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Justinian's Armies: Arrows and Pikes ing oikes

Justinian's Armies: Arrows and Pikes ing oikes

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Published by vasilefs
This article assesses the numbers of troops in the Byzantine or East Roman army, describes the troop types such as bucellarii, their armament and tactics. Key words: composite recurve bow, Byzantine army. Justinian, Maurice, Taginae, arrows, swords, lances: Justinian , Vandals, Goths, Sassanians. Belisarius, Narses, spathion, toxos, kontos, Treadgold, Dara, Callinicum, Totila, barding. Main sources: Procopius and Agathias. Secondary sources: Dawson Treadgold, Averil Cameron, Haldon etc. Taginae, Witiges.
This article assesses the numbers of troops in the Byzantine or East Roman army, describes the troop types such as bucellarii, their armament and tactics. Key words: composite recurve bow, Byzantine army. Justinian, Maurice, Taginae, arrows, swords, lances: Justinian , Vandals, Goths, Sassanians. Belisarius, Narses, spathion, toxos, kontos, Treadgold, Dara, Callinicum, Totila, barding. Main sources: Procopius and Agathias. Secondary sources: Dawson Treadgold, Averil Cameron, Haldon etc. Taginae, Witiges.

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Published by: vasilefs on Oct 03, 2009
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O
ROURKE
:
ARMIES
 
OF
 
BELISARIUS
 
AND
 
 NARSES
ARROW-STORMS AND CAVALRY PIKESWARFARE IN THE AGE OFJUSTINIAN I, AD 527-565THE ARMIES OF BELISARIUS AND NARSES
 byMichael O’Rourkemjor (at) velocitynet (dot) com (dot) auCanberra AustraliaSeptember 2009
1.Introduction: “Rhomanya”2.Troop Numbers3.Troop Types4.Tactics5.Selected Battles6.Appendix: Arrows, Armour and Flesh
“Rhomanya”: The Christian Roman Empire of the Greeks
Having been conquered by the Romans, the Aramaic- and Greek-speaking EasternMediterranean lived for centuries under imperial rule. Its people had received fullcitizenship already in 212 AD. So the East Romans naturally called themselves
 Rhomaioi
, the Greek for ‘Romans’.The term
 Rhomanya
[Greek 
hê Rhômanía
:
‘ 
Ρω µ α ν 
’ 
ι α 
]
 
was in use alreadyin the 300s (Brown 1971: 41). Middle period examples denoting the ‘Eastern’ Empireare found in the 600s
 
- as in the
 Doctrina Jacobi
- and in the 800s in various entries inthe chronicle of Theophanes (fl. 810: e.g. his entry for AD 678). Although we do notfind the name
 Rhômanía
in Procopius, fl. AD 550, or in Anna Comnena, fl. 1133, itdoes occur in the writings of emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, fl. 955.The later medieval West, after AD 800, preferred the style ‘Greek Empire’. After 1204 the Latins used the term
 Romania
to refer generally to the Empire and morespecifically to the lower Balkans (thus English ‘Rumney wine’, Italian
vino di Romania
).Our own name Rumania/Romania, for the state on the northern side of the Danube,was chosen in 1859. It proclaimed the Romance and thereby Romantic origins of 
 Limba Româna
, hitherto known to outsiders as the Wallachian or ‘Vlach’ language.Like Italian,
 Limba Romana
descends from late Latin. Its speakers call themselves
 Români
.
1
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‘Byzantine’ of course is an invented modern term for the later Roman empire in theEast. Byzantium, used for the later Roman state, was introduced into scholarship onlyin the 16th century, by Hieronymus Wolf, d. 1580.Bowersock, Brown and Grabar state too starkly that the term "Byzantine Empire" is"a modern misnomer redolent of ill-informed contempt" (1999: vii). Perhaps so, butits use is deeply entrenched.Judith Herrin says that “until the seventh century, Byzantium was indeed theRoman Empire” (2007: xviii). For her, ‘Byzantine’ should be used only after about610. For Treadgold 1997, however, there was in the East a Byzantine society already by the fifth century.Kinnamos, the 12
th
century Byzantine historian, refers poetically or archaically tothe capital as ‘Byzantion’ and uses the phrase ‘empire of Byzantion’. But of coursethe ordinary Byzantine called her world the
 Roman
Empire:
 Basileía ton Rhõmaíõn
or 
[
tôn
]
Rhômaiôn Basileía.
In this paper, I have occasionally used "Romanic" and “Romaic”.The Roman Empire ended of course in 1453 when the Turks finally took Constantinople. But the term
 Rhomaioi
continued to be used for ‘Greeks’ down to the19
th
century. The Greek scholar Rigas Feraios, d. 1798, called on "Bulgars andArvanites[Albano-Greeks],Armeniansand
 Romans
" to rise in arms against theOttomans. Likewise the Greek patriot Athanasios Diakos, before his death in 1821,said: "I was born a Greek, I shall die a Greek":
 Ego
Romios
yennithika,
Romios
thena pethano
. And GeneralMakrygiannis, fl. 1847, recalled a friend asking him: "Whatsay you, is the Roman (
 Romios
) far away from coming? Are we to sleep with theTurks and awaken with the Romans?” (see under ‘Romiosini’ in Merry 2004: 376).But the 19
th
century was the Romantic Age. So a newly independent Greece choseas its name not Constantinian- Christian ‘Romania’ but Platonic-pagan ‘Hellas’.Territory and PopulationBefore Justinian’s Western reconquests and before the great plague of AD 542, theEastern Empire contained some 30 million people. They were distributed possibly asfollows: Egypt 8 M; Palestine-Syria-upper Mesopotamia 9 M; Asia Minor 10 M; and3-4 M in the Balkans (Mango 1980: 23).In 565, after the conquests of Justinian’s reign, the Empire again ruled the wholeMediterranean basin, from present-day Morocco and southern Spain to Lazica whichis modern west Georgia, and from N Italy to Egypt. The only regions of the littoralnot under imperial control were Visigothic Catalonia and Frankish Provence.Geographically, the nearest enemy to Constantinople was the recently establishedAvar Khanate, north of, and on, the lower Danube River. They were Turkic-speakingsteppes-nomads who by 580 would extend their domination into the upper Danube basin and threaten the imperial lands south of the lower Danube.JustinianThe emperor 
 Iustinianos
I ‘the Great’, born Flavius Petrus Sabbatius, was the nephewof of his predecessor, Justin I. Aged 34 at accession in AD 527, he ruled for 38 years.The Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, has two famous mosaic panels,
2
2
 
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ARMIES
 
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AND
 
 NARSES
executed in 548 to celebrate the reconquest of Italy. On the left is a mosaic depictingJustinian, clad in purple with a golden halo, standing next to court officials, BishopMaximian, praetorian guards and deacons. On the right side is a mosaic featuring asolemn and formal Empress Theodora - aged about 48 in 548 [she died later the sameyear] - with golden halo, crown and jewels, and a train of court ladies.BelisariusA precocious general, Flavius
 Belisarios
was still only 27 or 28 years old when histroops suppressed (532) the ‘Nika’ riot in the capital caused by internal political strife.He then defeated (533-34) the Vandals, a Germanic people ruling ex-imperial NAfrica. Then, in command (535) of the war against the Ostrogoths in Italy, he took  Naples and Rome (536), as well as Milan and Ravenna (540). Justinian replaced him(548) with Narses, a protégé of Empress Theodora, but Belisarius returned (559) todrive the Bulgars from the walls of Constantinople. After a brief politicalimprisonment (562), he returned to favour in the years before his death (565).Belisarius may be the bearded figure depicted on Emperor Justinian I's right in themosaic in the Church of San Vitale. Narses Nothing is known of the first half of Narses' life. Already aged 54, he was a
koubikoularios
or chamberlain and
 spatharios
or senior palace official at the time of the Nika Rebellion in 532.Having risen thereafter to grand chamberlain (Lat.
 praepositus sacri cubiculi
), Narses was given the command of Italy in 551. Although already old (73), and aeunuch, he nevertheless proved to be a general of brilliance.
2. TROOP NUMBERS
Data from Treadgold 1995 and 1997.There were broadly two categories of soldiers: the professionals serving in the mobileor field armies, and the troops of the static frontier who were a kind of farmer-militia.
Year  / ReignCavalryInfantryNavy[Oarsmen] Remarks
540:EarlyJUSTINIAN I:Total staterevenue in 540:11.3 million
nomismata
(gold coins). -Highest ever inthe Eastern29,000 elitefieldcavalry;and 97,500frontier cav.Total124,500.116,000 lineinfantry;and 79,500frontier infantry.30,000.145,000 field soldiers; and195,500 frontier soldiers.Grand total land troops =340,500. Note that there were morecavalry than infantryamong the frontier troops.
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