Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Gripping Beast slingers for my Late Romans

I didn't get these finished in time for my photos of my Romans, but I don't think that matters too much. They are Gripping Beast 28mm plastics again, from the Dark Age Warriors box set. I got them finished off yesterday while waiting for a parcel to be delivered, which didn't actually turn up. Annoyed was a mild word for my mood, but at least the day wasn't completely wasted.

The GB Dark Age Warriors box is a pretty useful set. You can make them up as spearmen, swordsmen or axemen, or arm them with javelins straight out of the box, but you also have the option of turning some of them into slingers. You do this by cutting off right hands that are holding other weapons and glueing on hands with slings, of which there are a huge number (32) on the sprues. This isn't exactly difficult and there is plenty of variety possible when it comes to poses. Because they aren't supposed to get into hand-to-hand combat, they don't really need shields, but I suppose you could stick some on if you wanted to. I think that they look better without, personally.

These slingers would do for pretty much any army from Late Antiquity and the Early Mediaeval, but for me, they are going to be levies for Saga and skirmishing light infantry for my Late Roman Sword and Spear project.

I decided to paint them with a fairly muted colour palette, after all these aren't elite troops, they are peasant levies, foederati or limitanei (i.e. defensive garrison troops, literally "the men on the limes" that is, the borders). There has been much discussion over the years about the difference between the limitanei and the comitatenses or field units, who are often referred to as being "mobile", which is a bit misleading because all armies were limited to movement at the speed of the slowest components, which were the foot troops and the baggage train. It is often also suggested that the limitanei were somehow inferior troops, less well trained or poorly equipped and somehow lacking in fighting spirit, but this is also misleading, certainly during the early Dominate period. At first, the only real difference between the two types was their role. The limitanei were there to defend the limes (borders) against incursions and were locally recruited (and therefore likely to fight doggedly to protect their homes and communities) whereas the comitatenses were units held centrally and used to create field armies designed to fight larger battles and act as a reserve. It is certainly the case that among the comitatenses there were more "elite" units, the scholae and auxilia palatina for example, but limitanei units could also be attached to field armies and these were then referred to as pseudocomitatensesThe Notitia Dignitatum lists out the names of many comitatensis units, as well as a huge number and range of imperial administrative offices from those associated with the imperial court to provincial ones.

However, the limitanei were apparently paid less than comitatenses and scholae units and their status certainly declined over time until they were pretty much just local militia by the 6th century, by which time the western provinces of the empire were gone, replaced by Romano-Germanic successor "kingdoms" across western mainland Europe and by a patchwork of competing small British and Germanic ones across the former Roman Britannia. When we look at post-Roman Britain we should consider that most, if not all units would have been classed as limitanei or, in the case of Germanic troops recruited to fight against Pictish and other incursions as foederati.

1 comment:

  1. Nice and equally useful as later Dark age slingers too.