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Osprey Men-at-Arms 89 : Byzantine Armies 886-1118

For the era in which they lived the Byzantines had a remarkably sophisticated approach to politics and military strategy. Unlike most of their contemporaries, they learnt very early in their history that winning a battle did not necessarily win a war, and they frequently bought off their enemies with treaties and bribes rather than squander men and matériel in potentially fruitless campaigns. The overall success of this policy is well-testified by the Empire's survival, despite its limited manpower and frequent internal dissension, right up to 1453. Alas, the Empire's contemporaries did not always understand the complex motives of plot and counter-plot, flattery and threat, which were essential ingredients of Byzantine politics, and most tended to regard the diplomatic manoeuvres and skullduggery as underhand and two-faced [which it was] without appreciating its true politico-military value. The 'bad press' that Byzantium has received from historians and chroniclers over the last thousand years has done little to enhance its reputation, to the point where even today tortuous and underhand behaviour is sometimes described as 'Byzantine'. But there is one essential fact that must not be forgotten; that such a policy of threat and bribery inevitably presupposed a strong military establishment. The Byzantine army of the 10th and early 11th centuries, at the height of its power and efficiency, was the best-organised, best-trained, best-equipped and highest-paid in the known world. Ian Heath examines the Byzantine Armies from 886-1118, including the lusty, hard-fighting, hard-drinking 'barbarian' Varangian guard, with plenty of illustrations throughout, including eight full page colour plates by Angus McBride accompanied by an eight page commentary covering arms and armour.

    Contents
  • Introduction
  • Organization
  • The Tagmata
  • The Varangian Guard
  • The Theme System
  • The Terrible Day - Manzikert 1071
  • The Post-Manzikurt Period
  • The Plates

 

Osprey Men-at-Arms


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