Greek, Spartan, Roman and Viking Greaves

The greave is a part of the old armour which covered the leg up from the knee up to the foot base. It has Greek origin and it was used by the Etruscans, the Spartans, the Romans, the Vikings and also in medieval times.

Spartan brass greaves

It is said that Asian warriors used a leather boot which covered from the ankle up above the knee. In ancient times flexible metal greaves were used and ankles were fixed with leather straps or buckles.

Greek, Spartan, Roman and Viking Greaves

The Etruscans copied the bronze greave wihout ornaments from the Greeks, but simulating the musculature of the leg. Roman greaves used to be made of bronze and leather, too. In the Roman Empire, metal greaves started to vanish completely and were replaced for leahter or woollen stockings which  came up to the calf.

Greek, Spartan, Roman and Viking Greaves

The Roman gladiators’ greave was worn in the right or left leg, and there were a few examples where it was worn in boths legs. The gladiator’s greave is bigger than that of the Roman soldiers.

Greek, Spartan, Roman and Viking Greaves

It covered almost half of the thigh and was fixed to the ankle and the leg, below the calf with straps which passed through pins on the their edges. The Viking greave usually consisted of leather or metal straps and was adjusted with buckles.

Greek, Spartan, Roman and Viking Greaves

The eighteenth century was the time when warriors worried about giving some strength to the defense of their armours, and shortly after having invented the greave, they thought about adding a half-way part between the greave and the muscled kneepad. It was unsderstandable that men of arms accustomed to the chainmail found it hard to wear rigid iron plates attached to this kind of clothing.

Greek, Spartan, Roman and Viking Greaves

At the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth one, men at war wore greaves consisting of two parts, of which the one at the back covered completely the heel, linking the one at the front to the iron show consisting of muscled plates. These two parts opened using some devices and closed by means of inside buttons in the leg. Greaves, as other parts of the armour, were embellished making them very expensive in the sixteenth century.

Greek, Spartan, Roman and Viking Greaves

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