Byzantine military manuals
This article lists and briefly discusses the most important of a large number of treatises on
military scienceproduced in the Byzantine Empireduring its thousand-year existence.
The East Roman or
Byzantine Empirewas, for much of its history, one of the major powers of the medieval world. The inheritor of the traditions and institutions of the Roman Empire, throughout its history it was assailed on all sides by various numerically superior enemies. The Empire therefore maintained a highly sophisticated military system, which relied on discipline, training, knowledge of tactics and a well-organized support system. A crucial element in the maintenance and spreading of this military know-how, along with traditional histories, were the various treatises and practical manuals. These continued a tradition that stretched back to Xenophonand Aeneas the Tactician, and in many Byzantine works, use is made of the works of ancient authors.
List of works
The number of such works that have survived intact or in a fragmented form exceed 200. They proliferate greatly in the 10 century, when the Byzantines embarked on their conquests in the East and the Balkans, and dry up after the 11th century.
* The mid-6th century "Anonymous Treatise on Strategy" (περὶ στρατηγικῆς) written by a retired military engineer.
* The late-6th century "Strategikon" is attributed to Emperor Maurice (r. 582-602), and concerns the setting up of an army in formation for battle, giving special emphasis to cavalry. It also includes a section on the fighting methods and habits of the various enemies of the Empire. The "Strategikon", although relatively unknown, is widely considered a masterpiece of military art, and forms the core of Byzantine military thought, from which all later treatises borrow.
* The "Naumachiai" (Ναυμαχίαι, "Sea Battles") of Syrianos Magistros on sea warfare, written in the 6th century
* The "Tactica" of Emperor
Leo VI the Wise(r. 866-912), written ca. 903. In most aspects, they are a verbatim copy of the "Strategikon", with a few emendations to reflect changes and contemprary practice.
* The so-called "
Three Treatises on Imperial Military Expeditions", an appendix to the " De Ceremoniis" of Emperor Constantine VII.
* The "De velitatione bellica" (περὶ παραδρομῆς πολέμου) attributed to Emperor
Nicephorus II Phocas(r. 963-969). It is an essay on light infantry and skirmishing warfare.
* The "Praecepta militaria" of Emperor
Nicephorus II Phocas, which presents the army of the latter 10th century during the "Byzantine Reconquest", composed of heavy infantry and heavy cavalry.
* The "Sylloge Tacticorum", compiled in the latter half of the 10th century.
* The "Parangelmata Poliorcetica", a manual on siege warfare, by the so-called
Hero of Byzantium.
* The "Tactica" of
Nikephoros Ouranos, one of the best generals of Basil II, written ca. 1000. It draws upon the "Praecepta", but also includes chapters from Ouranos' own experience on raiding and sieges.
* The "Strategikon" of
Kekaumenos, written ca. 1075-1078. Not strictly a military manual, it contains general advice in military, administrative and household affairs, often illustrated by examples from 11th century events.
first = John F.
last = Haldon
title = Warfare, state and society in the Byzantine world, 565-1204
year = 1999
publisher = Routledge
isbn = 1857284941
first = Dennis F.
last = Sullivan
coauthors = Heron
title = Siegecraft: Two Tenth-century Instructional Manuals
year = 2000
publisher = Dumbarton Oaks
isbn = 0884022706
* cite book
title=The Reign of Leo VI (886-912): Politics and People
title=Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081
publisher=Stanford University Press
* cite conference
first = Frank
last = Trombley
title = The "Taktika" of Nikephoros Ouranos and Military Encyclopaedism
booktitle = Pre-modern Encyclopaedic Texts: Proceedings of the Second COMERS Congress, Groningen, 1-4 July 1996
pages = 261-274
publisher = BRILL
date = 1997
id = ISBN 9004108300
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