Author Topic: Can you swim in plate armor?  (Read 1252 times)

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Offline bayonetbrant

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Can you swim in plate armor?
« on: August 18, 2017, 06:48:55 AM »

the fact that someone actually tried to figure this out for real...?

So, what? You can add some "realism" to your RPG full of dragons and magic and elves and platinum coins and flying carpets?  O0
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Offline Nefaro

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Re: Can you swim in plate armor?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 08:19:56 AM »
Interesting video either way.

There was also a Germanic unit in the Roman army which was known for crossing rivers in full armor, the Batavi.  Although their exact method of doing so is unknown.

Notably mentioned for their surprise cross-river attack at the battle of the river Medway:

Well regarded for their skills in horsemanship and swimming—for men and horses could cross the Rhine without losing formation, according to Tacitus. Dio Cassius describes this surprise tactic employed by Aulus Plautius against the "barbarians"—the British Celts— at the battle of the River Medway, 43:

    The barbarians thought that Romans would not be able to cross it without a bridge, and consequently bivouacked in rather careless fashion on the opposite bank; but he sent across a detachment of Germanic tribesmen, who were accustomed to swim easily in full armour across the most turbulent streams. [...] Thence the Britons retired to the river Thames at a point near where it empties into the ocean and at flood-tide forms a lake. This they easily crossed because they knew where the firm ground and the easy passages in this region were to be found; but the Romans in attempting to follow them were not so successful. However, the Germans swam across again and some others got over by a bridge a little way up-stream, after which they assailed the barbarians from several sides at once and cut down many of them. (Cassius Dio, Roman History, Book 60:20)

It is uncertain how they were able to accomplish this feat. The late 4th century writer on Roman military affairs Vegetius mentions soldiers using reed rafts, drawn by leather leads, to transport equipment across rivers.[9] But the sources suggest the Batavi were able to swim across rivers actually wearing full armour and weapons. This would only have been possible by the use of some kind of buoyancy device: Ammianus Marcellinus mentions that the Cornuti regiment swam across a river floating on their shields "as on a canoe" (357).[10] Since the shields were wooden, they may have provided sufficient buoyancy

While they obviously weren't wearing full plate, there's a good chance chainmail was, at the least.  Which could be nearly as bad, if not worse.  They likely had experience or training at doing so.

Some extra background..

Hrmm.. that say the tribe had earlier migrated to an island on the Rhine delta.  I suppose their home environment must've stoked such practices.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 08:26:33 AM by Nefaro »