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george

Byzantine Armies.

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I've always thought the Byzantine armies looked really interesting. Hey what is with that commander and his dismembered head and hand. Any history there or artistic license?

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The Eastern Roman Empire as you guys can see through the pictures, kept all aspects of

ancient antiquitie's ideologies on war-making, equipment, dress etc.

 

While the rest of Europe were wearing trousers and were farming for some feudal lord.

The Byzantines were still wearing the togas and strolling around the forums and talking about politics, philosophy etc etc. Although the Eastern Roman Empire was a extremely powerfull state during the 12th century AD, it was stuck with the past.

 

Most European countries by that time had already equiped their cavalrymen with heavy lances, and a hell lot of body armour. The Byzantines were very armoured but not to the extreme level of the western Europeans. The Byzantine cavalrymen still held the ancient lance used since the times of Alexander. The ancient lance was a very long spear that most of the time was held from over the shoulder. Thus the cavalryman could show more skill into the close combat fight. On the other hand the western knight was equiped with a heavy lance which was held under-arm (I am sure every is familiar with this one).

The Western knight might have not been as versatile up close as a Byzantine Kataphract, but hell always broke loose when they charged in mass with the heavy lances.

 

A normal Byzantine footman was a soldier for all purposes. He had a lance, Javelins, a sword and a bow (During Byzantiums zenith). The Byzantine army was probably the most flexible army in Europe, facing all kinds of opponents who had different fighting styles. That is why a normal footman had everything.

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heya mate,

 

thankyou for posting pics of the byzantines i alwasy wondered what their troops looked like.....could you by anychance tell me what book you got these from??

 

thankyou again,

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Thank you very much George, those pictures are very interesting indeed. I always was interested in what the Byzantine armies were like, and how they were later influenced by oriental equipment.

Facing a Cataphract charge on an open field must have been scary eh? Man and horse, both fully clad from head to foot (hoof for the horse lol) in armour, charging at you!

The Varangian Guard was a fearsome looking group as well, from pictures i've seen.

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Sorry guys.

 

The pictures are scanned images from a friend's magazine he bought in Greece.

 

Yeah I know, crap.

 

Try to copy them, this is your only chance to have em.

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Most European countries by that time had already equiped their cavalrymen with heavy lances, and a hell lot of body armour. The Byzantines were very armoured but not to the extreme level of the western Europeans. The Byzantine cavalrymen still held the ancient lance used since the times of Alexander. The ancient lance was a very long spear that most of the time was held from over the shoulder. Thus the cavalryman could show more skill into the close combat fight. On the other hand the western knight was equiped with a heavy lance which was held under-arm (I am sure every is familiar with this one).

The Western knight might have not been as versatile up close as a Byzantine Kataphract, but hell always broke loose when they charged in mass with the heavy lances.

14696[/snapback]

 

There is no question that the heavy cavalry evolved over the centuries. Even the Normans had not full adapted the couched lance tachnique at the time of the battle of Hastings. It is true that Italo-Norman cavalry proved to be devastating to the Byzantines at the Battle of Durazzo, suggesting that their cavalry may have had stonger shock value. I'm not sure that we can make absolute generalizations about the Byzantine cavalry--their techniques in battle evolved over the ages as well. Belisariuses cavalry were certainly much different from the Byzantine cavalry at the time of the crusades.

 

By the way, I think you'll find some of those pics in the Osprey Men at Arms Series.

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At the 4th Crusade, the Byzantine Emperor was a very uncapable man.

He did nothing. When he came to power, the Byzantine army had many bettalions of super heavy cavalry called Clivanoforii.

 

trhqthr.jpg

 

But the idiot disbanded them. Thus what the Norman-Italians faced was mere light cavalry.

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At the 4th Crusade, the Byzantine Emperor was a very uncapable man.

He did nothing. When he came to power, the Byzantine army had many bettalions of super heavy cavalry called Clivanoforii.

 

trhqthr.jpg

 

But the idiot disbanded them. Thus what the Norman-Italians faced was mere light cavalry.

 

Which emperor are u referring to? Isaac II, Alexius III, Alexius Angelus (Alexius IV) or Alexius Ducas (Murtzuplus)

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I would have thought Alexius Angelus; he promised the crusaders a large sum to help him gain the Byzantine Throne, and upon gaining it, he found an empty treasury, thus causing the Crusaders to sack the city.

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You want to find these and more Angus McBride illustrations? Click on this link to Osprey Books.

 

Here's a couple specifically for Byzantines:

4th through 9th cen. Romano-Byzantine , 1118-1461 A.D. Byzantine armies , and a good general picture book.

 

McBride is a great historical illustrator and just about any book he's worked on is worth it just for the pictures.

 

Cheers

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By this time, and indeed for a great deal of the Byzantine's history, they were employing standard soldiers with standard arms on standard military tactics. There was little special about the soldiers most of the time, although the Cataphract was a kind of Precursor to the medieval knight on his horse.

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At the 4th Crusade, the Byzantine Emperor was a very uncapable man.

He did nothing. When he came to power, the Byzantine army had many bettalions of super heavy cavalry called Clivanoforii.

 

trhqthr.jpg

 

But the idiot disbanded them. Thus what the Norman-Italians faced was mere light cavalry.

 

I remember reading somwhere that the Byzantine cataphracts were so heavy that lines were like water when they charged. :blink:

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