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Hastati

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Hastati
Author: Bronti

Hastati, which means ‘spearman’ were legionary fighting in the first line of maniple in the Roman Republic. The name Hastati comes from a roman spear (hasta).

In the singular, hastatus was armed similarly to principes (soldiers in the second line). He had two javelins (pila) and a short two-edged sword (gladius). As protective equipment, he got a shield scutum, helmet, metal breastplate (phylax), and sometimes one greave. However, the armament of the unit was changed multiple times. It’s worth mentioning that the condition of defensive equipment was the same as in the two other lines (principes and triarii) and it mainly depended on the wealth of the soldier.

Early hastati, before 397 BCE, were typical spearmen whose main weapon was a spear (hasta). Besides, the soldier had a short sword (gladius), as a melee-range weapon, oval shield (parma) for body protection, bronze helmet decorated with feathers, and breastplate.

Changes in hastati’s equipment were made after disadvantageous battles with the Gauls, who without any problem crushed Roman lines with their long swords. The Roman spear was switched with two 120 cm long javelins (pila) which were thrown at the enemies before the fight. The main and most important hastati’s weapon became gladius.

Hastati with velites (light infantry) were the least experienced group in the legion. They were recruited out of men from 17 to 24, who could afford the equipment.

Hastati like principes were divided into 10 maniples 120 soldiers each.

 

Author: Jakub Jasiński (translated from Polish: Maksymilian Schaefer)

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