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Little Known Facts

by armorv

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History is fascinating, as there are always more layers to uncover.  Just when you think you have found everything there is to know about a time period or civilization, you realize there is still a plethora of unknown facts.  For this reason, history is a lifelong journey of constant discovery.  It is like being a detective and putting the pieces together to derive a conclusion.  In this framework, one of the most interesting, and potentially frustrating civilizations to learn about is the Celts.  The Celts were a people comprised of tribal societies grouped together because of their common culture and use of the Celtic language.  The first suggestion of Celtic culture was in the late Bronze Age in central Europe at the end of the 2nd millennium BC.  More concrete evidence of Celts surfaced during the Iron Age (800-450 BC), which is when their civilization began to expand to regions such as France, the British Isles, and Poland.  The most challenging part of studying Celtic culture is that there is little information to go off of.  They did not leave much in the way of writings and artifacts.  Thus, much of what has been found on Celtic culture is theory and speculation, based off archeological and historical research, and early writers who briefly allude to the Celts.    

Celtic Lamellar Leather Armour:

From the information known, Celtic society appears to have followed a class system ruled by a king.  There is also a less common view that the society was an oligarchical republic, but the class system has more historical support.  Evidence shows three societal classes: warfare aristocracy, intellectual class, and everyone else.  It is most likely that the king was chosen by elected officials, as was the case in Ireland and Scotland at the time of the Celts.  Other aspects of Celtic society were patterns of settlement in urban areas or hill forts, practice of slavery, and their monetary system consisting of bronze items as coinage.  While there is limited information on Celtic society, it is assumed that they drew on influence from Greek and Roman culture. 

Unlike other societies of the time whose men were strongly influenced by their women, the Celtic men preferred male lovers.  This idea has found a decent amount of support in early writings.  While this was the case, women were valued and participated in warfare and kingship.  There is also historical documentation to show Celtic women as warriors.  A Celtic woman also had the right to divorce her husband if he was unable to fulfill marital duties due to homosexual impulses, unfaithfulness, obesity, and a variety of other reasons.  It is not clear as to exactly how gender roles were viewed by the Celts, but best conjecture is that both men and women played substantial roles.   

Celtic Battle Sword:

Celtic warfare was rooted in territorial conquest to gain political power and economic advantage.  Celts were known to be crazy fighters described by many sources as fighting like wild beasts.  Rather than keeping with order, they were known to let loose and unleash their weapons in any manner, not necessarily even aiming for a specific target.  The primary weapon of the Celts was a long bladed sword, used for hacking edgewise as opposed to stabbing.  An interesting, and somewhat disturbing, fact about Celtic armor was that they tended not to wear any.  This, in turn, meant that they charged into battle naked, which would have been an intimidating sight, as Celts highly valued their physical appearance and had built physiques.

The Celts continue to intrigue scholars and researchers, with their idiosyncrasies that have so distinct from other civilizations.  For more Celtic culture, take a glance at our Celtic weapons at:

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