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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 10:52 am    Post subject: Germanic tribes military kit         Reply with quote

Hi guys,

I'm hoping you can help me fill in a literal blind spot in my mental map of European military history.

I'm looking for images of Germanic military kit from the time of Julius Caesar (or even going back to the Teutones and Cimbri if they were really Germanic and not Celts) through the Migration era and the rise of the Franks.

I can find tons of great, really nuanced and in-depth stuff about the Celts (which I love), but strangely little seems to exist about these Germanic barbarians who harried the Western Roman Empire for centuries and contributed so much to it's gradual collapse.

There are a lot of tantalizing hints from ancient sources, such as Germanicus famous speech to his troops about the Germans lack of iron weapons and their use of stone-tipped spears and clubs (which conjures up an image of something like a primitive baseball bat but I wonder if they might have been something more like the axe-like and sword-like hardwood weapons of the Americas and Pacific Islands)

I want to know what kind of kit the Burgundians and Goths had when they were fighting with the Huns. What the Saxons looked like when they were fighting for control of the British Isles with the Romano-Celts. I'm interested in seeing visually how the Franks progressed from the barefoot tribesmen armed with their Framaea, Francisca, and pilum-like Angon to the armored swordsmen (I gather) who were fighting with Charles Martel at Tours.

I want to see some kind of image of these people with their Suebian knots and bristling moustaches. I want to see the stripes and checkers on their clothing. I want to see the beautifully painted shields.

But other than some good late Migration era weapons (I love the Templ stuf especially) I can't seem to find anything online, the couple of re-enactor groups I've found don't seem to be past the 'wear cloaks and drink mead' stage yet, and there aren't even any good paintings. Other than some of the Osprey Military book illustrations (which I guess are technically accurate but lack the vitality and personality that their Celtic stuff has) there don't even seem to be any good drawings or paintings around.

Can anyone help with this?

J

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have moved this topic from the Historic Arms Talk forum. That forum is described as, "Discussions of reproduction and authentic historical arms and armour from various cultures and time periods". Please note that your topic is about what you call a "military kit". Your topic has a scope covering the dress and equipment of a specific type of people. You're not specifically talking about historical arms and armour.

Please review the descriptions of the forums before posting. Thank you.

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This might not be what you're looking for in terms of era, but they do have a lot of photos of various things that might be helpful.

http://www.ulfhednar.org/
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Search for images from the triumphal columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius.
-Sean

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Where on earth did you hear of Charles Martel's men at tours being armored swordsmen, BTW? I've always been under the impression that the Frankish heribannus at that time demanded spears or bows rather than swords from the bulk of the force.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh. BTW, go check the DBA Online site:

http://www.dbaol.com

It's a wargaming site, and you can find some interesting interpretations of Germanic dress and equipment in the "Explore Armies" section ( http://www.dbaol.com/armies.htm ). Not everyone on the site agree about the accuracy of those interpretations, though.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 12:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Search for images from the triumphal columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius.


I've seen a lot from Trajan's column but thats Dacians right? A unique cultural mix and probably a bit different from most Germanic tribes I would think.

J

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
I have moved this topic from the Historic Arms Talk forum. That forum is described as, "Discussions of reproduction and authentic historical arms and armour from various cultures and time periods". Please note that your topic is about what you call a "military kit". Your topic has a scope covering the dress and equipment of a specific type of people. You're not specifically talking about historical arms and armour.

Please review the descriptions of the forums before posting. Thank you.


Well, when I say kit I'm 90% talking about armor, shields, helmets and weapons of all types. I mean this was an era, and a people, which (I assume) didn't have a lot of canteens, bedrolls, radios, maps, binoculars, gas masks etc. etc. that a modern soldier would have. I know the Romans did carry a lot of stuff with them but I was under the impression that the barbarians, particularly the earlier Germanic barbarians, travelled pretty light.

Anyway what I'm interested in are the hard bits and the pointy bits, though I would like to see it all together.

Tunics and trousers are just lagniappe Wink

J

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
This might not be what you're looking for in terms of era, but they do have a lot of photos of various things that might be helpful.

http://www.ulfhednar.org/


Thanks Patrick thats a pretty cool site and definately in the ball park of what I'm looking for, albiet somewhat on the later end of the period..

J

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 12:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Where on earth did you hear of Charles Martel's men at tours being armored swordsmen, BTW? I've always been under the impression that the Frankish heribannus at that time demanded spears or bows rather than swords from the bulk of the force.


I was just reading the Wikipedia page on Martel and there was this quote from an Arab Chronicle:

"And in the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords they hewed down the Arabs. Drawn up in a band around their chief, the people of the Austrasians carried all before them. Their tireless hands drove their swords down to the breasts of the foe"

I don't know if thats contemporary or written much afterword.

J

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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeanry!

Ask around here. www.romanarmy.com/rat There is a whole forum on the allies and enemys of rome there...

Good fun bunch of guys too!

Come over to the imperial side my frien!

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F. Carl Holz




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In one of the history books I have (unfortunately they are all packed away right now as I'm moving) it is said that the germanic tribes were actually a subjugated people, under the celts, as opposed to the migratory newcomers that they are often held to be. If this is true than it would be easy to assume that when the germans initially appear as a force of their own their kit would be effectively the same as the celts of the same time.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 3:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It probably will not make much difference to a "Gaulish warrior" kit, but "Germanic Tribes" is a term with very broad (Scandinavian down through Austria) geographical application! If you can find an expert (I am not), you might get some specific variations to certain tribes. If you really want a tribe with lasting presence in modern German territory, you might research Chatti (Hesse), Tencteri, Ubii (Usipetes, Usipians) and some of those considered to have integrated into Frankish settlement early on. The Chatti were still mentioned as late as 8th century by Archbishop Boniface.

If you are trying to be consistent with 100 B.C. through 100 A.D. characterizations, many had little besides an oval shield, spear and very short sword. There is a sword depicted in the hands of a Gaul warrior in one stone carving (believe it is near Cologne) that looks like a typical La Tiene style. He appears otherwise nearly naked. Helms were considered to be possessed only occasionally among chiefs. Their spear was noted as unusual in that it was heavier than the Romans (compared with their own pilum) having squared sides and a small iron head.

On the other hand, many tribes that cooperated with the Romans integrated into Roman forces. You could speculate that these would look like Roman light cavalry or basically equipped Roman infantry.

Hope this helps.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 5:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I was just reading the Wikipedia page on Martel and there was this quote from an Arab Chronicle:

"And in the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords they hewed down the Arabs. Drawn up in a band around their chief, the people of the Austrasians carried all before them. Their tireless hands drove their swords down to the breasts of the foe"

I don't know if thats contemporary or written much afterword.


It's probably contemporary, but I wouldn't read it to mean that all the Franks had swords. From the context of the quote, it probably refers only to the bodyguards of the "chief"--although we can't be sure of even this interpretation since I haven't read the rest of the account.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
It probably will not make much difference to a "Gaulish warrior" kit, but "Germanic Tribes" is a term with very broad (Scandinavian down through Austria) geographical application! If you can find an expert (I am not), you might get some specific variations to certain tribes. If you really want a tribe with lasting presence in modern German territory, you might research Chatti (Hesse), Tencteri, Ubii (Usipetes, Usipians) and some of those considered to have integrated into Frankish settlement early on. The Chatti were still mentioned as late as 8th century by Archbishop Boniface.

If you are trying to be consistent with 100 B.C. through 100 A.D. characterizations, many had little besides an oval shield, spear and very short sword. There is a sword depicted in the hands of a Gaul warrior in one stone carving (believe it is near Cologne) that looks like a typical La Tiene style. He appears otherwise nearly naked. Helms were considered to be possessed only occasionally among chiefs. Their spear was noted as unusual in that it was heavier than the Romans (compared with their own pilum) having squared sides and a small iron head.

On the other hand, many tribes that cooperated with the Romans integrated into Roman forces. You could speculate that these would look like Roman light cavalry or basically equipped Roman infantry.

Hope this helps.


Hi Jared,

Yeah I'm familliar with the different Germanic tribes, though I would slightly disagree with you in grouping the Scandinavians in with them, certainly at one point they shared some kind of common ancestry but they seem to have diverged in both material culture and social structure by the Viking era. In fact they seem to have more in common with the Celts in many aspects (the role of women say, or those knotwork patterns...Happy

But anyway thats a seperate issue.

Also, the timeline I'm looking at is more from 100 BC to say, 732 AD.

I'm familiar with all the commentary from the primary sources, Tacitus et al., and of course I've seen a plethora of Celtic and Roman materiel both primary sources like statues and carvings to modern reenactors.

What I'm interested in are modern reconstructions of the material culture of the German tribes specifically, sure they were influenced by the Romans and the Celts but they obviously had thier own traditions and their own adaptations of Celtic and Roman weapons and armor. Neither the Celts nor the Romans wore 'suebian knots' in their hair. Neither relied heavily on thrown axes that I know of, (espeically the specific adaptation of the Fransisca) and the Germanic tribes seem to have adapted the Roman pilum from a javelin into a multi purpose weapon used for thrusting as well, which may have eventually evolved into the ahelspiess. Those are just two examples. The infantry / cavalry combined unit described by Tacitus seems to be another unique Germanic invention.

J

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Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Fri 09 Feb, 2007 7:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 6:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I was just reading the Wikipedia page on Martel and there was this quote from an Arab Chronicle:

"And in the shock of the battle the men of the North seemed like a sea that cannot be moved. Firmly they stood, one close to another, forming as it were a bulwark of ice; and with great blows of their swords they hewed down the Arabs. Drawn up in a band around their chief, the people of the Austrasians carried all before them. Their tireless hands drove their swords down to the breasts of the foe"

I don't know if thats contemporary or written much afterword.


It's probably contemporary, but I wouldn't read it to mean that all the Franks had swords. From the context of the quote, it probably refers only to the bodyguards of the "chief"--although we can't be sure of even this interpretation since I haven't read the rest of the account.


Yeah I couldn't find an attribution for that quote, I agree it's hard to draw too many conclusions (thats why I was careful to qualify my original statement about swordsmen)... the fact is I don't know really what is up with these folks, how they were armed or equipped.

On a happier note though the link Patrick posted to that great Polish / German "ulfhednar" group, I found a link from them to another amazing reenactor group in France which do 'Merovingian barbarians'.

http://www.museedestempsbarbares.fr/index.html

They have some interesting kit including great armor

http://www.museedestempsbarbares.fr/fr/fetes-...and/14.jpg

http://www.museedestempsbarbares.fr/fr/fetes-...and/17.jpg

http://www.museedestempsbarbares.fr/fr/fetes-...and/10.jpg


I don't know if these folks weapons and clothing are historically accurate but they look great


I'm no expert but those too look the part to me

... in fact they are definately one of the most aesthetically pleasing group of reenactors I've ever seen
http://www.museedestempsbarbares.fr/fr/fetes-...and/34.jpg

http://www.museedestempsbarbares.fr/fr/fetes-...and/38.jpg

This guy looks pretty much exactly what I thought a Germanic warrior would look like

http://www.museedestempsbarbares.fr/fr/fetes-...and/87.jpg

They also built an entire historically based village, they made an iron age kiln from the ground up, they do weaving, dying, bread baking, blacksmithing, pottery and leatherwork. It's a great site.

J

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Stephen Scott




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 8:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Jared Smith wrote:
It probably will not make much difference to a "Gaulish warrior" kit, but "Germanic Tribes" is a term with very broad (Scandinavian down through Austria) geographical application! If you can find an expert (I am not), you might get some specific variations to certain tribes. If you really want a tribe with lasting presence in modern German territory, you might research Chatti (Hesse), Tencteri, Ubii (Usipetes, Usipians) and some of those considered to have integrated into Frankish settlement early on. The Chatti were still mentioned as late as 8th century by Archbishop Boniface.

If you are trying to be consistent with 100 B.C. through 100 A.D. characterizations, many had little besides an oval shield, spear and very short sword. There is a sword depicted in the hands of a Gaul warrior in one stone carving (believe it is near Cologne) that looks like a typical La Tiene style. He appears otherwise nearly naked. Helms were considered to be possessed only occasionally among chiefs. Their spear was noted as unusual in that it was heavier than the Romans (compared with their own pilum) having squared sides and a small iron head.

On the other hand, many tribes that cooperated with the Romans integrated into Roman forces. You could speculate that these would look like Roman light cavalry or basically equipped Roman infantry.

Hope this helps.


Hi Jared,

Yeah I'm familliar with the different Germanic tribes, though I would slightly disagree with you in grouping the Scandinavians in with them, certainly at one point they shared some kind of common ancestry but they seem to have diverged in both material culture and social structure by the Viking era. In fact they seem to have more in common with the Celts in many aspects (the role of women say, or those knotwork patterns...Happy


J


According to my art history books, the knotwork patterns probably came from the Scythians. The art form catalogues rip off and call "Celtic", is actually referred to as Hiberno-Saxon when applied to certain manuscripts found at Lindisfarne, Duncow, Iona, etc. In "the Archaeology of Weapons", Oakshott says this style of artwork was common to all of the Germanic tribes. I would not consider the Scandinavians drastically different from the Germans, as at least in Northumbria, the two peoples mixed rather easily. The only major difference I can honestly see is that the Franks, Angles, and other Germanic peoples lost their Pagan faith before the Scandinavians did.

A war without fire is like a sausage without mustard - Henry V
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Er...there are a few primary source statements that the Anglo-Saxons could understand the Viking's speech after a fashion without the use of translators. So they couldn't have been all that different.

That group is great, I think, for being honest with headgears. So many reenactment /living-history groups seem to do everything right except that they've got way too many uncovered heads.

Eh. BTW, was the pilum ever a strictly throwing weapon? From what I hear they were perfectly usable as spears in hand-to-hand fighting as well, but I'm not sure about that.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
[quote=
Hi Jared,

Yeah I'm familliar with the different Germanic tribes, though I would slightly disagree with you in grouping the Scandinavians in with them, certainly at one point they shared some kind of common ancestry but they seem to have diverged in both material culture and social structure by the Viking era. In fact they seem to have more in common with the Celts in many aspects (the role of women say, or those knotwork patterns...Happy

But anyway thats a seperate issue.

Also, the timeline I'm looking at is more from 100 BC to say, 732 AD.

J


Jean, it sounds like we have some common consensus and interests here. I hate broadly grouping 1/3 of Western Europe as having descended from Scandinavia. I have nothing against it, but suspect that there were plenty of natives over a broad region. I was sort of objecting to the whole "Germanic Tribes" thing as this seems to get applied to an excessively broad territory and period.

I was looking for information on the "Framea" which was supposedly a type of javelin or spear according to some period sources. So far, I have not found a credible explanation from a reputable source. I too am interested in how some of these groups evolved over the period up to about 8th century. In particular, I wanted to know if any of the elite cavalry (Tencteri etc.) continued their tradition as specialists such that descendants skills were still prevalent in the era of Charles Martel. It is just a theory, but I figured one might be able to correlate regions of major cavalry recruitment with homelands of some of these descendants in the Carolingian era when cavalry use escalated.

Feedback on poor assumptions, possible approaches for searching the information, or you added knowledge is greately appreciated.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Carl Goff




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 7:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I recall that Robert Graves, in the prelude to I, Claudius, commented that German spears (at least in the Augustan period) could have been similar to the assegais developed hundreds of years later in Africa.

As Claudius is fiction (extremely well-researched, though), you can take it with a grain of salt. Since Graves did do extensive translations of historical work, though, I'd be inclined to believe his suggestion.

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