The rhomphaia (Ancient Greek : ῥομφαία) was a close-combat bladed weapon used by the Thracians as early as 350-400 BC. Rhomphaias were weapons with a straight or slightly curved single-edged blade attached to a pole, which in most cases was considerably shorter than the blade. Although the rhomphaia was similar to the falx, most archaeological evidence suggests that rhomphaias were forged with straight or slightly curved blades, presumably to enable their use as both a thrusting and slashing weapon. The blade was constructed of iron and used a triangular cross section to accommodate the single cutting edge with a tang of rectangular cross section. Length varied, but a typical rhomphaia would have a blade of approximately 60–80 cm and a tang of approximately 50 cm. From the length of the tang, it can be presumed that, when attached to the hilt, this portion of the weapon would be of similar length to the blade.
Used almost exclusively by the Thracians, examples have been found dating from 300-400 BC. As a weapon, the rhomphaia was feared (like the falx) because of the cutting power afforded to it by its design. The falx forced the only documented change in Roman armour brought about by an encounter with a new weapon. After encountering the falx in Dacia, the Romans added extra reinforcing bars to their helmets to protect against the powerful blows of this weapon. According to some researchers, this weapon was developed by the Bessi, that were actively involved in mining and metalworking.
The rhomphaia's blade was straight or only slightly curved, while the falx's blade was significantly curved. Because its straighter blade facilitated a thrusting motion, as well as an overhead or sidewards hacking motion, the rhomphaia could be used by tightly packed troops as a defensive weapon. However, the straighter blade limited the use of the cutting edge.
Rhomphaia was first a "spear", later a "sword" (Plutarch: Life of Aemilius Paulus 18; Eustathius, on Iliad verse VI 166; Hesychius; also Luke 2:35 and the Revelation of John of Patmos, several times.). In Latin, it has the forms:
W. Tomaschek listed the Macedonian roféja, rufja "thunderbolt" and the Albanian rrufeja as derivatives of that word. In Albanian folk beliefs the lightning was regarded as the "fire of the sky" (zjarri i qiellit) and was considered the "weapon of the deity" (arma/pushka e perëndisë), indeed an Albanian word to refer to the lightning is rrufeja , related to the Thracian rhomphaia.
The Thracian rhomphaia contains the stem *rump- in the Latin rumpo, -ere "to break, to tear".
A weapon called rhomphaia was also mentioned in Michael Psellos' Chronographia where he describes it as a "one-edged sword of heavy iron which they [the palace guards at Constantinople] carry suspended from the right shoulder". This was possibly a reference to the Varangian Guard and their two handed axe, probably a Dane axe.However, Niketas Choniates describes the bodyguards of the emperor Andronikos I Komnenos as removing "the two-edged swords from their shoulders". Being two-edged, these weapons do not resemble Dane axes.
It is also mentioned in Anna Komnene's Alexiad . She explains that during the battle, her father, Alexios I Komnenos, fought against the rebel Nikephoros Bryennios the Elder. Alexius happened upon a horse saddled for an emperor, which also had a number of grooms, some of whom "had in their hands the great iron swords which normally accompany the emperors".However, Anna does not name these as rhomphaia, but her editor and translator E.R.A. Sewter does, and they seem to have been very distinctive for the Byzantines who, after an initial rout, saw "the general display of the royal horse with its insignia and the sight of the great swords (which all but spoke for themselves) convinced them that the news was true: Bryennius, who was guarded by these swords, had fallen into the hands of his enemies".
The word 'rhomphaia' is preserved in modern Greek, with the meaning of "big broad sword".
A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking power. Because many pole weapons were adapted from agricultural implements or other tools in fairly large amount of abundance, and contain relatively little metal, they were cheap to make and readily available. When warfare breaks out and the belligerents have a poorer class who cannot pay for dedicated weapons made for war, military leaders often resort to the appropriation of tools as cheap weapons. The cost of training was minimal, since these conscripted farmers had spent most of their lives in the familiar use of these "weapons" in the fields. This made polearms the favored weapon of peasant levies and peasant rebellions the world over.
A sword is a bladed melee weapon intended for cutting or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.
Anna Komnene, commonly Latinized as Anna Comnena, was a Byzantine princess and author of the Alexiad, an account of the reign of her father, the Byzantine emperor, Alexios I Komnenos. The Alexiad is the most important primary source of Byzantine history of the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Although she is best known as the author of the Alexiad, Anna played an important part in the politics of the time and attempted to depose her brother, John II Komnenos, as emperor and seize the throne herself.
Dao are single-edged Chinese swords, primarily used for slashing and chopping. The most common form is also known as the Chinese sabre, although those with wider blades are sometimes referred to as Chinese broadswords. In China, the dao is considered one of the four traditional weapons, along with the gun, qiang (spear), and the jian, called in this group “The General of Weapons".
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The term kopis in Ancient Greece could describe a heavy knife with a forward-curving blade, primarily used as a tool for cutting meat, for ritual slaughter and animal sacrifice, or refer to a single edged cutting or "cut and thrust" sword with a similarly shaped blade.
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The falx was a weapon with a curved blade that was sharp on the inside edge used by the Thracians and Dacians – and, later, a siege hook used by the Romans.
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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. 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.
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