History

Slavic Warriors, Armor and Weapons

slavic warriors

As a nation, the Slavs were famous for many things. One of them was the fabled Slavic warriors. Their strength and deeds were so great, that they were indeed immortalized in fables that are told to children to this day.

These warriors’ name is “bogatyri”, though the term itself is of Turco-Mongol origin. This can be explained by the fact that the most prominent of them fought against the Tataro-Mongol invasion.

Traditional weapons of Slavic warriors are a large shield, sword and short spear. They were designed to aid the agility of the fighters and make it easier to move a small number of warriors for a sneak attack. As Slavs were barbarians, this was their preferred method of fighting. The guerrilla tactics they employed remained their predominant strategy even after the tribes were united into the great country of Kievan Rus. They usually focused their attacks on the enemy’s flanks.

Slav cavalry was a force to be reckoned with. The spears that the warriors carried made it even more powerful. These brigades were equally efficient on a grand battlefield and in an ambush. It is believed that the skill of their horsemen is one of the major reasons that explain the success of Slavic expansion.

Though ruthless and often literally unstoppable in a fight, Slavic warriors were known to be very friendly and hospitable, even to their prisoners. It is said that after spending some time in captivity, their former enemies were given a choice to pay a ransom and go back to their homes, or stay and live among the Slavs. Those, who decided to continue their lives in the new land, were treated as equals.

A Warrior’s Lifestyle

Slav warriors were tall and well-built. These men valued physical strength, marksmanship and quick thinking. Their lifestyle could only be called Spartan but their tempers were hot as fire. Ancient history records state that the Slavs were quick to start a fight, and they transferred this quality to the battlefield, exploiting it masterfully.

Their way of life prevented the warriors from accumulating wealth, as they need to be able to move out at a moment’s notice. This is why their accommodation was usually free of any decoration, apart from war trophies that grew in number as Slavic expansion progressed.

Honor was immensely important to every warrior, as was family. The institute of “brotherhood” also took a very special place in the Slavic culture. These brothers in everything but blood were born through ferocious fights that men had to go through. One must be sure that he can have a trusted partner to cover his back, and this is what the “brothers” were for.

Giving people a sense of being a family, made it more important to fight for and protect each other in the face of any danger. Devotion and support that these warriors could count on from their comrades gave them power and made all of their attacks more efficient.

Slavic warriors weapons

Bogatyri of the Kievan Rus

There were many heroes among the Slavs, but three of them clearly stand out. They are Dobrynya Nikitich, Alyosha Popovich and Ilya Muromets. The legends of their deeds turned into fairy tales read to all children in the majority of Slavic countries even today. These three were members of the court of Vladimir I in the beginning of 11th century.

Courage of these warriors and their willingness to die to protect their land were prominent character traits of every Slavic warrior. The ferocity of their response to any attackers made people thinking twice before attempting to attack them again. This also proves just how devoted these people were to their families. Even the tsar, ruler of the country, was called “batyushka” which means “father”. Therefore, protecting him and the country meant protecting family.

Bogatyr Slavic warriors
Three of the most famous bogatyrs, Dobrynya Nikitich, Ilya Muromets and Alyosha Popovich, are represented together in Victor Vasnetsov’s 1898 painting Bogatyrs.

Women Warriors

Slavic culture was male-dominated in terms of warfare. However, women were respected and revered by the people. The role of a woman as a mother was sacred in the society, and no honorable man would ever treat a mother with any other attitude but the outmost respect.

Women weren’t let on the battlefield, and they weren’t equals to men in the way people today understand the equality of genders. However, wives of Slavic legends were very intelligent and inventive. They used their wit to assist their husbands, and even help them in fights.

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