Military medals have a long history, much longer than most people would realise. Military medals of one type or another have been used as a way of rewarding soldiers for brave actions or for length of service. Antique Armoury specialise in providing military medals as well as other historic military memorabilia for discerning collectors who appreciate high quality, well preserved, genuine militaria.
The use of decorations for soldiers dates back to ancient times. Many ancient cultures had ways of rewarding their mightiest warriors with decorations that could be displayed for all to see. There is archaeological evidence that the ancient Egyptians used decorations like collars to reward certain soldiers. Similarly, Celtic and Roman soldiers were rewarded with a torc which was worn around the neck. The Romans also awarded something which is recorded as the hasta pura, or pure spear. The exact form of this award is not known, but it may have been a literal spear, possibly without an iron tip. Initially this was awarded to soldiers for the first victorious battle, but later it was used for a specific act of bravery or to reward senior non-commissioned officers at the end of their service. By the Middle Ages, military awards had become much simpler. Leaders awarded their faithful soldiers with weapons, horses and land.
Of course, these decorations are not the same as the military medals that modern soldiers are awarded. Across the world, armies award military medals which are generally worn on the chest so that they are visible to all. For many armies, the actual medals are worn only as part of the dress uniform, but the ribbons that go with the military medals can be worn to show what medals the soldier has been awarded.
It is generally accepted that modern military medals have their origins in fifteenth century Italy. The artist Antonio Pisano is credited with creating the first modern medal, which showed the Byzantine emperor. What made Pisano’s work so key in the development of military medals was that he made a small carved image, called a relief, of the person which could then be cast in lead or bronze. Soon other artists were copying this new style of creating commemorative decorations, and the method of making medals spread to France, Germany and later, England.
The new medals were an excellent way of rewarding loyal soldiers. In the early modern period, rulers began to use medals to show their favour to their soldiers. By the 1800s, military medals were available not only for officers but also for the rank and file. Some military medals showed completion of a term of service, or participation in a campaign, or rewarded a specific military action.
Antique Armoury are specialists in military medals. As well as military medals, they can provide any medal collection accessories you might need, or help with research into military medals. You can see the stock of military medals on the website, or for enquiries about other military medals, get in contact using the link on the website.