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The bandon (Greek : βάνδον) was the basic military unit and administrative territorial entity of the middle Byzantine Empire. Its name, like the Latin bandus and Template:Lamg ("ensign, banner"), had a Germanic origin. It derived from the Gothic bandwō, which is proof of foreign influence in the army at the time this type of unit evolved.
The term was used already in the 6th century, mentioned by Procopius,as a term for a battle standard, and soon came to be applied to the unit bearing such a standard itself. From the reign of Nikephoros I (802–811) it was the name for a subdistrict of the Byzantine thema .
In the Byzantine army of the 8th–11th centuries, the bandon formed the basic unit, with five to seven banda forming a tourma , the major subdivision of a thema, a combined military-civilian province.Each bandon was commanded by a komes ("count"), with infantry banda 200–400 strong and cavalry banda 50–100 strong. It is considered that the bandon in the Tactica (9th century) previously in the Strategikon (6th century) was alternatively written as tagma or arithmos.
Infantry banda were formed by sixteen lochaghiai, each with sixteen man, commanded by an officer lochaghos (file leader), which was assisted by dekarchos (leader of ten), pentarchos (leader of five), tetrarchos (leader of four), and ouraghos (file closer).Each four lochaghiai formed an allaghion (winglet), and around three-quarters of the men were spearmen skutaoi and one-quarter were archers. At the time the Strategikon was written, the cavalry banda were subdivided into three hekatontarchia, each commanded by a hekatontarchos with a senior second-in-command illarches.
By the reign of Leo VI the Wise (886–912), the hekatontarchia disappeared and the bandon was divided into six allaghia (probably commanded by pentekontarchai), and each pair was still commanded by a hekatontarchos or kentarchos.Each of six allaghia had fifty men, organized in five dekarchiai of ten men each. All four officers (dekarchos, pentarchos, tetrarchos, ouraghos) were lancers.
At the beginning of the 10th century the infantry unit consisted of 256 men (16x16), and cavalry unit of 300 men (6x50), but the manuals indicate that the unit strength in fact varied between 200 and 400 men.The work Praecepta Militaria by Nikephoros II Phokas (963–969) indicates that the cavalry bandon was only 50 strong. Unlike other middle Byzantine administrative and military terms, the bandon survived well into the late Byzantine period, and remained the basic territorial unit of the Empire of Trebizond until its fall.
The tagma is a military unit of battalion or regiment size, especially the elite regiments formed by Byzantine emperor Constantine V and comprising the central army of the Byzantine Empire in the 8th–11th centuries.
The Byzantine army or East Roman army was the primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy. A direct continuation of the Roman army, the East Roman army maintained a similar level of discipline, strategic prowess and organization. It was among the most effective armies of western Eurasia for much of the Middle Ages. Over time the cavalry arm became more prominent in the Byzantine army as the legion system disappeared in the early 7th century. Later reforms reflected some Germanic and Asian influences – rival forces frequently became sources of mercenary units e.g.; Huns, Cumans, Alans and Turks, meeting the Empire's demand for light cavalry mercenaries. Since much of the Byzantine military focused on the strategy and skill of generals utilizing militia troops, heavy infantry were recruited from Frankish and later Varangian mercenaries.
A droungarios, also spelled drungarios and sometimes anglicized as Drungary, was a military rank of the late Roman and Byzantine empires, signifying the commander of a formation known as droungos.
The Byzantine army evolved from that of the late Roman Empire, but it became considerably more sophisticated in strategy, tactics and organization. The language of the army was still Latin, although later Greek dominated, as it became the official language of the entire empire. Unlike the Roman legions, its strength was in its cavalry, especially the armoured cataphracts, which evolved from the clibanarii of the late empire. Infantry were still used but mainly as a base of maneuver for the cavalry, as well as in specialized roles. Most of the foot-soldiers of the empire were the armoured skutatoi and later on, kontarioi, with the remainder being the light infantry and archers of the psiloi. The Byzantines valued intelligence and discipline in their soldiers far more than bravery or brawn. The "Ρωμαίοι στρατιώται" were a loyal force composed of citizens willing to fight to defend their homes and their state to the death, augmented by mercenaries. The training was very much like that of the legionaries, with the soldiers taught close combat techniques with their swords, spears and axes, along with the extensive practice of archery.
The Strategikon or Strategicon is a manual of war regarded as written in late antiquity and generally attributed to the Byzantine Emperor Maurice.
Longobardia was a Byzantine term for the territories controlled by the Lombards in Italy. In the 9th-10th centuries, it was also the name of a Byzantine military-civilian province known as the Theme of Longobardia located in southeastern Italy.
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. From necessity, following extensive territorial loss and a near disastrous defeat by the Normans of southern Italy at Dyrrachion in 1081, Alexios constructed a new army from the ground up. This new army was significantly different from previous forms of the Byzantine army, especially in the methods used for the recruitment and maintenance of soldiers. The army was characterised by an increased reliance on the military capabilities of the immediate imperial household, the relatives of the ruling dynasty and the provincial Byzantine aristocracy. Another distinctive element of the new army was an expansion of the employment of foreign mercenary troops and their organisation into more permanent units. However, continuity in equipment, unit organisation, tactics and strategy from earlier times is evident. The Komnenian army was instrumental in creating the territorial integrity and stability that allowed the Komnenian restoration of the Byzantine Empire. It was deployed in the Balkans, Italy, Hungary, Russia, Anatolia, Syria, the Holy Land and Egypt.
The Immortals were one of the elite tagmata military units of the Byzantine Empire, first raised during the late 10th century. The name derives from a- ("without") + thanatos ("death").
This article lists and briefly discusses the most important of many treatises on military science produced in the Byzantine Empire.
For most of its history, the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire did not know or use heraldry in the West-European sense of permanent motifs transmitted through hereditary right. Various large aristocratic families did employ certain symbols to identify themselves; the use of the cross, and of icons of Christ, the Theotokos and various saints is also attested on seals of officials, but these were often personal rather than family emblems. Likewise, various emblems were used in official occasions and for military purposes, such as banners or shields displaying various motifs such as the cross or the labarum. Despite the abundance of pre-heraldic symbols in Byzantine society from the 10th century, only through contact with the Crusaders in the 12th century , and particularly following the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) and the establishment of Frankish principalities on Byzantine soil from 1204 onwards, did heraldic uses penetrate in Byzantium. A native Byzantine heraldry began to appear in the middle and lower rungs of aristocratic families in the 14th century, coinciding with the decline of imperial authority and with the fragmentation of political power under the late Palaiologan emperors. However, it never achieved the breadth of adoption, or the systematization, of its Western analogues.
The East Roman army refers to the army of the eastern section of the Roman Empire, from the empire's definitive split in 395 AD to the army's reorganization by themes after the permanent loss of Syria, Palestine and Egypt to the Arabs in the 7th century during the Byzantine-Arab Wars. The East Roman army is the continuation of the Late Roman army of the 4th century until the Byzantine army of the 7th century onwards.
A turma was a cavalry unit in the Roman army of the Republic and Empire. In the Byzantine Empire, it became applied to the larger, regiment-sized military-administrative divisions of a thema. The word is often translated as "squadron" but so is the term ala, a unit that was made up of several turmae.
Nikephoros Phokas, usually surnamed the Elder to distinguish him from his grandson, Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas, was one of the most prominent Byzantine generals of the late 9th century, and the first important member of the Phokas family. As a youth he was taken into the personal retinue of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian, rising quickly to the posts of protostrator and then governor of Charsianon, whence he fought with success against the Arabs. In c. 886 he led a major expedition in southern Italy, where his victories laid the foundation for the Byzantine resurgence in the peninsula. After his return, he was raised to the post of Domestic of the Schools, in effect commander-in-chief of the army, which he led with success against the Arabs in the east and the Bulgarians of Tsar Simeon in the Balkans. He died either in 895/6 or, less likely, sometime c. 900. Contemporaries and later historians lauded him for his military ability and character. Both of his sons later succeeded him as Domestics of the Schools. His grandsons Nikephoros and Leo were likewise distinguished generals, while the former became emperor in 963–969, spearheading the recovery of several lost provinces from the Arabs.
The Praecepta Militaria is the Latin conventional title given to a Byzantine military treatise, written in ca. 965 by or on behalf of Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros Phokas. Its Greek title is Στρατηγικὴ ἔκθεσις καὶ σύνταξις Νικηφόρου δεσπότου Strategikè ékthesis kaì syntaxis Nikephórou despótou.
The Optimatoi were initially formed as an elite Byzantine military unit. In the mid-8th century, however, they were downgraded to a supply and logistics corps and assigned a province (thema) in north-western Asia Minor, which was named after them. As an administrative unit, the Theme of the Optimatoi survived until the Ottoman conquest in the first decades of the 14th century.
Droungos or drungus is a late Roman and Byzantine term for a battalion-sized military unit, and later for a local command guarding mountain districts. Its commander was a "droungarios" or "drungarius" (δρουγγάριος), anglicized as "Drungary".
The Bucellarian Theme, more properly known as the Theme of the Bucellarians was a Byzantine theme in northern Asia Minor. It was created around the middle of the 8th century, comprising most of the ancient region of Paphlagonia and parts of Galatia and Phrygia.
The merarchēs, sometimes Anglicized as merarch, was a Byzantine military rank roughly equivalent to a divisional general.
The allagion was a Byzantine military term designating a military unit. It first appeared in the mid-to-late 10th century, and by the 13th century had become the most frequent term used for the Byzantine army's standing regiments, persisting until the late 14th century.
The Matzouka was a geographical area and administrative subdivision (bandon) of the medieval Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461) in northeastern Anatolia. Its administrative capital was at Dikaisimon. The arearesisted for a while after the Ottoman conquest of Trebizond in 1461, but eventually submitted and became a nahiye of the Ottoman Empire.