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Old October 15th, 2010, 03:29 AM   #1

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First Century Germanic Warriors


Hi, all.


I'm trying to get a better picture of what Arminius' men would have looked like during Teutoburg, 09 AD. Just random Germanic warriors . . . I know many wore cloaks, and that spears were the weapon of choice. I also know Germans had adopted the sword. But what about facial hair? Long? Short? Any side braids? I know about the Suebian knot. Did the men paint themselves with war paint like the Celts of Boudicca's day?


What about the Chatti and the Cherusci? Did they wear only trousers or trousers and tunics? It is safe to design a shield based on historical evidence and assume such a design would have been used? Thanks for any help!


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Old October 23rd, 2010, 07:20 AM   #2

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Re: First Century Germanic Warriors


the Germans of Arminius would have looked not much different then the romans they faced since most of them were just recently serving roman soldiers
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 08:20 AM   #3

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Re: First Century Germanic Warriors


typical Germanic warrior in that era probably looks like this
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Old October 24th, 2010, 09:33 AM   #4
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Re: First Century Germanic Warriors


Of course it's just an artistic rendering, but trying to google 'Battle of the Teutoburg Forest' or 'Varusschlacht' I found a black-and-white picture of germans rushing Varus' column. It was fairly convincing.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 01:36 PM   #5

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Re: First Century Germanic Warriors


Hi, everyone. Thanks for the responses.


Plutoboyz, thanks very much for the images. They were really helpful! And, Hasek, I never thought about that . . . some of the Cherusci, recently having served as Roman auxiliaries, might have retained some Roman gear. Good point.


On a totally different tangent, does anyone know the relation between the Cherusci and the Saxons? I've heard that as soon as the Cherusci are no longer mentioned in ancient writings, the Saxons show up. Would anyone with documented Saxon blood likely have ancestry among the Cherusci?


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Old October 24th, 2010, 02:55 PM   #6

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Re: First Century Germanic Warriors


oh... another picture I found this morning.
Click the image to open in full size.
and I once read somewhere, the Germanic warrior used to paint their body with black dye.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 07:39 PM   #7

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Re: First Century Germanic Warriors


Grooming - Hair was worn long and commonly worn in a ponytail or "Suebian Knot" depending on the tribe (I think the Cherusci would have used it). Long beards were worn by older warriors. It was said that Germans only cut their hair or shaved immediately after killing an enemy.

War Paint - Warriors of the Harii painted themselves black to intimidate the foe or to give them camoflague when fighting at night. There is no evidence for woad-type paint being used by Germanic peoples.

Clothing - Young and lower-class warriors may have fought naked or nearly so, perhaps only wearing a cloak. Tight-fitting trousers (called bracae by the Romans) were worn, though they were apparently not tartan-patterned like Celtic trousers. Cloaks were carried by warriors of all classes; long-sleeved tunics were also worn by some, though others went bare-chested.

Helmets - Chances are, the only helmets to be seen in Arminius' army were Roman helmets carried by ex-auxiliaries. They may have been some Celtic or Dacian helmets here and there, family heirlooms or obtained through trading. Very nearly all the warriors of the Cherusci were probably bare-headed.

Body armor - Germans had been wearing Celtic chainmail before the wars with Roman in the late 1st Century BC, but the usage of chainmail definitely increased around Arminius' time. Previously body armor had only been worn by noble warriors, but now common warriors who had seen service in the auxiliary cohorts could also wear it. Many - though I wouldn't go as far as saying most - of the Cherusci in Arminius' army may have worn chainmail tunics. Remember that he had warriors from other tribes (Marsi, etc.) in his warband, and to our knowledge they had not contributed any warriors to the auxilia, and therefore would have been more lightly-equipped.

Spears - The spear used by the Cherusci was called a "framea"; according to Germanicus it was merely a sharpened stick, with no iron or bronze for a head. The framea could be used as a javelin or as a thrusting spear; some tribes (e.g. the Suebi of Caesar's day) used it like a pike.

Swords - Swords were very rare in 1st Century Germania, and many of those that were used had been acquired from Romans or Gauls that didn't need them anymore. They were carried mostly by noble warriors, or (in the case of Arminius' army), men who had served in regular auxiliary cohorts (not irregular numeri warbands) in the Roman army.

Axes - The axe does not appear to have become a common weapon in the Germanic arsenal until the second half of the 2nd Century AD, but some warriors probably still carried them as a sidearm.

Bows - Germanic tribesmen used a bow similar to the "longbow" of later centuries to hunt; specialized skirmishers also used them in war. Contrary to popular opinion, both Celtic and Germanic tribes were capable of fielding many competent archers, probably more than their Roman enemies.

Horses - Julius Caesar claimed that the horses used by the Germans were small, ugly, and of very poor quality. German cavalrymen simply threw a blanket or cloak over the horse to use as a saddle, and controlled it with a single reign. By the time of Arminius, horses and saddles of Romano-Celtic origin may have been available to well-off tribesmen.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 04:45 AM   #8

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Re: First Century Germanic Warriors


Thanks for the info, Salah ad-Din. Lots of good stuff there for me to use.


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