Droungos (Greek: δροῦγγος, sometimes δρόγγος, drongos) 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 term drungus is first attested in Latin in the late 4th century AD. It derives from Gaulish *dhrungho (see Old Irish drong; Old Breton drogn or drog), meaning "tribe", "group", "throng" or "crowd". An alternative Germanic etymology (thrunga}) cited by some historians,originates in 17th-century guesswork which has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of philologists. The earliest usage of drungus in Latin is non-technical and similarly signifies a generic "band" or "troop", which Vegetius equates to Latin globus.
The term first occurs in Greek as droungos (δροῦγγος) or drongos (δρόγγος), with the same meaning, in the early 5th century. In the late 6th century, the Emperor Maurice (r. 582–602) applies droungos to a specific tactical deployment, usually of cavalry, characterised as a compact non-linear grouping suited to outflanking tactics, ambushes and irregular operations. He is the first author to employ the cognate adverb droungisti (Greek: δρουγγιστί), with the sense of "in group formation" or "small-group tactics". Maurice also occasionally employs droungos as a generic expression for larger "groupings" or "formations" of troops, though in this sense he refers only to a "division" (meros) and never to a "brigade" ( moira ) with which droungos became associated in later sources.
By the middle of the 7th century, this meaning had been superseded by a new meaning, which it held until the 11th century. The droungos, alternatively known as a moira (μοίρα), was now formalized as a regular subdivision of a tourma , the chief subdivision of the new themata (θέματα, singular: θέμα). In turn, each droungos was composed of several banda (singular: bandon). Thus each moira or droungos was the analogue of a modern regiment or brigade, initially circa 1000 men strong (and hence also referred to as a chiliarchia ). On occasion, it could rise to 3000 men, and Emperor Leo VI the Wise (r. 886–912) is recorded as having established droungoi of only 400 men for the new smaller themes created during his reign.
From the late 12th century onwards, the term droungos was applied to mountainous areas in Greece, and was associated with the meaning of "pass" or "mountain range" (zygos). In the 13th century, it also came to designate the military units detailed to guard these locations, similar to the earlier kleisourai .
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 was the primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy. A direct continuation of the East Roman army, it 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.
Moira is a Greek term for a military formation. Etymologically, it is derived from the roots *μερ- and *μορ-, which mean "to part". Moira therefore means "a part, a division", and is cognate with the similar term meros. In the Byzantine period, it was used to denote brigade or division-sized commands, while in the modern Greek military, it is used by some branches to designate battalion-sized units.
The Strategikon or Strategicon is a manual of war regarded as written in late antiquity and generally attributed to the Byzantine Emperor Maurice.
The spatharii or spatharioi were a class of Late Roman imperial bodyguards in the court in Constantinople in the 5th–6th centuries, later becoming a purely honorary dignity in the Byzantine Empire.
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.
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.
Domestikos, in English sometimes [the] Domestic, was a civil, ecclesiastic and military office in the late Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire.
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.
The Hetaireia or Hetaeria was a term for a corps of bodyguards during the Byzantine Empire.
The Theme of Thessalonica was a military-civilian province of the Byzantine Empire located in the southern Balkans, comprising varying parts of Central and Western Macedonia and centred on Thessalonica, the Empire's second-most important city.
The Opsician Theme or simply Opsikion was a Byzantine theme located in northwestern Asia Minor. Created from the imperial retinue army, the Opsikion was the largest and most prestigious of the early themes, being located closest to Constantinople. Involved in several revolts in the 8th century, it was split in three after ca. 750, and lost its former pre-eminence. It survived as a middle-tier theme until after the Fourth Crusade.
Decanus means "chief of ten" in Late Latin. The term originated in the Roman army and became used thereafter for subaltern officials in the Byzantine Empire, as well as for various positions in the Church, whence derives the English title "dean".
The Melingoi or Milingoi were a Slavic tribe that settled in the Peloponnese in southern Greece during the Middle Ages. In the early decades of the 7th century, Slavic tribes (Sclaveni) settled throughout the Balkans following the collapse of the Byzantine Empire's defense of the Danube frontier with some groups reaching as far south as the Peloponnese. The Sclaveni often settled in small groups and their demographic impact in mainland Greece was both weak and diffuse. Of these, two groups are known by name from later sources, the Melingoi and the Ezeritai, of whom the Melingoi settled on the western slopes of Mount Taygetos. The origin and etymology of the name Melingoi is unknown.
The merarchēs, sometimes Anglicized as merarch, was a Byzantine military rank roughly equivalent to a divisional general.
The Noumeroi or Noumera were a Byzantine infantry garrison unit for the imperial capital, Constantinople. Their main task involved the protection of the Great Palace of Constantinople and of the Noumera, one of the city's prisons.
Decarch was a rank in the Late Roman army, used in the East Roman army, among Greek-speaking soldiers, that continued on as a Byzantine military rank.
The phoulkon, in Latin fulcum, was an infantry formation utilized by the military of the late Roman and Byzantine Empire. It is a formation in which an infantry formation closes ranks and the first two or three lines form a shield wall while those behind them hurl projectiles. It was used in both offensive and defensive stances.