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The Roman Legions were renowned for their brutal, efficient use of the short sword and over the centuries the style of short sword changed as tactics changed or were refined. Beginning with the "gladius Hispaniensis" based on a Celt-Iberian leaf-bladed short sword , over time the sword became shorter and broader the Mainz and Fulham patterns and culminated in the "Pompeii" style stabbing sword.
The Hispaniensis pattern was adopted by the early Roman Republic from the leaf-bladed short swords used on the Celt-Iberian peninsula what is now Spain. Rather than fighting as individual warriors like their competition, the Continental Celts the Roman legions eventually developed a new way of fighting -- massing together with overlapping shields, using their short stabbing'cutting swords to strike from behind this shield wall.
The Hispaniensis pattern is deeply waisted and has a long point section like the later Mainz and Fulham, but is longer and broader than its descendants. After the shield comes the sword, which is carried upon the right thigh, and is called the Spanish sword. It is formed not only to push with at the point; but to make a falling stroke with either edge, and with singular effect; for the blade is remarkably strong and firm.
To these arms are added two piles or javelins; a helmet made of brass; and boots for the legs. The piles are of two sorts; the one large, the other slender. Both the longer Gladius Hispanienis and the Mainz type gladius were effective cutting swords, even if thrusting was a favoured tactic in close formations. Holding their sword straight out, they would strike their opponents in the groin, pierce their sides, and drive their blows through their breasts into their vitals.
And if they saw any of them keeping these parts of the body protected, they would cut the tendons of their knees or ankles and topple them to the ground roaring and biting their shields and uttering cries resembling the howling of wild beasts We can see how the cut was accepted as a perfectly viable method to dispatch an opponent, if the thrust did not prove effective.
Vegetius describes how recruits are trained using wooden swords against stout posts, as though attacking different parts of the opponents body. A crippling cut against the backside of the leg was included in these techniques. The guard and pommel are hand-crafted of walnut, the grip turned from holly, and the inset guard plate and pommel nut are of bronze.
Back to Next Generation Swords Page. Back to Albion Mark Swords Page. Albion Mark Maintenance Plan. Albion offers a maintenance plan to keep your Albion Mark swords like new. Click here for details. Site Map. The Limited Edition Roman Gladius Hispaniensis style The Roman Legions were renowned for their brutal, efficient use of the short sword and over the centuries the style of short sword changed as tactics changed or were refined.
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Roman Gladius: History & Facts
Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those of the Greeks, called xiphos. From the 3rd century BC, however, the Romans adopted swords similar to those used by the Celtiberians and others during the early part of the conquest of Hispania. This sword was known as the gladius hispaniensis , or " Hispanic sword". A fully equipped Roman legionary after the reforms of Gaius Marius was armed with a shield scutum , one or two javelins pila , a sword gladius , often a dagger pugio , and, perhaps in the later empire period, darts plumbatae. Conventionally, soldiers threw pila to disable the enemy's shields and disrupt enemy formations before engaging in close combat, for which they drew the gladius. A soldier generally led with the shield and thrust with the sword.
Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course. Log in or Sign up. One thing that made the Roman military so effective is that it was adaptable. They'd fight against an enemy, figure out the strongest points of their opponent's tactics, and incorporate it into their own system of warfare.