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Christian G. Cameron




Location: Toronto, Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Mar, 2011 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did a lot with Byzantium in school--but that was 20 years ago. I'm not aware of a purely "Byzantine" Arms book--but I am aware that in Turkey and Greece there's a lot of stuff that never seems to make the mainstream books and illustrations.

First, though, a word of caution--"Byzantium" (the Eastern Roman empire) lasted about a thousand years and was cosmopolitan as all get out, from start to finish. byzantimne arms and armour would encompass all the arms and armour worn by all the soldiers and warriors who served the Empire, and that would include a LOT of Horse Nomad stuff (Patzinak, Cumin, Avar, Bulgar, Turkish, Mongol, etc) under the sub-heading "Skythikon," As well as lots of Western equipment (Frankish, Norman, English, Varangian and Viking, Rus, etc.).

Even limiting ourselves to equipment specifically made inside the empire for "native sons" (let's call them Greek...) we'd be looking at a thousand years of change in a flexible and responsive military system that adopted the best of the equipment that they observed and faced in combat. In the 6th and 7th, centuries, the Byzantine cavalry equipment was seriously affected by the Hunnic equipment of their allies, mercenaries, and opponents. In the 11th and 12th centuries, under soldier emperors like Alexis, john, and Manuel Comnena, Byzantine cavalry equipment was affected very strongly by the knight hood of western Europe and the constant presence of a knightly element in the army (the Latinikon). Manuel even participated in tournaments.

The last Emperor' s corpse (he died in the streets fighting the Janissaries) was apparently identified by his western style greaves and knee cops embellished with the Imperial Eagle. Some historians assume that to mean that he was wearing cap-a pied Western harness.

All of that is a long way of suggesting that in the Byzantine armies of any given period, you could find a sword of virtually any period type.

Iconography can be particularly unrewarding vis a vis Bysantium, because the representation of saints--even soldier saints--shows a deliberate archaic ism. icons were "better"if copied from original, early icons, and even when there wasn't an icon to copy, there's every reason to believe that the artist would do his best to represent the past AS HE SAW IT. Swords in icons can be truly representational or utterly artistic. Note that even very "realistically" depicted saints like the ivory of Saint Demetrios on the Wikipedia site for the Komenan Army may still not depict ANY part of the real equipment of the period (apologies to the author of that article). We can guess at that because, among other things,w e know from Arab and Frankish sources what the Byzantines seemed to be carrying (like kite shaped shields) and yet saints seem to continue to carry the oval shield of the 4th c. AD. Just s an example.

Art styles changed, too. Wow, I could go on.

If you had a specific period in mind, that would help. I seem to remember that in the late 14th and early 15th c. , Byzantium imported harness and swords from Northern Italy--like every one else in the Christian world...

Somewhere, there's a graduate student who should consider a good 'Arms and Armor of Medieval Byzantium" book for all of us to read...

Christian G. Cameron

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A. Gallo





Joined: 08 Jan 2011

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Tue 08 Mar, 2011 7:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The medieval curved sword that the steppe hordes spread around the world originated somewhere AROUND Byzantium and moved over centuries eastward across Asia, but as to where exactly I'm not going to dare guess. It is a funny tidbit though, when you consider the dominant modern view that the curved swords of east Asia were technological marvels which baffled the minds of Europeans/Middle Easterners....... Oh TV.

I have a particular interest in straight blades from Byzantium and the Middle East in the early Medieval period, but people aren't kidding when they say it's hard to find anything online. I've always loved the aesthetics of Viking age swords, when the hilt became metallic but retained the form of earlier wood/bone versions, and wondered how beautiful swords from the same period must have been in the Mediterranean region. Very difficult to find anything online but smashed up fragments.

They had cool steak knives though;

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Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Oct, 2018 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think these have been shown here. Look at the guards on these swords: http://warfare.ga/6-10/Byzantine_Weaponry-Yotov.htm
Leonard Parker
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Oct, 2018 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
I don't think these have been shown here. Look at the guards on these swords: http://warfare.ga/6-10/Byzantine_Weaponry-Yotov.htm


Fascinating. This seems like another of those curious things that has been hiding in plain sight. I wonder are there any Italian paintings realistically depicting Late Medieval Byzantine soldiers?

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Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Jun, 2019 3:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some early swords in Byzantine art:

4th century
http://warfare.tk/Ancient/Byzantine-Bowl-triu...mitage.htm

6th century
http://warfare.tk/6-10/Maximian_Throne-Joseph_and_Jacob.htm
http://warfare.tk/6-10/Pyxis-Byzantine-St_Men...1-back.htm

7th century
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/170004256

Leonard Parker
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Magnus K




Location: Stockholm
Joined: 19 Dec 2016

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Jun, 2019 1:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This real life example might be of interest.


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