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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Apr, 2009 10:35 am    Post subject: Klibanophoroi how effective where they?         Reply with quote

The title is self explanatory. How effective where the Klibanophori in a charge against the best their enemies could throw at them (Infantry and Cavalry)?
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Apr, 2009 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What period and what culture are you talking about? Sassanid Clibanarii/Klibanophoroi? Roman Clibanarii/Klibanophoroi?

In general, ancient heavy cavalry could do just about what their medieval and early modern equivalents could. Cataphracts and clibanarii had the mixed blessing of being the best armoured troops on the field, so they were very hard to kill but tired and overheated quickly.
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Joel Minturn





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PostPosted: Tue 21 Apr, 2009 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Apparently the term Klibanophoroi means something like "camp oven carrier"

and if this site is to be belived http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?t=224680 then the Klibanophoroi would not be very useful in a fight at all being that they are armour bearers (looks like the suffix phoroi means "berarer" not "wearer" hence the translation of "camp oven bearer" not "camp oven wearer")

I'll be the first to admit that ancient greek language (or what ever language that is) is not something I know anything about so I'm making no claims about the above being correct just reporting what I found. is a convincing argument though.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Apr, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@ Sean Klibanophoroi as in the Byzantine Cataphract although I'm curious about Sassanins and how they fared. Can you give me any battles?
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Michael G.





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PostPosted: Wed 22 Apr, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Byzantine klibanophoroi seem to have had a pretty short lifespan. They were probably introduced by Nikephoros Phokas (r. 963-969) and gone by 100 years later or so. John Haldon in Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World, 565-1204 believes they may have vanished during the reign of Constantine X (1059-67) (p.223). Ian Heath in Byzantine Armies 886-1118 states that it is likely that they disappeared after the battle of Manzikert in 1071 (p.36). So this gives a pretty small window to look for specific battles. Unless you are including all Byzantine armored cavalry (i.e. kataphraktoi), which date all the way back to the beginning of the Byzantine Empire, whenever you choose to define that.

I don't have much info on specific battles, but Haldon states in Byzantium at War: AD 600-1453 that, "Contemporary writers, both Byzantine and Arab, comment on the effects of this formation [the klibanophoroi wedge] on their foes" (p. 49). In his Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World, 565-1204, Haldon mentions the battle of Troina in 1040, in which the, "Roman charge...demolished the Arab battle line at the first attack," but he says that it is unclear whether the cavalry involved are klibanophoroi (p.223).

Regarding the idea that klibanophoroi were simply armor bearers for the heavy cavalry, I have not seen Paul Magdalino's work making this claim, so I can't assess his evidence, but it seems odd to me. There were cavalry under Alexander the Great known as sarissophoroi, and I'm not sure anyone has claimed that they merely carried the sarissas for other soldiers. Indeed, they seem to have been in combat quite frequently. In any case, the conventional wisdom has been that kataphraktoi were the general Byzantine armored cavalry, and the klibanophoroi were the special, extra-heavily armored cavalry introduced by Nikephoros Phokas. But I would add that the distinction between the various versions of the terms clibanarius and cataphractus is not entirely clear, and could have varied over time and location.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Apr, 2009 3:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The -phoroi, “-bearing” suffix was used by the ancient Greeks to mean “troops armed with” eg. doruphoroi “spearbearers, spearmen, bodyguards” or gerrophoroi "troops with wicker shields". The name "klibanophoroi" may come from a Persian word for gorgets, or may be soldiers' slang comparing the riders to ovens. Medieval writers would probably try to immitate the classical terminology.

Ben P. wrote:
@ Sean Klibanophoroi as in the Byzantine Cataphract although I'm curious about Sassanins and how they fared. Can you give me any battles?

Ok, there's the confusion. Byzantine cataphracts were quite different from their ancient equivalents. They were generally armoured, but not completely, and rode horses without metal armour. They carried bows, lances, and sometimes shields. Ancient cataphracts and clibanarii (the difference between the two isn't clear) were fully armoured men on armoured horses, and most often used two-handed lances, although some used other weapons. Are you asking about regular Byzantine cataphracts, or the heavier cavalry which Michael is talking about?
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Fri 24 Apr, 2009 2:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes the heavy ones formed by Nikephoros Phokas
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Ok, there's the confusion. Byzantine cataphracts were quite different from their ancient equivalents. They were generally armoured, but not completely, and rode horses without metal armour. They carried bows, lances, and sometimes shields. Ancient cataphracts and clibanarii (the difference between the two isn't clear) were fully armoured men on armoured horses, and most often used two-handed lances, although some used other weapons.


Isn't that a bit upside-down? As far as I know, many ancient cataphracts (especially the Sassanids) carried bows as well--in fact the bow seems to have been the primary weapon of the Sassanids' armored horsemen--while the Nikephorian Byzantine cataphracts didn't seem to have been armed with bows. Of course it was still the ideal in the Nikephorian period that all horsemen ought to be equipped for and trained in archery but this ideal didn't seem to have been as widely observed as during, say, Belisarius's or Maurikios's days.

The topic of the cataphracts' effectiveness is (again, as far as I know) still being rather hotly debated in various publications. Some historians point to Leo VI's caution against engaging "Frankish" cavalry in frontal combat as showing that the cataphracts were inferior to Western milites in cavalry vs. cavalry clashes but better at breaking infantry formations (maybe the Russians at Dorostolon?), while others doubt the validity of this opinion an point out that the cataphract was only beginning to reappear during the reforms of Leo VI's reign and that their introduction vastly improved the tactical capability of Byzantine forces across the board.

As for the Sassanids...read Ammianus. And read more Ammianus. At least he's a decent source for interactions between Sassanid cataphracts and late Roman troops. There are other sources, like excerpts from Persian accounts preserved in al-Tabari's later historical works, but Ammianus is the easiest place to start because his work is the one that has been most extensively translated into English.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, Sassanid cataphracts were fully armoured men on armoured horses who used bows as their main weapons. But Parthian cataphracts were mostly lancers, as were Greek and Roman cataphracts as far as I know. I don't know how Achaemenid and other early cataphracts were armed.

Ben, I don't know much about the Byzantine army under Nikephoros Phokas, so I can't answer your question.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Apr, 2009 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Klibanophoroi used both bow, lance, and marziobarbouloi IIRC the sassanins were also pretty good with a lance as well it seems to be pretty common that cataphracts used both bow and lance

BTW Klibanophoroi horses were armoured on all sides while it usually oxehide it could also be horn or metal
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 6:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
Klibanophoroi used both bow, lance, and marziobarbouloi


Late Roman equites clibanarii probably did; but I don't think there's evidence that 10th-century Byzantine cataphracts/clibanophores used bows or weighted darts to any appreciable extent. The weapons associated with them were lances and large two-handed clubs/maces.


Quote:
IIRC the sassanins were also pretty good with a lance as well it seems to be pretty common that cataphracts used both bow and lance


Indeed; the bow-and-lance combination is in fact the stereotype that comes to my mind when people talk about cataphracts, even though it was not a universal combination used throughout all periods and places of the cataphracts' existence.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 7:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
But Parthian cataphracts were mostly lancers, as were Greek and Roman cataphracts as far as I know.


This was likely because the Parthians separated the role of the horse archer from that of the armored shock cavalryman. I don't know why but Sassanids and later cataphracts in Persia and the Steppes tended to have bow/lance combinations rather than just bow or lance alone. Could it have had anything to do with the development of a more accessible bowcase?


Quote:
I don't know how Achaemenid and other early cataphracts were armed.


I don't know if Achaemenid armored-horse cavalry could have qualified as cataphracts, but they seem to have mostly used javelins with swords or axes as a back-up.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 5:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From what I have read, the byzantine cataphracts, as opposed to the heavier Klibanophoroi, were a combination of archers and lancers, IIRC Lancers in ranks 1, 2, & 5, Bows in ranks 3-4. This is probably based on just one of the many treatises though. IIRC armoured horses was a desire for the Cataphracts, but not as common in practice.

The Klibanophori had more complete armour, mailed hoods being common (reminds me of the Persian Immortal foot a bit), fully armoured horses. I think weighted darts are mentioned as well.

This is in theory how they should be equipped, the state of the Byzantine economy and how much was going toward the military probably had much to do with actual armnament. The Themata likely varied more in equipment, being less well equipped in general.

The top paragraph probably holds more true for the early Byzantine period. By thye late 10th century, much of the Tagmata was various foreign mercenaries or if you want to call them foreign regulars, with Tagmatic horse units of Turks and Western troops not being uncommon.

My guess is these later "foreign" tagmata units would equip themselves at least somewhat similar to their national tendencies - very few horse archers among european Tagmata cataphracts, very common among Turkish units, etc.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 09 May, 2009 1:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
From what I have read, the byzantine cataphracts, as opposed to the heavier Klibanophoroi, were a combination of archers and lancers, IIRC Lancers in ranks 1, 2, & 5, Bows in ranks 3-4. This is probably based on just one of the many treatises though. IIRC armoured horses was a desire for the Cataphracts, but not as common in practice.


Ah. These were the kavallarioi, not "cataphracts" in any but the broadest sense of "armored horsemen." The formation you mention is the one prescribed in Maurice's Strategikon and the (IIRC) slightly earlier De Militari Scientia, both written in the second half of the 6th century AD. Horse armor in these formations--when present--was required only for the front rank, not for any of the subsequent ranks. References to them being armored "to the ankle" are also likely in error since the same word could also mean "knee" or "elbow," both of which are more likely and (arguably) more in keeping with actual illustrations of Byzantine cavalrymen.


Quote:
The Klibanophori had more complete armour, mailed hoods being common (reminds me of the Persian Immortal foot a bit), fully armoured horses. I think weighted darts are mentioned as well.


Well, I may have been in error in stating that there were no bows for the cataphracts/clibanophores--the center of their formation was composed of a number of bow-armed men after all. But weighted darts were already absent from any accounts of Byzantine cavalry combat as early as Procopius's histories of Justinian's wars (i.e. before Maurice's reforms in the late 6th century), and I suspect any later references to them with regards to the cavalry--whether in Maurice, or in Leo, or in the various anonymous works on cavalry tactics and equipment--was purely theoretical and not generally reflected in the equipment of the actual kavallarioi in the field, let alone the cataphracts that were only revived long after the weighted darts went out of use.


Quote:
My guess is these later "foreign" tagmata units would equip themselves at least somewhat similar to their national tendencies - very few horse archers among european Tagmata cataphracts, very common among Turkish units, etc.


Were they actual units of kavallarioi or kataphraktoi, though? I doubt so. Whole segregated units of "Frankish" cavalry could be part of the tagmatic army without being anything other than Latinikon, and Turks didn't have to stop being Tourkopouloi either to be included within the regular tagmatic structure.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Were they actual units of kavallarioi or kataphraktoi, though?


I have read that Later "Frank" cavalry units were often referred to as kataphraktoi, due to their armour. I fing this funny as it is in the Commenan times, and the Latins would likely not have had armoured horses.

Whether they were considered true kataphraktoi or whther this was just for comparison I do not know, but either way they seemed to be equipped as well as the Tagmatic kataphraktoi.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 16 May, 2009 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
I have read that Later "Frank" cavalry units were often referred to as kataphraktoi, due to their armour. I fing this funny as it is in the Commenan times, and the Latins would likely not have had armoured horses.


Probably because there were no longer any true "Roman" cataphracts by the late Komnenan period--and, as I've said, "cataphract" could be used in a very general sense to refer to any sort of armored horseman whether on an armored or on an unarmored horse.


Quote:
Whether they were considered true kataphraktoi or whther this was just for comparison I do not know,


No, they probably wouldn't have qualified as true kataphraktoi by Nikephorian standards.


Quote:
but either way they seemed to be equipped as well as the Tagmatic kataphraktoi.


Tagmatic kavallarioi perhaps. Sorry if I'm being a bit anal with this, but I think we really need to distinguish between "cataphracts" in the general sense--which is a potentially confusing usage--with cataphracts in the restricted sense, which in the context of our discussion would have referred only to the fully-armored men on armored horses who formed the central shock formation in the Nikephorian period and didn't seem to have lasted much beyond the early decades of the 11th century.

As for the Franks being as well-equipped as the tagmatic kavallarioi, it should have been pretty obvious since by Komnenan times the equipment of the kavallarioi was largely based on the Franks' anyway!
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Tagmatic kavallarioi perhaps. Sorry if I'm being a bit anal with this, but I think we really need to distinguish between "cataphracts" in the general sense--which is a potentially confusing usage--with cataphracts in the restricted sense, which in the context of our discussion would have referred only to the fully-armored men on armored horses who formed the central shock formation in the Nikephorian period and didn't seem to have lasted much beyond the early decades of the 11th century.


It seems the Byzantine's own use of these terms could vary much by period.

The other thing - The term "Klibaophoros" refers to these cavalry ofg the Nikephorian period - While the term "Catapharact" seems to have been a far looser description when use by the Byzantines.

Seems though that the "Klibanophoros" term was pretty specific.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 23 May, 2009 12:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
It seems the Byzantine's own use of these terms could vary much by period.


Mostly because many Byzantine chroniclers who wrote about military exploits weren't military personnel themselves, so there was some variance from the (generally more consistent) usage by the military personnel themselves. Just like the way modern news media often call armored cars or IFVs "tanks" when they're nothing of the sort. Of course it didn't help that there were long periods in Byzantine history when proper cataphracts didn't exist at all.

Modern scholarship about Byzantine military organization and tactics has clearly adopted the convention of using "cataphract" in the more restricted sense. George T. Dennis's overview article on the principles and development of Byzantine tactics is a case in point--he consistently uses kataphraktoi only for the heavily-armored horsemen in the central wedge of the Nikephorian formation, not the (other) Byzantine regular cavalry deployed elsewhere in the formation. Anything else would be potentially confusing since the meaning of "cataphracts" in the general sense was literally "any horsemen with at least some armor on their bodies," which really doesn't help in making people understand which troops it is that we're talking about.
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