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Debate: Pre-medieval military salutes

Updated Tuesday 29th September 2009

Forum guest Huscarl had a question about how pre-medieval soldiers greeted each other

A public meeting Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Jupiter Images

What manner of salute did the Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Viking warriors give to superiors?
Did they even have a salute as such, or merely a verbal form of respect for any nearby commander or noble?

If urban myth, Art, history or Hollywood has got it right (experts are still trying to find evidence), Roman soldiers 'saluted' their commanders/Emperors by touching their right down-turned palm (fingers together) first to their left bosom and then raising it high in front. According to legend, the nazis then stole this martial manouevre?

The modern British army salute evolved, so the story goes, from medieval days when the armour-clad commanders or king rode up and down the battle lines of the assembled men giving rousing speeches.

In order to speak clearly and be seen, they raised the visor on their helmet with one hand (the other presumably holding the reigns of their steed?), thus the modern movement of today.


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