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The Byzantine army of the Komnenian era or Komnenian army was the force established by Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos during the late 11th/early 12th century, and perfected by his successors John II Komnenos and Manuel I Komnenos during the 12th century.
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The saint is armoured in an epilōrikion-covered klivanion with splint armour for the upper arms and a splint kremasmata. The detailing at the ankle may indicate that podopsella greaves are being depicted. Note the overtly straight-legged riding posture (with the heel lower than the toes) indicative of the adoption of Western-style lance ...
- Equipment: Arms and Armour
- Equipment: Artillery
- Troop Types
- Notable Generals
At the beginning of the Komnenian period in 1081, the Byzantine Empire had been reduced to the smallest territorial extent in its history. Surrounded by enemies, and financially ruined by a long period of civil war, the empire's prospects had looked grim. The state lay defenseless before internal and external threats, as the Byzantine army had been reduced to a shadow of its former self. During the 11th century, decades of peace and neglect had reduced the old thematic forces, and the military and political anarchy following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 had destroyed the professional tagmata, the core of the Byzantine army. At Manzikert, units tracing their lineage for centuries back to the Roman Empire were wiped out, and the subsequent loss of Asia Minor deprived the Empire of its main recruiting ground. In the Balkans, at the same time, the Empire was exposed to invasions by the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, the expansionist activities of the principality of Dioclea (Duklja) and b...
During the reign of Alexios I, the field army numbered around 20,000 men. By the end of John II's reign, the entire Byzantine army amounted to about 50,000 men. By 1180 and the death of Manuel Komnenos, whose frequent campaigns had been on a grand scale, the army was probably considerably larger. Modern historians have estimated the size of Komnenian armies on campaign at about 15,000 to 20,000 men. In 1176 Manuel I managed to gather approximately 35–40,000 men, of which 25,000 were Byzantines and the rest were allied contingents from Hungary, Serbia, and Antioch, though this was for an exceptional campaign. His military resources stretched to putting another, smaller, army in the field simultaneously. During this period, the European provinces in the Balkans were able to provide more than 6,000 cavalry in total while the Eastern provinces of Asia Minor provided about the same number. This amounted to more than 12,000 cavalry for the entire Empire, not including those from allied co...
Command hierarchy and unit composition
Under the emperor, the commander-in-chief of the army was the megas domestikos (Grand Domestic). His second-in-command was the prōtostratōr. The commander of the navy was the megas doux (Grand Duke), who was also the military commander for Crete, the Aegean Islands and the southern parts of mainland Greece. A commander entrusted with an independent field force or one of the major divisions of a large expeditionary army was termed a stratēgos (general). Individual provinces and the defensive f...
Guards units and the Imperial household
Many of the earlier guard units did not survive the reign of Alexios I; the scholai, Immortals (athanatoi), and exkoubitoi are not mentioned in the reigns of his immediate successors. The notable exceptions to this process being the Varangians and vestiaritai, and probably the archontopouloi. The hetaireia (literally "companions"), commanded by the megas hetaireiarchēs, is still mentioned, though it was always more a collection of individual units under an administrative title than a regiment...
In the course of the 11th century the units of part-time soldier-farmers belonging to the themata (military provinces) were largely replaced by smaller, full-time, provincial tagmata (regiments). The political and military anarchy of the later 11th century meant that it was solely the provincial tagmata of the southern Balkans which survived. These regiments, whose soldiers could be characterized as "native mercenaries," became an integral part of the central army and many field armies of the...
The arms and armour of the Byzantine forces in the late 11th and 12th centuries were generally more sophisticated and varied than those found in contemporary Western Europe. Byzantium was open to military influences from the Muslim world and the Eurasian steppe, the latter being especially productive of military equipment innovation.
The Komnenian army had a formidable artillery arm which was particularly feared by its eastern enemies. Stone-firing and bolt-firing machines were used both for attacking enemy fortresses and fortified cities and for the defence of their Byzantine equivalents. In contemporary accounts the most conspicuous engines of war were stone-throwing trebuchets, often termed helepolis (city-takers); both the man-powered and the more powerful and accurate counterweight trebuchets were known to the Byzantines. The development of the trebuchet, the largest of which could batter down contemporary defensive walls, was attributed to the Byzantines by some western writers. Additionally, the Byzantines also used long range, anti-personnel, bolt firing machines such as the 'great crossbow,' which was often mounted on a mobile chassis, and the 'skein-bow' or 'espringal' which was a torsion device using twisted skeins of silk or sinew to power two bow-arms. The artillerists of the Byzantine army were acc...
The Byzantine Empire was a highly developed society with a long military history and could recruit soldiers from various peoples, both within and beyond its borders; as a result of these factors a wide variety of troop types were to be found in its army.
Alexios I inherited an army which had been painstakingly reconstituted through the administrative efforts of the able eunuch Nikephoritzes. This army, though small due to the loss of territory and revenue, was in its nature similar to that of earlier Byzantine armies back as far as Nikephoros Phokas and beyond; indeed some units could trace their history back to Late Roman times. This rather traditional Byzantine army was destroyed by the Italo-Normans at Dyrrhakhion in 1081. In the aftermath of this disaster Alexios laid the foundations of a new military structure. He raised troops entirely by ad hoc means: raising the regiment of the archontopouloi from the sons of dead soldiers and even pressing heretic Paulicians from Philippopolis into the ranks. Most important is the prominent place in this new army of Alexios' extended family and their many connections, each aristocrat bringing to the field his armed retinue and retainers. Before campaigning against the Pechenegs in 1090 he i...
The Komnenian Byzantine army was a resilient and effective force, but it was over-reliant on the leadership of an able emperor. After the death of Manuel II in 1180 able leadership was wanting. First there was Alexios II, a child-emperor with a divided regency, then a tyrant, Andronikos I, who attempted to break the power of the aristocracy who provided the leadership of the army, and finally the incompetents of the Angeloi dynasty. Weak leadership allowed the Komnenian system of rule through the extended imperial family to break down. The regionally based interests of the powerful aristocracy were increasingly expressed in armed rebellion and secession; mutual distrust between the aristocracy and the bureaucrats of the capital was endemic and both these factors led to a disrupted and fatally weakened Empire. When Constantinople fell to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the Byzantine successor states established at Epirus, Trebizond and especially Nicaea based their military systems on th...1081 – Alexios I led an army of 20–25,000 men to attack the invading Normans, but was heavily defeated at the Battle of Dyrrhachium.1091 – A massive invasion by the Pechenegs was defeated at the Battle of Levounion by an army of Byzantines with the assistance of 5,000 Vlach mercenaries, 500 Flemish knights, and supposedly 40,00...1092–1097 – John Doukas, the megas doux, led campaigns on both land and sea and was responsible for the re-establishment of firm Byzantine control over the Aegean, the islands of Crete and Cyprus a...1107- 1108 - The Italo-Normans under Bohemund invaded the western Balkans. Alexios' response was cautious, he relied on defending mountain passes in order to keep the Norman army pent up on the Alb...
Under Alexios I: 1. Manuel Boutoumites 2. Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger 3. John Doukas 4. Nikephoros Melissenos 5. George Palaiologos 6. Tatikios Under John II: 1. John Axouch Under Manuel I: 1. Alexios Axouch 2. John Doukas 3. Isaac Komnenos 4. Andronikos Kontostephanos 5. John Kontostephanos 6. Andronikos Lampardas 7. Michael Palaiologos 8. John Komnenos Vatatzes Under Andronikos I: 1. Alexios Branas
- 1081–1204 AD
- Byzantine Emperor
- Nicaean/Palaiologan army
- Byzantine Empire
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Jan 08, 2015 · The second way is to bypass the armour by hitting the spots where the armour isn’t, such as the gaps at joints, under the armpits, the groin, and the face. Cutting: In general, forget about attempting to directly cut through just about any type of armour, except maybe the lightest armours (padded cloth, boiled leather, and low quality/butted ...
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