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An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


This man is dressed and armed in accordance with 6th-10th century Arab and Byzantine sources. He wears a linen tunic, loose linen trousers, cloak and boots. Others would substitute leather or bast shoes, the latter made from willow, birch or oak bark fibres and common amongst the forest-dwelling Slavs. Furs, sheepskins and woollen cloths could also be worn. Linen clothing was generally bleached white, the Baltic Slavs still wearing white clothes as late as the 13th century. However, during the earlier part of this period clothing tended to be rather greyish.

Arms consisted of spear and 2 or 3 javelins or darts and a heavy circular or rectangular shield. Short one-edged knives were also carried, while the Moravians and Croats adopted the axe as a standard weapon. Hair was reddish-blonde. Slavs under Turkish influence or domination often cropped or shaved their heads. For standards the Slavs, like the earlier Celts, used animal images mounted on poles during the early part of this period, though from the 10th century onwards ordinary banners were adopted. However, the Pagan Lutitians are recorded carrying an idol on a ‘portable altar’ into action as late as the 11th century.

Next: 76. SLAV ARCHER in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath