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Late Roman Tribune
#1
Here is my latest figure I painted:
It is supposed to portray Tribune Bainobaudes (* c. 320, † 357 AD) as the commanding officer of the Cornuti auxilium palatinum in the army of Julian in 357 AD.

It is a 54 mm figure sculpted by Martin Hille and released by Thorsberg-Miniatures.

The first Version shows Bainobaudes at the battle of Argentoratum (Strasbourg) where he was killed and is designed after an illustration by Andreas Gagelmann (Decebalus) for the book „Das Fränkische Heer der Merowingerzeit“.
He sports a bronze neck torque with silver closure based on a find from Samson, Belgium. Besides this he is dressed in a decorated Roman military tunic after a fresco in the Villa Maria catacombs in Syracuse, Sicily, a pair of tight-fitting trousers and campagia-shoes.
The broad military belt with chip-carved bronze fittings is reconstructed after a find from Krefeld-Gellep/ Grave 4755, Germany. The tribune’s head is protected by an iron ridge helmet of the Deurne/Berkasovo-Type from Augsburg-Pfersee, Germany, covered with gilt silver foil. The horns added to the helmet are supposed to be the distinctive mark of the Cornuti as shown on the Arch of Constantine.
The pointed shield boss made of iron covered with gilt silver foil with and fitted with silver plated rivets, however, is of Germanic origin and is based on an original found at Vermand, France. Bainobaudes is also armed with a spatha of the Illerup-Wyhl type from Foss, Norway.


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Andreas Strassmeir
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#2
The second version shows Bainobaudes at a previous action leading a raid against Alemannic bands who had withdrawn to small islands in the Rhine River.
The shield design, the unit’s emblem with a Victory, is taken from the Arch of Constantine.


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Andreas Strassmeir
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#3
Hi Andreas,

I admire your figure, but I'm afraid this man does look like a Germanic mercenary, not like a tribune. A commanding officer, even if engaged in direct conflict, would surely wear far more armour than a simple soldier. But although one can discuss the (lack of) armour by late Roman units, an elite unit such as the Cornuti would surely have it's troops in decent armour.

The 'Cornuti horned helmet' is quite a conjecture btw, even though I know that the original was found on the arch of Constantine.
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#4
Quote:The 'Cornuti horned helmet' is quite a conjecture btw, even though I know that the original was found on the arch of Constantine.
If the Cornuti are "wearing the horns", should we translate the unit name as 'the Cuckolds'?
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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#5
Thank you Robert for showing an interest in my figures and for commenting on them.
Since you claim that our reconstruction of Tribune Bainobaudes is wrong I feel obliged to explain it a little more.

Let’s deal with the two figurines individually, starting with the first one.

As I mentioned this is based on a drawing Decebalus made for me for our latest book. Maybe he can share it with us in the “Show your Roman artwork” section. The reconstruction is supposed to portray Bainobaudes leading the charge of his men at the battle of Argentoratum. Bainobaudes was a Frankish mercenary (this is why he looks like one!) who had advanced in the Roman army and commanded an auxilium in the comitatenses. Before this he was the commander of one of the two scholae scutariorum (mounted guard units).
Since no description of Bainobaudes’ appearance at this fateful day in the summer of 357 has survived, his reconstruction has to remain speculative. It is based on contemporary Roman artwork and matching archaeological evidence mentioned in my previous post, though. Some background information provided by Ammianus was taken into consideration, too.

Because the only concrete point of criticism I could make out is the man’s lack of armour, I like to elaborate on the subject a little: I am convinced that all regular units of the late Roman field-army were equipped with a decent set of armour, including their senior officers of course. If armour was worn in battle or not was a tactical decision, though. As we know from pictorial evidence, it was not uncommon for Roman soldiers to fight without body armour in this period. Following SPEIDEL’s assertion that the horned men on the Arch of Constantine are indeed Cornuti, we might have even a depiction of the unit in question fighting without body armour. So if the Cornuti did without full armour at the siege of Verona, it is not beyond reason to assume that they might have done the same at Argentoratum. If they actually did, their CO would have been equally equipped in case he fought within their ranks. Why? Because no experienced infantry leader would allow himself to be slowed down by the weight of extra armour when his men discarded part of their protection for the sake of increased speed and maneuverability while facing an unarmoured opponent. The casualty figures provided by Ammianus (243 soldiers, 4 senior officers) can be taken as a clue that the unit commanders fought indeed alongside their men in this battle and did not lead from the save rear.

Taking all this into consideration we had the choice to portray Bainobaudes either with or without full armour. We simply opted for the version we deemed more attractive.

Now, let’s move to the second figure showing the tribune of the Cornuti raiding the islands in the Rhine. In this case it is pretty clear why he doesn’t wear any armour: According to Ammianus the “Romans” attacked the unsuspecting Alamanni on their islands were they sized boats from the enemy and proceeded to further islands, implying that they had no boats at their disposal in the initial phase of the raid. Amphibious assault without crafts means swimming – something preferably done without any armour!

Both figures are in my opinion legitimate reconstructions. But I remain open-minded: Everybody is welcome to prove me wrong, provided that some evidence is presented.


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Andreas Strassmeir
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#6
Hello Andreas,

Thank you for your reaction.

I’ll start with the second one, I understand. Indeed, a night-attack across a river would be done without armour. I concur.
About Bainobaudes I can’t agree though.


Quote: The reconstruction is supposed to portray Bainobaudes leading the charge of his men at the battle of Argentoratum. Bainobaudes was a Frankish mercenary (this is why he looks like one!) who had advanced in the Roman army and commanded an auxilium in the comitatenses. Before this he was the commander of one of the two scholae scutariorum (mounted guard units).

Well exactly.
First, he was an officer in the Roman army, not a newly-joined mercenary who had just signed up. It has been established long ago that, based on grave goods, we know that germanic soldiers who fought in the Roman army were equipped with arms, armour, clothing etc. by the Roman state fabricae. We can even tell in some cases where they originally joined the army.
Bainobaudes would however have been spending years in the army, and therefore when he was a commander or even when he became a tribune he would have been dressed like one, reflecting his authority. Which means if you show me a tribune I would not expect a fresh mercenary but a Roman officer.


Quote:Because the only concrete point of criticism I could make out is the man’s lack of armour, I like to elaborate on the subject a little: I am convinced that all regular units of the late Roman field-army were equipped with a decent set of armour, including their senior officers of course. If armour was worn in battle or not was a tactical decision, though. As we know from pictorial evidence, it was not uncommon for Roman soldiers to fight without body armour in this period.

Even though artwork exists of Roman troops not wearing armour, I think it’s a leap of faith to conclude that, based on such artwork, we can conclude that some Roman soldiers did choose not to wear armour in battle. If you have a set of good armour, not wearing that in a pitched battle (especially when leading a charge) is NOT a tactical decision, it’s sheer lunacy. Late Roman soldiers (not even those of Germanic descent) were not bronze Age Celts who charged in the nude. If you had armour you wore it or you died. A Roman tribune would wear armour as a distinction from the common soldier – he is the commanding officer! - and he would wear it in battle because he would want to survive. In my opinion Bainobaudes would never have led the charge just dressed in his tunic. I come to Verone below.


Quote:Following SPEIDEL’s assertion that the horned men on the Arch of Constantine are indeed Cornuti, we might have even a depiction of the unit in question fighting without body armour. So if the Cornuti did without full armour at the siege of Verona, it is not beyond reason to assume that they might have done the same at Argentoratum


I have to disagree. Plenty discussions have been held about realism and artistic representation, and I don’t agree with your view that because the Cornuti (who may have been feathered instead of horned but that’s another discussion) are represented in battle without body armour, it therefore must have been correct, and possible to extrapolate to another battle. Even IF the representation was correct for the siege of Verona, this tells us nothing about Argentorate. There is no piece of art about that battle, so an extrapolation is not possible. To the contrary, I would like to add apart from my doubts about the knowledge of the artist the note that during a siege, soldiers need not always wear armour all the time. So if you look at this from all angles, not wearing armour during a siege does not mean not wearing armour in a pitched battle.


Quote: If they actually did, their CO would have been equally equipped in case he fought within their ranks. Why? Because no experienced infantry leader would allow himself to be slowed down by the weight of extra armour when his men discarded part of their protection for the sake of increased speed and maneuverability while facing an unarmoured opponent. The casualty figures provided by Ammianus (243 soldiers, 4 senior officers) can be taken as a clue that the unit commanders fought indeed alongside their men in this battle and did not lead from the save rear.

This logic I cannot follow. Can you show me where your claim about these experienced infantry leaders comes from? I would like to remark that no experienced commander would make himself anonymous by dressing similarly to the common soldiers, therby confusing the command structure. Or risking to make his men leaderless shortly after the start of the charge and theby risking the entire battle! Yes, I believe (with Speidel) that commanders fought in the front, but behind a screen of ‘antesignani’ (those fighting before the standards), who were all (according to the Strategikon) wearing the best armour available.


Quote:Taking all this into consideration we had the choice to portray Bainobaudes either with or without full armour. We simply opted for the version we deemed more attractive.

I think you should have mentioned only those last 4 words!! :grin:
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#7
Quote:As I mentioned this is based on a drawing Decebalus made for me for our latest book. Maybe he can share it with us in the “Show your Roman artwork” section.

Done
Andreas Gagelmann
Berlin, Germany
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#8
Hello Andreas

Without any adverse reflection on the quality of your figure (or Andreas Gagelmann's excellent illustration), I'd like to pick up on Robert's comments about a couple of your points.


Quote:Following SPEIDEL’s assertion that the horned men on the Arch of Constantine are indeed Cornuti

The idea that the men on the arch are Cornuti was originally suggested by Andrew Alföldi in 1935. In my view the suggestion doesn't really hold up though. I went into detail about it in the thread Cornuti - or not?, but I'll precis my argument here:

1. The soldiers are not clearly wearing horns on their helmets. I've suggested feathers, perhaps as an identifying sign for the Gallic army (?). Feathers are attested as Roman helmet crests, horns are not. No source describes the Cornuti, or anybody else, wearing horned helmets!

2. The shield design with the 'horned creature' and the figure of Victory is not part of the Constantinian frieze, but one of the column bases. The bases are in a different style to the frieze, and like much else on the Arch were most probably taken from an earlier monument. I've suggested a tetrarchic monument, portraying the four victories of the four emperors. So the shield design may be genuine, but has no connection with Constantine or his troops.

3. The twin animal head design occurs on Roman military buckles from the 3rd century, helmets, and several other shields in the ND besides the cornuti. It is possibly a Roman design rather than a 'Germanic' one. (Plus the only Cornutus with a known origin came from Dacia!)

4. There's no mention of the Cornuti, or any other of the later auxilia formations, prior to the mid 4th century. They would seem more likey to be an innovation of the later Constantinian reforms.


Quote:So if the Cornuti did without full armour at the siege of Verona... their CO would have been equally equipped in case he fought within their ranks.

But the 'Verona' frieze actually shows the officer - or perhaps centurion - and a senior commander to the left of the troops. Both of them are wearing the muscle cuirass.

[attachment=9307]Arch.Const.jpg[/attachment]

However, I don't doubt that on occasion some Roman troops of any era fought without armour, and the river battle you mentioned would seem a good anough excuse.


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Nathan Ross
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#9
I should mention that most twin-animal head buckles I know of date to the Early-Mid 5th Century, but it still could belong to any variety of units.

As for the lack of Armor, a River Battle seems a good enough excuse. I wouldn't want to drown either.
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#10
Wonderful looking figures. I hope you had a fun time painting them and putting forth the effort to research them and share your knowledge with us. Cant wait to see more!!
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#11
Quote:But the 'Verona' frieze actually shows the officer - or perhaps centurion - and a senior commander to the left of the troops. Both of them are wearing the muscle cuirass.
However, I don't doubt that on occasion some Roman troops of any era fought without armour, and the river battle you mentioned would seem a good anough excuse.

Having had a second look at the 'siege of Verona', I have doubts that the common soldiers are not wearing armour. A case could be made for some wearing a hamata, while the plaiting of some tunics looks very much like the pteryges of those we see wearing a musculata curass.
Anyway, Nathan is right - the commanders do seem to wear armour, which is in conflict with the theory proposed below, that the tribune would do away with all armour like the common soldier. I have yet to see any proof of that for any Roman battle.

During the river battle I doubt they would wear their helmets though.. :-)
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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