90cm (36in), and in width from 4cm (11/2in) to 8cm (3in). ...
"By the late second or early third century, the spatha was also being employed by the Roman infantry, which had previously used the gladius, a short stabbing sword.  From this period onwards, therefore, it is difficult to ascertain whether a long sword belongs to an infantryman or a cavalryman, unless it is found with distinguishing associated artifacts. ...
"The spatha was suspended from a waist belt or a baldric.  During the first century AD the sword was worn on the right side of the body, as numerous cavalry tombstones of the period show.  From the second century onwards, however, the spatha started to be worn on the left side, although not exclusively so." 

* Fields ill. Hook 2006 p16
"Cavalry used a spatha (a long, narrow, double-edged broadsword) [CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION: Isn't "narrow broadsword" oxymoronic?], with a blade length from 64.5 - 91.5cm (25-36in) and width from 4-6cm (11/2 - 21/2in).  The middle section of the blade was virtually parallel-edged, but tapered into a rounded point.  It was intended primarily as a slashing weapon for use on horseback, though the point could also be used."

* Hyland 1993 p80
"Spatha -- the long cavalry sword, developed from the Celtic sword and intended primarily as a slashing weapon for use on horseback, though the point could also be used.  It had a blade length of approximately 34 in, and a grip length of approximately 7 in.  A shorter cavalry sword, also for use as a slashing weapon, had a blade length of approximately 24 in and a grip length of approximately 6 1/2 in."

* Grbasic & Vuksic 1993 p50
"Mounted troops carried either a short Roman sword (gladius), or a longer Celtic one (spatha), hung on the right side.  They were also armed with a light spear (lancea), suitable for throwing or thrusting."


* Dixon & Southern 1992 p


* Fields ill. Hook 2006 p14-15
"Cavalrymen carried clipeus (flat shields) [sic], either oval or hexagonal in shape.  To be light enough to be held continually in battle, shield-boards were usually constructed of double or triple thickness plywood made up of thin strips of birch or plane wood held together with glue.  The middle layer was laid at right angles to the front and back layers.  Covered both sides with linen and rawhide, they were edged with copper-alloy binding and had a central iron or copper-alloy boss (umbo) covering a horizontal handgrip and wide enough to clear the fist of the bearer."