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General Editor
Loyola College
FO/llulill,t; Edi/O/:\'
Illustration Ol! the cover: A pole-framed trebuchet illustrated in the manuscript of the
Chronicle of]ohn Skylitzes in Madrid (Bib!. Nac. Cod. 5-3, N2, /01. 15 Iv.).
This book is printed on acid-li-ee paper.
Die Deutsche Bibliothek - CIP.Einheitsaufnahme
Birkenmeier,John W. :
The development orthe Komnenian army / by John Vv. Birkenmeier.
- Leiden j Boston j Koln: Brill, 2002
(History of warfare ; Vcl. 5)
ISBN 90-04-11710-5
Library of Congress Data
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is also available
ISSN 0928-0731
ISBN 90 04 11710 5
Copyright 2002 by KOllillklilke Brill Leidell, The Netherlands
All fights reserved. No j1Ol't !if this publication 1Il1!)' be reproduced, translaled, stored in
a retrieval SjJstem, or transmitted in arryjimn or by an)1 electronic,
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Fees are sulject 10 change.
To JI1y Mother and Father
For their love, encouragement and support
Throughout my studies
..------ -
List of IVlaps .............................................................................. xv
rvlaps .......................................................................................... XVII
(ampler Onl' Textual Sources for l2th- and 13th-Century
I-li:;t( H'Y ................................................................................... .
(:haptcl' Tw() Historical Overview of Eleventh- and
'l'wdlth-Celltury Byzantium .................................................. 27
Chapter Three
(lOB 1 III B)
Chapter Four
( 11113-13)
The Campaigns of Alexios I Komnenos
The Campaigns of John II Komnenos
................................. , ........................................... .
The Campaigns of Manue! I Komnenos
Chapll'r Five
(1 11<-1 HO)
Chapter Six
Supporting the Komnenian Army ................ ..
Chapter Seven Komncnian Siege -Warfare
Chapler Eight The Komnenian Army in Battle .................. 206
The Sieges oCJohn II and Manuel I ............ ..
Appendix 1 Glossary

Appendix 3 Chronology of the Komnenian Historians
.. "." ......... ".......................................................... 245
.......................................................................................... 253
This project has taken many years to come to fruition, and many
people deserve thanks for their help. Professor George Dennis, SJ.,
first directed my attention to the army of the Komnenian period.
He has been a patient and accessible advisor, and he has also been
as good a friend as he has been a professional mentor. I cannot
thank him enough for all of his help.
Dumbarton Oaks provided me with a Junior Fellowship for the
year 1996-97, which enabled me to complete the basic research for
this work. The Byzantine library, and in particular Dr. Ire ne Vaslef
and the latc Dr. Virgil Crisafulli, have provided invaluable help with
courtesy and professionalism. Dr. Vaslef deserves particular thanks;
without her guiding hand the Byzantine library would be a lesser
placc. I would also like to thank John Rosser of Boston College's
Department of History for introducing me to the Byzantines, and
for nurturing my enthusiasm through the travails of early graduate
My patient and persistent editor, Mr. Charles Dibble of the Amcr-
ican Research Center in Egypt, deserves very special thanks. He has
corrected many of my errors, and made many suggestions that have
improved this work. Any errors that remain are mine. Dr. Karen
Rasmussen of Archeographics deserves thanks for the first-rate maps
she has provided for this work. An additional note of appreciation
is due to Dr. Ralph Bellamy, Associate Profcssor of Surgery, of the
F. Edward Htbert School of Medicine, and to Ms. Colleen Quick,
Associate Editor of the U.S. Army's Textbook qf Military Medicine, for
their help with Chapter Eight. I would also like to thank my pub-
lisher, whose patience in waiting for this book has been exemplaIY
My deepest gratitude is always owed to my parents, whose love
and encouragement has followed wherever my studies have led me.
This work grew out of a fascination with the military society of the
Komnenian Emperors. It seemed almost miraculous that the Byzan-
tine Empire managed to survive the destruction of its army at Manzi-
kert (1 071) and the military collapse that followed. How did the empire
recover so many lost territories, pursue aggressive military policies,
and flourish economically? Furthermore, the Komnenian period is
rich in historical documents; historians and orators loved to praise
or vilify the Komnenian emperors. These sources are engaging, and
if exarnined together provide a clear picture of Komnenian military
policy, goals, and army structure.
Alexios I Komnenos (1 081-1118), John II (1118-1143), and Man uel
I (1143--1180) restored the political and military fortunes of the
Byzantine state. This included rebuilding the army under Alexios,
who simultaneously parried invasions of Normans from the west,
Seljuk Turks from the east, and Pecheneg and Cuman raiders from
the north. John extended the empire's borders in Asia Minor, lay-
ing siege to dozens of cities and attempting to control the crusader
states in the Levant. Manuel further extended Byzantine military
operations, personally campaigning in Serbia, Hungary, and in Syria.
Hc also launched large expeditions under subordinate commanders
that attacked Egypt and the Norman Kingdom in Italy. Finally, he
twice gathered the formidable Byzantine siege train and attempted
to destroy Ikonion, capital of the Byzantines' greatest foe in the east,
the Seljuk Turks.
The goal of this study is to examine the restoration and use of
the IZomnenian army: how, and with what resources the Komnen-
ian emperors restored the Byzantine military position in thc Balkans,
Asia 1vlinor, and the Levant. We will examine the army as an insti-
tution, considering how Alexios rebuilt it, and how John and Manuel
modified it. We will examine the Komnenian campaigns, looking for
patterns that might shed light on Byzantine military and political
policy. Wc will observe how the army was supported, and how the
Byzantine army conducted its most characteristic activity-the siege.
It is my hope that these topics and questions will provide a basis
{'or further inquiry into the nature of Komnenian society; how the
empire was preserved in an era of increasingly complicated inter-
state relations.
The military system that had provided the empire's defense between
the eighth and the late eleventh centuries was destroyed before Alex-
i08 came to power. Alexios spent twenty years developing a new
army, that was composed of .native Byzantine soldiery, albeit
always Wlth several mercenary contmgcnts. The native soldiers came
from Thrace, Macedonia, and Thessaly, which replaced the empire's
recruiting grounds. By the end of Manuel's reign the
ASia M1110r coastlands and western provinces were filled with mili-
tary colonies, districts, and fortified enclaves; these provided a new
defensive system against the empire's Turkish enemies. This struc-
ture . not resilient as had been the earlier system of large
prov111cIal armIes and defense in depth. However, it was as effective
could be managed with the resources available to the Komnen-
mn emperors.
I:Iistorians frequently place great importance upon field battles,
whIch occurred when armies lined up their cavalry and charged each
Despite prominence of such accounts in our sources (and
111 the secondalY hterature), close examination of eleventh and twelfth
century texts and oratorical sources provide a different picture. Suc-
Komnenian warfare was marked by aggressive military cam-
culminating in sieges, followed by defensive warfare and
to preserve gains. Open battles, even important clashes
hke Mynokephalon (1176), were not desired. The army existed to
protect the siege engines and transport them to their destination.
There, they would crush the enemy's walls (as well as the interior
civilian, buildings), and enable the imperial soldiers to storm
burning and demoralized city. Field battles were avoided because
they were uncertain affairs, a fact that both emperors and their
chroniclers recognized.
,10hn, and Manuel each developed military strategies for
theIr differmg goals. These goals did not (generally) include the recon-
quest of central Asia Minor. Alexios and John were more often than
successful in their military operations. Manuel's military opera-
tIOns were not as successful. There were inherent limitations to
medieval military operations. Defensive operations (whether between
armies, or in defense of cities) usually held a considerable advan-
This explains why the Komnenian emperors were both unwill-
mg and unable to reassert control over the lost heartland of Asia
Minor. It also demonstrates why ostensibly friendly crusading armies
were so dangerous to the Byzantine state (and were clearly perceived
as such by the Byzantines). Supporting them meant allowing them
past all defensive perimeters, fortifications and armies. This was anti-
thetical to the basic strategy of the Komnenian emperors, which was
to fight enemies at the frontier, using fortifications and terrain to
delay them until disease and fatigue weakened their fighting capa-
bilities. Imperfect hindsight can lead us to see this fear (particularly
during the first crusade) as a bit paranoid. However, this attitude,
as with other military problems, reflected a realistic and finely tuned
Byzantine perception of military threats and strategic necessities.
1. The Wars of Alexios I in Europe
2. The Wars of John II in Europe
3. The Wars of John II in Asia
4. The Wars of Manue1 I in Europe
5. The Wars of Manue1 I in Asia
6. Komnenian Supply Points & Provinces in Asia Minor
The Wars of Alexios I in Europe
A. Dyrrachion: 1081, 1107/8 E. e r ~ e .
B. Kastoria: 1081,1107 F. Panstnon
C. Levunion: 1091 C. Anchialos: 1094/5
D. Tzouroulos: 1090 H. Seljuks: 1116/7
_ Byzantine Frontier X Battles

::r: ro
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5: !"I
'"0 1=1

D c:)<:::J
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Black Sea
A. Lopadion: 1141
B. Laodikeia: 1120 III Fortifications
C. Attaleia: 1141 Sieges

D. Tarsus, Adana, Anazarbos: 1136-9
E. Shaizar, Pisa, Ferep, Kafartab: 1138
F. Neokaisereia: 1139

G. Kastarnon: 1130-4 (4 times)
H. Gangra: 1135 (2 times)






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Black Sea
Nicomedia X H
c:;;:>e el .

A. Amaseia: 1176
B. Ikonion: 1145-6
C. Myriokephalon: 1176
X Battles
l1li Fortifications

D. Antioch: 1159
E. Maiander: 1177
F. Soublaion, Dorylaion: 1175
G. Atramyttion, Pergamon, Chilara: 1162-3
H. Klaudiopolis: 1177

Damietta (Egypt)
@l X1169






xxij MAPS
Domestic division and an increasingly complex external political envi-
romncnt destroyed the Komnenian Empire in the late twelfth cen-
tury, but for a period of one hundred years, under the emperors
Alexios I, John Il, and Manuel I, the Byzantine state flourished. It
regained m.uch of its old military and political preeminence in Balkan
and Middle Eastern politics, and engaged in aggressive military poli-
cies. These policies resulted in vast territorial gains and increased
frontier stability in Asia Minor, and the stabilization of the empire's
European frontiers. Furthermore, thc empire's economic prosperity
was also the result of these territorial gains. These advantages could
not have been achieved without an effective army.
The goal of this study is to understand the fighting capability of
the Komnenian army, how it was maintained, and how it replen-
ished its manpower. Ideally the military historian seeks sources that
provide detailed tactical and strategic information about the army
and its campaigns. With one exception Komnenian battle accounts
were not written by soldiers but by imperial secretaries, civil officials,
and relatives of emperors. There is no Komnenian Strategikon, the
seventh-century Byzantine military manual that provides much of
our inform,ation for the army of that period. Historians of the eleventh,
twelfth, and thirteenth centuries wrote to glorify or criticize emper-
ors, to promote their own interests, or perhaps simply to ask why
God permitted so many calamities to befall His people. Nikephoros
Bryennios is the only soldier among our sources; his Historia ends in
1079 with the rebellion of Nikephoros Botaneiates. This work lacks
the polish and literary quality of other contemporary accounts, but
his history describes military events precisely and cogently. I Although
Michael Attaleiates was not a soldier, he was a military logothete in
Romanos IV's army, and accompanied the army on the iVlanzikert
I Anna Komnene was married to the general and historian Nikephoros Bryennios,
campaign, where the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan defeated the Byzan-
lim,. Attaleiates' Historia describes Romanos' recruits and gives an
accollnt of how they performed during the campaign against the
Sdjuks. Michacl Psellos, eounselor to several emperors, was a skilled
politician with access to imperial documents and to individuals who
participated in the campaigns he describes, but he himself was not
al rhe battle of Manzikert, nor at any of the other military events
rhat he recounts in his Chronographia. Anna Konmene, daughter of
.\lexios I, offers a detailed description of military events during her
lilllwr's reign, but her account is limited to Alexios' activities. She
ilillfJreS the presence of Alexios' heir, her brother and enemy, the
lillun' emperor John II Komnenos. Ioannes Zonaras' Epitome histo-
/lOll is, a chronicle of world history with little specific detail, although
h,t: of/Cl'S a I.nore balanced appraisal of Alexios than does Anna. John
KIllIJamos lived during Manue!'s reign and served as the emperor's
accompanying the emperor on his travels. Although Kin-
provides first-hand location descriptions, the relia-
h,Illty of. his account is skewed by his obsequious praise of the
KOllllI('lllan emperors, in particular of l'vIanucl. Niketas Choniates
wrote his histolY in the late twelfth century, after
KlIlllalllos . work was finished, He achieved high rank under Isaac
If (1185-95), and wrote after the last Komnenian emperor
.\wholllkos I, was deposed (1185). Choniatcs completed his histm;
altt'1' sack of Consta?tinople in 1204. The major textual sources
(.tu b( WIth a number of epistlographic and rhetori-
I .tllthol's. of Thcssalonike occasionally mentions details
"f or milItary tactics, while PseUos' orations and the poems
') Il'O( ore Prodroll1os can be mined for useful fragments Pro
droIllOS Irequently refers to events that do not ot! . " . -
,( \ .. ' tt I. B,. 1erwIse appeal 111
. ., \ 11 tn.)} yzan tme chrolllclers. The followin . b . f .
III tht' sources IS designed to off".. . g ne survey
. I I' '. ' . Cl cl conCIse guIde to the problems
dJl( oJ the Byzantine sources for the K .
omneman army.
... J Ilt'f husl';lIId, although her lilthcr alw' ..
I I HI ffll '//I.\lilll. Allllil rt'/ied lI]lOIl BI'\" . " h:
the most abundant
I .. ,,,.', 1 fllnlOS IstOry lor much of Alexios' early
TEXTI1.'\J. SI l\ JRCFS F()R I ANIl I :frll-CENTlIR \' IlIST()R '\'
'lltl' .jll/km'
TI](' :lIn/lld or AlIlla KOlllIH'IH' is tht' lI1os1 illl(>Ol't<lllt SOIll'('(' lill' Alto:'\.-
ios' I'eig-ll. \VI'iuI'1\ as ;lll t'll('olllilllll, Anll<l's aC('(Jlml 01' Alt'xios' mil-
itary activities IllllSI 1)(' ('x;tlllillt'cI with all llll<!nslalldillg' or
Itel' (j\'(T-riding' desire tll g'loriJ)' ht,1' J:ltlH'r's d('(ds. 'Vithill litis iJroad
cm'('al, hel' d('scrip(ion ()r military activity I:dls inlo two calt'gOl'i('s.
First, lll,llly o!' A1I1I;1's ;HTOllllIs o!' ('VI'llls tltat ()('('urn'd during hI'!'
childlHHld ()J' lwJIll't Ilt'r hirllt \\,(,\,(' takell llearly \'{'l'ilatilll Ji'Olll Iltt'
1Ir/!' Jlil/lllill or IwJ' hllsilalld, Nik('pltnros BrYIl1l1ios. I /tor o(llt'r d('S(Tip-
(i;ms. Ihose sltt' ('(Il1stl'l\('I('(L \\,(,),(' d('\'('Jop('d li'cllll I\('arsay ;1Ilt! i'J'IlllI
Ihe rt'j)orts or \'tlnalls.' .\lIl1a's 1)(,lIigll plagiarislll (11' hn hllSh;J1Id
raise's Iwo Ijllt'stiollS: lilt' l'ilrlllwlog-y or ('\'('111s ill Iwr work. ;tIlt! It('\'
{'0111])('('llt(, ill IksI'I'ihi1lg Illilitan' ('\,(,lltS. B\'zalltilll' chrollil'/t'rs lo\'C'cI
10 \\Til(' ;t\lollt ('\'('llls thal glllrifi('t! Illt'il' h('I'()(,s allt! \\Tr(' fill' !toss
(,Ollt'(Tl1l'd "ilh lilt' ;w(ual I;wti(s ;lIltl eqllipllll'1I1 or thl' llIass Ill' !Iit'll
",ho participa('d ill Ih('S(' (alllpaiglls. Tltis (t'IH]('IH'Y is 1l<Lll1l'ally IIUII'('
pl'OllIHII1('('d "ltI'll dll'Ollidt'rs \ITult' d('l'adl's ali('!' 1'\'('lIts ()((IUTt'd.
as did .. \1I1l;1. TIH' .lInilld spalls a hH1ad dlJ'(lllol()gy that illdlld(,s
All'xios' a('('('SSillll (() lilt' rllJ'(llH' ill lOBI 11\1"1) Y('ars Iwliln' .\lIl1a's
hirlh), (I\(' Firsl (:nls;\(I(' 11111)/;1. Itt'!' h(Jwl'\ d('atlt ill IIII!, alld IwJ'
1:lilt'd ('(lIIP agaillsl Itn hmtlln, ,John Il !I lIB 1:1" "'hii'll I'nllltC'(1
ill Ilt'r (:-.ilt' (0 a Ill(lll;!S((TY. '1'11('1'1' s!t(, n'lll;tillC'd, 1l1l;!!>1(' ((I II'ril('
IIlltil hIT hl'lI(hn di('d .l1ltll\('1' IlI'plwlI', ,\LtIIlH'1 I f I H:I IHb, I)IIIOIill('(1
lilt' Iilrnlll'. :-'lam lit' (h(' ('\,(,Ilts Ihal .\1111;1 dt'snilH's (WI'lIITIt! ill till'
d(rad( 1)('lil\'l' siit' IHII'II, alld fill' tlll'st' sIit' rt'liall(,(' !Ill
ItIT hllSilOlllcl's dll'OlIitlt'. I\(T;tIlS(' nryc'lllliIIS' IIis((lry ('lids ;to; .\I('xins'
l'!'igll IWl.\ills. ,\1111"\ d('snip(i(11l ot' tI\(' lir"t I\\('II(Y W;th (d' It('\'
1;1l1t1'l'\ W<lS drawlI Ihlllt Itc'aJ'say. SI\(' wrill" (11,,( Ihl's(' n'('1l1s
\Wf'(' !J;lI\di,t! ai>(1111 ('(lllrt <IS (':-';Il11plt-s Ill' I. I l(' ('111/)('1'111"\ ,0\.,
OI\(' IlligiIl (XIHTI. C( ,ssip illll1H'III'I'd lH'r p('rn'p(itlll Ill' h('r
btlH'1' alld ahiliri( .... ; Ftlrll\l'rIlI1I1T, tllC' 'wln;Ills' .\1111,1 CIIllo,ll!t('t!,
.\11I1t' (;"111111'111' . . II.tUI.;" !'.ll'i, . Iq;, i";. ,d. 11. I.,ill, 11. lil . I "iIlIH'
iliI' lill,' .If.t/,bl,. (" 11'1"1 I" fIll, ""IK. ,\IIU;I illdi,.II,, Ih.ll ,I", ,,!.I.lillnllll",' "I hn
illl"rllI.III"" dill il": \1.11111<'1', 1"11.:11. 11111 Ih,t! .111' h.101 "Ir.u 111',11'11 Itn 1.11111'1' .III.!
Il)n" 11111'\1 111I"Ilnl ,11'1111'1" II.ul(.-'."
,IIIII,"!,.. 11.1':"1. (;"'>1;:" l'.d.II' dill'.'" dil'"1 ... 1 till' t!1'I"II'''' .11' 1)\11.111""1, .H:,IIII',I
({"llITI (;"( 11<1 .. 11101 Ill' 1'III.IIIIt''} "Ill' "I . \In;i", , 111.... 1 I",.d '"I'I"'IIt',., .. \1111.1
'''111.1 1..1\1' /'1111,,1 11'1\ Ill"'" IId""II1'" '''Ill' ", Ih.11I l'.d.llttll1): ....... 1I11,,"::11 In, It.".
had they been active in the 1080s, would have been octogenariam
in the 1140s. When examining Anna's account we should remem-
ber two things: even the last events of Alcxios' reign, the Turkish
campaign of 1117, took place twenty-five years earlier than the point
at which Anna wrote about them, and that all of her military descrip-
tions arc derived from hearsay. She mentions that imperial docu-
ments were available to her, and the precision of her description of
the Treaty of Devol appears to support this, but Anna seldom dif-
ferentiates between incidents drawn from her memOlY, from hearsay,
or from documents. Finally, we must remember that Anna Komnene
did not witness any of the battles she describes, except [or the arrival
the First Crusade and perhaps such skirmishes near Constan-
tmople as have. been seen from the safety of the city'S walls.
Anna selectIvely mmed her husband's chronicle for accounts of
Alexios' accession to the throne, and relied upon
court gOSSIp for the first twenty years of her father's reign. This still
us with a of Alexios and the events oC his reign
b.ased sown cbm memOlY and third-hand accounts. Pre-
;-Ise descnptIons of tactics, equipment, and men are particularly
to a study such as this one, but the limitations imposed
y are compounded by Anna's tendency to glorify her
father's actIons to. th: of accurate description. The mili-
events of pre-relgn, as corroborated by Nikephoros' his-
arc deSCrIbed WIth precision and detail. They arc marred only
y nna's focus on her father to th I' f I . .
. e exc USlOn 0 ot ler partICIpants.
er tendency to mdulge i I b I . "
I. , '. n lyper 0 e lllcreases m dIrect proportion
r fjlack of dctalled mformation. A good example of this is Alex-
lOS e eat at Dy h' 1
army f R b rC
. lOn, Wlere the Norman cavalry and infantry
o 0 ert Ulscard compl t I hi'
cavalry and d. h fi e .e y overw e med the Byzantme
, lOVe t em rom the fi Id A
escape firo D h' le . nna recounts the emperor's
. m yrrac lOn upon a . I 1 .
, I ,n mIracu ous capmg horse -I but we
are Clt to 6'Uess what ha d' '
AI.' .' c ppene to AlexlOs' men. In battles where
CXIOS IS present as an actI've t"
. par ICIpant the Id'
mercl), su!)portI'llg h h ,common so Iers arc
. c aracters W ose t' . .
ac Ions serve to hIghlIght the
I Alf.tialie, I, 164. Anna's lcapin hors . '.
tlw dellouements of Alexios' battl.
Th e Imagery IS typIcal of her descriptions of
III " , 'cs, e more poor! !\] . f: '
DIe compensatury glory his daught 11'1 I r y eXlos arcs ll1 combat the
ters describing the battle and e to) create. Anna spends two cl1ap-
two descnbmg Alexios' "glol'l'o "11' I
us Ig It.
emperor's courage and perspicacity; they disappear once Alexios'
retreat moves the action away from the battlefield.
Alongside the to])OS of the miraculous, Anna also employs the
topos oC the emperor's cleverness. The best example of this is Anna's
muddled description of the "new formation" supposedly employed
by her father on his last Turkish campaign. This account provides
no practical information that would distinguish the formation from
an ordinary phalanx: what made it new, presumably, was Anna's
lack of understanding." The only novelty of the 1117 campaign was
that Alcxios' men were well disciplined and followed orders during
a difficult retreat.
Anna also wrote to cast aspcrsions upon the motivcs and charac-
ters o[ Alexios' opponents, and this purpose permeates her account
of events, along with more traditional Byzantine prejudices noted by
Gyula Moravscik, such as dislike of westerners and a lack of under-
standing of Islam. h Anna argues that the laws oC history prevented
her from interpolating her own opinions and biases into her history,
but her truth is often skewed.
This habit is particularly in evidence
whcn shc ignores her brother, the future emperor John n. John was
an adult for the last decade of Alexios' reign (1108-18), but Anna
omits any substantive mention of Alexios' successor, who appears
occasionally in treatics she transcribes, but who never takes any
praiseworthy action. Anna states that John left Alexios' death-bed
and hurried to the Imperial Palace to crown himself. Her implica-
tion is that he acted prematurely, and committed what amounted
to usurpation. This description of Alexios' last hours does little to
increase the reader's confidence in Anna's description of Alexios'
relationships with his other near-peers. Surely Alexios' system of gov-
erning, which came to rely increasingly upon family me,mbel:s to
important positions, would have included the emperor s TIns
deliberate omission is particularly significant when we conSIder the
:. Alexiade, Il, 19B-l99. Anna's description ?f Alexios' new battle is
must disappointing DC her descriptions. her. efforts It neIther tells
us how the men were arranged nor why It was eHectlve the Turks.
Ii Gyula Moravscik, B.yzallfilloturcica 1, Akademie Verlag 19?3), 219. Alexan-
der Kazhclan essentially agrees. Sce his Change in Byzalltme Culture In the Eleventh and
'[we/fill C'fIlturil's (Bcrkcley, 1(85), 214, .' .
7' Al " /. 11 173, Anna tries to J'ustiGy her excessIve prmse of her father. It IS
n.C,\/{/ct., , ' II b t.' An a's
usually impossible tn determine which events she aetm: y saw, u gIven 11.
position and gender, would not have been an eyewItness to battles.
time and effort Anna spends demonstrating the importance of other
members of the imperial family. Prominent examples of this include
her grandmother Anna Dalassene, her mother Irene, and her own
husband Nikephoros. Anna oflers little information on the relation-
ship between Alexios and John. The rather meager descriptions of
Niketas Choniates and John Kinnamos offer our only other window
on a critical imperial succession.
Anna's affection for Alexios is sin-
cere, but we must weigh her praise of her father against her silence
with respect to her brother.
Anna's glorification of Alexios affects her depiction of military
events. Eulogy takes precedence over the accurate depiction of bat-
This reflects a more general Byzantine literary attitude towards
the army. An emperor who was victorious while avoiding combat,
deserved more praise than one who was victorious in pitched bat-
tle, which Byzantines regarded as a matter of luck modified by plan-
In this context, it makes sense that Anna was not interested
in the equipment, training, and recruitment of Alcxios' men par-
ticularly when generals otller than the emperor commanded 'them.
Anna Komnene's account provides a wealth of geographical and
chronological information, information that Michacl PseIlos for ex-
ample, usually omits. She tells us where Alexios went with his army
and what troops it contained, if not in any great detail, and this
enables us to analyze Alcxios' campaign strategies. For example, the
of armies during the Pecheneg and Cuman campaigns is
1l1credibly complex. Anna's very complete account of these wars (fl'om
1087 to 1091) enables us to follow march and counter-march and
the raising and disbanding of armies. This is also true of
Robert Gui.scard and Bohemond, and of the gen-
eral course of hIS last campaIgn against the Seljuk Turks. Despite
11 Choniates, Nice/ae G'lwlliatae His/ona cd. J. Van Dieten CFI-IB (B' f
1975),. 10-12. abbreviated as 'CJlOn'iatcs, Historia')'
a,togctlhcr dlffcrent account of John's succession. He indicates that A1ex-
,IV,I: very p eased that he had outwitted his wife !rene, and that Iolm had
ascended the throne. Furthermore Choniat .' \'.. h I. . . .
t r I '" es mOcates t at I ene was the II1stlga
. or t le Int.tml coup, in which both Anna and her husband N'k' h ' " . c.-
little further information other than
!I A/exiade, I, 164--166. Alcxios' flight ll'om D ' I" , ,
lanei/hl descriptions 'lIld 1'0 '1 good I t'l ynac lion IS onc of Anna s most
, . ., , " , cxamp e 0 lOW An . I. . . .
hlI g.Up" 'In tIle n" na uses lel Imagm<ltlOn to
., arratlve.
III Alexiade, n, 195, 100-101.
her prejudiccs and omissions, Anna Komnene provides detailed
descriptions of many of Alexios' campaigns.
John Zonaras was a high imperial official in the court of Alexios I,
and as such, his history ofters a counter-point to Anna's biases.
Zonaras' Historical Epitome is a chronicle of world history from the
Creation until the end of Alexios' reign, at which time Zonaras prob-
ably lost his position as megas dmungarios tes viglas.
A member of
Constantinople's civil elite, Zonaras is critical of Alexios' policy with
relation to the Senate-the leading aristocrats of the capital. For
example, he states that Alexios treated the empire like his own house
(oiko.l') , granting fiscal exemptions and state properties to his friends
and rclatives.
He occasionally comments upon military events. For
example, when discussing Nikephoros Phokas, he informs us that the
emperor's tax policy forced farmers to be taxed as soldiers, and sol-
diers to be taxed at the next higher grade of military taxation. This
only refers to Nikephoros' reign, and no similar information is pro-
vided when he discusses Alexios, whether with respect to tactics and
strategy, or with respect to the state's military finances.
The J-{yle Histmias of Nikephoros Bryennios, who served both Alex-
ios and J 01111 Komnenos as a military ofEcer, is the third source for
the tactics and organization of the Komnenian army. His analysis is
that of an experienccd commander who has observed other experi-
enced commanders. His prose is straightforward, and his description
of military events is clear and lucid. This is especially evident when
he describes Alexios' battles against Bryennios the elder and Basi-
lakios, which occurred while Alexios was Domestic of the West. Nike-
phoros Bryennios is similar to most Byzantine chroniclers in that he
was more interestecl in the motivation and character of commanders
rather than in the maneuvers, men, and materieI they employed.
But Nikephoros, more than any author of the Komnenian period,
includes descriptions of the troop types and recruiting grounds of
the Byzantine army and of the tactics used by the opposing forces.I'1
11 ODR, IU.
ODB, 1II, 2229. Thc drollllgarios was originally a military title, roughly equiv-
alent to the rank of regimental commander. By thc late eleventh century the IIlq;as
rir()/l/I(llIrios Its Ilia/a had become a judicial post.
1:< John Zm;:u'as, E/litollloe Hisioriarum, cc\. M. Pinder and Th. Buttner-vVobst,
:3 Vols., C:SHB (Bonn, lfHl-97), Ill, 766, I. 11-19.. ..,
11 Nikep!to['()s BrYCl111ios, .Nlcejilwre Hls/oz]'e, BIle Hls/onas, er HE,
P. Gamier (Brussels 1975), 269-71, nl-7B, for the anmes and battle of AiexlOs
and Hryl'lll1ios, and 1I :1- 1 tl.
Nikephoros also provides much of Anna Komnene's source mate-
rial for the campaigns of Alexios before he became emperor. It is
reasonable to suppose that Nikephoros also providcd much of the
anecdotal detail that fills the later chapters of Anna's history.
Nikephoros' history ends in 1079, two years before Alexios I came
to the throne. His account, which examines thc army of each rebel
in the Byzantine civil wars of 1071 to 1079, gives the most coher-
ent account of the size, composition, and capabilities of the army at
the time of Alexios' accession. Bryennios describes the early career
of Alexios, tracing his service as a general, and subsequently as
Domestic of the West under the emperor Nikephoros Botaneiates.
. of this high post, Alexios was a witness to (indecd, a par-
tIcIpant m) many of thc battles that Nikephoros Bryennios recounts.
But Bryennios' history has value not only for his depiction of Alex-
ios' rather mclimentary tactical ability. It also provides concise descrip-
tions of the armies of Nikephoros Basilakios, Nikephoros Melissenos,
Nikephoros and finally of Alexios himself during his
te.nure as. DomestIc of West. These accounts describe an army
stIll recrmted from natIve Rlzomaioi-"Romans," as the Byzantines
called themselves until the fall of the Empire, and complement Anna's
account of Alexios' army and recruitment capabilities in 10S1.
Eleventh-century Byzantium was a multi-ethnic empire, but to the
extent that all troops recruited from within the empire's territories
were nominally Byzantine, then all of the above-mentioned armies
were Byzantines fighting other Byzantines.
Mercenaries were used
but we little information from Bryennios about the
of Byzantme forces against foreign foes.
history straddles only nine years, and includes the last
two years of Romanos IV's ill-starred reign, the disastrous reign of
protege Michael VII, and finally the rebellion and victory
and his first year as emperor. Despite its
hmlted chronolOgIcal Scope, Bryennios' history is essential to an under-
All' What constituted "Byzantine" identity has been the subject of much debate
the existence of a homo 0zantinllS, whose traits were;
:' m.1 :nto Byzantme language and culture, and acceptance within the Byzan-
me Hoem uerarchy as ti Th' h' . I
f " a. na ve. IS Istonca construction is partially the result
o sources p:'eJudlccd against anyone who lacked Greek language and culture It
appears senSible to regard as "Byzantinc" those who pa'd th '
who I 'd d' . I e emperor taxes or
. I t )roVl e service to him as a result of grants from imperial lands or the I'm'j)c
na reasury. ,_
standing of the tensions within the empire in 1081. Attaleiates and
Psellos provide graphic examples of how impcrial decline had affected
the army's upkeep, culminating in the disastrous battle of Manzikert
(1071). Blyennios enables us to analyze the army from 1071 to 1081,
the decade during which the empire lost Asia Minor. To be sure,
Bryennios' prose is less polished than that of other, better-educated
Byzantine authors, but his thesis that imperial politics and the events
of the civil war were driven by the ambitions of powerful family
coalitions is a sophisticated and realistic appraisal of events.
Constantine Psellos, known today by his monastic name of Michael,
was a complicated personality; his motivations in writing his history
clearly included self-justification and self-promotion.
The value of
his Chronograpltia for the purposes of this study lies in its account of
military events during the reigns of Romanos IV Diogenes and
Michael VII; it is, moreover, the most important account of the
empire from the death of Basil II (1025) until the rise of the Kom-
ncnoi. Pesllos sketches the chronology of events that destroyed the
empire's eastern territorics: The years 1058 to 1068 had witnessed
an epidemic of Turkoman raids. III Following the battle of Manzik-
ert, during the war between Romanos and Michael, the empire's
eastern frontier was stripped of its last defenders, as each rebellious
general or magnate tried to obtain troops for his march on the cap-
ital. Michael VII's policy of denying funds to several strategically
critical Anatolian military units exacerbated this situation and pro-
voked rebellions from 1071 until 1081, rebellions that ended only
when Alexios Komnenos became emperor. Psellos watched imperial
power collapse and wrote about it from the perspective of an insider.
\(, Kazhdan, G'lwnge in Byzantine Culture, 106: "The work of
is probably the most aristocratically biased Byzantine history o[ tlllS penod; It pre-
sented the noble warrior in a Illlly gencralized and idealized form. The caesar
Bryennios ... was, in all, the idcologue of the Comnenian military aristocnlcy."
17 Michcl Pscllos, G'l17'01lOgrajl/Zie, cd. and tr. E. Renauld (Paris, 1967),. Il,
(Bk. 6, 22-28). Ps ell os j usti!1es his criticisms, 0[' the emperor, . Cons tan tme
spite 0[' the evident favoritism that Constantmc had shown hun-by assertmg hiS
high purpose: impartiality. , ,
III Gcorge Ostrogorsky, Histmy qf the Byzantme Sta:e (Ne;-v B.nmswlck, NJ., .1969);
343. The most notable of these raids were the sackmg n[ Al1I and Cacsarca 111 the
years 1065 and 1067 respectively. 0[' all of BY7.antillm's enemies, the Turknmans,
Turkish raiders who were outside of control, were the greatest threat to
Byzantine sovereignty throughout the Komnenian period. The rulers made
treaties with emperors, but the TurkOluan tribes ignored the agreements and were
a particular threat in the empire's borderlands.
recognized that the bureaucratic government slripped the fron-
tlers of manpower in times of crisis, while ignoring his own atten-
dant (as a distinguished member of this bureaucracy)
. cnpplIng the provincial military class at a time when a strong
was crucial to imperial survival. This lack of personal respon-
for misguided policies in which he was a key adviser is par-
tIcularly evident during the reigns of Constantine X and Michael
VII. Psellos claims to have profouncUy influenced both emperors,
whose reigns-militarily-were failures. 19 During the reig1I of Michael
VII, Turkish raiders poured across the fi'ontier while the rebellions
of Nikephoros Melissenos and Nikephoros were a con-
se.quence of the emperor's incompetence. These rebellions, combined
wIth the denuding of the frontiers to defend the capital, destroyed
any pretense of imperial control in Asia Minor.
PscUos, however,
refuses to acknowledge his role in these difficulties, despite his claim
to been the primary influence upon these emperors.
MIchael PseUos misunderstood the struggle for power between the
cen.tral government and local centers of authority, interpreting all
SOCIal struggles as evidence of the importance of the emperor, rather
than as evidence of other social difficulties. Central authority assumed
two forms. Onc was the control of taxation and the disbursement
of the collected monies and produce. The other was control of the
central bureaucratic apparatus, including control of the throne. A
bureaucracy concentrated in the capital ruled Byzantium during the
century, which kept resources out of the hands of
ctal of power (dynatoi). Constantinople's control of the empire's
productIOn surplus prompted the provincial leadership to seek to con-
trol the bureaucratic apparatus. Between 1071 and 1081 six Anato-
provincial leaders rebelled, each of whom attempted to make
hImself emperor. Psellos' analysis demonstrates a smprisingly rudi-
mentary understanding of this struggle: to Michael, the emperor
so clearly the focus of power that it was impossible to con-
ceIve of permanent alternative centers. This point of view was nat-
ural for Byzantine chroniclers, most of whom resided in Constantinople,
the seat of the emperor's power and the one region the emperor
HI PseUDs, !I, 149, 176-77. PseUos claims to have personally prevented Constan-
tIne from gmng to war, and asserts that Michac1 VII trusted him more than his
own brothers. .
2(} PseUDs, Il, 182-85. Alexiade, I, II
could almost always absolutely control. Constantinople, "the City"
to RllOmaioi everywhere, received constant reminders of imperial glory
in the form of festivals, donations of monasteries, and military parades,
not to mention more mundane but immediatc1y practical works such
as charitable foundations, aqueducts, cisterns, and defensive fortifi-
cations. vVhen a usurper seized the throne, the chronicler inevitably
saw this as a manifestation of the importance of the imperial posi-
tion rather than evidence or forces opposed to it.
Despite his urbane sophistication, Michacl Psellos is in this respect
no different from other Byzanline chroniclers. While recognizing that
thc army and the provincial elites were crucial to the empire's sur-
vival, he focuses on the character and personality oC each emperor
to the exclusion of their deeds. To be to Michael, there is more
to this than mere scandal Michael VII chose counsel-
lors such as Michacl Psellos and the eunuch Nikcphoritzcs, and
apparently enjoyed the delights of philosophy more than any satis-
faction he might have obtained from solving (or !lying to solve) the
empire's pressing problems. During his reign, Byzantine influence in
the Balkans collapsed as a result of internal rebellions and the attacks
of the Hungarians and Pechcnegs. In the cast, Turkish raids grew
in force anclll-equency. All the same, only an emperor could request
military aid frorn a western ruler. Michael appealed to Pope Gre-
gory VII for aid against the Turks, an appeal that laid the ground-
work for the Crusades. The personality of the emperor was critical
to the strength 0[' the state, but whether PseUos understood how
important the provinces were to the cmperor and the empire is open
to question.
Alexander Kazhdan considers Psellos' C1Zl'01wgrajJ/iia to represent it
break with an idealizing tradition in Byzantine chronicle: Psellos'
characters, in contrast to those of earlier chroniclers, are believable
and ftlUy formed human It may be that his interest in
human character and its clfect upon political activity came at the
21 Psc\los, 11, 12H<21).
22 Kazhc1an, (;/w//ge ill Ib',ulllti//{! Cllltlll)', 13. This contention is debatah!t> Cer-
tainly Psel10s was a pl'I'ceptivl' analyst of BY"<lntine court cullure and a laIr and
even-handed ohserver if Illeasurcd against earlier chroniclers such as Thcophancs .
But other sophisticated contemporaries of 1vlichad Psd1os, notahly Michad Aualciates
and Anna Komllclll'. \\'lTl' cqlm\ly (if not more) capable 01' can-rlll character stud-
ies. It may bl' that Attakialcs and Ann<l Wcl'(.' less intercsted in character as the
basis or idclltity thall was i\lichad PsellDS.
expense of a more modern notion of the effects of economic and
social forces. For example, Romanos IV's army in 1071 was dan-
gerously unprepared for a major According to Michacl
Attaleiates, the levics drawn from Asia Minor had rusty weapons,
little equipment, and almost no training.
PseUos however, attrib-
utes the disaster at Manzikert to faults in Romanos' personality,
despite all of the evidence that he musters in support of a contrary
(and more plausible) argument.
The example of Michael IV, who
despite a wasting disease successfully campaigned against the Bul-
garians, is a notable exception.
It is tempting to see Michael's fas-
cination with the character of Byzantine rulcrs as rhetorical excess.
In an imperial monarchy there was an understandable tendency to
look for a connection between the emperor's health (and particu-
larly his mental health) and the vitality of the state. Hcalth was con-
sidered a reflection of the divine will, or at least a mirror of the
ruler's character. Michael's aristocratic prejudices and personal tics
to several emperors led him to assume that the fate of the empire
lay exclusively under the control of the emperor himself. Whether
we agree with him or not, Michael Psellos identified personal
"greatness"-with the office of emperor. Revolts were an indication
of the importance of the imperial of an automatic
process in which great men were drawn to the throne.
PseUos' attitude towards the military reflects the prejudices and
priorities of the professional bureaucrat. His summary descriptions
of battles bespeak a lack of personal military experiencc, and they
also reflect PseUos' belief that leading an army into battle was a sci-
ence, governed by rules and traditions as rigid as those of rhetoric
or medicine. War, like other disciplines, was a fit subject for theo-
retical speculation. As with all things in Michael's cosmos, onc would
23 Pseilos, n, 159-62 .
. Michael Histaria, ed. 1. Bekker (Bonn, 1953), 103. Attalciates pnl-
the best descnptlOn of the puor training and condition of the Byzantine sol-
diers. The men weapons, had little training, and had been so long neglccted
that they were soldiers in name only. " .-
2:. Pscllos" 1 Michael,. the epi.tome of the courtier, objects strenuously
to mabllLty to take adVIce. was the character Haw that, according:
to 2;;rlchael, caused to lead Ius army to disaster.
Psellos, I, ?8-79. .endurance on campaign while wracked with dis-
?ase .calls to mmd. ;llness. The accounts of these campaigns, led Iw
l11vahd. emperors, IS one lllchcatlOn of how important military valnr was to t
Byzantmes from the eleventh century onwards.
meet with success if a venture were begun with well-ordered pIaIlS.';
PseUos contrasts the haphazard way in which Romanos IV prepan:cl
for war with the "proper" method of waging war, ascribing the dcci-
sion to divide the Byzantine forces before the battle of Manzikert to
the emperor's ignorance of military Romanos, h()\\"CHT,
was campaigning in the barren highlands of southcrn Armenia, where
a large army needed to disperse in ordcr to find supplies; Psdlos
seems to have ignored or put no credence in the cxigcncics of cam-
paigning. Doubtless in the atmosphere of thc Doubs court during
the 1170s, any criticism of Romanos was welcome, hut Romanos'
decision was a sound one, since hc had to provision his army. Byzan-
tine scouts failed to discern that the emperor faced the full Seliuk
army, rather than the local contingents that the emperor expected.
Romanos might have won the battle evcn under these circumstances,
but the treachery of Andronikos Doukas, who withdrew his units at
the critical moment, ensured defeat. Michael confuses military exper-
tise with the administration of a branch of the imperial bureaucracy:
a general's responsibility was essentially administrative-organizatioIl
and planning. In practice, however, pcrsonal participation and luck
often played as great a role as dispassionate
While complaining that Romanos lacked knowledge of military
science Psellos himself demonstrates only the most rudimentary
iarity the art of tactics. Bardas Skleros, a Byzantine general,
fought as a mercenary for the Arabs in 979. In recounting the events
of a battle fought by Skleros' cavalry, Psellos says that
tine cavalry charged its opponent from the two flanks; no mforma-
tion about equipment or their opponent's tactics is provided.
Michael VI fOlJght the usurper Isaac Komnenos in 1057, Psellos was
onc of Michael's courtiers and should as a consequcnce have been
familiar with the events of the battle, but his account of the battle-
refers only to flanks and a center without details.
description of this battle rcsembles Michael Atta1cIates' descnptlOl1
" ]" . I' . tDentic
27 Psellos, n, 161- 6 2. PseUos subsequently berates Rmnanos Ul IIS.HI
II 158 161-62. (Bk. 7,20). Michacl believed that gt:neral should Iw
.. Psello
,?,. where he could conduct the battle with a cuul head.
utherwise, but Mic:hael appears unaware of this. Scc
Psellos, I1, 158.
Psellos Il, 161-63. . I
:11) r, Psellos does not specify the enemy Skleros (lug It.
of the events at NI 'k rrl' , "
... , . anZl ert. le actlOns of a smgle man, m tl11S case
:i,tac K.olllnenos e d' I' 1
.' , ,nsure VIctOry lor t le rebels, Pscllos claims that
t le ImperIal troop Id d' I d s eau not IS 0 ge Isaac because they physically
pressed hiIn ham botl 'd b h\' I ..
1 SI cs, ut t IS IS mere y a rhctoncal lmage .
. nl1a KOlnnene fa d' ffi' I ..
un It su clent y conVIncmg that she used the
account for her d " f AI ., . .
.1, .. . ,escnptlOll 0 eXlOS herOlcs durmg the first bat-
t c of DyrrachlOll
C' I . . 1 1 ' . I
1 . . lVen lIS assumptIOn t lat 1lstonca events were
c nven by the actions of powerful individuals, it is characteristic of
Pscllos to . tt 'b t . . '
.. . '. ,a. n u e VIctOry to the herOlc character of Isaac, fightmg
dS an IndIVIdual, rather than to his ability as a commander.
PseUos offers Ollly tl t I' . 1 I' cl
, '. 1C mos rue unentary tactlca ana YSIS an pro-
vIdes httle other military , I' h Id I I I I' ,
1l110rmatIOn t at wou le p t 1e 1lstonan
understand the army. When he does offer detail as he does in his
account of the battle f 1\ ,r'k C'" 1 .
. . " 0 ert, we are lortunate m lavlng
account as corroboration.:
PseUos provides valuable in-
formatIon for understanding the rivalries that led to the decline of
B-:zantine power. He is a less useful source for showing how
ploblems wlthm the army contributed to the decline of the middle
Byzantine state,
, The seven books of John Kinnamos' History encompass the period
flOm I 1 18 to 1 1 76> spanning the reign of John 11 Komnenos and
that of Manuel I until his defeat at the battle of Myriokephalon
(1176). We know little about Kinnamos' life and career, although
Charles Brand has argued that several of Kinnamos' remarks incli-
cate he was a soldier.33 Kinnamos claims to have been an eyewit-
at ,battle of Zeugminon in 1165, and his geographical
111[o1'matlO11. IS often precise and detailed, especially so in his de scrip-
:ll PseJloR II 90-91' It . I I 63 c
.' ',. ',., , / eXIOf. e, , I -64 (4, 7). fhese accounts arc sufficiently
that can assume that Anna had read PseUos, and that she consciously
lUUTlICS Psellos account.
:11 Attaleiates, 159-63, Andronikos Doukas was commander of' the Byzantinc
l:cRerve. :'Vhen he that Romanos was under attack by the Seljuks and was
off fl the mam b,?dy .of army, he took his troops and fled tile Eeld. iVIoHt
of the <ll my followed hm1 111 flight. Romanos' reign had meant a decline in the
clan's fort;mes. VII Doubts became emperor after Romanos was
cdptLlled .by the furks. Allowmg Romanos the benefit 01" do It I' I' f"
A I 'k d .. . U), liS C 10lce 0
.' ne rOlll as a .comluan IS of'the powerful necessity fill' compromise
111 and factIOnal :lJsputes, even with the dangerous Doukas faction.
, .. John K.lnnamos, Deeds qI John and Manuel COIlI1lCTllLS, John Kinnamos t1"
C. Brand, (New York, 1976), 3,6. ., .
tion of the Hungarian frontier.:
Although the precision of his account
suggests a in the military, could just as plau-
sibly have been a civil official accompanpng the empero,r.
elements of the history suggest that this may be the more hkely Iden-
tification. Kinnamos, for example, remarks at one point that he fre-
quently discussed Aristotle with a bantering that might
have been more likely a topic of diSCUSSIOn between the emperor
and an imperial secretary than with militmy personnel. We know
with certainty, however, only that John served as a mid-level.bureau.-
crat, a career t.hat from the middle of. Manuel's unul
some indetenmnate tlme after the battle of Mynokephalon. He had
close contact with Manucl, but he never indicates that this led to
an important position. Like Niketas Choniates, had .no
direct contact with Manuel's father, John Il, and hIS mformatlOn
about john's reign is second-hand. .
Kinnamos' prose is simple, often consisting of sentences,
without rhetorical nourish. This is particularly true of 111S account of
the reign of John n. In many instances, the account ,resemb.les a
monastic chronicle--a list of elates and events, only occaslOnally mter-
rupted by excursions into the underlying reasons behi.nd events. The
orations Kinnamos creates for his emperors and theIr grandees arc
routine, varying little in content or constructionY The
of John's history is also imprecise. He describes .assocIated
with a particular person out of sequence, when the
pens to first appear in the narrative. (a common trait of
chroniclers who loved to show off thelT knowledge of court ll1tngue).
This chronology, although disconcerting to readers
iar with the events, does not usually disrupt Kinnamos' narratIVC.
:H Brand, 3. .'
:I', John Kinnamos, ]oannis Cimwmi, eel A. (Bo:1Il, 11336),
290-91. Naturally John would. want to imply a
and the emperor. Kinnamos nught have been a soldier ,:t some pomt 111 Ius C,UCCl,
but there is no fimnal evidence to support that contentIOn. . . .
:lh Kinnamos, 206- 7. Kinnamm claims he will dis,:uss Mynokephalun later 111 IllS
account but his history abruptly in book seven, before the battle. .
:17 K'. . 26-2C) 17'3-74 The lirst is John's death speech, used by Klllnamos
II1n,lmos, . , .' , .", 1 I 1'1
to justify Manuel's claim to t1;c tl.lI:one over the Ius brotl:1:. .1,e
second speech is a similarly llnlllspJrlng and unrc<lhstlc attempt to pOll! 'ly tvLmucl s
embassy to the Doge of Venice in I 166. . .., >. , >'
:111 Kinnamos 121-.24. i\.ndronikos' career IS a iascll1atmg exampk of ex-
tent to which 'Kom!lcnian emperors avoided family strife by not extcndmg the
john's accuracy suffers, however, in his account of Manucl's deeds
and decisions. Whenever Manuel appears, Kinnamos falls prey to a
prolific obsequiousness. At one point, John states that he personally
drive off entire units of foes.:l9 This hyperbole is par-
tIcularly tIresome since John's bare-bones account of military events
frequently needs supporting information. Nevertheless, exaggerated
deeds. of imp:rial prowess were what his audience expected, and
John IS profiCIent at providing such descriptions.
Kinnamos shared the typical Byzantine aversion toward the Latins.'1O
He calls the Venetians corrupt and vulgar and maintains that the
Second Crusade was an excuse on the part of thc French and the
Germans to seize the empire. With the exception of marriage, Latins
al:d seem to have had no morc common ground than
dId Byzantmes and Turks. Nlarriage was used as a means of secur-
alliances, but thesc alliances seldom provided opportunities for
1l1creased cultural understanding between east and west. Kinnamos'
belief that the Second Crusade, although it reached Asia Minor,
posed a grave threat to Byzantium is consistent with Anna Komnene's
suspicions. Unlike Anna, moreover, Kinnamos does not credit Latins
with military prowess. John believed that Byzantine cultural
.was equally manifested in tactical and strategic supremacy,
and m mIhtary valor. .
Kinnamos, like Psellos before him, believed that history was cre-
ated by the decisions of great men. For both chroniclers armies
automatically obtain the character of their leaders. armies
always perform well, while the armies of the hapless Stephen IV of
reflecting his weak and unstable charactcr, melt away.+1
John mvokes fortune as an explanation for why evil happens to good
traditional punishn:cnts for. t;eason, execution or mutilation, to those tied to them
br bloo;:!. Androntkos exlnblts constant dereliction of duty' his intri01 le with the
hunganans as 1l k H' "". 'b' W we nown. IS al1aJrs were scandalous as were his comments
about Manucl's liaison with his first cousin ' . .
3fl Kinnamos, 191-94. .
10 Kinnamos 280 67-68 TI' ... " . lIS passage, m whIch Klllnamos mentions being sur-
rounded by the enemy, is the only evidence that he may have been a soldier Kin-
says he in. palace he had many times heard the
empclOr s prowess. Certamly.the lmphcatlOn here is that he usually did not aCCOI11-
emperor on campaIgn.
Kmnamos, 217. rvIanuel warned Stephen IV not to return to Hun a since
hbc lack led popular support thcre. Stephen was finally betrayed anl
y IS counse aI's. .
John D
01.1kas for example met defeat in Italy after a long
luen. ' , . ,
string of victories, but even here that It was Doukas
pride and inexperience that caused lum to hght unde:
conditions.42 Fortune also appears as a vague threat 111 Kinnamos
staged speeches. l :l This appears to imply a element of [a:a1-
. but fatalism and fortune are used by Kinnamos as rhetOrIcal
Ism, . dl
tools rather than to account for how the U11lverse operates, an t le
terms rarely appear outside of formal to
There is likewise little theological determll1lsm 111 Kinnamos notIOn
of history; rather it is the individual who determines events-and
the emperor outshines all other individuals.
The Byzantine army in Kinnamos' works ser:es as a pretext, to
highlight Manuel's glory. Like Anna Konmenc, .Kinnamo.s Ol;ly ralely
treats the mechanics of military events, but mstead hIghlIghts the
emperor's personal role. Occasional detailed inforn:
: on
bers and equipment of various soldiers pnmarlly to mdlcate
disparities in the armies'fighting force, but given the number
of campaigns Kinnamos describes, these accounts prOVIde a good
source for estimating the composition and size of Nlanucl's army.
John also offers detail about Byzantine
maneuvers during the Hungarian wars. He recounts, 111 some detaIl,
the rise and fall of Stephen IV, the Hungarians' repeated
tion of treaties, and of both sides' weapons and tactics. John'S descnp-,
tions demonstrate a deeper knowledge of events in the west than 01
Manuel's eastern campaigns. .'
Kinnamos' foremost goal is to glorify Manuel, but hIS encom.ta of
the emperor sometimes furnish valuable bits of military realm: a
description of Manucl':i helmet with its mail face guard; the
sword and mace armament of Byzantine heavy cavalry; and Manucl s
of a long, Norman-style shield, with the lance used. as
a primary weapon, in place of the "old" Byzantine style of fight111g

.1'2 17" . 151 16c) 168- G9 Much of Kinmunos' account of Italy is second
",Illnalnos, , .,. . " 1 I 1 ' T "
hand and speculative. He states that the Manuel was pro)a 1 y ,mgry
when he heard of the defeat of Doukas at BrIllCiIsI. . . ..
Il Kinnarnos, 230. Byzantine authors had th:
in their literary cosmos. Fate, borrowed by au.thors iron; .IC<:\
historians, was a pagan concept, difIicult to 111tO.
o . Fate was either the operatioll of the '; ent or.
a weaker capricious extension oi an ]l1chvldual s ablhty to m,lkc mis-
takes and undermine his own plans.
with bow 1 d l' 4 ' , . anc roun s 11dd, 4 Although Kinnamos' claim of innova-
pment an tactICS must be treated with caution his tIOns In cqui d'
account accord 'd Cl " ", '
b J S WI 1 lomates descnptlOns 111 one particular In
at the emperor appears brave to the point of rcckiess-
ness, ' .1'lo..J.nnam ' fi M , < os ocus on anuel, moreover has the effect of con-
centratlng the d' , N,r , .. '
ISCllSSIon on unuel s mIlItary operations' the pretext
may well be f1- tt b 1 '
details ' , . a ery" ut t le substance throws light on interesting
I' 1 . of 1111htary tactrcs and techniques, and it allows John to high-
IgNlt'klllS personal knowledge of the Byzantine frontier with Hungary
1 etas Choniates t '1 T7' ' , h . wro eater .1'1o..111namOS and he becran his carecr
111 t e B ' '" ,b <
yzantmc CIVIl serVIce at the very end of Manuel's reign, Kin-
namos wrote wl 'I ' H ,
. f M 11 e servrng as lvwnuel I s secretary, Choniates knowl-
e ge 0 anuel was d b dill 1 un ou te y co orec by what people were saying
he was a young adult, and he lacked the intimate contact with
IVJ.anuel that Ki ' nnamos el1Joyed, Nevertheless, we should not dis-
1 ns 0 a perceptIve commentator who rosc to the count the opin'o f '
peak of the B ti d" ,
1 cl
yzan ne a mlmstratlVe apparatus and who certainly
la access to any offi ' 1 "It ,f" lCla sources, as well as to people who knew
lVJ.anuel I and John II Cl ' , , 1: ' 'd ' 10mates antI-Komneman viewpoint pro-
VI :s a useful counter to Kinnamos' unmitigated praise. It is also
eaSIer to sympath' , h N'k ' , , lze WIt I etas Chomates than with most Byzan-
tme chronIclers, Unlike the dry and matter-of-fact accounts of Kin-
namos and Bryen I' tl If. '
I lOS, le se -centered wornes of Psellos and the
a oof and f: 'I ' . d' ' amI y-onente narratIve of Anna Komnene Choniates
presents a vibrant 't f , , ' , plC ure 0 ue 111 ByzantIUm, with street vendors
games, and great men's follies,4fi as well as his own
ate, Paul Magdalino succinctly summarizes Niketas' goal: to explain
11 Kinnamos, 112 125 156-57 273-7' '
other Turkish to provi'd' B 4, retained the Pechcnegs and
4:; Traz!ld C'h 'B c a yzantme mounted archer contingent
..... , an, J ange m ryzant'ne C It 113 IZ . ,
ery-the "warrior per "_' I "UIllrt;, .. ' azhdan notes that personal brav-
or IS emp laslzcc! as a' 'ai'
Byzantine authors, in articular Michac . . ,. n by a number of
John Kinnamos, p I Atl,]lcmtes, Eustatlllos oJ Thessalonikc, and
!6 Choniates, Historia 57-58 81 120 Cl .
show popular sentimen; inr or' agaimt the ,in,serts incidents that
John Poutze for his ni 'lrdlincss A I e perm and hiS minIOnS, He lampoons
'so niggardly that he ;" ,ltklOugh <11 wealthy imperial confidante, John was
" . 0 plC up a lOrseshoe he saw I' 1 ,od J'
e road, Chonmtcs says that some children had h,. . d' ,'I I ymg at t le SI e 0
mg that he would not pass u the 0 ortuni e,tte l,t I cc - as prank, know-
Kosmas the Deacon was PIP ty I
ob 1 taln anythll1g free of charge,
, . , 1y lY. anue anc curs d tl '
t.hat she would not bear a son TI t ' dele empress S wOlnb,
' ' , le s reet yen ors ba d' I
t lelr workbenches to make 11.m of KT' A' I. h'" nge Iron too s upon
I 1.1 I s .Ill, t c Selluk sultan,
the failure of Byzantium by showing why God withdrew his favor
from the RhomaioiY Choniates' love of Constantinople and its inhab-
itants make the calamitous events that he describes all the more
Choniates' chronicle of the Komnenian golden age and of the
empire's subsequent collapse encompasses the eighty-six years from
the beginning of John Il's reign (1118) until the disaster of 1204,
when the Fourth Crusade ransacked Constantinople and destroyed
the empire, He organized his history in books, each of which cor-
responds to the reign of an emperor, and wrote the earlier sections
after 1183, The final books, which examine the period from 1183
to 1204, werc written later, after the Latins had taken the city,
According to Gyula .Nloravscik, Niketas also used other sources,
among them, Eustathios of Thessalonike for the Norman wars, church
documents and synodal decisions, and Kinnamos' chronicle,'HI Nike-
tas' account of John n's years is as fragmentary as Kinnamos', Both
were born aftcr John had died, Choniates' account of Manuel's reign
is more detailed and complete than his description of John n's,
although he did not begin his own imperial service until soon before
Manucl's death in 1180,49 It is possible to take exception to Choni-
ates' criticism of Manuel. Choniates' lack of personal experience 'with
the emperor might seem to downplay the chronicler's account. How-
ever, unlike Kinnamos, who exemplifies the sycophancy associated
with the Byzantine system of imperial patronage, Choniates is a real-
ist, and his portrait of Manuel is believably human,5o Choniates places
blame for the collapse of Byzantium in the late twelfth century on
the Komnenian emperors, By implication this places responsibility
for Byzantium's weaknesses squarely on Manuel.',1 It is not thc pur-
pose of this study to cxamine the political and diplomatic effects
of Manuel's policies, but an examination of the emperor's military
policy inevitably draws conclusions that reflect upon his ability to
{) Paul Magdalino, 'flze Em/lire (!f Alonuel 1 KOlllllfIlO,\' (Cambridge, 199:3), 14,
{B Moravscik, 445-46,
'9 H, Magoulias, 0 Ci!y (if Byzantium: Annals qf Niketa.r CilOniate.r (Detroit, 1984), xii,
Magoulias dtcs Michacl Chonintes' letter to Pontus early ill Manue]'s reign as evi-
dence that this marked his entry into imperial service,
511 Choniates, Historia, 53-54, fiO, 95-'9fi, Chonilltcs describes Manud's afikirs, his
arguments with Anclronikos and his reluctance to kill his cousin, and I'vlanucl's inter-
est in astrology.
"I Magoulias, xxiv, Magoulias summarizes tbe calamities that befell Choniates
after the collapse Ilf tbe empire in 1204.
govern. In this regard it is difficult not to agree with Choniates that
Manuel's implementation of policy was deeply flawed. Whatever onc's
opinion of Manuel, Niketas Choniates provides a useful cOllnterpoint
to Kinnamos, as Zonaras does for Anna Komnene, and he also pro-
vides us with an account of Manual's defeat at Myriokephalon, which
Kinnamos' account sadly lacks.
Unlike John Kinnamos, Niketas Choniates reached the Byzantinc
bureaucrat's pinnacle of success, serving as logothete of the sekreta
(a high judicial official) under Isaac II Angelos.
Choniates' chron-
icle attests to his advanced education, as well as to his attitudes and
prejudices. In contrast, Kinnamos remained securely and constantly
among the ranks of the middling bureaucrats. Both maintaincd the
same Byzantine prejudices against westerners and anyone less well
educated, but Kinnamos lacks Choniates' polish and rhetorical nour-
ish. This rhetorical style is not necessarily a virtue, and Choniatcs'
rhetorical descriptions can muddle the facts or events that he is
Choniates was contemptuous both of the masses and
of court dandies. Particularly obnoxious to him were the attcmpts or
the courtiers to seduce the widowed and lonely empress Maria or
Antioch following Manuel's death in 1180.
Of all the chronicles of the middle Byzantine pcriod, Choniates'
elitism finds its closest parallel in Michael PseUos' Chronogmj)/zia. Both
define "nobility" as the measure of a person's valuc, but each pos-
sesses a different notion of what constitutes nobility. PseUos belicved
that nobility of the mind was the highest form of nobility, a COIl-
cept that finds its logical extension in the figure of the philosopher-
emperor. In emphasizing intellectual prowess (at the expcnse or
wisdom and sound governance), and with due allowance {ClI' the
chronicler's politically motivated obsequiousness, Pscllos finds much
to praise in the juvenile character and disastrous reign of Michad
VII. Choniates' notion of nobility includes education, but other qual-
5j Magoulias, xiv.
,,3 .C!1oniatcs, His/ona, 146. For example, Choniatcs comments as filllows, .dieT
how Mantlel an'csted and tonsure cl the jl1lJ/O.Iira/or Alexios Axouch: "\'Vhct\lL'r
was wrath with the emperor over this unjust action, I shall not recollnt at
tlus lIme. It bchoovecl Manuel, who was worldly wise and not at all an ignorant
man, not to waste labor s,eeking out him whose naml: began
with alpha as, thc OI;e to ,succeed him and brmg an end to his rule, but tn leave
the char?c nf the of government to him who says he is the alpha and lIlIIl!f1{/,
as lOhn I,n the Apocalypse," Translation by Magoulias, 8:'\' "
.; Chomates, fIts/ona, 223-225.
ltles are equally significant. Above all, individual merit is a function
of noble birth. According to Alexander Kazhdan, this reflects a shift
in values among the Byzantinc elite, and is not solely characteristic
of Choniates' literary work.
choniates also sees nobility in the mil
itmy arts, an identification repeatedly demonstrated in his descrip.
tions of Manuel's courage in battle. In order to demonstrate how
this represented a shift in the Byzantine zeitgeist, consider the fol
lowing: Anna Komnene believed that Alexios' personal prowess
demonstrated God's grace toward her father, and expressed her
observations in the language of Homeric hyperbole. Kinnamos val-
ued military events as evidence of the general superiority of the
RflOrnaioi, and of Manucl in particular. Choniates' more expansive
conccption of nobility included military prowess, physical perfection,
education, and birth."1i While this is a more balanced view of per
sonal worth than that followed by other Byzantine chroniclers, it still
exhibits a bias toward ability over moral character. Andronikos Kom-
ne nos, Manuel's cousin, seduced the wife of the Icing of Jerusalem
(provoking an inter-state incident), rebelled against the emperor,
(enlisting a substantial band of barbarian Cumans by force of his
personality), and failed in the military undertakings with which Manuel
entrusted him. Yet, Choniatcs inevitably praises him for his clever-
ness, physical demeanor, and wit. Andronikos' nobility inheres in his
personality and physical demeanor: Choniates' dislike of Andronikos's
moral corruption and self-serving narcissism is overshadowed by his
grudging respect for Andronikos' charisma, and his abilities as a
courtier and intriguer.
Choniates believed that histOlY should bring to life the virtuous
dead and parade their dceds as an example to the livingY He reit-
erates Plutarch's view that histOlY exists for the betterment of the
reader, by introducing him to men worthy of praise while damning
lhe deeds of evil men.')1I Niketas, like most Byzantine chroniclers, dis-
claims any attempt at rhetorical flourish: he is (or. so he
claims) the simple truth. For all that) his language )s poetIC and
5. Kazhclan, C/zall,t;e in B.Yl:.rmtine Culture, 112-13, chronicles, in prais
ing individual bravery and noble birth, attest to thiS
'5/; Choniatcs, His/m'ia, 114-1.5, \03-08 Cho.mate: John,
Kameratos, the gluttonous, corclax-dancing courtler, with hiS characterization of
Andnmikos Knmnenos, dashing, capable--and completely amoral.
',7 Chnnialcs, His/oria, I,
',/I Choniates, His/oria, 2.

rhetorically complex; he even sometimes surpasses Psellos in his abil-
ity to create obscure and grammatically difficult passages.
less, Choniates provides highly detailed accounts of battle-plans,
including personnel and equipment, and he delves at some length
into the political and military motives of the commanders. PseUDs
describes the motives of his main characters, but prefers to focus on
b.road such as moral degeneracy in the impe-
rIal famIly, and the fOIbles of mdiVldual emperors. Choniates is not
only interested in the emperors, but also in the activities of their
family men:bers and close associates. He describes the collapse of
the Byzantme fleet and the subsequent growth of piracy during
M 1
, . fiO H I
anue s reIgn. e a so recounts the adventures of Andronikos
Komnenos, which covered a territory stretching from Cappadocia to
and that resulted in the blinding of
StyppelOtes, an ImperIal tavonte.) Psellos mentions the existence of
intrigue; Choniates describes their intimate minutiae. Furthermore
visceral of the Latins does not prevent him
the growmg bes and tensions between Latins and Byzan-
tmes Wlthm the empire; his account of Manuel's seizure of Vene-
property in 1171 is ilie most often cited example in the secondary
Nevertheless, despite the loss of everything he owned to
the of Constantinople in 1204, Choniates genuinely
ad:11lred LatIn lords. This admiration was not compartmen-
IS, reserved for discrete elements of their character (such
:: prowess);, was similarly capable of this
lImited, admiratIOn. In Choniates' histOlY, foreigners
appear as mdlVlduals, not as caricatures. 53 The author's nuanced
treatment of his subject may be one reason that Choniates' history
appeals to the modern reader.
:,'1 Choniales, HistOlia 143 Tl is . 'r Cl .
lions an ullerlv c f' .' " 1 lfS one 0 lOmates most characteristic de scrip-
" I on usmg account 0 nothing 'dixit b t' fi 11 1 I M .
BY7..llntillOturcica I 4.67 call Cl . " ' cau 1 u y p 1rasec . oravsClk,
Cl! Ch' '. s 1011lates prose pompous and bombastic"
lJtuatcs Hzstoria "4 55 Cl . .
financi;/ , 10nlates reports that John of Poutze, ManueI's
the provisioning of a fleet and the tmoney collected from the islands fat'
in piracy. ' ' , elver e It to t le treasury. The result was an increase
lil His/aria, 103-8, 129-32, 138 42 f,
II the fall of Styppeilltes. -- or Andronikos' adventures, and
- Chol1lates, HislO1ia 171-74
"I K ,.
, Change in Byzantine Culture, 184,
Nikctas Choniates seems to have had a more sophisticated under-
standing of military operations and upkeep than did Anna Komnene
or John Kinnamos. First, he recognizes the necessity of careful plan-
ning in military operations.
Most Byzantine authors write as if battle
were matter of luck or fate, treating militmy planning as drawing-
room conversation. Psellos complains of Romanos IV's lack of "mil-
italY science" as if the practice of the military art were a purely
academic discipline like the rules of rhetoric. Kinnamos and Anna
glorify the military prowess of individual emperors, while generally
ignoring key elements of military strategy such as proper planning
and securing of military materiel. Choniates' measured explanation
of John's failure at the Battle of Kinte, in Pontos (1139),li'> and his
description of Manuel's defeat and personal breakdown at Myrioke-
phalon demonstrate that he understood the practical side of com-
bat: the necessity of careful planning, the effects of proper leadership,
and the value of training, discipline, and equipn1.ent.
nonpartisan approach to analysis of imperial actions gives the reader
greater confidence in the accuracy of his description of militmy events.
Kinnamos briefly mentions Myriokephalon, saying that Manuel's
valor forestalled disaster.
By contrast, when Choniates describes the
battle, he provides specific information about the emperor's lack of
leadership and his psychological instability. He describes Manuel's
foolish decision to march through the mountainous defiles of lvlyrio-
kephalon without properly determining whether the pass had been
cleared of Turkish soldiers, an error of judgment that caused the
destruction of the strongest army Manuel ever assembled. Indeed,
no Byzantine army until the end of thc empire in 1453 would ever
,;+ Choniates, His/aria, 110 -1 I, Manue! disbands his troops at Antioch and they
are attacked on the road homc. For Manuel's attack on Serbia (and an indictment
of his lack of' planning), sce Choniates, llistmia, 92.
I;; Choniatcs, His/oria, 34-35. In this campaign the pack animals and war horses
died of malnourishment, and.John was forced to give infantry stanclards to his cav-
alrv to pretend he had more mounted soldiers.
';,; Choniatcs, Hislaria, 180 -81. Manue! failed at Myriokephalon, where the 1';1OI'C
maneuverable Turks ambushed his troops in narrow defiles. Here, as at Manz1kcrt
a hundrecl years earlier, the Byzantine defeat was due to command and a
lack of proper scouting. Choniatcs (p. 187) describes iVIa:lllel's of nerve at the
battle, proposing to flee with his ofTlcers and leave the loot solchcrs to be slaugh-
,;) Kinnamos, 207. This weak and disingenuous passage is Kinnamos's only com-
mental), on the battle; his account breaks ofT as Manucl is gathering troops [ill' his
approach the size and strength of the one lost at Myriokephalon.
Whether describing the misuse of naval funds or the loss of an ini-
tial advantage in the Italian wars, Niketas' account of Nlanud's reign
contains a balanced array of useful military infonnation.
Choniates lived through a series of events that led to the empire's
destruction in 1204, for which he placed general blame on the Kom-
nenoi, and in particular on Manuel. His bitterness is understand-
able: Choniates suffered many personal hardships as the result of
policies enacted by Manuel and Andronikos Komnenos. This brings
us to a central difference (succinctly characterized by Alexander
Kazhdan) between Choniates and previous Byzantine chroniclers:
PseUos wrote with the belief that the empire of the Rlwmaioi would
emerge victorious and renewed. Choniates with the benefit or hincl-
. '
SIght, wrote a history in which he was convinced Byzantium was
doomed. According to Kazhdan, Choniates introduced a "tragic I'cal-
ism"tB . 1'' IGY L
. ' 0 1lstonograp 1y. But does Choniates' tragic real-
lsm or fatahsm 111 fact mean that the empire was unable to stand
up to its enemies, or that it was weaker in 1180 than in 1100? This
study maintains that the Byzantine Empire was stronger in 1180
than it had been in 1118, when Alexios I Komnenos died. The
empire was also an economic powerhouse as strong or stronger tl1'ln
. 'L <.-
1t had been since the ninth century. Why, then, did the empire col-
lapse. so and completely in 1204? Manuel's alliances depended
on tIes of marnage and personal agreements with individual rulers.
The army had at disposal was the same army fielded
by John .Il, 1118 father, .recrUlted from the same, vulnerable regions
eontmued to contam large numbers of mercenaries. The Byzan-
tme army of the 1170s was about as strong as it had been in the
twelfth century; Byzantium's enemies were far more formida-
111 1180 t.han they had been in 11 18. Robert Guiscard, the great
nval of AlexlOs I, was nearly the empire's equal in military
When the Ge.rman emp:ror Frederick I Barbarossa marched through
the 111 1189 111S mere presence upset in a moment all of
s. constructed alliances. Despite this apparent
fragIhty, It IS to remember that the military and social
weaknesses, so cVldent to the modern reader, were relative. The
@ Choniates, Historia, 180.
f>9 Kazhdan, Change in Byzantine Culture, 229.
empire's political and military situation was far more complex in the
late twelfth century than it had been even fifty years before. To a
"Roman," the empire still had the resources to dominate the stt'ate-
gic heartland between Islam and the West. However, the Latin West
had become better organized and more powerful, as Byzantium would
soon find out.
Alexios inherited an army that had been starved of funds by
bureaucratic administrations of the mid-eleventh century and further
damaged by civil wars during the reigns of Michael VII and Nikephoros
Botaneiates. The process of military reconstruction was critical to
the empire's ability to survive its external enemies, as was Alexios'
reliance upon his relatives to maintain his position amid the disas-
ters of the first half of his reign. Political and militmy reconstruc-
tion were intimately linked. The marginalization of the imperial
bureaucracy was mirrored by a "de-professionalization" of the army:
during earlier periods, soldiers were recruited and paid relatively reg-
ularly by the state, whether in gold or in land, and there was a con-
sistent rank structure. In other words, professional troops were tied
to the state by a structure that disbursed pay and determined advance-
ment. This highly organized system is less evident in the Komnen-
ian sources than it is in the sources from earlier periods of Byzantine
history. " .
Alexios' military goal was to create an army capable of fightll1g
Normans, Pechencgs, and Turks, each of which possessed different
military tactics and strategic goals. Politically, attempted to
rule independent of the imperial bureaucracy, Sll1ce he had ample
cxperience with its ability to starve the eleventh-century
ios' army became increasingly irregular and hIS reIgn
progresscd. Allied levies, paid foreigners, and mllitla. replaced
the themata (provincial units) and the tagmata umts). change
was initially beneficial. Byzantium fought defenSIVe wars
ios' reign, and the army relied upon irregular warfare and
for many of its campaigns. Irregular forces were tor
this type of warfare. Mercenaries supplemented WIth leVIes ,eventu-
ally-with time, training, and experience proved capable of
ing Alexios' enemies in battle. Anna descnbes
and transformations in some detail; combmed, the accounts Ps:I-
. . d A Komnene prOVIde lm-
los Attahates Zonaras, Bryenmos, an nna ,
'. .' . f h 1 - B antine army changed
tonans WIth a coherent plcture 0 ow t 1e yz '
and developed between 1071 and 1118.
By the. time of John Il's accession in 1118, the Byzantine Empire
had surVIved forty years of constant warfare. John continued his
father's campaigns, extending Byzantine control along the southern
Anatolian coastline. Most of his policies were directed at securing
Antioch a goal tl t . d l'
, < la remame unrea Ized. Manuel continued an
ag?ressive policy in the East, eventually marrying an Antiochene
pnneess. Manuel's .victories created an illusion of military power, but'
they.masked more Important weaknesses. Byzantium's navy was weak,
and 1: no longer had a regular, organized army with a sophisticated
recrUItment d d:fl . . .
an e enSlve system. In addItIOn foreIgn mercenaries
were loyal to whoever paid them, and allied tr;ops were com-
pletely un.relIable. Manuel's expedient of paying with pronoia (land
grants), faIled to provide his successors with a ready source of loyal
In the pages that follow we will examine what measures Alex-
lOS, John, and Manuel took to remedy the lack of regular forces,
and the effects that theIr policies had on the military and political
power of the empire.
The empire that Alcxios Komnenos wrested from Nikephoros
Botanciates in 1081 bore little resemblance to the state bequeathed
by Basil II to his brother Constantine fifty-six years earlier. In the
west, the empire's northern frontier along the Danube River was
unstable, and the Pechcnegs raided Bulgaria and Macedonia with
impunity. With the growing power of the Arpad kings, the Serbian
frontier was also insecure. The only remaining Byzantine outpost in
Italy was lost in 1071. In the 10405 the Byzantine general George
Maniakes conquered eastern Sicily and with proper logistical sup-
port might have seized the entire island. Mismanagement and neglect
of Sicily and southern Italy, however, resulted in the expulsion of
the Byzantines from these territories a mere thirty years later.
In the east, a decade of civil war disrupted the reigns of Michael
VII and Nikephoros Botaneiates (1071-81). During these reigns,
emperors and usurpers alike began to employ substantial numbers
of Turkish mercenaries. Nikephoros Mclissenos made use of Turk-
ish troops in his unsuccessfi.ll bid ror the throne; when his rebellion
railed, these mercenaries occupied the cities they had been sent to
garrison, and ruled them. Imperial authority in Asia Minor was also
threatened by the proximity of territory occupied by the Turks to
the Aegean Sea. This made land-based communication with belea-
guered eastern outposts nearly impossible. The extent of thl: empire's
disorganization can be gauged by Botaneiates' inability to recruit
more than a few hundred men in Asia Minor during his own rebel-
lion. The men he was able to gather were probably the personal
retainers or his adherents rather than soldiers who left their farms
to join his cause. A few posts along the Black Sea, Herakleia, Sinope,
and parts or Paphlagonia remained under nominal imperial control.
Cilicia, held by Armenian autarchs, maintained a precarious inde-
pendence. The Gabras family established itself in Trebizond, and
the Pontos Mountains protected the empire's territories along the
Black Sea littoral.
Asia Minor and the Turkish Conquest
At the beginning of his reign, Alexios' empire consisted of the Aegean
and Pontic coastal regions. Inland territory followed the course of
the great Balkan river valleys of the Strymon and Vardar. The
Danube River was a largely theoretical frontier until the decisive
defeat of the Pechcnegs in 1092. The natural boundaries that had
protected the empire in Asia Minor--the Taurus Mountains, the
Cappadocian passes, and the highlands of western Armenia--were
controlled by bands of Turks or by rebellious Armenian officers who
had defected from the imperial army. The densely populated and
fertile river-valleys and coastal plains of western Asia Minor, as well
as the Maiander River valley, were under Turkish control, ruled by
dynasts such as Tzachas, the overlord of Smyrna. I The Turks also
controlled the central plateau of Anatolia, where the imperial horse
and sheep herds had once grazed. The Seljuk state controlled ten'i-
tory roughly coterminous with the central Asia Minor plateau. The
Seljuk capital, Nicaea, stood just off the plateau to the west; Iko-
nion, the other great Rum Seljuk city, was situated at the south-
eastern border of central Anatolia. The Danishmendids another
Turkish tribe, occupied the mountainous and strategic of
the fO.rmer .provinces of Anatolikon and Armeniakon. The compli-
catedlmpenal system of defense, based upon themes (military provinces)
by strategoi (generals), kleisourai (passes) commanded by
droullgan.ol and kastra (forts) for local defense had disap-
peared III the dislocatIOns associated with the Turkish invasion. This
system had defended imperial territory from the seventh through the
late eleventh centllry' the' . . 'd C" '"
. , le IS no eVl ence 10r Its contmuatlOn 111
sources from Al " . R b 11'
. exIOs reIgn. e e lOus commanders stripped the
frontIers of men and the ' . I .
, meageI 1 esourees t lat remall1ed were used
for local defense and we' th '1 bI
2' I e us unavm a e to the central govern-
ment. l'or example, the city of Trebizond, situated on the far east-
rt:lT.lIlCjl?:I: Be:nard Leib, 3 vols. (Paris, 1937-76) II 110
. (H ,I (ISCllSSlOn of 1 urks III general see AI . d I ( , .'
Zonaras, Ejlllmllae !lislorimUlI! cd M P' I d'TI B fxm e , 131 (III.9.3), John
IIHHJ7), VD\. 1II, an 1: uttner-Wobst, 3 vols., CSHB
bl!jJire. 102.j 1 '1 Polillc'll H' I (L' (X
VIII.22), and M. Angolcl, TIle Byzantzne
'" '. < IS on on, 19tH), 110. -
. for. de counts of how the civil wars of th. d, . ',.
afleet('d control nf Asia Minor sce th e ec:
AlcXIOS r.cIgn
(recounted In Michael Attaleiates fl.,' I e
lhc)J1s of NIlccphoros Botanelates
., l.\ 017a, ec. . e ker (Bonn, 1953), 238-43) and
.... s
ern frontier of the empire, was briefly overrun by Turkish tribesmen
(1071) and was unable to provide money or manpower to the impe-
rial government in Constantinople. Within several years local Byzan-
tine forces under the Gabras family seized the city and rc-organized
the southern frontier along the Pontic Mountains, but Trebizond still
failed to provide resources for the central government.:J The Nor-
man adventurer Roussel of Bailleul successfully defended another
Anatolian province, Kastamonou in the old theme of Paphlagonia,
but Nikephoros Botaneiates, the emperor, considered this indepen-
dent activity to be a threat to the government in Constantinople,
and had Roussel captured and blinded by Turkish mercenaries.
Onc must ask why Botaneiates worried about a rebellious Nor-
man servant defending a remote block of territory near the Black
Sea, when the Turks had overrun most of Asia Minor. Michael
Angold finds a cause for this behavior in Roussel's establishment of
an independent authority and his proclamation of caesar John Doukas
as emperor. These concerns may have been prominent in Constan-
tinople since John Doubs had been the imperial general sen.t against
Roussetf Anna Komnene suggests that Tzaehas, the Turkish ruler
of Smyrna, Robert Guiscard, and most of the crusader leaders also
aspired to the imperial throne. It should therefore come as no .sur-
prise, that emperors ignored larger of these
rebellions; emperors had to be senSItIve to orgamzed threats to theIr
imperial position. Angolcl's argument that the imperial of
certain adventurers prompted a response is a reasonable SUppOSItIOn.
A more likely rcason for Botaneiates' desire to eliminate was
that Rousscl's rebellion was a smaller problem than the Turkish mva-
sion; this was a problem the emperor was capable of handling. This
required the help of the emperor's .allies, but successful res-
olution of any problem of this type was pohtleally useful to a usurper-
emperor who was having difficulty holding onto the throne.
Byzantines soon saw the Turks in the same way se:n
the Slavs of the seventh ccntury." The Slavs had occupied Impcnal
of Melissenos (on which see Alexiade, ,I, 90 (H.9.1); Zonaras Ii
For the rebellion of Rousscl, see Attaleiates, 183-93, Alexzade, I, 10 (I.i-:-2.)
HI 709-12 Botanciates and Melisscnos placed Turkish mcrcenanes 111 C\tIes
they obtained, while Roussel gathered imperial soldiers of western ongm.
:1 Angold, 96.
f Angolcl, 93-95. I I b I' I hmlditcs
:, {' L. J 11 210-12 (X.5.) Turks arc sometimes cal cc af ),mans, or s , .. ,
J leXllllle" ,
telTitory and made communication difficult, but the empire eventu-
ally successfully absorbed them. The Turks were also occasional!
willing to serve the empire for pay. This maintained the illusion
the emperor controlled the territories, populated by Greeks, which
they loose!y In hindsight it seems foolish that emperors
and Imhta;y leaders of the eleventh centmy placed cities
and strategJc places 111 the hands of foreign mercenaries.G We must
remember that the Turks entered Asia Minor both as raiders and
as mercenaries in the civil wars that followed Romanos IV's defeat
Why would .we expect the Byzantine government, with
SIX centunes of success aSSImilating foreign peoples, be any more dis-
mayed by the prospect of assimilating some loose Turkish bands than
they had been by the incursions of Slavs, Bulgarians, Armenians, or
Serbs? Why would there be more danger in employing eastern Turks
than the western Pechenegs, who continued to prove both
controllable and effectIve as mercenaries?
The eastern te.rritories were outside of imperial control. As a con-
AlexlOs forced to rely upon the European portion of
IllS empIre for recrUIts and tax revenues. Until lO 14 th . t' f
-I '" e 111 enor 0
t le empire s. European territories had been controlled by an indepen-
dent Bulgana unde T S lB'
, .r sal' amue. ulgana appears only once in
Anna Komnene s list of places that supplied men to the imperial
during Komnenian period, bounded on the south
y e almos Mountams and on the west by the Strym Ri
does t . on vcr,
at d' appear 111 any discussion of Byzantine manpower. Alexios
I b
n fought battles there, and the Pechenegs used the regi.on
as a ase for their ra'ds b t
. 1 d I " u our source accounts of battles do not
me II e mention of Bulgarian troops. Vlachs, who supplied men for
the Latins consistently are depicted. , " T'
tllle chroniclers descril)c h tl ,IS al rogant, greedy and unreasonable. Byzan-
'. 0 1 races a.1 comfJete 1\ t ' \"h'l I
treacherous allies the Lat' 1 . cl ,- d _ - I a war. . v let le Turks can be
ill other ways. also:' al e. as and contemptible
, IB:J6), 201; (1V.24), Gmllaml, Ejntomi, eel A. Mcineke,
Attalciates, 105. Nikctas ' .' pt 7, (I,Ll Zonaras, IL, 635-6; (XV1I,25.)
CI::HB (Berlin, 1975). 1 i6-22, ClIomalae His/mia, cd. J. Van Dieten,
Angold, 96-'97.
Alexios' army at Mt. Lebounion, came from the Haimos Mountains,
the Manicheans lived near Philippopolis and even the Pechenegs,
following their suppression, were settled in the Vardar valley, north
of Thessalonike.
Hellas is also a militmy dead zone in our literary sources. Gho-
niates mentions that the islands normally provided tbe money for
naval expenses, but this does not refer to mainland Greece, and these
expenditures were naval, not army expenditures.
The most
tant example of military activity in Greece under the KomnenOl
appesrs in Choniates' and Kinnamos' descriptions of tbe
attacks on Corinth and Thebes while Manucl was preoccuplcd With
the passage of the Second Crusade through imperial territory. We
know that Manuel garrisoned Greece and fortified the most impor-
tant cities, but we have no evidence that this region providcd men
for any Komnenian field army. Despite Choniatcs' insistence that
the garrison of Corinth was sufficient for its dcfense, and that
citadel was well fortified, Manuel does not seem to have taken fur-
ther measures for thc protcction of Greece after the Norman sack of
Corinth and Thcbes.
Southcrn Greece was not an imperial priority.
The four remaining European provinces-Thrace, l\Ilacedonia,
Thessaly, and Thessalonike provided the Komnenian army with most
of its native manpower. The Komnenian emperors also spent most
of their time defending these rcgions. Alexios' campaigns across the
Haimos Mountains should be interpreted as attempts to forestall
Pecheneg penetration of this economic and military heartland. Alter
7 For details on the geography or the weslern half' or the empir;, sec 7irlmla
1lllj;erii By.:rllltini; Bd. (): Thl'akien, Peter (Vienna, 99 !-IB., BC,I:.
HeIlas and Thessalia, Herbcl'l Hunger (Vienna, 1976.) ha' mioll11<ltion on
and urban activity in Asia Minor and the rest of the empire sec, nle
Cities qf tlIe Eas/em Roman Provinces (Oxfi)rd, 1971.) .
!l Choniates, I-lis/oria, 55. John or Poutze diverted flll1ds provided by the Islands
(which were used to support the Aegean naval to the treasury,
According to Choniates the central govcrnm.cl1t then .dlvc.rled tl:ese to other,
uses, the Heels decayed and this caused an II1creasc !11 piracy. rherc IS no echo of
this in Kinnamos. . . .
!) Choniatcs, Hisloria, 74-76, 11. 59-7ft Choniates says that wl1llc the CJledal of
Acrocorinth was nearly impregnable, the garrison, leel by
was unwarlikc and allowed it to he captured because they remamed Inactive dur-
ing the Norman attack. Kinnamos also examines this incident. (1II.2.)
As with mosl iniclI'Ination that reflects poorly upon Manud's decJSJons, KmnalJlos
does not report, as Nikctas does, incompetence of the loeal com-
mander anel his men resullt,cl JI1 the loss of (.ol1nlh.
years of raid and counter-raid, Alexios mustered the full Byzantine
army only when the Pechenegs invaded Thrace and blocked the
communication route between Thessalonike and Constantinople. III In
1122, John II fought the Pechenegs, "destroying" them a second
time. Alexios' Norman wars were attempts to keep the Normans out
of by restricting them to the western plain of Epiros
until polItICal factors forced them to return to Italy. John and Manuel's
western policies did not extend imperial tcrritory, but crcated buffer
start:s around European troop- and revenue-producing provinces.
I he .strat:gIc center of the Komnenian Empire became the nar-
row strIP of the Aegean littoral, interrupted by occasional river val-
leys extended imperial territory into the interior. This took the
Of. the tenth- and early-eleventh century recruiting grounds of
ASia. Mmor. However, the thematic militmy structure of the eastern
provmces, was not replaced by like structures in the west. The theme
system of. recruitment, with its local military units organized under
a droungarlOS or strateaos was never as Cl lIly d ,1 d' 1
." 11 eve ope 111 t le western
plOVllices as 111 east." Furthermore, Balkan geography provided
the wes.tern provll1ces with little defense against invasion. During
the ,Da.nube river froze, and in this condition it pro-
'.Jell cl d hIghway for mvaders. 12 Justinian had tried to build fortifica-
tJon and patrol fleets to hold back the trans-Danubian tribes
)ut WIt lOut success. The . M . . . " ,
I t I
'. I. . emperor aunce, author of the strategzkon
os lIS t lronc wlllle campai' If'
t f
' . 11' ' . gnmg nort 1 o the Danube in an attell1pt
o Ol'esta 1 .' TI C' '
..t\,.. f". IlIVaSJOn. arpathtan Mountains also funneled tribes
(\av Jom t le Hunganan I' d
The g .th' f p am, an toward the empire's Danube
ro\\ 0 a powerful Hun a' k' d .
eleventh and t .11 h' g nan mg om dUl"lUg the
we t centUrIes onl b d .
Y exacer ate thIS tendency. South
'" cl/exilldl', II, 139 -44 T ,
Ill!!!... (\III.5.1-9.) fhls was the battle of Lebounion in Aj)ril
'I '
. lchael F. Hendy, S/urili:s ill the B . ,
Imdg;(. 19115)' 1'11'(12 H cl ?)Il?antzne j\Ionetary EconOlllll c 300-14r::n (C'
. ,.... en y has prod I I ."" . .)V. ,lm-
physH'al t'('onomy of the Byzant' . E .uc:c t 1e aVailable discussion of" the
gl'Il),(I'aphy, and ils clll'ct upon mplre, he descnbes the climate and physical
11, also ('x:tmint's how Ihes(' 1>ll.t(C. of both the Balkans and Asia Minor
,. I I . I 1 ' ,. lIS a ected the d' '1' . .
, "all( 1 It.' n'-establishment of B zan . )utlon of magnates, imperial
.. Alt'\IIIr/;, 11, III "2; (VI.l4), u/ III the coastlands of Asia Minor.
(I("'('d hy U!\'adt:rs. But Scc also II' 92' ' }XIVY) The Danube River was easily
\ eut Il,lmIt of the Danube K' .' ,(\ II,6) for use of the imperial fleet to I) _
"IlIP''!'lIl' I I.' . mndmos. 7, 113-14 201-02 c re
, . alJ( t.H C.umans crossiu the D ' .' lor the Pechenegs, the
(kllIlI.Il1S an' saJ(1 to have crossed . I anube. Ch
l1lates, HistOlia 93- 94 The
, tll Ih<'ir ho!'s,'s ." le stros (Danube) with ease f)y'ty' . 'fl I
. .. II1g III atce
of the Danube, the Haimos Mountains provided an unreliable bar-
rier; did not succeed at keeping out Pecheneg and Cuman raiders.
vVest of Thrace was Macedonia, divided into the provinces of
Thessalonike and the Sttymon. Macedonia's valleys run north south
and provided useful routes for northern invaders. The only secure
bordcr was to the west, where large and difficult mountains blocked
access and provided defensible passes. In 1083 Bohemond sent Nor-
man armies north and south of these mountains but was unable to
cross them against Byzantine resistance. His main army marched
south and east, and wintered in the Thessalian plain before moving
north into the Thessalonike region. This was the same strategy pur-
sued by Lucius Aemilius Paullus against Perseus of Macedonia in
168 B.C.
In 1106 Alexios I garrisoned several kcy points--Dyrra-
chion, Avlona, Canina, Petroula, and the passes of Arbanus--and
used the geography or Epiros to restrict the Norman army to the
Epirot littoral. 11 The strategic use of geography was essential to the
success or the Komnenian emperors' defensive campaigns.
TIle Loss if Asia Minor
A full discussion of the economy of Asia Minor, and of the com-
plex political and economic changes in this region bctween 1025 and
1071 would require et substantial independent study. Speros Vryo-
nis, MichacI Hcndy, and Mark Whittow have thoroughly examined
the reasons this region became vulnerable to Turkish attack.I" Nev-
ertheless, thc Byzantine loss of Asia Minor, the largest and most
important portion or the empire, does require some explanation. This
11 Livy, Hi.rtoire ROl1laine, VCl!. 32 (books 43--44), ed. P. Jal (Paris, 1976), 40-42,
contains a good description of the military of Thessaly and the routes
north into Macedonia . ..Jlexiade, JI, 22-2+; (V.5.1-3). Ihe Nonnans attacked north-
ward, taking Skuplje, and occupying Ochri.d. to take the citedal of Ochrid,
he turned north and attacked other places m SerbIa. He then turned south to Kas-
toria and besieged Larissa, in Thessaly, for six months.
11 Alf.l:illile, Ill. 104 5 .' .
1-, John Haldoll, "'l'he Army and the Economy: The AllocatIon
tion of Surplus 'Vealth in the Byzantine }vier/ltmanean H1S!0I:lcal Revzew
(1992), HH' 53. Sec Mark Whitlow, TIle Makl1l,l!, (If Orthodox Linantlllm, 600-10.2:J
(London, ISJ9!i), 1 B 1- 9G, I{)r tht' size of the army to the end of the tenth century. Sce
Hencly lOB :1!i, If)!' a cliscussion of the monctary economy. Jean-Claude Cheynet,
PlJ1l11oir'et Con/e.l/ati(J//.1 ({ B),Z!IIICf (1)(;3--1210) (Paris, 1990), 326-28. )ean-Claudc Chey-
net, "Les ellectili; clans Byzantine" in Cahier.r de CivilisatlOll Medrevale, 38: 4,
will provide a basis for understanding the constraints that CIrcum-
scribed the military decisions of Alexios and his successors.
One theory is that conflicts between aristocratic factions in the
capital, and the provincial landed gentry, left the Byzantine army of
the late eleventh century without men and matericl. This line of
argument contends that landowners of the provinces increased their
power by buying up the holdings of smaller farmers.
According to
this thesis, the droughts and famines of the late tenth century forced
small landowners to sell their holdings. Reduced production, in com-
bination with level or rising taxation, rendered these small economic
units vulnerable, because they lacked the power to resist imperial
taxation. However, the important question is not when "soldier farm-
ers" lost their patrimonies and became dependent upon large land
owners, but whether soldier farmers were the most significant method
of financing the army.17
Did the soldier-farmer of Byzantium ever exist in the form pro-
by In The Byzantine Revival, Warren Treadgold
provIdes finanCIal lllformation on soldiers' pay and allotments fi'om
the eighth and ninth centuries, and assumes that the soldiers were
soldier-farmers, albeit paid by the central treasury.19 Others argue
a variety methods of financing soldiers existed, but reject the
notIOn tl:at soldIer-famers would be capable of the levels of training
and necessary for effective campaigning.
But the army
at Amorion, which was composed largely of Anato-
han leVlcs, demonstrates all the inefficiencies that historians believe
(1995), 319-35. Vryonis,.Jr., 77le Decline qfMetiieval Hel-
lenlJlIl In ASia i\lJlIlm and the Process qf Islalllz<.atlOll .fi'om the Eleventh through the Fij/eenth
Century (Berkeley, 1971), 103-14.
If; BYZantium, 113-27; Kazhdan, C'lwnge ill Byzantine Culture 56-62'
rYOl1lS, Declme, 26, 76-78. ' ,
17 Ostrog?rsl,;y, 272-76. The Byzantine "soldier farmer" was supposed to have
cen a soldier who supported hl'm If 'tl h h' k' .
. se Cl ler y IS own WOI' as a farmer or With
the support and aid of other families in his village. There has been much debate
about whether these men were I' I 11' I I
f I " '. exc .so e lers, ane a so about the legal status
o le I,mds they held to support thell' ITIlhtary duties.
Ostrogorsky, 272-76. Ostrogorsky discusses the struggle between the central
the landowners to control the of peasants and sol-
It IS Ius contentIOn that the central government eventually lost this struggle
, Warren Treadgolc1, 77le By,zll1!tine Revi;;lll: 780-842 (Stanlorcl 1988)' 349-51 .
John Halclon, "Military Service, Military Lands and the Status Soldie;s'
Current Problems and Interpretations" DOP 4-7 (199'3) 24 6"-66' J I IeI II "
77ze St tit} 1i'b , .' , ,J , 0111 .,a con,
a e anG le 1'1 utary J 10de qf Productio1l (London-New York, 1993), 129-35, 198.
&- .-
would make local soldiery ineHectivc. The thematic soldiers were often
undisciplined and easily frightened. They eventually deserted the
emperor and his elite guardsmen. Their lack of discipline, l:owever,
did not mean they were without military value. The thematlc system
that the Byzantines used to recruit and support their army was not
constructed to produce the best soldiers possible, but rather to make
it possible for the state to produce soldiers as cheaply as possible.
We should also be careful judging thematic levies by their perfor-
mance in large battles where lines of cavalry charged each other.
The skills and styles of fighting necessary to prevent raids differed
{i'om the organized discipline of open battle. The levies were used
to the irregular warfare of skirmishing and raiding as practiced on
the Neither the widespread depopulation of Asia Minor,
nor the transfer oC large sections of land from smallholdings to graz-
ing land is necessary to explain the decline in the quali.ty and use-
fulness of Asia Minor thematic levies. By 1071 these leVIes had not
been used in thirty years. Their poor state of preparedness during
Romanos IV's levy was just as possibly due to the central govern-
ment's neglect oC its lists of available soldiers, as to active attacks
upon soldiers' livelihoods. Old soldiers died. If the did
not continue to register new soldiers, it should not surpnse us that
a generation later any soldiers who responded to Romanos' sumons
were poorly equipped and trained. Our sources--Michael Psellos,
Michael Attaleiates, Anna Komnene and Nikephoros Bryennios--all
describe social dislocation in Asia Minor, but social dislocation alone
does not imply that army units completely disappear.
I The
century evidence demonstrates that neglect alone was enough to rum
Basil Il's anny. The argument that soldiers disappeared because they
lost their holdings to large landowners assumes that thesc
holdings provided the bulk of the imperial soldiery. This assumptlOn
is now being re-examined.
The of the Seljuk Turks also bear re-examination. 'Why
did the Byzantine frontier defenses stop Arab armies that penetrated
to the sea DC Marmora, hut could not stop the Seljuks, whose attacks
were less systematic? The answer to this is in the fact that the Scliuks
were not equivalent to the Arabs in military equipment, tactics, and
21 Attaleiates, 103, 11. 1 (i 19.
22 \'Vhiunw, Orthodox 116, I B 1-93.
purpose. First, the the Seljuk Turks were just as sophisticated mili-
tarily as had been the Arab armies that confronted emperors Ii'om
Herakleios to Nikephoros Phokas. Between the 9708 and I 07l, when
the Seljuks dominated the Persian and Arab imperial heartlands,
they conquered dozens of large cities, from Isfahan to Tehran, Tabriz,
Samarkand and not least, Baghdad. One need only examine the
policies and administration of Nizam Al-Mulk and of sultans such
as Alp-Arslan and Malik Shah for evidence that the Seljuks under-
stood how to govern the cities and agricultural regions of Persia and
Mesopotamia. No city they encountered in Asia Minor was compa-
rable to the rich Islamic centers they already ruled. The sultans cor-
rectly considered Asia Minor to be an unimportant backwater. The
Armenian highlands, which dominated communication routes north
to AzerbaUan .and to Te!lran and Isfahan, were far more impor-
tant. That ASIa Mmor was Important to the Byzantine Empire did
not mean that the Seljuks of Mesopotamia and Iran also valued it.
On. the other hand, historians have correctly recognized that the
SelJuk sultans had little control over the raiders who initially pene-
trated the fi'ontiers in the 1060s, and equally loose control
over the raIders and mercenaries who entered the peninsula aner
tl:e battle of Manzikert in 1071.
The Seljuk sultans of Baghdad
dId not want to control this region. They wanted the unruly Turko-
mans to move .west and live anywhere but in the rich agricultural
lands that proVIded the tax base for their empire?' -
Turkoman settlers posed bl l' h B .
. pro ems lOr t e yzantll1e government
because they dId not fI "1 .
. . orm a smg e, orgamzed army, and they were
outsIde the of the Seljuk leadership in Mesopotamia. A vig'-
orous defense agamst the'd I L
R ' se rar ers was prec uded by the destruction
o omanos IV s army at M'k d I ..
. . anZI ert, an t le CIVIl wars of the fol-
owmg ten years The emp'r d d fl 'bl
" L I e nee e a eX! e and aggressive dcfcnse
agamst raIders who brou ht th .
fI. fig en own means of lIvelihood in the
orm o. sleep, goat, and horse herds. Unlike Arab armies Turko-
man tnbesmen were looking for pasture1ands outside of own
. l' Claude Cahen, "La Campagne de Man'k ' .
111 l!yzalltiOIl 9 (19:14) fl212" V . D . tZI ert d apres leR sources mURulmanes "
, , Cl. ryoms eclme 148-,55 V . .' "
Illan allacks and the Sult'ln's In' ' . ryolIIs conSIders thc furko-
11 O 1 ,. ' ancuvers as I they we' .. f
. 11 t le Sclluks Sl'{" C'lalld C' I'r: I e part 0 an overall I)lan
. ., .. ,,' e ,a Icn 11/1" b ( 0 '. .
9H); Claude Cahen !n or:.' .' wry<.allllla et l'lens Clmstianlls (London
'rJ . ,. ,.. 1wf/we pre-otfomane (Ista b I 1988) . ,
1 !le i'e,elrnte:..t Stlllfy o{Ul!il Adll' . t t' 10' nu, , Carla L. Klallsner
." mlls ra 1011, 55-1194 (Cambridge, Mass., 1973.)
government's control. They were happy to winter or settle in areas
of Anatolia considered inhospitable by the Byzantines. These upland
grazing regions were located in the strategic center and center-west
of the peninsula. The Byzantine military roads and supply points
(aplekta) were located in this region. Pastoral cultures also possessed
a military advantage over pre-gunpowder, agricultural settlers. Their
economic base-sheep, goats, and horses-was easily moved and
protected, while their opponent's source of livelihood, crops, were
easy to destroy.25 Large groups of pastoral nomads prevented trade
and the transfer of surplus production to the central government. 26
Consequently, we must recognize two separate Turkish societies. The
first was the Seljuk state, well organized and wealthy from the cities
and productive capacity of Mesopotamia and Persia. The Byzantines
recognized and negotiated with Ikonion, the vassal sultanate of the
Seljuk Empire. The other society was composed of frontier Turko-
man tribes who crossed the border as settlers or mercenaries. The
Seljuk government shunned and distrusted them, so they sought
opportunities in the quasi-steppe of central Anatolia. Successive Byzan-
tine governments had difficulty understanding that the Seljuk gov-
ernment did not control this second group. Twenty years after
Manzikert, Anatolian Turkomans controlled most of the land that
the Crusaders called "Romania."27
Political Ove17Jiew
In the late tenth century Byzantium'S eastern enemies were relatively
weak Arab emirates such as Aleppo and the Hamdanid remnants.
Capable generals such as Nikephoros Phokas, John Tzimiskes, and
Basil II defeated these emirates. The Armenian principalities of the
Van region were incorporated into the imperial military and political
HallS(m, Victor Davis, 77ze Western Way rif War, (New York, 1989), 33. Han-
son disagrees, noting that to destroy vinyards with axcs and hand weapons was a
eOllRiclerable task.
;6 Angold, 96- 97. ., ..
11 Rosalincl Hill, ed. Gesta Fmnconlln et alwTllm flzero.mlzmltanorum: 77w Deeds qf
Franks alld the Other Pilgrims to .Jerusalem (London, I ?62), 3 .. "Rum" is all the. te,rn-
torv to the east of the Helles]Jont. Raymoncl D'Agmlcrs, flutona Franco1'llm QYl Cepe-
rlmi Iheru.mlelll, eeL and tl'. John and Laurita Hill 1968), 27. Here
Romania designates everything outside of the cmperor's terrItory, 111 other words, the
land occupied by the Turks.
structure during the reigns of Basil II and Constantine VIII.21\ Bul-
garia, which threatened Byzantine control of the Balkans during the
early eleventh century, was obliterated by 1020. Imperial provinces
in southern Italy-Apulia and Calabria--were stable, and the empire
would soon attempt to re-conquer Sicily. The Rus appeared momcn-
tmily on the Byzantine military stage (989) but the rebellions that
Basil II faced throughout his reign were a greater threat to impe-
rial stability.29 Romanos III Argyros avoided similar difficulties only
by capitUlating to the nobility and abrogating the land-laws of Basil
and of Romanos Constantine's successors-Romanos III
(1028-34), Michael IV (1034-41), Michael V (1041-42), Zoe and
Theodora (l042)-had peaceful reigns because each was ineffectual,
and none placed limits on power of either thc provincial aristocracy
or the bureaucracy of Constantinople. The pattern of civil war preva-
lent during the reign of Basil II again recurred, beginning with the
reign of Constantine IX (1042-55), and it continued for another
fifteen years until the accession of Alexios I in 108 LlI
The. civil. wars between 1071 and 1081 caused the loss of Italy
and ASIa Mmor. When Alexios' coup succeeded in 1081, the empire
had two new enemies established on imperial territOlY. First, Seljuk
Turks ruled from Nicaea, and dominated western Asia Minor, while
the Normans controlled southern Italy and sought Lebellsmum to the
east in Epiros and other Byzantine territory in the Balkans. Hun-
gary had also begun to expand its power into traditional Byzantine
18. Ferdinand Chalandon, Essai sur le regne d'Alexius ler Comlle,ze (1081-11181 vols.
(Pans, 1900), I, 9-1 o.
:n J Pal/voir et contes!atians Byzance (.963-1210) (Paris, 1990),
27 37, There were nll1e Important rebellions after Basil II reached adulthood and
complete control of the empire, including those of Bardas Skleros (976"79),
.Lekapenus (986), Bardas Phokas (987-89), Bardas Skleros (987- 89), John
(996), Mcles (1009-19), Gcorge Tzoulas (1016) N. Gabras (I0lB) and
Nlkephoros Phok,lS (1022). " '
,311 Ostrogursky, 322-23. Note that the existence of land-laws does not imply a
Ol;g peasantry, but a method for emperors to exert control over the nobil-
Ity. :lllS was a tflp-wire that all?wed an emperor to smash the power or anv
no.ble who he beh:vcd was too powerrul. Paul Lemcrle, TIll! 11 Tmria;/
if From the Ongms to the Twe!flh Century (Galway 1979)
26970, He chscusses the land I' f I ".,
f I I
' , cc pJOperty 0 t le stratlotes, and provides an index
o cga sources. . .
:lI, 57-90. These include: Leo Tornikcs, Gcorge Mani-
akes, (1057-59), Nlkephoros Botanciatcs (1078-81) Niknhoros
Bryenll1os, Nlk.ephoros Melisscnos i\lexios Komncnos (1081-1") (R b I' I 11 .
.' 0 e e s W 10 Jcc'\me
emperors lave thetr regl1al dates in parentheses). .,
spheres, such as Serbia and western Bulgaria. The arrival of the
Pechenegs north of the Danube during the tenth century made trade
and communication with the Rus difficult, while the increasing sophis-
tication and naval power of the Venetian republic meant that after
one thousand years of near monopoly, Byzantium no longer con-
trolled the Adriatic and Ionian seas.
Byzantium's naval impotence was a fiscal inevitability. Neverthe-
less, an empire that consisted of the littoral of three disconnected
seas-the Ionian, Aegean and Pontic--needed a fleet. Byzantium's
lack of a navy in her home waters meant that Venice could regu-
larly extort economic privileges, determine whether invaders, such
as the Normans or Crusaders entered the empire, and parry any
Byzantine attempts to restrict Venetian commercial or naval activ-
ity. A few examples will demonstrate this point. A powerful Byzan-
tine fleet could have prevented a Norman invasion; instead of a
decade of war, Alexios' reign could have been a decade of peace
and rebuilding. A powerful fleet would have enabled the Byzantines
to provision the Crusader kingdoms of Syria and Palestine, rather
than leaving this important task in the hands of the Italian trading
cities. Of course, pirate-lords like Tzachas of Smyrna would have
been unable to threaten Alexios into making common cause with
the empire's most dangerous enemy, Suleyman and the Seljuk state
at Nicaea.
Several historiographical assumptions have becleviled Western his-
torians of this period. rvlost of these are assumptions about the
"unchanging" nature of Byzantium, its "weakness" during this period,
and the "economic destructiveness" of the Seljuk invasions. Most of
these opinions are based on the emotionally charged and biased
descriptions of authors such as Odo of Deuil and Ekhard of Aura,
or upon narratives written during or just after the First Crusade.
Unfortunately, historians of the Latin west have not pursued the
Byzantine sources as eflcctively as Byzantinists have mined Crusader
accounts. It is important to examine these misconceptions, as several
:\; Alexiatle, I1, 52 54; (Bk. (i, ch. :i. 11. 5- \0), i\lcxios' and the Venetians. Kin-
namos, 2B I; (b., I D) C:SHB lill thc conflict between John II and the Vcnctians.
Kinnamos, 2B I 2BG; (G" I 0) fill' Mal1l1d's cliHiclllties with the Vcnetians. Sec also:
A.R. Gac\olin, "A\cxius I COllll1l'JlUS and the Vcnctian Trade Privileges: A New
Interpretation," liy,:allliol/ :)(): I (I The best monographic account of
relations with Venicl' is DOl1ald M. Nicol's and Venice: A Stu4Ji 1Il DtjJlo-
malic alld Cultural RelfI/io/l.l (CamiJridge, 19BB).
--------------------------__ .. -----------------------------------------------
relate to the military history of latc eleventh and twelfth-century
Byzantium. Contemporary western sources unanimously condemn
Byzantine forces as weak and ineffectual. The Byzantincs arc nearly
absent from reccnt accounts of thc First Crusade published by
Jonathan Riley-Smith. Kenncth Setton's A History qf the Crusades pro-
vides a more balanced account; the only gcneral work that pro-
vides an integrated picture of Latin and Byzantine perceptions of
the Crusades is Step hen Runciman's A History qf the Crusades.
lack of a good, general history that recognizes the importance of
Byzantium fosters the impression among students of Westcrn Europe
that the study of Byzantium properly belongs with "other," non-
western civilizations. Modern historians' selective choice of subject
matter and source material has created this incorrect impression.
Byzantium, however, was not an alien civilization to the Latin Cru-
saders, unlike the Arab principalities in Palestine.
Neither Byzantium nor Islam, however, was entirely alien to the
Crusaders. By the late eleventh centmy pilgrims regularly traveled
to the Holy Land.
When the brief persecution of pilgrims under
the Fatamid caliph al-Hakim ended, travel eastward again became
free of organized impediments. There is little evidence that the new
Scljuk masters of Syria and Palestine harassed or abused pilgrims
any more Arabs had. Pilgrimage was always a risky affair,
and many pIlgnms who survived returned in poverty.:l5 Byzantium
an important way station on the pilgrimage routes from the
mId-eleventh century onward, and remained so until the end of the
thirteenth century and the Latin sack of Constantinople.
.:13 A Hisfory qf the entsades, vol. 1. The First Hundred Years, ed. lvIarshall W. Bald-
wm, (MadIson, 1969), 289-304. Jonathan Riley-Smith, TIle Cmsades: 11 Short History
I-raven,. 1987), Chapters 1 and 2 of Riley-Smith contain only passing refer-
ences .. to t1;e ll1volvement of the Byzantine emperor in calling for and supporting
t1;e Fmt Stcphen il History qf the Crusades, vo!. 1. TIze First
(Camhndge, contains the most balanced examination of the First Cru-
sa ; the perspective of the Byzantine Empire. Jonathan Riley-Smith's Attar
(New 1991), the crusades separately from the oi'
pI gI,lm'B
, begms lls treatment 111 1095. Throughout there is little reference
to t le yzalllll1Cs.
:H Runcill1an, 46-50.
en:'; ecl., ]oillvitte and Vitlehardouin: Chronicles of the
; .. fi ". ,proVIdes an. example Joinville's negotiations to 'alle-
IS problems. WhIle thiS account is from the mid-thirteenth centur
J an de JomVllle s problems supporting himself and a band of h' k . I '. y,
the problems r tI b f . IS mg Its mll rut'
. 0 le mcm el'S 0 the Fmt Crusade. See Gesta Francorum, 33-34.
Nor was travel by westerners to and through Byzantium unusual.
Historians have assumed that Byzantium's conflicts with the Cru-
saders were due, in part, to cultural misunderstanding bred by lit-
tle contact. However, the sack of Constantinople in 1204 was the
result of Byzantium's integral involvement in western politics and
dynastic maneuvering. Also, the wars Alexios I fought against the
Normans were natural extensions of the wars the Normans and
Byzantines had fought in southern Italy during the previous thirty
years. We can imagine that Robert Guiscard would have found
another excuse for war, but his daughter had been betrothed to
Constantine, the son of Michael VII. It was undoubtedly useful for
Guiscard to maintain peace when his daughter would be the next
empress of Byzantium. When the government of Alcxios I ignored
Helen, and when Constantine was betrothed to Alexios' daughter
Anna, Guiscard had a convenient excuse for war. This is also an
example of the ease with which Byzantium interacted, albeit unsuc-
cessfully, with western states. The Byzantine policy of hiring merce-
naries from among the Normans, English, and other westerners also
belies the statement that there was little interaction between Byzan-
tium and the west. Finally, Michael VII's negotiations with GregOly
VII for a papal militalY mission resulted in Gregory's plan to accom-
pany the expedition. Whether or not GregOly's intentions were seri-
ous, this plan was precluded by Gregory's involvement in the investiture
struggle with the German Emperor Hel11Y rv.:l(i
There is a natural tendency for the historian to project his own
rationalistic approach upon confused decision-making situations. This
temptation is great when examining the 11r8t ten years of Alexios'
reigl1, when Byzantium's external relations were complicated by chaos
in Anatolia, invasions by trans-Danubian tribes, and incessant war-
fare witl1 the Normans. However, little coherent policy-making appears
to have been present. Anna Komnene's often confused description
of internal politics during Alcxio::;' reign likely reflects the level of
policy and decision- making of which Alexios was capable during the
chaotic, early years of his reign. Alexios reacted to situations forced
upon him; this is not policy-making. Likewisc, the reign of Manuel
provides ample information that belies the existence of rational
:lh Utc-Rcnatl' BiuII1l'I1thai, nil? Cim/rom'I'D' (Philadelphia, 1988), This is
the dearest aIld m()st c()mprehensive short study or the conflict between Pope Gre-
go],y VII ane! HeIlI'y IV or Gtrmilny.
policyY Manuel frequently relied upon astrology to aid him in his
ki311 d d .
eCISlon-ma ng, an use new tItles to bind officials to him. He
also governed through relatives and personal associates, but did not
examine the effects of this policy on the long-term stability of the
'1 In order to govern, Manuel needed the consent of his mar-
and of collateral of the Komnenian dynasty (wjt-
ness le111ent treatment of rebellIous family members). It was this need,
exacerbated by an increasingly complex international environment
that led him to promote and forgive rather tllan to punish.'11l Andronikos
Komn:nos a variety of offences, including incompetence
governmg CIIlCla; treasonous negotiations with Geza, the lung of
Hungary; and smaller acts of lese majeste. The emperor
was to nsk famII!, censure by lulling Andronikos. Manuel pro-
moted fnends and famIly members, and he used titles to control a
family alliances that he needed in order to govern. But
nec.esslty I.S the same thing as a deliberately chosen and reasoned
polIcy. Hlstonans, whose job is to examine patterns of evidence
assume t.hat policy was constantly present, rather than
mg the of a decade or two in a society was driven by
expec1!ent reactlO.n to external events. Nevertheless, such ad hoc gov-
emment by r:actlon an integral feature of the Komnenian period,
and to the eVIdence for military and strategic policy with-
out takmg thIS mto account would be misleading.

TIle E,mj!il'e qf Manllel I KomnenoJ 1143-1189 (Camhridge 1993)
, .)3-57. See Magdahno for a din, " t " ',[ .. '. '
AI' f et en optl1lon. 1V anuel hke IllS grandhther
; extOlS, .0 ten aPhPears to reacting to events outside of his' eontroi tln;l
orrnu atlllg a co erent pohe M I' I' '
when cxamining his dccisi y. use 0 should not be
of StV(llJciotcs Sec II" 011S, I age a rno, ,pp. ;)-8). Kmnal11os, 1134, Jor the fall
J ... mnal11os 23-131 lor And ., I IT'
265-'270, for the fall f AI . .' 'A ' , ' romos ae ventures. ,,-lllnamos,
.. 10 c()r St . 0 CXIOS xOlleh. Ostrogorsky, 346. Choniates Hi,tol'ia
", " YPpcIOtcs. ' . ,
Choniatcs, His/01ia, 103-8 129-32 138-42 f' . . , .
H'3'-6 fOl' /\Iex' Ax I' , , 01 Andromkos. Chol1lates Hist01ia
IOS > oue 1. ' ,
.111 CII' H"
,ontates, zs/mU! 95- 6 1 "-4 220-2
'\'> 1'1 " .J.' ,
, , le rebellion of Andl'onikos the f 11 f S .
ios Axouch were events tll'lt ',' I I <l 0 typpelOtes, and the removal of Alex-
, . ,wou ( lavc been hard to' .' d' I . .
l\lanucl's grandhther Al .. . i\1 , UTIagllle unng tle reIgn 01
, , exlOS. anuc secms to have d I t d
greater extent than his gl"lndlhtl .. I'd" d C e power to a much
he did not have a core gn;up d always wIsely. Unlike Alexios I,
worthy. S an 0 Dwers who were completely trust-
HI Magdalino, 18(i-87, 192. Angolcl, 12"
. .1.
MiLita!y OUeJ7Jiew
The military systern of Basil II and his several predecessors had func-
tioned as follows: The empire's heartland in the east was protected
by the Armenian buffer states, as well as by vassal princes in Syria.
The empire fortified border cities such as Antioch, Edessa, Kaisareia,
and Mclitene. An invader who passed these obstacles would then
have to breach the passes of the Taurus Mountains. Anatolia's inte-
rior, through which any invader would have to move, was dry and
barren, with the great fortress cities of Amorion and Dorylaion upon
its western boundary. Thematic troops stationed in the border themes
provided ready manpower either for harassing actions against an
invader, or for fighting in field actions. If an invasion warranted it,
the emperor could employ the iagmata, which were stationed in the
capital. Furthermore, a powerful ne et maintained eontrol over the
coastlands and islands of the Aegean, Adriatic, Pontic, and eastern
Mediterranean littoral.
In contrast to this system, replete with defensive bal'1'iel's, was the
Komnenian system. Asia Minor was lost by the beginning of Alex-
ios' reign, with only a few bastions such as Sinope, Trebizond, and
Cyprus remaining under imperial control. Tzachas of Smyrna pro-
duced a pirate fleet that ravaged the Aegean against ineffectual Byzan-
tine resistance. Even after the restoration of imperial control over
the Asia Minor coast following the First Crusade, the empire remained
on the strategic dcfc'nsive. For the second half of Alexios' reign, and
through the following two reigns, the imperial defensive systcm relied
upon playing off aggressive Turkish leaders against eaeh other, and
fighting as a last resort. The Komnenian emperors had no buffers
between them and thcir enemies. They no longcr held ranges of
mountains with narrow passcs to stall or confine raids. They had
few well-fortified cities. The themes and their men were no more, and
now only the reconstituted remnants of the tagmata, supplemented
by European levies, were available for clefense. This was a much
less resilient system, and onc that placed emphasis upon meeting an
enemy in pitched battle, always a dangerous prospect. The Turks
were a formidable enemy in such a fight, but the everyday problem
was more with the Turkoman raiders, and the Komnenian system
did little other than threaten them. Armies, as opposed to soldiers
stationed in provinces, can defeat raiders by virtuc of sheer num-
bers, but cannot prevent them from rcturning once the soldiers have
--__________ ------------------------_______
left. This was the essential problem that confronted the Komnenian
emperors: protecting territories against constant incursion with an
army called up for temporary duty. It was a problem that Alexios,
John, and Manuel never solved.
The Campaigns
In 1081, when Alexios I seized the throne, the empire had narrowed
to its smallest territorial extent in its history. Because of circum-
scribed imperial and constant invasions, Alexios' campaigns
were almost defensive. His negotiation to have Sulcyman,
the sultan of Nlcaea, betray his rival and father-in-law Tzachas the
lord of Smyrna, for example, was a stopgap measure that avc;ided
having to direct resources eastward when a larger problem-the Nor-
man invasion-loomed in the west. Alexios was forced to allow a
Turkish state, the Seljuk sultanate, to become established at
NIcaea, of the cities of Asia Minor. In hindsight,
the establIshment of the state in Asia Minor was the seminal
event of Alexios' reign. However, imperial preoccupation with the
Normans prevented Alexios from paying attention to his eastern
Alexios fought his first major war against Robert Guiscard and
the Normans of South Italy. Following the rebellion and death of
Maniakes in 1043, Byzantine control over Italy had slowly
deterIorated. The last Byzantine outpost, Bari, was lost in 1071, the
year as the of Robert Guiscarcl then nego-
tIated an agreement WIth Mlchael VII that the Norman's daughter
H:-lcna marry Michael's heir Constantine. This was an ad-
mU'able solutl?n to the problem of a militant Norman state just
across the Io;uan Sea. However, Michael VII was deposed, and his
. NIkephoros III Botaneiates, was himself dethroned by
AlexIos I 111 1 081.
. The, events accession arc unclear. Initially, it
appealed would discard his wife, Irene Doukas, for the
empr?ss. Mana, wIfe of the former emperor Botaneiates. During these
l:egotJatlOns, C.onstantine, Maria's son, had his position as heir con-
fIrmed by The earlier betrotl1al of Guiscard's daughter Relen
to was ignored, (Anna Komnene was eventually betrothed
to Constanu ) .. G'
ne ,gtVIng Ulscard an excuse to attack the empire. He
used a monk who claimed to be Michael VII to create a pretender,
a pseudo-Michael VII, to draw support away from Alexios. He then
transported an army across the Adriatic Sea and besieged Dyrra-
chionY We will examine the details of Alexios' defeat at Dyrrachion
in 1081, in our discussion of his tactics and strategy. It is sufficient
to note here that the battle marked a turning point in the develop-
ment of the eleventh- and twelfth-century Byzantine army. The defeat
was so catastrophic that Alexios lost most of the army he inherited
from Botaneiates. Although Alexios never won a battle against Robert
Guiscard, when the emperor allied with Henry IV of Germany the
Normans were forced to return to Italy. Pakourianos, the grand domestic,
remained with the imperial army while Alexios returned to Con-
stantinople. While Robert attempted to stabilize his holdings in south-
ern Italy, his son Bohemond continued to attack the empire, pressing
southward into Thessaly. Several skirmishes occurred. Anna Komnene
attempts to present these battles as victories, but they end with Alex-
ios' forces in retreat. Finally, Alexios managed to bribe some of the
Norman officers. Short of cash with which to pay these men, Bohe-
mond retreated to the coast. The Venetian and Byzantine fleets
seized the initiative and drove the Normans from their stronghold
on Kerkyra. Bohemond retreated to Italy in 1084.
17l.e Pechenegs
Between 1089 and 1092 Alexios fought another war, this time against
the Pechcnegs and Cumans. The Pechenegs werc a Turkic people
who first appear in Byzantine sources in Constantine Porphyrogen-
itus' De Administrando Impel'io:
In 1047 they crossed the Danube River
and raided much of Bulgaria north of the Haimos Mountains. React-
ing to the weakened state of imperial authority along the Danube
frontier, they penetrated imperial territory several times a year between
1089 and 1092. The Pechenegs presented an entirely different set
of military problems than did the Normans. The Normans were
dangerous in an open field-battle, where their superior discipline
and highly trained cavalry repeatedly defeated their Byzantine
fl Alexiade, L 143-45; (4., 1., 1.1-4). Zonaras, Ill, 734,. 17 to 735, 9. .
12 Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Impeno, eel. Gy. Moravcslk, tl'.
RJH. Jenkins (Washington, 1967),49--57, 167-175.
counterparts. The Pechenegs were simply difficult to bring to battle.
Alexios crossed the Haimos Mountains several times to fight them,
most notably at Great Preslav.
But the mountains were not high
enough to present a serious barrier to invasion; the Peehenegs soon
extended their pillaging to Thrace, the empire's heartland. In 1091,
at Lebounion, Alexios and his Cuman allies decisively defeated the
Pechenegs, but the Cumans soon turned against Alexios and con-
stituted a threat of their own:
Alexios had to modify his tactics when fighting light-armed, agile
mounted opponents like the Pechenegs and Cumans. The campaigns
against these mounted steppe-warriors provided a training ground
for the second Norman war, which was fought against Bohemond
between 1105 and 11 OB. In this campaign Alexios ordered the Byzan-
tine army to refuse to fight a field battle against the more eHcctive
Norman cavalry. Instead, the emperor denied them supplies and
matericl by blocking the passes around their base at Dyrrachiol1.
This strategy was successful, and the Treaty of Devol, Icll'C:ed upon
Bohemond in 11OB, marked the end of the Norman threat during
Alexios' reign. It also marked the point at which wc can say that
Alexios had developed a new army, and new tactical doctrines with
which to use it. The Treaty of Devol was not a political success for
the Byzantines. It traded Bohemond's freedom for a titular overlord-
ship of southern Italy that could never be effective, and 101' an occu-
pation of Antioch that could never be carried ouL
', Onc of the
treaty's benefits was that it provided the legal basis for imperial claims
to that city during the reigns of John II and Manucl I.
th: great Christian center of Syria, and the largest Ortho-
C.HY ou.tslde of Constantinople, was the centerpiece of much
Impenal polIcy for the next seventy years. The empire did not have
eastern policy before the Crusaders arrived and gave Alex-
IOS the opportunity to regain the coastal provinces of Asia Minor.
The: emperor fought by proxy, using the Scljuk sultan Suleyman
agalllst Tzachas, and then using the Danishmendid Turks against
Suleyman. Before the arrival of the Crusades, Alexios did not even
tly to control the Asiatic cities closest to Constantinople. \!\Thcn the
crusaders reached Constantinople in the summer of 1096, Alexios
+1 AIe.t!rllle, Il, 93-98, (7., 3., 1.1).
:: Alexl.ade, Il, 189, (10., 2., 11). Zonaras, rn, 7'14, 5-15
. Alex/a{le, rn, 125--139 (13 12 11-28) Z III . 7"0 A
, ., ,.. . onaras, , J, '1--14.
used them against the Seljuks. To influence their decisions and to
take possession of cities they stormed, Alexios ordered a unit com-
manded by his general Tatikios to accompany the crusading army
to Antioch. Tatikios deserted the Crusaders outside Antioch, and this
was used by Bohemond as an excuse to seize the city for himself,
in violation of the agreements he had made with the emperor in
distant Constantinople.
following the settlement of the Norman and Pecheneg problems
in the west (after 1108), the emperor was finally able to turn his
attention to eastern matters. This attention resulted in several cam-
paigns between 1112 and 1116, in which the emperor attempted to
impose imperial control over western Asia Minor. These campaigns
were not successful. Alexios was able to resettle only a few groups
of captive Byzantine citizens within the imperial frontier, but these
military actions demonstrate that by 1112 the empire had success-
fully re-established control over the western and southern eoastlands
of Asia Minor. Control of Antioch and the re-establishment of an
imperial frontier on the Euphrates River, prerequisites for extending
imperial control over central Anatolia, required a clear communi-
cation and supply route across Asia Minor. Alexios failed to estab-
lish control over the land routes east, and John II and Manuel I
also failed in this. However, historians should recognize that expe-
ditions against the SeUuks at Ikonion, as well as campaigns to for-
tify and reinforce the Euphrates frontier, were usually directed at
controlling Antioch, and were not aims in themselves. .
By 1118, the date of John Il's accession to the throne, tern-
torial integrity of the Byzantine Empire had been re-estab.hshed. Its
borders stretched from the highlands of southern SerbIa, to the
Danube, to the edges of the central Anatolian plateau. Its. perma-
nent form, including the integral association of the WIth Ana-
tolia had been decided. Because of this relative stabIlIty, John had
the luxury of engaging in aggressive campaigns. While territo.rial
gains were not signiflcant considering effort expended, partICU-
larly with respect to Antioch, the empIre usually enemy
territory, rather than on imperial lands. This was a Improve-
ment in Byzantium'S strategic position relative to the pOSItIOn of the
Turks Normans and Hungarians.
YvIilitary during John Il's reign can be divide:d into three
phases. from 1 118 until 1128 .John empIre's Danube
frontier. This included successful campaIgns agamst the Pechenegs
(in 1122), the Serbians, and the Hungarians, who had begun to chal-
lenge the empire's hegemony over the Dalmatian coast and Danu-
bian boder territories (1128). The empire's alliance with Venice
(entered into by Alexios in 1082), had been used against the Nor-
man kingdom of Sicily; when Sicily no longer appeared to be a
threat,John abrogated his father's treaty with the Venetian Republic.
John's second phase of military activity began with a rapprochement
with the Venetians in 1126. This rapprochement was a necessity
because the emperor intended to turn east and begin the consider-
able task of controlling the distant, mountainous province of Cilicia,
as well as extending the imperial frontier deeper into Turkish terri-
tory. Between 1130 and 1138 John campaigned against Kastamonu
Gangra, accompanied by an extensive siege train; during John's
relgn the Danishmendid emirs of northeast Anatolia appeared to be
a greater threat than the Seljuks at Ikonion. Six years of campaigning
resl:lted only in the acquisition of Kastamonou and its surrounding
Leo, the Roupenid prince of Armenian Cilicia had spent this time
wresting territory from the control of local imperial commanders.
John's campaign of 1137 against Leo was successful and Leo sub-
mitted quickly, as did Prince Raymond of Antioch,' although Ray-
mond's submission was due largely to threats against Antioch mounted
by Zangi of Aleppo, a powerful Turkish atabeg. In 1138 John cam-
paigned in Syria but accomplished nothing, and while returning
through Antioch his army's looting resulted in a popular revolt; the
people of Antioch besieged the emperor in the citedal. Over the
two years, 1141-42, John laid the groundwork for a more exten-
campaign to Cilicia and Syria. He fortified the Sangarios fron-
tIer, and established lines of communication between the Maiander
and Attalcia, the major Byzantine port on the south Anato-
han coast. J ohn'8 suspicious death in 1143 from a poisoned arrow
wound brought his son Manuel to the throne.
John's reign produced limited military successes for the empire; a
meagre return for an emperor who fought annual campaigns. In the
west, John defended the Danube frontier against Turkic raiders while
Hungary was foiled in its attempt to extend its control south 'to the
Sea. In the east, where John waged offensive
hlS .gams more limited. John managed to preserve Byzantine
terntory agamst the Danishmendid emirs but made few advances
against them. He fortified the Byzantine frontier with but
was unable to expand that frontier onto the central Anatohan plateau;
the old Byzantine fortified points of Amorion, Dorylai.on and .Iko-
nion remained in Turkish hands. The Euphrates frontlcr rcmamed
wealdy held. Byzantine control remained empero.r's
presence in in Cilicia to overawe the Armeman pnnces .. 1 he
that Manuel i.nherited from his father was therefore httle different
from that which his father had inherited from Alexios. In the west,
the Normans were quiescent, but Hungary remained a military threat.
The Danishmendids were reduced in power, but the Seljuks of Iko-
nion were stronger. Also, relative to the growing power of Ikonion,
the kingdom of Hungmy. and the Ge.rman the
Empire was weaker than It had been III AlexlOs day. It IS d1lS rel-
ative weakness that we must keep in mind when we examine Manucl's
diplomatic effiJrts. The world of Alexios was one in whieh the Byzan-
tines and Latins fought wars for the first time. Manucl's world
was one in which war and conflict with western states was a con-
stant threat.
Manual's empire had relatively stable military frontiers. Trade with
the Pisans, Amalfitans, Genoese, and especially the Venetians helped
re-establish the economic prosperity that the invasions of thc late
eleventh century had ruined. Hi In his policy Manuel first attempted
(unsuccessfully) to complete his father's work in the east .by
Antioch. He then turned west, launching an unsuccessful IllvaSlOn of
southern Italy. He fought inconclusive wars with the Hungarian king-
dom. At thc end of his reign, like his grandfather, he attempted to
placate public opinion by attacking the Seljuk sultanate. This resulted
in the defeat at Myriokephalon of the largest army mustered by any
Komnenian emperor. One might even say that ]\I1anua1 squandered
the gains accumulated by his father and grandfatl;er ...
Unlike the military events of john's reign, Manuel s mlht.alY
ors do not fall into geographically and chronologically per.l-
ods of activity. Manuel began his reign with a campmgn 111 Anatoha
that brought him to the suburbs of Ikonion in 1146, but he
tercd serious diH-iculties when forced to retreat after ravagmg the
1'; A!exiade, I, 115-46, (4., 2., 1.1-3). Nicol, Donald M. J-!yzwzlilllll alld Venice: a .l'tllr!y
ill dijllomalir alld milura! relatiolls (Cambridge, 1992). 60-63.
territory around the Seljuk capitalY As with all Komnenian cam-
paigns, one should note that within one day's march from the Maian-
der valley, the emperor was in a foreign land, without local support.
Following this brief military display, Manuel was [()I'ced to support
the crusade of Louis VII and Conrad Ill, launched in response to
the fall of Edessa to the emir Zangi in 1144. Like the First Cru-
sade, the second arrived piecemeal. Conrad In appeared outside
Constantinople in 1147, and immediately western and Byzantine
troops clashed near the walls of the imperial city. The imperial troops
were successful in this encounter, and the Germans crossed the
Bosphoros into Asia. Marching east of Dorylaion, they were attacked
and defeated by the Seljuks, and turned back. Louis' forces arrived
later and received a more cordial welcome, and also took the more
leisurely and better-protected route down the coast and across south-
western Anatolia to Attaleia, joined by the remnants of Conrad's
army. Manuel's naval support at Attaleia, where the Byzantines were
supposed to meet the Crusaders, proved insufficient. The Byzantines
were only able to ship the greater barons to the Holy Land. The
Seljuks destroyed the army's infantry while it was marching over-
land to Syria. One of the most interesting aspects about the Second
Crusade is Niketas Choniates' attitude toward the emperor's "sup-
port" of the Crusade. Choniates was disgusted by the emperor's
treatment of the crusaders, accusing him of minting debased coins
with which to pay them, and of ordering the adulteration of bread
Although these sentiments may not represent the opin-
IOn o[ the average Byzantine, the assumption of Odo of Deuil and
the westerners, that Byzantine support was half-hearted and condi-
tional, appears to have been justified.
Manuel spent 1155 managing the passage of the German and
Crusaders across Asia Minor. During this interval, Roger
II of SICIly advantage of the emperor's preoccupation to seize
Kerkyra, an Island that layoff the west coast of Epiros. This was a
natural point [or any expedition against Hellas or Epiros.
Roger then raIded the prosperous cities Corinth, Thebes and Athens
, ,7 3.9'-44, {ill' Manucl'x first campaign against Ikonion and 29C)-'30fl
{or tor thc second campaign. ". ,
Sc;c Chol1lates, His/oria, 52-53, [or the first campaign (1146); and 177--91 {(W
Myrtokcplialon (I 176).
1II Choniatcs, HiJtOlia, 06--67.
in the theme of Hellas.
!) Throughout the reigns of Alexios and his
predecessors (1025-1118), these two provinces remained military back-
waters Increased economic and military contacts with the west, how-
ever, meant that these provinces, located on the naval route to
Constantinople, assume a greater degree of prominence in our
sources."o Thc Venetians recognized the strategic value of the ports
on the coast of the Pcloponessos. When John expelled them in 1122,
they attempted to take the port of Monemvasia, and after the sack
of Constantinople in 1204, they seized most of the important ports
of central and southern Hellas. The Sicilians did not want military
outposts or permanent control over Hellas and the Peloponnesos;
this expedition appears to have been a form of economic warfare.
At Corinth, weavers, dyers, and young women were siezecl and trans-
ported to Roger's kingdom. This occurred despite an adequate gar-
rison in the city, and despite the powerful fortifications of the citadel.
Choniates reports that the incompetence of the imperial command-
ers accounted [or the Italian successes, rather than lack of prepara-
tion or surprise.
Kerkyra was crucial to imperial defensive planning; it was a poten-
tial staging point [or expeditions against Epiros and south into Hel-
las. Control or KCl'kyra would do much to prevent Norman raids
on Greece. Norman control o[ Kerkyra, moreover, was a direct chal-
lenge to Venetian naval hegemony in the Adriatic. Following Venice's
commercial agreement with Alexios I (l082), the Venetians had
become the predominant naval force in the eastern Mediterranean.
J oIm II was unable to challenge their naval power; he was forced
as a consequence to restore them to their position of favor after four
years of conflict.-
rr the Sicilians continued to hold Kerkyra, they
could run patrols betwecn Apulia and Epiros. It also meant that
they could potentially block the Venetian trading Heets, all of which
.!!) Chnniates, Hi.l/oria, 74--7l), .'
',11 Choniates, His/(J11'([, 73. The Normans next tried to take the [oruficc1 town of
j\.loncmvasia, ofT the east coast of the Peloponnesos, It proved ton strong for them.
Kinnamos not mention this eVl'nt.
:01 Cholliates, I-hl/oria, 172--74. Choniatcs does not mcnlionJohn's war ,:"ith
he ilnalyzes Manuel's ckcisiull 10 conflscale V cnetiall ,goods a. reactIOn to
earlier lampooninp; of the emperor at Kerkyra. Chomates, HIs/ana, ,Sl). Note h,le-
bearing ships,' 'nees t!},lj!/wroi' 1t'UpcpoPOt),P. 172, I. alter. the
Venclians. Killllamos, 2B 1--H2, Sce 2B I--So, 101' IVlanuel s lmhtary actions agalllst
the Vcnelians, including the llse or Greek fire (2B3).
had to pass Kerkyra and Apulia. Roger's actions threatened the
Venetians more than they threatened the Byzantine Empire. The
Venetians had very good reason to ally with Manuel against the Nor-
mans, and accordingly mounted an expedition against the Normans
in Kerkyra, in 1147-48. A sudden Cuman invasion meant that
Manuel could not give this expedition his full attention. By 114.9,
despite the uninspired leadership of Stephen Kontostephanos, and a
quarrel between the Byzantines and their Venetian allies that came
to blows, it was apparent to the Norman garrison that the combined
imperial and Venetian fleets would continue to prevent any Norman
relief foree from coming to their aid. The garrison surrendered and
the officers in charge promptly entered service with Manuel. 52
Manuel now turned his military policy towards the west. Despite
several brief interludes of military activity in the east, including the
1167 expedition to Egypt, Manuel's policy became directed towards
controlling the Dalmatian coast and southern Italy. It is a mistake
to consider Manuel's Italian and Hungarian policies separately. Manue!
hired armies in Italy; these distracted Roger Il. Manue!'s outposts
111 that kingdom prevented Norman raids by forcing Roger to con-
centrate upon his Italian possessions. Like Roger when he conquered
Kerkyra, lVIanuel sought staging areas for further action, and out-
posts for the naval domination of the straits of Dyrrachion. Simulta-
neously, Manuel mounted expeditions against Serbia and Hungary.
To forestall the annual Hungarian advances into Dalmatia and Byzan-
tine Serbia, between 1151 and 1167 the Byzantines sent thirteen
expeditions against the Hungarians. 5:1 These wars culminated in the
exten.sive campaign in which the Byzantine army invaded Hungary,
and 111 1167 Andronikos Kontostephanos defeated the Hungarian
army at Semlin. Manuel failed to maintain the gains his armies had
in the Norman kingdom in Italy, but by 1158 military con-
fhct had been replaced by a policy of rapprochement with the Nor-
mans and with an alliance against Frederick I Barbarossa, the emperor
of Germany. By 1167 Manuel had achieved many of his military goals
in the west: Byzantine power now extended further west than it had
at any time since the reign of Basil Il; The emperor had rights con-
52 His/ona, 88-89; Kinnamos, 96-101. The officers undoubtedly relt
that their dogged dere:1SC would win them better terms of employment from Manuel
than they would receive from Roger, whose fortress they had jllst surrendurecl.
53 Angold, 174. .
cerning the disposition of the Hungarian crown; Byzantine relations
with the papacy, now represel\ted by Alexander Ill, were cordial;51
The emperor had also managed to fight the Normans to a stand-still,
and they posed no threat to Manuel for the remainder of his reign.
Following these policy gains, Manucl embarked upon a new set
of ambitious policies which threatened to overturn much of what he
had accomplished ovcr the first twenty five-years of his reign. First,
in 1171, he attempted to abrogate Venice's trading privileges within
the Byzantine Empire. The immediate cause of this action was the
Venetian sack of the Genoese trading offices in Constantinople.
Manuel, quite obviously, did not want two Italian trading states fight-
ing a private war in his capital.
Manuel was worried because Vene-
tians who married Byzantines, becoming in effect Byzantines themselves,
retained the privileges granted to "foreign" traders. Angold and
Hendy argue that there were fewer of these traders than most
historians assume, numbering in the thousands rather than the tens
of thousands, even in the capital. Nevertheless, it is natural to assume
that the emperor, sensitive to the granting of privileges and rights-
perhaps the greatest representation of imperial prerogatives and
power-would want to control a rogue group of citizens who remained
under thc laws and control of a foreign power while maintaining
themselves as economically privileged citizens of the emperor. The
agreement by which Alcxios extended trading privileges to the Vene-
tians also specified that they would resolve disputes in their own
courts. The the emperor saw the Venetians who married Byzan-
tines in the Orthodox rite as Orthodox Byzantines who wished to re-
main outside the emperor's authority. Manuel's war with the Venetians
was mainly fought on the sea, and resembled the similar situation
John II instigated. This conHiet lasted from 1171 until 1175, when
the emperor decided that fighting a naval war was too expensive.
Between 1171 and 1175, Manucl also attempted to affect a
rapprochemcnt with Frederiek I Barbarossa. This became necessary
because Manucl's diplomacy with Alexander IIl, directed against
Frederick, and Manud's support or the League of Verona against
the German empire, became irrelevant aftcr plague swept through
"lODE, I, ':J 7. In 1167 l'vlanuci senl Ihe .lehll.I/OJ lnrclanos III negotiate with Alexan-
cler Il L The substance o/' the nq!;otiations was that Manuei would organi1.c a unioll
of churches if Alexander recognized him as emperor oJ' both cast and west.
,,', Magdalino, 93- 94, 1:17 - :1B; Angojd, 199 --20 I.
Frederick's army in 1167, and the German threat to Italy disap-
peared. The Byzantines were bitterly disillusioned by the sudden
change in papal policy, and when negotiations with Frederick proved
useless, the emperor found himself isolated both from the papacy
and from the German emperor. Manuel still had influence in Hun-
gary, but the emperor's policy of controlling the balance of power
in. the west, against whoever threatened to control Italy, was now a
faIlure. In the context of these failures, Manuel turned eastward
against Ikonion and the Seljuks.
Following his first attack upon Ikonion, in 1146, Manuel had per-
sonally led only one major campaign in the east, in 1158. He usu-
ally relied upon his vassals and proxies in Antioch, and upon generals
such as Alexios Axouch, sent to Syria in 1164 in response to the
defeat of Bohemond III of Antioch by Nur ed-din. In 1173 Fred-
crick Barbarossa negotiated with Kilij Arslan, the Seljuk sultan; these
negotiations between Manuel's two great enemies appeared to threaten
a combined attack from both east and west upon the empire. The
next Manuel began preparations [or his largest campaign in
Anatoha. In 1175, he wrote to Pope Alexander IIl, stating that the
r.oute to the !foly Land was open because he had captured and for-
tlfied DorylalOn. This was a thinly disguised invitation for the pope
to send bands of crusaders at precisely the time that Manuel was
planning the destruction of the Seljuk state.
The emperor spent
of 1175 fortifying Soublaion and organizing diversionary expe-
Amaseia and Neokaisareia. He developed a large siege
tram, v:
was one of the reasons the army proved
so unWIeldy m Its advance up the Maiander valleyY The effects of
defeat th.e emperor suffered at Myriokephalon in 1176 were lim-
Ited to the mternational perception of imperial weakness. In fact,
Manuel only disabled his advanced base at Soublaion, constructed
t?e year before .. He retained control of the fortress of Dorylaion,
nght. on SelJuk border, although his truce with Kilij Arslan
reqUIred ItS. destruction. in 1177, the Seljuks sent
men. 111to the coltrolled Maiander valley. The Byzan-
handIly defeated thIS expedition. Therefore, the battle of
Mynokephalon had very little effect upon the eastern military fron-
56 Angold, 189.
57 Michacl Hcndy describes the battle of Myriokephalon, citing Roger of How-
den, Chromca, ed. W. Stubbs, 4- vols. (London, 1868-71), Il, 103.
. 2
tier. Nevertheless, it was the most significant military force mustered
in Manuel's reign. It was also unique because it was the only cam-
paign in which Manuel sought to destroy an enemy, rather than to
influence or intimidate an opponent.
The failure of Myriokephalon was not an indication of Byzantine
weakness, but rather an indication of the limitations of warmaking
against the Turks. These limits had always been present. John II
had been equally unsuccessful in his attempt to destroy the Danishmen-
dicls. Manuel's military activities continued after 1176, despite the
emperor's personal absence from any further campaigning. A large
fleet attacked Egypt the next year, and imperial armies continued
to campaign in Anatolia. That these were defensive wars is not any
after-effect of Myriokephalon, but simply Cl reflection of the fact that
most imperial campaigns in Anatolia were defensive in nature.
The. army Alexios inherited from Nikephoros Botaneiates in 1081
was III deplorable condition. The army of Romanos IV in 1071 had at
least of recruits and an experienced gen-
eral. AlexlOs army 111ltlally contained few Anatolian recruits while
recruits were drawn from only two areas: Thrace and
Pec!leneg and CUIllan raids made control over Bulgaria
portions of Alexios' reign. Furthermore, the
defectIOn of SerbIa 111 the 1070s, the invasions of the Norman lords
Guiscard and Bohemond, and the piratical raids of the Turk
ensured that large parts of the empire's European ten'i-
tones were under foreign control for many years. Greece, called
HeUas by the Byzantines, was not a viable source of recruits in part
1 b . ' ,
per laps, ecause It was difficult to move men from so far south to
they were needed in the north and west. Thrace and Mace-
had the critical of being close to the capital, and
:"ele protected by the Hmmos Mountains, which blocked northern
Anot?er pro.blem for development of a new army was the
allegiance of soldiers who, during the 1070s, had partici-
111 several rebellions. Nikephoros Bryennios, Doux of Dyrra-
ch1On, :ebelled with much of the western army in 1077. Nikephoros
Botanelate.s r;belled and became emperor in 1078. Upon Nikephor-
os Bryenmos defeat and capture by Alexios, Nikephoros Basilakios
gatl;ered Bryennios' rebellious troops and continued the struggle
aga111st. the new Botaniates. Nikephoros Mclissenos, who
bel!ed 111 1080, dIsrupted what remained of Asia Minor. Rousscl of
out a principality for himself in Asia Minor in 1073. I
AleXlos hImself rebelled successfully and in 1081 obtained the throne.
I Anne Comncne, illexiade (Paris, 1937--76) ed B LCl'b I 10-11 Al .
tured Rib b 'b' , " ." exlOS cap
y n mg ROllssel's Turkish allies to seize him and him to
So in addition to external troubles, internal dissention further dam-
aged an already weakened Byzantine army.
Campaigns against Rebels
Anna Komnene's remarks about her father's first campaign reinforce
the impression that the army was in terrible condition. She says,
" ... the empire of the Romans had been reduced to its last resources.
In the East the armies were everywhere scattered, while the Turks
had spread out so that they had all the near territories ... But in
the west [the troops] Howed to The soldiers available
to Alexios constituted a meager force compared with the powerful
armies of Basil n. Alexios' army included the Immortals, three hun-
dred Chomatenes, and a few Kelts (Frankish mercenaries). Botaneiates
also sent for men from his Turkish allies.:
Alexios advanced to the
Halmyros River, where it became apparent that the large size of
Basilakios' army made a pitched battle undesirable. Anna mentions
that Alexios deliberately held his army off from Nikephoros' troops
because he was afraid the rebel would attack if he realized how few
men Alexios had under his command:
The grandson of the rebel Bryennios was Nikephoros the Caesar.
He became Anna Komnene's husband, and is Anna's source for this
campaign, which occurred before shc was born. By the time Anna
wrote, in the 1140s, few were living who could have recalled these
events. Her precise description of Alcxios' military preparations para-
phrases Bryennios, and Bryennios' rcports of military events arc usu-
ally detailed."
Alexios fought Bryennios at the Halmyros River. Bryennios placed
his brother John on the right wing with five thousand men. These
1 Alexiade, I, 17-18, (I, 4. 1.10-19). The combined Byzantine forces included both
Alcxios and Bryennios' men. If Alexios had enough men to take the field, hut a
somewhat smaller {()rce than Bryennios (which might explain his reluctance to give
battle), we can estimate the entire Byzantine military contingent in the west at
between twenty thousand and twenty-fIve thousand men. This is admittedly guess-
work, but such is the nature of Anna's account.
:l Alexiade, 1, 18. Nikephnros Brycnnios, .Nicephore Bryenllios His/oire, Hyle Hislmias,
CFHB, ed. P. Gauticr (Brussels, 1975), 13B.
+ Alexiade, I, 19.
5 illexiade, I, I B jT:; Bryennios, I :1G:1B.
included the veterans of Maniakes from Sicily, and Thessalian and
Frankish cavalry. The left consisted of three thousand men of the
Macedonian and Thracian squadrons. Bryennios held the center with
Thracians, Macedonians, and picked Thessalian cavahy troopers. No
is specified, but if the army was organized in three groups
there IS no reason to suppose there were fewer than three thousand
in this center group also. Beyond the left flank, Bryennios stationed
some Scythiall allies, some two stacIcs off.6 Facing him, Alexios' forces
are reported by both Bryennios and Anna to have been consider-
ably smaller. Nikephoros says that Alexios watched the enemy force
and was dismayed by their overwhelming numbers.7 Alcx-
IOS decIded he had to fight although the Turkish mercenaries had
ye: Alexios' force was both less disciplined and numer-
Ically mfenor to that of his opponents, but strong enough to offer
some hope of victory. If Bryennios had about twelve thousand men
it is reasonable to assume somewhat fewer for Alexios, perhaps eight
to ten thousand. Fewer men than this might seem foolhardy but we
do not know what pressure was being placed upon Alexios to fight.
Alexios' line consisted of two groups, a left flank of Franks and
Immortals (athanatoi) uncleI' his Own command, and a right containing
troops from thc Choma region and some Turks.u These were ordered
keep. an eye on the Scythians, on the left side of Blyennios' line.
I he thIrd part of Alexios' army, of unlisted composition but per-
Imps composed of pettasts (light-armed assault infantry) was off Alex-
ios' hidden in some hollows for an ambush. T11e position of
Immortals and Franks at the outset of the battle is not stated
nor .IS the. of Alexios' other forces given in any detail:
Th:lr pOSItIOns, however, become clear during the course of the
actIOn. Anna reports that John Bryennios struck down a soldier from
the corps ?f 'The Immortals' facing him, and this tells us where they
were relatlVe to Blyennios' !'. !J l,V I ',.
_ . ' 10lces. v e can pace AlexlOs cont111gent
on the left, facmg the powerful right flank of Bryennios' army.
I. Brycnnios, 136.
7 BIYCllllins, 131)-37.
11 TI I .
le InInortals first appear during the reign nf'Jollll IT . k ' . 971 TI
were a cavllry 'c . 1 1 . - zllms es, In, . lCY
of Ale xios i th.c Of. the reign
im,_ 1 O. 11. }ahrlutndert (Vienna;' 1991 H) Kuhn, Die byzantlTllsclie Annee
, .1Iexlade, I, 20 '-21. ,46.
Alexios hoped that the soldiers he had placed in ambush would
throw Bryennios' formation into confusion so that his Franks and
Immortals would be able to break them. Nikephoros' best men faced
Alexios' ambush, and it was easily driven of I Next Alexios' Immor-
tals broke. A general rout followed. Alcxios' Franks deserted to Brycn-
nios, and the rest of the units under Alexios' personal command
Bryennios' Scythians then attacked and drove off Alcx-
ios' right flank, and the whole imperial force fled beyond its camp,
which the Scythians and the rest of Bryennios' army began to loot.
By chance, a group of Alexios' Turkish allies arrived and reinforced
his troops. They skirmished with the enemy and quickly drew Brycn-
nios' victorious, overconfident troops into an ambush. I I Alexios had
remained on the field oC battle, and in command of at least a unit
of his men. Bryennios allowed his troops to loot, and he lost con-
trol of them. Alexios took advantage oC his opponent's JUOInentary
lapse to captUl'e Brycnnios and win the battle.
It is clear from this account that the Byzantine army was com-
posed primarily of Byzantine recruits. The striking arm of Alexios'
force was Frankish cavalry supported by the Immortals. For pur-
poses of determining total Byzantine numbers and ethnic composi-
tion, we must consider the whole force of both sides at the Battle
of the Halmyros River as the "Byzantine" army. European recruits
dominated this force; Chomatenes are the only Asian soldiers
mentioned by Anna. The rest of the Byzantine troops were Mace-
donian, Thessalian, and Thl'ac:ian (native Byzantine) cavalry. These
regions were relatively protected from outside raiding and ravaging
and were dose enough to the capital to allow a speedy call-up or
This army was Cl combined-arms force. It utilized a combination
of infantry and cavalry, operating in support of each other. Mace-
donian and Thessalian cavalry units were protected by heavy armor:
helmets and and are later identified by Anna as
III Bryennios, 138. Alexiade, I, 24. .
II A lexiadc, I, 25. (I, 6, I. 21 If) When it at lirst appeared that Brycl1mos had
WOJl, Alexios stayed on thc field of battle long as. .. Hc was, undoubtcdly
unenthusiastic ahout returning to COllstant11loplc aiter a mdIlary de/cat. Bc then
met a force of his Turkish itllics, and Alexios and these Turkish t]"ClOPS moved
against Brycnnios' i(ll"l:es. At lirst they engaged the enemy, thell they pretended to
flee ill order to draw the l'ncmy into an ambush.
12 Alexiru":, I, 20.
It contained jJe/tasts (fast-moving, elite infantry), missile
and Alexios' army outside of Constantinople, dur-
mg hIs rebellIon, contained these classes of infantrymen, so we know
that they existed and were used in Byzantine armies. The best cav-
alry and infantry were in the center, the other troops presumably
on the flanks. The light archers and slingers (psiloi), were drawn
up although our sources do not specify where they were
. Alexios'. army operated around a base line of heavy and light
mfantry, wIth cavalry on the flanks, often massed on one side or the
A small reserve of picked troops frequently appears. Bryen-
protected his weak flank with Scythian skirmishers. Alexios placed
hIS own Turkish skirmishers opposite these Scythians on his Own
weak flan.k. Neither Alexios nor Bryennios attempted anything other
a pItched battle; diversionary maneuvers (skirmishing, harass-
mg) were not used. Each rebellion ended only after a field action
that eliminated either the rebellious army or the rebellious leader.
needed to fight to prove their legitimacy; in this case, Alex-
10S because he needed to keep Bryennios away from Con-
stantmople. The preference for pitched battles-whether deliberate
or to prove a problem when the Byzantines were
faced WIth the Norman tactical system, which proved morc effective
in this kind of combat.
of Norman recruitment and training is problem-
for she IS more concerned with proving the recklessness of
attack ti:an in accurately representing the enemy army.
NeveItheless, there IS no reason to doubt Anna's claim that the Nor-
man army comprisec: thirty thousand infantry and cavalry, and one
hundred and ShIpS.ll Th.e Normans fought differently than did
the other enemIes of ByzantIUm. The Seljuks, the Pechenegs, and
the. Cumans fought fluid, feint-and-retreat battles. They sought to
aVOId close combat, where their lighter arms and armor would prove
1:1 Alexiade, I, 90.
1I Alexiade, I, 56.
a disadvantage. They had no goal beyond loot and escape. This
meant they were a less dangerous foe than the highly organized Nor-
mans, who had territorial ambitions. The danger posed by the Nor-
mans also accounts for Alexios' disregard of the Seljuk threat. The
east half of the empire was forgotten as the Byzantines fought to keep
the Normans from advancing out of Epiros toward Constantinople.
The Normans constituted the most serious threat to the empire
that Alexios faced during his thirty-seven year reign. His generalship
reached its highest level by learning to handle their tactics and train-
ing. The Byzantine campaign of 1106-07 against B.oh:mond is the
best example of the Byzantine army's strategy of mdlrect warfare
during Alexios' reign. In previous campaigns Alexios had allowed
his armies to face the Nonnans in frontal combat, with predictably
disastrous results. In this campaign, by contrast, Alexios avoided bat-
tle with the Normans; instead, he slowly wore them down. I:; This
strategy was not born overnight. Certainly it does not seem to have
been used during the emperor's first campaign against Robert Guis-
card. A strategy of indirect warfare presupposes considerable expe-
rience and a high level of discipline among the ordinary soldiers. At
Dyrrachion it also required a large fleet such as only
possessed. Indirect warfare also required a stable pohtIcal SItuatIOn
in the capital, for it risked creating the impression of cowardice.
The Normans relied upon the shock of a massed cavalry attack to
defeat an enemy army. 11; Recent Byzantine experience had been bat-
tles against the Turks, Pechenegs, and against rebellious generals.
When needed, Frankish mercenary units provided Byzantine armies
with shoek troops. Heavily arl110recl Frankish cavalry was less use-
ful than archers, peltasts, and skirmishing cavalry when fighting an
enemy such as the Turks. Faced with a Norman army whose strength
consisted of mounted warriors, protected by ehain mail and mounted
on specially bred horses, the Byzantine kataphraktos was virtually pow-
When the Byzantincs chose to fight the Normans in open
battle, cavalry against cavalry, the result was usually disastrous.
I; This strategy was not new, but it was new .to The Slmlegikoll or
rice, bk. 11, describes the proper way to deal WIth. tu
battle and instead wear them down by constant mdecIslve skmmshcs. Georgc I.
Dennis, (cd.) Das Des Mawikiu.I (Vienna, 1981).
Ib Alexiade, rn, I J4.-II:i. . .
17 Alexiade, Ill, 114-"115; 11, 109. The f1rst account. dcscnbes typIcal
equipment: (chainmail, kite shield, helm, and lance), whIle the second deSCrIbes the
fie,lded in the first campaign was
1071-81 Th. Sides had used dunng the civil wars of
. e mmy of the reb lB ' (1
imately twelve tl d e ryen1110S 077), comprised approx-
that the arm half the Byzantine total. This meant
y eXIOS use agamst R b t G' d
twenty th d d. 0 el Ulscar numbered between
ousan an twenty fi e tl d .
ish allies Th . - v lousan men, mcluding his Turk-
the ea by Annda Ko I mnene includes
Constantine 0 os T c was un er t le command of
airy' these were
'd he}re were also Macedonians, undoubtedly cav-
, un er tle command of Al d 17 b' . ,
commanded tl T 1 f: ,exan er ....a aSIlas. Tatlkios
le ur (S rom Ochnd-P I
tions 2 800 M ' ec lenegs-and Anna men-
also pre' t al11cha
eans, .The vestia1itai, the household troO}JS were
sen , as was t e regtm t fl F '
under Humbertopoulos. lfl (ton Frangikon tagma.ton),
where they had d " y: le arangtans were at DyrraehlOn,
, . a eClSlVe role 111 the battle that ended Al' , fi.
campaign agamst Robert. 1!i exlOS 1St
Anna's account of the b If' .
with Homeric-style d att e 0 DyrrachlOn IS muddled and filled
makes it clear that o:es about Alexios. Nevertheless, her account
Venice would h< eXIOS strategy relied upon two conditions. First
ave to control the Ad' . S '
troops would have to defeat the No natlc. ea. Alexios'
weakened by an unsucces Cl' . army after It had been
sm Wl11ter SIege of D 1 . A .
that a third of the Norman fI . . yrrae :Ion. nna clatms
ten thousand men and fi ,the Wll1ter of 1107-08:
succeed Robert's arm 1 ve
un red. 20 For Alexios' plan to
, y la to remal11 p111l1ed t D h' .
was accomplished by th h . a yrrac IOn. ThIS
e erOle efforts of th .,
eorge Palaiologos who . e CIty s commander,
, was supported by the Venetian fleet.
gift to Alexios of 150 . I
tI . ..' . spew\ horses, along with 'i00 k . I '....
W<lS a dlffcrence between th B . . llIg lis. ThIS !,'llt lIldlcatcs that
described above was European horscs. The
of armament was "Byzantine" A . s , wh.lch presupposes that another
else description of Byzantine cavah' oes not gwc us a correspondingly pre-
lime I, pagc 90 and Volume n . 2;ment, but she describes kataplzmktoi in Vol-
III Alexirule, I 151'52 ' age . .
Ilj .'
" Alexwde, I, 158--59,
211 illexiade, 1, 149.

The importance of Dyrrachion needs some explanation. Dyrra-
chion was the most important Norman base for further operations
against Alcxios, Robert began his campaign by taking Kerkyra, but
the seizure of Dyrrachion would provide the shortest crossing of the
Adriatic for men and supplies. Furthermore, Robert could hardly
leave the city in enemy hands while a Venetian fleet prowled the
Adriatic. The opportunity for the Byzantines and Venetians to land
hostile troops at his rear, should the city remain in imperial hands,
necessitated its capture.
Dyrrachion is Anna's best description of a campaign, and its pre-
cision (and plausibility) are exceptional among Byzantine battle
accounts. Dyrrachion was fought in 1081, and Anna was born in
1083/4. We can only assume that Anna had access to some source
of precise information. The accuracy of her information with respect
to units involved and terrain covered bespeaks first-hand experience
combined with a well-reasoned account. She begins with George
Palaiologos' warning to Alexios that it would be foolhardy to risk a
battle, even after the hardships suffered by Guiscard during the pre-
vious winter.
Certainly she relies upon Palaiologos' memory, and
it is safe to assume that whatever notes or reminiscences Nikephoros
Bryennios used were also at her disposal.
What induced Alexios to fight? Several possibilities suggest them-
selves. First, the fall of Dyrrachion would have given Robert the ad-
vanced base he needed to continue his campaign, and would have
offered his army a refuge in the event of defeat. Second, and more
important, a Byzantine victory, together with Venetian control of
the sea, would have destroyed Robert's army. George Palaiologos'
advice was to skirmish the enemy to death and disrupt his foraging.
This advice was discarded in favor of a plan supported by younger
officers-a night attack-which never occurred. Wc cannot know
whether partisans in Alexios' camp warned Robert, or whether his
actions were coincidental. Before the Byzantincs could put their sub-
terfuge into action, Robert moved his forces out to the plain near
Dyrrachion and formed up in battle order. Anna observes that Alex-
ios had already dispatched a portion of the Varangians to attack the
camp of Guiscard, and these were not present during the battlc.
The battle lines were as follows.
21 Alexiade, 1, 155.
22 Alexiade, I, ISH. George Palaiologos is an appealing Hgurc-bravc, rcsourcellll,
, Robert commanded the center of his army, which was divided
11110 three parts, The left was under Bohemond's command; the right,
:i1nng the sea, Count Amiketas, Alexios drew up his armyfac-
mg Robl'rt, WIth Ius left Bank against the sea. Alexios took the cen-
on the right was the caesar Nikephoros Me1issenos, and on the
I:lt Pakollrianos the Armenian, whose title at court was Grand Domes-
tic In front of the imperial line was a unit of "bar-
lJanans with axes-Varangians-but it is unlikely that they were
1l11Il1(Tt,JlIS enough to have a frontage as long as that of the whole
Byzam,mt: army: Guiscard also employed the "English" later in his
t .. tIlI
n, and It, be that many of these men hired themselves
ollt Illcrccnanes 111 the two decades following' 1066 d "
11 '1'(11' I I> ' ,an wele
, 'I, IV t lC >yz'mtllle . I
'\ ' , almy to supp ement the Varangian contin-
I'. n:marks that they were armed with two-handed swords
'I;H IS s, and she also notes that they gTew weak under the weigh t
I) t It'll" arms and 'trmor 23 Th' , ,
I1 " ',IS suggests ll1dIcates that they were
, ,() \\('anng some form of h '
;lI'Illor \\"lS 1\" I ' eavy armor, perhaps cham mail. This
,,' t,iVV t lat It was WOl I' 1
tit' " , ' " ,'Il on y m t 1e expectation of bat-
',h Jt Was at the battle of Stamford B 'd ' " ' ,
Ih,' ,/;tlwhtt'1' of rh ' 1 ' ,j n ge, whIch ended WIth
. fll'l('elc'l y uIlarmOl,'ed force of Harold Hardrada).
. "" I!l )etwcen the 'I' ,
\ ;u ;tllgians with instru "t' k' mam me of AlexIOs and the
", ,C IOns to S Irmish with t1 I
wluud the shield \!' 11 I I le enemy auc retreat
R \ <t W len t lCY were pressed
h.egan the battle by detachin"', ,
lIlto an und' "I' d h g some cavalry to entIce the
ISClp me c arg'e A '
'Hll' of /Iefla,I!1 W'IS ., nna mentIOns that a large
. , , ,', Sent out to dnve tl fl'24 S .
'pnlll(' ahout the cliffi" lem o. he IS also quite
" " crence )ctween ar h ' j l.
If appears that l\lexios j'e't" d eels, 'Je tasts, and psiloi, and
, ,,', dll1e a resel f h
t IlltTI.\I'nnt's, Hrz<lntine milita j 'Vc 0 t ese men to deal with
th,'", lightly arllled men ", .: 1 nanuals as the Strategikon call
assau t troops "2" TIl
' . ese men were used
1,,,,,11 IJld \
t " ,h, 1111;\ ;!llmits ill Ill) "
i, tilt' l'dI11,'\ ,\I,'xill f " ,. 17.), an important 'fi.
Ill"", !in' ";"<11. .tl; II;Jir'.'Hl(lit. Apparently he was not 01, all her accounts
Jil 11", l'lII/,' \ 'tl I of the LOtlr[, but '1lsQ Al ' .Y' hke Nlkephoros Bryen-
, \11 Ill' Svtl" , " 'eXIOs cia' f" cl H
1',/" '" /" I ..., "JIlt',' I' (, 1I.11lS and ClImans as \vell ,\.' se ,lien, e appears
1 ) I ""II,tl'.1 ... I 'I' I' cS l!l an Int "t' , ,
"1',1' illl lJ I11 17' , , \\It I ancred's I'l ' 1, elCS ll1g Illcldcnt
, ' , " ISO enee towa'l tl
/,;' li'i,;., I. 1,11 /I ill, le 1e emperor, and
1, L I i'l
I )"J" J;
, "", )';",!;!fdllI, Ill; I "e I')') I'
; I ,it i'J lil,,'rm/IlI,: ,2
2.1-. GrOPe T D,' ,
:' ""'1'1 \lld"'iH ',I/dl '\ 11' ,\/rait:r;.r j'98,;,)nI1IS, A1mm,ce's Strate-
' .. I." I I)IHls, who'll' , <I, , .,. 15 27 AI '
,I ,I' 1""1,, 1"'''''1 ' su 'tjJpear at the'" '" exlOS was
, slegc of Constantinople, just
tCll" sudden operations to react quickly and nimbly to developing
siluations; hence the term "assault troops" for peltasts who carried
liltle more than a few javelins and a shield,
To return to the battle of Dyrrachion, the Nonnans who faced
the left: Hank of the Byzantine army comprised the infantry and cav-
alry under Amiketes, This division charge cl the Varangians and their
leader Nampites, presumably still supported by archers and peltasts,
The NOl"lnans were routed. As at Hastings, the English foot soldiers
followecl up their victory by advancing far beyond the main linc of
their army, Guiscard sent reserves against the Varangians, and the
Varangians Anna prey at this point to her Homericiz-
ing tendencies, but it is clear that the breaking of the huscarles, like
the breaking of the Immortals by Bryennios, was the signal for a
general charge by the enemy, Guiscard's fClrces drove back the Byzan-
tine line and routed lhc whole army in short order,27 The imperial
camp was overrun, the baggage train was captured, and the army
was so dispersed Lhat the emperor took night for two days, only
stopping once he reached Ochrid.
The magnitude or Alexios' defeat at Dyrrachion begs the ques-
tion: could Alcxios have conducted this battle differently? Alexios'
peculiar tactic of deploying archers behind a shield wall of Varangians
appears to be his f-irst attempt to gTapplc with the power of the Nor-
man cavalry charge. \Vhether the Varangians would have been bet-
ter used in another role, or as a reserve, is a moot point. Behind
them, the main battle line or cavalry gave way to the first charge
or the enemy, The Normans probably appreciated the resisting power
or I-Iuscarle inllmtry against their charge, and perhaps Alexios was
also counting upon a certain amount or Norman-English rivalry to
, ., I ' 'Ill '1"' A' '1'se Norlnal1
glve a greater lncentlve to liS men.- ,0" nna s surpl., , ,
inftll1try were sllcccssilll in breaking and slaughtering the Varangtans,
whom Anna represents as highly undisciplined.
!' Despite Anna's
1" A/exit/dr. [, !(j(),
11 A/exilldl', 1, IliO -I G3. " '
1,. The reason tha t AI('xios hacl sn many English recrulls IS a LJ,lICstlO11 which
is not clillic-lIlt to ,ltlSlI'l'r, Until 1072 the Nurmans were engaged 111, wars to. se-
nll'l' their English possessio liS, In 1069 70 thc,re were. seven agall1st
Norll1an rut.- in England, Alter I [Hi(i many Enghshmcn louncl servIce wah Byzan-
tint' emperors" " ' .
"q ,1If'l'iadl' I I (iD, SOI11C 01 the huscarlcs escaped and fled to the 01
Sl. Nichlllas', '!-JH' NOl'ln<lns IJurtlccl Ihe huilding and the men who sought reluge
remark that the Varangians advanced well beyond the Byzantine
line, thereby inviting their defeat, it is just as likely thal Anna is cov-
ering up her father's failure to exploit the Varang;ian victory over
the Norman right wing. In this case, the defeat of the Varangiam;
could be ascribed to Alexios' lack of support for them. Had they
advanced too far beyond the imperial line, or had the imperial forces
and their commander failed to support them properly? The latter
the more plausible explanation. The Byzantines gained a great
tactIcal advantage when the Norman right collapsed, but failed to
exploit it. They lost the battle as a result and were forced into
another twenty-five years of intermittent warfare with lhe Normans.
Alexios nonetheless deserves some credit, particularly for his quick
use. of peltasts to deal with the emergency on his left. The Byzantine
battle line's inability to withstand the Norman charge resulted
111 defeat. The use of Varangians, petlasts or other special troops was
to th: battle's outcome, but only because the emperor
to apprecIate adequately what they had accomplished. The
qUIck rout of the Byzantine cavalry, veterans of ten years of civil
war and battle after battle against the Turks is a strong' indicator
Byzantine cavalry was more lighlly and than
Its western foes. Reinforcing this supposition is Anna's remark that
Alexios' was a "real" war-horse, obtained when Bryennios was
defeated .lO What d' I tl fiB .
. . IC le rest 0 t le yzantme cavalry use as mounts,
If only the emperor had such a horse?
. The extent of Byzantine defeat is most strongly indicated by
the fa:t AlexlOs was forced to call up recruits, who needed to
be.tramed horsemanship, archery, drills, and skirmishing.:lI At this
AlexlOs was lucky; his diplomacy with Henry IV of Germany
Pal? off, and Robert was recalled to defend his Italian possessions,
whlle Bohemond remained t D h' '12 B h
. . a yrrac IOn; 0 emond appears com-
as, a commander, but he seems to have lacked his
s polItIcal clout, and he does not appeal' to have main-
tamed control Over h' B t' bI
. IS rac IOUS no e subordinates. Bohemond's first
well enough. He advanced southeast to Ioannina in
< :11'1
, and garrisoning the city. W11en Alexios moved his
new y reCl'lllted army there' th
111 e summer of 1108, the emperor
lI) Alexiatle, I, 164,.
\I Alexiatie, Il, 13' 14.
:<2 Alexiarle, Il, 1:3- H.
remained outnumbered, and resorted to a stratagem in an attempt
to disrupt the Norman cavalry charge, ordering the construction of
wagons, which Anna calls chariotso:l:
Like their ancient counterparts
in the battles of Gaugamela (332 B.C.) and Magnesia (198 B.C.), they
were ineffective. The Normans maneuvered around them by split-
ting their army into two groups and then simultaneously charged
the Byzantine right and left flanks. Alexios' army was quickly put to
rout. If indeed wagons were used as Anna indicates, their location
in the center of Alexios' army would have had the added disad-
vantage of preventing troop movements by Alexios, which might
have prevented the Norman encircling maneuver. The use of "char-
iots" was a strategem that proved disastrous.
Alexios again retreated northward, to Ochricl, to gather merce-
naries and muster his forces. Because George Palaiologos success-
fully defended Dyrrachion, these early battles, which lost,
were fought in Epiros rather than further east. If DyrrachlOn had
fallen earlier, the Normans would have been able to throw their full
military force at 1Vlacedonia and Thrace. Thessalonike would have
been under siege, not Dyrrachion. If the Norman army had been
encamped around Thessalonike, Alexios WOUld. have had
raising an army with the 1\I1acedonian, Thracmn, and Thessahan
contingents that comprised much of his cavalry.. .
Alexios' next battle was fought near the Vardar RIVer. He agam
sought some form of strategem that would break the apparently irre-
sistible Norman charge. The emperor planned to place a fie.ld of
caltrops in front of his army. A force of lancers would be
in front of these dcvices to entice the enemy center forward mto the
caltl'op field. When the enemy became the
the Byzantine jJeltasts would hammer them WIth mISSIles, ",:hlle
Byzantine cavalry assaulted their Hanks.
+ The Normans agam antic-
ipated Alexios' maneuver. They wheeled their cavalry around the
field of caltrops and the stationary lancers, and sn:ashed the
tine flanks. Bohemond's own center remained statlOnary, preventmg
Alexios' lancers moving to the aid of their compatriots.
his flanks had retreated, Alexios was left only with the men m 1118
T; 11 00 d 11 1 'l-' 19 Anna provides liltle real information about t.his campaign.
f exza e, " . I' ., I TI t 0y IS pOS
The movement of armies and individual events appeoar (lsJomlC(. 11S SOlo -
sibly an exaggeration, or it may be completely iabncaled.
H Alexiade, Il, 20.
center. He wisely elected to flee. According to Anna, the soldiers
were afraid of the Normans (having twice met defeat at their hands)
and performed poorly.30 What this battle demonstrates is the use-
lessness of tricks and stratagems against a highly disciplined cavalry
force, such as that commanded by Bohemond. It also demonstrates
the superior tactical flexibility of the Normans, who always managed
to improvise and maneuver, while the Byzantines were constantly
forced to react defensively. This flexibility, combined with shock
power, made the Norman army an extremely efficient oJfensive force.
To prepare for the next stage of the struggle against thc Nor-
mans, Alexios requested aid from his Turkish allies and rcceived
seven thousand cavalry from Suleyman, the Seljuk sultan of Nicaea.
He also collected other mercenaries, probably the "Sarmatians" men-
tioned in Anna's account of the ensuing battle.:lIi On this occasion
Alexios took advantage of the overconfidence that thc NOl'mans had
built up during their recent victories over the Byzantine armies. In
each o.f these previous battles, the Normans quickly dispersed the
Byzant111e cavahy and then pursued it for many miles. Alexios took
advantage. of this tendency and ordered his army to retreat at first
WIth the NO.rmans. When the Normans followed in pursuit,
exlOS and .some ehte cavahy troopers would stage an ambush and
sack the Lat111 camp. Alexios ordered his archers to fire at the encmy
.rather .than at As a. result of these measures, the
yzantmes gamed a partIal VIctory WhIle skirmishing with the Latin
rear-guard Tl' . t I .
. lIS .VIC ory was muc 1 needed, smce the Byzantine cav-
ally w:re well practiced in the art of escapeY After fiJr-
ther skirmlshmg, the Normans retreated north and west to Kastoria,
where Bohemond had diffi lty . I . b .
. ,cu paymg lIS no le subol'dmates. Impe-
1'1al forces soon took the city.
Alexios, political maneuvering, (probably supple-
mented by lrberal brIbery of B I . d' bl
. 0 lemon s no cs), managed to restore
the border to its line at the beginning of the
cam] (10.83). Robert's second campaign was short-lived and
enc cd WIth hIS death' IOB4 Wl. '
m . e wrl therefore move directly to
:\" Alexiade, n, 20.
:1Ii 11 . d I
eXIa e, I, 30-3l. These 'Sarrnatians' , l! d S . r
arc eIther the Pcchcncgs or C . .\.' ca.e aU/()maton by Anna I\.()ITI11ene,
lions. They arc probabl Pe \ umans ! la! :lsed for these types of opcra-
:17 Alexiade, n, 27.30. y C lcnegs that AlexlOs enlisted after lheir clcleat in I I.
the campaign conducted by Bohemond in 1107-0B. This campaign
demonstrates the generalship of Alexios at its most experienced and
Anna Komnene describes Alexios' preparations for this campaign
in detail. The emperor first called for a fleet from the Cyclades.
Army units were sent out under the best young leaders, and the
passes around Dyrrachion were seized. This prevented the Normans
from foraging properly once they had plundered the supplies from
the area around the city.39 Other soldiers were sent to interfere with
Norman operations and to divert them from their attack on Dyrra-
chion. The N o1'mans sought to engage the Byzantines in skirmishes,
but the emperor ordered his men to avoid battle, and these Nor-
man forays did not break the Byzantine cordon around their forces.
Anna's description of Alexios' tactics is reminiscent of the sixth-cen-
tury Strategikon: "A general's supreme task is to win, not merely by
force of arms, but also by ... treaties ... some-times ... an enemy
can be beaten by fraud. ".1() A chance engagement near Dyrrachion
resulted in a Byzantine victory, and this seems to have limited the
Norman's ability to leave camp in foraging groups to forage.
Byzantines appear to have had considerably difficulty v;ith
skirmishing forces and beat them back, burmng Bohemond s fleet 111
the process.
Anna's account of Alexios' advice to his men preceding these
actions, though subject to question, is more than usually
Alcxios' advice to his men demonstrates a sounder grasp of hIS army s
tactical and strategic problems than he previously displayed. !"le
ordered thc mounted archers to skirmish with the enemy, harasslllg
the Norman cavalry with archery-fire in the same way the Seljuks
harassed Crusader forces. Lancers were. statione.d behind the
of archers to take advantage of any dIsorder III the enemy hne.
The archers were ordered to shoot exclusively at the enemy's horses.
No mention is made of the infantry during these skirmishes, only
a highly mobile, flexible cavalry. Alexios' plan of campaign was a
:m Alexiade, Ill, 65.
:m Alexiatle, nI, 93. . . d.fA C [New York
If) Alexiade, Ill, 101. (trans. E.R.A. Sewtcr, The AleXia q, nI/a omnena ,
1987], 405).
.\1 Alexiatle, Ill, \09.
12 A lexiade, Ill, 114.
masterpiece of indirect warfare. He blocked the Norman access to
forage, prevented Bohemond from using the ocean to transport sup-
plies, and harassed his exhausted troops with constant skirmishes.
Alexios also sowed dissention within enemy ranks by oHcring bribes,
and by planting false letters that seemed to implicate certain COl11-
manders. Disease and demoralization, combined with the Byzantine's
aggressive defense, accomplished what three major defeats and five
to six years of warfare had not been able to: Bohemond was forced
into a humiliating treaty without the necessity of another pitched
Pec/zenegs, Cumans, and Se!juks
Alexios' campaigns against the Pechenegs, Cumans, and Seljuks pre-
sented entirely different problems from his campaigns against eithcr
fellow-Byzantines or Normans, both of whom sought to fight deci-
sive battles. In the case of a usurper, the dangcr to the Byzantine
state was simply a change of ruler. The Norman threat was far more
s:rious; a. defeat could have meant the end of the Byzan-
tlne r 1 he problem posed by a war against the Seljuks and
furkie steppe peoples was that decisive victory was exceedingly
difficult to secure because their armies were mobile and able to avoid
combat with the heavily armed Byzantine contingents sent against
The strategy that Alexios followed during his last campaign
agamst Bohemond resembles the tactics that the Pechenegs and
Cumans employed against him. His strategy was to attack and retreat,
offer battle when expedient, flee and again skirmish as soon as the
enemy had turned its back. This method of warfare can exhaust an
opponent who wishes to bring his more agile foe to combat. Bohe-
discovered this, and Alexios experienced similar difficulties in
Ius great campaigns against the trans-Danubian tribes.
r l.earned that the only way he could counter the constant
furklSh raids. and invasions in the East was to fight fire with fire:
to employ 11lS own, well-trained skirmish el's against those of his
enemy.l:l In th E .
'e uropean terntories of the Byzantine Empire, the
,j Alexiade, I, 136-137 Anna r '
inli,ll1tty skinnishers' tll.' ' Clmarks. that ,at first only soldiers committed were
, , , ey operatec at mghl lrom 11 0 I j' I .
around the Bosllhnros had 1 ' I1 ga eys. n y a tcr t 1(' co<[slltnc
'" lcen partJa y cleared of Turkish activity did these men
problem proved far greater: the armies of skirmishing Cumans and
Pechenegs were so large that they threatened Byzantine control of
Thrace and Bulgaria between 1081 and 1091, and intermittently
thereafter. Anna describes the depredations of the Scythians during
this period, and devotes almost the entirety of the Alexiad's Book 7
to an account of Alexios' skirmishes with these tribes, Anna makes
them appear suddenly, as if attacks from beyond the Danube River
were unknown before Alexios' reign. This is pure literary form, of
course; Anna portrays routine events as exceptional and calamitous
in order to cast Alexios' actions in a more glorious light.
vVe first hear of the Scythians in an account of their raid on the
region near Adrianople in 1080.+
Tatikios, who was frequently
employed by Alexios on difficult missions, crossed from Kyzikos with
some two hundred Franks, under the command of Humbertopou-
los. He proceeded to Adrianople, where he drew recruits from the
surrounding countryside:
The Scythians, laden with booty, were
decisively defeated and withdrew north of the Danube. In spring of
1087, a Pecheneg army, which Anna estimates (implausibly) at eighty
thousand, entered the empire and pushed south of the Haimos Moun-
tains before a Byzantine army was able to stop them:
These two
invasions demonstrate the weakness of Byzantium's northern border
dcfenses, if any actually existed at this time. They attest as well to
the dangers of being unable to maintain a standing army sufficient
to meet sudden threats. The Franks, serving as Byzantine merce-
naries, saw continuous service. But Alexios always drew his army
{i'om the surrounding countryside in Thrace and Macedonia. Sol-
diers could noL be called up overnight, and the Pechenegs contin-
ued to raid while the imperial army was called up and organized.
The local population suffered during the time it took the emperor
to muster a force sufficicnl to drive off large raids.
The defeat of the Pecheneg horde and the dcath of its leader,
Tzelgu, did not, however, remove the threat of the Pechcneg army,
receive horses, and begin to skirmish actively during the day, They were ordered
not to engage in any major battles, " , .
H 'Scythians' was a generic term that meant the trtbes ,beyond the Danube,
(Istros) river. Here it refers to the Pcchenegs and Cumans Jl1 the way t,hat
Kelt usually referred to Norman knights, but could also mean FrankIsh, Flemtsh,
German, and English knights,
I:, Alexiade, Il, 133,
,I" Alexiarle, Il, 137.

which was supplemented by what Anna terms Dacians (Hungarians),
and Sarmatians (Cumans),'f7 The Pechenegs retreated north, out of
Thrace and Macedonia, but they remained in the Paristrion region,
on the Byzantine side of the Danube, and held it completely. The
former rebel Bryennios the elder, considered an expert on political
and military questions, warned Alexios to expect defeat if he crossed
the Haimos Mountains.
Alexios ignored this advice and advanced
north to Drista, rejecting a Pecheneg embassy. His army contained
the ubiquitous Frankish mercenaries, the levies Tatikios had called
up, and the "Manichaeans", a force that Anna estimates numbered
about three thousand men.-
vVith this force, the emperor unsuc-
cessfully attempted to seize Drista, and then turned south to Great
Preslav, where the main Pecheneg army was encamped. Anna's
description of this campaign provides interesting information about
the tactical system of the Pechenegs, which holds true for the armies
of all the steppe peoples the empire faced. She reports comments
made by George Palaiologos and Gregory Maurokatakalon, both
experienced military commanders, who said that the Scythians had
no . chance of victory if they fought the Byzantines exclusively with
theIr cavalry and not with their "chariots."5o The "chariots" that George
and Gregory discuss were war wagons rather than the lighter char-
iots described in classical Greek and Roman sources. Pechenegs often
placed these devices in a circle, as a fortified camp. When the bat-
tle turned against them, they would retreat to this enclosure and
inflict heavy casualties upon any force that assaulted it. Indeed, this
stratagem could not be defeated by a cavalry army alone, as attested
by the experience of John Il, who destroyed a Pecheneg army in
1122. J:Ie could break their circle until he threw in the heavily
armed mfantry, hIS Varangian Guard, which was finally able to pen-
etr'ate the wagon-lager and rout the Pechenegs.
In this battle, the Peehenegs placed their wagons in a fortified cir-
cle and drew up their cavalry in front. They attacked the Byzantine
H Alexiade, n, 87.
'IR Alexiade, n, 90 .
.. 19 The Manicheans ,.vere dualistic herelics, either Paulicians or Bogomils both
of whom were settled In Macedonia and Thrace, near Philippopolis. else-
where :"-nna mentions the Paulicians by name, lhese were probably the
who AlcxlOs persecuted and attempted lo destroy in the last several years
of hls relgn.
50 Alexiade, Il, 95-96.

army after harassing it with skirmishers. Alexios positioned himself
at the center of his battle-line with his relatives and companions,
and with the Frankish mercenaries under Adrian. Caesar Nikephoros
Melissenos commanded the army's left wing, whose composition Anna
does not specify. Tatikios and Kastamonites led the right wing; they
commanded the Byzantine troops and the allied contingents led by
the Turks Ouzas and Karatzes. These allies would have been light
cavahy, probably armed and accoutered like the Pechenegs they
faced. It is even possible that they were Peehenegs or Cumans who
were induced to fight for the emperor against their former compa-
triots and clansmen."1 It is reasonable to assume that the bulk of
Alexios' army consisted of the same men Tatikios had recruited ear-
lier: Thracians and Macedonians. The most interesting aspect of
this battle is that Alexios linked his infantry and cavalry squadrons.
This strategy was similar to the one that he had pursued against the
Normans, in 1081, when he used his peltasts to deflect the Norman
cavalry attack. We have no way of knowing whether the infantry
squadrons that Anna describes were spearmen or jJeltastJ'. But be-
cause they are described as linked to cavalry squadrons, it is likely
that they either possessed missile troops with which to support the
cavalry, or heavy spearmen who could provide a base of support
should the cavalry fail in their assaults. The description, moreover,
implies that the infantry were working in cooperation with the cav-
alry along the length of the battle line. This contrasts with the usual
Byzantine cavalry-infantly formation, which positioned cavalry on
the flanks, and infantlY in the eenter. It seems most likely that the
infantry stationed with the cavalry were jieltasts, since it is difficult
to believe that disjointed units of less-agile heavy speannen could
have formed up quickly enough to provide a line behind which the
cavalry could hide, while peltasts would have been useful in any kind
of action against missile-armed cavalry. Alexios' plan demonstrates
that he understood the need for a flexible battle-formation against
the Pechenegs. With the army arranged in a checkerboard forma-
tion, the infantty could provide missile support, and perhaps a refuge
for retreating cavalry; the cavalry provided mobility and assault
',I Alexiade, fl, 97.
;2 Alexiade, Il, 979B.

l' ;
The battle that ensued was an equal, bloody f-ight until Pccheneg
reinforcements of thirty-six thousand men (according to Anna's
account) arrived late in the afternoon. This relief force routed the
Byzantines. Although it is unlikely that either the emperor's army
or the army of his opponents were as large as Anna claims, the
account of this action indicates that the battle was a long, brutal
affair. It reportedly lasted all afternoon-one of the longest battles
that Anna describes. The emperor and his men scattered; Alexios
next appears at Verroia, where he ransomed Byzantine soldiers who
had been captured in this battle.":!
This battle presents historiographic problems, since it follows the
course of the battle of Adrianople (478) so closely that wc must ques-
tion the veracity of Anna's account. There is no mention of linked
infantIY and cavalry squadrons at Adrianople. However, the account
of the emperor's assault upon the Pecheneg force, their success as Cl
consequence of a wagon-lager, and the arrival of a relief force that
put the imperial army to rout closely mirrors Ammianus Marcellinus'
account. Certainly a battle occurred, and Alexios was defeated; Anna
would not have failed to mention a victory, and because soldiers or
sons of soldiers involved could have verified the battle account, wc
can accept Anna's description of the end of the action; a Pccheneg
relief force arrived and destroyed the Byzantine army. The audience
would have probably recognized this as an allusion to earlier and
greater events. This was useful to Anna as a literary device. The
emperor was defeated, yet he would gain some amount of reflected
glory from the allusive comparison of his deeds with those of Valens,
an from time of greater imperial power.
III so. many tImes past, the empire benefited from the disunity
0; Its enemIes. The Pechenegs, returning to their allies (the
C.umans), refused to grve them a share of the booty. The Cumans
turned upon the exhausted Pechenegs and defeated them. Never-
theless, when the Pechenegs again moved south, Alexios offered them
the terms they had demanded before these battles. The Pechencgs
acccl)ted Alexios' ter'ms' tllI'S g'ave tll . d
. . '..' em an opportumty to rest an
then contmue rardmg and pillaging; they almost immediately broke
the treaty. At Aclrianopl Al' 11 . .
. e, exlOS co ected a second army. Tatllnos
had mustered IllS army at Philil)POpolis bl t tl P I I 1
' I now le ec lenegs lac
',j :Jleviade, Il, 101.
crossed the Haimos Mountains, and were in Thraee proper, a province
that until 1090 had been spared foreign invasion. Since Alexios'
forces were insufficient to permit a direct confrontation, he practiced
the same tactics of skirmish and retreat that he had used against the
Turks on the Bosphoros, at Kyzikos in 108l. Unfortunately, this
sniping was unable to prevent the Scythians from going where they
wished and taking whatever booty they desired. They proceeded
south along the Hebros River to Kypsella, where they established a
winter camp. Alexios followed their maneuvers by first going to Bul-
garophygon, from which he could intercept them if they moved either
north towards their homes or east towards Constantinople.
While at Bulgarophygon, Alexios' army again took shape. Two
thousand arc!wntopouloi (sons of veterans), were mustered, and five
hundred Flemish knights arrived to serve the emperor. The corps of
Maniakes also arrived, and this induced Alcxios to give battle.
emperor marched his army to Rousion; there it fought a sharp skir-
mish in which Alexios dismounted his archers and used them to
drive off the enemy's attack."'> This Byzantine 'victory' nevertheless
necessitated a retreat; because of this we should be careful to accept
only the most obvious details from Anna Komnene's account. The
emperor retreated to Tzouraulos, which he fortified and surrounded
with a trench. Again, these were hardly the actions of a victorious
and confident commander. Alexios won a second victory at Tzourau-
los, by using the strategem of wagons rolled clown a slope into the
advancing Pechenegs. Whether or not this was a real victory, Alex-
ios again did not feel confident enough to pursue the enemy. The
Pcchenegs remained undestroyed, and a raiding party next appeared
ten slades from Constantinople.:
"f Tlw Ardwntopu/oi appear to have been a corps of cadets, trained and equipped
by Alexios and his personal stalf These m?n may have been .the sons of I:obles,
or Df cavalry veterans. See also Mark Bartusls, The Late Army,lPhlladel-
' It)02) 206 TIle CUl'I)S of Maniakes took its name lrom the Byzantme troops
p lJa, 1. ., "1 f, C
under the general George Maniakes, who had n.early conquered SIC! y or on-
stantinc IX (1040-42). These men were clearly (111 1090) not the same men who
had l'ought in Sicily, or the veterans would have been at least seventy old.
In all probability, the corps was as a Ul1lt .after .death.
This appears surprising, since Marm:kes (hed whIle. 111 rebelhon. It IS.
siblc that the name of this corps re/creel to those Impenal troops w.ho were legrs-
tered in the army of l'vlaniakes, and to their replacemen.ts. If so, thIS offers a clue
to the method of' enlistment and maintenance of these lrsts.
','0 A/exiade, 1I, 122 12:i.
'0.; A/exiade, Il, 12B.
After the events at Tzouraulos, the emperor disbanded his veter-
ans to the "western cities," in order to protect them fi'om the maraud-
ers. However, he was now forced to call them to service again.
Anna's list of soldiers called up includes Vlachs, Bulgars, Frankish
mercenaries, and presumably the archontopouloi and the Varangians
as wellY With these men, Alexios proceeded southwest toward the
main Peeheneg concentration at Aenos, on the coast of the Aegean
Sea. Alexios was forced to reeonnoiter the enemy by boat, an indi-
cation that Pechenegs controlled the countryside. With his army-
five thousand Vlachs, an unspecified number of Bulgarians, five hun-
dred knights from Flanders, the arclwntopouloi, and a reported "forty
thousand" Cumans, he advanced against the Pechenegs, crossing
the Haimos Mountains and setting up a fortified camp.
Anna Komnene carefully describes the battle of Lebounion (1091).
Alexios stationed himself in the center of his army, which was divided
into three parts. The army faced north, with George Palaiolog'os in
command of the right, eastern wing, and Constantine Dalassenos in
command of the left-presumably, the western wing, Anna regret-
tably does not provide further details about the placement of indi-
units, however she does make it clear that the Byzantine
mfantly was posted in the center, and the cavalry on the wings.
We cannot be certain of Alexios' total numbers. Anna reports that
Cuman allies numbered forty thousand, but impe-
nal forces could hardly have reached that number if Alexios was
by the arrival of five thousand 'highlanders, '-probably
Vlach tnbesmen.
i! The imperial and Cuman forces almost certainly
outnumbered the Pechenegs; the two cavalry flanks of Alcxios' army
advanced than the infantry center, and the Pecheneg army
was caught III the semi-circle thus created. This maneuver would
have been .velY, difficult to perform had the Pechenegs outnumbered
forces. Once the Pechenegs had been defeated,
tillS envelopment would account for the slaughter that fol-
lowed. It IS noteworthy that Alexios used tIle I I I'
oca popu atlOn to run
water up to his front-line soldiers. This was a wise expedient, one
Vlachs (BA&XOl) inhabited Thessaly and the northern Balkans. See ODB,
',11 :lIexiade, 11, [<W. (8,5,1.[0-13) Am . ". .
lallders ',oined Alexios' al'lny '1'1 la says that five thousand of these hlgh-
. . '. . lest' men were I)rob 1I .\. VI h I
IlICI'l't'llant's in the ;mnies of Alcxios, a) y t le ae s w 10 appear as
that was not prac6eed by the Pechenegs.
The Byzantines and
Cumans inflicted a severe defeat on the Pechenegs, but they were
not, as Anna claims, annihilated in 1091."0 The Crusaders would
later complain of Alcxios' Pecheneg mercenaries, when they were
ordered to follow the Crusaders and prevent their army from pil-
laging the countryside.
Alexios' final campaign against the Cumans was caused by their
support of an imposter who claimed to be a son of the deceased
emperor Romanos IV. The Vlachs, always-unreliable allies, showed
the Cumans unguarded passes, and again Alexios was forced to fight
the enemy in Thrace itself. He mustered his army at Anchialos,
where he could rely both on the natural defenses of the city and
upon his Heet.
The Cumans advanced, and Alexios drew up his
ranks between the city and sea on the right, and the rough ground
on the left. This was a clever strategy because as Anna says, the
rough gTound prevented any sort of cavalry maneuvers, while the sea
obviously prevented any maneuvers on that flank. Therefore the
Cumans could not use their greater numbers against the emperor,
but would have to assault the imperial line, a form of warfare in
which the Byzantines, together with their Frankish allies, were quite
capable. In this instance the Cumans were defeated, although in
view of their numbers, it is understandable that Alexios declined to
allow his men to pursue them.
Alexios' last Cuman campaign demonstrates his increased skill as
a general; he certainly controlled his men with a higher degree of
proficiency than he had in his early campaigns against the usurper
Bryennios. When confronted with a force of twelve thousand Cumans
who occupied a ridge above him, he enticed them from their supe-
rior position by sending against them some Uze Turkish allies, armed
with bows. These troops harassed the Cumans with archery fire.
When the Cumans could no longer withstand the casualties caused
by this fire, they advanced from their hilltop position. This is
Alexios wanted them to do; it gave the advantage to the Byzantme
5'1 Alexiade, n, 143,
"" Alexiade II 143,
lil Le 'Lib;)" de Raymolld D'Agllilm, eel, JB. & L.L. Hill (Paris,. 1969), 38. Ray-
mOllel, eI'Aguilers, His[ol'ia FrallcrllLllll Old Ce/Jerllrlt Iherusalem. Tr. I-Illl, John Hugh &
Laurita L. (Philadelphia, 19GB), 113-19.
Alexiar/e, Il, 194-%.
G:l Alexiar/e, Il, 201-02.
heavy cavalry. These troops engaged the Cumans in hand-to-hand
combat and broke them. Alexios finally destroyed the Cumans in
another battle north and west of Adrianople, calling back his heav-
ier troops once the enemy had been broken, and pursuing the Cuman
force out of Byzantine territory with his lighter-armed cavalry.t'''
The Seg'uks
Alexios fought the last campaign of his reign in Anatolia, against
the Seljuk Turks. Anna provides accounts of two of these battles.
The first was a surprise attack against a small Turkish force; the
second was a skilled fighting retreat from Seljuk territory when the
main Seljuk army arrived.ti,S This difficult campaign demonstrates
that both Alexios' and his army's experience had increased. How-
ever, Byzantine difficulties with the Seljuks were not over, and the
campaign of 1116-17 is attests to the strengths and weaknesses of
the army that Alexios developed between 1081 and III 7.
This last army of Alexios was composed of the regular Byzantine
troops, supplemented by foreigners and mercenaries.
These forces
took time to muster, leading one to suppose that Alexios was draw-
ing not only upon his Thracian contingents, but also upon those in
Macedonia and perhaps Thessaly. During the summer of 1116 Alex-
ios took this army, minus the mercenaries, who had not yet arrived,
and scouted southwestward from Nicaea. He defeated a small force
of Turks at before returning to his base at Lopadion.
!he arrived while the army was encamped. The most
1l1terestu:g of this campaign is that, despite the Crusaders'
success restonng much territory to Byzantium, Turkish raiding'
forces stIlI appeared near the Bosphoros. .
While he was regrouping his army at Lopadion, Alexios received
that a large Turkish force was advancing upon the city of
the largest Byzantine urban possession in the east. At this
POlt1t III her narrative, Anna Komnene resorts to onc of her most
remarkable rationalizations. Alexios' political opponents in the cap-
Ii+ All'xiade, Il, 204-05.
"' Alexiade, III, 169-72-
lil> Ill, 187. Anna says that foreigners, mercenaries, and Alexins' own
<luny wue all called togethcr for this expedition.
ital had criticized him for his inaction at Lopadion. Anna presents
the following story: Alexios abandoned his attack upon the Sultan
because his defense of western Asia had frightened the Turks so
much that he was worried an overt move would cause them to flee
back to 1konion, thus depriving Alexios of the battle he sought.
Despite this rationalization, she reports, "there was much criticism
and whispering against the Emperor, for after having made such
preparations, and having gathered such a force against the barbar-
ians, nothing great was accomplished, but he retired to Nicome-
dia. "Iill Anna again seeks to justify a decidedly passive response: the
greatest general is not always the one who fights; victory can be ob-
tained in many ways. Anna's subtext is that Alexios' army was too
small for battle against the Sultan's main army, so he retired to
Nicomeclia to recruit more men.
With this reinforced army Alexios advanced to Santabaris and
thcn to Philomelion, which his army seized. Meanwhile, parties of
scouts were sent out to recover prisoners that the Turks had taken.
Whcn these were recovered (and this was the only success of the
campaign), Alexios marched back towards Nicomedia. He had heard
that a large army of Turks was advancing against him from the
north. The Turks made contact with the Byzantine army, which
assumed a de1ensive formation; the Greek refugees from Turkish ter-
ritOlY were in the center, with thc Byzantine infantry in a square
around them. Anna's account of this fighting retreat is one of the
most interesting battle descriptions in the Alexiad.
This kind of dis-
cipline while under attack was very difficult to maintain, particularly
in retreat. Nevertheless, Alexios' men did not break ranks.
I Usually
we need to be wary of Anna's praise of Alexios, but in this case it
appears warranted. After failing to defeat Alexios' army, S?ljuk
sultan, Malik-Shah, made a treaty with the emperor. ThIS fmlure
prompted his brother, Mas'ud to rebel, and Malik-Shah was blinded
';7 Alexiade, IH, 193.
!;II A "?xiadl', Ill, 194.
';'1 Alexiar/e, HI, 19:i. . '1 d I'" "
711 Alexiade, Ill, 204- 05. It was during this rctreat AlexIOs .unvcl e ncw.
battle Ilmnatiol1, which appcars to have been. the of fOlmmg hIS
inlil1llry into Cl and marching back to Impenal. terrItory. '. .
71 '1/'" d If I 203--06. Malik-Shah had by now arnved and led a nUIJor
I.X/II e, ,. , I I d d t off
on the Byzantine rear-!.\uarcl. Nikephoros Bryel;nios, Anna s 1US Jan, rove I .
The Byzantine light cavalry allies pursued the furks.
and executed. The successful march to Philomeliol1 and back is the
most interesting campaign of Alexios' later years because it indicates
how proficient the Byzantine army had become: the army main-
tained an exacting discipline on the march, which prevented the
Scljuks from inflicting serious damage. This alone indicates the pro-
found difference between the army that Alexios received from his
predecessor, Nikephoros Botaneiates, and the army that he led against
the Seljuks.
Although most of Alexios' campaigns were defensive, the primary
difference between the Turkic campaigns (against the Peehenegs,
Cumans and Seljuks) and those conducted against Byzantine usurpers,
or the Normans, is that the Turkish peoples were interested in raid-
ing and plunder. They were not tied to fixed locations and could
choose to give or refuse battle as they wished. Unlike Robert Guis-
card and Bohemond, or the rebel Bryennios, the Turks had no goal
other than booty. Upon entering imperial territory they split up,
coming together to fight, and avoiding battle whenever possible. They
could be caught only when weighed down with captives and plun-
der. Tatikios attacked such a group near Philippopolis, but more
often these raiding parties would make peace until the emperor dis-
banded his men. Since the Pechenegs were essentially always on
campaign, they found it easy to take advantage of the peacetime
dispersal of Byzantine troops, and the seasonal nature of imperial
campaigning. Campaigns against the Pechenegs and Cumans were
thus difficult because the emperor had to decide whether to disperse
his men to prevent plundering, or to risk a pitched battle against
an enemy that could easily flee in defeat and was tenacious in pur-
suit of a defeated foe. The Byzantine soldiers had more difficulty
fleeing, and if they did, it was their own territOlY that would suffer.
The Peehenegs and Cumans posed only an indirect threat to the
Byzantine state. However, the wide range of their raids, their abil-
ity to concentrate and disperse, and their numerical superiority made
them a great threat to Thrace, one of the few areas relatively safe
from foreign invasion. Thrace and Eastern Macedonia were also two
of th: three major recruitment areas for Byzantine soldiers, and the
EmpIre could hardly survive if it lost them.
Alexios' tactics against the Pechenegs, like those against the Nor-
mans, constitute evidence of an increasingly intelligent employment
of combined arms. His use of archers to provoke an attack at Tzourou-
los, and later against an isolated band of six thousand Pechenegs,
and his pairing of infantry and cavalry squadrons in support of one
another in the battle at Great Preslav, show a high degree of tacti-
cal sophistication, as well as a high level of discipline among his
troops. His choice of terrain at Anchialos, forcing a numerically supe-
rior enemy to fight hand-to-hand, the Byzantines' preferred style,
was masterful. Alexios had difficulty achieving complete victory against
the Pechenegs and Cumans because they were an enemy whose
quick horses made them difficult to pin down and destroy-even
when beaten in battle. The exception to this rule was the battle of
Lebounion, in which a horde of Cumans also participated, and in which
the combined allied forces considerably outnumbered the Peehenegs.
The Pechenegs were outflanked on either side and surrounded.
In this type of battle, hand-to-hand and at close quarters, the Byzan-
tines and the heavily armed Franks held a great advantage. The
tenacity of Alexios' detcnse of Thrace and the abundant use of Byzan-
tine gold to buy the services of Peeheneg survivors as mercenaries
kept them from being a threat until the reign of his son, John n.
Alexios Komnenos' campaigns were consistently reactive. The
attacks of the Normans, the Pechenegs, the usurpers, and the Turks
of Ikonion forced the emperor into defensive wars, fought almost
entirely within the empire, where failure threatened Alexios' politi-
cal survival as well as the survival of the state. The usurpers that
Alexios fought were recruited, armed, and trained from much the
same population, as were his armies. Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly,
and Choma provided the men who fought for both the emperor and
the usurpers. Furthermore, the tactical doctrine followed by each
side was similar. What is most striking about Alexios' battle against
Blyennios is the way the forces mirrored each other in their tacti-
cal disposition.
It is probably unfair to judge Alexios' military capabilities in these
early campaigns. He did not have complete freedom of action,
the presence of political foes in the capital meant that every heSIta-
tion or sign of weakness could prove politically fatal. As a
Alexios appears no worse than his opponents. But battles agamst
armies armed and organized like his own provided no unexpected
tactical challenges. If numbers were equal, the better-disciplined force

usually won. While we should discount Anna's descriptions of mirac-
ulous escapes and brilliant stratagems, there is something remark-
able about an emperor who held power through so many defeats in
battle and so many coup attempts. Thirty-seven years was a long
time for any emperor to reign in even the best of times, let alone
in times of nearly constant crisis. Despite these trials and difliculties,
Alcxios died in bed, attended by his wife and by his daughter, Anna.
Alexlos had great difficulty adapting his army to the Normans'
battle tactics. Accustomed to fighting pitched battles, Alexios at first
fought the Normans directly, which no doubt pleased Robert Guis-
card. After several defeats (Dyrrachion in 1081; Kastoria in 1083),
it became clear to Alexios that the Byzantine kataphraktos was no
match for the enemy in open battle. Whether it was the superior-
ity of the enemy's horses, the weight of their armor and heavy lances,
their aggressiveness and training, or a combination of these factors,
the emperor's cavalry were never capable of beating the Normans
in a straight fight. The weight and striking power of the Norman
formation did not detract from its tactical Hexibility. At Dyrraehion
the emperor sent forward his Varangian guard. The Norman cav-
alry allowed the huscarles to tire, and then Guiscard threw his own
heavy infantry at them. When the exhausted huscarles routed, the
Norman cavalry drove the Byzantine cavalry from the field. In sev-
eral cases the emperor attempted to use stratagems such as caltrops;
the Normans maneuvered around them and crushed the Byzantine
cavalry before it could react to their maneuver. Only after consid-
experience, including his first war against the Peehenegs was
AlexlOs able to practice indirect warfare against the Normans. In the
1108 campaign, he cut off their supplies by sea, blocked the passes
around Dyrrachion, and harassed the Normans mercilessly. This
was when the Byzantines eventually fought the
tIred, starved, dIsease-ridden Normans, they were victorious.
Alexios developed an equivalent strategy against the steppe
peoples; the. lImIted .resources of the eleventh- and early twelfth-cen-
tury Byzantme EmpIre meant that any strategy was bound to be less
totally successful against them. With money and stable recruit-
mg grounds, something like the mobile cavalry army of the late
Roman Empire might have solved Alexios' problems.
But AlexlOs could call up his levies only during emergencies. The
sole cavalry that remained constantly under arms were the versatile
Frankish mercenaries. The desperate financial condition of the Byzan-
tine Empire prevented the creation of an army capable of dealing
with both the Norman and Scythian threats. The emperor used men
he could call up or hire on short notice, and while he achieved some
remarkable successes with this force, an army constantly raised and
disbanded was dependant upon the energy and skill of its com-
mander. By the time of the Seljuk campaign Alexios' men were vet-
erans. They were used to his style of leadership and to his tactics,
and tlley operated in a disciplined and professional manner under
the most adverse conditions.
It is to Alexios' credit that he knew how to delegate authority.
When he found men he trusted, such as Tatikios, George Palaiolo-
gos, Ouzas, and even some others of uncertain loyalty but great skill
(such as Humbertopoulos), he relied upon their leadership. Because
of the constant presence of potential rivals and rebels in Constan-
tinople, it was essential that the emperor be able to send out a com-
mander sufIkiently competent to handle his responsibilities, but
sufI1ciently loyal to his emperor. Alexios' captains deserve a large
part of the credit for his successes. They frequently recruited his
armies, and they were often sent as advanced commanders to threat-
ened regions. \Vithout men such as George Palaiologos, Alexios' reign
would likely have ended in disaster. The emperor's capable lieu-
tenants deserve a share in Anna's abundant praise of Alexios.
It is uncertain how deliberately Alexios Komnenos planned the
restoration of the Byzantine army. He spent most of his long reign
fighting wars he had not provoked. Nonetheless, the Byzantine army
did develop during his reign. Alexios found effective ways of deal-
ing with both Norman and Scythian tactics, and, if he did not always
have the resources to be victorious in battle, he never decisively lost
an entire war. His use of cavalry and infantry in support of each
other, his orders to his archers to shoot at enemy horses (rather than
their riders), his pairing of peltasts with lancers against marauding
all point to Alexios' awareness of the limitations and
strengths of his army. Over time, discipline as well as Hexibility in-
creased, although the types of men (Frankish mercenaries, Byzantine
n A/exiode, II, 223.
cavalry, spearmen, pellasts, archers, and Turkish cavalry merce-
naries) remained constant. No great strides appear to have been
made in siege-craft, but Anna is largely silent about this less glori-
ous form of warfare.
As a tactician, Alexios at the peak of his abilities was flexible and
resourceful, well aware of the capabilities and limitations of his men
and their commanders. He had a penchant [or tactical ruses and
gimmicks that more often than not got him into difficulties, but he
was also a sound tactician, who used terrain and the inclinations of
his opponents to his best advantage. His campaigns demonstrate a
clever single-mindedness more than any great genius of exeClltion.
Given the materials he had at hand, the best one could say of any
general in his position was that he won his wars.
John II has been called the greatest of the Komnenian emperors.'
Alexios was forced to fight defensive wars, and Manuel faced a com-
plex military situation that usually placed him at a disadvantage.
John, by contrast, planned and fought focused, aggressive campaigns.
Our perceptions of this could be credited to source bias, since nei-
ther John Kinnamos nor Niketas Choniatcs were adults during John's
reign, and therefore their accounts arc informed not by their per-
sonal experience, but entirely by hearsay. Stories developed around
John's successful campaig11s, and thcse naturally influenced our chron-
iclers' presentation of events. However, there is more to John's rep-
utation than mere mythologizing. John carefully selected his campaigns:
his offensives focused on taking cities in Cilicia, northern Syria and
northwestern Asia l\IIinor. His Hungarian and Pecheneg wars were
defensive and were the only wars he fought in Europe. john's cam-
paigns therefore demonstrate a coherent military policy. The emperor
sought to control the cities of Cilicia and northern Syria in order
to control Antioch. His campaigns in Paphlagonia and Pontos were
intended to contain the power of the Turkish Danishmendids, who
in the early twelfth century constituted a greater military threat to
the empire (or so it seemed) than the Seljuks.
There are anomalies within this simplc presentation of John's cam-
paigns. John initiated a war with the Venetians in 1126 by outlaw-
ing their presence within the empire. John's concentration of funds
in large Byzantine land armies, to the detriment of his fleet, resulted
in Byzantium'S defeat in thc war against Venice. Byzantine emper.'-
ors seldom understood the potential of naval power used strategl-
cally, to accomplish goals independent of the land army. They usually
saw naval power as a method of supplying distant armies.
John also
1 GeorgL: Ostrngorsky, qf the Byzantine State, (New Brunswick, NJ., 1969),
37" Niketas Choniates, Nicetae C'lwlliatae Historia, ed . .J. Van Dicten, (Ber,lin,
1975), 17--18. John used his fleel lo supply his army when he campaIgned agamst
attempted to create an alliance with the Seliuk Sultan Mas'ud against
the heir of the Danishmend emir. This was also a failure because
neither the heirs of Danishmend nor the Sultan could gain by destroy-
ing the other. Both the Danishmendids and successive Scljuk gov-
ernments understood that Byzantium constituted less of a threat in
the presence of another Turkish state that could divert the emperor's
attention at critical moments.
John's grand strategy comprised three goals: security on the east-
ern border, control of Antioch, and containment of the Danish-
mendids. Unlike the military activities of both his father and of his
son, John's campaigns usually included sieges. Our sources indicate
that John conducted approximately twenty-five sieges (an average of
one siege per year between 1118 and 1143), including actions where
a siege was begun or completed. Subordinate commanders, whose
deeds are not recorded by our chroniclers, probably conducted many
more actions of this type.
Siegecraft was an altogether exceptional strategy during the reigns
of Alexios and Manuel. The most notable example was Alexios' siege
of Nicaea, conducted by crusader contingents from France, Nor-
mandy, and Flanders, with the aid of some two thousand Byzantine
peltasts and Byzantine siege engines.
Manuel also conducted sieges
on occasion: Zeugminon was stormed and sacked by the Byzantine
army in 1165, and Kerkyra was taken after a siege in 1155.+ The
important siege Manuel planned was his 1176 attack upon Iko-
111on, but the cumbersome siege train that followed his army con-
tributed to his army's defeat. These, however, arc isolated examples.
No other offensive sieges appear in Alexios' reign, and Manuel for-
tified more places than he attacked.
the Hunga ia d' 1142' C'I" "1 . . .
'. : ns, an m,j lela. !v. anuel used It mdepcnclently agamst the
III 11? I, qUIte successfully, and against the Egyptians at Damictta. The
great 101' a pre-modcrn fle?t was t.hat a blockade was nearly impossible;
Venctlan could at wIll, despIte the presence of a strong Byzantine
fleet .. A (and deCIdedly il.l-advised) .conclusion was drawn li'om C the experi-
ence. that the was m protectmg the empire. The way the Nonnans
armlcs to Epll'os was forgotten, and the notion that that a fleet could
Cl! would take an army to Constantinople was never considered
1 Anne Com?cne, Alexiade, ed. B. Leib. (Paris, 1937-76), III '12-13.
f For Zeugrnmon see Ch ',. H' . 13 . . '
". Istana, 4-135;,Iohn Kmnamos, Deeth ()j)()/lII
and j\i!anuel Comnenlls,John KUll1amos, t1'. C. Brand (New York 1976) l()' For
Kerkyra, see Choniates, Hist01ia, 82 If; Kinnamos, 96-101. ' ,.
The Byzantine Empire possessed no more than a few, isolated
outposts in Asia Minor until the arrival of the Crusaders. Cities occu-
pied by Byzantine forces in their wake (1197-1100) created the first
Byzantine frontier in Asia Minor since 1071. Before 1071 the fron-
tier was aligned with the mountain chains at the eastern cnd of the
Anatolian peninsula. When Turks permanently breached this fron-
tier, individual cities, Greek and Norman autarchs, and Armenian
lords defended local territories, but there was no coordinated defense
against the invaders. Alexios was too busy with defensive wars against
the Normans and Pechenegs to plan the defense of the Byzantine
eastern frontier. The only major action in Asia Minor during his
reig'n was his campaign of 1116-17. His large army ventured out of
Byzantine territory, gathered Greeks who were under Turkish rule,
and retreated to the safety of the frontier.
John's policy of conducting sieges was part of a deliberate strat-
egy to construct a stable defensive frontier by retaining key cities
such as Gal1gra and Neokaisareia, and fortresses in Ci1icia. John
planned to defeat his enemies not by destroying their armies, but
by occupying strategic fortified cities and controlling the surround-
ing territory. John fought battles when the tactical situation required
that he destroy enemy contingents before attempting to take their
cities. Examples of this occur at Aleppo, Kastamon, Shaizar, and at
Choniates and Kinnamos never indicate that this was
a deliberate policy of the emperor, but they are generally silent about
emperors' grand strategies. For Basileus John, fortifications and cities
just north of Anatolia's central plateau provided bases against the
Danishmendids. John's control of Ci1icia effectively cut Seljuk com-
munication with the larger Seljuk sultanate further east. Byzantine
control or Cilicia also provided outposts for military action against
the Scljuks and against John's enemies in Syria. We should also not
underestimate the importance of Cilicia as a base against Antioch.
Alexios,John, and Manuel all attempted to control this city. Alexios
had to fight to preserve the empire's core territory around the A:gean
littoral; John realized that offensive gains were more precanously
gained when obtained through large field battles. John understood
that control of Cilicia or Paphlagonia was dependent upon control
of key cities. Whether Manuel's policy of not engaging in aggressive
" Choniates, His/aria, 20, 2H-30, 34-30; Kinnamos, 19-20, 13, 21.
siegecraft was a deliberate one is open to debate; it may be that the
complexity of politics in the empire prevented him from focusing
military resources upon sieges, as had his father. .John's campaigns,
however, were conducted with the aim of capturing cities, and we
should remember this as wc examine individual tactical actions from
his reign.
Before we begin our examination of John's tactics, we should eval-
uate whether John's strategy of siege-craft improved the empire's
military and economic power. First, were substantial numbers of new
cities held, and did these cities add to the empire's economic and
ability to protect its territory while interfering
m the of surrounding states? This is relatively easy to judge
by exammmg the sources for incidences of enemy incursions as well
effectiveness of the emperor's countermeasures. Economic posi-
tIOn IS .more difficult to quantify, in part because of the scarcity of
tax reg1sters, cadastral surveys, or even gross receipts from port duties
of large cities during this period. This difficulty is pronounced with
the Cilician and Paphlagonian cities John attacked. They remained
on the edge of Byzantine controlled territory, and our chroniclers
knew little about them. Furthermore, these cities remained in inter-
mittent Byzantine control. Thus the current statc of research on these
does not permit us to determine whether they contributed any-
thmg t? the Byzantine economy. As military commodities, they were
v.aluable, but we have little evidence that they were used
111 . thIS capac.lty. John used Cilicia as a base for his Syrian cam-
Yet WIthout the presence, Cilicia repeatedly regained
Its s to hold the cities of Paphlagonia
and CIl;e.Ia was a failure 111 an offensive, strategic sense. John took
many CItIes, but few were held for any significant period of time,
and .they were apparently not used as bases against the Seljuks and
Dal11shmendids .
. cities,. however, were important not only as strongholds 101'
111curSlOns by the Byzantine army. Like Manuel's campaigns
111 Italy John's ca . . Cl
. ' mpaIgns 111 1 ICla and Paphlagonia forced his
enemIes to fight rather than invade imperial territory.
When John took Cltles h . 1 d
, IS enemIes la to expend resources to re-
take th.em, t:lan to attack the empire. This strategy improved
Byzant111e secunty m Asia M lh 1 .
. 1 . mar, a t oug 1 It reqUlred constant vig-
1 anc.e and which became impossible when Byzantium\
relatIons WIth other states b '
ecame more complex, and when the
Byzantine emperors of the Angelos dynasty (1185-1204) proved
The first example of tactical combat from john's reign occurs dur-
ing the campaign of 1120. The purpose of this campaign was to
conquer Sozopolis, a city in Pamphylia. It was the earliest attempt
by John to open up a route of communication and supply to the
east. The attack upon Sozopolis was a siege; it was quickly con-
cluded, despite Kinnamos' comment that the city was so well situ-
ated that it was impossible to besiege with siege-engines.
instructed Paktarios, a cavalry commander, to fire arrows at the
enemy troops who occupied the gates. When the Turks sallied out
in fi:ustration, Paktarios was supposed to feign flight until the emperor's
main force ambushed them. This was a difficult maneuver, one that
involved careful timing. It was common for feigned flight to become
a real rout as soldiers became disorganized and disconcerted by the
troops pursuing them. Alexios employed this maneuver outside of
Larissa against Bohemond's Normans, with mixed results. At Sozopo-
lis, it was highly successful. The pursuing Turkish force was surrounded,
the Byzantine soldiers were able to press through the gates, and the
city was taken.
Three components of this incident are significant. First, John inher-
ited troops with a high degree of discipline, capable of performing
potentially dangerous maneuvers that required considerable timing.
Second, although Kinnamos calls the Byzantine cavalry group com-
manded by Paktiarios and Deknos doryphoroi, (spear- or lance-bear-
ers) their activities indicate they were also armed with bows.
weI:e thus capable of both archery fire and of fighting hand-ta-hand
with Turkish cavalry. Third, feigned flight followed by an ambush
is precisely the type of maneuver for which the were famous.
Here we see all of the elements of a mature, well-tramed army: tac-
tical combat discipline, careful coordination between units, and skill
with both lance and bow. John'S actions, moreover, are those of an
,; Kinnamos comments that Sozopolis was taken effortlessly,. despite impos-
sible to besiege wilh engines: Kinnamos, 6-7. See also Chol1lates, Hls/ona, 13.
7 Kinnamos, 6.
experienced general. He successfully commanded his officers 111 a
complex military action, at the velY beginning of his reign.
Pechenegs and Hungarians
In 1122, the Pechenegs crossed the Danube. This tribe had been
quiescent since 1091, when Alexios defeated their army at Levunion.
The survivors of that struggle enlisted in the Byzantinc army, and
harassed the Crusaders on their journey across the Balkans. John
brought this new band of Pechenegs to battle near V crroia, in prcsent-
day Bulgaria. Like Alexios, John wanted to prcvent the Pechcnegs
from entering the rich lands of Thrace and Macedonia. Kinnamos
remarks that the Byzantines were victorious.
Choniates states that
the Pecheneg cavalry charged and fired missiles constantly. The
Byzantines forced the enemy back to their wagon circle, but were
not able to penetrate this fortified enclosure. It withstood several
assaults. J?hn's personal intervention at the head of his Varangians
(whom Kmnamos calls Britons) broke the wagon lager of the Pech-
enegs and caused their defeat.
This incident is interesting for two reasons. First, Alexios never
use of the Varangian guard after the slaughter at Dyrra-
chlOn m 1081. They served as palace troops when John seized the
Alexios' final illness, but their reappearance in battle
1ll 1122 mdIcates that they had been reconstituted as a combat-wor-
thy corps. Secondly, this battle indicates that Pecheneg tactics had
changed since Alexios faced them in the 1mlOs. They still {'(JUght
III ",:aves of mounted archcrs, relying upon a circle of wagons to
proVIde defense. John was forced to use his best infantry, the Varangian
guards, to break their circle.
In 1.127--28 John fought a brief war against the Hungarians, a
that was strategically defensive. The Hungarians sacked
B.ramcevo and Sardica, and John responded by attacking them with
IllS aJ:d fleet in. the spring of 1128. While his army travcled
overl,and, hIS fleet SaIled up the Danube River. The fleet ferried
John s army acro,ss the river, and he defeated the Hungarian forces
on the far shore U A rive' " h f: "
. I crosslllg III t e ace of a determmec! foe
11 Choniates, Hisloria, 13-16. KiI1ll'llTIOS 8
!I Choniates, Hisloria, 17. '. , .
is one of the most difficult of all military operations. John's forces
must have been well disciplined and well protected by archers and
missile-machines on the imperial ships. Kinnamos reports that the
emperor sent an allied detachment of Ligurian knights and Turks
upriver, where they crossed the Danube. This distraction enabled
the emperor's army to join with the allied contingent. This com-
bined army defeated the Hungarians. The Byzantine army remained
north of Zeugminon into the next year 1129, when peace was made.
The Hungarians did not disturb the Byzantine Empire for the rest
of John's reign. Thereafter-from 1128 until his death in 1143-
John's campaigns focused on the eastern territories: Cilicia and
The Cilidan Wars
I n the decade following Manzikert (1071-81), the Armenian princes
of Cilicia became virtually independent of imperial control. Simul-
taneously, Byzantine officials (Theodore Gabras and Philaretos
Brachamios) in Trebizond and Antioch becamc de facto indepen-
dent rulers of these cities and regions. The First Crusade compli-
cated an already rnuddlcd political and military situation. The
independence of Cilicia under Armenian rulers did not become a,
problem for the empire until Leo Roupenid, the most powerful of
the Armenian despots, obtained control of most of Cilicia and began
to expand his power south, threatening the Byzantine-controlled cities
along the coast of eastern Anatolia. Choniates reports that Leo wanted
to Seleukeia, the most important Byzantine port in southern
Asia Minor. John decided to bring Cilicia and Lycia under his
trol, and advanced south at the head of a large army through ASIa
Minor to Cilicia. First John seized Adana and Tarsus. Baka, a for-
tified city situated on a precipice, and Anazarbos, likewise fortified,
resisted his efforts. As at Sozopolis, John sent lightly armed mounted
archers--this time Turks-against the walls of Anazarbos. Mean-
while, siege engines threw stones against the walls.
Choniates de-
scribes how John surrounded his engines with ramparts made of
bricks, much as present-day tanks seek defilade positions from whIch
to fire. The "flaming iron pellets" that the defenders had used to
III Choniales, Hi.lloria, 25- 26, Kinnamos, 17-18.
burn previous engines were useless against these defenscs.
The em-
peror's engines shattered the city's walls. This is one of thc few in-
stances in medieval military history in which a decisive victory was
rapidly produced by siege engines.
This campaign should be considered together with the emperor's
journey to Syria, which followed it. Mter attacking Cilicia, the emperor
traveled southeast and entered Antioch as an ally and overlord of
Prince Raymond, the Crusader ruler of Antioch. His campaign in
Syria had the effect of strengthening thc hold of Prince Raymond
and the count of Edessa, Joscelyn II of Courtenay on these tcrrito-
ries. It did not, however, directly strengthen the Byzantine position.
Why would the emperor strengthen cities historians have assumed
he wished to possess outright? The sultan of Ikonion, Mas'ud, attacked
Byzantine cities nearer Constantinople while the emperor was far
from the Byzantine core territories. Byzantine control of Cilicia ofTer-cd
many opportunities to influence Antioch. If the emperor remained
unable to conquer Antioch, or to do more than intimidate the Syr-
ian Turkish principalities, strong Crusader states strengthened John
against his own Turkish enemies. Likewise, Mas'ud realized that
Byzantine control of Antioch would leave the emperor better pre-
pared to act against him. It was in his interest to do just enough
militarily to distract John from his purpose in Syria. John remained
undistracted; his Syrian campaign lasted three years (11 '37-1139.)
Even though john's Syrian campaign was primarily an exercise in
siege craft, we can still learn something about the emperor's field
tactics. Choniates offers tactical information about the siege of Pisa,
a city near the Euphrates. According to Choniates, the LByzantinc
vanguard was initially defeated. The city's defenders pursued it until
the emperor arrived with additional troops, described as "thc men
of his personal phalanx."12 The Byzantine use of the Greek word
phalanx can mean a close formation of either infantry or cavalry, so
we cannot determine whether these troops were John's Varangian
guard, or a cavalry guard. It is noteworthy that the Byzantine van-
guard operated. separately from the main army. When John retreated
from Hungary III 1128, the Hungarians concentrated their attentions
1 I'-!ikephoros Basilakios, Nicephori Basilacae, Oraliones el E'pirlolae eel A G'u'zy'\
(LeipZIg, 1984),61,11. 25 IT. ' . . ("'
12 Choniates Histaria 27-28 1/\' 19 ffi r 1 . .
, , . ,.. nnamos, ,0 elS ,ew c ctaJls on the sIege.
on the Byzantine rear-guard, suggesting that in both cases the van-
guard and the rear-guard operated separately from the rest of the
1rmy,I3 This implies that the army of John II had a standard order
of march, with a vanguard, a main body, and a rear-guard. When
the vanguard approached a city, it attempted to seize it swiftly, before
the defenders could react. These independent actions imply consid-
erable tactical initiative by these sub-commanders; battle was fre-
quently begun before the emperor was present. These facts support
the contention that the army of John Komnenos was well trained
and professional, with an officer corps that was encouraged to take
independent action.
Another event that sheds light upon John's military organization
was the parade outside the city of Shaizar in 1138. This was organ-
ized to strike fear into the defenders of Shaizar.
John divided his
almy into Macedonian, Keltic, and Pecheneg divisions. The Varangians
were doubtless present, since J olm took them on other campaigns
against mounted foes. According to Choniates, each of these units
was armed differently: each unit carried its own equipment, accord-
ing to its national custom. I:; The most interesting aspect of this rc-
mark is that it implies that these units were usually not tactically
arranged by race. The fact that Choniates remarks on it suggests
that he considered this kind of organization unusual.
John's 1139 campaign in Paphlagonia also provides significant
information about his organization and tactics. The goal of this cam-
paign was to bring to heel the rebellious Constantine Gabras, ruler
of Trebizond, to restore order to the theme of Armeniakon, and to
provide a bulwark against Danishmendid expansion. John brought
a large army of cavalry and infantry, which he marched along the
Paphlagonian coastline in order to avoid Turkish ambushes.
the Byzantine army moved inland, the Turks attacked. Most of the
Byzantine warhorses perished, and the Turks relentlessly harassed
bis army with hit-and-run attacks. When the emperor was to
fight an open battle with the Turks, the Byzantine cavalry was dnven
1:1 Kinnamos, 13. d
1+ Choniatcs Hisloria, 29-30. Choniates reports that men were arrange
, Id' I d t 1 other a clyptlc remark (hilt has no
by race so that they cou proVIC e ,11 0 eac 1, . . . .
military signil1cance. Choniiltes' that each of dIVISIons had a dIS-
tinct kind of weaponry is more mterestmg.
1.\ Choniatcs, Hislorirz, 29"-30.
lIi Choniates, His/aria, :14-.
back. Reorganizing his army in its camp, John used a ruse to give
the illusion that his numbers were greater than they were, gather-
ing all the infantry standards and giving them to the cavalry. He
assigned the best horses to his best riders, described as both Latins
(Franks) and Byzantines skilled with the lance. The Byzantines returned
to the attack and proved victorious. 17
Cavalry remained the striking arm of the army, despite the rough
terrain of Cappadocia, which would normally suggest the use of
infantry. The cavalry arm was initially defeated and driven back;
presumably they took refuge with the infantry, which possessed a
multitude (pleistous) of standards. If the defeated cavalry could use a
multitude of infantry standards to give the appearance of great num-
bers, the emperor must have brought a large infantry force with
him. Furthermore, the fact that John ordered the best (evgene, liter-
ally, well-born) horses to be gathered together and used as a unit
reflects the qualitative differences possible within the simple desig-
nation 'warhorse.' The cavalry again are the decisive arm in battle,
but this account also indicates the critical importance of good infantry.
The foot-soldiers, whether in battle-line or protecting the camp, pro-
vided a refuge within which the emperor reorganized his defeated
force. john's army was composed of Frankish and Byzantine cavalry
of varying qualities, which fought in front of the infantry, together
another group of infantry that provided camp guards and the
mam supporting force.
What conclusions can be drawn from an examination of John's
tactics? First, the sources limit the information we have available.
Kinnamos provides details of the military events he chooses to describe,
but these are sparse and virtually cease in the mid-l 130s. From 1130
on, he lists John's military contests but does not describe them in
detail. describes events throughout John's reign, but he is
seldom mterested in tactical maneuver. Of course, neither Choniates
nor Kin.namos was particularly interested in battles; they place greater
on court and the events of John's reign. Neither
chromcl:l' had expenence as a soldier. Unlike Anna Komnene, nei-
ther claimed to rely upon soldiers' accounts. For those reasons, wc
.rely upon their judgment concerning the importance of particu-
lar mlhtary occurrences, and we should question their selection of
17 Choniates, His/on'a, 34 ..
events, which tend to focus on imperial campaigning. As we read
their accounts, we should wonder how many other campaigns were
led by subordinate officers and ignored by our sources. These actions
occasionally appear because of their importance, for example the
Battle of Semlin in 1167, when Kontostephanos led the Byzantine
army, or the 1177 campaign against the Turks invading the Maian-
del' valley, which was led by John Vatatzes. The day-to-day fight-
ing that comprised most frontier warfare is notably absent. It
did not fit into the pattern of "imperial" events and personalities
that forms the thematic basis for both Choniates' and Kinnamos'
What can be said about John's army? He inherited a highly profes-
sional army, capable of turning defeat into victory, as at Neokaisareia,
or at least enabling the army to conduct a fighting retreat. What is
most striking about john's army is its ability to conduct this difficult
maneuver. The army proved its flexibility in action in Pontos (1139),
Cappadocia (1136-39, 1142), Syria (1137), and in Paphlagonia (1130,
1135). The army marched divided into a vanguard, a main body
and a rear guard. Thus organized, it fought its way out of ambushes,
conducted battles, sieges, and pursuits; it seldom succumbed to undis-
ciplined pursuit of a broken enemy and was never seriously dam-
aged while conducting a fighting retreat. The regions in which John
campaigned-the mountains of Armenia, the plains of Syria, thc
1eys of west Asia MinOl--each had their dangers for the Byzantll1e
army. Romanos III had found the deserts of Syria to be too much
for the veterans who had fought under Basil n. III In Cappadocia and
Armenia, Romanos IV, an experienced general, had been unable to
supply and control the separate units of his army. In western Asia
Minor, the Crusaders found themselves continually harassed and in
want of supplies. When attacked, they fought; otherwise, they merely
attempted to survive. 19 John'S army, on the other hand, moves about
Asia Minor and fights in any kind of terrain. Instances such as Kinte,
III Michel Psellos, Chronograplzie, ed. Renault (Paris, 1967), 3G--37.
I!I Rosalind Hill, cd. Ges/a Francorurn et aliorum Hierosolimitallo1"Um: The Deeds q[ the
Frankl and the Other to ]ent.llliern, (London, 19(2), 23 .. "We. therefo,rc
them through a land which was deserted, waterless, and ul1Il,lhabltable, from
wc barely emerged or escaped alive, fill' wc suHered greatly from hunger and durst,
and fOllndnothing at all to cat except prickly plants which we gathered and rubbed
between our hands .... L\Vjc lost most of' our horses."
where. the was ill supplied and the horses died, are altogether
eXC?ptlOnal. fo be sure, we are now discussing the intersection of
and strategy. For the army to be well supplied required the
of military bases. It also required adequate req-
whIle on campaign outside imperial territory. While it is
dIfficult to evaluate John's personal capabilities as specifically as we
can those of Alexios or Manuel, it is clear from our sources that he
was a of siege and that he was comfortable fighting in
mountamous terram. He also won victories in open battle on the
of Sy:ia near Shaizar.
He never displayed the sort paral-
YSIS gnpped Manue! at Myriokephalon, although the lack of
detail 11: Our sources would probably prevent any such description.
DespIte our sources' very positive portrayal of John's military
career, our assessment of him as a general must begin with the fact
that he fully trained at the beginning of his reign. Kinnamos
and do not demonstrate that his tactics developed, and
the same IS true their presentation of his enemies. When John
fought the Hunganans, when he campaigned in Syria and when he
was able to t . k tl T k . , .
d' nc le ur s mto open battle, the Byzantme lancer
an hIS Latin allies usually proved superior. In the mountains, the
emperor made use of both cavalry and infantry, and siege engines
usually accompanied his forces, regardless of the terrain they had to
be through. John liked to build fortresses and to take them.
ThIS .1S partieularly evident in his eastern campaigns. 21
:"'Ith respect to the physical constraints of tactics (the weapons,
umt types, and maneuvers), our ability to analyze is aO'ain limited
by a lack f d'l N b
c 0 source etm. evertheless wc can form some conclu-
.. FIrst, the Varangians were present and capable in specialized
SItuatIons much as were E ".
, uropean sappers or pIoneers 111 later pen-
ads. They were mmed with long shields and axes. Byzantine lancers
were drawn from Mac d' I Th '.
. . . e Ol11a anc race and constItuted major
dIVISIOns of John's L '. . .
army. atms proVIded a second division of the
Choniates, HislOIia, 29-31; Kinnamos 19-20
21 A short list of the 1 . J I .' . '.'
(fortified), Sozopolis (besk ?:. would inc!uc!c:
Kastumon (besieged) Rh/ . (I' . 'fi (beSIeged), Zcugmmon (beSIeged),
& TaJ'slIs(besieged) J.' & Kastamon (besieged), Adan<l
Kafartab (bcsJ'eged)' SI' (,'.' g ), Iza (beSIeged), Halep and FeJ'ep (besiccrcd)
, . , 1aJZar JcsJeged) Neok' .'. (1 . cl) . " ,
(fortified), Pousgollsc (besieged.) , alsa! CIa JeSlege ,Lopadlon and Attaleia
cavalry; they wc re heavily armed, like the Norman and Flemish mer-
cenaries who had served emperors since the 1060s. The Turkish
division would have included Pechenegs, Cumans, and Asiatic Turks.
These were cavalry, and carried lighter melee weapons. We cannot
be certain whether they carried with them the light spears of the
Syrian Turks, or possessed other melee wcapons. They always car-
ried bows. Choniates implies that the Byzantines and Normans, as
well as the Turks, were armed differently, since against the army of
Shaizar each division "appeared before them with their different
P I " ." I T k' 1 "d' . arms. "22 In several places ec 1eneg recrUIts, or t le ur IS 1 IVI-
sion," are mentionedY The "Macedonian Legion" also appears, as
well as "newly levied troops. "21 Serbians, "Triballoi," are also listed
as having been part of the Byzantine army. 2', 'vVe are fortunate in
knowing that the Latins Pecheneot>'s, ancl l\Ilacedonians were cavalry.
L "
The geographical origin of the infantry is a more difficult question.
As a defensive force even in tactical operations, they do not appear
to have determined the course of battles and are therefore less fi'e-
quently mentioned. Nevertheless, we should remember the assault of
the Varangians on the Pecheneg' wagon circle in 1122. And we
should remember they were important enough to be mentioned when
john's army was in trouble, at Neokaisareia, and this perhaps char-
acterizes their role in most campaigns. They provided protection,
support, and a refuge of last resort for the cavalry.
How was each group within the Byzantine army used? Our sources
present the Pechcnegs as skirmishers, while the Latins and Byzantines
provide John with shock troops. Other infantry, in considerable num-
bers, supplemented the Varangians, if we are to judge by Alexios'
1116 campaign against lkonion?i Thcse troops were certainly always
Choniates, Hi.llol'ia, 29-30.
Choniates, J-Jisloria, 2.1. "The emperor sent ahead a portion of his tl'OOpS who
were enrolled among Turkish divisions." H. rVlagoulias, () Ci!>, I!! Byzantiu1II:
AnI/all r!f Hiketas G'l101;za/es (Detroit, 19B4), 15; Choniates, Historia, 2? "[.John] gave
her over to be looted by the soldiers, especially the recruited Pat";l!1ak troops who
had taken her ... " Transl., lvlagoulias, 17.
H For the "Macedonian legioll," see Choniates, Hisloria, 23.
2" Choniates, His/ana, 16.
"i Alexiade, Ill, 199 n: Anmi's description of' an outer ring or units, not connected
to onc another and an inner (liTe that would respond to threats, is not so revo-
lutionary as makes it sound. The outer (iJl'Ce was inHu1try, \;I;i1.c
the reaction tiJrce was probably the cavalry troops, snrroundmg the baggage. IillS
present in John's army. Many of John's campaigns began or ended
with sieges, where infantry support troops transported and protected
the engines of war. Furthermore, since these campaigns frequently
involved sieges, the baggage train that the army carried with it must
also have been extensive. The largely invisible infantry accomplished
all of this work. So whether we assume the continued existence of
Immortals, arc1lOntopouloi, or others, it is clear that there were substan-
tial numbers of infantry of all types in John's forces.
John Komnenos was an incessant campaigner. Like his father, he
ruled from the saddle, and he died while on campaign. He passed
on to his son, Manuel I, a seasoned army, one that had experience
fighting Hungarians, Pechenegs, Seliuks, the Turks of Syria, and the
Danishmendids. He brought his son on campaign with him, and this
undoubtedly accounted for Manuel's military expertise, as well as his
personal courage; the emperor had to restrain his son from risking
himself in combat. john's campaigns usually ended with sieges, and
it was his deliberate strategy to obtain fortified points that would
enable him (in the east) to threaten his most important foes, the
Danishmendids. In the west, he campaigned defensively. John'S strat-
egy was onc of gradual gain-he fought the Danishmendids to a
standstill with his aggressive campaigns in northern Asia Minor, while
his campaigns in Cilida temporarily gained that province for the
empire. John seldom fought large, open battles, and when he did
(against the Hungarians and the Pechenegs), it was to defend the
empire's core territories, rather than to attempt to gain new terri-
tory. In contrast, Manuel would engage in several aggressive pitched
battles. John was more comfortable conducting sieges, and this care-
ful, rational strategy may not have offered the empire the opportu-
nity for large territorial gains, but it also protected it from sudden
method of travel, with the infanlry phalanx divided into units, with arms facing
outward, is well chronicled. See George T., Dennis, (cd.) Das Strategikall Des
rikioJ, (Vienna, 1981),466-67. . ,
27 Hans:J oachim Kuhn, Die hyzalllinische Armee im 10. unci If. Jahrhundert: Studiell
zur der Tagma/a (Vienna, 1991),250 for the arc/lOnla/Jalllai, 243-46 for the
immortals (athanatoi). Kuhn provides the best description of the developmenl of these
two units, tracing their origins to the reign of Alexios I and John I, respectively.
In the case of the a/hanatol, this unit disappears from our sources until it is men-
in the reign of Michacl VII (1071-78), when alternative sources for the tag-
matlc troops were sought, following the widespread dislocation that made Asia wIinor
useless for purposes of recruitment.
1 I as those that followed the battle of Manzikert. mil-
protected the empire while
t1'01 in the strategic regions of Paphlagoma, Pontus, an
1 Id
was a much more reasonable policy than the one anue wou
Unlike the wars of John Il, the campaigns of MallucI 1 Komnenos
do not fall into easily distinguishable chronological categories. Manucl's
reign began with an abortive invasion of the Sdjuk sultanate of 1ko-
nion and was immediately followed by between Bvzan-
tine troo?s the Gen:mn crusaders \vhn passed tlll:ough
the empIre s Balkan terntones dunng the Second Crusade. Mallucl
the Normans over Kerkyra and then stagcd a cO\lnter-inva-
Slon of Norman territory in Italy, seizing much or Aplllia. Simulta-
neously, Manuel fought Stephen III or Hungary and engaged in
several unsuccessful raids of Serbia. CilieiH rebelled, and l'vlal1ucl's
cousin Komnenos was unable to regain the territory for
the empIre. Manuel briefly visited Antioch in 1159, but a year later
he was in Europe, where he fought the Hungarians. Sub-
se.quently (m 1162-63) he reorganized the PhyrgiUl cities; the war
wIth continued until 1167. In 1168, Manucl again invacled
a Byzantine fleet attacked Damiella, an imporlanl port
m FataJmd Egypt l'n COIl' t' . 1 L . (' {' .
, June Ion WIt 1 atm orces rom the kmg-
dom of Jerusalem. In 1171, Manuel exiled the Vcnetian rcsicle;1t
merchants and seized their property (the worst policy decision of lhe
Komnenian period) At t1l d f I . . 11 I I ' .'
. . . e en 0 lIS reIgn nI anuc I'ciOl'uhccl sev-
eral CItIes on the edge of tIle . t., I I' l' A I'
cen Id p am 0 nato la and launched
an campaign against the Seljuks or Ikonioll. Intermit-
tent sklrmlshmg' in weste A,' M' . .
.. rn sm mor contmued untIl Manud's
death m 1180.
There appears to be no d rb .
. e 1 crate, strategIc pattern to l'vlanuel's
campaigns' was there at least l' 1 .' I .
.' a po ICY t lat tIes t lem together, not1011-
ally If not chronoloo-ically? Tl
b' le argument can be made that there
was a coherent policy or at It ,.
. " ' eas an attempt at one.
hr5t Byzan-
tme terntonal losses in tl ' d" . '
. le cast ma e It llnperatlve to find new
wealth 111 the west for the landed families. This led the Komnenian
I Paul Magdalino the E,h' ,r M, I I er
, ll'lre 0 mlUe llomnenos (Cambridge, 199:1), 104, IOfi 011.
emperors to divert most of their wealth and military power toward
their European territories. Manucl's policy in Asia Minor was to
regroup and fight defensively. His most substantial achievement was
to reduce Hungary and Antioch to vassalage. Manud's ability to
apply pressure upon these states through Byzantium's superior mili-
tary power meant the partial extension of Byzantine policy to these
states. Money sent to the west, including payments to western sol-
diers from jJronoia (land holdings) was a response to the growing
power of the western peoples. Finally, following Choniates, it has
been assumed that Manucl's army was heavily composed of foreign
Several of these assertions are outside the scope of our study of
Manuel's campaigns. On the other hand, if Manuel's policy in Asia
Minor was a deliberate reorganization of border territories for mil-
itaI), defense, then this has military ramifications. Whether Hungary
and Antioch were Byzantine clients is also militarily significant. The
question of the nature and function of pronoia will deferred to
Chapter Six, but the extent and importance of pronoza IS. to
an understanding the Komnenian army. Finally, the ethmclty of the
Byzantine army is related to both the topic of pronoia and to the
army's place in Byzantine society. .
How did Byzantine influence in Hungary and AntIoch affeet Byzan-
tine military power? Our sources do not indicate that
achievements in HungaI), and Antioch provided any substantIal mIl-
itary benefit. The Myriokephalon campaigIl was while
fruitlessly waited for Hungarian auxiliaries. The
was the first to be routed at Myriokephalon, and thIS preCIpItated
the general collapse of the Byzantine army. successors were
unable to muster either Antiochene or HungarIan support. What
was the value of Manuel's forty years of warfare if the result was. a
vassalage that was merely personal, a tie tha; resulted. 111
meager military benefits, and no loyalty after hIS death: Magdahno
correctly asserts that Manucl did not add to the
John IP But the lack of improvement in the mlhtary
uation coincided with a more complex political enVIronment. Manucl s
2 Mngdalino, 9-10.
:I M agdalino , 3.
failure to eliminate any of his foes meant a real decline in Byzan-
tium's military position relative to each of its enemies. Manud '8 di-
plomacy, and his concept of universal empire, was an elaborate
fiction that could not survive a serious military threat. Although
Myriokephalon was not in fact the military catastrophe that
iclers tend to assert, it nonetheless destroyed the flimsy diplomatic
structure that was the mcUor accomplishmcnt of Manuel's reign.
Venetian aggression and the incompetent emperors who followed
Manuel combined to destroy what was left of the empire.
There is little evidence that Manuel had a consistent policy in
Asia Minor. He wanted to control Antioch, and occasionally directed
his attention to other problems in Asia Minor, although usually on
an ad hoc basis. The only exceptions to this were his fortifications
in the regions of Pergamon, Atramyttion, and Nenkastra. Manucl
had a Syrian policy that consisted of diplomatic and military inter-
in of and against the Crusader kingdoms, but his pol-
Icy.m ASIa Minor was reactive, usually determined by SeUuk threats.
TI1lS was expediency rather than policy-making. Finally, was the
ar;ny of foreign elements? Historians have accepted
thIS theSIS, relymg upon Choniates' statement about jll'Olloia at the
end of his description of Manuel's reign.
But Nikctas Choniates was
far an unbiased observer. He reacted angrily to the trans-
fer of llnpenal land revenues to western soldiers. This is the reimlt
of the. even:s of crusader sack of Constantinople-of which
Chomates IS the most eloquent witness. The army, as it fights its
way through the pages of Choniates and Kinnamos, is COml)Osecl of
"nat' "B . Id'
Ive yzantme so Iers. The chroniclers describe the presence of
foreigners, but Byzantines, Rhomaioi, whatever their ethnic her-
Itage, are usually the officers, and Byzantine natives provide most of
the cavalry.
. The, question of how. prevalent foreign elements were in the Byzan-
aImy may be less Important than historians have supposed. The
claIm that the army w If" .
as composec 0 mercenanes IS seductive
According to this argum t th d' . f 1 .
en , e Isaster o 204 proved the danger
4 Niket'ls Ch . t N' C"
1975) 20'8-09 cs.' lcetae Histmia, ed . .J. Van Dieten CFHB (Berlin
, . ol1mtes complains th,t' .' I . . ' . '
that the Byzallt' 11' a lmpclla lnSpcctlOns preVIOusly ensured
mc so Clers were fit a I 11 . d 11 .
)oiicy of . . ,nc we cqUlppe . - C c1alll1S that !'v!allud',
gWlng grants of provision '" . . ... .
army in the cxpectati f " money cncomaged the UIl\V<ll'hkc to .10111 tht'
not inspected and tl on 0 He also says that these men IVere
, lCY were mcreasll1gly foreigners.
of involvement with western military powers. Our question is the
same one that troubled the Komnenian emperors: which soldiers
v"ere most effective? Their answer was to employ good soldiers from
everywhere. We should not forget that this had long been stanclard
Byzantine policy. Basil II remained in power in part because he
received six thousand Rus, "foreigners," from Prince Vladimir of
Kiev. If some disaster had befallen the Byzantine Empire shortly
after Basil's reign, and these men had turned on his successors, doubt-
less the same arguments would be made: that the army was no
longer primarily Byzantine, and that it was the composition of the
army that precipitated the destruction of the empire.
Initial Actions
The first appearance of tactical combat in Manuel's reign is in 1146,
during the emperor's retreat from Ikonion. The ostensible purpose
of this campaign was to punish the Seljuk sultan Mas'ud, whose
countrymen had been plundering Byzantine possessions in Asia
Minor. In fact, Niketas Choniates indicates that Manuel's goal was
somewhat more ambitious: to besiege and conquer the capi-
tal, Ikonion. Shortly before Manuel's campaign against
Turks, Prince Raymond of Antioch had attacked
in Cilicia; a fleet and an army were sent to reinforce thiS provll1ce.
Turkish attacks between 1143 and 1146, however, demonstrated
how tenuous John's territorial gains really were. Upon John's death,
:Nlas'ud's Turks ravaged the area near the sea of Marmora. Tl.1ey
took Nlelangeia, a city just east of Nicaea.'J Manucl's agamst
Ikonion would have re-established Byzantine power m
tolia. Manue! advanced up the Maiander valley, and at Phll?mehon
fought a battle that opened the way to The tactics
during Manuel's subsequent retreat from 1ko111on res.emble
Komnenian military actions against the Turks. Accordmg to Cho-
niates, the Turks sct up ambushes and wooded
1 1 1
f march l\IIanuel's army had chfhculty retredtmg,
a ong t le me o ..' .. '1
before finally reaching safety." Choniates prOVIdes !rttle speCific detal
li .. John Kinnamos, Deeds I!f.7o/t1l and Malluel COI1l11fllllS, John
ahout B\,/'<llltilll' I;wlies during the n'tl'cat, but menti()l\s that Manuel
11\'l'l'tu\'1Il'd a Turk wilh his lallt'l'. The 'i'll1'k was arllled with a how ,
ami apparelltly possessl'!l nu weapons. Previous contacts with
Illt' Turkish sllldins .Jo11l1 and A\cxios rought suggest that Byzantines
wc\'(' !\Ion' 1ll'<I\'ily arllled than their Turkish oppollenls, so there is
litllt, Ill',," in II lI'll1ati m I here. Kinn<lmos, however, more detail
abl nil this l'Olmpaign, particularly about the Lmtllc outside Ikoninn,
whirh (:twnlatt'!' largely igllOl'CS,
Sin('(' Iht' action at Philomeliun is the first time our sources describe
l\ [allul'l l'ondul'tillg a tactical action, it deserves attention. Aceord-
illg to Kinn<l1l1os, i\las'ucl, the Turkish sultan, placed part of his
lill'lt'S within Ihe city, anothel' on the slopes behind the city, ilnd
tilt' third part with hilllscll' \0 tht' l'ight or the city, ill thl' space along
a W\)(llkd ridge Phi\omdiol1 and a i(ll'lrcss mllcd Kahalla.
:t\lamll'l's army was dividl'd illto (wu: a main body under Manuei
and a rear-guard. Manut'! took his and dirl'cted i( against
tht' Turkish ['(llTes Oil the wooded l'idge, Several arc of
illu'rest in Kinna \I\(lS' descriptioll. First, when IvIanuel wished to
his army toward thl' ridge, he ordered his standard-hearer
in I hat direction ill expectation that the army would l(llluw. Second,
(Ill' ('IIlPt'rot' organized his although we arc not told which
t\'(lOPS composed which diviliiolls. Mantle! took the ldl wing,
thl' ht'st or the '\.urkish troops. The Hyzantines attacked, Ihe Tll1'ks
withrln'\\' when the eharge met their line.
This Turkish with-
cln'w, and was impetuously lured into pursuing it. tviL'an-
whill', Byzantine rear-guard, vvhom Kinnamos describeli ,IS "thl'
other al'lll)' of the Romans," was ambushed by the garrisoll or Iko-
niot1 and by a tactical rcsclve tvJas'ud had hidden behind tIll' dty.
This I )attle appears to have been a card1.llly ckvised Turkish plan
to lure the cmpel'or's main army away f):om the cily while two-Ihirds
or the Turkish army descended upon the remaining Byzantine troops.
i\ianuei was barely able to regain control over his army an('\' rdul'l1-
ing rrom a fruitless pursuit of the Turkish division he had put to
Ilight. The next clay, he was able to press ()rwarcl to Ikonion htlt
deemed it impossible to besiege the city. It is debatable whl'ther the
Ki 1111 <l1l1tlS, lr. C. Branrl (New York, I +6 11'. Kinnamos' accuunt, drawn li'om
liw p('rspel'!ivc 0(' a common soldier, accurately desnibes thl' l'unrtlsi()1l that mllst
haw occurred when an imperial arlllY tried to retreat, llJllowed by the Turks.
; Killnamos, \,2 11:
emperor was surprised at the strength of lkonion's t<mificatioJ]s. or
whether the mauling of the previous day's battle prevented an\' coher-
ent siege operation. Kinnamos' explanation-that the was
diverted by news of a Crusader army-is perhaps true, as it partial
explanation. However, it appears unlikely that the emperor woul<l
have expended the tremendous resources involved in moving his
army across all of Asia Minor to Ikonion simply to leave. His pres-
ence was not yet required in the capital; the Crusaders had Hot
reached Byzantine territory. In this context, the Crusade \\'as mu!'\'
likely a convenient excuse that enablecl tvIanucl to extricate his army
without shame. An alternative explanation also suggests itself: Thl'
emperor planned a siege, and presumably the equipment li)r su('h
an operation would have moved with the second, slower divisioll of
his army. The defeat of this division probably resulted in sullicient
damage to the army's siege-making capability that the emperor judged
a siege impossible.
Unlike Choniates, Kinnamos provides a detailed description ur
IvIanucl's retreat from Ikonion. Kinnamos offers a confused account
of a battle at Tzibrelitzemani following the emperor's decision to
leave for Constantinople. The imperial army was encamped, and all
of the action took place around this camp; the battle occurrecl,
according to Kinnamos, because Manuel wanted to achieve some-
thing notable before returning to his new wife, Bertha of Sulzbach.1l
The account that ensues is more likely a description of the ambushes
and harassment that Choniates neglects to describe in detail. At Tzi-
brelitzemeni, advanced elements of the Turkish army, led by Mas'uci,
attacked the Byzantines in their The emperor declined to
advance with his own army, and instead assigned three units to two
ambush gTOUpS, one composed of his relatives and men of nobil-
ity, thc other of two units from the army. Manue! kept a lew
around him and advanced toward the Turks. The subsequent aCtIon
indicates that Manue! either outpaced his ambush troops or placed
himself in command of the vanguard. Upon reaching it hillock, the
emperor saw the Turkish advance guard of five or
the main army and ordered his ambush troops to .1
111. hUll. I hl're-
A Kinnamos, 47, I 'I It '(' I
q Kinnamos, 50. Kinnamos reports that later in the lnltt c, Lv ,CIlC()Un .ur
the vanguard ur the Turkish army, with Mas'uc! and the enUre 1 urklSh !OlU 1,,1
upon, the whole Byzantine force was, according to Kinnamos in
peril of being encircled by the rear-guard of the Turkish ar;11Y.
Manuel avoided this by ordering his entire force, his own unit and
the three. "ambush" units, to charge the Turkish line. Marching back
toward 1115 camp, Manuel had the bowmen from one of the ambush
groups, commanded by Kotertzes, remain behind and ambush the
Turkish the Turks advanced quickly, pressing
the retreatmg the Impenal forces hard. Manuel's impetuous venture
rescued only by the appearance of the main Byzantine army,
whIch had advanced from its camp.
This is battle exemplifies the difficulties the Byzantines faced when
the Turks. Manuel's initial ignorance of the proxim-
Ity of the troops prevented him from advancing with his full
army. Turkish attacks upon fortified camps are described in Anna
Komnene's account of Alexios' last campaign in Asia Minor and
were a constant feature of Byzantine-Turkish warfare. Because of
the fluid nature of Turkish tactics, it was difficult for a commander
in a fortified camp to determine the number of troops facing him,
or whether an attack was a diversion or a serious assault. The coun-
termeasures. that Manuel employed-enticing the enemy to attack
one group, 111 order to ambush it with others--were standard means
of fighting lightly armed mounted foes. Pitched battles were aberra-
tions Byzantine armies advanced into Seljuk territory. The bat-
tle at Ikol1lon was tlle such battle during Manuel's 1146 campaign.
Nevertheless, the Turkish division facing Manuel melted away from
the emperor's main attack When Manue! discovered that the sultan
wit.h army,. was in front of him, he was surprised. Here, as
TZI?rehtzemal11, one can discern a pattern of Byzantine skirmish:ing
.the TU:ks. Byzantine outriders were never adept at out-scout-
mg thCl!' Turkish opponents. At Tzibrelitzemani Manuel was forced
to fight his way past a Turkish formation sent to surround him and
prevent his retreat.
As usual: Turkish pursuit of the retreating troops lasted until the
full army arrived on the scene. Procuring supplies while
at some dIstance from the staging camps (aj)lekta) was a constant
problem for the Byzantines in their conflicts with the Seljuks. 1O The
IU Ajliekta were the By' t' ,.
d I
. zan me army s stagIng camps where supplics were gatb-
ere anc troops mu t . dIe .'., . .'
S Cl e. n .unstantmc Porphyrogenitus' Three j\1ilitary Treatises
Seljuks avoided combat wherever possible and so prevented the
Byzantine army from gaining a decisive victory until the campaign
season ended or until they ran out of supplies (a strategy reminis-
cent of the Byzantines' own practices during Alexios' cam.paign against
the Normans in 1108). Pitched battles seldom brought an advantage
to the force defending its own territory. Lighter armament was only
one reason the SeUuk armies fled from Byzantine forces. The Turks
stood and fought the French on the Maiander River, near Laodikeia
during the Second Crusade, and the Battle of Myriokcphalon (1176)
certainly proves that the Turks were capable of fighting Byzantine
forces on an even footing in hand-ta-hand combat. Under rnost cir-
cumstances, the Turks refused to engage Byzantine armies because
they recognized that they had more to lose from a pitched battle
than did the Byzantines: 'When the emperor left, the territory would
still be theirs. Both Mas'ud and Kilij Arslan used this strategy against
Ailer ManLlel '5 army rescued him from the SeUuks, the Byzantine
cavalry proved unable to bring the Turks to battle; the imperial
horses tired more quickly than those or their opponents. 11 Kinnamos
also mentions archers accompanying the emperor. vVe must assume
that this meant mounted bowmen, since these men kept pace with
the emperor's pursuit of the Turks. This also implies that the emperor's
personal troops were not similarly armed. Therefore, the force with
which the emperor pursued the Turks consisted of both heavily and
lightly armed mounted men. The heavy cavalry were sent out to
lure the Turks into an ambush. The ambushing force would itself
have been composed of a combined light and heavy cavalry. Dur-
ing the fighting retreat, the emperor's army needed to be tactically
flexible; presumably the pairing of archers with heavier, lance-bear-
ing troops provided both shock and skirmishing capability. Manuel's
aim after the failed expedition to Ikonion was merely to bring his
011 ImjJelial Military Eteditiolls, eel. John Halclon (Vienna, 1990), BO-fll, a number of
apiekta arc mentioned: Malagin<l, on the Sangarios River, DOl'ylaion,
Koloneia, Kaisareia, and Dazimon. Kmnnenian aplekta also incluclecl Lopachnn, men-
tioned as a mustering point If))' John IJ's armies. Mantle! may have rebuilt Dory-
laiun and Soublaion' as advanced staging points for his wars against the Scljuk
11 Kinnamos, 49. In this case, the horse that tired was Manucl's. \'Vc may assume
that the emperor's horse was among the best of the Byzantine mounts, anel that
lhe olher soldiers with him would also have had similarly exhausted hnrscs.
anny back to Constantinople. Despite what Kinnamos says of Manuel's
desire to display his personal prowess, the emperor was probably not
interested in engaging the Turks, for they would not have entered
into battle unless conditions favored them. The tactical action at Tzi-
brelitzemani was initiated in order to give the Byzantine time to
retreat, but it was not conducted with the main Byzantine army and
was not intended to be a pitched battle. Manue! arrived in Con-
stantinople with his army. This war, including its preparations, had
taken two campaign seasons. By late 1146 the emperor was back in
Constantinople, preparing to ease the passage of the Second Cru-
sade through Byzantine territOlY. Choniates again reports that Manucl
was surprised that he would have to manage the passage of the Cru-
saders, additional evidence that preparations for the Crusade were
not the cause of Manuel's retreat from Ikonion.
The arrival of the Second Crusade at Constantinople g'ives us the
opportunity to compare Manuel's army witll a western European army.
The army of the Holy Roman Emperor Conrad Hohenstaufen skir-
mished with Byzantine scouts when "some of the Romans fi'om the
infantry regiments," killed one of Conrad's lieutenants near Adria-
nople, and plundered his goods.
Choniates trivializes this incident,
and does not mention a battle between Germans and Byzantines
just outside the walls of Constantinople. Kinnamos describes this bat-
tle and details the tactical dispositions of the Byzantine army with
some specificity; a rarity among either chronicler. It therefore deserves
attention ,beyond its minor tactical and strategic value.
Why did the Byzantines believe that every Crusade was a secret
attempt to destroy Byzantine state? Certainly they were wary of the
motives of the western potentates who led these militmy expeditions,
but the Byzantines also mistrusted the Seljuks, Hungarians, and Nor-
. Byzantine emperors were obligated to help the Crusaders by
vlrtue of their common Christianity as well as to prevent their armies
from pillaging his territories for supplies. This meant allowing large,
, 12 Choniates, (lis/mia, 61-62. Manuel prcpared by mustering the army and repair-
mg the, walls o{ Constantinople. Interestingly, Choniates says that l\ifanuel issued
coats of scale armor to his soldl'cr ! 'd I I . I I
6 11"- ,.: s, anc proV! ec t 1em Wit 1 anees and horses
(p. 2, .. 9;) 9il). II11s statement probably refers only to the units stationed near
the capital.
II Kinnamos 71-72 TI Id' I
.. , . le so lers w 10 plundered the German eaml) had been
sent by the cm t 'k' . I . I
. . peror . 0 S IrmlS 1 wIt 1 the Germans and prevent them {I'om plun-
crmg Byzantme terntory.
potentially hostile armies to enter the Byzantine heartland in Thrace
and Macedonia. When the empire fought the Normans and Pech-
enegs, imperial strategy sought to prevent enemy forces from enter-
ing the plains of Thessalonike and Thrace, respectively. If the emperor
treated the Crusaders as the enemies he feared they would become,
he would surely alienate them. This might lead to the kind of mili-
tary assault the Byzantines always feared. Because of this fear, Byzan-
tine efforts to obtain Antioch had to be modified during Manuel's
reign. The emperor settled for mere titular sovereignty.14 The osten-
sible objective of the Second Crusade was recovery of the lost lands
of Edessa, which had fallen to Zangi of Aleppo in 1144. Opposing
this expedition would have destroyed Byzantium's ability to influence
events in the Levant. Manuel's only option was to allow Conrad of
Germany and Louis of France unlimited access to the Byzantine
heartland, from which Constantinople was easily threatened. A more
prudent strategy would have been to divert them from the ultimate
prize, the capital, but Byzantine emperors had no good options when
Crusades passed through their territories. Providing food and mar-
kets for so many soldiers as they crossed the Balkans while fore-
stalling foraging required great skill. At the same time, as much as
both sides strove to avoid military confrontation, conflict of some
sort was inevitable when a large army passed through the territory
of another state: it was all the more dangerous because the Cru-
saders invariably traversed the richest and most important Byzan-
tine lands.
Conrad arrived at Constantinople with his army in September of
1147. Our sources give us no clear reason for the dispute between
Conrad and Manue1 once the Germans reached the capital. Kin-
namos fabricates a letter, supposedly written by Manuel to Conrad,
in which the emperor states that a visiting army risks retaliation
from the local populace if a leader fails to control his men and pre-
vent them from plundering the territories through which is pass-
ing. l :; Conrad's men were foraging and requisitioning supplies from
the local population, and Byzantine soldiers h a ~ killed of Con-
rad's officers outside of Adrianople and looted hIS possessIOns. What-
ever the real reason, the dispute escalated into a battle outside
1,\ Magdalino, 66.
I ~ Kinnamos, 77.
Constantinople's walls. Neither Conrad nor Manuel was present;
each placed his forces under the command of subordinates. Was this
because each feared the results of a defeat if he were in command,
or because the skirmish was not important? Whatever the answer,
the result of the battle, a Byzantine success, was that Conrae! nego-
tiated with Manuel.
The battle outside Constantinople offers an excellent description
of the tactical organization of Byzantine forces. Kinnamos describes
the Byzantine forces: "He [Manuel] ordered Prosouch and TzikandyIcs
and many of the other Roman generals to lead out a sufficient force
and to stand confronting the Germans. They were organized as fol-
lows: the most unwarlike, common part of the army stood far for-
ward in four units; thereafter, the well-armed and mounted; after
these came those riding swift footed horses; and finally, at the back
of the army were the "Seyths" [Pechenegs or Cumans J, and "Persians"
[Turks], and the Romans' arehers."i!j Thus, the "least warlike" (pre-
sumably the light infantry, the jJsiloi) formed a screen in front of the
whole army; behind them stood the kataphraktoi, the heavy-armed
cavalry. Unfortunately, we lack a detailed description of the battle
resulted. these preparations; we only know that the Byzan-
tllles were VIctOrIOUS. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that the Turks,
Cumans, and Byzantine archers were positioned to the rear, in back
of the lighter armed cavalry.
would the two most flexible elements of the Byzantine army,
the lIght horsemen and the archers, be positioned behind the less
flexible elements? One would normally assume that these elements
be stationed in front of the main army, skirmishing and harass-
the enemy. The answer lies in the tactical situation of the
tme army. The army met the Germans just outside Constantinople,
near the walls. The description of events leading up to the battle
I" Kinnamos, 77, H. 13-20.
H \ n ' \
p0o;0UX 'tov Kat1tAeia'tou<; anou<; '"Cmv 'ProJlalrov mpa'"Cllyiiiv
cXV'ttJlE'tomou<;' AAaJlavoI<; l'amcr8at.
alto K,at '"COU ,mpa'to\J 1tOppro8EV Kat 00<;
51: 'to\I<; ocrol 'taXultoo OE 'tOUtO oaov 01tAltlKOV Kat Ka'tcicppaK'tov'
nEpcrat<; Kat 'to 'Pro t7t1trov' 'tEAEumlou oe KE! Jl'ta Jle'tro1!{)V l:K1'l8a<; al!a
carried cluiveI's b
the cumans, scc: Choniatcs, 94. The Cumalls
, . "curvec ows and a ' TI'
spears, and Choniatcs says that the r' I n ows. . JCII' personal weap()ns were
other a(,tivities This a b y. oc e same hurse mto battlc that they rode tIll'
.. . ,ppears to e 111 contrast to a B t' " . .
palJh:y, while llreserving th . I . f'" yzan me practlce of a
e Wdf-10Ises or actual combat. C
implies that there was little room (or opportunity) for skirmishing.
The terrain was known; there was no need for preliminary scout-
ing. The location and composition of the enemy force was also
known. In most of the battles we have examined, preliminary
mishing and maneuvering brought two armies to their positions on
the battlefield. Here, the Byzantines dispensed with these
tory actions. They disregarded the usual positioning of skirmishers
and light cavalry in front of the main army and placed them be-
hind the heavy cavalry. This accords with the disposition of Manuel's
army against the SeUuks at Tzouroulos, where the lighter-armed
troops were kept further back in order to cover a retreat or to exploit
a victory.
Following this battle outside Constantinople, the Germans were
ferried across the Bosphoros, into Asia Minor. They advanced cast
and were defeated outside Dorylaion. The Turks lured them into a
fruitless pursuit of some skirmishers and turned upon the German
cavalry when it had become disordered and exhausted. Choniates
thereupon delivers onc of his best descriptions of a Turkish army in
action. This occurred in 1147/48, when the Turks and the French
met on the Maiander River, again near Dorylaion. Most descrip-
tions of the Turkish army center on the Turkish light cavalry to such
an extent that the entire Seljuk Turk army seems composed of light
cavalry. At the Maiander, the SeUuk force displays an interesting
variety of troop types. .
The Turks, "massing in phalanxes on the banks of the nver,
blocked thc Latin troops from crossing over." Later, they appeared
with a force of and cavalry; both groups were bowmenY
In the subsequent battle the Turks placed their infantry archers along
the riverbank to harass the French when they tried to cross. Choni-
ates describes both the armament of the French and the effect of
the Turkish bow on the French troops. III The westerners carried
17 Ch()lliates, His/on'a, 67 (I!. 50 -52), GR. Tram!., H. Magoulias, 0 City rif
lilllll: ..1111111/.1' 1I/.N/keta.1 C'iWllillles (Dctroit, 19B4), 39. ,
"oi of. Eie; 1!ul<Vro8evtf<; Kut ,al<; OX8Ci.l<; 'tot) 1tOtaJl0t) I MatavOpo<;
otwS OUK El(l)V OA(O<; 't(1. AanvtK<x cr'tpa'"CEUJl(J:tCY. OtEA,8Etv:' '. . .
III Ch()lliales, His/oria, hB. As l'vlagoulias notes, C:hol1latcs coniuses Gennan
and French expeditions. The (klt'at at Bathys, m.entlOncd page G7, .the
Germans (Octo her, 1147). The acti()n that Chonmtcs mentions on page
tll(' Turks on the 1\'Iaianclel' River, involwcl the French army under Kmg LOL1ls
VII (.January I 14.fl).
- - -- -------
lances, swords, and daggers, and their annor was largely unaffected
by the Turks' arrows. When the Germans charged Turkish 8101'-
mishers, they were lured into an ambush that destroyed their mili-
tary effectiveness. When the French charged across the .Maiander
River, by contrast, they caught the Turkish infantry and cavahy by
surprise, shattering them. Kinnamos tells us that the French cavahy
was more skilled than the German cavalry (the French also had
swifter, better horses than did the Germans), but that the German
in'1ntry had the advantage over the French foot soldiers.19 Whether
better horses, better tactics, or a better choice of routc permitted
the French to prevail where the Germans failed, the Byzantines con-
sidered the French to be more formidable in cavalry battles than
the Germans.
The Western Campaigns
The next campaign Manuel commanded took place in 1147-49,
when the emperor attempted to take the citadel of Kerkyra from
Roger Il, the Norman king of Southern Italy. Roger had taken
advantage of Manuel's preoccupation with the Second Crusade to
attack Kerkyra, raid Corinth, sack Thebes, and to attempt to take
the fortress town of Monemvasia in the southern Peloponnesos. Kin-
namos does not describe how the Byzantine army was mustered for
this campaign. Choniates reports that the emperor levied the east-
ern .and western tagmata.
Neither author gives specific numbers of
soldIers, but Choniates mentions that the army numbered in the tens
of thousands.
. The of Kerkyra resembles the Crusader's siege of Constan-
tmople 111 1204, when the most important actions were taken by sol-
1'1 Kinnamos 8<1-,85 Kinn'lmos also st t tl C I I I . . .
. I I " . , . a cs lat onrac w 1en l1S army jomed
Wit 1 t le hC:1Ch to travel east, could not bear the taunts 'of the French resum-
own and returnc;J to Constantinople. ' P
.,lllllo,.'iO -,) 1. I he French kmg Louis VII considered mar in one of
Ius relauvcs to unc of Manucl's nephws This . ht I er d ry g
. Il" . . mlg lave allecte contemporane-
ous yzantlne attitudes toward the French
" Choniatcs, His/oria 77 I 13" ; '" ,
"Th I' h "" LllAAqEta.l 01111 Ta. EqJa Kat ecr1tEpta taY/-lo:to:"
<" ore. e gathered the eastern and western tagmata"
.. Cholllates, Hil'toria 77 11 " '8' r '8: , , ,
cruv" "And the strengtll ol tl;c fi t' Id
E llE.,u:at 1l8polcr811-
. 00 so lers were numbered III tens of thousands."
diers attacking from towers and ladders attached to ships.23 As in
previous encounters with western troops, missile-fire seems to have
done little damage to the defenders. The imperial forces, including
the Venetian auxiliaries, occupied the city itself but the Norman gar-
rison took refuge in the citadel. Byzantine troops, protecting them-
selves with large oval shields and armed with swords, attempted to
assault the citadel's towers from ladders mounted on ships, but the
weight of the attackers broke the ladders, and the attacking soldiers
fell into the water and perished. The citadel was finally starved into
submission. Choniates' account of the siege leaves little doubt that
despite the emperor's considerable preparations, the citadel, with a
well-trained garrison manning stone-throwers, was too well fortified
and defended for the Byzantine army to take_ The general in charge
of the siege, Stephenos Kontostephanos, was killed when a stone
hurled from the battlements shattered a siege engine he was super-
vising. The stone shattered the wooden engine, showering the sol-
diers nearby with deadly fragments. After the stronghold was taken,
the emperor installed a garrison of "stalwart Germans" to guard it.
He then turned to Serbia, since the weather and rough seas pre-
vented immediate reprisals against the Sicilian Normans?1
Manucl's retaliatory campaign took place between 1155 and 1158.
Choniates gives only the most rudimentary details about these Ital-
ian maneuvers,2:; Kinnamos, by contrast, provides sufficient detail to
chart the Byzantine army's movement, telling us which cities were
seized and when. Neither author provides tactical detail, so it is only
Villehardouin, HiJ/oire rll! /a ((JlliJlllite de COIlS/antinople (Paris, 1981), 99-103. The
Crusaders Llsecl ships to transport them to the seaward walls of Constantinople, 011
the Golden Horn. They scaled these walls by means of ladders. . .
Choniates, His/orill, B9. The importance of Kel:kyra t? thc
should not be underestimated. As Choniates notes, It a
lurthcr Sicilian ventures against the Byzantines. In Byzantmc It was !Ikewlsc
a natural mustering point If)r imperial f'orces that were to be chrccted .the
Norman kingdom. In the 1149 campaign that Manuel contemplated agaJllst
the Normans, only poor weathcr prevented the personal
Choniatcs, His/oria, 95-9G. Magoulias, .'i5. Chol1lates says only the two lead-
ers sailed Cor Sicily [11521 and engagcd the king's ... an? very tak-
ing Brindisi by siege [April--May lI5G.] But Fortune chd not smile gemunely upon
. d -. '1'1 f' '1 k' 'tllel'cd all even greater force col-
thclr brave del' s 111 )alt c, . .. Ol t le mg ga , ..' , '
leeting a number of mercenary troops the hght. Engagmg the
in bailie, he retrieved the defeat, prcwuk;c1 and took. them captIve .
Knmncnos and Doukas were incarcerated; III one bnef moment, all th:t the Romans
hac! achieved by way of' toil and huge expenditures was overturned.
possible to discuss imperial strategy during the Italian campaigns.
Manuel commissioned Michael Palaiologos to raise a force of mer-
cenaries and lancers to conduct the campaign, while the emperor
conducted wars against the Cumans, Hungarians, and Scrbians.
.Manue! entrusted the Apulian campaign to Michael Palaiologos
and John Doukas, both of whom he!d the high imperial rank of
sebastos. They were scnt to Italy in 1155 to negotiate an alliance with
the newly crowned German emperor Frederick 1. If they failed in
this endeavor, they were to employ the funds that Manuel placed
at their disposal to raise an army and claim Apulia (or "Italy," as
Kinnamos refers to the territory). Michacl and J obn found Frederick
unwilling to form an alliance with Manuel, for such an alliance would
have offered the western emperor few benefits and would have legit-
imized a Byzantine attempt to acquire southern Italy, which Fred-
eriek wanted to control. Palaiologos and Doukas therefore arranged
an alliance with Robert of Bassonville, a nephew of Roger II who
fallen from power when his cousin, William I, became Icing upon
Roger's death. Alexander of Con versa no, ruler of the city of Gravina
until his deposition by Roger Il, was also party to this alliance. The
Byzantine effort therefore included several dispossessed Norman lords,
and two imperial officials with an abundance of ready cash.
Ancona was the imperial headquarters for these activities. In 1157,
after imperial forces had been forced out of Italy as a result of the
defeat outside Brindisi, Manuel sent Alexios Axouch to Italy with a
second army. Aneona was his base. The knights from Ancona were
also the most important mercenary element in John Doukas' and
Michacl Palaiologos' army; Kinnamos implies that the expedition
was doomed when they demanded double pay and then deserted.
Aneona was a logical choice for the imperial base. It was far enough
north that envoys could easily be sent to Frederick when he was
south of the Alps, and it was sufficiently close to Apulia that troops
money.could be transported south to the area of Byzantine mil-
Itary operatIOns.
Palaiologos and Doukas, allied with Robert of Bassonville and
Alexander of Conversano moved down th t' "I h'
,', ", ..' e coas Wit 1 t C1r army.
F.llst, they took VWStl, then Bari, Trani, and Giovinazzo. This pro-
Vided the By" t'" . h' .
. zan.mes WIt a stnp of coastime centered upon the
Important port CIty of Bar1' tl lB' .
. . , le ast yzantme possessIOn in Italy,
III 1 071. controlled Andria, slightly inland and
,lpparcntly heaVIly fortified and Molfetta a fio,tfi d . . I
' ,I I e POSItIon on t le
Q -
coast that the Byzantincs were never able to take. After imperial
troops occupied the Apulian coast (1155), the Normans, commanded
by Asclettin of Andria, reacted by moving an army to Trani and
then to Barletta. Michael Palaiologos defeated these Norman forces,
and in the aftermath of the defeat, the Byzantines were able to seize
Andria. This victory enabled the Byzantines to move freely in Apu-
Ha, although the Normans reinforced their garrison at Molfetta fol-
lowing this defeat. Michacl Palaiologos' death in the course of the
campaign left the army under the command of Doukas. Doukas
appears to have been Michacl Palaiologos' junior partner in the
negotiations with Frederick I and in the military actions that fol-
lowed. Doubs marched the army south, taking Monopoli, and met
with Robert of Bassonville at Brindisi. From there, the combined
forces marched west, taking Massafra and Mottola. At Mottola Bas-
sonvillc and Doubs defeated another Norman force, under the com-
mand of Flameng. Abandoning their attempt to take Taranto, which
was strongly fortified and impervious to attack, the imperial forces
moved back cast, again talcing Monopoli by siege. Then imperial
forces seized Ostuni and Brindisi, although they were unable to
secure the citadel.
The conquest of Brindisi marked the apex of Byzantine militmy
power in Manuel's Italian campaign. After this, Doukas mismanaged
his alliance with Robert Bassonville. At this time William's men were
attacking Robert's holdings; Michael Palaiologos had earlier refused
to send him aid, and following this Bassonville became increasingly
interested in obtaining money fl:om the Byzantines (rather than rely-
ing upon his unreliable imperial allies), undoubtedly to finance his
own forces. He accompanied Doukas to Taranto, but when William
mustered his full army and began marching it north to face the
Byzantines at Brindisi, Robert departed, ending his alliance with. the
Byzantines. Simultaneously, the knights from Ancona .deserted,
Doukas refused to pay them double wages. The arnval of AlexlOs
Komnenos Brycnnios with some ships did not retrieve the .Byzan-
tine situation in any respect. Alcxios had been ordered to brmg sol-
diers, but he merely brought his empty ships to Brindisi.
William arrived at Brindisi, defeated the Byzantine forces on both
land and sea, and in Cl day retrieved all which had been lost in three
years. Manucl heard about this defeat and the capture of John
Doukas and Alexios Bryennios, and sent Alexios Axouch to Ancona
to raise another army. Ancona remained allied to the emperor, and
was. a?le to drive inland to Cassino, southe:lst of Rome. By
tlus tIme WIlham II had retaken all of the Byzantme conquests in
Apulia. As Kinnamos says, "Alcxios Komnenos and Doukas ... had
become captive to the Sicilians' lord rand] again ruined matters. For
as they had already pledged to the Sicilians many things not then
desired by the emperor, they robbed the Romans of very great and
noble achievements. [They] ... very likely deprived the Romans of
. . "2(; I h [D k
t le CItIes too soon. n ot er wore s, ou as and Komnenos-Bryen_
nios had been pressured to surrender the possessions they had taken
for Manue!. The emperor had already spent thirty thousand pounds
of gold on the expedition. He judged that with three years of war-
fare come to naught; the wisest course was to obtain the best peace
What was the purpose of such a tremendous expenditure of wealth
on expeditions that came to nothing? We should remember that the
Italian war was the longest sustained olfensivc campaign conducted
by any Komnenian emperor. What was its purpose, and what strat-
egy did Manuel, through Michael Palaiologos, pursue? First, we
should recognize that the emperor was distracted by a defensive war
against Hungary and Serbia. Manuel could not go to Italy himself,
although he considered itY Second, the Italian war was envisioned
as reprisal for the Norman invasion of Kcrkyra and Hellas while
Manuel was busy with the Second Crusade. Roger Il had raided
Byzantine possessions without permancntly occupying territory. The
Normans transported economically useful tradesmen, such as weavers,
to control of Apulia would make any expedition
agamst the empIre much more difficult for the Normans and would
effectively prevent a repetition of tlle Norman sack of COl-i:lth, Thebes,
Large tracts of territOlY were not nccessalY to accom-
phsh tlllS. On the contrary, the possession of a few bases along the
coast would the Norman king from turning his attention
away 1118 own homeland. The imperial armies only rarely
advanced mto the interior during the COurse of the Italian campaign.
2(, Kinnamos, 172.
27 Choniates Hist01ia 91 "\'1'1 "f"1 I PI' 1 .
..,.,. IJ e lV. lC lae a alO ogos orgalllzed and conducted
t le eXI)cdItIOIl agamst the No' . A l' "f <.
'. imal1S 111 pu la, lvanuel orgal11zed tbe Byzantmc
and forces at Pelagoma Manllel Is ,,' 1 I I ..' . .
. . . . a 0 pm nee a - unganan lllvaSlOn that had bcsICged
i amccvo. A Byzantlllc 'lrmy llnel"l' B' '1 T' '1 k cl I' . ,
'v aSI. Zll1tZI ou cs e cated a HUllganan force
ane the approach of Mamlcl 'tl ' dB' , C '. '
. WI 1 a secon yzantme army forced the Hungan-
ans to withdraw. <
Gravina was taken, but that had been the territory of Count Alexan-
der, Manucl's ally, and was douhtless a condition of his support.
Cassino was taken late ill 11:l 7, hut hy that time most of Byzantine
Apulia had been lost, which suggests that Alexios Axouch's expedi-
tion was an attempt to salvage a better peace from the Normans,
rather than a serious attempt at conquest. The imperial forces held
a few coastal cities, but they ncver threatened Norman control of
the interior. The occupation or Viesti, Bari, and Brindisi was enough
to divert William I, the new Norman king, from his expedition to
Sicily. Had the Byzantincs defi.ateci the Normans at Brindisi, it is
doubtful whether the i1leager at Doubts' disposal could have
taken more territory. S(), the Byzantines took the Apulian cities to
prevent Norman raids Oil Epiros Hdlas, ,:nd because they were
conveniently close to the Byzallt\llc ports of KCl'kyra and Dyrra-
chion. Kinnamos rcmarks that Am:ollH \-vas chosen as the Byzantine
base in order to humhk the VClletians. This may have been another
reason for the Apulian campaign: to maintain Byzantine control of
the lower Adriatic. The Vl'nC'tians did not aid the Byzantines in
their Italian venture, unlikc the earlil'l' campaigns against against the
Normans Ht Kerkyra.
What was the strategy or I\'lichacl Palaiologos and John Doukas
in their attack on Apulia:
First, they obtained mercenaries. Ancona
provided "knights," l1l()ullted, heavy armed cavalry-and these sup-
plemented the soldiers supplied by the emperor and by Robert of
Bassonvillc. Thc impcrial army occupied the coastal cities, Viesti,
Bari, Trani, and cvcntually Brindisi. Andria, a bit inland, was also
taken. Thus the imperial l(llT('S obtained control of the territory
directly across thc 1l1011t h or the' Adriatic from Dyrrachion. Then
the combined /(ll't'CS lll()wcl inland, taking Mottola, Massaf!'a, and
Gravina. These last thrce cities mark the limit of Byzantine control
of the interior of Apulia: Taranto was ton strong to besiege, so impe-
rial forces were not abk to aclvance westward into the province of
Basilicata. This was probably nevcr a consideration. Robert of Bas-
sonville and his mcn \\'C1'e essential to the Byzantines' plans: Palaiol-
ogos had too fev\' lllt'1l ()f his own to conduct oflcnsive operations.
Bassonville's center of strength appears to have been near Brindisi.
It is not realistic tn assume that he would have provided support for
expeditions westward \\'hich, by gi\'ing territory to Manuel, lessened
his importance'. Paiai()l()g()s ami Doukas took the cities they could
with the troops at 1 heir disp()sal, and wc should not assume that
they were expected to do more than they did. Manuel was disap-
pointed when the capture of Doukas and Bryennios resulted in the
loss of the Byzantine conquests of the past three years, but he is
nowhere said to have been disappointed in thc extent of the con-
quests themselves.
We must assume that the conquest of Apulia
was the object of the Italian wars, and that this was very nearly
accomplished when William arrived to defeat the Byzantine army
and disrupt Manuel's plan.
Hungarians, Serbians, and Cumans
The military power of the Hungarian kingdom, the Serbian princi-
pality, and Cuman tribe directly threatened the empire's control of
the Balkans. 'Wars against these three entities were more important
the security of the empire than campaigns in Italy, however expen-
SIve and lengthy they might become. Our sources offer sparse detail
about the tactics of these campaigns. Choniates reports that battles
were fought, but does not go into extensive detail. Kinnamos' account
barely mentions these events and instead concentrates upon Manuel's
Manuel sought to control Hungarian pol-
to prevent constant Hungarian invasions of Byzantine posses-
SlOns on the Adriatic Sea. Stephen IV of Hungary had fled to the
emperor for refuge, and Manuel tried to install him on the Hun-
?arian .throne. Stephen was so hated by his people that this proved
ImpossIble. Later, Manuc1 tried to install Bela the brother of the
legitima;e King Stephen Ill, upon the throne. Bela married .Maria,
Manuel s daughter, and the emperor hoped that this union would
:"esult in Byzantine influence upon Hungarian foreign pol-
The diplomacy involved in these maneuvers is less to
study than the military actions that resulted from it. The first
mIlItary effect of these manipulations was that Manuc1 found him-
self into Hungarian affairs. Stephen IV was never
able to hImself in Hungary without Byzantine help because
the believed that he was a Byzantine puppet.
Step hen IV s meptItude eventually resulted in his death; his own
211 Kinnamos, 172-73.
2!1 Kinnamos, 211-16 If.
councilors poisoned him. This Byzantine interference in the internal
afiairs of Hungary finally provoked Stephen III to outright warfare.
In 1165 Stephen seized the Byzantine city of Sirmion, and he then
besieged Zeugminon. When his army took this city, Manuel decided
to personally direct the Hungarian war. He traveled to Serdika,
where he mustered his army.
After retaking Zeugmion, which had not been sacked by the Hun-
garians, but which was pillaged by the Byzantine army,30 the impe-
rial forces fought a major battle with the Hungarians at Semlin, in
1167. Kinnamos and Choniates provide good descriptions of the tac-
tical arrangements of both armies. Kinnamos tells us that Andronikos
Kontostephanos, the general that Manuel assigned as army com-
mander, ordered the Cumans and Turks, plus a few lancers, to be
in the vanguard. Behind these were the Byzantine regiments. Fol-
lowing the cavalry were infantry, archers, and an armored regiment
of Turks. Finally, there followed the picked Byzantine troops, the
Germans and Turks. Andronikos stationed himself in the rear, sur-
rounded by the emperor's personal troops. These included the guard
regiments and the emperor's companions, plus mercenary Italians,
and a Serbian regiment consisting of five hundred infantly with large
shields and spears.31
According to Kinnamos, the Hungarians arranged themselves ac-
cm"ding to their usual custom, with their best men in their vanguard.
According to Choniates, the Hungarian leader Dionysios massed his
troops in onc large formation, without wings or clifIerentiation between
in[antty or cavaby, and launched the whole at the Byzantines.
tostephanos took advantage of this by ordering the mounted archers
of the Byzantine force to shoot arrows at the Hungarians. When this
archery fire enticed them to charge, the light troops were supposed
to split apart and flee to the flanks, leaving the Hungarians in the
center. The arrows of the archers were also expected to break up
the Hungarian charge. Kinnamos provides further information about
how the Byzantine soldiers were drawn up for battle. The troops in
:1;) Choniatcs, His/oria, 134 -36. Kinnamos, 239.
'H Kinnamos, 271. .
:12 Kinnamos, 272. Chnniates, J-li.l"/oria, 155-56. This is a top os of.Byzantmc battle
descriptions. The "barbarians" arc the more
clever. The Turks likewise appear cllsorgal11zecl when fightll1g the Byzantmcs, yet
they always seem to be able to llut-ll1ctnCllVer thc imperial army.
front were Turks, Cumans, and a few lancers. The Byzantine right
wing under Andronikos Lepardas consisted of picked Byzantines and
Germans with some Turks, the lefl wing of troops under taxiarchs.
Other units were stationed beyond the Hanks of the main wings in
order to attack the Hungarian rear guard and to come to the aid
of any Byzantine units in trouble. Kinnamos also tells us that Kontos-
tephanos, in the Byzantine center, had with him the troops normally
around the emperor: this description probably indicates both the
Varangian guard and also the picked courtiers and companions of
the emperor. Kontostephanos also had the Serbian contingent and
the Italian mercenaries. Perhaps these were the same mercenaries
and lancers that Michael Palaiologos had recruited when he was in
Venice, for the campaign in Apulia.:l:
The taxiarclls (commanders)
that Choniates mentions correspond to the group of leaders paired
with Andronikos Lepardas: Joseph Bryennios, George and Demetrios
Branas, and the sebastos Constantine Aspietes. From Kinnamos' account
it is probable that the "regiments of Romans," with Kogh Vasil,
Philokales and Tatikios, were stationed on the Byzantine left. When
the left wing was driven off, Kinnamos reports that Kogh Vasi! and
Tatikios' regiments remained on the field. Byzantine standard prac-
tice, as delineated in the Praecepta Militaria (ca. 965) and the Strate-
gikon (ca. 600), was to use the infantlY as a base, as guards for the
camp and as a refuge for defeated cavahy. The archers, infantry,
Turki:h regiments would therefore have been posi-
tIOned 111 a hne behmd the rest of the Byzantine troops.
, The battle began as Kontostephanos had planned. The Cumans,
1 urks, and lancers of the vanguard showered the Hungarians with
The Hungarians charged, drove these troops back to the
Sava River, and smashed the Byzantine left wing. Only the regi-
n;ents of Kogh Vasil and Tatikios held out. The troops around Anclro-
nikos Kontostephanos in the center, and the Byzantine, German,
and Turkish troops with Lepardas remained disciplined and unbro-
ken. At this point Lepardas charged, aided by George Branas' troops,
who suddenly reappeared. A fierce melee ensued, which ended only
wl:en Kontostephanos ordered his men to charge. Choniates describes
thiS engagement rhetorically: the lances shattered, then the long
33 Choniates, Hist01ia 91
34 Choniates, Histo/ia: 156.
swords were broken, then the Byzantine troops drew their maces,
and the battle was elt-cieled. Clwniates also reports that few impe-
rial solders to strip all enemy or an 11or, or kill a Hungarian,
suggesting that the army .had won a total victory. This,
however, is belied by the fal'! that kontostcphanos, when he heard
that the Hungarians mig-lJt have received help lhlln a German merce-
nary unit, took the Byzantine army and returned to Constantino-
ple.:I:, it. a Byzantine. victory, is
correct in ascnhmg- tillS victory t.o supcnor Byzantmc tactics.
llil/l/lll'llillll '1 ({ctiml j)octrilll'
The battle at Sellllin c1cll101lStratcs several elemcnts or Byzantine
practice that were so standardized that they deserve mention as part
of a Byzantine tactical d()ctrine prat'liced throughout the Komnen-
ian period. The first of thest' elements was standard tactical proce-
dure [or most well medieval armies: division o[ the force
into a vanguard, main hody, and rear-guard. Both the Byzantines
and the Crusader armies our SlJll1'l't'S lllention made llse of this for-
mation on the march and in open fidd battle. The Turks used van-
guards, and most or tlll'se armies also had light troops they used as
outriders and skirmishlTs. B()th Byzantine and western European
armies divided thelllselves into "lmttlcs," or organizational divisions.
Some 0[' these units \\TIT organized by ethnicity, sllch as the Ger-
mans in Byzantint' elllpluy, as wdl as the Cumans, Latins, Turks,
Italians and others. At St'llllin, th(' Byzetntincs separated "picked"
cavalry from the J't'g'lllar cavalry. This appears to be an innovation
or the Komncnian period. In the manuals or Nikephoros Phokas,
Nikephoros Ouran()s, and t hl' Stmitgi/.:oll, the hest troops, with the
heaviest arrnor, maces, and annorccl horses, arc placed in fi'ont of
the less well-armed and ann( llTcI men in the same unit. Under the
Komnenian t'l11plT()rs thest' men appear to have been separated into
another division, which induclt-d the lwst of the mercenmy tagmata.
The Byzantines, like their HUI1g-arian opponents, relied on mailed
lancers astride annorcd horses iel!' their first charge. Alexios I found
this tactic indkctivl' ag-ainst the Norman cavalry, and won his war
:", Ch()n ial('s, Ihl/III ill, I '17.
a,gainst them by avoiding b,attle, Manuel, by contrast, preferred deci-
SIve combat possIble, Pl:aecepta Militmia of Nicephoros
Ouranos descnbes a standard formatIOn that consisted I'n pI '
, acmg
cavalry In the front ranks of a triangular battle forma-
tIOn of cavalry, Lancers wc re stationed along the flanks, and mounted
archers to the rear. Smaller detachments followed the main un't
" , Ias
an el'S, gIvmg tactIcal flexibility to this rigid formation, The P' _
'd ' me
cepta JliLZ a of using lancers as they were
employed In Antlqmty, as skirmlshers or pursuit cavalry; their pur-
pose ,was, to chase and kill stragglers after the enemy was routed, At
lIke most Byzantine battles of the Komncnian period, lance-
beanng cavalry, whether western mercenaries or Byzantines, initi-
ated and bore the brunt of the fighting, In this battle, the mace
to have been the weapon of last resort, used only after the
solchers lances and swords had been destroyed, "Ve must also not
the fact that Choniates' account is rhetorical, and his descrip-
tIOn of the battle progressing through lance, sword, and mace is
meant to how hard-fought it was (it lasted until dusk),
rather than to IndIcate an actual progTession of events H
E ' ' owever,
I ustathIOs of Thessalonike, in his third oration, also mentions that
the Hungarians fearcd the Byzantine maceY
element of Komnenian tactical doctrine was to station
small, lIght-armed contingents of cavalry and infantry on the flanks
of the n:
army, This appears in all Byzantine tactical manuals as
wel,l as 111 most accounts of Komnenian armies in battle, The his-
must necessarily question whether a chronicler's account
,such tactics because the chronicler thought that was what
armIes (hel, rather than because an author had specific information
about "flankers" in a particular battle, The best explanation is that
Komnenian armies l'k th B '
, , ' ,1 e 0 er yzantme, western European, and
IslamIC armIes.' found such units both necessary for scouting pur-
poses and tactIcally useful. At Brindisi (1156), at Semlin (1167), and
DI('agon 's Teeth: By;:;antine Wa?Jim in the Tellth Century (Wash-
17 r' "" ' .. ,.. , armamcnt); 39-4-5 (formations)
- 11 a reccllt dissertation Andr 'F S - '1 ' :
tions th'lt I'n Id' " CII, tone las cchted thIS and two other ora-
. , c u c mterestmg militarv ' f ' S '" '
tm) on 7ivo Orations the 1174 a } I!1 , c,e IllS T;ans/atlOn and
to the Emperor ivlanlle/ Y [( OmtlOw) qf Ellstatlllos qf 771essalomkl
(tlIC B
, t' - lomnenos, '" U, of Western Australia 1995) 383 515-17
- yzan mc mace) +94--9" (li 1 'I ' , ",
'cge f Z- ')' ,) orts )UI t I!1 Al1atoha), (mock sea battlcs) 127 '-\1
, 0 ' , , .
le Maiander River (11 77) against a picked force of Turks, the
on I \ -I -, I ' 'l'h '
Komnenoi used Hankers, le1> anc ot ler t troops, elr
tactical use, as well as theIr performance, vaned greatly, In Italy
they were eflective, but 110,t enough to overcome superior
Norman numbers, At Semiln, they appear to have been useless, On
the Maiander, they were entirely successful, and caused the Turkish
defeat. This descriptive variety is evidence enough that chroniclers
did not only include them because they appeared in old military
manuals, Indeed, there is no evidence, in the form of direct quota-
tions that our chroniclers read such manuals, There is too much
and flexibility in our sources' descriptions of assault troops
to suppose they were a mere literary t,opOS, 1:hey were a real cle-
ment of Byzantine forces unclcr the I\.mnnelll'Ul emperors, and a
crucial onc,
The equipment or these men is seldom spccilically described, Their
designation as "assault u:oops" was dC,tcrmi:lecl l,)Y their
They were ambushers c\urmg the of (,I 17b),
as they were when Alcxios I placed them III a rav1I1e before Im bat-
tle with Nikephoros Blyennios the cider, Such troops were supposed
to be more lightly armed than main battle troops, The Stratq!,ikoll
calls these men "assault troops," IIc!ta,l/s or light cavalry, At Semlin,
according to Choniatcs, they wne ordered to swing around and
attack the rear guard of the 1-1 lll1garians,\ll Troopers who could dodge
the flanks of a-n enemy arlllY, and UJlOJl its rear would be light,
maneuverable troops--in this case, cavalry, \'V c can conclude that
the use of skirmishers, or Hankers, was another standard procedure
of the Komnenian army,
Komnenian armies \'('tained certain elite soldiers, presum-
ably chosen 11-0111 the Se/lOt{/{' and guards, who slllTuuncled the emperor
or his chosen designate, These llll'n dim']' fro11l the "picked men"
who occasionally constituted the wing of a Byzantine army, These
men were formally attached to the emperor in some way,:!!1 In this
:1II Choniates, Hi.r/orill. I 'j7,
Kinnamos, 271, This deslTiill's the mder of battle at Semlin, in which
Kinnamos says that the troops with I\.olltostlvhanos himself' were ,men
who usually wCI'e arrayecl uncleI' thl' l'llllH'ror when he Wl'l1t, to war,
J-hl'loria, 159, C1Hlniatl's deslTilH's rlwtoril'ally ht"'- l\laJllIl'I o/tm led, nut .Il1st
cavalry and boclYf!;uards wht'll th .. Serhialls, th:tt thIS resultecl ,111
some sort of c:ll11paif!;1l tItat fi'if!;Ittl'IH'c! the Serhlall ruler, Stl'phl'1l,
What is important is that l\lalllll'l dOl'S aplwar to ha\'(' hac! ccrtanl cavalry and
context we should note that the distinction between tagmata and the-
/I/IIla is irrelevant during the Komnenian period. A better differenti-
ati( HI would he "guard" and "levies." Units no longer defend local
tt'l'riwrial units--tlzematic troops under a therefore the
dl',ignation thematic is, in this context, archaic. Although Nlanue1 re-
c[,(,ated sewral tlzemata to bolster the defense of western Asia Minor,
therc is no evidence that he sought to duplicate complex defensive
of the Macedonian emperors. Certain units were kept under
anns.lI1 all seasons, for example the Varangians. Other men accom-
the pmperor were the Izetaireia (companions) at Semlin, or
Ill(' (,avahy squadrons" that accompanied Manuel on his raid into
in 1168. These men differed from the German, Flemish, or
.mercell<uy troops that appear in descriptions of special mis-
'11 illS. Such troops cannot be considered tagmatic whether or not they
P( IS'i[',s('d an dite sta tus '(th' th T1 . .
',. .,.. . ,\, III e army. 11S specIal status stemmed
h.(lIIt thnr as extra-heavy shock troops, or from their ser-
It(; a,\ speCl:t) detachments, They were organized ethnically,
III th:ll"?Wn units, but this does not imply the sort of
. g cl o:gmuzatlOn, training, and equipment that is character-
h.TIt (1/ units of the ninth and tenth centun'es S' '11th .
\\T' t l . ' ..lmlary, ele
( t llo (Imwtlt IlllIts in the army Troops leVl'ed fi T1 1
\1 . I .. ' .' rom lrace ane
,11 r (I mw, and occaSIOnally 6, Th. "I '
I .flll'd 1I ) b ' " ... . lOm essa y and Paphlagoma, were
, . !} tht empeIOr WIthout reference to 10 I 'l't ffi . 1
lilt' W . t ' " .' ca nu I ary 0 CIa S.
, ( ;., U 11 ProVIllCCS never had the Sor . '
,!\'t' svstCIll rl'l\'i 1 . d t of hypel-orgamzed defen-
, , I g on III ependent strate' h.' '
IIJh '(' \ .f. . I gOl, as t e eastern prOVInces
, ,.. lV dJor t l/'eats to tl .
(';/,1, ,tilt! the geogr.!'!J!l f'} le .empIre usually came from the
. .' y 0 t le west (lId t f: 11'
Ilizn\ ddi'nsivt' 1'-lll'tS I" . h ' no avor sma , hIghly orga-
. " lilt ermore th 'd
fll(' ;\('l('itll littoral--the Serbs ' e reCrUIts rawn from outside
.I, 11 ,vdl to the ('llIPC'I" .' I . 'd Vlachs, and Bulgarians-were not
, .. or <IS la been th Id' f ' .
ld1.;anau snldit'l's '11)1) .. ". e so lers 0 ASIa MInor.
" ' t (.U once III the Al ' I
III .\ bt of trnoI)s frOlI. tl . K . eXlae, and they also appear
I ' 1 H, omneman . d T1
""ltIlwd dming a Inttlelll AI' peno,. ley are never
. '. exlOs reluctantly used Vlachs and
lId IjJ)l
\ !l1J(lt'l hi .
,I, "" "dd 'pq,oll,11 ('(lIluol, availablt, for' .
B . 11 "1" 111 it hl(' that normally would h. all short notice, so
\'J . (01' 1\ th,. elllpl',:or's T eWC )cen able to anticipate a
I ,r! I 11 "1Ji11l'n, .. 111'\1(1111',' I'd, B I I'ih 1:11 1l,ary preparations.
'1'1 1,111 it III '" ans, 937'-76) II 135 F
I: 11" I', 1/ J 1111/(1111 .l.ilal'fI/ lIIer/ii ae J' 6", ',' ' . '. lVf,klosich
I ! I ',.,' ",I .m, Ill,' .! I Itn '"hull Ill' AIl'Xl',jS I : 'I' . I Vols. (VIcnna, 1860 90), VI
' ", Ill) t , .v 11(' 1 cx m t I L '
.\ 1Il1h !rnlll hillt,ting Ill' R . . e 1? s t le lvfonasteIY of Sl.
oman ,Illd allIcd soldiers. Bulgarians,

Serbia was never uncler the empire's control long
enough to permit the regular of Serbian troops. Nor did the
mountains of Epiros, l;lr from population and governmental centers,
supply any recruits,
With the dissolution of the tagmata and themata under the Korn-
nelloi, soldiers were no longer drawn from the defunct themes of Asia
Minor. With the collapse of the Asia Minor theme system, the terri-
tories of Europe provided almost all of the empire's native man-
power. These units were tied to geographical regions, but there is
no evidence of a local, thematic bureaucratic administration equiva-
lent to the administration of Asia Minor under the Macedonian
emperors, The only units that appear to have been tagmaLic, in the
sense that they were constantly maintained guard units, were the
Varangians. Sources are silent as to how many retainers the noble
associates of Manue! and John maintained, so it is impossible to
determine whether they were organized as units, or were a few picked
men who surrounded their patron when he went on campaign. It
is also impossible to determine the military effectiveness of such
troops, Can we suppose that these men were prototypes of the
Gifolgeschqften (units of personal retainers) of the Palaiologian period?
There is too little evidence in Komnenian sources to jump to this
conclusion. Nor Sh01tld one read too mueh into Kinnamos' refer-
ences to "organization" in his description or Byzantine formations at
Semlin This word appears to imply that a large number of
men were "organized") or as Brand translates it, "arrayed" with the
cmperor, but wc cannot be certain, Nor can we determine whether
these mcn wcre identical wi(h "immortals", or the "arc!umwjiOuloi," or
as well as Rus, Varangians, Kmtlpingoi [unknown], Inglinlli [English], Frangni
Wrallks], IG"I'lllansi, Saral't'IlS, Alam [Turkic mcrccllariansl,
cenaries {i'oll! tlw Black S,'a coasllandsj, and the Immortals, arc prnlllbltecl from
using the propl'rties 01' the lll,mastlTY. ., ,
I1 The "l'vlaniclH'<llls" was llsed hy the Byzalltllll's to re/er LO most duahs
tic sects, III this instanc,, lht' ;:'v[anicllt'<lns were the Bngomiis, or the Paulicians who
had St'tt/eIl1t'lltS llt'ar I'hilippopolis, in 'J'hrace, Alexios, who burned their
Basil, persecutl'e! the B()golllils. The (hjiml lif' states unhke
the Pallliciam, the B()golllils II'lTl' not war-like. IJ we acccpt tillS the.ll
the war-like "!\'[anidJeans" relTlIit('d bv Alexios thcrel()re probably refer to the Pauh-
cians, who likewise had st,ltl(,ll1(,llts il; Thrace.
Kinnall1os, '27 I, This rc/iTS to lilt' hattle of Semlin, where the troops
uncleI' the personal command ,,{, tit .. t'mp('ror w(,re under the commallcl of Anclromkos

i '
merely the emperor's personal followers because Kinnamos does not
provide a detailed description of their composition.
Byzantine troops and Latin mercenaries both appeared in the main
battle-lines of Byzantine armies. From the beginning of Alexios' reign,
western mercenaries were used for special missions. This was due to
the disorganization of the imperial army, rather than to any quali-
tative difference between Byzantine and western European troops.
During John and ManueI's reigns, Byzantine troops were levied in
Paphlagonia, along the Maiander River, in Macedonia, Thrace, and
in Hellas. By John's reign, the islands again provided revenue and
maintained anti-piracy squadrons. In short, Byzantine military units
had been reconstituted and again provided the bulk of the militmy
forces described in our sources' tactical descriptions.
The most important campaign of Manue!'s reign was also the last
time Manuel was in command of a major field army. This was the
1176 attack upon Ikonion, ruled by the Seljuk sultan Kilij Arslan
n. Arslan, who deposed and murdered his brother Mas'ud, was
a more forceful ruler than his brother had been. Mas'ud had tried
restrain the Turkoman tribesmen who were theoretically under
Ius control, from attacking Byzantine territory. Although this peace
was broken by occasional periods of open warfare and much raid-
ing, the frontier with Ikonion remained static between Manue!'s
.1 campaign and the 1160s. On becoming sultan,
K;hJ Arslan 1I11tIated negotiations with the German emperor Fred-
CrIck I Barbarossa. This move coincided with Manue!'s failure to
favorable diplomatic position in northern Italy, where the
deClInatIOn of Frederick's army meant that Byzantine influence was
no longer needed or welcome.
Manue! also failed to conquer south-
ern Italy or to cement an alliance with the new Norman ruler William
n The battle uf Le ano i I " I > . '
' . I . I I g, ,n W l1Ch argely mfantry army 0/ the Lombarcl Leaguc
() 1l0! 11('111 la y utterly dele' t'd 1<', I . k' C
, I, , . ,1 e lee enc s army, shattered his hopes of cuntrol-
lIlg t l<lt 1eglOll. It also meant th t tl L '11' ,
. : 'k ,,' . , a le eague s a lance WIth IVlanuel against I<'rccl-
t!le \\dS no longer nccess'lry F " II I' ,
"! J 1 -, .. ,. or a III ana YS1S of the battle see' Hans Delbrlid
/.1 or)! of 1,le ",1"1 ot W' If, I III 11" d' ' ",
V ai, 0 lime : 'le zeval Waifare (Lincoln, Nebraska, 1990),
n. William instead formed an alliance with the old Norman enemy,
the German emperor. Furthermore, Manue! could not assert Byzan-
tine claims upon Antioch without completely alienating his remain-
ing support and influence in the west, and with King Amalric of
Jerusalem. Finally, Manue!'s attack upon Damietta was both a fail-
ure and an indication of the limits of Byzantine influence with the
Latin states in the east.'14 In 1171 Manue! seized Venetian prop-
erty and imprisoned some Venetian citizens, alienating the one state
that was absolutely necessary to Byzantium's western policy and
which had strategic interests that complemented Byzantine interests
in the eastern Mediterranean. Manucl's solution to the collapse of
decades of Byzantine foreign policy was to prepare an expedition
that would not require sea power and that would attack an enemy
who was incapable of receiving aid from western allies.
This campaign differed from other campaigns that Manucl had
planned. First, the emperor personally led this expedition. The last large
campaign in which the emperor had participated was against Hun-
gary and Serbia in 1157. In 1165 he conducted a siege at Zeug-
mion, but the crucial battle was fought at Semlin. There the Byzantine
army was under the capable command of Anelronikos Kontostephanos.
Manuel had not led an expedition against the Seljuks since 1146,
thirty years before. Nevertheless, his preparations for the 1176 cam-
paign were adequate and careful. First, he rebuilt Dorylaion, an old
Byzantine fortification on the edge of the central Asia Minor plateau,
to serve as an advanced base and supply point. Next, he re-fortified
Soublaion, another advanced base on the Byzantine-Seljuk border.
These two sites were located on the natural campaign routes toward
Ikoniol1. By fortifying both, Manue! gave himself two bases through
which he could gain information about the Se!juks and from which
he could launch his campaign. Kinnamos gives little information
about this campaig-n except that Rhyndakos was the mustering place
for ManueI's army, and that the Hungarian and Serbian allies were
late in arriving. This meant that the army had to campaign in the
summer, rather than in the spring.
H Kinllamos, 27B-BO, Choniates, Hist0l1a, Hil-(iS, The sic
e failed,largely bec,aLlse
of laekluster support fi'om King Amalric, who did not rehsh traehng Cl relatIVely
weak encmy (Ehrypt) (or Cl Byzantine supported by the tremendous fleet
that J'l'lanuel had sent tu cud the expechllon, ,.
I" Killmullos, 29lJ 300. Kinnalllos also notes that thc Byzantlllc army (oundered
Choniates, wntmg well after the expedition, under the Angcloi
dynasty, provides us with a wealth of disparate detail. His account
of Manuel's preparations ineludes the observation that the emperor
mustered the "existing forces" and supplemented these with recruits,
as well as with the usual Latin and Cuman mercenaries. Hi Kinnamos
tells us that the Hungarian and Serb allies also participated. The
purpose of the expedition was nothing less than the destruction of
thc Seljuk state through the capture of the capital, Ikonion. Is Cho-
niatcs exaggerating? No previous Byzantine emperor had attempted
to destroy the Seljuk state. The capture of Nicaea (the first Seljuk
capital) during the First Crusade showed that this might not be
accomplished by seizing the Seljuk capital. Nevertheless, both Kil1-
namos and Choniates identify the taking of Ikonion as the goal or
thc campaign. Manuel's investment in the venture was considerable:
in .a lctter to Hcmy II of England, Manuel recounts that his siege
was ten miles long,47 and size of the army may have con-
tnbuted at the outset to its defeat by making sufficient water and
provisions difficult to obtain. The Turkish plan of destroying thc for-
age and watering places necessary for provisioning the Byzantine
army worked, and exacerbated the supply problem. But NIanucl's
was in difficult straits before it even reached the passes of
Mynokephalon. Dysentery was rampant and the soldiers were ex-
Manuel's strategy was to prepare the advanced bases of
Dorylaion and Soublaion, then to use them to strike as quickly as
Possible at IkonJ'on Th' . . 1
. . IS preCIpItous ac vance was also necessary
bccausc thc campaIgn began later in the summer than the emperor
ex?ccted. This exacerbated supply problems.
. fhc battle of Myriokephalon began when the Sultan's mcn occu-
pIed the rough ground of the Tzivritze defiles. According to Cho-
niates, the army needed to press through these passes after leaving
th.e timing of the campaign was wrong, and the clTIlJcror was jorced to
campaIgn III the summer.
Choniates, [Hrtaria, 178.
I, 1\lichad F Hel I Yt d' . /, .
bridlfl' 1911<)') '1.16 lH
' 'Ill hIes In D'zantllle }\1oneta1)! EC,ollanry, c. 300-J450. (Cam-
. ., L. elle y as WrItten thc I t cl ". .
campaign, including the ' f I . les escnp1l0n of th.e
battle Henrly's ""lllc1'Cl' j'ol' tl . cs () I? aCl
thc cxact geographl,c locatIOn of the
., ., , le siege tram 0 M I' R
ed. W. S,'tul,Jbs, vols. 1868-71) II anue IS oger of Howdcn, OlronicfI,
'Ill C'l' H" ,)" 103 .
. 101llates, Is/mw, 179. Choniates s . I. . ".
the Byzantincs and destroyed the rass s' tl,\t the also skmTIlshed WIth
to graze. got lat the Byzantmc horses were unable
..... -----------
thc ruined fort of Myriokcphalon.'19 The Byzantine battle order
through the pass was as follows: The vanguard was led by John and
Andronikos Angelos, Constantinc Makrodukas commanding the east-
ern divisions/'{) and Andronikos Leparclas, who was one of thc sub-
commanders at Semlin. Each commander also brought his own
retainers. Following the vanguard came the main body of the army.
Baldwin of Antioch, the brother-in-law of Manuel, commanded the
right wing of this formation, composed of his Latin troops. Theo-
clare Maurozomes commanded the left wing. Next came the bag-
gage, followed by the emperor with his picked men. Andronikos
Kontostephanos, who had commanded the Byzantine army at Sem-
lin, commandcd the rear guard.
Onc of the notable elements of Choniates' description of this bat-
tle is his assessment of NIanuel's recklessness. Choniates reports that
Mantle! took no scouting precautions, that he did not acliust the
loads of the pack animals for rough terrain, that he did not put
aside the wagons with the siege engines until the tactical action was
over, and, most of all, that the emperor did not attempt to use his
light troops to drivc the Turks from their superior position in the
passes before he sent in his army. NIanuel's trepidation was under-
standable. His army was ravaged by dysentery. It was exhausted,
and its horses weakened by a lack of water and forage. The emperor
wanted to break through the passes and reach the plains of Ikonion
as quickly as possible. The Turks, led by the Seljuk sultan, were
massed at the cnd of the pass. Archers covered the hillsides on either
side or the pass.
iVIanllcl /il'st sent his vanguard ahead, ancl these troops dislodged
the defending Turks. 'fhe main body of the Byzantine army, rather
than stay and fight with the vangnard, which apparently was on the
slopes holding off the Turks, tried to push through in open ranks,
and not in battle order. Choniates opines that this section of the
army should have used its archers to hold off the Turks, and closed
ranks to fight them ofr along with the soldiers of the van. It is hard
to disagrcewith Choniatcs' analysis. Instead, the Turks fell back from
thc Byzantine vanguard, which pushed through the pass. The Turks
then returned in greater numbers, and attacked the disorganized
'" ChoniatcH, Hi.l'/oJ'ia, 17t).
'" Choniatcs, Hi.l'toria, Im) .
troops of the right wing (Baldwin of Antioch's wing). This division
was quickly routed and destroyed, and Baldwin was killed.
The rest of the army had also followed the vanguard and central
body of the army into the pass. Choniates reports that the wagons
were massed together in the center of the pass; the Byzantine cav-
ahy could neither move forward nor retreat because of them. Kilij
Arslan II then sent a unit of Turks around to the Byzantine rear
and blocked any retreat in that direction. Meanwhile, in front of the
main hody of the army, the vanguard had broken through the pass
and feJUnd a hill, where it made an entrenched bivouac. Nlanuel,
surrounded and in danger of capture, charged the Turks with his
guard units and broke out of the encirclement. Meanwhile, the Turk-
ish, lancers archers decimated the rest of the emperor's army.
fhe. Byzantmes, contrary to their usual performance, suffered
confUSIOn of command during this stage of the battle. This was exac-
erbated by a sandstorm that covered both armies during the later
stage of the. battle. The result of this debacle was that the imperial
baggage tram (which included the money Manuel had levied for the
campai.(,rn as well as the siege engines and supplies) was overrun and
captured by the Turks. According to Choniates, hardly an impartial
when examining Komnenian failings, Manuel was ready to
flee. Saner heads convinced him to remain with his soldiers and set
up another entrenched camp. Later that evening Andronikos Kon-
tostephanos appearcd: as well as others who had escaped from bat-
tle largely unscathed."J
We have examine I h M Id.
".,. . , (W Y anue ma e so many mIstakes: he
pI essed through the pass beca s th T k d h
. ,'u e e ur s ma e IS route of n1arch
,unbearable that the importance of finding forage and water for
Ius horses and men cxeeeded 11 th d r
. a 0' er conSl eratIOns. fhe second
questlOn why imI)crial . ..
, eommUl1lCatIOn and command control was
so poor Ins been t 11 1 <
f '1 I " : '. la y answerec: a sandstorm obscured the battle-
lC (, mclkmg 11 chfficult to differentiate friend from foe. This would
lilVt: f;wored the Turks Tl B .
. , . .' . . . le yzantmes, unfamIliar with the terri-
to!} 111 wInch they travel d Id. .
e , neee e to mamtam a hIgher degree of
": lhl/oria, 18(i. 11. 79fll. Cl, .... . ", , ,. ,
0' e A. O Kat 0 Kov,oc!"cecpavoi;
!CI) Mc(V()uilA. Kat 'tEPOl ,wv j.lya 1tape\:
wh" ('(Jllunanded the [("II' gIJ.11.cIKacrlv ,a 1 te 111 the day, Anclronikos KOlltostephanos
} . } ., " appearcc unln n'} d ' "
I\' II(' I \HT' largdv 1I1lScathed ' .} I. ,n ec, an lTI<my of the other forces
IUS ICC to lIleet Manuel." Trans!. Magoulias, 105.
........ --------
discipline than was possible under the conditions they faced. This
suggests a third problem, onc of army control. Baldwin's Antiochene
allies appear to have Cought poorly, although blaming the defeat on
the army's "ioreign" contingcnt may be a reflection of Choniates'
bias against foreign soldiers. It is also apparent the central forma-
tions of the Byzantine army advanced into the pass in open order.
In other words, they were not in military Cormation and were thus
unprepared for an attack. The Byzantine vanguard had driven off
only the advance elements of" the Turkish army, and it pressed
through without waiting for the rest of the emperor's troops. When
tllis unwieldy mass of troops became trapped in the center of the
pass the Turks surrounded it and routed it by repeated attacks. As
was typical in pre-modern battles, this phase of rout and pursuit was
when the real slaughter occurred. Choniates that half of the
Byzantine army idl, and that of the emperor's important kin
died.')2 What probably means is half of those involved
were put out of actioll, since the van had pressed through the pass
before the defeat, and the rear-guard did not have a significant role
in the battle. Furthermore, many of the men who joined the emperor
later that evening were described as "unscathed."
Myriokephalon resulted in a treaty between Mannel and Kilij
Arslan II that spccii1ed that Manue! would dcstroy the new forti-
fications at Soublaion and Dorylaion. When the emperor leCt Dory-
laion intact, the Turks raided to thc Aegean coast, sacking Trallcs,
Antioch-in-Psidia, LeJllma and Pentacheir. An army under J olm
Vatatzes in turn this group of 24,000 Turks. So, although
l\IIanllcl regarded his as Cl second Manzikert, wc should ques-
tion whether it seriously the Komncniall strategic position
in Asia NIinor.:-,:l Certainly the Turkish attempt to capitalize on Manuc1's
defeat ended in disaster.
Aside 6'om the difficulties o{" {"oragc and rcsupply, several tactical
problems arose ("or the Byzantine army at Myriokcphalon? Manucl
:,2 Chuniates, HiJ/oria, I B4.
. ,:1 Regarding l'.lanzikcl'l, scc: Clauclc Cahen, "La Campagnc ele :Mantzikert d'apres
lcs sources musulmalll's," in H)',:lllllio/l (19:H), 621 .... 23. Sce also: Pscllos, n, 159 -62,
and lvIicbal'l i\tlalciall's, Hi.,/{;ria, ecL 1. Bckker (Bol1ll, 1953), 159-'63. The battle
of Manzikcl'l (1071) was lruly a ciisastlT, and the Turks flooded the i\nalolian pen-
nimula in ilS aficrl11ath. No such collapse occurred aller l'l'lyriokephalnn (1076),
even lhough the Tmks alll'mllled In lake advanlage or the [0 deslroy the
Byzantine position ill \VcstlTlI Asia l\linor .
faced an entrenched enemy, which had seized the heights along his
route of march, and he placed his baggage in the pass itself, block-
ing any advance. Manuel's response, sencling in his vanguard to clear
the pass, demonstrates two things. First of all, the vanguard was
composed of more than heavy cavalry; it surely included troops of
all types: archers, peltasts, and heavier infantry. Baldwin's division,
which Choniates criticizes for not fighting with the vanguard, was
also criticized for not employing its "archers," evidence that the Latin
division was also composed of a variety of troop types. VVhen we
examine this battle we should envision five or six small armies (the
vanguard, right and left flank units, the emperor's troops, the rear
each with a balanced composition of light troops, cavalry and
mfantry. Indeed, the reason that the Byzantine army was not de-
stroyed at Myriokephalon was because each of these smaller armies
like a modern army corps. The vanguard and the
corps created a fortified camp, and stragglers poured
111 from those Ul11ts that had been broken. Therefore, Manuel's ini-
tial was the correct one. Had he focused on defeating the
Turks m the rather than on getting his army through, he might
not have had Ius army mangled.
Manuel's decision to press through the pass without consideration
the stat.ioned there indicates the second problem the Byzan-
tmes filced battle: communication between their separate bat-
tle .. HIstonans fi'equently over-estimate the ability of pre-modern
tactIcal to communicate and coordinate their actions in battle.
Once actIOn commenced, there was little that any commander could
do other than determine when to charge with the units he held in
reserve At M . k hIM .
" .' yno ep a on, anuel dId not know that the entire
r urkIsh army was at the . . .
, . . pass, waItmg to ambush IllS men. ManueI '8
fall,me scout the pass was the major reason for the Byzantine
defeat. 1 he Byzantine ar . I d' . .
'.' my, mc u mg Its alhes, numbered approx-
unatcly tlurty-five thousand men; the pass was narrow and the arm
stretched a long distance throug'h it The em ,'. d' '. . Y
I. " ,c. peror S IVlSlOn was near
reall fiof form. atlOn behind the baggage, making' it exceedingly
(I lell t or t b"' .
. . '. un 0 0 tam current mformation in the position he
';t LupHd. I llrthermore, regardless of the intelligence he obtained
t. le pass was so narrow that it proved imposs'ble t . ill"
. I' . H' I 0 gIve eectIve
()J ( (rs. c could neither r t .
t} I. . ." . . e reat, nor move soldlCrs forward through
H Mgg<lge tram to help his beleaguered flank units.
........ ---------
vVhat does this tell 1lR about the Byzantine army under Manuel?
Nlanuel's army was an experienced force, composed of both Byzan-
tine and foreign troops. It was capable of defeating such varied foes
as Hungarians, Normans, Germans, and Serbs, At Myriokephalon,
the army performed remarkably well considering the mistakes I\1anuel
made. IvIanuel's errors allowed the Turks to surround the Byzan-
tines; the Seljuk army had better knowledge of the surrounding COUll-
tIyside, was better supplied, with fresher troops, and held the high
ground around the Byzantine forces. Despite these terrible disad-
vantages, the only division to break and flee was the allied contin-
gent from Antioch. This should not have led to the collapse of the
entire army. By placing the baggage train between the fi'ont ele-
ments and main body of the army Manucl placed a wall between
the two halves of his army. He could not ride to the rescue of the
forward elements of the army, and the forward elements could not
retreat to the safety of Nlanucl's contingent.:
The Byzantine army
was defeated piece by piece despite each clement's close proximity
to the other. The Byzantine soldiers apparently fought ferociously;
they were defeated not because of any qualitative inferiority, or
because they performed poorly in battle, or even because they were
unsuited to campaigning in Asia Minor. This defeat was entirely
attributable to ManucI's poor decisions. Choniates indicates that
rvIanuel ignored the advice of his older, more experienced com-
manders. We should also not discount the emperor's continued belief'
in astrology, although Choniates does not indicate that it played a
role in this particular battle.
It is instructive to compare the performance of I\/[anuel's army at
Myriokephalon with the army of Romanos IV at l'vlanzikert, both
because Ivlanucl saw parallels in the outcome of the battle, and
because these parallels were so unwarranted. This comparison between
Manzikert and his defeat at Myriokephalon was basee! on emotional
factors. Choniates recounts that during the battle Ivlanuel was tempted
to flee and leave his army.:"> Hc mentions that l'vl anu cl , when his
army was mauled, sat stunned beneath a pear tree, with his helmet
askew, until a common soldier appeared to help him.">'i These arc
Col Choniates, His/oria, I B I "
:.> His/oria, 1117.
,,<i !lis/oria, IIH .
the actions of a man panicked, stunned, and incapable of rational
action. It is in this light that we should see Manuel's characteriza-
tion of Myriokephalon as a second Manzikert. At .Manzikert, Romanos
IV had a poorly trained army filled with unreliable Norman mer-
cenaries, Amlenian levies, and Uze Turks who deserted to the enemy.
Andronikos Doubs, commander of the reserve, treacherously betrayed
the emperor at a critical moment. Romanos' army panicked. At
Myriokephalon, Manuel possessed a seasoned force that had been
repeatedly victorious. It was filled with men the emperor could rely
upon. This included both individual soldiers and Manuel's experi-
enced sub-commanders. There were no desertions. Unlike Manzik-
ert, Manuel's army was organized into self-sufficient military units.
The imperial units at Myriokephalon fought well. The battle resulted
in no wholesale collapse of a frontier. Although defeated, the Byzan-
tine army was not destroyed, but appears within a year inflicting a
defeat upon a force of "picked Turks."57
Our analysis of the Komnenian tactical system will conclude with
the battle on the Maiander River that Vatatzes fought against the
elite troops of the Atabeg. The army that Vatatzes took with him
was composed of "forces provided by the emperor together with
those they collected along the way,"511 probably the "eastern divi-
sions" that Choniates mentions at Myriokephalon and later in Manuel's
last against the Turks.
Vatatzes prepared an ambush at
a bndge. on t!le River. Half his force was positioned on
the fiu SIde of the bndge; the other half in the hills around the road
the Turks would have to travel. The Turks laden with booty moved
toward the bridge and were pelted by from abo;e. The
Atabeg attempted to break out of the trap with his heavy armed
but the Turkish force was strung out on both sides of the
nver, the Byzantines simultaneously attacked both halves of his
armv. After a brief intense struggle the At b fl d . hI
-I ' ,a eg e wIt 11S per-
sona trool)S -md trIecl t I
. . , 0 cross t le nver up-stream. Choniates Inen-
tHlIlS that one of the ByzantIne's Al 11 1 11 d h Ab'
0< an ales Get e ta eg wIth
a two-edged sword. Like other Byzantine battles against the Turks,
.; (:JHJlliates, His/oria Ir
.::: C:hllll!ates, lil;f/orifl: I 'j'ransJ. MagouJias 109
ChllllIates, H/J/oria 19'i This cam ai '.'
,iv,' 11It"asun.s ;ouk' ;tfler gll was JlIs,t one of a number of aggres-
lIotilll/ that Bvzantilll' de/cI/st, .. 11. Y I .whIch together should dispel the
. . , ., co 'lpsec a lcr the battle.
the Byzantine l.i.1rce displays both tactical flexibility and diversity.
The Byzantines consisted or both lightly-armed missile men and heavy
cavalry that could stand up to the heaviest Turkish cavalry. Also
present were the ubiquitous allies, in this case Alans, who provided
light cavalry and scouting capabilities for the Byzantine army of the
'l7il! Komnenian Em/JeJm:, as Generals
What conclusions can be c1ravvn from an examination of the tacti-
cal actions in Alexios, John and Manucl's reigns? \tVe would like to
be able to analyze each cmperor's development as a general. Sec-
ond, we would like to know ,;vhat changes in Byzantine tactical doc-
trine were enacted in each reign, including the causes of these changes.
Third, we should like to determine whether a consistent tactical doc-
trine developed. "Ve have examined the question of tactics, and Alex-
ios and John's generalship. Examining Manucl's capability as a general
is more complex. The great victory of Manuel's reign, Semlin, was
fought under the direction of' another commander, Andronikos Kon-
tostephanos. l'vlost of the campaigns in which l'vlanucl participated
were well fought, but our information provides surprisingly little infor-
mation abollt his ability as a coIlJmander. 'Ve sce his strategic fail-
ures in both of his lkonion campaigns, where he underestimated the
difHculties of mounting Cl campaign against a militarily sophis-
ticated foe. IV[anud's strategic opportunity, at IVIyriokcphalon, was a
failure because of the emperor's personal lililings and poor tactical
decision-making. Hc litilcc\ to COllll11l111icate adequately with his van-
guard, sent the unwieldy wagons ill liollt oC the mail! body or the
army in Cl narrow pass, and attcmpted to flee the disaster. Choni-
ates' account implies that it had been impossible to sce what was
happening, whether a victOlY or a clekat was in the making. Manucl's
personal qualities as a soldier arc in doubt only during this battle.
In Hungary, in numerous skirmishes agail1Ht the Turks, during his
own and in his reign, rVlanucl repeatedly demollstrated his
bravelY Of course, Manud was nearly sixty years old al the time
of Myriokephalon, and not ill his prime. 'Vhalcver the reason, ollr
sources ciD not presenl 1\ Ianud as all impressive general. It is instruc-
tive that Choniates says thal 1\ lalllwl ignored tht' advice or his older,
wiser commanders and relied u]lon the opinions of" impl'luous youths,
related to him by blood, when he chose to fight at
These older, wiser heads were probably the commanders who Won
the emperor's previous battles for him: Andronikos Kontostephanos,
Theodore Mavrozomes, and Andronikos Lapardas. Our evidence
indicates that as a general, Manuel was usually out of his depth,
particularly at Myriokephalon. The last major campaign he con-
ducted against the Turks had been in 1146, thirty years before.
Next, what were the changes in tactical doctrine that each reign
experienced, and arc we able to determine any broad changes that
occurred between 1081 and 1180? We have examined Alexios' reign,
and we have noted that gradually, as AIexios reconstituted the Byzan-
tine army from the remnants left to him after Manzikert and the
civil wars, the army developed the ability to fight both Turkish and
western foes. This improvement was due in large part to Alexios'
own tactical ability. AIexios was a mediocre general at the begin-
ning of his reign, but his skill gradually developed. Whether this
improvement should be attributed to his merits or to his reliance on
better advice is irrelevant. By the end of his reign, the Byzantine
army was a disciplined force, capable of great tactical flexibiHty. It
was able to stand up to foes like the Normans, and to withstand the
harassing attacks fllVored by the Turks. John's rcign is more histor-
ically problematic. Choniates and Kinnamos present an emperor
whose deeds occurred before they were adults. They describe him
they had heard of him: a competent and powerful ruler. It is
as a consequence to discern any development in his tactics
from our sources because they treat his military expertise as fully
at the beginning of his reigrI.
rhe most remarkable aspect of Komnenian campaigns is that each
emperor's army. faced so many different threats. Furthermore, each
c.ampalgrIed with different purposes. AIexios remained on
the .in Asia Minor until the end of his reign. The empire
made gains in Anatolia by occupying cities in the wake
of the FIrst Crusad I th AI' "
. . .. e. newest, eXlQS mamtamed the Byzantine
by the and the Pechenegs, but each of
foes agamst the emperor in clearly definable zones.
llw No:mans eaSIly occupied the coastlands of Epiros and north to
DyrracJuoll. They then attacked eastward through Epiros and into
,," Choniatrs, His{ol7'a, 179.
Thcssaly, or northward past Ochrid toward Thessalonike. The Pech-
cnegs and Cumans both used Bulgaria north of the Haimos
tains as a base for their attacks. These raids ranged south into Thrace
and ravaged tcrritory fl'om the suburbs of Constantinople out to
Philippopolis. Hungary was not yet a threat to Byzantine powcr in
the Balkans, while any display of imperial power was enough to cow
the Serbians. Most of Alexios' campaigns in the west were dcfen-
sive. The object was to preserve existing imperial territory, nol to
make new conquests.
John II faced the same situation in the west. He fought defensive
campaigns against the Pechcnegs (1122) and the Hungarians (1127).
The Normans, engaged in internal struggles of their own, were un-
able to interfere with Byzantine control over the Ionian littoral. John's
military campaigns were in the cast, where he had to con-
tend with the growing power of the Danishmendids. He initiated
several campaigns to COil trol Kastamon and Gang-ra, all ultimately
unsuccessful. He also conducted a campaign against both Trcbizol1ci
(under separatist Greek rulers) and Neokaisareia. John's campaigns
against the Danishmcndids were IITquently tactical bu t
strategic failures. These regions remained in Turkish hands. J Oh11 's
other major campaig-n theater was Cilicia. He spent several years
attempting to re-establish Byzantinc control over the Euphrates hor-
derlands, including Antioch. A prcrequisite for this was control of'
Cilicia. Armenian separatists made this cliflicult, but nearly seven
years of campaigning resulted il1 nominal imperial control or Cilicia
and titular sovereignty over Antioch. most notable expedi-
tion, against Aleppo and Edcssa, biled to take either of these
rvlanuel's campaigns arc dillicull to divide il1tO clear stages. Hl'
fought aggressive and defensive wars in both cast and west. Appro-
priately enough, 11anuei bcgan his reign with the army, in Cilicia,
where .John had just died. Returning to Constantinople, he imme-
diately planned an expedition against Ikonion, capital of the SeUuk
sultanate. After this campaign failed, he managed the passage of the
Second Crusade through his domains. In the wake of the German
and French pilgrims came the Norman:>, who conquered Kcrkyra,
necessitating a campaign in the west. Frol11 1151 to1158, the Byzan-
tine army fought sporadic Norman wars. These culminated in the
campaigns of 115557, when Byzantine troops crossed the Adriatic
Sea and conquered Apulia hcl()]'e heing- ddt'at('d. l'vlallud did n()t
participate personally in the Italian campaigns, but he conducted the
siege at Kerkyra. While Byzantine armies were busy in Italy, the em-
peror fought the Cumans and the Hungarians (1151-2) in the Ball,ans.
Following these actions Manuel, like his father, turned east (1158-59),
and attempted to subdue Cilicia and Antioch. These eastern expe-
ditions provoked the Seljuks uncleI' Kilij Arslan, who harassed the
empire's Anatolian borderlands (1162-77).
Manuel's Hungarian wars (from 1162) culminated in the Byzan-
tine victory at Semlin (1167). During this time the situation in the
east unraveled. Thoros, an Armenian prince, rcbelled in Cilicia and
defeated the expeditions sent against him (1165). Manuel tried to
strengthen the Byzantine position by fortifying the Byzantine cities
of western Asia Minor: Pergamon, and Atramyttion, and building
Neokastra. By 1176, thirty years of constant campaigning had accom-
plished little. The emperor's final campaign against Ikonion ended
with a Turkish victory at Myriokephalon (1176). While this defeat
was not so catastrophic as has sometimes been claimed, it meant
that in both east and west Byzantine arms had been thwarted, and
while the army remained professional and proficient, the use that
Manue! made of it had not extended Byzantine territory beyond the
boundaries set by his father.
To characterize the military careers of the three emperors: Alex-
ios faced a critical situation where he was forced to continually cam-
paign. John carefully chose his wars. There were no Crusades, and
few sudden invasions. Few surprises distracted him from his cam-
paigns. Nevertheless, his campaigns gained little territory for the
empire. They ensured, however, that the empire was on the offen-
sive, rather than continually defending its core territories. Nlanuel
pursued an ambitious foreign policy that provided numerous op-
portunities for his foes to distract him during his campaigns, relying
upon subordinate generals to lead most of his armies. The compli-
cated campaign history of Manuel's reign is not just a function of
source selectivity. Manue! created a more complex situation for him-
self (for example, by attacking the Venetians), and in
addItIOn, the Normans, Germans, French, Hungarians and Turks
were all more sophisticated opponents than they had been during
John and Alexios' reigns.
We have examined the literaty sources for the Komnenian army, its
history in battle and how Komnenian tactical doctrine developed
over time. Our next question will be: how was the army Inaintained?
Few other issues in Byzantine histOlY have sparked more debate.
v"ere soldiers paid in coin or were they only given land? Did vil-
lagers have communal responsibility fin providing soldiers [ill' the
government? If so, what happened to the soldier class in the eleventh
century? vVhy was it not available for the Koml1cnian emperors and
their immediate predecessors? In this chapter we will examine chese
questions as they relate to the Koml1cnian period, concentrating Oil
the recruiting policies and methods of fiscal support 1'01' the Kom-
ncnian soldiery.
At the end of the eleventh centlllY, Alexios had difliculty raisillg
a sufficient military force to resist the Norman and Pcchcllcg inva-
sions. By 1118, he ,vas able to call up a large, (,(llnpC(ellt army to
attack the Seljuk sultanate. His son, .John Il, seems to have had II()
difficulty in raising an army. William or Tyre repealedly ciescrihes
the powerful hosts mustered by John and his son l\'lanucl whell they
campaigned in Syria. I In John's reign, and certainly under fvl;\llud I,
Byzantine armies were equal in number (0 their Hungarian oppo-
nents, and Byzantine forces were large enough to dcCe<lt the (;( ... -
man Conrad Ill's crusading army outside or C()JlStanlilloplc.
The Komnenian emperors never developed a singlt' sllurce' or man-
power; they employcd both merccnaries and nalive soldiers. Nm did
they have a single, consistcnt method or supporting their annit's.!
I GuiIlaume de Tyre, Chro/liqllf, er!. R.B.C. I TIII'IIII<lIt. I qlllj '. Ilk. 11.
chap. 24, pp. 662--63 (.John Ilk. 17. chap. 1 h. pp. 7111 /F). and hk.
18, chap. 23, pp. 84-445 (1\lanllt'1 K()I11IWn()s), traIlS. LA. Iblll',)('k ;lIHI .\.C:. Kn'Y
William, Arc/zbi.lilOp I!l7)/,f: ,1 lJi,lioD' '!I IJl'l'd, DOliI' Ihl' Sm " NI'\\' Ylllk. I i.
Il, 83 (feJl' John 11, 20B, 275 (1;.1' 1\ la 11 I Il'I KOllllltllIlS.I
1 This presents with ml'lhor\ol()gil'al prllhl'1l1S. It is natllr;il III ("IH"I
system fi'om what WC' S('(' a vital ;tl'til'ily: ohtaillillg tLlilH'ri. !'I"n1its,
However, the KOInlll'llian 1IlHlnln"k IIII's,' a .. ,i"iti,s ill a IIllll'" ;,,1 It",
manner than had ,h(,ir t'lLlI'l'ciolliall pl'Idl.'('(ss()rs.
i 1
We will trace the Komnenian system of maintenance from its begin-
nings under Alexios to its eventual form under Manuel. First wc will
explore the troops employed in each reign, the numerical evidence
for the prevalence of particular types of troops-infantlY, cavalry,
light troops and heavy, mercenaries and foreign settlers-as well as
the development of guard units. Pronoia, the stratiotika ktemata, and
imperial taxation will then be investigated. How important were they
in each reign? In conjunction with this, we will briefly discuss the
settlement of Cumans, Pechenegs, and Serbs within the empire. '''' e
will also study military land holding under the KOI1menoi. Finally,
we will examine whether the Komnenian system of maintaining sol-
diers was successful.
The Composition qf the Komnenian Am!)': Literary Sources
The Komnenoi relied upon both native soldiery for the core of their
army, but they also employed a wide variety of auxiliary soldiers.
Allies, including Hungarians, Serbians, and Antiochenes formed occa-
sional units in the Komnenian army, but they were not reliable sol-
diers. Mercenaries were always available-from England, France,
Germany and Italy, including the Norman kingdom in the south.
soldiery fought in every major army fielded by the Kom-
nenian emperors. Colonies of defeated peoples, including Serbian
and Pecheneg settlers, provided useful auxiliaries. Our literalY sources
seldom p.rovide more than this information. Orations and court poetry
can proVIde useful corroborative detail, and sometimes mention places
are absent from our historical sources, but orations seldom pro-
:lde substantive information with respect to recruitment and finane-
mg. The Actes de Lavra offers useful fragments of information on
?rants of fiscal revenues, as well as prohibitions against troops usurp-
mg lands owned by the Great Lavra monastery.
Ioannes Zonaras
offers a few remarks that Alexios lavished lands and financial favors
on his family 4 Al " r f
. . exlOs tax relOrm 0 1106, as well as his coinage
J Paul Lemerle The Agrarian Hist if B . Fi . . -
III1Y (Galway, 1979) 225' G R 0 ryzantzum: mm the Ongms to the 7 we/flit Cen-
nO',56, li. 91-92.' . uUlllard and P. CoIlomp, Actes de Lavra I, (Paris,
John Zunaras, EjJitomae Hil'toriarum eel "f P' d" d Tl B
\'Is ('Sl-lll (8 ' . lV.. ID Cl an 1 uttner-vVobst, 3
0 .. ,,, OUll, 1B41-97), 766-67. .
...... ----------
reform of 1092 doubtless had an important impact upon the living
conditions of soldiers as well as the peasants whom Theophylact of
Ochrid describes as eking out a living on the lands of the church
of Ochricl." But our sources provide little direct evidence to support
this. Theophylact's purpose was to describe the difficult economic
circumstances of his peasants, not to examine the privileges and
responsibilities of the Cumans living in the nearby theme of Moglena.
J oIm Kinnamos does not discuss fiscal measures in any great depth.
Nikctas Choniates provides some detail in his diatribes against Manuel's
fiscal policy. Modern historians have made much of these passages
in Choniates, but he provides little detail connecting his general crit-
icisms with any particular measure relating to the army itself.Cl
Choniates is nonetheless the only literary source that directly treats
fiscal and military maintenance policy under the Komnenoi. He
describes Manucl's diversion or ship monies from the Cyclades fleet
to the treasury, and Manuel's decision to sell positions on the impe-
rial registers, complete with lands and pamikoi, to anyone with ready
Anna Komnene describes a fiscal crisis in the central gov-
ernment early in Alexios' reign: Alexios took the extreme measure
of melting down liturgical vessels to make coins to pay the army.
She also provides detail on recruitment and payment of soldiers.1!
She is our only reliable source for tracing the development of the
early KOl11nenian military-financial system. Kinnamos' accounts of
battles and campaigns are frequently more detailed than those pro-
vided by Choniates, as befits the account of an imperial secretary
who occasionally accompanied Manllel on campaignY Choniates,
;, Tht'nphylact, ('d. P. Gautier, ,[1wo/I/!y/adl! d'Arlil'iria, Il, Lellres, CFHB, 16/2, cp.
96, (Thessalonikc, 19B6).
,; One exception to this is Choniales' criticism about the policy of land grants to
individuals who volunteerecl for military service and paid a small These "soldiers"
were supposedly recruited without the examination for milita.l)' But
Cholliatcs also implies . that soldiers held conSIderable powc.r over the of
thc jmmoia they held. This is not in keeping with about the ll1stItu-
tion of jllwlOia uncleI' the Komnenian. emperors, and thIS mioJ'matl?l1, as as that
relating to el1l'ollment without eXal11matlOll, should be treated. WIth cautIOn. .
7 Niketns Chol1iatcs, .TVicl'laf Ollmiataf Histaria, cd. J. Van Dletell, CFI-IB (Berhn,
1975), Histmia, 209. .
11 Alexins usecl the oncr oi' recruitment as a fuse to lure the Mamchean leaders
to a place where they could be captured. Nevertheless, the incident olTers detail on
how men were recruited and registered.
Kinnamns, Decd., I!f .7ohn allr! A/anl/el COlllllelllls, tram. Charles M. Brand (New
York, 197(1), 2 4 .
who was both hamlOstes (governor) of Thrace and paymaster of the
troops stationed there, and later gTand logothete, concentrates less
on campaigns and more on fiscal policy. ID Zonaras' account is of
tertiary importance for financial information. He notes that Alexios
e?riched his but such vague indications of disapproval pro-
VIde. no mformation on the actual measures taken to support
soldIers. of Tyre, writing in the late twelfth century, describes
the of all three Komnenian emperors but provides little
detail about the army's composition or about its maintenance. Aside
from his decidedly nonspecific and uninformative commentary-the
emperors gather.ed a countless array of cavalry and chariots, com-
posed of Byzantmes and men of the many tongues who served the
little here to interest scholar; of imperial admin-
IstratIOn and mIlItary structure. II Michael the Syrian also offers lit-
tle detail about military structure and support. He is prone to citing
rounel numbers when describing armies and gives us no infor-
matIOn that would permit us to better understand how Komnenian
armies were financed.
Legal sources provide some scattered information about soldiers'
.. There is only one reference to stratiotika ktemata (soldiers' hold-
mgs) m chlysobulls datable to the Komnenian period-an act of the
doux of the theme of Mylasa-Melanoudion (in southwest Asia Minor)
Basil Vatatzes. Paul Lemerle notes that stratiotika ktemata here
to. soldier's lands, but to lands held by a variety of institutions,
mcludmg the members of the army.I:1 In other words, the concept
1(1 Harry J Mr 0 C' .
1984) '.. . agou las, zly qf By<.antzum: Annals qf Niketas CllOlliates (Detroit,
, Xlii.
11 G
me de Tyre, CYlronique, ed. R,B.C. Huygens (Turnholt 1986) bk 14
Clap . ( 662-63) 83 w'lr ,. " ' ,
I . H ' . ' .' 1 lam does offer certam other information of military
e notes that the Byzantincs left their borderlands south of the Danube, ane!
, desolate as a deterrent to invasion. vViIliam's information as to tIlt' Sl'ZC
o t le army h " J' I I, . ,
ar ' ,Owc;cr, .IS ug 1 y suspect. (He claIms that Alexios, along with his
01 native and an implausible "Iorty thousand" additional
atm so lcrs camped at Phllomc'll'on . t 'I I
1 k J 8 h ' . en rou c to ale t le crusaders at Antioch Sce
). , e ap, 23 [H 8+4-+5]) \A'I'III'aln' ,. j' I I I'" .'
, " I ,', '\ IS most use u W len 0 -lermg details of the
po ltlea malll'UVcrmg wIth ", A . I '
Antla. 'I', I' " . I tcspcct to ntloe 1. He describes Prince Raymancl of
LIS les to Jo 1Jl II as well 'lS h tl' I 1
J hilI I' , " 'OW le pnnce payee games of chance while
, () I; CZ C war enemies (bk. n, chaps. 10-12 [I 319-23J)
,mllllque de Mzchel le ed J B Chab I 3' ' . . .
men tiOllS annies or 50 000 T' 'k ""1 vo , (Pans, 1905), 371, l'vI1ehael
French. " III sane (p, 27;;) 900,000 Germans and 500,000
J:l F. Miklosic:h and J M"1l J / d'l '" .
1860-90) vI rv 31CJ 'p r er, zplomata gmeca medzz aevz, n vols" (VIenna,
, o. ,'. . . emerie, Rechel'ches sur le regime agraire it Byzance:
i ________ _
of 'soldier's lands' as distinct from other kinds of holdings was not
referred to. Soldiers happened to be among a variety of holders of
stratiotika ktemata. Other chrysobulls from the Komnenian period men-
tion exemption fi'om the strateia (military tax), but this formula for
exemptions dates back to at least the 1070s, when it appears in the
chrysobull granted by the emperor Michacl VII to Michael Attaleiates. H
We cannot know whether the Komnenian exemption from various
forms of taxation--DJnone, kapnikon, strateia, and kast1'Oktisia-has real
significance, or whether it is merely a restatement of an outdated
formula. Lemerle defines the strateia as "a fiscal tax of military char-
acter; in the plural, a group of taxes of this nature."15 But later in
the same argument he also recognizes that in other Alexian chryso-
bulls the term strateia appears to be more general, a reference to a
class of exemptions, perhaps without reference to the arnlY itself.
We now turn to the evidence for military support, beginning with
the findings of modern historians.
The Secondary Literature
Economic models of the Byzantine economy offer only a partial
explanation of how soldiers were maintained, especially during the
Komnenian period, where hard fiscal data are few and far between. I)
Mark Bartusis accepts that the Komnenoi possessed a mobile gov-
ernment that travcled with the emperor when he was on campaign,
and he argues that war was a unifying force in Komnenian society,
mollifying social discontent. However, he also argues that the Kom-
ncnian campaigns produced a "window or opportunity" for crushing
La Terre militaire ,\ I'cpoquc des Comnenes," de Civilisatio/l i11Mievale X-X!!
Jipc/es tome n, no. 3 (Poitiers, 19[)9), 2G5.
H NIiklosich and MUller, V, 137; Rege.l'ten Del' l(aiseI1l1kllndell des Ostromischen Reiches
VOI! 56'5-1453, cd, Franz Dolger (Munich and Berlin, 1925), 2 Teil: Regeslen von
1025-1204" pp. 19-20, no. 1005,
I,. p, Lemerle, "Rechcrches sur le regime agraire 'l By,mnce: La Terre militairc
II I'epoque des Comnencs," Gahier.\' de Civilisation lvlMievale X-XII siecleJ, tome Il, 110,
S (Poitiers, 1959), 267,
Jli Lemerlc, Recherche.l', 265-78. .. .
17 John Haldon, "The Army and the Economy: AllocatIOn. an.c1
tion of Surplus vVeallh in the Byzantine State," il1edllelTanean Remew. 72
(1992), 145-49, reprinted in in Halc1on, Stale, Amp' and Sncze!y
AjJfmJ{lc/ze.l' to llvlilitll(Y, Socia/aml Administrative HiJlory, Sixth tu Tllle{/lh Cenlllnes (Norfolk:
Variorulll, 1995), no, 6.
the Turks that the Komnenian emperors failed to exploit. III This is
an interesting argument that has basis in the rhetorical statements
of our chroniclers, and because both Alexios and Ma11ucl staged
important campaigns against the Scljuks of Ikonio11, (John attacked
the Danishmendids, the more important threat in his day). Alexios'
campaign of 1116-17 accomplished little. Manuel's campaigns of
1146 and 1176 were more ambitious; if we trust the claims of Kil1-
namos and Choniates, the goal of the 1176 campaign was to besiege
and take Ikonion, thereby destroying the Seljuk state. Manucl's more
serious advisors thought that such a campaign was an unrealistic
boondoggle. The Byzantines were rarely able to bring the more
mobile Seljuk army to battle, and the country they travcled through
was unforgiving to large armies. Also, Manuel had not led a mqjor
in Asia Minor in thirty years; his decision-making capa-
as :veIl as his tactical competence were questionable during'
thIs campaIgn. Nevertheless, had Manuel reached Ikonio11 with his
siege engines intact, he might well have been able to storm the city. 1'1
George identifies the granting of economic favors by
th.e emperors (especially John and Manuel), as the gen-
eSIS of Byzantme feudalism. According to Ostrogorsky, Pronoia came
to represent the equivalent of a western feudal allotment, and they
the Komnenian state (an argument that finds support ill
Zonaras). Waiter Kaegi offers interesting collateral thoughts on the
de.vclopment of soldier's allotments, stratiotika ktemata finding no
of these allotments prior to the tenth century.20 The De
Thematlbus of Cons tanti ne VII is silent on the issue, while the Taktika
of Leo VI draw h d" . b
, 21 s. a s IstmctlOn etween the roles of fanners
and soldIers. It IS pOSSIble to argue that "thematic soldiers" failed
to prevent the Arab invasl'ons f th h h h' 1 .
< 0 e sevent t roug 111nt 1 centUrIes'
the eVIdence from Tl e h C' . '
1 op anes ontmuatus, and theIr poor perfor-
III Blrtusis M k n .
I" 1/ ,., af le Late Byzantme Amzy (Philadelphia 1992) 349
wc compare these two Ikonio . . . ( , '.'
II against tll(' D'II1I\'llll1 d'd n campaJgns 1146, 1176) with those of John
< " en I s what st d .' I J ' .
ited objectives-..-the t',kin f r. an 8 out 18 t lat ohn 8 campaigns had lim-
the carnpaigllS agains; c:-nt:l:s thc border--and yct
John finally failed to hold th .. karsalcla stIll suDered [i'om lack of supplics.
'." K .' ese CItIes.
, 'legl, "Some Reconsidcrations on -] TI ' .
}Ilhrhllch del' Orterreic/Zirclien Byzar ( 'h G t lemes (Seventh-NInth Centuries),"
fll!: the of the' stratiotika ese schrifl (Vienna, 1967), 39-53, esp. 51,
21 K . "S ema a.
'legl, . OInc Rcconsidcrations on the Themes," 40-41.
mance during Theophilos' Amorion campaign supports this con-
However, this also means that the collapse of the theme sys-
tem in the eleventh century cannot be blamed for the Turkish
occupation of Anatolia.
Mark Whittow (taking a position close to that of Kaegi) finds an
historical moral tale, grounded in Marxist theOlY, in the notion of
the development of a fiee, land-holding peasantry. According to this
theory, which he rejects, the tenth-century enslavement of the peas-
antry resulted in the Turkish invasions.
But the Turkish invasions
had a character altogether different from the Arab invasions. Turko-
man tribes sought land upon which to settle outside the control of
any government. By contrast, even the largest Arab invasions, which
occupied Byzantine soil for years, did not establish permanent
Kaegi and vVhittow agree that historians have overvalued the mil-
itmy and economic value of the stratiotika ktemata. A key text in this
respect is the late tenth-century Nomos Georgikos (Farmer's Law), eighty-
five articles that regulate relations between farmers and the state.
The text claims a Justinianic ancestry, but titles are frequently the
additions of later copyists and so its early origin cannot be trusted.
Furthermore, the existence of a law, onc section of which deals with
soldiers' lands, does not prove that these were the main source of
soldiers' support, or even that they were important to the support
of soldiers. Whittow correctly argues that the fact of support in the
form of lancls does not mean that payment for services was non-
existent. The ECloga of Basil, which identifies a solclier's pay as his major
source or maintenance, supports this.
Lemerle tacitly supports this
theory with respect to the Komnenoi, stating that "[nJothing would
11 Thenphanes Continuatus, CSHB 33, ed. B.G. Niebuhr (Bonn, 1838), 126--29,
113-14, 116-1 El The levied soldiers of Theophilos were incompetent. Warren Tread-
gold (,ne B)'.cantine Revival: 780-842, Stanford, 1988) dates the reform of the Byzan-
tine army, -theme, and fiscal system to Theophilos' reign, so the argument that these
troups were not adequate for the tasks that they faced could be by .the
claim that the new system was still in its infancy. T.hcophancs claims
that Theophilos was nevcr the same after the campaIgn of Amonon, much lIke the
claims of vVilliam of Tyre concerning Manuel. This may well be an accurate assess-
ment, but it may also be a top os of militaIY chronicling: the cl?fcated leader becomes
melancllUly and changed. See also Treaclgold, Byzantme Reuwal, 443 n. 410, for a
discussion of' the flawed chronology of the sources.. r.
1:1 Mm'k Whitlow, 'flle Making qf Orthodox ByzantIUm, 600-102:; (London, 1996),
I 13--15.
1, '>"hitlow, ()rtlwdlJx i3.yantium, 118.
lead us to believe that the granting of lands was a normal method
of supporting and paying these meD, Greek and foreign, until a late
date in the Komnenian epoch."2:i
We should be wary of positing a single 'Komnel1ian' system for
maintaining the army. While standardized tactics, battle formations,
and ways of using various nationalities and types of troops can be
adduced from thc evidence, the support of the army cannot be so
simply categorized. Evidence from the chrysobulls of Alexios, John,
and Manuel suggests a gradual increase in the importance of jJronoia,
owing nothing to Alexios' dispensing of favors to his supporters, and
indeed of a completely different nature and class fl:om such large-
scale gifts. Unfortunately, we have few examples of actual
pronoia; most of our evidence is in the form of exemptions and pro-
tections from military exactions. At the very least, the docUll1cnts
prove that Komnenian soldiers were prone, to some degTee, to abuse
their privileges. For example, the Cumans appear in evidence,
but can we assume this means the Cumans formed more than an
auxiliar: of the Komnenian army? Chrysobulls that uphold
exemptIOns agamst the depredations of particular military units, 1110re-
over, may be self-selected for special cases. (Auxiliaries seem to have
mo:e prone to these abuses than were the majority of Byzan-
tIne Legal decisions often represent extraordinary abuses;
ge?erahzmg from such evidence is also dangerous. If we treat the
eVIdence from these exemptions and exceptional cases as typical of
the larger we run the risk of misunderstanding most meth-
ods of soldIers support.
P.aul Magdalino's reading of economic policy uncleI' the Kom-
emperors is in substantial agreement with Michacl Ang'old's
theses Th ' 11 '-
. e sma er SIze and greater chronological scope of Angolcl's
book m.eans that it deals with these topics less thoroughly than'- does
Magclalmo's Angold d' t fi 1
. ..' Issen s rom t le theory that money SUPIJly was
mclastIc 111 pre d 27
. -mo ern states. Angold argues that high levels of
trade, both along the B t' fi' .
yzan me rontlers and WIth the western rner-
Lcmcrle, Recherches 271
't, Magdalino, Paul. '77le EWJire qf H I Y' ,
1993) sce 140'''171' E' l' < allue 1 llomnenos, 1143-1180 (Cambridgc
\. ' . conomy and SOCIety F . I . .'- ,
,vhchad Angold 77,e B""antl'n E . 1 . or a genela survey o[ the pCrIod, sec:
., .,. ",,,, e '1rllJlre 025-1204' 1 P t If'
-, Angold (j2-fi2 '['I .' l' ) . j Oltlca IllstoD' (Ncw York 19B4).
. ., . le statIc theory assum th I .'
trcular society did not vary d h fi' t lC amount of gold in a par-
,an t at ew faclIitles [or credit existed.
chant rcpublics, resulted in large infusions of specie into the impe-
rial coffers. As evidence he adduces larger numbers of trade fairs
during the middle Byzantine period, such as the Euchaita and Thes-
salonike fairs, as well as the increased importance of the merchant
republics in all of the contemporaneous sources. Credit-in a nine-
teenth- or twentieth-century conception of the term-did not exist
and the coinage was debased only in the beginning of Alexios' reign.
There is debate over whether Alexios followed his predecessors and
continued to debase the coinage, or whether he maintained the cur-
rency at the debased levels of the coins of Michael VII and Nike-
P01'OS Botaneiates.
!1 Following his coinage reform of 1092, Komnenian
coins remained constant in purity and valuc until the death of Manuel,
by which point imperial expenditures had increased dramatically.
The Komnenian emperors sponsored building projects, large amounts
of land were turned over to the great monasteries as well as to the
regime's supporters, and exemptions were offered to merchant republics
that supported imperial policy. They maintained their coinage at
constant purities despite expanded expenditures, larger armies, and
frequent wars.:
Since the emperors did not debase their currency,
the Byzantine gold supply must have expanded during the
century. Therc is thus no reason to believe that the Komncman
emperors (Alexins excluded) could not have paid their troops' bonuses
in coin. Choniates even mentions that at Myriokephalon Manuel
carried a treasury of money ""ith the army, which the Turks seized
when the Byz<1ntines were defeated.
Angold 24H-4-9, 254, 259-61.
Bendy, Studies in the Byzantine MonetaQ! Economy c. 300-1450 (Cam:
hridge, 19B:i), 11-34 if Philip Grierson, Byzantine Coms (Berkcley and. Los
B,i) 223""2B (or Alcxios 22H IT. for John II and Manue! 1. The tleaty of ,
-' , ., , '. fi d t that payment to
however made well after the supposed carnage re .orm, man ayes M' h' 1 VII
Buhemo;ld bc made in coins with the images of Romanos I or IC ae .
Should this be taken to mean that the coins of these were Plurc
l . ."" A d' G ',. 1 AlexlOs' comage reform resu tee
th'll1 those of Alexlos reign? ecor mg to nersOl, . . I I
,. L r. I .' d 1071-HI But these are precIse y t le
in coins purer than those ,!'Om t le perlO '.. " .. Id
. . . t I d The only eXlllanation in concord With Gncrson s 0pll1l0n wou
cums 0 )C pal . '. . I d i ltcnded to be debased
be that thc coins being paid to the defeated Bo lemon were I .' .
.. I' I 11' asset to the Byzantme tr easury.
COIns, whIch would not le <IS va ua) e an . . . . J I and Manllcl
:111 In addition to more frequent and proacl1ve 0111S Cl' F
., . d '. . m of fortlhcatlon bUlldmg. cc lve oss
cngap;cd 111 an active an expensIve plOg
. d . (p. t" 1986) 56-59
anel Davic1 vVinHcld, Byzantzne FortfficatlOns: An 1ntlo ltetlOll le mIa, , ,
7 1-73, 145-50.
:<1 Choniates, Histaria, 186.
As great lords (dynatoi) obtained lands and received the rents that
had been paid to the state, the central government had greater dim-
culty obtaining these revenues. The tax system had therefore become
regressive: those with the most money paid a smaller percentage of
total lax receipts than those with little money.:J2 This argument under-
lies the contention that pronoia developed in response to a lack of
gold reserves, as an alternative to uncollectable taxes. The sources,
however, offer of the growth of a monetary economy, with
pl.enty of .avaIla?le for anyone who wished to cultivate it, and
of an empire f1rmly 111 control of its finances-at least until late in
the reign of Manue!.:l:J
"Vilh to the dominance of an elite among the ranks of
government, Jean-Claude Cheynet notes, "Alcxios uni-
hed the amtocratic elite and transformed it into a vast family which
held all the great posts d . d h b ' '
,. L ,an receIve t e enefits of rulershIp, "H
that Manuel instituted a reform of the army, and
upon ,western mercenaries for his troops, How-
. ,Cheynct argues agamst the development of a feudal structure
under the Komnenoi TI' , , ,
. 1IS IS Important to our dIscussion of the
(lb::cause, the, placel.nent of power in the hands of one's rcla-
. J} Alexlos, I,n partIcular) does not imply a change in the way
so C Iel'S were obtamecl Yet ,', I I' "
. . preCIse y t us assumptIOn IS apparent in
t le arglll1lent that the gr t' f " <
tl' ,.' . f' an mg 0 jJronoza IS somehow connected to
If \hty 0 government practiced by the 17' '
Cl'}. . :'I..omnenol.
1(' nl'lety f " ,
, ,'. ..' ,0 OpII110n outlmed above indicates that there remain
StllOUS questIOns among mod I', . ,
(and f(lr some hi"t" 'h e:n 1Istonans about the sIgmficance
S olIans, t e eXIstence) of "soldier's land" as an de-
" Angold, fiG,
11 (" '
. 1fI11lates, HiJ'Iuria 208'-9 J h' "
n'n('y hy sdlin/.( Ilfl' an S reform was intended to gain cur-
I,tlll laXt:s \\'el'e slill levied OIl th' I cl land. <?hrysobuUs aSSLlmc that cer-
nol (":rnpit',ldy giving up its ,le d, by .the statc, thcrefore, was
d::", }7te and 'he Tribulary Mode qf ll1 questIOn. See also: John HaI-
1,111 .d, 1.1-1 <Hi, Anrrold B;'-anlz'//;" ,0 (London and New York 1993)
K'l I I ' '" . , ;r" 54 260 61 " ,
, ' l( an s argunlellt tltat Anclronik 'I -, 270 (citing Alexander
"'gill It' !, os was tryllJg to re-establI'sIl ab'
q 1 . , , ureaucratlc
, t'<In-( ,iallde CheYllt't ["., '
SI' ., (,IWOlr et Coni 'I t' ,
,Ill lIllIt'II,Ia, 9 (Paris I 99()) "IQ ("I .eJalOllS a By::.ance (963-1210 1 B " t' .
\ I I I ' ", ,. ,I. 'll'ynet' I I' h yzan ma
. ( 1111 I liS !)oilll ' , ,IS arge y In accorcl witI] Ma d I' I
. g a mo anc
111.cnt in the army's support structure. We should sec Basil I1's leg-
islative prohibition against seizing soldiers' holdings in the context
of the rebellions of provincial magnates during his reign, Thus viewed,
the legislation appears to have less to do with maintaining an efIec-
tive army than with providing Basil a tool to use against any poten-
tial rival-trip-wire that gave Basil legal powers to confiscate the
lands of any Anatolian magnate, Furthermore, the contention that
there was no reform of the army under Alexios I, and that the mil-
itary obligations of the soldiers were transformed into taxes under
John I1, has little source support.:
The army Alexios I used against
Bohemond was different in structure and manpower from the army
of ROInanos IV Diogenes.
One would expect that fiscal reform would have been one ele-
ITlcnt of Alexios' reform of the army, but lack of evidence makes it
difficult to determine what fiscal reforms (if any) Alexios put into
effect. Wc do know that by the 1117 he had no difficulty obtaining
trained veteran soldiers. Historians have made mu eh of Niketas Cho-
niates's remark that John of Poutze transformed the Aegean islanders'
obligation to provide ships into a fiscal requirement (during reign
of Manuel I), postulating from that anecdote the commutatIOn of
military obligations to taxes,% But this is onc example only, and one
that relates to the navy, a service that the Komnenian
ally ignored, The sources do not provide evidence that thIS polIcy
was also extended to the army,:l)
Such questions arc natural with respect to the army. of the doc-
ument-rich Palaiologan period: Did small holders' farmhcs work. the
land themselves? Did these properties receive fiscal exempt,lO,ns
(exkouseia)? How were jJl'onoia assigned, and were they to ind,IV1d;
ual soldiers communities of soldiers, foreigners or natIve Byzantmcs,
, '1 . 'I' tl t
KOl11ncnian historical sources provide htt e 1I1SIg 1t mto ,lese ma-
tcrs,:lll Nonetheless, they do treat certain important questlOns, First,
:1:, Bartusis, The Lale Byzlwtine 5, , _
:1I; Choniatcs Historia 55' Bartusls, TIle Late Byzantzne Army, 5 6, . .
:17 I emer'Ie 'Ree/lerdws' 276 and n, 60. Soldiers' colonies were
" ' , " 'd r h t' ities of the Cuman sett el's 111 t e
and social units (WItness the eVI cnce 101 t e. ac IV .' ' ,id entire!
Balkans), but there is too little evidence to claim that theIr servIces wel e pa y
in land, (I the facts themselves in many cases),
:111 The accuracy of reported data anc even '.
., '. " Tl literary sources cia, however, permIt us
arc well l1Igh ImpossIble to asceltall1. lC 'f Id' d of t.ile locations
, ' f different types 0 so lefS an
to analyze the relative Importance 0
i'om which they werc drawn.
our sources document the use of pronoia under the Komnenoi. Sec-
ond, monastic donations provide some information about how troops
were maintained, although this is usually in the [onn of exemptions
hom military exactions. Literary sources also otTer extensive infor-
mation about how the imperial army was supported. Wc know cer-
tain cities and regions (particularly Pelagonia in :Maccdonia, and
Lopadion in western Asia Minor), were used as aplekta, and wc can
determine how supplies and provisions were collected there for the
use of soldiers. Our sources also offer plenty of examples of the dif-
ferences between the soldiers of the capital and the troops raised in
the provinces. These historical data enable us to determine who
served in the army, how large a siege train could be supported, and
how many men it would contain on a campaign such as Manllel's
second Ikonion venture (1176).39
The economy of the Komnenian Empire has been extensively dis-
cussed in. the. secondary literature, and continues to be the s1l4ject
of extenslve mquiry; a short discussion of the place of the army
':ithin the Byzantine economy is, however, warranted.
The Byzan-
t111e economy was expanding under the Komnenian emperors, an
expansion that did not result in proportional increases in state rev-
enues, and that created administrative problems for Alexios, J oh11,
and Manuel. The Byzantine state levied land and poll taxes. Duties
upon goods that amounted to a percentage of their value were quite
rare. As a consequence, the Republic of Saint Mark received eco-
nomic privileges from Alexios, John, and Manuel, and made huge
?rofits goods over Byzantine seas. Cargo values
mcreasmg' as d"
L' splces an precIOUS Items passed through the empire,
but the revenues generated by these sales remained untapped by the
3'1 Jean-Claude Cheynet "Les ea; 1''' d I', 'R '", .' ..
',' I.r'd" l T',' , ec lJS ans armee yzantme 111 Ca/ner.\' de Oml-
lJa.lOll J 1f /eva c, X-}(JI flecles Un 't' d p". C' , '
C" 'I',' ,,",' , lverSl e e mucrs, entre d Etudes SUIJcrieures
( e .IVllsatlOn lvlechevale 38: 4 (P '1' 1995) 3 ' , '
study or I,' B ' ?llerS, ,,19-35. ThIS IS a good general
. Ill" num JelS m yzantme armIes. '
I he most recent surveyor Komnenian m t d.' ,
cOlllained in Margarct Mullet and D' S one ary an reforms IS that
Belfast Byzalltl'nc T' t I l' I ,IOn my the, eds, AlexlOs I flomnellOs; I, Papers
'. ex s anc rans '1llOns 4 I (B If: 1996) O , ,
tance to a discussion of f. 'I ,", east, ,f parllcular Ilnpor-
"Financial Crisis and the IS Alan essay in the volume:
Mark Whitlow in "How the Ml,htary matters are examined
lan Reconquista" 55-68 TI. . as Lost. lhe Background to the KOlTInclI-
to date is Mich:tel Hcnci " I? Important work on the Byzantine economy
(Cambridge, 1985). y s Studle.1 III the Byzantzne klonetary Economy c. 300-1450
Byzantine government. The only kind of economic expansion that
the state was prepared to tax was new land brought into cultiva-
tion, a less lucrative revenue source (and more difficult to obtain),
than taxes on transit trade. Exemptions from taxation also increased
under the Komnenoi, and these nullified the tax gains the might be
expected from a rising population and an increase in the quantity
of cultivated land. II
Furthermore, the constant military expeditions of all three emper-
ors proved enormously expensive. Alexios produced coins from melted
church implements in order to pay for his war against the Normans.
Manuel spent 30,000 pounds of gold on the campaign in Italy. These
forces, which consumed so much gold, were small bands of merce-
naries supplemented by Iberian and Cuman troops shipped to Italy
by the government. They seldom numbered more than a few thou-
sand men, although they were in the field for several years. One
can only imagine the expense of armies four to five times this size,
mustered every year by John Il, and which campaigned in all sea-
sons. The expense of Manuel's army of 1176 must have been tremen-
dous; it must have numbered nearly twenty five thousand Byzantine
troops, with additional contingents from Hungary, Serbia, and
'When we examine such large funds, we should also keep in mind
that monasteries or imperial family members controlled large swathes
of land, and these lands paid little or no taxes. The tax placed upon
the extensive lands of the Great Lavra monastery in 1107-08 was
32 7/24 nomismata. These lands consisted of some 47,052 modioi,
approximately 4',500 hectares:
Substantial estates were in the hands
of great lords or monasteries, and were either not taxed, or were
taxed at entirely nominal rates like those listed above. Thus,
should not assume that territory re-conquered by the KomnenOl
added substantially to their economic potential, at least in forms that
could be translated into tax revenues and military power.
Manuel's use of pronoia to support soldiers and to give them
an interest in the equitable collection of taxes on their allotments
H The evidence ror increases in land under cultivation during the Komnenian
. , ". 'd . I . b dies of troops drawn from new
penod also mclucles mchrect ev! ence, '
pnJVinces, Paphlagonia, Neokastra, and Nlcomed!a, ", 11 ' . 1 K
Alan Harvey, "Financial and the eXlOj VI/menas,
eels., I'dargarct Mullett and DlOn Smythe (Belfast, 199 ), , '
constituted economic reform on two levels. First, it placed the sup-
port of soldiers on a firm financial basis, onc that did not require
liquid flmds. Second, it meant that soldiers, or groups of soldiers in
the case of joint pronoia, were responsible only to the emperor [or
their support. The negative economic aspects of pr-onoia have been
carefully analyzed, primarily relying upon comments by Zonaras and
What has been overlooked is that the presence of sol-
diers who used funds from ptonoia increased the chances that the
land paid rent, at least for military purposes. The decrease in the
importance of strategoi is a natural outcome of this. When the cen-
go:-ernment directly administered the support of soldiers sta-
tioned .. the provinces, the strategoi were not as important. Their
responsIbIlIty been to control and maintain troop lists, and to
tram the soIchers contained in these lists, Furthermore the K,0111-
'. ,
l:eman system rehed heavily upon large, centrally organized expedi-
and le:5, upon the initiative of local military officials. Strategoi
.1I1d local ofllClals were not as important in a system in which the
gover:lment maintained direct control of its manpower.+1
. IJ1 Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and T we!flh
(d'l/tlmes, bndly traces the Ol'ioins of the 17 0' f
. . mneman system 0 tax-
alulIl and SUpport. Both he and Whittow agree that references to
,H Chnniates, liirtOlia, 08tro k 3 ' , ,
WHit Byzantine leud'l!ism)' J 1 ' H I1 gorsJ' 72 (eqllatmg the grantll1g of jmmo/a
tifln (Londoll-New York i A
State and f!le Tri?lItary klode q/ Pmduc-
B}7<1nz," ill i!Y,:alltinircllf Zeifsdlr;ft 60 (1967) ,ZlIr Prunoia ,in
a Byzaure," in Structures food It' ' , 308, Belc,ne AluweIler, La 'prOt101H'
'.ihlfl) C:nlli'gt' de I'fo'c)l F' a cs, e fideodalzsme dalls ['aCCIdent miditenmllJen (X'-./(111'
. .., (e rall<;aJse e Rome 44 (R 1980) ,
('('urge Ostro!rorskv "D" P , ome, , 681-89, See also
'I - ,., '" lL fDnOJa unter den I( "?:J'
r h, Sce Haldon "TII' A, d omnenen, ",-aom/k Radova 12 (1970)
I ' ,C Imy an thc Econom . TI All ' ,
lutlllU fir Surplus Wealth ill tl B " y, ,le ocatlon and Redistri-
(1'1!!:!I, 1 :iIl4(), !cll'jnnnllz'" 'lllCllCtl State," Med/ten-arleall .Histol1'cal Review 72
' ," .. , le ralsmg and I . , ,
italY Sl'rvicl', Military Lancis ' II S. supp ymg of soldIers; and his "]'vIiI-
IlltlTpn'I:tliollS," DUlI/hartOIl Odkra;.c'f! t le
of Soldiers: Current Problems and
Ih, 1t'llluIY, These are with 0 ), ,I 60-61 for evid.ence up to
hll,ttIfllI .wc! the army , IJ'ld ' thel artIcles about Byzantme admin-
Hr " , 111 1<1 011 State Ann1l d &" . '
, Snwi/ fllld Administrative s:' "',,-an oczery zn BYlCantlUm; Approac/zes to
I, ',',ud, 7: , , ry, IX! I to L ltJe!flh Centuries (Aldershot, 1995), nos,
. I Ills ", III ,colltrast to the su restion .
"I rill' ,1"':ahz,ItIOIl uf Ihe .rtrateia "that the central government, as a result
"".1 lauuhes of the capital a rains; th st<ltc to provide support for the
'Ill llIustered under rv?alltl'l edProvlllclal te.. The largest Komncnian
Ih 1"I"1I I'l' e, an we have eVId f I
. , ".. It' gralltlllg of jmJ//oia appears t h b cnce 0 and grants during
tlt,ps, and under the manage ' 0 ;ve ?cn a fiscalIy sound method fa';'
till", l'IIt!,,1 gO\'(TllIllCllt's effillclent it did not abro-
cs 0\ er t le revenues It granted,
soldiers' land-holdings do not appear before the tenth century (when
we begin to sce evidence of their existence in imperial edicts), Accord-
ing to Kazhdan, Nikephoros Phokas' rearrangement of fiscal duties,
which promoted sailors to infantry and infantry to cavalry, was an
aberration:!:' Macedonian legislation depicts the stratiotai performing
their duties as soldiers, while the geol'gioi, the farmers, provide the
taxes that support these activities. In this context Kazhdan analyzes
the concept of sYlldotai (contributors), and the related allelengyon
tax obligation):'(; Pronoia underwent considerable development dunng
the Komncnian period. Under Alexios I they were given as rewards
It)r military service, although they lacked specific military obligations,
Pronoia seem to be secular clzaristikia (monasteries given as a benefice
{tH' life, or for three generations). However, pronoia did not
governing or supervisory obligations. Under Manuel ,I, these
become et method of paying soldiers. Nevertheless, N1ketas Chom-
ates presents the pronoia of Manuel as if it were an oppor-
tunity for urban small businessmen rather than an effectlVe means
of supporting an army. .., e
Lem,erle ofters an altogether different notIOn of pronoza, reading th
Komnenian period as an era during which free communes of peas-
ants were transformed into dependent serfs (paroikoi). Those who, dom-
inated this free peasantry were the powerful families (the qynatoz) and
the Church who were enriched by donations from the state (a the-
sis that \tVhittow rejects, characterizing it as a "moral
The ruin of the strateia, the free peasant soldier, was the baSIS for
the institution of pronoia, Lemerle notes that use of word
strateia in the Komnenian century differs from Its dUrIng the
4B M'l't bl gatlOn accord-
latc tenth and early eleventh centunes. 11 ary 0 I ,
Kazhdan, G'lwnge in BYlCalltine Culture ill the Eleventh alld T we!flh Cell-
18 (
, . Z ' III 5025-9)
turieJ (Bcrkc1cy, 1985), , ona]las,:cl d 'ithin' a community (chorioll) and
,I< The syndotaz were lIldlvlduals w 10 resl e ,w, llll was the specific
, I 'bT fI' mmunal obhgatJOns, j e engyoll
share cl financm : lty DI bTty f soldier from the chorion, If
responsibility for maintalllmg the m},llila,;} I, I;on that his neighbors
the soldier was unable to support llmse , tea e er ,
. 1 h Id be able to go on campaIgn,
supporl hUll so t c
47 Lemerle, Hzs.tory, 20 I, 207, 'I dates the first mention of jlrGlloia
,H' I emerlc Agmnan fflst01Y, 223-24, Lemel el' fJ 11n II There is lit-
, .' . f' ty to 1136 in t le reIgn 0 0 ' "
with reference to a pIece 0 pIDper I' h .' tl t jlTOlloia matured into an mstltu-
tic direct evidence to support Lemcr e t eSls be fully form cd unclcr Manuel,
tion during John's reign; certainly , r '
but their development may well trace Its ongms canel.
ing to Lemerle, was unrelated to land holdings under the KOl1l-
nenian emperors and became a fiscalized obligation: a tax. This may
seem an anomalous reading, since most Byzantinists accept that j)}"()Jloia
were important during Manuel's reign. "Vc should remember that
Lemerle is generalizing about the Komnenian period, Niketas Cho-
nicHes states that payment in cash was normal during Manuel's reign;
funds earmarked to pay army and navy troops were diverted to the
treasUlY, and these measures had disastrous consequences.
evidence and campaign descriptions depict an army with large de-
that came from the provinces and were part of a provincial
mIlItary structure, It appears unjustified to conclude that the use of
pronoia precluded other methods of payment, or that jJ1'OtlOia reflected
in, the social structure of villages throughout the Byzan-
EmpIre, It IS also premature to argue that that cash pay was lhe
pnmary method of financing troops in Alexios' reign, and that the
of landed support was transformed under John and l\!Ianuel.
The apparent discontinuities in Choniates' evidence indicate that the
util!zed both cash payments and pronoia to support their
Chol11ales suggests that grants of pronoia replaced a lTlOrc
dEclent system of I d d 1
' an grants an cas 1 pay, but his descriptions of
how trooI)S were I'e ' 1 d hI' d f .
. ., , aIsee an t e an s 0 men who fought 11l K.0111-
neman arrmes refutes this interpretation,
Financing the Komnenian Am!)!
Evidence indicates that th B 'E' . .
e yzantme mpIre grew 111crcasmgly pros-
perous under the Komnenia 0 I' 'L ,
'.k r' ,11 emperors. ur lteralY sources describe
Il1dl et laIrs, economIC aetivit 'C . ' .
,} , . y 111 onstant1110ple, and even CIty n1cr-
c lants who dIsposed of ' 1
'. excess capita by purchasing pl'olloia ,,[I In-
tax burdens sueh as those mentioned by Th 1 I: . f
Oc-hnd arc not necessarily eviden l' 'd eop 1y <lct ()
as the J)("ISants ... bl 0 economIC eprivation. As long
. ( : ' . wel e cl e to surVlve and pay th i t 1" 1 ,I
(If I)rosI)c'!'Ity clI' 1 t I' I e I' axes, t lell eve
, ( no ( lrect y 'lffc tt'
increased indirectly tl 1< ee, sate ll1come, The state's wealth
... , 1e resu t of ll1cre'lsed Ve t' ' .
millg Ihml privileges that they recei d fi' n,e lan steIl1-
ve rom AlexlOs L ThIS l11creascci
I" Chonia[('s, IJisturia 20B-. Ot> L' I .
,,' ('I .' ", emer c Agmnan H,. t 232 IT.
' lfIllIat"s, fhl/oria 207-0g tvl .,', IS ory, ..
"ohle dnnations, ' . , Ol1astcnes also became rich fiom imperial anci
vvealth is also apparent in the prosperity of Hellas before Roger II's
raids, The Slate's precarious finances forced Alexios to make coin
1'1'0111 liturgical implements; John and Manue!, in contrast, spent huge
sums 011 the army, In our analysis of the financial basis of the Byzan-
tine army the only thing that really matters is that the empire was
able to pay for adequate military forces, From the standpoint of mil-
itary the Komnenian economic system was a complete
It is almost paradigmatic among historians that the economic pros-
perity or the peasantry is tied to the prosperity of the state; this is
not the case in the Komnenian period, Exploitation of the primary
producers' surplus was essential both to the Byzantine military req-
uisition system as well as for collecting taxes, but the important ques-
tion is how thoroughly the state was able to exploit and obtain this
surplus, This is a critical problem in the late Komnenian period and
during the Angclos dynasty, from 1180 to 1200, From 1118 to 1180
the wealth was at least as great as it was during the Mace-
donian period, But Macedonian prosperity was not tied to the state's
military power; indeed, legislation was in part crafted to the
state's military power from appropriation by the dynatoz: 111 other
words, it was designed to protect military lands and to damage the
ril)/latai, Komnenian military power had a different basis. It relied
I;cavily upon new forms of military lands, in part upon but
also upon troops paid directly by the treaSUI? and by the
state, After Ivlanud's death, increased wealth 111 the provlllces meant
that local dynasts, Isaac Komnenos in Cyprus, Leo SgoLlros in
Athens, and the Roupeniels in Cilicia, had the power to withhol,d
these ('\.lnds 11'om the central govcrnment and to use them for theIr
own purposes, Paradoxically, the Komnenian system created pros-
'1' bl' t' l' the tenth and
perity and fi.scalized some 0 ml Itmy 0 19a lOns 0
B d
' 't ave local dynasts the tools
early eleventh centUly. y 01l1g so, 1 g ,
to resist central control. An examination of how the Komneman pol-
. , 'I 1 trl'x of extended family-members led
ICY of govermng t lroug 1 a ma . '
, d I " ' t' s outside the scope of thIS
to a decentralIze ae mll1Istratlve sys em 1 ,
.' , , I' 1 t le that under Andromkos I
lumtcd ehscusslOn. t lS enoug 1 0 no <
( 1 080 -85), when the emperor attempted to this
combat the power of the dynatoi, the Komneman system of 1I1cluslve,
family government collapsed. .
This Lis not a form of Byzantine feudalism, This t:ansformatlOn
. , E ' t m of mutual 1I1terconneeted
ehd not result 111 a western "uropean sys e ,
public power held in private hands. Instead, the Byzan-
Unc systcm was marked by a system of centralized taxation and a
local bureaucracy that collected fiscalized revenues. This redirection
and subversion of fiscalizecl obligations caused a crisis of manpower
Isaac II (1185-95), and Alexios III (1195-1203). There
IS no, anomaly m the statement that the Byzantine empire of the late
twelfth centUlY was extremely wealthy, but that the Angelid cmper-
were able to exploit little of that wealth. The highly organized
nnlttary support systems of the Macedonian and Palaiologan emper-
ors would, onc to expect some form of internally consistent
method of. mall1tenance under the Komnenoi. The Komnenian sys-
of mamtcnance, however, was a hodgc-podge of systems. SOlIIe
hk(: the settlemcnt of defeated peoples as recruits, were traditional:
wInk somc, likc pronoia, wcre innovative.
The Soldiers if the Komnenoi
In chapters we examined Komnenian soldiers in their nat-
The Komnenian army was also
IIlto orgamzatlOnal categories off the field of battle. The the-
mala of the tenth centu . .
't. " - ry armlCS, orgal11zecl under semi-independent
,I !alrr;,Ol, 110 longer existed Th .
, , , , c. ' c tagmata, Byzantme troops stationed
,IS .1 mobIle forcc III th . I "
tI . 1 'I, .' e capIta, conslstmg of the exkoubitai the scllOlae
ll. 11Ihaufltol, and the ohsikia ' h d . ' ,
" '1 r nOl, a not survtved the tribulati011s of
(I\') W'11' and T ki h' .
" .1" ur S lIlvaSlOn. Between thc end of the l\IIacedol1-
Idll (ynasty (C't 1040) dIe
. , . an t le accession of Alexios I (1081) tl t
mala of the capital atro I .. cl TI' " , ' 1e ag-
f'xistt'd i h P lie, ,le ASIatIc thematIC armies no longer
, , .' n any co crent form, particul I . hI, '
I1wnan ann" of tI tl I' A . ar y WIt t 1C (lisp" ersal of the
J IC rleme 0 rmemakon B tl . f N'
Botaneiat('s thc <Tt I . I . Y 11' reIgn 0 lkephoros
, h Iarc uOlts lacl co Id' h .
I'\kouliitai. Alcxios 1(' a esce mto t e sclzolaz and the
.. , omnenos was cia t' [I .
Bc Itall('iatcs, which b 1079 ,mes lC 0 t 1e scholal uncleI'
. Y meant he was com d . I . f f
a t It' 11lljJcrhl '1l'In' ,:il rTI' . n1an er In c 11C 0
( 'leg. 11S tItle 1 d I' .
1a ost Its earlIer association
" I'
'01' AI"xill, as domestic: of' lll' I I
Id B I '/ C J(rlOme' Annc C ' 11'
, ".1'1 I" vol. I, p, IB, 11. 710 (bk' . omnene,.1. exzade (Paris, 1937-76),
Ijlidl" f! ,; as dlllllt'sti(' fir the West' I '1
, chap, '1), and I, p, 24, 11. 8-1 4, (bk 1
f "1111''11<': \'Ill I 'I ," vo. ,p. 58 I 26 ( I I h '
111\" " " "p, 11. Ib and 19 (bk I ' ,. vo,) cap. 16); as grand
, III III IN:d Illtt'l'cbangeahly b), \ ' K' ,chap, 7 and IT. These titles appear to
1 nna omncne It I I"
,a loug 1 It IS uncertain whether
\vith the tagmatc commander, and simply meant that Alcxios was the
imperial commander rather than a subordinate or local militmy leader,
Despite these changes, Alexios' army still included two basic types
of troops: Guards in the capital and levies !i'om the provinces. Under
Alexios these levies were not called lip by the .I'tratE(r.;oi of particular
themes. Our sources also do not mention them defending their te1'l'i-
tories in the absence o[ an itnpcrial army and it is anachronistic to
think of them as thematic troops in a tcnth-century sense. Only much
later, in Kinnamos, do wc sec local troops called up ,vith rei'('rellC(,
to a specific to Cl duke (dOl/X), Under Alcxios the levies were cavalry
from the provinces near the capital: Macedonia and ThnHT. They
were called out whcnewl' the emperor needed an army.
The most important guard unit throughout the KOl1mcnian period
was the Varangian guard. The Varangians ['(Hlght the Norlllalls at
Dyrrachion under their commander Nampitl's; under John 11 Kmll-
nenos they (ought the PechcllcgS. The Immortals, rec()llstituted hy
IVfichacl VII, were apparently the best Byzantine cavalry Alexins pos-
sessed. During thc Norman wars Alcxios created the arc//lJII/IIIIIIII/lli
from the sons or slain oflicers. The hdaireia existed in I07B, at the
time of Bryennios' rebellion, as did the corps 01' the llulIIiakilc,\' (named
for a olliccr 01' the I050s). The l'A'kollbi/ai survived ulltil thl'
battle of Dyrrachioll in Ion!. Thl' II/alliakiles do not appear t() ha\'('
survived the civil Guard units that disappeared indtHkd tlH'
opsikimlOi, and the 1I1:r.;!a/ (ll'il/lIIlO.\'. Alkr Alcxios, the: .I'dlll/Il{! and the t',\-
koubitoi also disappear [J'OI11 our S()\IlTCS, A lI1l1t:h simpln systelll IllT-
vailcd: the Varangians WCJ,(, suppknH'l1tcd by the Imlllortals. Th('
ardlOntojJollloi appear t{) have hccn tmined Ihml scratch, but Wt' ('all
assume that this was all CCOJ1Cl1I1Y mcasurc, and that omcns' sons
had the mcans to equip thl'l11selVl's.
This arrangement, motivated largely by (,(,()IlOlllic IH'(TSsity, was
radically different ft'om the centrally equipped guards rl'giIJH'llts or
the lVIacedonian emperors, and rellecLs the clilIicult financial sit 11<1-
tion that Alexios during the IOWls. Levied cm'alr\' inclllded
this was a dcliberall' atll'lllpl tll attribute llInT litles to Aftoxi()s Ill" IWI'<LUSf' till/(' ""d
dimmed her memurv ()f ('Wilts,
;,1 The best desl'l'ipti()11 ()r tlIl'sl' 1i(I:;/Il11li( llllits, t",ir ,l("IIt'sis amI disapp,'al'illi('('.
appears in KiilIlI, nit' h),,'t' ,,11'/111'1' i/ll I Ii, {',III 11, }(/hrll/fII'/lf(
(Vienna, 1991), esp, :n:l ;l!). 'I'll(" last ,'()1ll1l1anlh'r ()r tIll' 1'\1./lI//lillli was (:()llstdlltilH'
Opos, who led thelll ill tIlt' baltk Ill' llYlTat'hioll, a,l!;ainst Rnllt'rt (;llist'anl. SI ...
Kuhn, gB,
1 :iB
troops from Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thracc. These men f()ught
mounted and were called kataphmktoi. Other levies included archers
and peflasts, both of unknown geographical origin. Supplementing
these men were mercenary contingents of Flemish knights and o/"
:'urkish auxiliaries. After 1090, the Pechenegs defeated by
Alexlos the tagma of the Moglena Pechenegs.,,:l
Our eVIdence for the existence of certain units, including their
support, concentrates almost exclusively upon thc cavalry. Infantry,
both petlasts and archers, appear when AIcxios is outside of Con-
le: attempting to gain entrance to the city during his rebc1-
fhey also appear when Alexios organizes his men for his
retreat during his 1116-17 campaign against the Seljuk
1 urks. " However they fio ' tl' . . '
, , , liD an 0 lerWlse mute group 111 our study
of Bvzantme army financ Tl d
' . es, ley were un oubtedly always present
111 hattle but they wer f I' ,
. ' , c never part 0 t le glonous cavalry actIOns
th,it fuelcd Anna Komnene's reminiscellces TI ' f' - I
. . le 111 antry must a so
law been present at ea h f -h ! .
. Cot e cozens of sIeges the Byzantincs
('(mduc(ecl III John a I NI l' .
f I .' , . ne anue s reIgns, but they were not the part
t le .1IJlllY (the cavalry) that the nobility fought with and Byzan-
(lIle aut JClI'S do not waste t" . -h" . ' -,
. j' _ . . '. ' Ime WIt ul11mportant" people. Their
III J tquent mentum III our so 1 .
..' ./. B' urces eaves us WIth an unbalancecllJer-
( (ptlOll () yzantm" . .
. " . e army orgal11ZatlOn and finances. 56
-,', ZIlII<lraS, []j 74041
, .1I1'I/llllr, [, 9(), 11.
" .lhilll/f, IfI, 198, 11. 9-26'
'" & '1"11 I' ' " 213, n. 5-26.
.. ,. . n 11 Cl', vu. VI, p, 47 Il 3-7 .
IllllS Il-cllll the cxactio ' f h' r.' .. ThIS chlysobull exempts the Pal-
tlH' \ :tr;lIIglans, the Koulpingoi oI! the Rhomaioi, the Rus,
gill; Normans), the Ncmitsoi (Germa;ls) .IS uncertam), the Inglinoi, the Fran-
g"I, and ftllllll)rtals. The arc'/olll 11 / ' uIganans, Saracens (Turks) Alans j\l)'I"-
tl I' .t, OpfJI/tOZ arc not ' j ,. , ",
Id! -' JI' ar('IiJllio/Jou/oi constitute I' , I' . In any case it seems likely
11"')1111' t I " r ' ( a jJ.l ace tramlllg' corps tl 1 . . .
. 1(.1 ,;ppan'l1t one-time use' _ b 1 . ra Icr t lan a mlhtmy mill
tJ Idl " "l" . I' ' as a att e lllllt b A1 ' T ' '
.t SI! I,tanll,d part of the V Y extos, he Inglmoi who
klJ"l\\1J flllly !iOIlJ. their assnci.ltioll vguard, arc mentioned twice, Rus
I.II,'\'. It .. , \\11 tIe arang', I . "
, " . dppl .11 S that Ihe chrvsnbllll' .',. . glldrc, are also lIsted sepa-
;;::\:l1Id P"upl!'s, as well as designations [or militmy
'J and the RlIs IfII' ('X'llll I' re ectlng Contempomneolls tenninology'
1\ III 11" ,. ( pc were I 1 I
lIl\ K' /lWlltlOlled 0111'(' hy Anna Kornn'", 10 synonymous. BuIgaJ'ialls
' '. "ltllll'nlalJ field anll\' " ,.. Ule as rCCfmts, but who never ' .. '
JIII"".illllJ hili" I. ".IS \\LlI as Abasg'oi and K [" appeal III
, .Il I' a )SI'11! Ji. I' '-, ou pmg'Ol ap ,. j
"11. I', III Ih,' 1177 .... ' om Iteraty sources' b .. . . :' peal 111 t]e
nOI 1I1t'11I iOIIt'r! li II' agamst the Se!illk Turks. Al;ll1S appear
\\ ;i11l11 lit., 1'/1 '" I I,' Sllllp/(' reason they had t . C lenegs and C.umans are
tlI!' "111 . .lpIII, \\ hal We have is sin])/, lOt been defeated and scttled
I JlII Ildd IIM'd lor tht. l'lst f'C' I Y a bull wlueh contains all tj I I'
' I teCI! D/' twenty years, 'le so (Iers
Alexios' Successors: John 11 and lVlanuel I
Nlany units that figured prominently in accounts of Alexios' army
secm to have disappeared by reigns of John II and Manuel I Kom-
ncnos. The Varangians appear throughout the Komnenian period.
John II needed to circumvent them to enter the imperial palace
when he seized the throne as Alexios lay dying; he later used them
against the wagon-circle of the Pechenegs (Scythsr Th: rest of the
'guard' units from, Alcxios' reign no longer appear and
NIanuel's armies. The athanatoi (Immortals) are mentlOned 111 the
exemption granted to the lands of the Monastery of St. Christodou-
10s on Patmos, which dates to 1088, but do not appear after the
Pccheneg wars (1 090s) in our literary sources.
The Immortals, and
the mdlOntopouloi (oJficer's sons) do not seem to. have endure.d as a
militmy unit alter the death of Alexios. The earlIer guard
the .I'dlOlae (the schools), the Vigla (the watch), the exkoubztoz (select
imperial guard), and the hikanatai (another guard unit), were
commanded by a domestic during the tenth centmy. TI:ese were
placed under the control of the domestikos rif the sc1zolaz (th: Byzantme
commander in chief), during he period preceding reIgn of Alex-,
ios, or disbanded."!' Only the exkoubitoi survive untIl the battle of
Dyrrachion (1081). It is possible that units popularly referred to by
. db l't ' d legal sources offer no eVl-
these names eXlste , ut our 1 eIary an
dcnce of it. ) 1
The only guards-thc IrypasjJ1J'tai-(literally t 1at ap-
. h V . 60 Jol111 mamtamed non-
pear in John's rCIgn were t e arangJans. ., . I 1
. d" . T kish dIvlSlons and 1e a so
guard units, a Macedoman IVlSIon, ur . '
(i! 0 t 'maoine that neatz (new men) were
rccrui ted new troops. ne canno 1 b' d
. B . . 'ments that supplemente
foreigners' these were natIve . yzantme regJ d .
, . Cl' t" ons these Mace omans
the Macedonian reglment. lomates men 1
'>7 Kinnamos, B, 11. 14-22.
'.11 IVHklnsich and VI, I. \51 1 19 For the sc/wlae, Alexiade, I, I B,
:I!I For the exkoubztol, see: Alexzade, I, 'k' b';' I the sclwlae are mentioned
I L). 1 2+ [ I (). I 34 I. 13 IT, Only the ex ou 1 01 anc
.. -" " ., , Z ' t" ons neither. .
\l1 Anna c I the Varan ians is evident from
h() Choniatcs, Hls/ona, 15. ] hat thesc are d g med with very tall sluclcls
., I I' d 'llifies them as gllar 5, ar
ales' descnptlOl1, W lcre le I Cl
and single-edged axes. . cl . [ion) 25 (Turkish divisions.) For the
Id Chollialcs, Hi.I'i01ia, 23 (Mace oman cg ,
levies, sce 21.
several Both Thessalians and Thracians served in imperial
armies; there is no reason to expect that the empire stopped lIsillg
these men, Choniates is simplifying, calling all western native troops
hy the name of the most important western province, Macedonia.
Choniatcs refers to "Romans" (Byzantines) duringJohn's Pontic cam-
paign, and mentions picked lancers and Latin cavahy, as wel1.":1 \\re
know that the infantIy were present in large numbers: the cavahy
horrowed their standards to trick the Turks into believing they wer;'
Pecheneg cavalry were settled in the empire alter
AlexlOs VIctOry In 1091, and other recruits were drawn from those
who ,were defeated by John II in 1122, Latins and KcIts are oflell
mentIOned, merely as ad hoc mercenalY units, but part of' tilt'
regular army, have treated these unit:> <l:> /({<;_
mala'r and that that foreIgners made up the elite units or
the Komneman army Th', ' f 1 " ,
. ,IS IS a matter 0 lIstoncal semantIcs ratll('1'
than of actual organization,"'1 These foreign units fulfilled the tacli-
(':tl role of the old tagmatic units, but so did the Macedonians tilt'
pICked lancers of John II d 1 ' k ,.,.
, , ,an t le plC ed Byzantmes of 1\I1an ud I
at Semlm, Organizatio 11 th '
, , ' < na y, ese were not tagmatIc troops and all
orgalllzatlOnal elements of I tb' , '
., "w la ever nUl11 er or ongln, are called
111 the sources of the Komnenian period,I;;'
v\ Jule we cannot credit J I II 'h '
, '1 ' 0111 WIt a program to reorgal1lze the
.tll}llY, tj,lIe' army did change fOllowing AIexios' death, Ever prag1natic
, () 111 C IC not bother to ' 'h' '
sincc tllt'I'I' Inl'l't . Imamtall1 t e athanatoz .01' the arc/wntojJU/oi,
. " I ary uselU ness " 1 N" .
Anna Konlll , , was margma , atlve Ul11ts appear III
ene s account and th t'. .
fill' John's reign ofit 'd ey con 111UC to appear 111 the SOllrces
. ,en name after geo I' I '
soldiers who were b tt. . grap 1Ica reglOns, Presumably
. e er armed and mounted 1 ' 1 .
have entered the cor f.1 I ' w 10 mIg It earlIer
ps 0 t le mmortals the th t' h ,f
IO/IlI/oi, became the "picked men" J a ana oz, or t e .I1rclzoll-
that John and Manuel occasioIl-
23, and 29-30,
ChofJl,((es HIS/Dna QC
',I TI " , .>,),
'., Fanuslsl" Late Am!y, 29,
.X,lI11p es 01 lIS" of tl
I illllf'C I I ,. I" ' , le word /agma abound f I' h
\.lIll1alllOS generally u' .' h ' 0 W IlC only a few are 1111.'11-
I" 'Ill\' IlIII " ses t e word syno I'
:!.71 il 7' UllIt: rather than the old tagmata uni. nysmous y Wllh phalanx, to relel'
I ..' Uses the word . ts. cc, for example, Kinnamos
I Ihrlher ,significance, groups in battle:
1I.<,'d III 1tI) ISI used III a gcneral scnse 101' 2, l. 'lI.agmata (the
'I to t It' gin I ' 181011 or "rcgI "1 'I '
<11,' m ..d UllIts uf the capital; (see 180 l. 81)' 'd
11 e 11
'- ( I , , a .:\', an tagllltJ
ally used separately from their native Byzantine units, The
liol1 of units under John and Manuel appears similar to that of umts
from the tenth ccntury, Picked men normally operated within units
from particular geographic regions, and were occasionally
from their units for special operations, Whether the orgamzatlOn and
composition of the Byzantine army under John is accurately ;epre-
senteel by the sources, or whether the sources' sparse of
John's reign has left us with no record of the and athana-
toi, or the other guard units, is impossible to ascertam WIth
confidence, However, the absence of these units from our very detailed
accounts of l\IIanucl's reign argues for their dissolution under
The army of John II represents the final that the Komneman
armies took with respect to physical orgamzatlO?" d
IVlanuel's army fielded the same soldiers as dId John s army,
" f 1 1 ( d to Choniates' rhetOrIcal
source clcscnptIOns 0 )att cs as oppose ,
, , ", 'pment and tactIcs, What
charges) mchcatc no great mnovatlOns 111 eqm , ' >
,vc like to know about Manuel's army IS whether the soldIers
, J 1 ' ' . present in the same propor-
who appear 111 , Oln s campaIgns were
tions in l\IIanuel's army, It is difficult to produce accu,rate numbers
for }nrticuiar units and troop types (jJeltasts, katajJ/zraktoz) , or for, par-
. (, All 1 1 ' , n do is attempt to Judge
ticular ethmc groups, t le lIstonan ca
their relative by examining how they
in battle and to define their role, Choniates' descnptlOn of p:onoz ,
( " b of foreIgners
lC)!- example does not tell us whether larger, num ers bl
' f 1 1 f P 'onoza Nor are we a e to
bct"tme soldiers because 0 t le sa e 0 I ' , B
,C " , , th holders of pronoza, were yzan-
'lscl'1'l'un whether m.ost pronoza1s, . e 'b ' 1
" "' , "d 1 c,' ners held pronoza ut Sllnu-
tines Choniates IS dIsguste t lat 10lelg , b ht
., , , B' hopkeepers and grocers oug
tancously descnbcs how yzant111e s , 61;
, - I ' f horse or for a few C0111S,
jmJ1low 101' t le pnce 0 a I fI' . d the system under
Despite Choniates' claim that Manue or:n
f tile pl'onoia sys-
, . d (egulanzatlOn 0
which the army was ma1l1ta1l1e ,r < , Idiers with new
tem of maintenance) and retrained Byzant111e so ' h 'hy
, es for Manuel's army s ow cava
weapons and tactIcs-our sourc, r ht troops and heavy, in
'lnd infantry Byzantines and foreIgners, 19, d't' s Native
< "1 appeared in John s expe I lOn ,
the same proportIOns as t lCY , f b th Asia Minor and
, , d in the proVlnces 0 0
troops were ma1l1ta1l1e d' , , formed regular units
1 t
and western IVlSlOns
Europe, and t lese cas ern
{it; Choniales, Historia, 1/8-19,
in Manuc!'s native military establishment.
;7 At the battle oe Sellliin
units formed the left flank and parts of the Cl'Il-
ter, dIVl,slOn, and undoubtedly provided most of the inf1-:Ultly, ('oIlSli-
tutmg m total about two thirds of the army, Western troops also
appear regularly; they were present at Semlin, and with l\1anucJ's
army at Kerkyra, ,and on the Myriokephalon eampaign:i!1 Their reg-
ular m Komnenian armies suggests that calling them
mer:enan:s mIsstates their role, To the contrary: they were rcg'uhu'
soldiers of th B' , '
. " , e yzantme army, much lIke the Gurkhas in ll1oc!crll-
dav Bntlsh service The 'cl b 1' ,
. 'y were pal y t le Impenal treasury and
were no more "mercena "tl th V ' r
Iy lan e arangrans, fhese troops c1i1Ji.'l'cci
from the Anconan knight I' cl r M " ,
Th A s lIre 101' anuel s Itahan campalglls.
ese . were clearly mercenaries; they left Douki,s' a;'lll\'
W lell theIr demand for' . d. .
b .
mcrease pay was refused. Pechcl1co' units
v contrast I d . f . ." , ,
. I' , orme part 0 thc regular Komnenian army The PccIJ-
enegs lad settled within th ' 'I . . . ....
, e empIre, m t le theme of .Moglcll'l 1t!1 'llld
lJ1 western Asia Minor Th C , , '
ri' ,tl lall I h fi' e umans as well were settled 011
, (, were we nd th . t fc' ,
monast('IY 711 SI' h d
111 Cl ermg WIth the lands of the Lavl'<l
,. . , er )Ians a been td d N' ,
trool)S shOtll I ' I b ' se e near Icomedm, and these
, . (a so e conSIdered pa t f l' r ,
have been among th Id' A l' ,0 t le natIve army, I hey may
tl . T 'k'. L ,e so lers ndrOl11kos Vatatzes mustered to fin'hl
It llJ s, and earlIer when levi. b
l.berians (Ueo ' ) 'I M cs, were sent to attack Amaseia,7I
rgIans anc asagetm (AI ) I '
Byzantine army t It. I h ans a so accompal11ed the
o a y, were they appe . t I .. 1 .
the army' they re ' I I I' aI 0 )e 1 egu 11' parts of
, mamec oya whIle tl .
pav, n Alal1' '1, , le mercenanes denlancl eXLra
S cl so appear WIth the ar J . . 1 ,
Doubts, and Mich I A' ,my ohn Vatatzes, ConstantuH'
ae spletes raIsed t d ['
Atabeg" (1177-78)73 Ch ' ,0 cleat the raid of "the
, Ol11ates mentlo l' I 1 '
ns Ig 1t Y armed soldIers, but
"; Chl)lliates, Hh/oria 77 1 1'3 ,'. '
IlllI'tt'lwl '1'1 . " ',,'" , 1'01 the sIege of K k .
d of.. ' It eastern troops appear . 1 cr yla, tens of thousands were
I ; at battle nr Mvriokcpl1'l10n to HiVe suffered vCly much /i'om lile
,:,/ /tnl!<llgn an.cI pcr/()]:mcd well. . wy were mustered by Vatatzes LlJr his
. , ." IIllates, HIS/oria p, B9 I 'i 1 Tl .
IJtv S t"llltur' ,,' "'. le garnson tl "f '
;", Z' 'Was composed or Germ'm'" lat lV. anuc] mstalIed "nel' the
,flllar,lS III 7,10 + 1 T " S,
"11 1'. nI, I.' 5. ' . he speCIfic reference to the Mo 1 1) I .
'" [ , ... 1 ' gena ec lCnegs appears
" :' Ill! 1 " /{fI'lierrlies, 276
h II' Vatatzt's S" C'I "
7.' K' .. , . CL IOlllates Hi / "
'. " U1l1amos, Ifi7, I. 6. "The" " of mw, 182, for the Serbs, 16 11 15-2f]
lIu,h . y sent both Iberians and Al . "
,: "B t . ans with whIch to skir-
11 1I1It' of the '\1' ' .
Itlillil(t'fl, ilnd sI" ' . a!hes rushed to the s . '
. (1\ hun with hIS two-edged sword tlllS novel rowing ter-
, A lOnultes, HistOlia, ] 9f]., 11. 11--) 2
not their nationality.71 These soldiers included the peltasts mentioned
ill J\\cxios' ilnd klilC Angelus' reigns, as well as the archers who
were presellt at rVlyriokephalon with eaeh division of the army,75
There is a natmal tendency among modem historians to differenti-
ate troop types and li.11lctions by modern definitions of mercenaJ)! and
national; these modes or defining soldiers' origins, functions, and social
role, however, are Etllaciol1s, vVithin the Byzantine context, troops
that were paid regularly, or residcd within the empire, can hardly
be called mercenary from the standpoint of how they were sup-
portecl, rcgardless of' their national origin or how their pay, was pro-
vided, If wc define mercenaries as soldiers paid for sel'Vlces, who
leave service whell they are not paid, then most modern armies are
" ,
"nlerCl'llal'Y a 1'111ll'S, "
vVho were the nomadic soldiers who served WIth the Byzantll1e
army, as distinct 1'ro111 the empire's permanent settlers? When
Anclronik()s Komnenos escaped from prison in 1165 and rebelled
against Ivlanud I, he found it easy to horsemen to
raid the empire,7!i 'What is significant about tlllS IS not whether
he actually procured these men; our sources m,dIcate ,that someone
or Anclronikos' experience and stature could raIse a SIzable Cuman
army merely by ol1cring an opportunity for plunder, Therefore, ,we
mllst difkrcntiate between the Cumans that Manuel used agamst
Conrad in 1147 outside of Constantinople, and those auxiliary bands
that were reaciii
available from terrritories outside, of the bord,ers
of Byzantium. Such troops were inexpensive, and whIle on campaIgn
, "I I . I .' l' l'e from plunder. That the
these lHen "p,ud t lcnlse ves at t lelr eISU , ,
1 1 1 t t
. d from thcir depredatIOns
Great Lavra monastery lac to }e pro cc e , '
, . \'.' 1"1'" 1 'tlley were mexpensIve troops
glVC:-; the best 1llC lcat10n 0 t lell Vd ue, ,
, . '\ t l' .. t bel'S Their dIsadvantage was
and they were aVaI ao e m grea num " . '
'1 t' difference between fnend
that thcy might not recogmze t le peace Ime f
and foe, vVith respect to organization and troop types, the arm
\ 0
b 1 t tl
same as that used by Jo 111,
Manucl appears to have een a mos le ,
. b cl', t settlement of soldIers on
Its support, whether by jJ1'OlZoza, or ,y 1I ec
land, is examined in the next sectIOn,
...-- "" E1tIKOUProV At..av&v 01t01l
(, ram. Magoulias, 110), ana "tat tXfLipt016fLro KVw8ovn."
EKeLV11V dpcrlav crxucrtV Ef.lIIoIloV, avatpet
71 Choniatl's, Historia, 125, It,
7', Chnniales, Hi.l'/oria, 181" f the governor of Galitza in
7(0 Choniates, Hi.Ilori(1, 132, Andromkos was guest 0
Pronoia and Fiscal lYJaintenance
The question of how the army was supported poses particular prob-
lems for the Komnenian period. Evidence for the financial mainte-
nancc of the Byzantine army from the tenth through the eleventh
centlllY appears in several sources: Leo VI's Taktika the De Celi-
.. ,
fl/Otll/s, ancl the De Administrando lmpen'o of Constantine VII, as well
as. the Icsrislation of Basil n.77 Much of the military support system
of these cmpcrors was destroyed between 1025 and 1081, The main
!'-otnnenian from the Macedonian dynasty is manifested
me 01 titles for military officers. In the west troops
to be raIsed from the provinces of Thracc, Thessaly, and
J\faceclO1ua, but Komnenian sources offer few details about how they
supported, Pachymeres discusses the Byzantine army of the
tlurteenth and fourteel1th centllrI" d 'I b '
, , es 111 some etaI , enl.oamng' the
loss of solchers' pr . Th' . I'
,. .' ' IS IS a so mentIOned by Kantakouzcnos,
\d.lO decnbes mercenanes and p7'Onoz'a and by G' 11 I
, c Iegoras as we , WlO
discusses the salaries of pro . 711 I I' 1 '
'. mars. n t 1IS ater context jJronoza are often
called IIlkonomza (dispensations) or poso'''s I ' 'h r I
['t I .1 "0" W 1IC l'berS to t 1C quaIl-
1 y <II1C va ue of a pie f I d D . '.
:, 1 . ce 0 an, unng the late penod, an In1pe-
11<1 or order, assigned a posotes of pronoia in a region to a
ImJllIIl(lr (J]' group of pronoiars,79 c
\Vhat did the Komnenian t f 'I'
. '1 I . sys em. 0 mIltary support inherit fi:ol1l
le lV <lcee oman supp t f
, . :, or systcm o the tenth and early eleventh
et ntulles, and what of the Kom ' . . ,
("(rid '111(1 1)'11' ' 1 neman system surVived to the Las-
, , , dlO ogan penod? TI K . ,
fhml the faccclo ' , J fir. . 1e o.mnel11an penod was separated
IV , man)y tty ye f' 'I I
V("lrs ()f' " '1 I . ars o ClVI c 1aos and a further ten
. " (IVI war, t was followed b .' .
under Andronikos I I' 11 Y years of dISruptIOll
. ,saac and Alexl III d b fi '
foreign rule and inte 'I . 'r: ,os ,an y ]fty years of
, . . rna tranSLOrmatlOl1 und L' N'
ernI)erors I t', , er atln, lcean, and
. -,a m states dommat d TI I'
ponesos, and 1'h. . h'l e 1essa ol1Ike, the Pelo-
relC{" w 1 e the survivin' B' .
alld NlCa('a concentrat I I ' g yzantme states, Eplros
, , , ec t 1ell' resource d r d' .
em and ('astern frontiers res ' .' s on elen ll1g their north-
" pectrvcIy, The emperors of tl l'
lese sp Inter-
I",. (;,1-;, I.acharhl(, vnn Lin T('nthal l" .
/".,,"/;II /JI'r lllwrrurkul/den .' l/,\ gmecOTomanum, (Athens, 1931) I 262 fr'
\Iwudl awl Ber/ill If)"") '7fl"J TlC)J,mscllen Re/dies von 565-1453 ed Fr'an: D"I ':
'11' , ,"", " strop'( 'k LT' ,. z 0 gCI
:trtml', Dlff Rv' ( I . , ,., lrs y, HistOry 217
, Banthi, / ' . ,,1/1/ me l/}1!P, 162-63. ,.
, LI/{ l!I"clllllllle Am!y, IG2-.70.
states were fo),ced to direct most of their attention to defending
their realms against each other. Their policies, moreover, were local,
bearing little resemblance to Komnenian foreign policy-particularly
after tIle reign of Michacl VIII. The Komnenian period is therefore
distinct from what existed before and what appeared later, and needs
to be analyzcd based upon its own evidence,
The only explicit mention of land allotments for troops-the
tiotika kLanata, (soldiers' lands)-between 1081 and 1190 appears m
a chrysobull issued by Isaac Angelos in l189,!lO !here no direct
mention of this institution during the Komneman perIod, Refer-
ences to slrateia (fiscalized military obligations) appear in chrysobulls
of Michacl VII, Nikephoros III Botaneiates, and Alexios I Kom-
nenos, but these seem to refer to imposts, This is in contrast to ,the
complicated social and legal relations that regulated solchers
under the Macedonian emperors.!!l Chrysobulls are defil1ltlOn, enu-
rnerations of exemptions: they present deviations from normallmpe-
rial taxation or social procedures, The most important of these
exemptions from Alexios' reign is a to the Monastery of St.
J Oh11 the Theologian on Patmos, The Island had been to
the monk Christodoulos in 1088 with a general exemptIon from
, .' 'f ht' t ' . the military tax.
dutIes, mcludmg exemptIOn ram t e S 10 ezaz, . 36
t11pikon for the Pantokrator monastery, founded by Joh1: Il 111 11 ,
::J'. M d 1 t cl' the ThracIan Cherson-
donates the terntory of a ytos, oca em, ' d
, , . Th I t' to tl1lS gr'ant IS the lan s
ese to that 1l1stItutIOn, e on y excep IOn
of (ch01ir ton strateion),83 Lemerle distinguishes a pattern
- L I otes the stratiotika k/emata mentioned in
1111 Lemerle, 265, As emer e ika' ktemata of the Macedonian period.
this chrysobull (hlfe,rent f:om Miiller Acta et Diplomata Craeca, IV,
This cillysobull IS published III NIl (OSIC 1 ,
319,. . 1 & MUller Acta et DijJlomala Graeea, Vo!. 5,
III See Dolger, no, I 005; . h & IvIullcr Acta et Dijllomata (l1'aeca, Vo!.
p. 137, 1. 19; and Dolger, no 104,2; I OSIC i no 31 I. 37, and Diilgcr,
r; p I <13 I 31' and Actes de l'Athos, Actes. de LavCra , V I 6' p 22 I 29' and
v, ' .,. , 1 t D:"! mala ,meca o. ,. " ,
no. 1046; Miklosich & MUller, j cta e 11' 0 Reel/'eYel/es these chrysobulls list
41 1
43 A Lemerle notes 1I1 "r, ,
Acles de Lavra no" ", . s _ 'kon and kastroktisia,
.'llm/eia in conjunction With synone, 1151 The oikeiakoll represented
, . 'I I MoOlI VI 53-55' Dolger, no., , Id' {'
112 IvhkloSIC 1 anc u er" , .' I' t of units o{ so lers rom
Id fi
Also of note IS a IS . {' I .
the emperor's houscho mances. ' t- erha s the most important list () t 11S
whose exactions the monastery was e,xemp P P
type from the early Komneman 223 Lemerle finds the clearest par-
11:1 Lemerle, Recile1'c/zes, 268, Agral1an 1158' concerning monasteries, where
allel in the novel oC Manuel Komncn?s, Le'merle's conclusion stems
Jlmteia is listed 'llTI?ng fiscal hn Poutze fiscalizecl the fleet-duties of
from Niketas Chomates statement that 0
that led to the Komnenian military-fiscal structure: First, the l'vlac('-
don,ian emperors maintained the landed tllematic soldicr, providing
and support for his military duties, Thcn, under the post-
Macedoman emperors, from Constantine IX in the 1 1408 until the
end of Alexios' reign (1118), the system of military maintenance
became fiscalized: a tax, The literary evidence hom John II and
Manuel I leads Lemerle to then propose that these two emperors
attempted to support their armies by again rc-settling soldiers on
landed property,B'1
Legal sources from the Komnenian period consider estatcs and
on islands, coastal areas, or in the empirc's European
tern tones, The fiscal system of the themes in Asia l'vIinor was mort'
fully developed than the European theme system. Wc cannot look at
system maintained by thc Komnenian emperors and expect to
find substantial elements f tl ' .
, . 0 le support system 1Il use a century
before partIcularly If we ( .
, compare a system the MacedolUan) that
was based upon the emp' , A'' . " .
. , Ire s SIalIC terrItones WIth another SystCl11
(the Komnenlan) based up th " I
. on e empIre s ess-securc Europcan
proVll1ees. There is eviden ' tl t Id'" .
. ce la so Iers serVIce reqUlrclllcnts wcre
commuted ll1 return for fi 1 '"
'd lsea payments ID ASIa l\IImor, "Vc also 11'1\'('
CVI cncc in Choniates th t J h d M < .
.', >' " a 0 n an anuel drew recruits hom
t lese regrons fhls does I t h
. '" 10 mean t at a landed soldiery had been
reconstItuted on the model of th : '
1f. I e system used by the Macedomans.
anue and John drew recr 't fi h .
UI s rom t e regron around Perganloll
th.c Aegean islands' that th t ' 1
,', ' , e s rateza (t lC eluties I' I ..
IiJ dlllg of the Maccdonl'a 'I) J I W lie I encompassed the 1111htary lalld-
, (L n peno( lac become I I ti '
reIgn. emerlt Recherche)' 26B) TI " 1 J comp ete y sqlhzecl by
I h " ' , ,lIS las cd Lcmerl t' , , ,
(urmg t c pcnod of Nf' I H e 0 p.OSlt. a speCifIc army re/()rm
, <tnue . owever We si Id I
CII/ICCnllllg transler of I' " '. lOll note t lat Choniatcs' renl'lrk
h 1
, . evenues lrom provm ' I r. '
tn t e {ect, and no spccI'fic In t" cIa orees to the treasury rcJers suit-Iv
III 1 . , en IOn IS made f' f' , . " J
,('merl.e, J/oTmian Hi'flnry 225 F L' 0 almy lscaIizatlOn.
I r " h, 'or emer!' "
, , ,cmerlc conclllcleo that C'h ' , cs Opll1lOn of Manuel's rclCll'lllS sec'
. '11 " '" OIllates 'd' " " , . .
lIOlm.! y paId III cash 2 Nf'l I b' eVI cnce mdleates that 1. Soldiers were
111' t '; 'f" ' , ,nue su Stltuted g t f' k'
'1I S, , , lest grants had exist d 1 J ran s 0 parol '01 for these cash lJ'ly-
4, The popularity of er ohn Il, but were uIlusual until the reign
:" r heSt' measures resulted ill 'l cl" easures me,ant wanted to be enrollee!.
1Ilg; Illlt' K()llllll'noi and the III the army's quality. Compal'-
,1lI(, ('[1"t!ecI I ' . a lS, emerle con cl d I IT' .
" . .\ g onous arllly a nat' lues t lat , . he 1l11lHary
century, when gove 1011a army" 2, becamc rile in the
"'. 1"IIllI II alId iV[anucl Komne,;os It had entered an. era of peace,
III I If' and thr ,., ,'" OJ , 0 In 01 Poutze 1" d
'" . (Jug I grants, Scc p 2',I I 1'h' , , ' lie to rc-attach the ann"
1II,1t.', Ins '\" 'I' ' r, IS mJlltary p" " J
.. ' ". plO etanan" 'mmoia J'I ' /onola, as mdlcated by Clln-
011 Ill\', I' , !V ercenancs rem' d I' ' -
, amc tIe malll strength of the
ancl Neokastra Iwcause it had become prosperous and stable in the
thirty or lill,ty Yl'ars since its reconquest by Alexios and the First
Crusade. Tlla L cntaill services were fisealizecl, and the revenues from
these services used to purchase mercenaries, does not mean that
other mcth()ds of' obtaining troops were ignored or did not pre-
dominate. 11' historians arc disturbed by the presence of ethnically
diverse elements, which do not appear to be mercenary, perhaps our
definition of ,vhat it means to be Byzantine is problematic, and not
thc organizat ion or ethnic character of the army.u:
Lemerle calls
these lloll-Greek Byzantincs a corps composed of foreigners, whether
properly calkd merccnaries or not.ll!; Of course, Lemerle later notes
that c/lOrill ('siml/'II/1I/!I/{/ appears near Aenos, in Thraee. These men
refllse t.1H'ir obligatiolls, rents, and services because of their position
as soldiers,ll7 Ll'IlH'rle treats this as an exception, and believes that
the r/illria (',llmll'/IIIU'l/a in lltl't to fiscal revenues that were given
to these soldiers. I would suggest that the stratioton tau thematos Nlogle-
l/Oll, the soleliers of the fvIoglena theme of 1196 could be either these
/mllloia, or the thematic levics that appear from Alexios' reil?n
Onc of the most eccentric examples of levies is the soldIer-mIlItia of
11". nott's that thl' ('leVt'llth century saw grcat changes ,ill ,the way emper-
ors maintainl'd tllt'il' armies, olle elll'cl of which was the substitutIOn of taxes fo:
military s('/'Vlrl' among resicients Ill' the east; he does not address western themes
'lllCl tlll'ir tl'llOpS ill any detail. Lemerle, Reclzerches, 270 n, 3B, In Aetes de no,
11, 7!'BO: CIIIlSlantill(' X grants exemptions from th,e H AOY,aptKi]
Bapayywv 'PlOS ii LIXPIXK11VCOV 11 <Ilpayywv i1 etepwv 'tlVroV e9VtKWV Kat Poof
, . , f
"mlllH'y iOlls of the Varangialls, Russiam or or Franks or thfosf 0
tlw ra('(' IIl'tllt' RIlIlHlIIS," which apparently is the oat
trlllllJs, 'I'IH' s(,ttkll1l'nt Ill' conquereel peoples on lInpcnal tClrltory was not 11 p 'h
, AI'" rI'I'" ne policy W'IS followed by John WIt
11111l1t'Il()n 1I111<jIW tll eXlOS l'Clgn. IC S,ll " 'liS 'b
tI \I' PI'l'iH'IH'''S of Mog!l'na (see Zonaras, 1II, 74-1), and by ':'plt I, t T
! k
" ';' , ' I' 11 ' I' .' 'I, policy wllh 11lS' erSIan ur '-
TheDllluios, III the 11I11th rcntlllY, 0 owcc <l sum ,II' bl' I f th
. " ., I' , I ,I' 'ItaI rolc m the reesla IS lmcnt e
Ish reCl'lllts, IlleSt' t'l lllIC UllltS P <tycc a v ,
Byzantille army, . 'ent
,It, L('merlt', Nl'I'lil'rrlil'J, 270, "corps composes d'etrangers, mercellmres proprem
dits ml nOIl," , , , '.' " ,La Terre militaire a
117 I I' nll'rll' "ReclH'rcilcs sllr le regIme aglanc a Byz,\J1ce, .. 11 3
".',,, r' I' l G;: 'I' (all j\1Mievale X-XII slee/es, tome , no,
l'l'poCjuc ell'S CUII1111'neS, (e ,/VI Ba I "I I K tira prcs
(Poiticrs Iq'jq) '2Yl n 5,1 an cl 56, "Typikoll elu monastere ce a ,osmos0
Petit, in !zll, Russk, Archeo/. Inst, 11, Konstantznopole 1 ' ,
I (i l. " ' I' I tl " tl is act dates from the
'"' Idcs cI/' l'(wfI! 1111, :1;), I here IS specll atlon ,W le 111.'1 1 'I ' 't' Alcxios I's
' l' \1' 1II '1'1' editors of thc j cies p ace I III '
reigll or AlcxillS UI' I exlOs ,1C ' , AI" III Angelos' reign. In
rei"n wlll'l't"IS DiilglT and .Ostl'ogorsky date It to f "1 Cl' a '
. h ,', I' d I r . 's fi'cllll the i,wlne 0 lV og en, ,
l'itlll'r j'('ign we could expert to lt1 so CIt.!.
P'ltmos 11'1 These men "t h b
'. ' , .,' : " ,appeal 0 ave een members of a group
cl! su Jbcd as ,the soldIers and the other countrymen"-a rclcrencc
In men lIved on the island, and were members of the c/tmion,
LeUllTI,e beheves them to have been a local militia, but the other
of the wh:re the hegoumenos (abbot) of the monastery
of, St: :In,hn, the on Patmos warns that they should not
In !)( 111 May, when pirates conducted raids, seems
to u,lchcate lIldMduals who were not simply cholitai but possessed
CIIllsJ(lerablc personal ind d Th ,. .
," epen ence, ese men probably correspond
the l,t'vIcs, local soldiers with local responsibilities that wc sce
Sl'/eukcIa altd Dalmatia,!lfI ,111
Annrz Komnene
Th!' problem with the hi8torio rI'
ill the Bv,nntine E' . h b
ap 1y of land use and fiscal polIcy
J " mpIre as een that I al
rlH' lang-lIage usecl J'I 1 1 eg sources, and especially
, , ' 1 ega sources are "
prl't<ltioIlS, The 'Iclva t f I' ' < open to a vanety of mter-
, , ,,' ( n age 0 Iterarv so b .
lIdonn,ttioll is jJrovid' I ' h' '/ . urces, y contrast, IS that the
, " cc m an Istoncal cant t, h d
1,,\.t1llllW tht. CirCllrl1st ,I d' ex, t e rea er Inay
, anees ea mg to a part' 1 d "
I'LIlY ,'iOun'cs 'let 'is ' t' c lCU ar CCIsIon. Our lit-
, ' . ,,' " III crprctlVc confi . .('
;md also stand 0/1 th .' rmatl0n 101' our legal sources
, , , ell' own to hel' '" .'
support system p us Interpret the Impenal lllIh-
rlllOIl] lIlt: ,,[, t '
.' ,', -,' ,i C was unable to a " '
I It/UT lit kind or 'n ' Al' ppropnate economIC surpluses
1 COIll. CXlOS l' " , ,
t w dmrrhcs of (',. eqUlsltlOned sacred obiects fi'Olll
, ..,onstantmople 1 d J
I. ',>IllS, His tiHllilv meml' , cl' me te them down, and minted
') , Jers an suppo "t 1
.IIU 'I \1'1' 10 thc ",0\'(" 1 el's a so donated their gold
, I':> -rument, and th .
.UlIP;'" .\mm KnIlUlt'I1l"S ('0 t' I e lcvenue was used to pay the
, I ' " ,n nvee ex I' ' .
HUff!! appropriation of th' I't ' , p IS that the canons per-
"j-., ill' \ ' , \1 . c 1 urgrcal lmpleme t t
, \,11. i t'XIOS was des cr' " n s 0 ransom prison-
t"lIll1h /Ilrt IIi It' '1IICl I' p, ate, and wllImg to both II'qul'dat l'
" ", nenr I}OP 1 'd' ellS
III "1 dt'! tI I,', u at lspleasure b I '
" 0 It,Utt currency 1'1', , . y ootmg the church
I.ll rI, t [) , I . ,lIs senes of e
f! > ITat' llIlll (lOB l)' tl . vents occurred after the
111101111', to 1'('Plan' !t', le emperor needed specie to b
IS (,ullaged 11 "ltl' uy nler-
.. ,ve army H
. owe vel', even when
r" 'H',I' I' I
- " l/, 1I!'/I!Jn 271'
,,' 11,1,' ., I,
_, "r; -' 11.11/,111 'II/din, '" K'
I I, 'I ' SI I Illnamos, 258. I
10!' those of Se! I '
ell (eIa, see Kin-
mllch of the soldiery was supported by a system of land-revenue
grants (the /Jrouoia, under Manuel), the emperor still brought a sub-
stantial war chest on campaignYI This was used to give rewards and
to pay for emergency supplies, The need for money to raise an army
is not /Jrima facie evidence that the army itself was mercenaty, It is
also not evidence that native troops were not present, or that mili-
tary obligations had become fiscalizcd, Alexios relied on mercenar-
ies only because the empire's normal recruiting lands were occupied
at the beginning of his reign. In this case, both because the army
had bcen destroyed in 1081, and because Robert Guiscard appro-
priated many of the soldiers who made up the Varangian guard,
the emperor needed foreign troops more than usual.
There is other indirect evidence that a need for hard currency
did not indicate a mercenary army or a fiscalized army support sys-
tem, Anna describes how Bohemond's counts, who had not been
paid for four years, grew restless; it became an easy matter for Alex-
ios to bribe some of them, Anna's description gives uS two pieces of
information, First, those who wanted to "serve with pay in the impe-
rial army, would be placed on the rolls and enjoy good wages which
thcy themselves could determine ,"93 We can assume that imperial
pay, as irregular as Anna makes it seem, was more reliable than
pay available in Norman service; Alexios' brib:s would other;vlse
have been ineffective, Second, the continued eXIstence of a regtstry
of soldiers suggests that the military bureaucracy not
collapsed in the aftermath of Manzikert, or that, if It had, It qUIckly
revived, This procedure was continued during John and Manuel's
reigns; Kinnamos describes how Manuel such,
lists near Ikonion in 1146,94 The value of such regtsters IS also mdI-
cated in Alexios' offer of imperial registration to trick and
the Paulicians of Thrace, who were examined, registered-and Imme-
diately thrown into captivity, The act of registration, when the poten-
tial soldiers were examined in small gI'oups, was used to separate
,------- f cl C' / , , II 102-4 Michael the
lH Chonialcs, Historia, 1 of Iow en, '370-72',
Syrian eel. Chabot, Chromcle (Pans, 1908), XX,5, vO
' ,pp, c. W[llLlc" sce II
, ' ! Al 'd 11 10-11' For [le men l!Om I , '
For the sacred vesse s, eXlG C, l .' 'I f Thule were fighting
4{')-A7 (Ill, p, 82, n, 26-29), remarks (lC men 0
with Robert "through force of Circumstances,
!1:1 Alexiade, Il, 32. 11, 10-15.
",1 Kinnarnos, 55. n, 4-7,
the Paulicians from one another, which made jailing them possihle.
Even at this early datc (1083) and despite its irregularity, imperial
pay was highly desirable.
The value attached to such registration is confirmed latcl" ill J\lcx-
ios' reign (in 1114-15), when prominent IvIanichcans who had COll-
velted to Orthodoxy were rewarded with officerships, a process that
must have included registration. Chrysobulls guarantced these COI11-
missions.'It; and pay are again mentioned during the Scythian
\\:ar, fatIlcios was sent to Adrianople (1086) to pay the sol-
(hers ,th:1r annual wages, (misthous) , and to recruit (.,!)llegeill) Cl new
trrny .l7 These two t d
' . '. even s, payment an recruitment, wen.' appar-
sImultancous, It was undoubtedly an element or impt'l"ial pol-
ICY to pay. a .recruitment bonus-necessary incentive whel1 retTuits
would be nskmg life and r J l'
" '"11) 101' an emperor who had becll unsuc-
cessful 1I1 hIs recent wars.
SUjJporting the Am!)! zlz the Field
The Ojl.I'ikimlOi (the Byza ti I " I .
11 ' n ne ogIstIca corps) dIsappeared in the chaos
() oWll1g the defeat at M, '1 . "d . .
. '1: < anZI (elt an the occupatIOn of l11ll('h of'
f SUI lV mol' by the Seliuk Turk \ATh k ' .
' :J S. 'v 0 too theIr place? Alcxios relied
on t le soldIers and herds of Th .
r, f' , I '. race to provIde transport and SUI)-
p Its OI lIS armIeS and tl '
the wars of J 1 1'1 d support troops also played Cl role in
, 0 III an nlIanuel I Du "1 11 I ,
war, when the e b' IlDg t le so-ca cc SCythIall
mperor was etween Bulgar 1 d L' tl .
Joannakes and Nicholas M . op lygOS an It e Nlcaea,
up from the l' 1 were instructed to "round
WlO e c stnct WIth wag d 1 .
Later when tl ,ons an t leIr ox-tCalns. "!1lI
, le emperor was again fig'] t' '1 S I
preparing the army r th ' 1 mg tIe cyt IS, and was
, ( Lor e great b td f L b
scnos ordered to 11 . <, a e 0 e ounion (1091), Mclis-
' . co ect recruIts from . I '. F .
I um the regron piled I ' a WlC e al ea, oot soldIers
sent tn'\lcxI'o" !I!I TI )<lggage o.n Ox-wagons, with supplies, and were
. .. .,. lese passa b' .
ges, corn med with evidence from. John
:.: ,I/n/llt/f, H, +1. 11, 27-29 .
. . !In/m/e, IJI, lB!i, 11. 1"1 A . " . .
Idw" ('lIabhl tl . '. nn,1 SdyS that AlcXlOS g L .. b
,; U . !Cm to transfer their I ' ,{' .' ave Clllyso ulJs to these men
,.\ . 1'lIadl', I/, B:l, 11. 17-22, . )ene Its to theIr sons and grandsons. '
.' Ynlilif". H, 12G, n. 22-23 " ,
IW 1 ,(IIV rf ' . , , . ", 1tc/;our DE
., U . ""'!(OVtwv puiiiv 1I:E"'aO'C(\" E,:> a1taallS ,11<; xropaC; /lc'tcX
, I'III/dt, I/. 1 :m, 11. 1 G, .
and Manuc\'s reigns, demonstrate that the Komnenian emperors
c\cvclopcd sources outside of Asia Minor to obtain supplies and mil-
ilary transporl. l'hc 'Thl'ac.ians served the same function in the Kom-
llcnian army as had the troops of the theme of Optimaton in the
l'vaccc\onian and post-Macedonian periods.
The supply oC Lhe imperial fleet falls outside the parameters of
this study. However, it is interesting to note that Anna Komnene's
evidence accords with the information given by Niketas Choniates.
Choniatcs recounts how John of Poutze diverted ship monies to the
treasury, noting that the Cyclades usually ships for the
imperial Heet. Anna provides similar information, notmg that the fleet
was equipped by the cities on the Asiatic coast, and fran: Europe.
\Vith respect to Heet support there appears to be a hIgh level of
cOlltinuity hetween the Komnenian and earlier p:rio.ds. In, the
dOl1ian dynasty and earlier, the theme of KibyrrhalOtat prOVIded satlors
and shiI)S fill' it "thematic" fleet, while the ccntral government
. d Cl '. t It
vided Its own squadrons. From what Anna an 10mates repor ,
appears that during the Komnenian period the provinces, the
Asiatic cities or the islands of the Cyclades, produced and
,. , . f l' . t "ship momes was
sailors Cor the Hcet. I he converS1On 0 S lipS m 0 -
tantamount to abolishing the fleet. .'
Finally, wc should not project upon Byzantine and medieval armies
. . 1 I' t' on of supply and sup-
uur modern preoccupatlOl1 "':It 1 , centra Iza I, . . 0-
port. The Byzantine state mamtamed a of pr
1 I
[' , campmgn Soldiers bought
viding transport anc supp y 101' Its army on . . I
L 1 ' 'bl . in areas with substantta
their own supphes when t lIS was POSSl e, ..
.' 1 been common. When cities
urban populatlOl1S tlus appcars to 1ave k 101 C"
, . 1 clers set up mar ets, lU-
were not reachly accesslb e, army comman 1 '
., . d' t estern accounts, t lIS was
sacler anmes pillaged, but, accor 1l1g 0 W .
. B" t' refused to sell them proVl-
I)C("tllSC I-Iunganan and yzantme Clles . 1
. -, . - , ..' agamst t le
'()11S 1112 \!\Then Alexios mustered hiS army to d
. . . , d' B t1 ma crosse
Sc1juk Turks, Anna reports stat10ne m lilOS'
the Sea oC Marrnara to obtam supplIes from the capita.
I"" .dlexinde, lII, 65. Il. 22-24.
1"1 All'xim/e, Ill, 112, 11. .' ed and trans. Louis Brehier (Paris, 1924),
1"1 Hi.l'/oire de la Prel1l1e1e C701snde, . I' P' 'natis '-Turco!)oles and
;/ t' ns 'Turcopo IS et IIICl, I
17. The anonymoLls author men to. H' t ' "',.ancorll1n nui Cepemnt Iherusa em,
., I' d D'Ag'Ullers lS.ona 1'i l<l
Pel'hencgs. See also . : 1968) 16 18 24.
lrang, J.I-I. Hill and L.L. HIll I t his soldiers were
1"1 IH, 194, 11. 6-19. On exlOS as
Alexios' reign was characterized b [1 ' .' , . '
of supply' Th 'd ' . y a cXlbIc and vaned
. raeIan rovers provIded t 'a cl . .
were used' pay 'd cl 1 l1s
ort. an soldH'l's: markets
. ,was proVI e . But men "1'1 ' . . . ,
mgs, from whieh the mu' lC css helel
' d Y stered when the ImlJcrhl
c e Ivere , ' Sllllll110llS wert'
Niketas Choniates
Byzantine chroniclers tended t '
J h 0 wnte about the" . .
WIt 1 t e emperor's camp" . d '. . ar my III associatIOn
" argns, escnptIons of tl
Its partIcular association 'tl h 1C army outside or
Cc W1 1 t e emperor are ' ,
re erences to money th t h 1 al e as a cOllseq liCHee
I d ate emperor ca' ' d . '
ea us to suppose that th C Ine on campaIgn Illif{lll
monetary. Camp'aigns h e system of paying the army t'llti\:d)'
, d ' owever, were an om I' .
reqUire exorbitant fund' t1 a les, speCIal cases that
t d s, 1ey were not cl " .
0- ay support of the a' Ch' la! actcnstIc 01 the day-
h h I rmy. Ol11ates pro . 1
ow t e (omenian army was d . , VlC es very good evidence
tel1ance of the army as follow: mmIstered, and describes the Illaill-
There is a law laid d
also a I own by the Roman I . 1
.. I t le barbarians that 'd s, w IIC 1, I believe, pr'('vails
all[ theIr I)eri di . ' proVl cs [or sold" .
. I I 0 c Il1spection to a " ler spay lOps( llIia]
.rve cared [or their horses' they are weJl-arllleci
I ". Id" t,h.ey were able-bodied skill d . ew recnnts were first tested to
)ran IS ling the I [" e 111 archery and '
they regist . d . ance, ez Atadainein dory eperk ]' < expenenccd in
CIn .. eIe. In the military rolls [t' . esan ,and only then were
[tazf.e/ or, into the treasures tl OlS katalog
ellgmj)/iest/mi]. This
thirst egrllhenazs to!: paroikoll doreais] like le glfts of the paJ'uikni
o t e armIes b I . , water mto '1 ci t . '
abused a tactic b y t le payment o[ provision' s elll, sated the
those who had fi egun by [ormer emperors d money, and thereby
He wa' requently thrashed the ,an rarely resorted Lo b),
s not aware th 1 enemy.
sums of mo was enfeeblin the t ,
pro\1!Jces. The b neY,111to Idle bellies and g , by pourIng
TI . rave soldiers I' mISmanagmg tl ' R
. le IIlhabitants of 1 . ost mterest in distin "1' le Oll1an
tax-collector le proVInces, who in the themselves ....
HaIy greed, bdn' .; suffered the greatest ha a to pay the inlpe-
of their last bed not of silver as the result of mil-
loved oues. ' and sometImes tlley w d bols, but also stripped
For these rea . ere ragged away from their
I" .J' . SOilS, everv
l'Ill<llllg over a p,.... . lone wanted to enli .
('llrulled in or paying the army ... Allcr
1Il1111t 'cliatdy were . n:dlhtalY registers witho t d ew gold coins, they
PIOVl ed w't! . u ue exa' .
1 1 Imperial lett [b" t;JtnatlOll and
"el'S aszlzkolS dOdiastlw.rall
gll/ll/I//a.,/ I awaJ":linp; of dewy land, wheat-bearing fields,
R,OIWlll trIbutarIes [R/wmawus lrypqforous] to serve them as slaves.
a Roman of royal bearing would pay taxes to a half-Turk-
Ish, llalt-C;rt'ck barbarian manikin who knew nothing of pitched
battles, . , .
The of the troops brought deserved suffering to the
Roman ?rovlnces .... others were devastated, ravaged by our own
ml'lI as II they were enemy lands.ltH
\'Vllell Choniates describes :NIanuel's management of the army, he
uses lht' terms ojl.mnia and siteTesia interchangeably, to refer to salaries.
OjJSlllli(/, properly "provisions" or military supplies, but usually used
in the Sl'llSl' of wages, is synonymous with siteresia: victuals or forage
11l0ll('Y. This indicates the close connection this term had with the
pl'ovisionillg of Holdiers; it was roughly equivalent to the late Roman
(1lI/1111/(/. \V c should sce in this conflation of two separate concepts a
parallel with the legal treatment that stratiotika ktemata receives under
the Kmnnenoi. Stmtiotes (soldiers) are mentioned in conjunction with
the xlraleia, (the rnilitary-tax), and indeed the stratiotes might pay the
slmteia, in its fiHcal sense, without performing military service. Stra-
fCIl.l'l/wi could refer to campaigning, or to performing the duties asso-
ciated with being the holder of the fiscal obligation of strateia. The
development of pl'onoia under Manuel, and perhaps John II merely
adds to this confusion.
The confusion of terms is one reason why Choniates' description
is of historical interest. The passage gives no indication he recog-
nizee! a between opsonia and sitaresia; much of his career
was spent in the fmancial bureaucracy, and he eventually became
logothete of the Sekreta, a high financial post. It does not seem pos-
sible that he would have used the terms synonymously unless they
\VelT in synonymous.
The apparent interchangeability of opso-
Ilia and siteresia lllay well mirror the changes in imperial government
uncler the Komnenian emperors when actual tides, such as strategos,
might not indicate specific duties, while honorifics such as sebastos
co;t!d inclicate positions of real authority. This terminological int:r-
changeability would also suggest changes in land-tenure and the socml
. . B' h' d 11 e villages provided for the
quartered wilh the local populatlOn 111 It yma, an les ,
and baggage animals, ..' [' 118-19)
1"1 Choniales, His/aria, 208-09 (trans. Magouhas, 0 Czty of Byzan wm, ..
lW, Magoulias, 0 City if Byzantium, xiv.

structure of taxation, indicating fiscalization oe the ,Ilmlt>/{/, hoth Ill)'
the fleet (as noted earlier) and now for the army. Yt'[ wc still linel
levies that are called up by local as well as imperial autilmilY. Finally,
:ve have, evidence of the growth of jnwlOia as Cl method or support-
ll1g soldIers, and apparently also as a method of turnillg' pknliful
surplus land into immediate cash for the treasury.
Choniates also provides some evidence for the growth of /!/'(lIloia
as a method of supporting soldiers and apparently also as a method
of turning plentiful surplus lands into immediate cash Nw the In'as-
my. The passage quoted above describes how imperial tmops were
supported: provision money, salaries, and gifts of jJariokoi (selllt'rs), it
to the farmers whose lands and revenues constituted /mllllilil.
ProllOza are not 'fi 11 .' d I . ,
specI ca y mentlone Jy Chomatcs; Irom the ('O!!-
text, however, it is evident that he is referring to this kind (,1' sup-
are enrolled in registers; they receive ba.rilika l;IwllIJl!I/a
(nnpenal letters) that awa d th 1 (' 1 ,',
. ' , r em parce s 01 and, along' wllh tnbu-
responsible for paying taxes to the land holders,llIli Chollialcs
claul1s that the troops sup t d bM'
, par e Y anuel s land gTants wel'(, lIot
profiCicnt at arms 107 b t tl Id' 1\; "
, _ ,u le so lers lVIanuel led on campaig. n aJ"'<t}'s
pi ovc battle-worthy l\{ , k <.
B . ' . ' even at l.yno ephalon there was no rOllt. The
possessed large quantities of arable land available fill'
tl dnSlcr to slIltable military d'd 1011 '
" ' can 1 ates, Even If we lakc ChOlliates'
comments at face value the b fit.h ' '" ,
, p,' ,ene 1 to t e treasury 01 a lcw n)Jlls
01 a ClSlan horse" was appa t1 ffi' , ,
fe)!' th ,ren y su lClcnt to make It wOl'thwluk
kn . government to dispose of lands in this manner, vVe do IlO!
o\\- IOW much land was oiven" . 1" " .
coins" and with t tl , c; lorse or for Chomates' "thret'
Manl'lc>l's ., t ou liS 1l11OrmatlOn it is difficult to judcre 'whether
' ., sys em was tru] ad' . ,,:,:>
It I . I, b Y s Isastrous as Choniates implies.
las a so een supposed that M 1 c
ation system and tl ' , 'fi c anue relOrmcd thc e111pire's tax-
, liS specI lC measure h b .
eral refinms with' tl B' as een assocIated with "'Cll-
, IJ1 le yzantll1e army TI . ;-,
three passages in Cl " ,,1e argument IS based UPOll
' lOmates ehromc1e' Fi, t Cl ' .
t lat !vIanucl 6'Tanted T ' IS, 10l11ates complams
, mlltalY lands to foreigners and tradesmen. Sec-
"", ('I '
''';: lHr/oria, 209, 11. 36-{g
I',,, ,ChOllliltes, HIJ/orzil, 2013-'09' , ,',
, r lws(' lands were in P'I )hl' Red/etches, 273,
111111' providl'd t, f"'] ag011la, Amaseia and N k
I /
' . i . lOOpS or nnperial . r ' , co 'as!ron, All thlTe 10("\-
I (' I'atl'( ]lI'opl" 1 I ( d mlCS and in so I . . .
tf 1 il ." (S sett er there, li)!' examplc' N' r me lad settlclllcn Is of'
""ltll,III;lglnl a sirortage of land, When receIved Serbians, It is hard
' rors were bringing III thousands of
(lIld, Choniates comments that John of Poutze, "procurator of the
ptl blic taxes and grand cOllunissioner and inspector of accounts,"
" I 11 ' h' , I 109
diverted ship-mOl ICY leVIes from t le 'eet mto t e lmpena treasury,
Finally, Chonialcs states that taxes were collected a
and Lt barbarian working in conjunction, and that thIS resulted m
abuses and loss of tax receipts,llll It is debatable whether this is an
accurale assessment of Ivlanucl's tax system, but the information at
any rate tells us nothing about the army. We should ,not confuse the
measures emperors took with respect to the army
tires that in hindsight appear similar to us, Tl11S IS merely comCl-
dental. The KOl1l11enian emperors always valued the army over the
fleet, and the value placed upon land operations increased through-
out the reigns or Alexios, John, and Ivlanuel. Furthermore, the sources
provick other evidence on how soldiers were and
sorts of levies were available to the army. Entlre umts of captIves
, l' A' M' The best exam-
were settled on tracts, particular y 111 SIa mol',
" , 1 S b" s who John Komnenos
pie o( forced settlement IS. t le er Ia,n , . of
furced to settle near Nicomecha, III Chomates states, that ,
1 I
' d tl . t ere made tnbutanes, It IS
thcm werc l1ladc so oers, an le 1 es w , '" 1
,. , 1 I ,. se dutIes from WhICh the so-
111lPOSSlblc to know cxacty tle pIeCI , h.
. I' 11 ' c 1 they were different from t e
chers 'were excmptec .111C t lel elore lOW , I
'" Wl tl cluties were Serbian so-
tribute-paying SerbIans, l.atever , cIi I '1-
;, ,1 d th theIr non-sol er y, tn)u
diers---noll-tnbutanes-were sett e WI , 1 t'
", " 11 I tl at of the earlIer, t!lema lC
tal'y compatriots, I hIS SItuatIOn para e s 1 f IT
" , , ' .' Th' is an example 0 a ,,-omnen-
)I'{)v!11cml ll11htary orgamzatIOn, IS , 1 bl of
. I hoc solutIOn to t le pro ems
ian emperor John Il, creatmg an , d I ds
. ' , 1 h d for settlers m reconquere an ,
insuflicient manpower anc t e nee , edi-
, J hn's SolutIOn was an exp
I ikc all three Komneman emperors, 0, , 01-
' " 1 ' eek a conSIstent economIC p
cnt based 011 ll111ncchate neec s, to s , , , blem of
f I I
d soldIers IS mm e a pro
icy in the treatment 0 anc an
historians' hindsight. ...' had been fiscalized, the empire
'Whether or not mIhtary I ' t rovide transportation
'cl 1 . ts Thracmn eVIes 0 p,
C0I111l111C to rc y on Id' tIle Hungarian war of
, Cl '. t tates that urmg
and supplIes. loma es s
IU'I CIWlliatcs, His/oria, 55,
1111 Cllllniates, His/oria, 205. "ates that John enrolled some in the ,arm\
111 Chol1iates, His/oria, 16. std l'berately differentiates between sunplc
'I ' Chomates e 1
and made others t1'1 mtanes, . tl. d mong them,
iilrtllI,\,S, and soldiers who were set ca,
11.'i3, i\1anucl ordered the troops from the western half of the em-
pire to supply wagons and to furnish food to the army,I12 ''''as the
the obligation to sell or supply produce to the armed [01'CCS--
graduaJJy fiscalized in the eleventh and twelfth centuries?ll:l It may
be that Choniat:s's anecdote has nothing to do with the -!jJflone; per-
haps the from the synone were used to finance levies of wag-
on: and supplIes, But Choniates merely states that the soldiers were
kneel, to bring supplies and wagons, Unlike other exam-
p!es l!npenal where we should rightly question
Chlllll<ltes' rheton,cal intentions, there are no such obfuscating pur-
pm,es here, Most Importantly, this portage and supply duty appears
have a reg11larized obligation of these Thracian units whether
It was rellnbursed by co t 'b t' r. N,r,
, n n u IOns lrom .mnue1 s campmgn chest
or Irom collected ta .' Th' d
- - , xes, IS uty was not the responsibility of the
c('lItral gOVt'l'I1ment P bl hI' ,
, :.. _ ' resuma y t e so dIers m Thrace were sum-
hke the:. Serbian settlers-soldiers near Nicomedia, whose trib-
llt,U) (ompatnots both paid taxes and had d
with their fitrm-Ian I' 0 ' oxen an wagons to go
(' " ,( s. n the other hand, It appears that the Acro-
:,(JJlllth garnson was not composed of the local po 1 t' Tl
t J'I ,I, ' pu a Ion, ley
,I 11( ( ,I HllIt sent b M, I. ,
n',t.:ir illS horn th' tl " Y f N
to, econOlTIlcally valuable
, t lItat 0 orman mvaSIOn IIf A '1 1 ('
it '1Tl"II' 1)'lttl'l'll 'tl' h K 'gam, t le scare 1 LOI
',., . WI llnte 'T
Ildds with the more 1, ,'bl' ml Itary support system is at
I j\ a variety 01' e'x!) Pd,ausI. e reahty; the state maintained its soldiers
, , e Ients,
, allclJohn have left onc ie '
1I1l/lITi,tl Slll)l)()rt systc Th' p ce?f eVIdence for a well-ordered
, ,rn. IS was theIr f I .I. (
I. ('Pi), although bv tll(' K ' ,use 0 aptelLta supply cen-
, ',I, omnenIan penod th I '
1!'I.II11 fIUI' authors' vac' bIll' J e term las dIsappeared
, . a u ary, ,1 oh Ii . '1 ' ,
tIll' (',N as his b'ise (f ,,11 requent y used LopadaIOn Il1
. , , ) operatIOns while M I bl'
fH at Dorvlaion 'md S bl" auue esta Ished fortified
Ik ' " , ou awn to support h' . ,
'HlIoll HI 1176, In 11 IS CampaIgn agamst
r . , John took fi 'l h'
'11 In'" he had built on the Rh . re WIt 1 IS army at a
yndakos RIVer m western Asia Minor.
i (I" OIlidtt'", F/i'/III/fl, IIlO
[[,lid'i1I" "SVIIOII" R, c', , ,
I J \! " ' , , ,- "lllsIden p
I", , '1IIIlIhll:ltioll" 11", ' ' .. ng a 'roblematic Ter r lVI'dd '
I '!il illlul ill H If' \' ).I1I1/me Illld itiodem Greek SI i' 0 I le Byzantll1e
:" (:I!IIllitl""t
"J/I",illif',..Jm!l'{/1/dS'odell! no '7) llf<leS , (1994),140-42,147
, ,I I, llllt/II, 7;) =-',. .
('/""111111", 11"101/11 17"!' (' ,
11(( 1/ 11 j' .' ',.'"llstantll1e Ph'
' , , I ( 1/1 j' \ (,illiwlI , I'd, John 1+ Id' orp yrogcllItus' Three ,f1!Iilitmy Treatises
' d on (Vienna, 1990), 80-81.
Again, this appears to have been an imperial supply point.
In the
west, the impcrial armies frequently gathered on the plains of Pela-
gonia, which were centrally located north of Thessalonike, and were
a good mustering-point for troops from Thrace, Macedonia, Thes-
saly, and the rest of Europe, Combining these examples with the
infonnation that imperial agents watched over the roads and embarka-
tion points,117 Choniates presents us with a picture of a sophisticated
system of logistics and assembling soldiers, Imperial summons would
go out for the army to muster, and imperial agents sure
men travcled overland or by sea to their correct destmatlOns, whIle
ensuring the soldiers did not return home or otherwise shirk
duties, Local forces of a region provided transport [or the army s
needs in the form of carts and oxen, The emperor also had forti-
fied points that became bases for campaign armies, Some,
Lopadaion, were well-established bases relatively near the capItal.
Others, like Soublaion, were advanced posts on the, edge enemy
territory, When examining the Komnenian emphaSIS on SIege war-
Gu'e and the maintenance of fortified locations, wc should,
bel' that without such posts armies had little chance of mamtammg
themselves in the field for more than a few weeks, v:'hen th; army
, ' f: f I points-as dId John s cam-
l'emamed on campaIgn ar rom supp y .
pa.igns at Kinte and Neokaisareia-the horses died, and the men
, - di t was only narrowly averted.
went hUl1gIY, In such Clrcumstances sas er
In 1176, once Manuel passed outside the system of outposts he had
ffi d
r. 1 k of forage and water, All
established, the army su ere lrom a ac , rks IIlI
the local supplies had been destroyed or the JU. '
There is one more event that complicates thIS vane gate
' , ' , I 11471 Second Crusade arnvec
of Komneman mlhtary support. n t le , ' , C _
, Mid for theIr entry mto on
in Byzantine terntory. anue prepare , , '11
'1 d repa1l'lng the CIty wa s,
stantinople by assemblmg t 1e army, an r d '1 coats
Choniates also notes that "to the soldiers he supp le mat "
Kinnamos notes that whcn Manuci galh-
111; Choniates, Hislaria, 20, n, 'I nt {'or home without imperial per-
, . RI d k most of the umts CII 11 cl I' I'
ered hiS army at lyn a os, Id' , . question were settle on e11lC s,
, " ' d' te that the so lel S 111 , K" '
mISSion ThIS appears to In Ica l' 1" II'vell'll(lOcl Sec IIIIMInOS,
.. . , 'I ments 101' t 1ell '
and not dependent upon Impena pay
299, 1. 19, ", " '. " ur best source for this sort of,i,nfo['ma-
III C'honiates Hui(ma, 33, Chom<ltes IS 0 , ply alld support' KIl1l1<lmos
., ' , 'r 1 ' formatIOn on sup . '. I
lion. Anna Komne:lc prOVides, ,ltt e m les and the personal activities 01 .tI.lanue ,
is more interested m the detaIls of batt
1111 Choniates, Hist01ia, 179,
and he armed them with bronze-tipped lances and wakened their
courage with Heet horses, and encouraged them with the donation
of monies," Somc of these men were then stationed in Constan-
tinople, while others followed Conrad's army to prevent it fi'om plun-
Some infantry from the unit following Comad themselves
pIllaged a German detachment. 120
Who were these men? If Choniates is not engaged in rhetorical
exaggeration, it appears that the army was supplied from central stores,
ralhe: than possessing its own equipment. The troops Kinnamos later
wl:o defeated the German army outside Constantinople,
were four umts of the "least warlike," then the "weIl-annored " then
those wi,th swift horses, and finally Cumans, Turks, and
Coats of mail would not have been issued to the least
fore,es, nor to the archers, invariably the lightest-armed men,
I t IS also chfficult to J'mao-ine th t th '
, o a e western mercenary troops III
Bvzantme employ would n t lId I '
r " , 0 lave la t leIr own horses and armol',
I IllS reference must allude to th B ' . I' f
. e yzantme mam me 0 cavalry
the hea\'V-armed kata,b1zl'aktoz' TI ' f '
" . I 1"" le notIOn 0 an army that trained
\'dth arms and armor only when mustered at the capital how-
ever, IS exceeding'! ' I 'I 1 W '
'11. ' ' y Imp aUSI) e. ould such an army have been
.t,l e to the Germans? The answer must be that these troops
\\tTC Byzantll1c caval "d b
', I' . , c ry mallltallle y the central government who
1\ e( near the capItal and fI 1 '
, , ' ' " , or w lose support the emperor was more
I csponslble than for tho' t ' 1
' \' se roops elt ler settled upon imperial lands
1I1 j Sla, or who had similar hId' , } <
' '" h 0 lllgs In t le west. The "distributioll
o mOlllCS t at Ch',' '
" Ol1lates mentIOns should not be t k ' d'
catIOn of r('gul' I a en as an 1I1 1-
ates this do' pay )y a central authority, According to Choni-
, , na Ion was made to e -} d'
as rt:,!:,'1lhr P'ty It ,ncourage t le saIlers, rather than
the ar111)', '[I'll' 'alte ,wa. t
, outsIdhe, the day-to-day support structure of
, ,'I na Ive to t IS 1 ' ,
niates is exaggerating Ma . I' elx
, anatlOn I,S to assume that Cho-
, c nue s 1'0 e In supplVlng the d I
J' men, an t lat
It'. Cl '
, 10I1laI's, lli,\/lJIia, 62 11, 9')-97' <er'. '
he arlill'd tht'lIl with bron;e-tip' cd I' 1,0 the soldiers he supplied mail coals, and
and encouraged them wifIl th:nfes a,nd their courage with fleet
() (Ih' IIJ H1'-llllfilllll P 'll') " " COnatIOn of mOI1ICS " (trailS M ]'
,.. . -" " ,,) u a'tpcx" " ' . , , . agoLl las,
;(nhilflECTl Kat 0P
l1l1COl. XOPllYl 1: Kcx9-
OWOuaf(ftv", eYlpt 1:0 tpPOVlll1cx Kat xp'I'1I'a'tcov ' ,
1:0 K' "I" 1ttppcovvucrt
III 11 <l1llf)S 71 11 13--lc T
int:mtrv" " ' , " '"J, hese were "some R I'. ,
,,' ,: '" PCOl1alIJJv EK "omans lom the regIster of the
. Kill 11 <1111 os, 77, 11, 15-.. :W, tKCOV Kcx,a/\,oycov, ,."
these men actually possessed their own arms and armor. Choniatcs
was at one point harmostes of the Thracian cities and paymaster of
the troops there, It is difficult to imagine what either exaggeration or
misinformation would accomplish.
So, we must conclude that these
troops were Byzantines living near the capital, in Thrace the
environs of Constantinople, mustered for campaigns and supphed by
NIanuel. It is not outside the scope of probability that such provi-
sions of equipment would supplement those brought into the field
by regular troops. Mail annor per se might have, been less custom-
ary than the scale armor our sources also mentIOn, although wh'y
mail armor would have been a better defense than scale anuor IS
less evident from our texts,
John Kinnamos
John Kinnamos offers his own, frequently of
how the Byzantine army was supported, The pro-
vides is often tantalizing, since he mentions events and actlvItles that
Choniatcs frequently omits, Unfortunately, Kinnamos ncgl,ccts
vide the commentary and personal opinions that makc Cho,mates S(>,
useful and that flesh out his descriptions, Nevertheless,
is valuable as an auxiliary to the Historia of Chomatcs, ';n'
example Kinnamos mentions that John II augmented the
, " '1' J 1 1 II defeats the Pec 1cnegs
settlmg TurkIc peoples m t le empIre, 011 , 'h' 1 C t.d
'I' , t rs 123 In 1124 e C Clea c
and enrolls them on the ml Itary regIs e " 'h "the
. ki prisoners and forcmg t em to Jom
the Tur s, ta ng some as . 1 t' d a reference
. rm 12+ Local forces under a doux are a so men lOne ',' T '
" , 'In 1158 Manuel ordered AlexlOs ka51a1105,
that IS lacklng m Chorllates, " 125 I 1166 Kalouphes,
. bIe hIS natIve force, n . ,
doux of Seleu eIa, to assem ' , h H rl"illS 1211 taking a
, , ' d agamst t c unga ( , ' ,
doux of Dalmatia, campmgI.e cl' rainst the Hungan-
. h' my and a vancmg age. . ,-
few men from IS own ar 'd pport
the idea that
ans, Taken as a whole, Kinnamos' eVI ence su ' .
Magoulias, 0 City qf xiii.. . s that they were trained as Rllman
123 Kinnamos, B, n, 20-21. say
(Byzantines) and served a long time,
12-' Kinnamos, 9, n, 3-6,
m Kinnamos, 179, ll. 10-12,
121; Kinnamos, 263, ll. 3-5,
there were local forces maintained in vulnerable provinces, uncler
the direct control of the doux. Presumably the forces of the doux of
Dyrrachion, who melted away before they came in contact with
Hungarians, were locals, and they returned to their homes. The
is that they were sent by the central authority, and
deCIded to forsake employment with the emperor. But Kinnamos'
narrative implies that these were not deserters. They were locals who
re,tllrned .home rather than risk their lives fighting the Hungarians.
\ \ hell TVIlchacl Gabras was sent to attack Amaseia, as a diversion-
ary during the second Ikonion campaign of 1176. Gabras took
part of hIS r army with him, but the rest he gathered from the vil-
lages near freblzond and Oinaion.127
.Kinm:Ullos rcports that Manuel prepared carefully for his cam-
of 1176: horses and men were supplied, and oxen were brought
III from the villao-es in Th I
, "., race, more t lan three thousand wagons
w("re Th' " . , .
. , " . IS. IS an Important passage; It IS the only men-
tIon 0111 sources prOVIde of . b
, ".' preCIse num el'S of wagons to support

of between thirty thousand and forty thousand combatants.

, III t le sake of argument h '
. ,} " " ' we assume t at the allIed contingents
SI\( 1 ,tS the AntlOchenes supplied themselves th' .
l( '(' 'f', ' ,IS glves us a pro-
JI Ion (J wagons to men that Id 1 I '
, . '" wou roug 1 y agree wlth what a file
t,\\ (I)' of ,lllJant,IY, ten to twelve men, would require. 129 This is not
.Ill mc lcatlOll of organizational " .
{'MlitT rnilil'trv t " h . contmUlty WIth the prescriptions of
, 1 exts, J at er It suggests t1 t 'I'
(':tj>able (f' '" ' . h ' ' la a ml1tary wagon was
) e,u rymg t e supplIes n I .
of men This)y'" I ' ecessary or roughly thIS nUl11bcr
. ,dssage a so mIrrors Kinnamo ' , f
dollS quantity of ox(' b' I' s mentIOn 0 a trcmcn-
.. n C1l1g (l'lven from Thr '1
that !\lalluel planned t d' ,L , ,ace to supp y an army
o lIect agamst Ikol1Ion in 1160. I:lIl Kinnalnos'
2f13, H, 9 16,
I,", KlIlllarnlts, 2flfJ, H, 15-17,
(,II/II/rll//II/r Pllrplr)'l"IIITenitlls' 77lree N'
Ilald"lI (Vil'Hlla, uiJOt 11 19, Th/ea.tlses ,on il1ilitary EXjJeditions, ecl, John
I:' prllbably it maximUm' OI ' ten lor one hundred soldiers of the
'w, I" ('(['upped and provided Ilw.' le WOU ( expect the average soldier to be less
Kn lIIalll"s I'l') '\' .
, . ..,' Il IllIer"eSlm .' I
a Turkish campaign is that John 1<.011-
, ' ".(11 "f Iht, IIIlIli'rial fiX('e 11'1'11 '[ I' 0 m,en, and defeated them 'vI'tll
111"11 '1\ I I - 'IV anue had ' '
" . '11le t It" oj'the U 000 lh C'l ,mustered that year. These 22 000
t , I \" n 'dt ,. I 11 ' , at. lonlates t' " ,
"I' " '[' "'-',1 t 1 I It' 71> campaign oflh a go cl b . men Ions II1vac1mg the lVIaian-
, tit I an ' I ' " '0 enchma 'k f "1 fi '
'1I1d Ill<' TlIIk I 7',,1 IS clear Ihe emperor had lit.' ,I OI tle ghtl,ngstrength
:! 1.1 JI III 11I;l!1 larger.' e at
1 "Ill IS representee! " I' mander campaIgn the
,is tIe ehte of the T k' I " ' .
ur IS 1 army, rhese
third mention of army supply occurs during his account of the
emperor's 1150 campaign against the Hungarians, The Byzantine
contingent included a specific corps of men who marched with the
army, and who searched for food supplies (in this case food hidden
underground,) thal they dug up with mattocks.
Mention of pro-
fessional foragers is extremely rare in most military accounts and
foragers do not appear (to my knowledge) in any other Byzantine
source for the Komnenian period, In this context, they are men-
tioned with the specific intent of elucidating one of Manucl's tactical
stratagems. Nevertheless, it is a good finishing point for a discussion
of evidence for military support institutions. There is so lit-
tle direct evidence for organization of this sort during the Kom-
nenian period that we must be careful not to make assumptions
about the existence of sophisticated mechanisms for supplying and
supporting the army, both on and off campaign, Despite
tary evidence, the above examples indicate that the KomnenOl devel-
oped a sophisticated system for maintaining their troops, and that
supply before and during campaign was regularized, We should see
the Komnenian emphasis on fortification and sieges as an example
of the importance of advanced posts in supplying medieval armies.
rather than those he could call upon from
were probably the, sulta,n's own men,
allied and lm almrs,
t:II Kinnamos, 106,
This chapter examines the practice of siegecraft under the Kom-
nenian emperors. Most of our siege examples date from the reigns
of John and Manuel, for Alexios initiated few sieges; he was too
busy defending his fractured empire to engage in wars of conquest.
Yet, from the commencement of John Il's reign (1118) until the end
of Manuel's reign (I 180), sieges and the defense of strategic cities
the most important element of Byzantine war planning and
strategIc thought. The chroniclers mention a few field battles fought
by II Komnenos. Theodore Prodromos even says to John, in
an, oratIOn on th: capture of Kastamon, that he did not fight in
open. battle, but 1l1stead chose to smash through walls. I Choniates
twenty. incidents where one of John's cam-
paIgns 1l1:,0lved sIege actIOns, and three instances where J olm forti-
undefended locations. This averages over one siege
. yeal, there may have been many other actions in which the
cmperor dId t . .
. no partIcIpate, and that our sources neglect to men-
tIOn. Manuel I also condu t d . B .
c c many SIeges. yzantme forces attacked
or defended approximately two dozen strong places during the thirty-
sevcn yea f M l' .
. rs 0 anue s reIgn, while Manuel ordered fortifications
constructed at t 1 . T
r 11' en . he se were not random actions. In the
o pages. we WIll examine the purposes of Komnenian sic 'C
fare, th.e regIons and cities upon which John and Manucl
lCU' attentIon, and the siege techniques and equipment they employed.
Alexios I
Komnenian military polic h'
Iowed by tenacio d. fi, Y eTm
aSlZed aggressive siege-warfare fol-
" us e ense. hese two el .
tleal fUllctions, but they were indi . 'bl ements were sepal ate tac-
... ...... VlSI e parts of a strategy of controlling
I 'flleodurI!J PmdrollloJ fhr/orisdle G'edichte ed ,," .
(h!'ll II (VJellna, 1974). 195, ll. 65-8.' . WolfIam Horandner, vVlener Byz. Stu-
cities in order to control the surrounding regions. Alexios' campaigns
wcre usually defensive in nature; he and his agents conducted few
sieges, but instead defended Byzantine cities and fortified places
against Normans, Pechenegs, and SeUuk Turks.
Alexios' successful
clefense of Epiros and the empire's Balkan territories enabled John
and Manucl to pursue aggressive military policies.
The importance of successful siege actions cannot be overesti-
rnated. For example, Robert Guiscard's defeat of the Byzantine army
at Dyrrachion (1081) was less significant than his failures in siege
actions; Dyrrachion was captured at great cost to the Norman an.ny,
and Guiscard's unsuccessful attempt to seize the fortifications of EpIroS
slowed his army's march to Thessalonike. These lost opportunities
Incant that the Normans were never able to establish permanent
control over Epiros, Thessaly, and Macedonia. Their control remained
limited to the littoral of the Ionian Sea. George Palaiologos' defense
of Dyrrachion, and the presence of substantial at Kas-
toria and in Epiros were more effective than the army at
preventing the Normans from advancing into the heart-
land. Fortifications were man-made geographical and strategIc Imped-
ilnents' a reasonably effective army could prevent an from
'. Id t nsolidate hIS control
conducting a slege, but an enemy cou no co ,
over a region without taking the cities. FortificatIOns were a d:lay-
" th . de that could rcmam !11
ing measure. In most long campaIgns, e SI
c. l' th s provided an attacker
theficlcl the longest won. SuccesslU SIeges u '1
with a method for quickly obtaining control over a region, win e a
successful defcnse frequently created insurmountable obstacles for an
enemy army trying to survive in a hostile country. . f'
. I' different to accounts 0
Byzantine literary sources arc cunous y 111 ., 1 d J
, . . . 1 . m erial personage IS !I1VO ve .
SIeges and sIege-craft, except w len an 1 p . f P
( 1 g
erics and oratIons 0 ro-
antine oratorical sources t le pany .. 1
h h
...) prOVIC e some
cl d B ilal
'es as opposed to t e Iston,ms , .
ronlOS an as " . l' 1 l11ghl\!
., . b . but such information IS spontc IC am '. 1
InformatIOn a out Sleges,
. f Asia Minor might have developed \'I'ry
It should be noted that the IllstOlY () I' I' , lttll'V t1Sll rllCI'S had !lot turned
. dIther late c event l-Ll.! / . . k 'J' k
differently if Mehssenos an tIe 0 '11 I ., f Asia ,'\'lino!' tu the SelJU" u!' "-
over the impregnable Byzantine [O!'tllC( cIties 0 .,
ish mercenaries that accompanied t.hem.}i' I " .d J V'1ll Diett'!l CFHB (Bl'rlill,
:1 Niketas Choniates, Nicetae C/1O/lZatae 1J' Of(lC
:\ ( '.: t,.. 'B7) and Svria (Chllnialt's
. 20 21)' Kerkyra 10l1l,t c.", " ("
1975) Gangra (Choma.tes, - , . I ., tll" ClupeWI' was llresenl (,;t ."lll-
'. I '. ' \ . m ear I case, . , . '1
27-3\) are exceptIOns to t us 1tI . t. for the wealth of useful detaJ .
gra, both John and Nlanuel), whIch acCoun s
variable in quality,4 It can be argued that Anna Komnenc's indif:.
ference to siege actions perhaps stems from a lack of knowledge of
siegecraft. More likely, Anna had little interest in activities that did
not Alexios' prowess, When Alexios was
sent durmg a siege-for example when he personally besieged the
Norman garrison at Kastoria (1083)-she provides a wealth of detail."'
Whcn AIexios was himself ignominiously besieged by the Pechenegs
at !zouroulos in eastern Thrace, Anna seems to have felt compelled
to lI1vent a demonstration of his cleverness, Since AIexios was
tarily indistinguishable from the other commanders who were also
bottled :lp il,l the fort, she highlighted his intelligence; his use of a
clevcr gnnmlck supposedly enabled the Byzantincs to prevail in
cumstances that were otherwise humiliating,6
In tI ' , I ' , ,
ler situatIOns t lat Il1volved speCialized Byzantine siege troops
as the of the First Crusade through Asia Minor,
IS c,areful to delmeate the Byzantine role: to provide guides and
engmeers for siege action Tl I ' ,
, , ' , s, lese men a so transported the sIege
and constructed the engines when a siege was necessary,7
did I:ot accompany the Crusaders beyond Nicaea where he
partICipated m the siege a t' H' , "
, .. , Cion, e negotIated the submIssIOn of the
the empIre; the Turkish defenders preferred to negotiate with
than, with the Crusaders, This was also the occasion
o t K ust senous dlsagreeme t b t AI'
AI. ,', ',n e ween exlOS and the Crusaders,
to reconStitute the Byzantine frontier in western Asia
w I e sought restitution (either In money or
111 ooty) for their difficulties so far, Naturally AI ' did not want
the Crusadcrs to sack a city that 1 d bB' e;aos
la een yzantme ten years
, Theodore Prodromos produced . ' ,
mon and Gangra (II3'H4) fI' j celebratmg John IT's battles at Kasta-
, IS' ',IS t 111' oration desc 'b I '
dnc . ()zopohs Kastamoll Al \ 1 fI es t le capture of Laochcaea
, , " , amos lugos and B I TI fi
lions are desc,f1jJtions of' J I' .' ., a zon, le ourth and fifth ora-
' ,. , 0111 s tflllmphs' C '
<JIII'th OratllHl) victorics c;ver th S .1" III onstantlllople: they mention (in the
\.' j . e cyt lIans (Pecheneg) tl Dj' ,
, mOl 1011 ,IIlC at LCllJllOS' tIle fif'll' s, le a matlans (Serbs) at
( 'I, I j , , , 1 oratIOn also me t' ' . . ,
JllO l.\ ) Y the Hungarians) ()" " ,n Ions a VIctOry over the Dacians
, I J I ' ," l,ltlO11S SIX and elgI t I 'b '
,\!le , 0 1/1 S second capture of Kastal ,
Cescn e tnllmphal processions,
' Alf.tillde, + 1+2, (VIII) ,non, respectIvely,
AII'li:ide: (VII, 1'1),
, DellIS Sulhv<tll ed S'iegecrqfi' 1 t .
111111/" (Washingtoll: 200()), p, I il Instruction manuels by "Heron qf Byzan-
: 11 / Vill:iety of siege engines' Anna Komnene's description
d llllctlUn 01 the literal'\! influencc of "I' ' , -7, XIII 2:3, 3:9) may have been
J . eal ler texts,
lier, that was inhabited by Greeks, and that would provide an anchor
for further Byzantine acquisitions in western Anatolia, Nicaca passed
into Byzantine hands and became the most important Byzantine city
in Asia Minor.
John II and Manuel I
John II and Manucl I inherited a stable political situation a
professional army,a Both emperors pursued active ,military
and both deployed considerable resources both on SIeges on ,elt)
defenses. U A cursory examination of John and Manue!'s actlOns
reveals the following: John conducted seven siege actions 111
, M' ) , , P phylia or Cllicla
gonia or Pontos (northern SIa 1110r, SIX 111 am <
" d fi' t' 'Syria Manud or
(southern ASia Mmor) , an 1Ve SIege ac Ions 111 '
, 'P 1 l' ( . siege) attempted to
his generals conducted sleges 111 amp ly la one ,
L " ' , ) b' d Kerkyra
besiege Ikonion in ASIa Mmor (tWIce, ,
off the coast of Epiros, besieged Brindisi in Italy, successfully ,attacked
Zeugminon, on the Hungarian frontier, and
fl Nile in Egypt Manue! also bUIlt fortificatIOns,
the mout lot le ' " h e v theme
Zeugminon Chilara, Pergamon, and Atramyttlon 111 t e \ r 1
' 'd S bl' 'preparatIOn 101' t le
of Neokastra' and DorylalOn an ou alOn 111 , 1'"
, , '.' , 1 defended themse \ cs
1176 attack upon Ikol1lon, Byzantme CItIes a so 1 C 'th
, ' M emvasia Thcbes, ane ,onn
nlany times during Manue s reign: on', 'h H garl' ans' Lao-
k Z
'n aga1l1st t e un ,
against Norman attac s; eugmmo 'P' 'd' Lou'm'l 'me!
. '1 T 1 'T lies Antioch 111 IS1 la, < , ,
dlcaea agmnst t le ur (s, ra , h d of lVhnuel's
.c 11 ) 't Turkish attacks at teen '
tacheir (unsuccesslu y agams " . ttacked but that
t' places the emperors a ,
reign, Orators a so men'lon, '1 ' For example, in his
, d' r hlstonca sources, '
arc not m ou Theodorc Prodromos mcntions
fourth oratIOn on John Komnenos, 10
John's victories at Amorion and Lemnos,
, . B '(111(' ("61-12JO) (Paris, \1I(HlI.
, t C / s/alwnr a !Y'- ' ,J, 'n " ,r
H Jean-Claude Cheynet, FOllumr e ,on e, i' I" thil'ty-sevt'n-yt'ar reign, . \I,lInh
Alexios faced rebellions during twenly years 0, ll1;lrkcd hy rd)('lliolls, I hI'
aim's reign of twenty-Eve years, onlY
reign was that of Alldr(IJuk
. , I' Manllcl's t urty-scv, ' ,
only serious rebelhon c urmg , ' ten of those years, , ,), 'l(1ril
Komnenos, but plots Byzanline FlJrlifiwliolll: :IT!
Clive Foss and Davld " In le, strllction, See :)659 fur Jr> III ,Ull ,
1 CJ86), See 145-50 for techmqucs of con. , ' ",
. ' \' tor Ius vlLlol\( ,
defensive works, .' ph in CllIlstantlllop l .' 1
10 P d 208 John celebrates a tI,llIll1 S' 'b', ,) D'lcians (Hunganam) am
ro t'omes, , ' I ') DaIl11atltlllS ( .. Cl l,\lIS, .,
against the Scythlans (Pee lcncgS ,
John and Manuel's sieges, as well as their fortification programs,
were grouped in distinct regions. John seldom campaigned in Europe.
His efforts were directed at reinforcing the empire's frontiers in CiIi-
cia, Paphlagonia, and Pontos. During John's reign the Scljuk Sul-
tanate of Ikonion was not a threat to Byzantine control of the western
river-valleys and the southern coastline. The Seljuks became a seri-
ous problem only during Manuel's reign. Manuel's fortification and
siege efforts were more geographically varied than John Il's. His gen-
erals conducted sieges in Italy, and he financed the rebuilding of
Milan's walls after the emperor Frederick I Barbarossa destroyed
them (I 167). The emperor's military efforts included attempts to cre-
ate a stable frontier with Hungary, several attempts to control Cili-
cia, including Antioch, and a fortification program aimed at developing
stable Byzantine provinces in the western end of the Anatolian
suIa (.1.162.-3). In order to accomplish this latter goal, Manuel forti-
CItIes 111 the of Neo.kastr.a, and
. e als? pursued .aggressIve fortIficatIOn projects at DorylaIon and
(1175) In preparation for his 1176 campaign against the
of Ikonion.
These were aggressive actions: the creation oC
fort/hed outposts and supply-points right on the empire's border with
the Sdiuk Turks Manuel" f 17 k . . .
. . . s SIege 0 :\ yra, and hIS defenSIve actIons
111 Hellas were not part of d l'b .. I' b .
. a e 1 elate po ICY, ut were reactIOns to
the agg'l'eSSlve mil't t f R
" . 1 ary s rategy 0 oger n of Sicily. In this con text
we should mterpret the Byzantine attack It 1 1 l' .'
. . upon a y as a c elenSlve
was calculated to prevent a repeat of the Norman raids of
, aggressive fortification policies, and defensively moti-
velted ll1VaSlOns were therefore at the I1eart f' . I '1' 1
' I' 0 Impena mI ItalY po -
(urmg John and l'vIanue!'s reigns. Alexios fought field battles
)ccausc he was forced to d fi d I . . c
Ill" .'.. c en t 1e empIre aga111st constant N 01'-
.. :tn ,md TurkIsh attacks. Domestic stability during John and Manucl's
IeIgns allowed the formation of a milita l' J '
reeognizecl the I f fi " . . ry po ICY; oIm and lVIanuel
bord 0 111 preserving ancl extending the
el. n exammatlOn of .John and Manuel's field battles
and bcyond the Halys River. 208-9 '. . . . . .
,It .\monoll and Lcmnos (tile I . PlOdlomos also mentIOns VictOries
, onc on and the se' d I .
are not mcntioned in other SOUI'C.' F' 11 : cO,n a nava and these
Alzos, Balzon I) 1 (1,1. cs, ma y, Vlctones are mentIOned at AlaITIOS
I1 ' ;;. c "
CllOlliares, His!oria I 50
[e Cll<lniatcs, lhfi01ia: 176:
(as opposed to sieges) indicates that the only decisive battles were
John's victory over an army of Pecheneg marauders (1122), his defeat
of an Hungarian invasion (1127), and Manucl's victory over the Hun-
garians at the battle of Semlin (1167). These victories preserved
rial control of Bulgaria, Dalmatia, and Serbia between 1122 and
1180. Myriokephalon was also a decisive battle; it prevented
serious Byzantine offensives in Asia Minor, but it did not SIg-
nificant changes to the empire's eastern boundaries. Manue! unme-
cliately repudiated the peace treaty he was forced to accept because
of his defeat. Both John and Manuel understood that large field bat-
tles seldom accomplished ambitious, long-term policy goals such
as the extension of a military frontier. No battle during John and
IVlanuel's reigns, even the three successful, decisive mell-
tioned above, resulted in great territorial changes. It was. takmg and
holding fortified places that extended the imperial
IYIanuel's last campaign, which resulted in the Byzantme defeat at
Myriokcphalon, was directed against Ikonion. It should be
stood as an accidental field battle that resulted from an
siege action. The huge army that Manuel for .thls
paign existed [or two reasons: first, to bring the tram t?
nion, and second, to prosecute the siege at the SelJuk capItal. ,
. d' d gIlt Indeed the emperor s
major battle was neIther eSlre nor sou. , .
. h I 1 M . okephalon passes wlth-
attempt to bring hIS army t roug 1 t le yn ",
f h
f the Byzant1l1e S defeat.
out firrhting the Turks was one o' t e causes 0 .
b hIe t t Mynokephalon
The tactical mistakes that resulted 111 t e c elea a . . . '
. 1 t t Dic significance of thIS cam-
however are not Important to t 1e s ra d
.' 1 . d I . intact Manuel pIannc to
yugn Had the army reac 1C comon, ..
< , .' Ik' would have cntl-
take the city. A successful sIcge actIOn at. I" \.Vllatc'Vel'
. '1' 'tIOn 111 nato Id. ,..
cally altered the Byzantmc 11.11 Itary POSI . .' : ' nd
. h' . ign hIS strategIc VISIon a
IYIanuel's tactical mistakes m t IS campa c" . ': r r\ t of his
k Ik
' clear and correct 111 Ig 1. >
his decision to attac oman were I till ('oast of Asia
. . t 1 vel' t 1e sou ler . ( ,
goal: obtall1ll1.g permanent con 0':1
Minor, and eventually over AntIoch.
')' (J]' !'F I'l')
--.. " . (C" I d" .. c jlJg .) , >_.
" / IlI/lIleTWS ,am Jrl b' > ,
I:l Paul Magclalino, 77ze Empzre If I . I' 'lnd the call1lJaign 0] IkolllOll
1\'1 i' fOl'uhcatton po ICY, '. 1
lVhgdalino discusses bot 1 lV anlle s 1 1 ' 'Vc'st COlll[Jaring tlus ast cam-
e C I r states anc t le v .. , .. I 1 I . .
with respect to the Latm, rusae c. 'f IvI I' motives should be ack c( t It 'pun.
aign to a crusade. To tillS analySIS 0 I. al1
e s'on V,"lS well within the rapaCIty ot
. " cl b ve' takll1g 'Olll ' .
military calculatlOn ehscusse a o. ,
the army rvranucl mustered.
The Textual Evidence
Niketas, ,Choniates and John Kinnamos enumerate the most impor-
mIlItary of John, II Komnenos' reign before describing
m grcater detaIl the campaIgns and conquests of Manuel I Kom-
nenos, Their accounts of John's reign describe nearly a siege a year,
Because of the skeletal account they provide, we can assume, but
not provc, that other siege actions occurred but were not recorded
in thcir pages, (See Appendix 1.) Nevertheless, their lists provide a
map Byzantine strategic priorities under these two emperors: their
actiVItIes conducted in specific zones, which correspond
to the polItIcal polIcy emphases of each emperor's reign.
this information is useful when analyzing the policy pri-
ontlCs of the t Ch ' ,
" wo emperors, Ol1lates and Kmnamos were no nlore
ll1terested 'I th ')' , , ,
r ., lIe mlltary actIVitIes of non-emperors than Anna
Komncne: ,However, these two later historians were still in a much
pOSItIOn to obtain accurate information than Anna, They wrote
after John d' I b l'k A.
, lee, ut un 1 e n.l1J1a, they were not describing events
that occurred fifty years earlier, Anna claimcd to have used the
dcscnpllOns of but was never an eyewitness to the military
she dcscnbes, Choniates and Kinnamos were not sequestered
as Anna, was after her abortive rebellion against
' . , and Kinnamos, on the other hand would have
Ken more hkely to 1 t I I ' '
. d nee peop e w 10 had mformation about Jol111
<in d anue!'s camp " th A
' ' . mgns an nna, whose monastic exile lasted for
t le elltIrety of John and Manuel' ,
s reIgns,

Anna Komnene's descriptive vocabulary is remark-
a v COm-lIstent when h d "b ' ,
anel H 11 ' ,s e lCSCll es Implements,I4 In the ancient
, e el1Istle Wor d the h l," l' '
give soldiel's ad" ,e era IS was a SIege tower, used to
, ' . n a vantage 111 he 'I t h '
midablc city ,r. . Igl W en assaultll1g otherwise for-
01 lOrtress defenses Howev' 'I At. ' ,
Contemporaneous B ' ' er, ll1 t le exzad, (and 111
Jt:rent sort of', " ,yzantme the helepoLis is an entirely dif-
, : engll1e, a trebuchet. i:l The hele l' '
tll1e siege engine '1'1 'b' po 1S was the largest Byzan-
, "le petlo oloz and b 1 ' ,
machines of mediUIn '111 I. 11 " ,l la 0 ot were, respectIvely,
< (sma SIZe Lzthob l ' 11
1ll0Ullt on the walls f fI "n ' OOt were sma enough to
, 0 01 tI lcatlOns, although the walls of Constan-
11(''1'1 ,
, ." , )t'lllllS, 'Byzantine Heav A '
3!1 (IYflfl), 10:i, y rtdlery: The Helepolis,' Byzantine and Modem
(" I, Dennis By t' d \
. , ."I/llll/eall ilodem Greek Studies 39 (1998),108-110,
.. _-----
tinople were perhaps unique in having towers capable of handling
the shock-force of the counter-weight of the larger, weighted stone-
throwing trebuchets, In Choniates and Kinnamos the terms petrobo-
Los and lithobalos continue to be used, Comparative assessments of
siege implements during Alexios, John, and Manue!'s reigns are made
difficult by terminological variations among the chroniclers,
may refer to torsion or counterweight artillery by the terms heLejJoflS,
and it may be clear which kind of machine she refers to,' but
namos employs more generic terminology, and even WIth Chon,l-
ates' greater precision, he usually refers to an engine as an helepob:l',
regardless of its size or the stones it was meant launch, It, IS
difficult to know whether equivalent terms in ChOlllates and KIll-
namos reflect descriptions of the same engines or other types, apart
from observing the context in which the engines are used, an,d
attempting to gauge their size by how they were used, and by thw
effectiveness, ,
For example, in 1130 John II conducted an
Kastamon, This city was taken after extensive preparatIOns,
, . 1 ' 'h' " In 1134-35 Jolm agam
Ing surroundmg t le CIty Wit slcge engmes, . L.
took K.astamon exciting the praise of Theodore Prodromos, who
describes how tlle emperor personally took a "rough" (trechea) stone
and laced it in the "wall-crushing" (olesiteicllO) sling, Then he orders
p '11 also called the
the "illustrious men" (andras agauous), the artl erymen, '
, l' h' t lti Prodromos then
stone-shakers (Lzthopalmonas) , to lIt tell' targe , 'I
'd' d and fell mto t le
describes how the stone made a w lIS mg soun
t t that the pas-
middle of the city, It appears clear from t e con ex" cl d "
, f h 'n en but IS mten e as
sage not only praises the skill 0 t e artl clym, ' P 11
. 1 ,I f the emperor, resuma) y,
well to illustrate the physlca strengt 1 0 , " ", _
, _ ,I' fI . s well as the engme s aeen
the audience understood that t liS cat, a . ' . ' I I ' 1
, descnbmg lOW t le rall
racy, was exceptional. Prodromos contmues" '
of stones caused the Turks to the, t the city of Gan-
- . K n John directed hiS army agams . "
teI astamo, , result of the effectiveness of Ius tre-
gra, which also capitulated as a 'cl in Cilicia, attacking
buchetsY A year later the emperor campaIg
16 Prodromos, ed, Horandncr, 239" _ sa s "men stood awuIIe! Ithe city] U11
17 Choniates Historia, 20-21. ProdlOmus
, Y , a Ill'll'\,el to sec, Very maIlY \\cr.('
, , 'h and t lerc, , . ' ,,' E K .,
'11 'cl' t ne throwJIlg engJIlcs crc '.' \," 2 'll) (I raIlS, " III /.,
cL SI es, S 0, " .1 ,t of wall on the outSl( c. ' , ,
set up that It formed anot ler 501' .
Byzantinische Zeitscll7ift 16 [1907], 76-83),
.. 'lll.'

the Armenian fortress of Anazal'bos. In this instance the dcfenders
also possessed siege engines, which they used both against imperial
soldiers and in eounter-battcIY fire against the imperial engines. Cho-
niates describes Anazarbos as a "densely populated city, embraced
by strong walls ... and dcLcnded by ramparts and diverse engines
of war [mec!zanais stationed at intervals." III The defensive fire
consisted of round stones launched against the imperial infantIY, and
heated iron pellets shot against the engines. These measures initially
overwhelmed John's own trebuchets. The Armenians were so embold-
ened by their success that they launched 1ieveral sorties and burned
several Byzantine engines, which were protected by reed-covered
scaffolds. Despite this success, the imperial artillerymen were able to
repair the engines, which J o11n then protected with ramparts of brick.
When the Armenians attempted to hit these cng'ines, (which Cho-
niates says they repeatedly did), their dlorts had no eflcct. The fire-
pellets hit the brick breastworks around the cllg'illC1i and the trebuchets
remained unscathed.
Several aspects of this detailed description deserve closer analysis.
First, the conduct of this campaign is remarkably similar to Manuel's
siege of the citadel of Kerkyra in 1147. During this siege, the approach
of the Venetian and Byzantine fleets caused the Norman defenders
to distribute archers and siege engines around the walls. These were
used to attack the imperial soldiers at the earliest opportunity. Cho-
niates describes the missiles fired as ':iavelins" (velemna) and stones.
But the reference to javelins is rhetorical, and should not be con-
strued to indicate that the Byzantines or their foes were using Roman-
style ballistae. Choniates says that the Byzantines gathered the stones
fired by the city's engines, and fired them back at the enemy.I!I The
defenders' higher elevation allowed their missiles to fire more effec-
tively than those of the emperor. The imperial general, Stephanos
Kontostephanos was killed by a fragment of a stone fired f1'om onc
of the engines, which stmek the siege engine that Stephanos
was dlrectmg; he was spattered by a shrapnel of wood-fi-agments
hom the shattered engine. The siege lasted from autumn 1148 until
July or August of 1149.
The fortrcss was eventually starved into
"'kW Choniates, His/oria, p, 25, (Trans. H. Magoulias, 0 City 0/ B)'::;alltium: Annals qf
CllO?lales 1984J, 15), - .
, Chomates, Hls/ona 78.
20 ,
Choniates, His/on'a, 78-79, 88.
.' ", )()siliOIl or the citadel, and the of fully
submiSSIOn. [he I '. "tlnl held a higher posItIOn meant
. ,"buchcts agalllsl an till my , . ' , " ,
US1l1g tl e ., ..' "ere unahle to dCl'lcle the battle. ,
that the tI cbut hets \ It.' , 'Cl'S (,l11l)loyecl stone throwers that appear
,I d'i'enders Cll1C lesHg"", k I . , the
ot 1 c." . , 1 ,. ("'llOnhtes remar S t lat It was
. force 'l\1C pOWll., , .'
compara) C Il1 , I' , . t 1'\ tint rendered the impenal engmes
height of the cldellC l'\'S Cl 't:Ctll' , cl't{enclers' siege engines. Although
, ,', t the l)owcr () le .' . . " 11
meffectIve., no, ,I I tedly pOSitIOned behmd the wa s,
. t KcrkYI"l \N(,IT lIl1C nu J " I
the engmes a ' ',. . " I ' had towers large enoug 1 to sup-
and fired over them, Cnnstantll10p c.. ( reports that the
I t ' throwing engmes. , 1
1)01't velY (lrgc sonc- , " <, ., (':111'1'11e
'(lround the walls. Whet ler
. A '" 'bos st'ltIO!1C( ,g '., 1
Armemans at l1,l[';tlI ." . '., 1 the towers the defenc-
. .'thin the fortress 01 01 ,
thesc cnglncs werc ". I ", 11 ,t "k the imperial trcbuchets.
. I, I tl 'y l'l'IJeatcc y s I ue ,
el'S were sklIIec, ,lllC It .' I ' lVi'mud re])eated John s
, I J' ntostcl) l'lllOS n01 , ' i'
At Kerkyra l1CIl IC!' '-.0 " , ' . .. with bunkers 0
" ". 1, 'otecting the siege engll1es .
countcr-measl.ll cs )} pi, " " ,. y event mentlOn such
TI' sourcl'S do not 111 dl1 .
brick earthwor-;s. le. .", ' f the Norman garnson
,I, ,tl' hClg'ht advantage 0 .
measures; pel l,lpS 1C - , , "I. Both accounts mentIOn
1 I 1 mC'lsm cs use ess. A
would have renc ere( sue 1 .( .' k' d the defenders. t
1 1 [1 the attac Cl s an
round stones thrn,wn )y )0 1 d" at the attacking infantry.
I t
' I ' ., shot roun stones ( .,
Anazarbos the (e ene us , . J ct or as Kmnamos
Il'lttered upon Im1 a, ,
It may be that these stones s,.. "'k b onc of these stones
. I . den objects struc Y . I
report implIes, t lat Wl!O. F .t! ennore the heated Iron pe-
shot fhl.gmcnts in all es not fired at the
. , tlons sevel (1 UTI .
lets that Chol1lales men ' . ,. ,I . 1y against OppOS1l1g
1 're used exc USlve
infantry; they apparent y wc ., .
trebuchets. . 1 tile crews manning them IS
' I ., m''lchmcs ane B
The accuracy 0 t lese (, ." .,... 1135. The yzan-
. " actIOn at GcUlgra m ell
further attested by l le sKge < .' d ,I ' artillerymen to repeate y
. " and dU'ccte t le 22
tines set up theIr engmc.s , . . h walls were too strong.
. . I the CIty SU1ce t e d
strike at the houses ll1SIC e '1 s personally operate a
At Zeugminon, Andronikos Kontostde
ry that was filled with
, t a woo en ga e 1 .
trebuehet to shoot a stone a ( . '1' weapons and s loutmg
Hungarian soldiers who were wavmg t lelr
possibilities. First, the
1 . d' cate sever
obscenitiesY These examp es 111 1 'illc men must have been eon-
deO'ree of skill possessed by the art
. I ry h a task Choniates does
bIt ccomp IS 1 sue .
siderab1e to enable t lemo a
--,-"----- , E 'I 'cd A Meineke (Bonn,
'C" II '
21 Juhn Kinnamos, ,Ioa:lIlIS, ,lnllllll ,
22 Choniales, HISlo/,w, 20-21.
1836), p. 97,
1:\ Choniales, HiJ'ioria, 134,.
not indicate that this level of skill was exceptional, and we can assume
that the artiIIelymen were a corps of specialists-indeed, they must
have been an elite, Second, these accounts of flelepoloi indicate that
the weapons were able to fire with a relatively shallow tn:uectory,
lldost discussions of trebuchets have assumed that these stone-throw-
ers ,tossed missiles on a very high arc,-as is indicated by Kom-
neman accounts of stones being arched over walls to crush the houses
within, But Izelepoli were also used to strike the walls themselves as
well gates, which were frequently recessed and protected by
hanf,'1ng parapets, The only kind of fire that could strike these tar-
gets would have been a fiat trajectory, Trebuchets seem to have
b:et: very ,versatile weapons, indeed, capable of attacking any target
wIthl,n a CIty (such as Gangra), and of shattering the foundations -of
formIdable walls (such as Zeugminon),
Other of the decisive effects of stone-throwing engines
Chomates notes that at Pisa, in Syria, the "hail of stones"
many of the towers,25 Kinnamos notes that when the
army approached Taranto, in the course of Manuc!'s Ital-
Ian it was unable to besiege the city because it lacked a
suffiCIent number of s ' Th
, .',' " lege ese examples suggest that both
and the cltles they attacked had extensive experi-
ence warfare, They had stores of rounded rocks and pel-
lets WIth whIch to fire in assault Or defense. They had highly trained
crcws who knew th bi!' , f' I
, h" e capa lues o t 1eir finely tuned machines, These
mac mes were complex too I b
h ' ,comp ex to e constructed I'om scratch
t. e spot: and it would have been difficult for besieged CItIes to
o tam the tImber to con t t h b
' s ruc t e tre uchets after attackers arrived
muc 1 ess to blllld and te t th Th" . '
so man of John and M s ,em: IS IS partIcularly the case since
sudden y" 'd Tl ,anuel s SIeges were conducted at the end of
, I at s, lese engmes w . d
.. , fi II el e constructe beforehand and were
c,ne u Y conserved until d db'
, .. I' nee e, oth by defending' cities and by
lmpellCl arnllCS,
A further example of siege en 'ne t I I '
lliates when he des' "b h ,gr cc 1110 ogy IS provided by Cha-
r ' ,Cl! es t e siege the emp d d .
Zeugminon 't Hlltlg'a' f' eror con ucte agamst
, , , ,nan ortress on th D b Ri .
SUlllmer of 1165 Cl', ,e anu ever, durmg the
, 10111ates deSCrIbes the defense of this fortified
C;honiatt's, His/aria, 20, 2++,
Chlllllatl's, lhs{oria, 27,
position: "Instead, they barred all the entrances and strengthened
the walls vvilh diverse weapons and stone-throwing engines [OIgmwilj,"2"
In addition to importuning the emperor with screamed obscenities
(an act that aroused Choniates' considerable indignation), the cldi,ncl-
el'S fired various missiles at the Byzantines, Choniates reports that
the Byzantines filled the moat that surrounded the city so that the
imperial siege engines (petrobolos mechanas) could approac.h, an appar-
ently successful manoeuvre, since Chomates next mentIons that tht,
Byzantines undermined the Hungarians' walls, plying the
of the foundation and smashed them with stones from SIege
Choniates describes the function of one of these engines: it thn'w
stones of a talent weight, and was controlled by use of a sling, winch.
and rod (sjJhendone, strophalon, {ygoS).2!1 This engine, \V'hieh was
ently typical of those surrounding
't A' find eVl'dence of the skill of the artlllCl) man. t1](
tle ClY, gam, we .
concentrated fire of many trebuchets soon smashed a hole 111 the
wall. When some Hungarian noblcs took positions on
'k t11e walls an engine took aim ancl struck the frame\\ III k
wor s upon , ' "'"
' 1 tl1ey stood sending them to theIr deaths,
upon w llC l, . 1 1 .' .. '1'
Tl 1 ki d f
' enmne with this sort of wa! -( cstroymg Pll\\ t ,
le on y n 0 I' . I .
. h b chet Engines arc l'Xp KIt Y IlIt n-
as well as accuracy, IS t e tre u ' . '>", I thl' chn III i-
tioned in accounts of nearly all Komneman sIeges, ,tIlC I I . '. " t )
h . h' appearance wou ( se n. ( (
deI'S seem to have assumed t at tell' . k I . " t tilt.'
-1 ra hy WOI' cc agdJl1S
decide the battle. Only when De where tht' engines \VI'It'
attackers' advantage (as was true at er y , .
'll) d th appear ineffective.
forced to fire up 1 , 0 e
. as earl as the latt' sixth UT
A description of a trebuchet appears
, '} ,Ypt'ror l\1auriu:
. 'th Strategzkon 0 t 1C cm ' , .
early seventh century 111. e , , fig. hting I)latlorm '\ltll
, . 11 ' cared to enVlSlOn a, ' r ,
602). The text mItIa y app d l:t 1\ 1"'_t'XalllillatH,1l
' nte upon .' , . ,
smue form of classical ba Istae mOll
Choniates, Histaria, 133, I
27 Choniates, Histalia, 134. I 'c,.ts seclll to imli. ,Ill' th,lI tll!' 1l1,[1 11:"
, , 134 These three OJ) L,' I J" ,/m 'I",,,,
2U Chonl'ates Htstana" 0' . ("l,a' ROlIlllll. (111, '1."" I
' , IS' I 'C' cnJ1lS "h, I 1 11 Ii
could only have been a trebuc let. ce a ), t surve; of tlil' B}I.il1II1H' ',"1
111 "f "f k
39 (199
8') 99-115. This is the best Sal', ' .. tllal this ,'XI-to'( ,I' ,1\ ,I'
, . h 1 for eVldenc{ . I tlw (
development of the trebucset, aniC PE' Cheveclc\in. "'['II(' "I 1,Ill t 11"
'h t ry ce a so " ' "'1'I} h III 11 l< H
as the late SIX! clen DOP 54. and Cheveddcn, lI', Ill! UII '7111 "I \1,,11<, d'
tcrweight Trebuc 1et, " I t Trebuchet," in 011 t 11' , (If ,
Hallway Step to the (Leiden, I Y!JB),
Institutions, ed, 4
Choniates, Hlstona, 13 ,
of the Greek indicates the movement was not the sweeping hori-
movement of aimed classical ballistae, but the vertical s\vecp
of a trebuchet. The Greek indicates that there is movement at both
ends of the machine, which can neither refer to a ballista, nor to
the classical torsion catapult, the Onager,:lO
Despite all of this evidence for the importance of trebuchets and
stone-throwing engines, and although this form of warfare was cha1'-
of the Komnenian military strategy, it was not the dcfin-
mg aspect, of siege in earlier Byzantine practice, Nikephoros
Ouranos" the Taktlka (ca, 999-10 11), describes in great detail the
use of mlJ1mg and tunneling to destroy wall sections of an enemy
fortress, He fully expects that the enemy will attempt to dig counter-
tunnels, and he then cautions that despite the usefulness of rams,
towers and ladders "th . ffi .'
, , ,e morc e ectIVe way, one the enemy can-
ma,tch, IS undermining the foundations, "31 This passag'e is also
mterestmg fI h' "1'" , , L
, or w at It omIts, t le .I. aktzka contams only a smgle men-
tIon of maT/gaT/ikon, which Eric McGeer translates as "trebuchets'"
these arc uscd in an auxiliary role-to attack both the walls and
mcn In this context, they could be any kind of stone-
throwmg engme c t 'I 0 '
, Cl' am y, uranos does not conSIder thenr to have
,a effect. If they were trebuchets, they must have been
IJlfenor 111 I)OWer and ffi .' ,
, e ectlveness to the engmes that the Kom-
neman, armies had at their disposal. The Taktika considers sapping'
tunnclmg) the most effi t' , ..
, cc lve SIege strategy, If trebuehets were used
It was not because their . bI d ' . j
"kl h ,power ena e them to seIze cities any more
qUIC y t an tunnelmg' s f 1 K '
I . 'd ' OIne 0 t le OInncman sieges of John II
astc over a month (Ana b) I
th t I . ' zar os, . t appears reasonable to suppw;e
a t IC mCI'cased use of sie 'd' "
' I ,.' ge cng1l1es unng the Komnenian period
anc III tIC pcnod IIn d' I' ,
innovations )crha me late'y precedll1g, was due to technological
the tpsbthehadopuon of the eounteIweight, which enabled
re uc ets to be effective 1 1
()ds in use two centuries befl I .h enoug I :0 supp ant meth-
ore, n t e context of these two exanr-
ill Delmis Greek R '
1I Eric 1I'[r("': alld By;;alltme Studies 39 (19981 99 -I 00
1 'CC I , ,JOWlI/g Ihe Dm 011' Tt 10 B ' 'h ,
(\\.rashiIlgtOll, 1 99:i), Itil' s" 'I gs s, eetl: ,ryzantme Waifare in the Tenth Centu1'''
I! P I f.' (' ' cc <l so ulllvan Slcaecrali 38 41 :/
au ,hcvcdden in 011 I/o S 'I 0 ' " '". !I', -.,
llotes a numher' of' d' ,:e ,oC/a ngllls q/il1edievalInstitutiolls (Leiden r
j" \ ' cscnpllOl1S of treh 1 ( , . ,
lOll! , rabiC 01' eastern sources' R " , uc 1e,t use under the name of baban)
huellcts, Arslan besieged Ili beSieged Manbij in 1068 with trc-
hos Illr tlurty-seven days, and To rhril B. b' fifty days,)ohn II besieged Anazar-
g eg cSlegcd Manzlkert in 1054, In this case
pIes, of warfare in the tenth century and in the eleventh and twelfth
centuries, it is also reasonable to suppose that the petroboloi, mallgalla,
and even the ballistae
represented stone-throwing engines of an ear-
lier, less effective sort than the engines mentioned in Byzantine and
Arabic sources from the eleventh century onward,
Siege technology accounted for more substantial victorics ,than t,he
few fielel battles fought by the Komncnian emperors, Byzantme ga1l1s
in western Asia Minor were secured by fortifications at Atramyt-
!ion, Pergamon, and Rhyndakos, as well as fortified cities such as
Laodikeia, Chonae, and Tralleis, and fortified points such as Sou-
blaion and Dorylaeon. While john's campaigns against
and Gangra did not obtain lasting control over largc areas of terrI-
tory, these campaigns were similar to Manuel's campaigns, in Ital,Y-
d 1
" 'from taking aggl'CssIVC actions
they prevente t le empIre s enemIes " L" , , ,
, B . ' d!' ced tllC Sel11 uks and Damshlll( n-
agamst yzantme terntory an lor, :. >' , " H'
dids to expend considerable resources 111 rc-taking thcs,e CItlcs,
", f morc important Byzantllle tcrntones,
t 1an mountmg mvaSIons 0 " I '
John and Manue!'s operations in Cilicia clid reconstItute,. lIS
region as a stable Byzantine province, but thcy dId ena?le the BFf,:n,-
' 'I cling the all-Important 01-
tines to control the coasta reglOns, mc u '" d I.',
tified city of Seleukeia; as a result, the
h t
' d to mfiuenC'c t c ,IllS.\( U
outpost on Cyprus, and t ey con muc ,.., ' ., ':
'I 'the ItalIan camp.ugn \H It
states Equally the Byzantllle osses m ,'- I ' t
" f t1 . army's defcat 111 any on(' M-
disastrous not so much because 0 le, '.:, 1 '\
'd ble human and finanCld COS!
tic, but because of the loss at conSI era Th "sion of thcse
!' 'f] 1 ' t the Normans e posses .
of important lOrtI1ec pomts 0 ' , 'I I'n It'll\,
11 d the Nonnans to remdll ' "
fortified cities would have orce h 't f'en'ng with Byzantinc
, b' th m rather t an Il1 er '
attemptIng to eSIege . e , .
operations in the Balkans, 'fi ' 'npreg
and per-
" d . e that fortI catIOns 11 ..' ,
HIstOrIans ten to assum, re arcl thc taking of it fortress ur
haps influenced by the ehromclers, g
, III to "OU kil",
I' ebuchets nlllf(cd lrom , - . . ' .
the \Vei ht of the stones thro':ll by t :e, tr "ca\culatt:d to have Wt'lf(lwd h( Il'" 11
grams (;. 187): This trebuchet sources (the total pwbably Ul(IHi
1875 and 2250 kilograms, ?,ccorciJl1g to yh sources Illention t\lt' US<.' , 0\ ,I 1,11 11 1
S0111e forn'J of counter-weIght, althoug the ;um to its "rm:knl" p,"11101!. In'-
hrTe crew of four hundred men to 'p,ull 3 The blllli.ltmr, are J1l,,,t prllh,lhl)
< Dermis Das Stmtegikon des MaunklO,S/".4
2 'Iek.'lterolhm strephOTllflUH, w\u['h !(l1"11I"
, ' d ,'1 d as ba IS mr I , , '\Wll tlw ,1"111
buchets, smce they are escn?c l' 'h both ends revolve on it pilot \\
'cbuchet or a stone-thrower Jl1 W llC '11 '11 are called hillll.ltmrzfluI,
, "et The art! eryJl1t. .
is propelled toward Its targ ,
a city as an unusual event. This is more a function of western Euro-
pean historical treatment of siegecraft.:
The Byzantincs possessed
sophisticated techniques for taking cities; the Crusaders were fbreed
to rely upon this ability in their siege at Nicaea, where they pre-
sumably received advice from the Byzantine officer Tatikios who
serv:ed with the First Crusade until the Crusader army's situation at
desperate. The list of sieges in Appendix I, although
mcomplete, grves some indication of the frequency of siege actions:
there were thirty-one sieges conducted during the reigns of Manuel
and John, according to Choniates and Kinnamos. John and Manucl
fortified twelve mcyor locations, while imperial forces defended them-
against siege actions on ten occasions (not including the Turk-
Ish sack of five Byzantine cities after Myriokcphalon).
Edfocts if Byzantine Dr!ftnsive Operations
What. did this siege craft and defensive building program
do fO! the strategic position in Asia Minor? The success-
ful defense of western A' M' 1 d . .
. .' SIa mor resu te In consIderable prosper-
I.ty, when was sent from Constantinople in 1177 to
:epcl a TurkIsh ll1VaSlOn, he not only brought troops from the cap-
Ital.but also was able to gather an army along the way.:l:' Further-
more, the "eastern d' "". .
IVlSlOns mentIoned at Mynokephalon emerged
cd by the defeat. They must have been numerous a sub-
stantia percentage of the t" ' '
. ' en Ire army, Sll1ce they coml)rised one of
t e maJor m l' d'" .
.. h fl' arc Hng IVISlOns (which consisted of a van the left and
llg tanks the troops with th '
, e emperor, and the rear-guard). There
31 C'
'. Oman, 771e Art 11 War ill the Middle A d
I esp. p, 68, Oman sa s "A" ges, e .' I!" rev, John. H. Becler
keble sIege artillery of the da gaIn,st walls hfteen to thIrty feet thIck, the
perceptible effect. A Norman lee P catapults, and trehuchcts,-beat without
resistance," Needless 10 sa ' p." ad an almost endless capacity for passive
"C'l' '. y, OUI sources do not l ,t I' ,
, I(]JU<ltes, His/01ia V '. S. 'PPOI t liS conclusIOn.
iVlichae] Aspietes. They' amI) I atadlzels was JOIned by Constantine Doukas and
. , ",,' 'us cc an c estroyed tl T 'k' I j' , .
( U, mal the fortresses of H elion and,' . le UI IS 1 orce on the Maran-
har! sacked T'ralles PhYI'g", y A .' 1 LLeImochelr, but not until aller the Turks
, ., 1<.11 ntIoc 1 OUJ' I P' .
()! ler fortresses. This invasl", ' 1 na, ane en tache rI', as well as SOlne
f', , ' . on appears to 1ave b th I' ,
(t. c,1t .It Mynokcplnloll '[I ' ' een e on y m<IJor effect 01 Manuel's
,' , ' , le emperor relu d t I l' '
,LIOJI, a,s rccluirccl by t', se 0 c emo Ish the fortress of Dory
, l!IS peace treaty and .-
ret<lIIlcd this important stronghold. " we may assume that the Byzantines
is no reason to suppose that they numbered much less than the west-
ern divisions, which provided up to six thousand cavalry for the
Byzantine army in the civil wars (1071-81), and undoubtedly
in the period of internal peace which began with Bohemond's clcteat
in 1106. The large Komnenian armies that were mustered for the
subsequent Pccheneg, (1122) Ci1ician, Hungarian, (1.16:)
and Turkish (1176) campaigns were made pOSSIble by peace WltluIl
the empire, maintained by a substantial fortification
provided the security and stability for
This program should be examined alongSIde the Byzantl11e polIcy 01,
settling defeated barbarians in threatened areas. The "t
Moglena were settled on the invasion route from
1<. '1 l' whl'le the Serbians settled at NlcomeciIa \\C It
gary 111tO lV, acec oma, . '
conveniently placed to be mustered north to defend Ol
. Th rpose of fortIficatlons
south to defend the Neokastra regron. e pu .' c,
, . . d t l'OVlcle tUllC 101
was thus both to protect important CItIes an 0 p., ",
imperial forces (including the settled barbarian glalt7h7t.)l
. d h the Turks IIlvacled III "
and repel an invaSIOn (as was one w en b .' } . st '\Il'ltn-
. . hieal arncrs, t le e,l . (
Fortresses supplanted, the 0 geoglap B " 1 '\ relied
. . G'fi d asses that the yzantllles M(
han mountam and ortl e p 1 cl'lle stl"ttegk
, h' ire during the tent 1 centmy. ",
upon to protect t e emp tl e'lr h("l"V reliann' Oil
. perors was I ,
innovation of the omneman em '
such man-made obstacles.
Protection qf Siege Trains
. clef' cat at M)'I-i()kephai< III
D tl e Byzantlll
The most important reason or 1 h' the eenter of the army,
t' n was caug t 111 1
was that the aggage I'm, L 1': om SllPI)OI'ting one annt }l'1'.
t f the army 11' .,'
and prevented the ve par s 0 ,il). cl the siege t'Ilglllt"
. 1 d d in thIS baggage, ,1l1 " I
The siege train was lnc u e C 'l . nl)ortant part 01 t It
1 bI
nd also the IllOS 1I
were the luost vu nera e a I ,,' t\1<' 'U'lnv of ROInaJU 's
. . al . Trebuc lets 11l " '" I
baggage tram of a mediev army . (lOtlH7l) each It'q\lIlU
. h M ikert campaIgn 1 l.
IV Diogcnes elunng t e anz \' 'tC) . J<:rpt
1 'h drec men ". " .
a hundred carts and twe ve- un .. . together WIth tht' s(lldlt l'
his treasure-chests with the baggage trdlIl"
" .' 180 \ .. ' )\allnin\.( hi, 117h nl
:1li Chonlales, f/lSLona,. 'n bucliet 18B. \Vhen !\[aIlua I 'dl'n.d {hn'\" Ihllli,,<,[l!d
:17 Cllevedden, The Hybrzd I t Myriokepha\oJl, Iu: (11
clition, which ended igJ1orDU1l0US Y a
", .,

provisions of food and water, and the supplies Itll' the army's horses,
Despite extensive baggage and supply trains, llledieval armies always
foraged and raided for supplies when travclillg' through hostile ter-
ritories, As several recent studies of pre-l11odel'll armies have noted,
it was impossible for large armies to transport sullicient fodder and
food for both horse and l11an,:lII The amount of li)(ldel' required by
horses and oxen SOon exceeds the amount they can cany, What,
then, was the use of the three thousand wagons Manuel ordered
brought from Thrace? Moreover, "vhat was the purpose of the count.
less oxen ordered from TIu'ace for the IVlyriokcphalon campaign?:l!l
These questions arc particularly apt in the context of this campaign,
since Choniates' narrative makes it clear that the Byzantines relied
almost entirely upon the provinces through which they traveled
(Byzantine or Turkish) Ior their provisiolling,
Of course, the baggage also contained many things other than
food, treasure, and siege engines, COllstantine Porphyrogenitus' "What
Should Be ObseIved When the Great and High Emperor of thc
Romans Goes On Campaign," describes the many things that the
emperor required when on campaign,'1II These myriad items com-
bined to make little less than a mobile imperial palace, which con-
tained civil as well as military officials, Imperial government did not
cease when the emperor went on campaign; it was conducted from
wagons brought from Thrace, rf thcse were used only to transport trebuchets, thirty
of these machines could have been transported with three thousand wagons,
:111 See David W, Engels, Alexander the Great and the LIw/rtic,\' Ilf the Jliaceriollillll Ilm!y
(Los Angeles, 1978), This work makes several methoclological asslImptions, relying
upon World War I transport data and transposing them to the army 01' Alexancler
101' purposes of analyzing an ancient army's carrying capacities, Nevcrtheless, it is
a useful study lllr anyone interested in comparing Source descriptions of army sizes
with the practical reality that armies above a certain sizc were too large to trans-
port enough foodstum to keep themselves fed, Manuel's army at fvfyriokephalon
was likely the maxi,mum size possible 101' an army fielded by an organized medieval
state that was unWIlling to impose the burden of foraging upon its own population,
In other words, IVIanuel's army could only supply itself with its own transported
food water for a lew days' time, The Se!juk policy of destroying wells and 1'01'-
age senously damaged l'vIanuel's army,
39 Kinnamos, 299,
10 F" Haldon, Constantine Porpl!Jrogellitus: Ihree Treatl:res all Imjmial
(Vle?na, 1,990) 119, "For the household service 80 pack-animals, 62 pack-
h,ol'ses; 101: the unpenal 50 pack-animals, 4,3 pack-horses; It)r the personal impe-
nal vestl(lnon 30 pack-al1lmals, 15 pack-horses; for the eidikoll 4-0 pack animals, (md
15 The list continues, The total is 1086 pack animals and packhorses,
and 30 ndmg horses, and this was just for the emperor's personal entourage and
personal guards,
1 !)S)
- , . ' siFt iF.
1\.\11I1NI',:-;\'\:>;, ,
, I " 'u' their oJlulence,
I .. It IXlll'l(,S, ( l Spl ,
\I"IS siIUall'(\. BUI I H'S( , with dU/,l'llS or clisassl'll1-
wherever hI' I" ' I) lillk SI';!\,(' ('()\lIpa1'('t\ II (')J'l\llntdy, we do
1 '\'I Tll 11 I 'lll'tslI I' ,
mLlst 1<tVI ", " 'lrlinllariv tlH' 11'(' lIl,l " .. 'lort an l'l1g1l1C,
bled siege P: \I'<JIl'(lIlS' \I'('\'t' \'('1[111\'(<1 to IC)l' cerlain
I"' hoW ,... , I Nor lI(, \11 , 1 ..
not \110\1 .. , I ngllllS \\'1'1'1' IIs1 ( , " 11.e!' the chromc elS
whether SJlI'( 1,\ \', "\I 1 01' dlsaSSI'l\l) t, , " thc
or '-klv theY' ('( HIlt! 1)(' SI \ I ,t illSt:tllt:tncotlsly set up
hoW qUH , ,(:m H'r()1'S' ilJ'Illll'S a 1l1O; "er III surrender, How-
im])ly thal tht ,\ ,'. '11,(1 'tn implnal III cl , t the center
1 'I l'll\' 1(')1 (, I Tht'Y were ,\
engines W 1('.11' \' ,'tlll'\' \\'('1'1' gllarc\('( , "1.\' '0 This madc
1'1\ H)\\ , " r's so (H 1."
ever, \VC call t 'd 1 ;\' ;\11 or I ht' t'mjlu () " 'I s )ccial situa-
o[ the army, ,.tl';('k ur disl'lIpt, and o\lIY11l, 1:11
1!)erial right
1'1lH'I\ t to .. , 1 \'h\'ll tIe
them vcry (I I \' l\ lvriukl'pha 011, '\ 11'lVe been
' I ' t\('ha(' t' () 1 , 1 I the cncmy ( ,
tions, such as t H, I '1('lv shaW\'t,d, WOII ( . "k thc baggagc
I' " \'''\S ((lI11P l , "lI1c1 "IU,le
flank C \VISlOll " I' Bvz<JnlilH' lil1'lllatllli1.' ,,',. retreated from
able to penetratl' I l( :, tioll w!Jell AII'XIllS tUl1ly S formed a
' 'I()gotls Sltu,\, , ., the troop
train, In an ,\11,\ " .' Turkish tl'l'ntOl Y, .. t, tward, and
its 1116/17 inl'ut'sl(lIl 111\(1
'Illhntrv marching sll1CllcSBOyUzantinc 1'01'-
'! 1 "\,v at'lllt'C '. . .. t' 19 t 1e L
square, 'NIt 1 ll. "I "\ '\ ' Tmks li'tJl11 .penctl ': 11 c, tl is instance also
'. "vt'nlt'( tit, 'hlch m 1"
there ore plC I Il'\()'g"tgT tram, \\' sported from
\ "king t It' L h " . ling tran
mation ane atl,u . \' 'I'c'lllg'ces who w.cre )?, as maintained
' I (" , , ,1, SIJl"\ {Ing . , I'SC1l)hne wc,
contamC( rH C ...-" : In this case, Cl, . At Myriokephalon,
Turkish to Byz<lnltlll tt, 11 ' to attack the baggage, .1. baggage was
1 t1 ,Turks \Il\.t 1 (. , " lle result that t le
anc le . 'th lht' lllCVlt.l) ,
', il)line broke clown WI
(ISC \' "'(I
' IS .WISC '
lost ancl the almy e 'I .
e Actions
IIl/hllip' miC< ,
' nes?
, )rotect siege engI :
, ' 'Ul army was used to I each division of
What l)roportlOll 01, , \ t lI.'1yriokephalo
, d' 1 these dIVl-
. ' , r\)nsec a 1Y I. But 1C
When NIanucl was Sl.l 'f: t'\! 'md arc 1ers, ual role of
' 1"" Iry m an I" ' s the us
army contamcc (.,1\ cl: y and what wa e train was
'1 e eniIrc arm , 1 t the baggag 1
sions compnse t 1 . 1 't appcars t la , the van, t le
infantry? At rvlyriokcpha r
anny's soldiers In among the
' 1 d' all 0 Ue, k d\I1SlOn, or d
virtually undc1enc e , ' , , the left flan I d or prevente
B 11 'l'g dIVISIon, . scattere , d
rear guard, a. c. Wll ';1 tllesc divisions were 1 ble to attack an
Id' " Vy 1en 1 Ct vu l1era b
emperor's so lelS, . a 'e it was e1' rotect the ag-
from safeguarding the 'employed at the siege
' " -Iny S11'nl , l' 0 111 a ,
seizure, AlexlOS <11 d considerablc 10rce _ support the sIegc
gage, and John II ha a ere undoubtedly there to
'fll"'se men w
of Gangra, ,-"
action; cavalry, except for the mounted archers that could be used
against archers within target cities, were useless in sieges. Although
references to infantry are rare in the Komnenian historians' accounts
of battles, we should remember that if a campaign ended in a siege,
infantry was present, and they were probably at least as numerous
as the cavalry who protected the army on its way to its target. At
Kinte John II used infantry standards to make the enemy think he
had more cavalry squadrons than he actually possessed; this can only
mean a considerable force of infantry was present. The only instances
we cannot suppose this are when the cavalry was engaged
m rmchng, or when it was pursuing an enemy, or had ridden hard
to meet an enemy. On these occasions, the infantry would not have
been able to keep up with the cavalry. In some instances (for cxam-
pie Alexios' battles at Great Preslav, and Dyrrachion, or TvIanucl's
a;gainst outside of the walls of Constantinople), infantry
IS They generally remain a mute group because
theIr actIOns dId not interest the courtier-historians who instead have
chosen to present us with the actions of an elite. Circumstantial evi-
dence, however, as well as their mention at sieges and in several
battlcs, indicates that infantry were constantly present in Komncn-
ian armies.
Psychological .EJfects qf Siege Operations
not ;nerely a measure of the comparative value of
offenslVc engInes agamst passive defenses. Medieval cities and fortresses
were constructed witl u' d r . . d Th .
. 1 ac ve elense 111 mm. ey contamed postern
for sortIcs to disrupt an assault or to attack the besieging
el:gInes, towers projected from walls so that converging fields of fire
be dirccted against attackers, and the defenders positioned
thclr own enoines ar d th 11 [' .
. f: b' oun e wa s, fOr use both agamst attacking
111 antry, and against the attackers' machines of war. Just as siege-
craft was a science p t' I bib
rac Icee ot 1 y attackers and defenders it also
had psycholooical ele t 0 h . '
b' men s. n t e SImplest level we are occasion-
a y treated to the s t I f d [' ,
pec ac c 0 elenders who bare their genitals or
WI0 make . '1 '
. i d up SCUll1 ous poems about the Byzantine emperor's wife
i aU
ghter. Bravado never hurt the morale of those cooped up
II1SI( e t le walls and d . d .
, omg an saymg things that infuriated the foe
---,,- - ---------------
undoubtedly had the added benefit of ensuring the defcnders fought
hard to avoid the wrath of those they so taunted.
Nevertheless, there were also examples of military terror practicecl
by besieging armies, of military action deliberately directed at civil-
ians in an attempt to break their willpower and cause them to sub-
mit. At Gangra John Il, unable to penetrate the walls Wilh his
engines, directed their fire against the houses within the city. As
Choniates notes, "[LJight stones which seemed to bc flying rather
than being shot from engines of war, shattered the houses; the inhab-
itants within fell to their knees and were killed by the caving-in of
the roofs. As a result it was no longer safe to walk the streets nor
to remain indoors."4! The city soon capitulated. Other examples can
be found in the orations of Nikephoros Basilakcs. When comment-
ing on the siege of Tarsus, he says, "Indeed, you bl:ing the
poleis, the devices, and the defenders are shaken III their .souls .. :
and he describes stones falling on the city in an "artificial hailstorm,
(a metaphor echoed by Theodore Prodromos), noting that they
induced a helpless fear among the inhabitants:
Onc might well
imagine the fear inspired by stones exceeding four ,POtlIl:is
falling suddenly and randomly upon houses, killing CIVIlIan
ants; attackers might also hurl sacks of inflammable matenal, m:
super-heated pellets that could cause fires at any h?ur of day 01
night.H With but a few casts of an enginc each evemng the attack-
ers could make sure that the defenders got no rest. It was. also a
. . . h' f the city's military defenders.
way of hIghhghtmg t e Impotence 0 '.
While the enemy soldiers could countcr mines and by
. . .' 1 11 d very httle to vlSlbly
nal soldiers WIth scahng ladders, t ley eau co. '. .
defend against an attacking army that possessed dozens of trebuche;,:
The Byzantines were always aware of the diffcre.nce between t}(
. " d h ., 'vI'lian population and military
defending garnson an t e CIty s Cl '
fl Choniatcs, Historia, 20-21.. I A G'rzy'! (I t'ipzi!-( I (In I). "Ill, Tlw
12 NicelJ/lOri Basilacae Orationes el eplslolae, cc, . f' 1'\'- : '111':' '\1;(; d('llllJli,lwd ill<'
1 I I 'd towt'rs 0 I It till I
siege engines also clcarcc t le ,onv,u ..
outcr wall (p. 57). .
+:1 Nicephori Basilacae, 59. . . , , .... Rhctnril' and l{1"lity', in 1I1':iI;illII(
,11 Gcorge T. Dennis, 'ImperIal 're (\V'\shill!-(llIll. 1!llfh 1:1'1. 1111'
Court Culture .from 829 la 1204, ed. BCll
,",! '1Igt.1l ,.\ I cast <;t(llll', "f 10'!
, 1 I d by the ,rusac Cl s,' - --I
counterweIght tre JUC let use , I: I .1 'IS C'!stiIw.' stOIlt'S of lip lo:li .
"[ A 1 spcak 0 tre mL It, " "
pounds, whl e ra) sources '
-----_ ...
terror waS usually directed at the civilians in an effort to divide them
from the garrison, or to induce them to pressure lhe military author-
ities to surrender the city,
The trebuchet was not the only weapon of terror the Byzantine
army had at its disposal. Sometimes the fear of a sack was a potent
inducement to surrender, Usually, as at Gangra, the emperor or his
envoys would offer the city the opportunity to capitulate and be
spared the horrors of a sack. Nikephoros Ouranos, writing in the
tenth century, counsels the emperor to announce to the defenders
that if they surrender they will be allowed to leave with all their
possessions, If this offer is refused, the inhabitants and all their prop-
erty, including their houses, wives, and children will be the booty of
the successful attacker,"5 At Zeugminon the victorious Byzantine army
engaged in a frightful sack, When the Byzantine engines opened
holes in the wall, the defenders surrendered or fled to save them-
selves, but this was too late, The imperial army entered the city and
subjected it to a general slaughter and plunder, Choniates gives exam-
ples of rapine, and also of captives being slain for trifling reasons:
a Byzantine soldier sees another Byzantine wearing a Hungarian hat;
believing him to be a Hungarian captive, he cuts his head off with
his sword, Such mentions of casual butchery are rare in our sources,
and the stories from this particular action must have been violent
indeed for Choniates to mention stories that reflected badly on the
Field battles were isolated incidents, and occurrences that usually
did not involve the civilian population in significant hardships, Some-
times armies plundered the regions through which they passed, but
the dangers of Turkish or Pecheneg raiding were a more common
threat than a large army of ten to thirty thousand men passing
through ones' home region, On the other hand, the essence of siege
warfare was that the civilian population was affected, Every siege
involved civilian hardship; even in a siege of short duration, civil-
ians might be killed at any moment by a hail of large stones, or
their houses burned, It was almost always in the civilians' best inter-
ests to see the city surrendered early, If the siege were lengthy, all
,f5 McGcel> SOlVing ,tile Dragon's Teeth, 159, The text also states, "These arc the
things, you :-VIII proclaim first to those within the fortress, for it causes disagreement
and dissenSIOn among them, some favoring this, others that, which is of great benefit
to us.)j
, b'1ed with the above terrors, were
of the horrors of starvatlOn, com II , Id as well provi-
, 'I' I t' on whIch was se om
the lot of the CIVI Ian popu a I, ,,' 1 my entered the
, E hen the nnpena ar
sioned as the garnson, ; ven w 'd 1 the acropolis then the
city if the garrison retreated to the clta e or
1 attackers and a
, 1 d camp 0 t 1e ,
city itself would become t 1e arme 1 b 1 I d and upon which
f h
' 1 Its woulc e aunc 1e ,
battleground rom w IC 1 aSsau d 1 tever other meas-
, Id ' ws stones an w 1a
the garnson wou pour ano, r. ently contained an
'd h S' gecraft therelo
lrequ ,
ures ren1ame to t em, le , ght to terronze
h 1
'al fa 'e' the emperOls sou
elelnent of psyc 0 OgIC war I, '1 tl to force the city's
, ' rder to 1I1C uce 1em
the civilian popu atlOll 111 0 , . d TT' s) and rhetoricians
' , (Cl mates an .l'>..lllnamo
surrender, Istonans 10 d t d this as a deliberate
1 B
'I 1 ) equally un el'S 00
(Prodromos anc aSI a <es "1' The longer the
fie to the nnpena at my,
policy, and one 0 va u h t'r their deprivation, and
imperial forces were 111 the field: e grea 11 the worst circmTI-
the greater the difficulty of obtaIl1lng ,I army could find
TT' d John n the eS
eg1l1g d
stances, as at .l'>..111te un er , ' 1 t tl t the onset of ba
itself with horses dying, and supphesfsoh s 10r 1
even successfully
1 bTty 0 t e army
weather could threaten t 1e a 11 , f terror were cer-
, '1 ' . So whIle these acts 0 ,
retreat to Impena terntory, , 1 "I' populations agallls
, h pect to t 1e Clvr Ian ,
tainly not humane WIt res . cl l'berate military deVIce
, d th were a e 1
whom they were practIce, ey , ' 1 armies to remain in
used to shortcn sieges and enable the Impena
fighting condition,
. han field battles; the people of Cilicia,
Sieges were more frequent t d th ther Byzantine and Turk-
, 1 D 1 atian coast an cOd
Paphlagoma, t le a m 'f: 'I' with the stratagems an
Id 1 been more amI mr d b
ish frontiers wou 1ave '1 fi Id battles even if the fie! at-
horrors of sicge warfare WIt 1 e, t;"os of heroic military
d 1 1
'clers' centerplece, a 'J' 1 '
tie remaine t le c 1r0111 , 1'." accounts than t 1elr
, 111 our lIstonans ,
virtue that OCcupIes more pages" , . warrants, Interestll1g
k f trategrc ImpOltance ,
infrequency and ac 0 s B 'I k frequently mention SIeges
, f P d mos and aSI a es
the oratIOns 0 ro 1'0 , .' al activities, The more
'I' . h oic to"os to these Jlnpen J I
and extend the mIltary- er 'l' t as represented by 0111
'I . dcrings of these even s, d
conventIona prose ren , 1 1 Anna Komnene regal'
Cl iates and partlCu ar Y
lZinnamos, etas 10n f' , ' I'n these activities as excep-
, 1 ment 0 emperors '
the persona lllVO ve b' 1. s involving opposing armIes,
, al nd less worthy of note tllan att c
tl011 ,a
Why was Komnenian siegecraft so successful, and why was it so
central an element of policy under the Komnenian emperors? The
Macedonian emperors maintained a sophisticated program of fron-
tier defense. The line of the Taurus Mountains in eastern Asia Minor
provided a natural frontier, augmented by fortifications. Within this
frontier were fortified army centers such as Dorylaion, Amorion, and
the supply centers (aplekta) of Dorylaion, Koioncia, Kaisareia, Da-
zimon, Malagina, and Kaborkin. The army consisted of the thematic
soldiers, provincial troops who could quickly respond to developing
threats or minor raids, and the tagmala, a core of professional sol-
diers maintained in the capital. This system worked admirably when
there was a frontier to defend. But after Manzikert (1071) there was
no longer an effective frontier. Even had the tlzemata of northern and
western Asia Minor been able to withstand the Turkish invasions of
the late eleventh century, it is doubtful that the frontier could havc
been permanently maintained by the Macedonian system, which
relied upon a defense in depth that no longer existed. This system
allowed an attacker to penetrate the frontier. He was ambushed on
his return journey, but this meant that the imperial frontier was
always porous. When Byzantine territory in Asia Minor was dimin-
ished to a strip of land along the northern coast and the river val-
leys of the western quarter of the peninsula, this system could not
work. An invader could raid and be home again before any force,
local or imperial, would be able to intervene. The Komnenian emper-
ors developed a system of defense that was better suited than the
Macedonian system to their tenuous hold on all but the coastlands'-
certain regions were carefully organized and provided troops (N eokas-
tra and Nicomedia). Other regions were secured by advance fortifi-
cations (Dorylaion and Soublaion), and were subject to nearly constant
cross-border raiding. Many changed hands several times under
the Komnenoi (Gangra and Neokastra). Still others, particularly in
the European half of the empire, were part of a defensive frontier
that the. emperors maintained at great cost (Zeugminon, Kerkyra,
What stands out about Komnenian siege warfare is the regular
use of sie?e engines (trebuchets). The Komnenian emperors
used mmes, and soldiers equipped with scaling ladders, but
the umversal and decisive clement of Byzantine siege warfare from
the middle of the eleventh century to the cnd of the Komnenian
dynasty was the presence of large trebuchets. And, because of the
preponderance of sieges (as opposed to field battles) in Komnenian
warfare it could be said that trebuchets were the most characteris- ,
tic element of Byzantine offensive warfare of this periodYi Indeed,
when we examine how the Turks, for example, attacked Byzantine
cities, it is apparent that they did not possess the same preponder-
ance of siege engines that John II employed. At Gangra, for exam-
ple, they were reduced to starving the Byzantine garrison of two
thousand soldiers into submission; it is apparent that they did not
have the ability to smash the walls with engines and storm the place.
Not only were the Byzantine armies under the emper-
ors capable of surrounding cities with engines,
of these engines through the accurate fire of .lllustf:-
ous" artillerymen, but they appear unique among their foes III their
ability to do so.
. I cl I . "t K,"t'11110n) I). 20 (missil.t'.' fired
, . 18 (fi . I ng a c ers" n., , . , . . '.
HlStona,. or the walls); Kinnamos, .p, 2H. (I!YZ,Hltllll
at the intenor of the rat?c '1'1 attacking the walls Inth ('ugll1ts).
undermine the walls of Zeuglmnon \'. 11 e
n Choniates, His/oria, 21.
Weapons, Wounding and Phases qf Battle
death intrigued Byzantine chroniclers. This Byzan-
tme fascmatlOn is particularly appropriate to the context of the
eleventh and twelfth century Byzantine army. During this period, a
wound a of heroism. It could lead to high imperial
wIthout much bravery or ability shown by the
ll'Uured mdIVldual. For example, a nephew of the emperor Manucl
had an eye put out by a lance during a joust. He was elevated to
the ranks of the protosebastoi. 1 Perceptions of the noble and heroic
were also changing, and warfare was becoming a quick route to the
emperor's side. Furthermore, the plethora of well-chronicled military
between 1081 and 1180 lends itself to an examination of
InJUry incurred from weapons.
. First, we. will kinds of wounds mentioned by Byzan-
tme Chrolllclers. fl1lS wIll mclude how they were inflicted and which
wounds were considered serious. This last is not always evident to
modern reader, who, if seriously expects to receive imme-
dIate .treatment. in a modern hospital by a trauma team following
establlsh.ed mechcal procedures. It is easy to transpose these modern
assumptIOns to our . texts therefore fail to understand the impor-
tance of medIeval soldIers considered a "serious" wound. Scc-
we examine Byzantine perceptions of these wounds. How
perccptlOns of injury coincide with the medical reality and lil11-
of century medicine? In other words, what killed
Byzantme soldIers?
To attempt to answer this question I have divided wounds into
three functional categories: '
mortal wounds: those that were immediately fatal;
I John Kinnamos, Ioarmis Cillllami, Epitollli, eel A. Meil1eke (BOI1I1, I B36), 126.
serious wounds: those that removed a soldier from combat, but did
not immediately kill him;
trivial wounds: those that permitted a soldier to continue
These distinctions are important, because we gauge wounds ditlt:r-
ently today. Of course, modern survivability is still largely deter-
mined by the type of injury, but it is also related to the level
medical treatment available. Modern soldiers can survive many
melubering and penetrating wounds, provided that mcdical can" j,
immediately available. This paradigm does not apply to the nudie\al
world. Medical care was a function of what the casualty's fdlow-sc.J
diers could do in a few moments of attention; the nature of till'
wound was the primary factor determining survival. In fact, then' i,
a high level of consistency among Byzantine chroniclers about "hidl
wounds led to death and which were innocuoUS. Som(' uf what thl'
chroniclers say is intuitive; men who wore heavy armor wert' k',
frequently killed. Yet, men in heavy armor were killed. Wht'n thi,
happened, the mechanism of wounding was frequently a sword hlm\
that shattered the helmet, or some sudden chance like being hit h\
a catapult stone, or an unexpected arrow or
a rebellious general from an illustriolls family, cited hghtlllg Ill.
civil wars of the late eleventh century. He was struck by ,I
weapon of unspecified type, which causecl him to fall from his
As he lay senseless, he was hacked to pieces and beheadui: (hu
sources indicate that this kind of death was infi-eqnent amollg Iw,I'-
ily armored men. . .' I
The most frequent type of serious wound was the sInk,' to t 1/'
head. This most usually occurred when Byzantincs or 1.11/
'is p{'cheIH'(f, f If Ill!'
aphraktoi faced lighter armed opponents sue 1 ,. . . . " ,
Se1juk Turks. In these battles, fatal head wounds and thl' , IiI
hands and arms are frequent among the lcss-wCU-,:rlllO)'td
1 k'll'\ I 'slrIkes tf I tilt' It.[I
Western opponents were less frequent Y .1 ec )), .'. . . . I.
Swords are the mechanism for nearly tWice as many mill 1.11 \\!.IIHH
. t b th heavily 'll1d lightlv armed 0pp0Jl(llh. !..IW t ,
as ances, agmns 0 (. .' I'' . I mltlHk : '1 Ill'
are the second most frequent mechalll
(I mutt.! \ . 11 1. I
'I' I I' tl \)\.\ \\ I -I) .Il' !I
.' 1 d the effects 0 wmg un HI ..' .. .
ance category lilC u es . .11" .. " tool tin .1
lance-thrust). The lance was the most. r Cl t\\ t. .. lin ilHJ( l,!l< ,
kataphraktos in the first few moments of cOInhat. MOll.! .
" . R'. 11" \"k I"lli, L 11
2 tvlichel PseUDs, ChrOlwgraphie, ecl. I',nuk (11.111 (
111 Our sources indicates that the most dangerous phase of combat
was moment of contact between two charging forces, when onc fifth
of total serious and mortal wounds were inflicted within a few sec-
onds. This initial clash was performed by two forces of lance-armed
cavalry charging each other at a gallop. Missile weapon wounds
appear either before or after the clash of heavy cavalry, while other
weapons are infrequently mentioned as sources of wounds.
As I indicated earlier, one of the problems with relying upon lit-
erary evidence rather than upon medical statistics is that literm)'
sources prefer to describe unusual or dramatic wounds. The sources
also us to examine wounds suffered by their own social class,
the :hte-the best-armored and -armed troops--and ignore wounds
receIved by common soldiers. Therefore, the infantry, the miIitmy
arm that was present in most medieval armies and that supported
ca:alry, remains a mute group in any discussion of Byzantine
1I1JUry 111 battle.
and how were wounds delivered? Field battles were char-
actenzecl by a cl 1 f I .
. . as 1 0 cava ry armed wIth lances followed by a
SWlrlll1g melee N'k t Cl' . ' .
. . I e as 10l11ates deSCrIbes the battle of Semlm
fought betw B'. '
een yzant1l1e and Hunganan heavy cavalry in 1167.
\Vhell thc Romans (B .) .
f . . . < yzantmes met <the> attack both SIdes fought
.c})r a wluIc wIth lances, jostling one another' the lances were
S lattered thcy hId h' '
,. J" . : : uns eat le t elr long swords and fell upon onc
,\Dot ler flaIImg awa Wh I' b
.' ,'< y. en t leIr lades were blunted by the t1"00I)8'
dOllor, ... thc Romans t Id h Id f ..
Hu .' ' a ng 0 0 theIr Iron maces. " smote the
ngauans, and the blo . h d '
fell off their sad 11. w agamst ea and face was fatal. .. many
c es, others bled to death from the wounds.:!
For purposes of Our an I . .
The f ,t h . a YSIS, a medIeval battle has two segments.
11 s p ase conSIsted of k' . h'
fi'om slings d' S mlllS mg. Arrows, javelins, and stones
. . cause some w cl d' .
main chsh of I' H oun S unng thIS phase. Next came the
.. ry. e.avy cavalry, whether western European or
W,lS armed WIth I h
mOlllents of the 1 h I or eavy spears. The first few
c as , ances pIercecl d h
(I their Th _ S I' k armor an t rew combatants
"'. c eUu Tu k .
tlH' Pedlell
wer _ l l' r S were usualfy hghter armored, while
,e a wqys Ighter 1 I
tit. Byzantincs f' " -d h armorec t lan the Byzantines. vVhen
. 01 ce t ese less 11 .
-we -eqUIpped cavalry armies to fight
, ('} ,
, '" - " ' Nicel C,' ,
i/.l'. l:Jh :"," at flOmalae Ifzslo71'a cd J V D'
I, , '. an leten, eFHB (Berlin,
hand-ta-hand, lances and swords inflicted the most wounds.
Lance wounds, made with all the momentum of a charhring horse.
proved fatal in just under one fifth of casualties. (The actual data
i-om which these details are derived arc discussed below ill Sta-
tistics section). First, a clean strike could penetrate shield and chain
mail or breastplate, and kill instantaneously. Anna Komnene pro-
vides a good example of this. At the battle of Glahinitza, a Byzan-
tine soldier was struck by a lance, torn from his saddle, and
to the ground. He died instantly." The lance. is also the
mechanism in one fifth of the examples prOVided by our sounTS.
A second natural source of injury for troops fighting un horsebalk
was falling from one's mount. Riding a horse dan-,
gcrous activity. Injury could result from a from. the. nt.
lances, from trampling, or from the horse fallmg on Its ndu: ,11:(
four sources that we are relying upon for casualty data all n ,thn d
that horses were dangerous, and all mention \vhnc hili"!':'
. '.' 1'h1'5 sometimes happened outslde 01 combat. Ann,t
causec 1l1JUlIes. K' rk
. 1 . 'hile John 11ll1amns rl'lll<l .,
KOInnene mentlOns severa mstances, \\ ". 1 .. T 1(0\1
1 Manue
l I suffered mcmOlY losscs after hiS }Ill,
t lat emperor . f' l' I ., dlll-
. . 010 ame 5 Alexios also fell 1'Om liS lOhl .
hun dunng a pg.. . 'cred.I' The strange,t ("b(' II1
mg a game of polo; he never fully rccO\ ., , Tl '
. d :bed by Anna KOllllH IH . 11
fatal injury in these sources IS CSCIl l" t 'Ul cnk In'!'
d D . tic Pakourianos died after eras lIng III 0, ',..
ran omes 7 L . tlll'llsts 'lnd sword ,\dsh! .,
. . h h' P hencgs anee ' , ,
durmg a battle WIt t e ec . I'. Is hut JHH"C . ., 1011-
f, b t 1 If of morta \\ mm( , ,
together account or a ou la ,'H 'ee below ill the St.t-
tributed to the danger of combat, as we \\1 s.
tistics section. h' 'ombal of S\\onb. Tlw
1 1 h of lances came t e L. 1 ' I
Fol owmg t le c as '; . the /lllml1lfTl OIi , \\ lH I
. d 'th'r a straIght onc, Ol " ' , I
Byzantme bla e was Cl eel.' bel' ,\fier tht' mlll,\
. . t. th century cava rv S,l ..'
was curved like a n1l1e een . r ;t'lck was a din(t. 11\('1-
h t
1 most dangerous .1 , . I 1
shock of the c arge, le '1' '. Jlt'hnt't withstOtH "\U.I I
1 d If a cava rymitn S . I' I
hand blow to lIS lea . , ... Ilt in death. ;\ ('Xl' I'
a blow, a strike to the hcad mIght not 1(51
,'1 '\ \,,,b, (I';lli-. 1'1; 7 ,I,
'd ('.11. BCIll',lrd ,(1),.
1 Anna Comnene, j exlO e,
(XlII, 5).
Kinnamos, 264. )
G Alexiade, Ill, 159-60 (XIV, 4 .
Alexiade, Il, 83 (VI, J4.).
narrowly avoided serious iqjury when a Norman sword stroke to his
face was deflected by the rim of his helmet./I Nevertheless, the results
of head strikes could be fearsome. Alexios' Armenian vassal Oshin
struck a Norman soldier on the head, splitting the helmet apart and
likewise splitting the head beneath itY Lightly armored soldiers fre-
quently died from blows to the head. Descriptions of battles \vith
Turks, who were invariably lighter armored than their Byzantine or
western European opponents, are filled with descriptions of lopped
off hands, limbs, and heads.
The strike to the head was not the only threat from an overhand
sword blow, An attack that missed the helmet fi'equently caused other
damage, In 1081, at Dyrrachion, Alexios I smashed a man's collar-
bone and ann with an overhand blow. ID The most common wound
type from a sword slash that misses the head appears to be a blow
that cuts off the hand or arm, By our functional definitions, these
wounds serious but not immediately fataL Wounds that penc-
t,rated the VIscera, on the other hand, were nearly always ultimately
fatal. The most famous Byzantine example of this was the
emperor received when his father's army was arnbushed
111 the mountams by a host of Bulgarians. Staurakios received a stom-
ach wound th tb' fi d
. , a eeame 111 ecte , and he lingered scveral 111011th8,
suHermg horribly,II
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to differentiate penetrating lance
wounds from those that occu' d 1 . I' 'd I
" 1 re w len an mc IVI ua was thrown
from hIS horse 111 the first t f b 0 '
momen s 0 com at. ur chrol11clers may
only state that a soldier was thrown from his horse vvithout teHino'
LIS whether this was from the shock of the charge,' or from a
cessful lance attack H d d
d 'b ' an an arm wounds are more carefully
ed by our sources, Emperors Manuel and Alexios each lopped
t hand of an enemy in battle, but in neither case did the vic-
tim le, fingers must also have been a very common Occur-
partIcul,arly among troops without mailed gloves (such as
and lrghter armed cavahy), but there are few mentions of
IS 111 t le texts John Kantako B '
r T ,,' , " c uzenos, a yzant111e general, lost two
lllgels 111 battle agamst the Serbians on the Tara River, J)ut
:: Alexl:llde, I, 162 (IV, 6),
11> !JlexI,at/e, III, 59 (XII, 2).
Alexlflde, I, 162 (IV 6)
11 FOI' I " "
, . a (escnptlon of this cam ai Tn and i
fliP iJYz(m/me Revival' 71JO-f'd2 (St
I 198(S aftermath, see: Treadgold, Warren
'Jr, an ore, 8),174-177, .
. I
ently suffered no further ill effects from infection.
What wc (,'1II
conclude from our texts is that hand, arm, and wrist wounds, indlld-
ing the severing of hands from arms, did not necessarily n'slIlt ill
the victim's death. Battlefield survival rates for lesser wounds to tht'
limbs were high. Unfortunately, we have no direct way of knowing
whether these injured soldiers survived their wounds, or whcthe,r they
later died from infection and gangrene, We also have n() eVlCkIHl'
whether the medical attention they received had any cfkct UJlIIII
their recovery,
A1edical Treatment
How did Byzantines treat wounds? They were unaware of tht'
of infection or of fulminating sepsis as a cause of death, and I.t1H,-
, 11 1" "13 How did their treatlllcnt methods lIull-
mg was ca ec 1 d 'ous 'md TIll' lu"!
cate their perceptIOn of w 1at was angel. ' , ' . 'I '
., f d tl from a wound (although Ilot om' Jl1
escnptlOn 0 ca 1 . I} t' ., '11 I'
b I
' Choniates who describcs the (eat 1 0 t'Illpl'
att e) appears 111, I' ,. '\\hilt-
ohn II Komnenos, 1+ John cut himself with a 01111 ',\\, 1 ' ,
. l' thrust Ius lilt I I t 11 HI.n,
hunting Wild boar. When the empero " ." 'Ill i"'l'k\\lrd illtli
': . d," T John s spcal-,n ,".
the arnmal lunged at huu, .1lVmg If I Il'lS t'('lllthllld Iltlh
. H . ked himse )t'tween, .
a qlllver of arrows, e mc 1'1 . "1'or's n'''poll'i.' ,,,
. meared arrow, le cmpt ' ' '. I'
1ngers on a pOlson s cl I') 'l'l' , 'kr/oril was a plt'll' ,.
ki) to the wo un ' lL I ,
apply an ekdora a s n . e of flesh frolll a ckad aJlilld. \\lwh
leather frOlu a sandal, or a 1 , .. \)("\1'S ,('\t'ral tillH"; ill
. 1 nd ThIS procec lire <lp' ' ,. ,
was tIed over t 1e wou. . ., .. t ,} n till' iatrol ,dllllll".
] 1 d
'd t mentIOn Ius selLl t 1 I '11
our sources, Oln 1 no. , 1 his arlll l!'
, d tl impenal camp, ,Hle ' I
who accompanle 'le ,c" '\ 1 t' the ('J1lpt'wr ,dU'll 1 \1\
, . " d kleiJllldaz--nIS lCC 0 I I I
physlcmns-zattOl an as l' 1'1,' ',Iv (TIlII ,\Td !lit, I", l/,i[
d b wounded. lCy \\IS( I
discovered he a .een .' a) lied l\ledication, tn till' \\illlll!,
from john's suppuratmg fingeI, IF> the do('to}' dnidcd III l.ltli '
but these drugs had no effect. 1 tll' ,wdliul', .ll \!I
. 1 L, " .-
the arm, but the lancm
, on Y I '-rhe t'mpt'rol dil'd p;\llIllIlh, ,d!. 1
grew to the size of a s ri's lIIlforlUllaw /,1111" In 11 I ill"
refusing the further mmlstratIo
U 1!.
I', Kinnamns, 112,
13 Choniates, His/aria, 4()-1-1.
H Choniates, HislOl'w, 40-47
15 Choniates, His/oria, 40,
of modern medicine, his death is much more consistent with inl(x;-
tion than poisoning. His death after a wee!dong illness must have
been from wound sepsis.)
The ekdora requires explanation. Niketas Choniates calls it a piece
of leather from John's shoe. (In another context, Choniates men-
tions a soldier who offered to slice off a piece of his own flesh to
make an ekdora for Emperor Manue!. 16 Manue! graciously reitlScd,
and instead used flesh from a dead horse). In the case of John's
injmy, the doctors considered the ekdora an aberration. They removed
it, but had little better to offer. This does not give us confidence ill their
ability to handle problems such as gangrene and infection in poorly-
c.ared for. wounds. If the ekdora, ilie unsanitmy 'band-aid' of the Byzan-
tme soldIer, was as common as our sources make it appear, it must
have accounted for a considerable number of deaths from infections.
Initially, John's wound was little more than a scratch. No onc
considered it even though the arrow that caused it was poi-
soned. John dId what he would have done with any wound: he
applied a to it. First, this demonstrates an ignorance of the
of pOIsons and infection. Second, it is important to note that
m the failure of the iatroi, and in John's attitude towards medicine,
we encounter a problem peculiar to the Byzantine mentality. Michacl
PseIIos, perhaps the best-educated Byzantine of the late eleventh cen-
tuIY:" considered himself a medical expert. He was comfortable diaoo-
nosmg .the emperor Isaac Komnenos' fever because he had read
the subJect. 17 Psellos also considered himself a military expert because
he had about that subject. Anna Komnene relates that during
her father s. final illness, she was consulted about his treatment
she had WIde knowledge of d' I 'l"h B .
" . me Ica texts. e yzantmes revered
the polymath. EducatlOn, rather than practical training, was the hall-
mark of a man of affairs We t 'd h . . . .
.. ..... . mus eonSl er t e pecuhar posltIOn of
the Byzantme III lIght of this intellectual attitude. Doctors were
an ehte, but their education and reading-which Byzan-
tl11es equat I . I " c
I ec WIt 1 sometimes less than that of the
e tlh.e
In a world where anyone who had read Calen
cou c c arm medIcal knowledge and' I . 1 cl
)lc 11ad 0 I G I ' In w 1l.C 1 most e ucated peo-
, leac a en the phys'" h'
, . I '. ' IClan s aut onty was precarious, This
caSUd attitude toward formal medical care resulted inJohn Il's death
I,; Kinnamos, 62-63.
17 Psellos, Il, 129-30.
and a cnSIS of succession. Epistolographic research bv Alt-x<lndn
Kazhdan has demonstrated that Byzantine attitudes changed 1)1"(\\1'1'11
the eighth and twelfth centuries, and the educaled per:ion\ di,d,lln
for doctors was replaced with a sarcastic acceptamT.
Thi, lIlay lw
true in the correspondences that have survived,. hut. our
sources indicate that even emperors did not Cflllslder wtflJl tilt' tU\'
recourse after injury.
Sources and Statistics
The nature of the Byzantine chronicle imposes restr.ictiolh OJ) uW
. ., d h h' 'n1S of ami lllt'd
InterpretatIOn of woun s, t e IDec ams, . ..... .
ical treatment. Anna Komnene, Niketas Choniates, .f!.'Illl. KIIlIWilI
,d l)rest'lltlllg C'\I'nh !b,\!
and Michael PseUos all express alas to\\ar '..,:. . . .\ .
. d' 11 'I ,I ehw I hl'\ dl',;!l H
involved their class, the sacral an mte e( Ud '.' . . '.. (I
caval battles and almost completely ignore Ihe ."bllljl,
ry .' nd numerous hanners mtil! .111 IlII.UIll 'y
references to long SIege trams a , . to}""I'I\.lt'IIH'r,,1I1l11tl H
. . Y t desCnl)tlOlls () h<.'
were present m most armIes. c, .. r . " III It
0 The smglc t'xct'ptHHI h .
Id' 1 appear m our sources. "
so lers rare,! " ldiers the Byztlnlim< lIlW.t;\I11 I'W'lm,
wounds by so fu;nish eXaIllpln" ltV/!"
are descnbed. Battles wIth them li" f \\111"111 jlllllll\ ,1lIH"!
sentative of the wounding that WOU
( 0((1.1 '(I "I)})O;1I'II1. h'll f\.llll-
d an 'lfmOTC ,
soldier met a more hea y aDue 1 ' , ullckr Louis \'U pillWd
pIe Choniates describes how a 1 T1 . Tmb had lll! \\,.1\
, . tl Matandcr River. It. .
a Turkish army agamst le, 1 tl' 'stoml \\ hi\!" illllt,lll.'.";
htered w 1l're It). .. .'
to escape, and were s aug 1 "'um' dll(fll;t'd \\lll! ilHk,
. The river-course }Cl, . . . .., I \
few French casua tIes. '. d'fl'. It t(l det"nni1w \\ !' I !' I
. d ' ' 19 It IS also 1 It U , . .,
Ish arms and bo y parts. . t'l)t'S of \\0111111." I"l ' ... ',Ill.l
. d od certa1l1 y .' I
the sources are blase toWa! . 1 f: 'uellt'!"\" till'. Ilil!' f 11"
1 ' of (kat 1 mill .
plc, there are few examp cS
. agaimt thl' Ihl.'.U"I'" ]Il"
as larO"e y Int. It , . . '0 JP
nlean that arc ery w' h "I (h dll olll I. '
. b h B antinccavalrynMIl., I t 'lii.\,,\l
tectlon worn Y t e yz , . ,.' I till hand-Ill- [,[lit I
.' . . d iocus lllstl.l( I
these types of 1l1Juncs .. 'I . I' fIll a lwlll'! "rill \
. t was more glorIollS all( Uht! I
ecausc 1
1.1" .""
-_. __ ..-- 1 l\!dinl p."tll ! ill H:. (;,.1" I,t"
K 1 l
A 'The Imnge of t It" t '. 1 I ['d fiJi",!';)!
\B aZ:le an .,. ., I . St"lrh"I"Ull).\ 1 o I U "
Tenth to Twelfth Centur!t"s, ,\/edinw' \',I.\"'I',r"".
E' J t 1984' SympOSl!IlIl Oil '.
w'!y- 'lg!, . '.' . 71
19 Choniates, Hls/ona, .

A short catalog of imperial contact with the enemy is in order,
since these descriptions represent the epitome of what it meant to
be a Byzantine military man in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Miehael PseUos describes the injury and capture of Romanos IV at
the battle of Manzikert (1071), where the Byzantine anny was destroyed
and dispersed. The emperor was wounded, fell off his horse, but
survived and was captured.
Such descriptions are rare in PseUos,
who was more interested in the ruler's personality than in the mil-
itary details of the reign. In contrast, the Alexiad of Anna Komnene
abounds with wound descriptions. According to Anna's account, Alex-
ios I was wounded six times in battle, and inflicted six wounds over
the course of his career. The brief accounts of John Il's reign given
by Kinnamos and Choniates include one instance of imperial injuty
in battle; a Pecheneg arrow struck the emperor in his leg.
Komnenos received three wounds, according to Choniates, and he
inflicted two wounds, both of which killed the recipient. Kinnamos
mentions no less than seven occasions when Manucl received wounds.
Emperors, who had access to the best armor and weapons, and who
surrounded by the best guards, nevertheless regularly engaged
m hand-to-hand combat, and were often injured. We should remem-
ber these examples when we turn to wound statistics in the next sec-
tion. Most of the wounds mentioned there are single occurrences.
One wound was inflicted upon one man, who seldom again appears
as a casualty in the narrative. In fact, most soldiers, particularly the
shock cavalry, were not as well protected as emperors but would
have received least as many wounds.
Before examining numbers, we need to explore what our texts, as
of statistics, demonstrate. Military heroism is a topos, a rhetor-
stock theme, of Komnenian literature. That wounding and receiv-
mg wounds was a. mark of distinction and heroism in Byzantium
may to us, but the pre-Komnenian period pos-
sessed a dIfferent mIlItary ethos. Only from the late eleventh cen-
tury onward did military prowess become the dominant path of
FO.r example, when Manuel saw his nephew John
lDJured 111 a Joustmg contest, he awarded Jol111 the high title of pro-
t b "2 M
ose astos.- oreover, when Manuel chose to impress foreign knights
lO PHellos, II, 162.
Kinnamos, 8.
Kinnamos, 126.
he did not show them his fleet, or his treasury. This is what Alex-
ios had done with the leaders of the First Crusade nearly a hun-
dred years before. Instead, Manuel showed western knights his lance,
demonstrating how exceptionally long and heavy it was?! Manlld's
lance was a far more effective symbol of imperial potency than were
demonstrations of wealth. It was also a more personal demonstra-
tion of the nature of Komnenian power, and a more personal threat.
A lance brandished by someone who had never known combat would
not have been an effective political tool. But Manue! had
injury. He was a veteran of many hand-to-hand struggles. Because
hc had personally thrown down many foes, because he had killed
rnen in battle, his gesture had meaning. Injury, then, except {iJr thc.
universally abhorred infection, became a Komnenian lOpDS, part of
a rhetorical canon among chroniclers, and a method of advance-
ment and recognition among the practical folk who fought fill' the
TIze Nature qf Battle
The nature of protective armor and weapons did substantially
change between the sixth and the thi.rteenth
heavy cavalry wore chain or scale-mall and helmets, ,md
large shields. These were round and wide at the top, and
to a point. This teardrop, or shape the.
and the as much of the left SIde of a warnor as LIght
d I dded silk O
r leather garments. Bvzantme chrull-
arme cava rv wore pa . , '. .
'/ . -I' - ' tl . forces us tu
iclers only presented the explOits of the e Ite, so , " I'
r 1 h '1 armored cavalrymen and the kmds 01 \\O\llH :,
lOCUS upon t le eaYl y
.', 'mor was I)enetrated.
that occurred when t le II' supellOr a1 . .' ... 1 . I
1 I comlYil OCCUlll ( ,\ ,0
The physical procedure by w IC 1 cava ry,' ,
. 'd 1 r l' received. Battles were
determmed the types of wo un s a so (le 1 : f: t' 'hiclt lillt'd lip
fi of cavalry am 111 <In I), \\
ally betwecn arge orces 1 " _ t1' II'ld te'w Ilhvs-
, I fi Id' chosen )ccause ll:y ."" ,
across iron1 each ot ler on c " : r b li rht-armed ca\'alry and
ical ilTlpediments. Mter some Skll ml.slung, Y I g. , I (" tll sides' hta\\,
b b' 1 With l le c lal gc ) .' "
infantry, the real com at egat .. k.1 shoulckr to sho\lldt'l
cavalry. The force generated by horscs pac cc ' "
2{ Kinnamos, 125.
and crashing into each other, the riders armed with heavy spears or
lances, was considerable and resulted in many early casualties, This
shock combat, and the injuries it caused, had a disproportionate
effect on the combat effectiveness and cohesion of thc army with
the less successful charge, This is demonstrated by the effect of the
superior Norman charge against a Byzantine army at Dyrrachion in
1081. The Norman charge so disrupted the Byzantine heavy cav-
alry that the Byzantine force immediately fled the field, Battles could
also last up to several hours, such as the fight between the Byzan-
tines and a Hungarian cavahy force at Semlin, in 1167, In thcse
cases, relays of noncombatants supplied water to the frontline fighters,
Sword and mace wounds were delivered during this lengthier phase
of battle,
One substantial difference between the medieval battle and mod-
ern combat is the absence of friendly fire casualties, Missile fire usu-
ended once the hand-to-hand combat began; when the main
near, the lightly armored missile troops (the peltasts and
pszloz) wlthdrev: to the flanks or the rear to avoid the impending
charge of heavIly armored cavalry (the kataphmktoi), Once the heavy
c,avaby charged, the only activity that could cause fi'iendly casual-
tIes was the charge of the second line or reserve, Packed shoulder
to shoulder, sec,ond line had little ability to avoid trampling the
:vounded of eIther SIde, One of the primary duties of Byzantine med-
Ical corpsmen, (deputatoi) according to the military manuals was to
wounded soldiers from the path of charge of th: second
Burn were virtually nonexistent in medieval battles, The
only to this was in naval warfare, which is outside the
scope of thIS study, and in siege warfare, The Byzantine navy fre-
quently u,sed Greek fire against their opponents, This substance and
the way It cl r d' '
, was e Ivere to enemy shIps, has never been precisely
Indeed, the composition and delivery system were Byzan-
secrets, (Some modern authors, however, suggest that the
possibly a powdered mixture of sulfur, naptha, and
qUIcklIme),' Whatever the exact composition f' tl ' 1 I 'I
o lIS ear y c lemlca
24 Dennis, G,T" Das Strate ikon Des All '_' , ..
Der Verlag Der Osterreichi-
- Kll'chncl', D,B., Gaydos,],C and Bati 11' MC 'C '
propellants and ammunition' In' D D pgc I, " ombustlOll products of
, , ceter, '" and Gaydos, J,C" eds" Occupational
weapon, most ships that were struck by Greek Fire burned, and tilt'
sailors, many of whom could not swim, also tlH'Y
stayed aboard their ships or jumped into water covered a
ing slick of the oily substance, Greek Fire was not used 1Jl Kum-
nenian land combat,
Other kinds of injuries were infrequent in Byzantine fidd h',lttk:-,
Caltrops, four pointed, fist-sized, whieh de'lgllt:d
so that one sharp spike always pomted straight up, we\(' d
against cavalry attacks but with only mixed results: Traps and
as trenches or rolling heavy objects clown a lull at an, IJ-
. Iso appear infrequently in our sources, IlI.1
'" trlllll
Ing enemy, a "'1'1 ," I,
artillery-catapults or trebuchets-were lIkeWIse rare, ItS!. (I \ l
were used almost exclusively against stationary obstacles sn,eh a, g;att',
and walls' or in counter-battery fire against other such eng'Ult> ()', \ .l-
e;. 11 ' ,t ults or trebuchets would hurl pitch-soaked prop," oil'"
S10na y, ca ap 'I ,,' Id Iml'
or hot pieces of lead into a besieged city, Sue 1 11 ...
I I f till
' defenders, It' U,tll-
'd I 1 cc: t upon t le mora eo.. '
conSl era:> e euec d '11 "UI 'mtij)!'rsIIJllld
, 1 h' 'seldom use artl ery \11, ,
tines anc t elr enemIes , " d t ay soldiers who wne
role, except when attemptll1.g to es I'
enemy artillery, , ' 'f t' on on multiple wOlllHi, to ,\
Our sources prOVIde httle 111 or1ma I 'l't', Cl'll't'" indicatt' that mul-
, d' M 1 sualty anc 1110rt,} I Y "
smgle sol ler, OC ern ca " Idl'ers in IIH' \"it'tlI,\l1l
( g
AmerIcan so '
tiple wounds are common e", I 1 " llv bCl'Jl hit It\' till I'!' \ H
1 d
' d f bullet wounds lac USlM, ' " '
War W 10 le rom ' d t 11ellt'Io11 ('olllllarahk lIlt!,!-
' al urces 0 no I
more bullets), but me Iev, so " "'rriors striking !'w:lIl1tit"L
, ,J:' mple mentIOnS \\.. ", , !
luation, Chomates, ior cxa , f 1 r,'ll'il rhetoric ,11 h.tH"
, h' is )art 0 t le no , "
and bell1.g struck, but t IS, h' IlI'I)k WOUlHb \\cn' ddl\-
t ndIcate t at mu, , '11'
and should not be ta en 0 I ,.,' , '(' of '1 single H'
, und descnptwl1S ,11, ..', I I
ered, Most Byzantme wo " 1" .. t"d to 011 \ I l!'
, b' 'chrol11c Cl S \, LlII L " ' ,
is a funct10n of source las, 11 11 tll" soldl!'\' III 'IIW'W, '11,
f' 'u '1 t lOug L,
most dramatic examples 0 111] ry, ' ler less-lethal injlllil" tll.lll till
would likely have possessed several ot 1 , ' , ,
one explicitly described, cl t "1')1)("11' in B\lantilH' ,. lilt' "
' 'tint 0 no, ,,' , , ! J
Other modern para IglllS , " 'r C"ls\l,tltit,,,' \\\I\Ulth" .1111 '
are (1) a way to cvaluate the seventy 0 ,,'
R 1 jltltllll" IU
-trial Base, In: Zajtchllh., ... lIl! '
Health: TIle Soflfier and the, r(Ol1, :,;ti,l. ',', b. IL 1,\1
Textbook cif IvIzbtary MedlGme (\ '1" Overview, lll, Zdl,t
!l1!' 'J 1 \1,il1."" \1.:
'Comlnt r,1l , (' Itr 11',1 " 11
2" Bellamy, , <" : ("r the ('o//lbat .11
1/11, - '
, d P .' fiem/me ,are '!i '
eds" Anesthesla all en I 10 11 Reels, !O.
icine, Zajtchuk, R" c amy, "
an 'echelon-based' system of evacuation and provision of medical care,
Doubtless Byzantine soldiers either returned to duty or remained in
camp after their injuries were treated, but we have no source evi-
dence that indicates how or by whom this decision was made, In
absence of a centralized military medical institution, the most
lIkely procedure was that the soldier's immediate supervising officer
would determine his disposition, but there is no firm evidence for
this, Anecdotal evidence I'om the chronicles-examples of soldiers
treating each other-and evidence for medical corpsmen drawn from
the military manuals indicate that the wounded were probably given
treatment in a rudimentary manner by their fellow soldiers, How-
ever, unlike in modern armies, the casualties were then returned to
duty, or sat in camp if seriously wounded, to live or die according
to fate level of injury, Our sources indicate no provision
movmg senously wounded soldiers to a facility that provided a
hIgher level of care, and there is no evidence that doctors treated
the injuries of common soldiers in camp, C
, Doctors appeared when it was obvious that a wound might be
f:ltal, but this was probably limited to important people,
E,ven J?hn II receIVed the same initial treatment that a common sol-
dIer, have, received, An ekdora was placed upon a wound,27 and
the II1Jured solcher was then carted away or carried back to the army
a spare horse, The Sources describe no further treatmcnt
y doctors or corpsmen, There is also no evidence that the
system of By:-antine philanthropic hospitals made provision for the
care, and healmg of discharged soldiers, Furthermore these discharged
soldIC,rs do, not appear in other places in the The
whIch, frequently reappear after injUly does not
0(( Ul m a mIlItary conte t TI' , I '
, x , lIS smgu ar case was blmding often
used as a pUllIshment for rebellion, '
. TO
the texts i.nclicate that medical carc was provided
on t e fIeld of Inttl- , d r I fi I
ff ' }, , < e: an" Ht e urt ler. care was probably available
ll, t It solcher, I he emperor might, if his wound a eared
scruJlIS, receive the attention of d tb' J pp
was nllecl fOl' t I. D OC ors, ut m ohn's case, such help
( . 00 ate octors accolnp 'd I
r f .' al1le t le army and '1 group
() t lCm attencled the emperor I . I ,<
WhCll f' lk 1" , ' Jut t ley were a last resort utilized
o mer lClI1e faIled, '
" ChOlliates, His/aria, 'W, KiIlllamos, 62-63,
Data Sources
As mcntioned earlier, modern readers need to keep in mind that
the wounds described by Byzantine chroniclcrs reflected each author's
interests. Anna Komnene, Niketas Choniates, John Kinnamos, and
IVIichael Psellos were highly educated members of the Byzantine ditl',
but none (except, perhaps, Kinnamos) had seen military
impelled them to describe militalY events and the assocIated
that fill their chronicles? Anna Komnene wrote from reverence lor
her deceascd father and because she hated her brother, who plan'cl
her in a monastery after he defeated two coups she Cho.,
niates spent several decades working on his He IS
the Komnenoi; he blames them for the empIre s subsequent Ill;. dUl-
ing which he lost his high bureaucratic position and everythmg Iit'
'I' nasler) in Thract'. and
owned, He was once ha17nostes, ml Itary payr " ...
so had contact with soldiers through this activity, \\,<1"
IVIanuel's secrctary, and Manuel's military pr,ovlc\(:. ahout
half of the military actions from which the informati?n 111 tillS stllciy
. d -' t It' probable that Kinnamos accompanted f\lanud OIl
IS ellvec , IS I' I" ll'
. . d 'bl that he had once been a sole 1er, 'lI\a
hIS campaigns, an passl e , , " "( mt'lct with
1 1
, d 1 el'OI'S and was 111 mtllllate (
Pse los ac Vlse severa emp , , ,
' .' f he had no personal military expenence.
so Iers, even I f t1't'ltl'\'" \vOUlld
, " our use 0 (juan ,-
Rhetoric also places hmItatIOns upon ", h. K _
, I d h' B zantme Empire, t l 0111
information. The elIte that ru e t c y , , , ,I f d
, 1 I' re at famIiles, expcctt< to 111.
the Doukar,. and t lC literature and events in the
allUSIOns to the Trojan War, ", Ill' I' fnlwr
A K ene obhges, plctunng (.
works they reac, nna omn , h . J 1111 KinnaIl1()s cdlot',
, ' l'k ood Homenc elO, () ,
tenng regIments I e any g "11 L k'[ l't I'S nSV to dislinglll,h
", " f M nucl I uc I y, ." I '
thiS m hiS descnptlon 0 a 'I 'l't '(icscriI)tion, First. thcy
' fi om actua Illl I aI) .,.. .
these types 0 actions r r. tl' r.nain lnttlc acti()n, h 11'
n b ,fore or mter le .,
usually take place we e d "c" tc'c! '1t the Battle uf Dyrra-
, K nenos was elta . ,
example, after eXlOS om, 'b ' I 'I' Fnher's miralultlw;
, ' K lenc descn cs It ,
chlOn In 1081, Anna Olm I ,d.' f' Imrsuers, His hop,(' le'IIl.'
apparent 101 co '! I ,.,
escape, alone, rom an <, h' "'l'S w,ltche(\, h(,Wlit: 1'1('( .
HI wlllle IS pm SUt - ( . , I
fron1 rock to rock up a Cl, , see in this dcscriptH JIl till' It,HI(
Doubtless the readcr was supposed to ' '
' . I 'S' (I""ri\w, \blltll'l
'I ' '''Wl' IIIlI,m I
'3 109-110, In tillS ater IMss,,, '
Kinnamos, 192- . ,
as, in body, like ancient, herDS,
2" Alexiade, T, 164. (I\ , 7),
of God protecting the emperor for greater things, but what any
of these chronicles should recognize is that the Byzantine
auchence who read such works immediately recognized the differ-
ence between such stylized descriptions of the emperor's escape and
an actual description of combat. Byzantines read historical works,
and even ,personal letters aloud to an audience of family and
The was supposed to recognize the author's eru-
dltIon and Ius allusions to Homer, the Bible, and contempormy
Indeed" what separated the educated elite fi'om their merely
lIterate was this ability to detect and precisely compre-
allusIOns and analogies, Therefore, while a certain poetic
IS always present in Byzantine chronicles, we should recog-
I1lze that the audience would usually be able to draw the distinction
between rhetoric and actual combat description, all the more so since
many of those in the audience would have been active or rctired
military officers,
Byzantine Wound Statistics
Now that we have made d 11 le ,
' , , ue a owance 101' the prejudIces and pro-
C IVltles of our chronicl' I I '
eIS, ane lave examll1ed the context in which
wounds Occurred (battle) h " ,
" ' we can turn to t e Il1fOrlnatIOn on wounds
wIth wluch they pro ' I M
VIe e us, y methodology has been to examine
e evmth and twelfth '. t . fi
, 1 ! een ury texts .01' examples of wounds sustained
III I)att es between 1081 and 1180 T 1
we \ '11 1 ' 0 ana yze wound descriptions
\1 exp ore (a) how,wounds were received, (b) by what wea ons
;nd (c), to wfihat effect III terms of the soldiers' survival and
o contll1ue ghting This an l' 1
a! I.. ',' a YSls emp oys several conventions, Casu-
ty (ata al e orgalllzed according to sold' .' Ii "I ' , ,
after wounding E fi ' unetlona capabIlItIes
, xcept or promment mdividuals h f..
examples of whether an individual survived " we, ave ew
context of tII "'.1" or dIed outSIde of the
. c mItIa ll1Jury As t' I .
study th t . ,men lonee earber, for purposes of
, e elm mortal wouncl refers to th . tl ' . 1 "
mediate death on the field of batt! A ,ose lat resu ted 111 lm-
that incapacitate a soldI' d e, serlOllS wound refers to those
, er an prevent him from t" l'
hat ilmctions, This in I I ' h I con Inumg lIS com-
, c ue es t c oss of hands e d I
{'tratIng' wounds that d' I .' , ' yes, an ot 1er pen-
, ,L le not ImmedIately kill th I Th .
lIIclclence of serious wo d ' . e casua ty, e hIgh
, ' . un S IS 111 part due to th 'd'
tJvc teehniques Tl' t " e sources esenp-
, 1<1 IS, wounds that might t 11 I
111 death are listed as serio " h' even ua Ylave resulted
, us 111 t IS study because a particular chron-
icler has not described the actual death, only the initial wound, For
example, I have included unhorsing as a serious wound, since being
unhorsed frequently caused injuries with long-term effects such as
numbness of limbs and memory loss, Trivial wounds form the third
category, These are wounds that did not result in immediate inca-
pacitation; the soldier continued to fight. The often-vague language
used by medieval chroniclers prevents definitions that are mon'
specific, ,
I have also divided wounds by the type of weapon that dehvered
them (ie, the wounding mechanism), The weapons described,
formed the standard armament of medieval cavalry, In additIon, I
have included categories for wounding by horses: and an
"unknown" category for wounds whose seventy IS clescnbecl,.
., 'd 0 r sources most olten
whose wound mechanIsm IS not mentlOne, u, ' '
mention combat between two armies of armed cavahymen,
In a few examples, the opponents are Turkish
archers and these account for most of the mISSile wound CkSCIlP-,
tions, We know the general nature of infantry weapons and
f b h I
, 'l't manllals and from contemporaneous artls-
rOln at ear 1e1' ml 1 ary 'c '
,'fie source data on 1I1lantry
tic sources but because we ave no specI .
, cl d d kill d 'n battle this study cannot attempt
who were woun e an el, , . ' I" r
" f ding and death for actlOl1S 111\'0 \ mg
to compare statIstICS 0 woun <
infantry versus cavalry,
Table 1.
Wound level and mechanism
Sword Lance Missile
Mortal II 3 5

Serious 10 9

10 2 2
I) t
Trivial f)
Unspecified 2
I 0
J() lHI
15 9
, ' ' or wound incidence data, dt'srrilll'tl
Table 1 table 1S a comp1latIon b 'tl l'lllC'CS hS1Cd moments,
, 30 Com at WI 1 < " .' .
by weapon and seventy, cl ,.' t' IS Th('se wOllllcb \\1 It
d d 18 8
01 of wound CSClIP 101 ' ,
they pro uce ,/0
erived from an
'10 These data were
, I ir,
seldom trivial. Swords were used for the next several hours, Maces
were the weapons of last resort, but, like knives, they appear infre-
quently in our sources, Note that swords produced a disproportion-
atc percentage of mortal wounds (35,5%), far exceeding the incidence
of mortal wounds produced by lances (9.7%). Swords also produced
35.7% of the serious wounds, and 58.8% of trivial wounds. Lances,
on the other hand, produced 32.1 % of serious wounds while they
produced only 11.7% of trivial wounds.
These data should not be interpreted to mean that swords were
more weapons than lances. Remember that lance iqjurics
occurred durmg the first few moments, or at best minutes of com-
bat, until the lances were shattered by the charge or rend'ered use-
less by the close press of friend or foe. Then medieval soldiers relied
upon their swords, and used them until they were blunted. The
mace, a virtually indestructible, blunt, crushing weapon, was the
weapon of last resort. We would expect more descriptions of mace
wounds, but battle was frequently decided before it became neces-
salY to use. them. During the period under discussion (1081-1180),
tl:e Byzantll1es regarded maces as less useful than sword or lance.
Neve,rthdess, had been a part of the Byzantine soldier's arse-
sInce. the n1l1th century, and remained a standard piece of mil-
ItalY eqUIpment.
Our picture of how wounds were delivered becomes more distinct
when ,,,:e l,ook at whether wounds were trivial (allowed the soldier
to remam Il1 combat) or serious or mortal (removed the soldier from
combat), and when they 0 Id'
20 30;, f' II ' . . ecurrec unng a battle. Lances caused
.. () cl lllJunes that removed soldiers from battle (as re orted
by our sources). This means that one fifth of tho I J: 11 .r b
tie f'I!' I I f'll se W10 le m at-
e m )att e e during the first charge This' "fi 1
n1'lny armies tl B '. . IS sIgl1llCant )ecause
, , ,le yzantll1e mcluded 1 . d h' b "
th f' ." k ' pace t ell' est soldIers III
,l IOnt lan s, and the loss of these would have h d d' .
tlOnate efI(xt upon the b.' a a ISPropOl-
o I I . corn at worthmess of the rest of the army
'. n t le ot ler hand wounding with d ( 0
removed soldiers J) SWor S 37.31'0 of wounds that
'. com )at occurred over several hours
j rchelY and occasional! 'a r (.. .
dash f 1, "" I Y J ve ll1S mISSIle fire) both preceded the
.. () ,lllccs ,me occurred after the battle h 'd
c ,wen one SI e was
.linilld, "Iit-hae! Psl'ilos ("/(l/I . J'
, '.' ., ..r" (J<TmjJma the lE 'I , f N'k
tory <lIJohn Killllatnos. " , 1,\ ana 0 1 'etas Choniates, and the his-
routed and was being pursued, Missile injuries accounted for 11.3()/o
of total wounds described by our sources, and 11.9% of wounds that
removed an individual from combat. We should remember that these
casualties were from the best-armed and -armored elements or an
army, and that missile fire would have had a correspondingly greater
effect upon "lighter" troops, which had less armor and less-well-pro-
tected horses, especially among infantry skirmishers ..
Because our source descriptions arc often nonspeCIfic, wC'
either determine the wound location or the weapon that cause:l It
in 12.25% of total wounds and 19.4% of the mortal wounds. Nev-
ertheless according to the descriptions provided by our sources,
produced one fifth of the wounds that removed a cavalrymen from
combat (and probably these wounds were heavily concentrated
. d . b ttle archery accountec ()!
the front-line, ehte mcn). Pre- an post- a .' . . ,
. did a solcher from comha.t.
nC''1r1y one eIghth of woun s t lat remove .
C hould not be SUl-
This degree of losses is yet another reason. we s ... I .. r .
haSH; upon the llutla st.tgt"
rised when our sources place great erop I. f' '. tl .
1 d
D' l' g an enemy ott 1l
of battle and on the first c large: e ea m.. ' '.' f' I . .,:
, .' d ' ft' ,t d over a t1urd 0 t It It-
hours-long melee 111 WhICh swor s m le e. f" I
' . k ptllg an arm\' 1.
ous injuries was an important component m c: '
combat and able to continue a campaIgn.
Table 2.
Wounds by Seriousness and Body Region
U nspeciiied

Total Wounds
'1' I 1 I bv ,t'lI-
(I''!" from a) (' .'
the WOlln " " I
Table 2 further breaks own 8
) l't'tl and scri()w; \\(HlIl
. Most (8 In 1110 , . . ,
ousness and body regIOn. ' ., I I the best-proH'C!td I,ll 1..\1 t
the largest )lI. .' , 1 I "
were delivered to t e (57.10/0). The s \\,\
with the head a close . I en b a coal or challt mall. .,oHl
tected by
his long klte-slll
, t 1 Y t ()f' cotton awl hlll'll
pro b .\ gannen
h vy q
uilted gam eson, , c
finally y a ea
that absorbed the shock of any blow, Sometimes wealthy riders wore
a corselet of metal scales over all of this to offer additional protec-
tion to the torso, Despite creating a virtual sweat suit for anyone so
armored, this arrangement offered excellent protection from sword
Note the disparity in Table 2 between mortal and serious wounds
to the head, It appears that a strike to the head, most often deliv-
ered by a sword, either killed the casualty outright 01' did little dam-
age, with only a few ineidenees causing serious trauma, Strikes to
the torso are more evenly divided between mortal and serious wounds,
Arms, including hands, however, were perhaps the least protected
part of a medieval cavalryman's body, and a large percentage (78%)
of arm wounds were serious, Finally, note the small number of total
to the cavalryman's legs, Protected by mail, padding, and a
kIte shIeld, they were well defended, and also difficult to hit by a
cavalryman raised up in his stirrups to deliver a forccftd blow to his
opponent's upper body or head,
Unfortunately, it is impossible to correlate the type and location
of a wound with specific medical treatments to sec if treatment
in .better recovelY, Furthermore, archaeological evidence pro-
us WIt!l plenty of information about surgical instruments, but
ll1fOrmatlOn about recovery rates, or even likely causes of death,
Few Byzantine battle sites have been excavated,
Table 3, Wounds by mechanism, location, and severity
Head Torso
Scr Triv Ser
Arms Legs
Triv Ser Triv Ser Triv Ser Triv
8 3
o I I
I 4
6 o
o 2
o I
2 0
o 3 0
8 2
Table 3 compares the body region wounded with
of seriousness, and also categorizes the data by weapon, I he head
and torso each received about a third of serious (in this tablc cithn
serious or mortal, by our classification; in other words, th:)s(' \\()u,llcb
that removed an individual from combat,) wounds, wlllle the Imal
third results from injuries whose location is not specified: :1'he tor,c I
is the location of the largest number of serious wounds, I hI: hllW:'t
single cause of serious wounds to the torso is the lanct', tlm,
to arms are most numerous, and all but one c!el!wH'(
by the sword, Almost as many trivial wounds were to tite
head as mortal, suggesting that medieval head pro,tectiOll was :\t
somewhat effective, Our sources occasionally mentlOH 111 I
, 'f I 'Imct or \'ISOr. In t H
junction with the protectlVe functIOn 0 a le ' " I'
two cases where this protection proved inadequate, OIl!' lwoulH

db' that struck a soldier in the temp e, allt t H
cause y an aIrow
I nd to an eve, ,Ve should Ulltt'
tl "I1J'Ury came rom a ance wou , I
o leI I I ' 'tl 'It fully coVc'n'eI t It'
that helmets usually did not have meta VISOlS 1, I . ', .. , 't' !ch
. mon B zantine troops, and that t Ht} t s \\ (I "
face, at least a g y , M 'I <' 'Iftcn suspcwkd tWIll
unprotected by metal plates or ch am" ,aI was ('1'(' I.,f't c ,\)('n to Iwr-
h e areas wc
the front of open helmets, ut t e ey
mit visibility ancl ventilation" , l' "of being ITlIIC,\('(1 hom
Table 4: demonstrates the relatIve c i Kt'C'Jl ill
" . [1' cl b a parncu dr I ,.
combat by an 111Jury 111 Icte ?,' 'ft' ,t -cl hv ,trti1krv c,r hON",
I b
of IlllUrIeS 111 IC e " . .
mind that the actua num er :J 11' " 'i 'cd 'm injurv tkln-
I> if a so C ler I et c; \ " "
was very small), or exarnp e, 1 tll'it he would ha\\' hi",'ll
,1' a 60% c lance , I
ereel by a swor , t lel e was , ,} \" dnt Iit' -11 ,\.,
bl 5 in contrast, S 10 \, "
removed from combat. Ta e , , kill' 1 As stated ('arlwI, ..,\1 (It i !"
about a one-in-three chan, ce of bClbn
I fi
'j'I'll']'l'lljcS, Hu\\('\!.'\'. ,'un
" , of att c; le c, , ' "\'
accounted for the vast maJonty 'f ' rtilkrv stnkllW; all llll I
'example that our source documents gIve 0 I), :Htilkrv dird \\f
, 00/ f those strut I , , , , , 1
VI'dual results 111 death; 10 /0 0 T 1,1, 1, 11(1 'j"\blc- c) \llth \\(Hll.'
" ' '1) C '1' .I' t
,1 ouId not confuse the statIstiCS 111 ' "I' .,' (,I' lwillf!. Jt'lIl1l\"
S 1 "te the t Milt t I
incidence; rather, they f it Illort"\ \IIlWld, I (I >1 I
from the battle, and the chances 0, ,
by the mechanism of injury,
Table 4, Injury Mechanism Causing Combatant Removal
From Battle
Mechanism of
Weapon Unspecified
Missile weapons
Chance of Removal
Table 4, Mortal Wounding, By Mechanism of Injury
Mechanism of
_MIssIle weapons
Chance of Mortality
To recapitulate our interpretations of B'
wounds we can identify) 26 30;' yzantme wound data, (of the
to the torso, and 16,3;0 to' delivered to the head, 31,3;()
were to the head 31 40;'. bs, Of mortal ",rounds, 28,6/u
d [' , ' 0 were to the torso a d I I
e lvered to the extremities, 7.4% of ' ' n on y 1.4
to the head 4,0 7% we 1 I' senous wounds were delivered
" re e e IVered to the t d
extremities, Keeping in m' d' an 25,9%) to the
111 oU! sourccs' b I
ena e us to make se I ' lases, t lese comparisons
, vera conclusIOns regarding' By t' f:
, zan me war arc,
:r,he lance, while inflicting fewer tha
I able I), was verv,J:r' , ,n one fifth of wounds (see
, I euectlve at removm' ," I' "
lIle cavalry soldiers) fi g cIltlca mdIVlduals (front-
In Byzantine battle I' combat (86%, see Table 4),
mes, t 1e file-lead -I f'
usually the equiv,t1e t f el'S, t le 1rst rnan in line was
, n 0 a modern ' , ' <
was responsible for th. _ , officer and
J' , . e seven men lmed b h'
11tH III the first critical up e md him, Losing
tI ' I moments of comb t !: <-
le SIC e that lost the most fil I I a- lrequently disrupted
, e eae el'S,
It is a misconception to assume that all armies' mounted heavy
cavalry was armed and armored alike,
Those killed early on often were the pick of the army in both
equipment and training, However, armies in the Komnenian period
were occasionally organized by separating the best troops l1'om
the others into special units; therefore, our comments about losses
to the best cavalry can only be accepted when the sources spec-
ify whether such troops were organized separately or integrated
into all units.
IVIedieval chroniclers tend towards dramatic exaggeration, hut they
are ostensibly interested in presenting history of contemporal)' events,
This is not the place to begin a discussion of Byzantine or Home-
ric topoi, or of the political motives of Byzantine chroniclers, The
genesis and development of events can be debated, but the types of
injuries produced by particular weapons is directly known, An audi-
ence listening to an historical chronicle would have f(Jllowed the
story, and would have been unconcerned with the statistical accU-
racy of specific wound descriptions compared with the general wound
population, Choniates, for example, wrote politically motivated his-
tory, He describes combat as it oecurs naturally in his chrollol
cal narrative, with due allowance for the exaggeration expected of
a Byzantine raconteur.
For historians, examining texts for information 01,1 "',ar-
fare and wounding is an interesting way of obta11lJl1g
about the Byzantine zeitgeist of the twelfth and thirteenth
How did the Byzantines, at their lowest political in I DB I, respond
lo involuntary interactions with Turks, Nurm"Uls"
the hordes of western Christians who partIcIpated !l1 the "
and most of whom passed through Byzantine ()ne dl,t'rl
of this was a militarization of society. In the hlty years prtTldlll),!.
the Komnenian dynasty, only one emperor, lsaac KOtlllH'!H)S, ,\\,<1'
' h '1' _ " t" The Komneniall 'rors, all SI ,le lIt'! ",
r om t e mlItary par y, ' '\' ' '
'\' -, I 't' ilV Tins 1111 l1anzat]l)ll
instituted one hundred years 0 ml IteU) at IV I', . " . . f
was reflected in the rhetoric of court poets and 1tI pH lutllt I . 11
'l r 1 'Ol'C and military themes, Less (Il1H' \\,\'i ,pt 111
C ronlC el'S 101' 1er ,
describing cultural accomplishments and religious decisions and acts
of these emperors. The Komnenian emperors were less comfortable
in the palace and instead governed from the armed camps that were
their usual home.
Byzantine sources provide historians with a wealth of military data.
However, Byzantine chroniclers wrote not only for the edification of
their peers, the educated elite, but also for personal motives. How
can these sources be mined for information on wounds and wound-
since the Komnenian period does not possess a tak-
tzka (nlllrtalY manual)? The answer is: carefully. The statistics on
wounds used here were derived from a careful reading of textual
and a certain amount of subjectivity enters such work. Is
a soldIer who has been thrown from his horse by a lance-blo'w
r:mov:d fi'om combat? Is his injUly serious? For purposes of this
the answer isyes, because the text leaves him I 'n uncon-
SCIOUS on tl ' d Wh )'l g
'.' le groun. at we can never know is what percentage
were able to stand up, find another horse, and con-
.hghtmg. Other Source biases limit the kinds of information the
}ustonan can glean from tl 't t I f:
c, ' le ex s. n an try, who appear in equal
numbers to th.e cavalry in Our tenth century military manuals, arc
'; group III eleventh through twelfth century chronicles despite
t J( 10: they must have played in sieges. The chroniclers for
'kUJchence who heard their writings in a social forum where such
\\()r's were I' d bl' I 1'h
,1' ' I' ea pu lC y. ey wrote for a socially and politically
( He auc lence one that i 1 d d 1
. f ' ne u e cava rymen (kataphraktoi) but not
III <llltry (the common soldiers) W 1 1, ' ,
s') . > f. . e lave a most no examples 111 our
' urces 0 lIIJury to mfantly an I 1 r-
in cnmlnt Th . fI' h' Cl c on y a ew examples describe infantlY
'. ele me, t IS C lapter is an ea' t' f l'
ing and dite iqju WI " x mll1a Ion 0 e Ite wound-
b(:- sure th'u 'the 1 Iy. lllatever statIstIcs we have examined, we can
' , , . ess we -protected infant d l' 1
alrv sufIt>rcd worse 'lnd ' . ly an Iglter-armored cav-
ill 'addition. " ' plObably receIved poorer medical treatment
These statistics demonstrate several' t .
(ine Illedicine 'me! warf:a' F' 1 In erestl11g paradigms of Byzan-
' ' , "re. ilrst ance combat D
Irst kw moments of b tt! h'l - was per armed in the
lan('es accounted Ulr alx:ll e
;' I;, n:any battles lasted hours, Yet,
that removed soldiers Ii b
IllJunes (reported by our sources)
J " rom corn at Swords h'
a ry weapon, and produced 4'00 were t e pnmary cav-
prodUCt,cl approximatd 100/0ver
' Yo of all wounds. Archery fire
. \' - Y If) 0 all wound h'l
1I11p watn/ in li'1o of rc" . I'd " . s, W I e warhorses are
cO! c e I1lJunes Tl '" .
, ' , le remammg lruurics (about
24,/0) are from artillery, minor weapons, or unspecified sources.
Lances caused most serious and mortal wounds to the torso, while
swords produced most of the head injuries. Swords also frequently
damaged arms, but these wounds were seldom fatal. Legs are sel-
don'} wounded by any mechanism-sword, lance, or mace-and
many of our recorded injuries came from archery fire,
When analyzing these findings, we should keep in mind the nature
of medieval combat, The torso was the most effective target for a
lancer, who was simultaneously maneuvering a tossing mount and
aiming at a warrior who had similar problems and goals. Sword
strikes were delivered to the head and upper body because cavalry-
men lifted themselves up in their stirrups to give greater leverage
and force to their blows. The large number of tllese wounds
by our sources should be attributed to the fact that sword fight1l1g
,.' , hit I d comhat.
comprised the vast majorIty of tIme spent 111 anc - 0- lan,
Archery-fire was more random and injured the areas of the body
unprotected by mail and scaled armor: the arms, legs, and .face.
Byzantine armored cavalry were the most likely to be kIlled by
swords or lances, and to be injured by falls from horses fro.m
strikes to the arms or body. Despite the presence of wtrOl :V
army and despite evidence that medical supplies .were carnec:,
, , d' d cc that ml 1-
the imperial baggage train, there IS no Irect eVl en . I cl' 1
cli 1
. t tl common soldIer. n tec,
tary doctors" provided me ca sel"Vlce 0 le .' " !
k se of theIr servIces ,wc
even emperors seemed reluctant to ma e u d .
M d
' al men are atteste 1Il our
referred to treat themselves, e lC corps , . d 1 "
. . d' t that the woun ec wel e
early sources, and later eVIdence 111 Ica h 'e of' protecting
d fi but only m t e sens
brought to camp an care or,. h d d cl soldiers received
fi h
attack. DISC arge woun c ,
them from urt er enemy h d 1 b It the Il'l.ture of
I they reac e lOme, l '
extra pay for w :1I The iatroi and asklepiadai of our
this treatment IS not deSCrIbed, Id' 'e retrieved by depota-
d fi
- rs' common so lers wel '
sources care or empeIo , '11 fI r their own treatment.
, ( ) but then were respOnSl) eo, , ...
toz corpsmen, . . b . d . th their general othctl S,
Byzantine soldiers fough: tl
t emI)erors display their
'1' h f the time mSlste la I
the ml ltary et os 0 . 1 ' l'I'ecl both courage am
, al It certam y 1 equ ' .
bravery and physlc . } clieval army, Conditions
. '1' palgn Wlt I a me .
phYSIcal fortltuc e to cam . For the frontline soldIer, battle
on the march were often appallmg,
:11 Choniates, His/oria, 191.
corn d' I mence WIt 1 a ferocious crush of I .
one's comrades fell in tll fi r ances, 111 which onc fifth of
e rst lew moment d . .
( en elan of the charge c Id' s, an 111 whIch the sud-
L ou 1I1stantaneousl t .
anc slaughter of a rout If b t I . Y urn to mto the panic
'. . ate contlllued ho' f
menng wIth swords and mace .a' d fi ' Ul S 0 confused ham-
S ouere urther 0 .
, lat our sources demonst t . -1 pportumty for injury.
ra e IS t 1at type and, .
rat er than medical tr t d' senousness of iniury
. ' ea ment, etermmed b cl fi Id
tIve medical treatment d'd . at e e mortality. Effec-
t! .1 1 not really eXIst for Id'
IC ess, the Byzantines r . d most so lers. Never-
ecogmze the If'
exhausted combatants and c . va ue 0 rescumg injured or
chances of survival and eventounavleymg them to camp, where their
tl I return to act'
lan wou d have been the h d IOn were far gTeater
case a the' L
corn. at. It was on campa' I . Y remallled on the field or
. " Ign, anc m battle 1
that the emperor and his ' more t lan in any other
stray arrow, or a lucky lance th men became equals. In battle a
kill h rust (or a h t' .
even t e best-protected sold' ,un mg accIdent) coulc!
Alexios Komnenos developed an army that successfully fought Nor-
lTmns, Pechenegs, and Turks. The army he inherited in 1081 was a
raggcd and poorly trained force that had been ruined by a half cen-
of neglect followed by ten years of civil war. Alexios' reform of
tius army priluarl'ly . t d f' .. A" . conSlS e 0 Its retrallllllg. lexlOs wars were
mamly he neither waged aggressive campaigns of recon-
quest (hIS occupation of many Asia Minor territories the wake of
the first crusade notwithstanding), nor did he conduct many sieges. The
army seasoned by battle against the Normans and Pechenegs,
and by IllS death in 1118, after thirty-five years of campaigning, it
was a disciplined and effective military force.
John II inherited a professional army and an empire that finally
had stable borders after forty years of constant warfare. John deve-
loped fortified points along the south coast of Asia Minor, and cam-
paigned in northern and southeastern Anatolia. His campaigns were
characterized by aggressive sieges followed by defensive military
actions. He avoided open battle wherever possible, preferring to rely
upon the Byzantine army's superb siege and engineering skills. His
goals werc to contain the Danishmendicls in northern Anatolia, and
to secure Byzantine control of Antioch-his military activity in Cili-
cia and Syria was directed toward this goal. John was unable to take
and garrison the city of Antioch and he had to settle with forcing
the Antiochene princes into partial submission.
Manuel conducted an aggressive eastern policy in an attempt tn
control Antioch and the other crusading states of the Levant. He
was willing to expend considerable resources, tor example, ill all
attempt to relieve pressure on the Kingdom of Jerusalem by <<ttk-
ing Egypt with a large fleet. Unlike John, Manucl's arlny
many field battles, and engaged in or planned sieges (Kerkyra,
minon, Ikonion), more sporadically. Manllel's rnilitillY and diplolll<ltH
efforts met with mixed success; his long wars against Hungary
111 an ephemeral influence, while the huge expenditures oil expedi-
tions to Italy, Antioch, and against the Seljuks brou.ght the
tine empire no appreciable increase in milit;uy or t'xtt'IlS\I.1l
of territory. Manuel's elaborate and expensive campaIgns created tilt'
illusion of a vibrant and militarily capable state, but they masked
important weaknesses, Byzantium's army was increasingly equipped
and maintained like a western European army, but without a reli-
able method for paying and supplying the troops, Manucl's expedi-
ent of paying his soldiers with pl'Onoia did not provide his successors
with a ready source of proficient and loyal men, In 11 77 the empire
was able to parry Seljuk attacks with a Core of soldiers sent fi'OIll
the capital, supplemented by levies from Nicomedia and the Neokas-
tra theme; this system did not long survive thc Komnenian dynasty,
The armies of the Komnenian emperors consisted of three
types of soldiers, First, the emperors maintained guard units in
Constantinople, These at first included the Exkoubitoi, the Immor-
tals, and the Varangians, The Norman wars destroyed most of these
units, and in the later wars of Alexios, and in John and Manuel's
reigns, the only guard unit that appears is the Varangianli, These
men were English foot soldiers, heavily armored, and they were more
than a palace corps d'elite; they guarded the emperor in Constan-
tinople (where they tried to deny John II access to the imperial
palace while Alexios lay dying), but they also fought against the
Normans at Dyrrachion, and won John's 1122 battle against the
Pechenegs, Alexios used the Arclzontopouloi (sons of veterans) in bat-
tle, but they disappear from our sources after his reign, They were
likely a training corps for young officers, pressed into active service
during an emergency,
The second source of Komnenian manpower was troops levied
from the native population of Byzantine provinces, During Alexios'
reign these men were drawn from Thrace, and Macedonia (and
occasionally Thessaly), which were near the capital and could pro-
vide men in a hurry, This was simple expediency; troops levied from
further away could not respond quickly enough for emergencies par-
ticularly for campaigns against the Pechenegs and Cumans, who
would raid and retreat almost before Alexios could gather his men,
John's reign provides less information about troops of this type,
although Macedonians are mentioned when the cmperor campaigns
in Syria, Manuel's reign offers more definitive descriptions: he levied
troops from Thrace, Macedonia, Thessalonike, as well as from the
Nicomeclia and Neokastra regions in Asia Minor, Included in this
category are the Pechenegs settled at Mogl
(north of Thessa-
lonike), and the Serbian levies settled near Nicomedia, Other men-
tions oflocallevies appear in Seleukeia (on the Anatolian coast south
(:( l;-.ll :1,\ ISH IN
' t' '1' l't'g'ions that
' ,1 . 11' l\tesl' \\'t'J't' !'Oll It, , ' .
' Cilicia), illld ill \)ah\l:ltl;t, :-lot.,\ 'I' !ill' thdr own cld'cllSe agamst
0' 11 1\,\\'(' to (>1(1\\((
could bl' l'x]lt'l'l('( 11 , , .
, TI ('st' contll1ued to raids, , I r ' .. "IS 11ICl'Cl'llUl'H'S, 1" d
"1'11l' thinl snun't' of SII ( It IS \\" "l,'IT11Ch a11d Normans), an
' 11', '(;('1'll1<1l1:-i,. , (11
' (i'(1Il1 tilt' Wt'st (t.i\1.1I1S, , ,.', ,) Western mcrcenanes
CO!11C" k \I'l!ls (,('()q.!,I,\IlS" I m
fro!11 the cast ( 1 ur 'S, ",' '.' . )(,' slwck tI'Oops--heavy cava ry, ,
Cav,tlr)') peril )1'\lH'd I ht, (1111('\ \( lllS :, 'l'l'tries as well as the
' , , '1'1 ' "I'lt'm 1Ilt'1 U '" I" reIgns,
l three l't'lg-ns, \( (, S , '1lsIl "tlllUllon to the t lIce 1
' '1," ,) \\'cn' " , , 'd rs ane
( Iho were frolll AlltllH ,> 1 ,I served as scouts, Ial e , ,

soldiers wt'!'t' \ \'\Il're settled within By,

" , ,1 t H'SI' Il1, 'I ' , w 11 e
mounted ardwrs, SOil\! u, , , 1 in all respects lIke
1 tl 'I,(,II\)()I\ (lIJll'I1()lH( ',['.1 empIre,
territory, ant l( , I ('l'om outSide 0 t le b
' I 1, J'('('l'lllt<'C , , tI cl' than y
others COl1tlllllC( t() ll" 1 r 'rs defined by Il1l1CtlOl1, la 1 , the
A 1(mrth t'alt'gu\'y ul sn ( It " I 'rt' they were lrom), wele fI
' , " ('iIlt'(' \\T do Ilot knm: W 1l " , 'md who accounted or
SOUl CL S . , ' I the slcge engIl1cs, < " historians
artillerYllll'll, wilo I\(, These men arc mentIOned by I tl e his-
' r John 11 's vlt'lO\'1eS, "', ,,' d' unfortunate y, 1
most 0 , ,(' I ' Komnelltan {leno , I tl e emper-
and by the orators () : le t() the ihv field b, att eS
1 Cll who
' , ' tlt'h (11nC, , " of t le m
tor1'111S devote III 1 'I' 'llg the actIVitIes Th
' . , I, ' , , to ( cscn)1 , 'A' Minor, e
01'S fought, and !tu t tHlll, , tt'rritorial gains 111 sla, th Mer-
e I ,BYZantlllt I ,LeVIes e
made most () t It , , ' , f' 111('11 the Guards, t le 'avamng
, ,,, t('O'ones 0, ., 'es from r b-
three prevIOUS l <lb , ,., t enemy arml, 1
'., , " l' 'xlsted to pi t:VC!1 , rtlcularly t lose
cenanes, eCI t,un, Y l. B 'aggressive campmgns, pa , . engines
Komnenian terntory, \It, 1\1 :' 'xisted to protect the sIegc t Tar-
of John Il, these three At Anazarbos, at ; Syria
and the 111en who operatec 1,.' Aclana and l'
( -. . .. Zeugm
, " 1 declSlve e e-
sus, Kastall1on, they manned were tle t them and
" , ,cl the tre)lle, ' to protec
these mcn ,tll ,', The army S lal Ul e " f that cam-
ment in each C<,unp,ug:l, , 1176 meant the fal1ure I ge cav-
1 t Icomon 111 , 'gns Wlt 1 ar
transport t lCl1: :) d ,t' ns and extensIve d ctions, which
paign, Mantlel s lIel, ,1C 10 ,1 n John's more limlte a
, , )lishecl less t la ,
airy anmes accomr d their mach1l1es, , character-
' 1 "e men an , A' M1110r was
rehecl upon t lCS, .' s stem 111 Sla , 's western
The Komncman C 'Yer-valleys of the r areas,
l' 1 fertl e nv , m ot e
ized by control 0 t le 1 l' a narrow coastal stnp ak of the First
1 b contro 0 " the w e
quarter, ane y 'of many regions 111 'John extended
Even after the ed on tIle strategic defenste, b t also relied
Crusade, the empire and eastern Anato la: : each other.
the impcrial border n01 d' 1 and the Seljuks agams
, ,I Damshmen le s
upon USIng tIC
Whell Danishmendicl power collapsed during l\IIanuc!'s rcig'l1, he was
forced to contend with a unified Turkish state that cOIltrolled most
of the Asia J\;Iinor interior, Nevertheless, fighting "vas usually a last
resort for Byzantine armies, The Byzantine fleet appears several limes
in our sources; when John conducted a war against the VCllctialls,
when Manucl attacked Damietta in Egypt, and when l\1anucl COIl-
Venetian property in 1171, But the naval power of the Ital-
lall merchant states, particularly of Venice, meant that the Byzantine
fleet was never again able to dominate the Aegean and Ionian Seas,
let alone the ,eastern l\IIediterranean, Unlike the defensive system of
emperors, the Komnenian system was not resilient.
1 he Komncman were smaller than their tenth century pre-
decessors and 1 t 'I 1 If ' ffi , ,
, mlI all y ess se -SLl lClent. Emperors rarsed arnllcs
that could challenge the Seljuk sultans, but the themes were not able
to Turkoman raiders from pillaging the Byzantine borderlands.
With respect to financial problems, the best that can be said is
that the Komnenian emperor's fi d 1 [f " , ,
, Oun met 10C s 0 provldmu 101' thell"
and these methods became increasingly Alex-
lors had to rely upon temporary expedients to obtain cash, J ohl1 and
, anuel had more stable ' d' ',' .
, " , proVInces, an wel e able to mamtam anc!
!J,IY,thelr men WIth greater consistency, They were also able to mustcr
<lnn,leS equal to those of their most capable foes, However, the Kom-
neman emperors did n t 1
' 0 ever re y upon a sing'le Source of 111'111-
power or '1 h I <
' I'ffi', 1 a Slllg e, met oc 0, f financing their soldiers, and part of
It (1 ClI ty expe1'1enced b tl
' Y 1e emperors after Manuel was that the
omnelltan suppo 't t ' ' c
upon the loy lty 1 d s ructure was not systematic. This system relied
ors who Su?port of , local provincial leaders, and e111per-
out nlen: I omlIlate theu' local Doux found themselves with-
tlnc money,
blame has been laid at Manuel's f .'
arnblttous foreign policy that t ' . eet for developmg an
little IWlctical'ret ' S ralIled the empIre's finances and offered
,,' urn m terms of addif I "
security, In ot[., 'd MC, IOna ter1'1to1'1es and militalY
lel wO! s, anuel pursu d f" ,
ephemeral I)olitical \'I'ct' b e a orelgn poltcy that gamed
"c ones, ut that w th ' f'" ,
analYSIS IS SUIJported [ , , as 0 eTWIse 1 mtless, Tll1S
)y an exammatlOn f 1 '1'
J\Ialllle!'s reign 11\ 'fall ell' 0 t 1C mlItary evcnts of
L ' W, < u engagec b' , "
west, and north ancl n L fL l' 111 am ItlOUS prOjects 111 the east,
, ( one 0 t Iem add d t h "
()]' p]'()sperity, e 0 t e empIre s security
Nt'wrthell's' , ,1 'I M
, '," S, \\ 11 e anuel's 'd'd '
101' military defense in . b Well'S I, not prOVIde a secure basis
su sequent reIgl '
1S, cOmmerCIal prosperity
increased dramatically. This did not mean that the emperors received
increased tax revenues; local wealth meant that local potentates were
better able to resist the exactions of a central government, if' that:
government was weak. The social policy of I Komnenos
(1IB3'IIB5), placed him at odds with his own famll,y, and frag-
mented the system created by, AlexlOs, Isaac
Angc10s (1185-95,1203-04-) could not repair tIus and Ius
, , cl fIll' B I ' C l Jl'lI"
high-handedness resulted 111 a myna 0 re Je IOns, u galla, ,) s,
and Cilicia permanently passed from imperial control" and
, , U It 't f: r-flung prO\'lll(TS
the empIre was unable to rely upon ne as or 1 sa,
in northern and eastern Anatolia for money or men, The
, . 'f h' 1 AI xios profited upon taklllg-
lacked the pohllcal Ul1lty ram w IC 1 e "
, 1': 1195' d little more terntOlY thall
the throne Hl 1081; alter It possesse , ,
it had in 1081, Finally, all of this took place in an external polttl-
, I lex than the one Alex-
cal enVlrOlunent that was vast y more comp
ios had !llced upon his accession, cl I r
A clet'lHed discussion of what happened to the army an t lie po 1
L , 'k' fter 1185 would be t It: SI! )-
ical economy of the Komneman oz OJ a I' \"
., _ hould not forget t Mt t It
Ject of another study, However, we s , 'II't'lrv
. d 1 t f the Komneman I1U , I 'I'
development an emp oymen 0 , OI'S who SjJl'nt
.. , f th e proactlve emper "
resulted frorn the actIVItIes 0 re '1 " " ("lstern
constructmg t le empll e S L,
considerable tirne an money re I 'l't fronts Whether
, , d d C d' ,tl empire on at ler ml I ary , ,
frontIer, an eien mg le fi 1 1 J hn's or not 1v[anue!
' 'I' r y was as success u t lan 0 " ,
Manue s ml Itary po lC , '1 with the hope of pro-
, 'f' d A' Minor and campargnec
0l'tl1e western sm , T Id 1 ngarian and Norman
. 1 'c. further ur 51,
lcctmg t le empIre lrom , hi' f: 'I members (,\('11
1 gentle WIt lIS amI y ,
incursions. He was extreme y d to have a finely tuned
. d t ason He appeare ' ,
when they commltte re ' dl d th scores of important pco-
, . h Y he han e e , !'k
sense of balance m t e wa "I 'tnents 'When om', I'l'
T d pohtlca appOlIl I ' , 'l
pIe who wante mlltary an f1 1 Manucl deposed hllll . 1llt
Alexios Axouch, became too power milinry (and political)
I 1 t
the Komneman' , l'
this was rare, n s 101' , h' and direct interVt'ntJOU )Y
tem required strong personal IPI' natt"I'S' 'When this cnllll'ol
, ' , 1 and po ltlca I " ..
the ruler In mIlItary, fisca, !lapsed
t and its army, co " '
disappeared, t'le sys em,
John Il Region
Siege(S) Fortfjication(F)
Difense (D)
Laodikeia Thrakesion D
SozoJJolis Pamphylia
Branicevo Branicevo
Zcugminon Branicevo
Kastamon: 4 times Paphlagonia
Gangra: 2 times Paphlagonia
Gangra Paphlagonia
Adana Cilicia
Tarsus Cilicia
Balm Cilicia
Anazarbos Cilicia
Piza Syria
Halep Syria
Fe rep
lvfanuel I
Siege(S) Forlfjicalion(F),
Defense (DJ
Table (cont.)
Manuel I
Antioch in P' 'cli
IS1 a
Siege (S) Fortification (F)
Difense (DJ
.A pe0I:le from the Caucasus Mountains, with whom the Byzantines
diplomanc contact. Maria 'of Alania' was empress from 1071/3-1081.
lO;n merc.enaries served with the Byzantine anuy, and are mentioned in
7 fightIng for Manuel against the Turks.
Aplekta: Tenth-century imperial supply points and campaign staging centers;
they were Maiagina, Doryioion, Kaborkin, Koioneia, Kaisareia, and Da.zirno
The Byzantine tenu for that portion of Italy which waS closest to
yzantme territory in the Balkans, including the city of Bari.
Bogomils: A dualist sect founded in Bulgaria in the tenth century, that then
spread acroSS the Balkans. They were peaceable, hut Alexio
I suppressed
them when they began to find converts among the nobility.
Caesar: A high imperial title that ranked right after Basiiros (Emperor). Under
the Komnenoi this title was downgraded, ranking after the Sebastokrator (fre-
quently the emperor's brother).
Caltrops: Four-pronged metal implements constIUcted so that when they
were thrown on the ground one sharpened prong always pointed upward.
They were used in battle against cavalry.
Ch.rysobull: An Imperial document, treaty, or decree tl,.t granted rights or
p.nvileges, and confirmed agreements. It was sealed in gold, and the emperor's
slgnature was in purple ink.
A mounted people who controlled the territory north of the Danube
River and northeast into the central ukraine. They replaced the Pechenegs
as a threat to, (and sometimes ally of) the Byzantine state. During the
Komnenian period they were first Pecheneg allies, then Alexio
' allies; they
were eventually subjugated by the Mongols (1222-37).
Dacians: A Byzantine name for Hungarians.
Danishmendids: The Danishmendids were a Turkish state in northern and
northeastern Asia Minor. During the reign of John Il they were militarily
more active than the Seljuks, and John spent many campaign seas?ns
attempting to contain them. Dynastic struggles weakened them durmg
Manuel's reign.
Doux: An Imperial title under the Komn
which conferred military and
political control of a region upon an official; it .was frequently. apphed to
frontier or endangered regions, such as DylTachlO
, or Se!eukela.
: 'The powerful'; landowners or other powerful Byzantine officials,
usually in the provinces.
Echelon Casualty },Iianagement: The modern military meciiC'll . . 1 I
uates an injured soldier and recom d . "1 ' pnJlClpa t Jat eval-
ity based upon the seriousness of evel of treatmen t faeil-
A corps o[ select imperial guards Th
Italy descriptions after Alexios 1. . ey disappear from our mil-
Domestic (Megas, domestikos): Commander in chief of t!
drmles, also correspondmg to the Domestic of the Scholae le Byzantine
Grand Loer th t . A h' I . .. .
0,0 e e. Igl JudIcIal official under the Komnenoi.
Huscarles: Heavily armed infant . .t! fI
after 1066 the Varanoian Gua'dry, WI 11 re erence to the Byzantine army,
0' I were 1Uscarles recruitcd cl '
B 't .
K Ilk LJ nam.
(l at Ira "10.>: The Byzantine hea caval . "
nellIan period (Alexios I) th vy f ry .. In the begmnmg of the Kom-
, ey were 0 notIceably I I'
westem foes. By the end (Man 1 I) 1 '. . esser qua Ity than their
and were comparable to th ube ,t ley were SImIlarly armed and equiPIJed
e cst western cavalry ,
KI .
e tf: A Byzantine expression [or westerners, in particular F k N
Latins: A generic B" ran s or ormans.
'l . . yzantme expreSSIOn [0
, mstJanity. r everyone who practiced western
l\fallzikert (10 71) Battle of, R
S r ' . omanos IV D'
, e Juk Sultan Alp-ArslaIl' tile B ( lOgenes was defeated by the
flooded Asia lVlinor with me army was destroyed, and tile Seljuks
LeboU!:ion (1091), Battle of: Alexi . . .
<llld Byzantmes, defeated the Pecl os I, leading a coalItIOn of Cumans
ebrated in Constantinople to leneg army. special feast day was cel-
enrolled' I B commemorate thIS . t P
. . m tIe yzantine anny and did . VIC ory. . echenegs were
agam until 1122. ' not substantially trouble the empire
Myriokephalon (1176) B
hi . for. ' attIe of: Manuel I led B .
} ty thousand men into central A . . a yzantme army of possi-
resulted in its defeat. dysentelY, heat and
"c ,e .J uk Turks. en e yzantme attempts to destroy
lVliIlIOJ geoTlTikof' Eigl ty fi .
. 1 - ve aracles .
eac 1 other. OUI' earl' t . governmg the relations of I'
. < les manuscnpts date to I cu avators to
Ulkos: Literally '11 .' I t le eleventh century.
,ousc. n the K .
vast Y expanded th I . omneman context th' . 1 .
' roug 1 marnage alli ' e Impena Olkos was
ment Of governing tl . < ances, and became tI " . .
L le provmces. le pnmary mstru-
Paristrion Regn'oll' tl .
. . le regIOn'
to northern BulgaIia Th'. south of tile Danube corr .
ing dtlling the oflAl
was subject to in esp?nding
) .' . ' eXlOS I and John II vaSlOn and raId-
1 111 OlkOl: Dependent .
the 1 I I peasants who non tl 1
. ,tIl( t ICY cultivated, and 1 e le .ess retained their ability t I
w 10 SOmetImes obt' d 0 eave
ame control over that
" .;s
land. They usually paid a rent, either to the state treasury or to a land-
Paulicians: A sect that originated in Armenia, in the Komnenian efa there
was a of near Philippopolis. They were dualists, like
the BogOlmls, but unlIke the Bogomils, the Paulicians were very warlike.
Pechenegs: as the Patzinaks, the Pechenegs were Byzantine allies
and sometllnes foes from the ninth until the thirteentl! centuries. They were
mounted people, and in the reign of Alexios I they raided deep
mto Thrace, hghtm,g several battles with that emperor. They were defeated
at Mt. Lebounion in /091, (by Alexios), and again by John II in 1122.
Pechenegs were settled as military colonists nortllwest of Thessalonike.
Pel!as!s: Light-armed infantry with both melee and missile weapons. They are
referred to as 'assault troops' in Byzantine military manuals. They were
used for flanking operations, skirmishing, and to drive off enemy cavahy.
Pronoia: From the twelfth century, the tax revenues from a group of prop-
erties. These were usually used to support a soldier. Pronoia differed from
a western European feudal fief in that it was not hereditary, and involved
no transfer of land. Pronoia was just the tax receipts from land, mills, and
other sources. These revenue sources might or might not be near the home
of the person supported by the pl'onoia.
Psiloi: Archers, stingers, and other lightly armed skinnishers; these soldiers
wore little armor, and usually carried only missile weapons.
Rlwmaioi: Literally <Romans.' The Byzantines called tllemselves RllOmaioi, and
their empire the Roman Empire. The word 'Byzantine' is a later introduc-
tion of historians.
Se/w/ae: Imperial guard military unit, stationed in Constantinople, and under
the command of the Domestic of the Scholae.
Sryths: A Byzantine name that referred to all of the peoples who
lived north of the Danube River, and also fuose who lIved north of the
Black Sea. In the Komnenian era, it usually referred to Pechenegs, or
Sebastokrator: Komnenian composite title formed from Sebastos (brother), and
Autokrator (ruler), usually given to tlle emperor's sons or brothers.
Sey'uk Turks: The Turkish state that at its height controlled not,on.l

1\/Iinor, but also controlled most of modern day Iran, Iraq, le
western portion of this state became independent under the Sclluk Sultans
of Ikonion.
. f' . match' fifteell thou-
Semlin (1167) Battle of: A ByzantIne army 0 apprOJo . I . h I
sand men m;t a Hungarian force of roughly equal nun:ber:. In. a att c
1 I d
tl e
Byzantines were eventually VlctOlIOUS.
t "lat aste many ours, 1
Strateia: The obligation to serve in the army, or to support a soldier; the
meaning is debatable, and appears to constantly change.
The actua g t1l1g sefVlce, penorme y a I fi h
. . ' d b soldier either as
the result of his obligation as a stmtioles, or for a stratiotes.
Stratioles: The holder of land owing a military obligation .
. 5)'1I0Ile: From the sixth century, the compulsory purchase of foodstuffs. Even-
this took on the meaning of regular state imposts on land.
TalJ,ma: Also known as bandoll, the word tagma was synonomous with the
w(;rd 'unit' in Byzantine terminology. It could be rendered as 'battalion,'
or 'regiment,' depending upon the size of the forces involved.
Tagma/a: The tagmata were the guard units of the capital, regularly main-
tained by the emperor, and always available for campaigning. The impor-
tance of these units declined in the decades after the Battle of Manzikert
Tllema/a: The Ilzemata were the provincial militmy units stationed in the
themes. These soldiers were locally raised and supported, and functioned as
it militia that was available to repel raids and invasions that did not require
the iutervention of the imperial army of the capital (the tagmata).
Tllfll/e: The themes were the basic governmental unit in the Byzantine Empire
frOll) the eighth century (some historians say they were developed as early
as the emperor Heraklios, in the seventh century), until the decades after
the battle of Manzikert (l 07 I). The Asiatic themes provided the bulk of the
non-tagmalic soldiers for the imperial army until this period. Themes sur-
vived into the Komnenian period, (themes of Neokastra, Mogl
), but the
Komnenian method of governing through family members tended to reduce
their importance.
Turkomans: Tribesmen who poured into Asia Minor in the aftermath of
the battle of Manzikert (I 071). They were independent of Seljuk Turkish
control, and raided Byzantine territory even when the Seljuks were at peace
with the empire.
ZYPikoll: a monastic !Jpikon Was a rule of governance for a monastery, usu-
ally wntten down by the monastery's founder. It could also include lists of
monastic property and exemptions, as well as infOlmation about the food
and dress of monks.
Guard: The Val'angian Guard was the emperor's personal body-
guard the Komnenian period. They were also used in major battles, at
(1081), and by John II against the Pechenegs (I 122). Before
they had been composed mainly of Russians from Kiev, but after
IO()b, when the Cumans and Pechenegs made travel north difficult the!d became composed of English soldiers fleeing the Norman
of l"nglallcl.

.3" !<_
.. _-----
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