Why did the Celts fight naked?

Why did the Celts fight naked?

  • To show off tatoos/war paint or scars

    Votes: 29 28.2%
  • To unnerve or disrespect the enemy

    Votes: 58 56.3%
  • As part of an ancient religious ritual

    Votes: 22 21.4%
  • To give a sense of identity to the warriors

    Votes: 12 11.7%
  • To preven from getting infected from their clothing in the event of an injury

    Votes: 11 10.7%
  • Increased mobility

    Votes: 25 24.3%
  • Other (explain)

    Votes: 24 23.3%

  • Total voters
    103

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
Pre-Christian Celtic warriors are mentioned as going into battle naked on a number of occasions. The Celts that invaded Italy in the 4th Century BC fought naked, as did the Gaesati mercenary band that the Boii and Insubres called upon late in the 3rd Century. The consul Manlius Volso told his men that the Galatian tribes still fought naked in the 2nd Century, and as late as the 5th Century AD the Picts are still alleged to have fought naked.

So why do you think Celts sometimes fought naked? I have listed a number of explanations researchers have put forward. Check all that you feel apply...
 
Dec 2009
19,933
Pre-Christian Celtic warriors are mentioned as going into battle naked on a number of occasions. The Celts that invaded Italy in the 4th Century BC fought naked, as did the Gaesati mercenary band that the Boii and Insubres called upon late in the 3rd Century. The consul Manlius Volso told his men that the Galatian tribes still fought naked in the 2nd Century, and as late as the 5th Century AD the Picts are still alleged to have fought naked.

So why do you think Celts sometimes fought naked? Check all that you feel apply...
Because they had not enough armors for their armies.

I understand that as Roman auxiliaries under the Empire, they tended to fight with some better protection.
 

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
To completely rattle their foes. Basically, your skills as a warrior is so insignificant, we don't need armour.:D
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
Because they had not enough armors for their armies.
At the Battle of Telamon (225 BC), the Boii and the Insubres - who formed the bulk of the Gaulish rank-and-file - charged into battle wearing their clothing, and for the upper-class warriors their armor. The Gaesati mercenary band, however, who formed the Gaulish vanguard, are specifically mentioned as stripping before their charge. This implies fighting nude had some kind of significance for them.
 

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
9,990
Damned England
Ancient Greeks were often shown fighting naked, apart from greaves, helmet and shield. Perhaps they got it from them?
 

gaius valerius

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
5,740
Belgium
So why do you think Celts sometimes fought naked? I have listed a number of explanations researchers have put forward. Check all that you feel apply...
Why would they be mutually exclusive?

Because they had not enough armors for their armies.
I doubt that would be the case, the Celtic lands were rich in raw materials and they were famed for their superior craftmanship, especially in making armours. Of course they didn't mass produce like the Romans did, but given the warlike nature of the Celtic culture, the absence of a large amount of armours (not all of the same quality of course) would be rather odd.
 
Sep 2009
280
United States
Pre-Christian Celtic warriors are mentioned as going into battle naked on a number of occasions. The Celts that invaded Italy in the 4th Century BC fought naked, as did the Gaesati mercenary band that the Boii and Insubres called upon late in the 3rd Century. The consul Manlius Volso told his men that the Galatian tribes still fought naked in the 2nd Century, and as late as the 5th Century AD the Picts are still alleged to have fought naked.

So why do you think Celts sometimes fought naked? I have listed a number of explanations researchers have put forward. Check all that you feel apply...
Other

It was probably a mix of three of the options you provided; To show off tatoos/war paint or scars, To unnerve or disrespect the enemy, As part of an ancient religious ritual.

What better way to fight than to prove your bravery to Lugh than fighting naked? What better way to scar the enemy than to show of all your previous scars and your warpaint so they know they are fighting a well experienced warrior?


You could also argue that a fourth reason would be Increased Mobility, but its my understanding that Celtic/Gallic armor was very light.
 

Sargon of Akkad

Ad Honorem
Jun 2009
6,987
Glorious England
I bet they didn't fight naked in winter. Nobody likes to be unmanned by the cold just before battle.
 
Dec 2009
11,340
Ozarkistan
Egyptian inscriptions show the Hyksos warriors letting it all hang out, so it wasn't original I guess.
 

Cicero

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,829
Tennessee
To unnerve or disrespect the enemy.

Yes, to show contempt for the foe and fearlessness in their ranks.