A description of the equipment of the Byzantine soldier of the early Middle Ages from the Tactica, a military manual compiled during the reign of Emperor Leo VI in the early 10th C, further updated in the reign of Nikephoros Botaneiates in the 11th C and in use at least up to the first half of the 12th C but evidently available in the Byzantine libraries at least until the fall of Constantinople in 1204, and, therefore, could have been used also in later centuries possibly in a more ad-hoc basis.This videoclip explains the armour and armament of the Byzantine soldier, the Pronoiar or Proniarius, the successor to the ancient Roman legionary. Pronoiars fought as infantry or cavalry. The cavalrymen were melee or shock cavalry armed with a multitude of weapons sometimes including missile weapons, and were called defensores, in juxtaposition to the cursores, the missile cavalry who were often foreign mercenaries (Turks, Alans, Cumans and the like). The infantrymen were either melee infantry (scutati/contarati) or missile infantry (usually archers or javelinmen). The main weapon for melee units was the contus, a 3.5 m spear carried by both cavalry and infantry. As secondary weapons they carried swords and axes of various types. All soldiers carried a shield of some sort and a helmet as a bare minimum. Ideally they wore chain mail "down to their ankles" which was called a lorikion (lorica) and additionally, if possible, additional lamellar armour in the form of a breastplate, called a clivanion. A third type of armour was a gambeson, called a cavadion. The best armed wore all three types, and additionally neck guards, arm guards and leg guards. Various types of these armours are illustrated with drawings or through the fantastic modelling work of Medieval II Total War modders, such as AnthoniusII, Paleologos and others from the many excellent mods (Stainless Steel, The Great Conflicts, Rusichi Total War, Chivalry II: the Sicilian Vespers, Deus lo Vult, etc).
Tagstactica taktika medieval history byzantine soldier byzantine military manual emperor Leo VI the Wise medieval armour and armament