Thomas of Argos

Last updated

Thomas of Argos («Θωμάς εξ Άργους» in the primary source) was the captain of a battalion of Greek stratioti who served as mercenaries with the English army during Henry VIII's wars against the Scots. Some details about Thomas’s action are recorded by his contemporary Nikandros Noukios who followed as a non-combatant the English invasion of Scotland in 1545 and the expedition to Boulogne in 1546. A part of Noukios’ manuscript (originally in Greek) was published in English in 1841. [1] A consequent part of the original manuscript, continuing the narration about Thomas, was published by the Greek historian A. Moustoxydes. [2]


The Stratioti or stradioti were mercenary units from the Balkans recruited mainly by states of southern and central Europe from the 15th century until the middle of the 18th century.

Kingdom of England Historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Henry VIII of England 16th-century King of England

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. He was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

Thomas was the head of a unit of stratioti from Peloponnesus and is described as a man of “courage, prudence and experience in wars”. Noukios followed Thomas and the English army to the River Tweed between England and Scotland where the light cavalry of stratioti made incursions against the Scots.

River Tweed river in the Border region in Scotland and northern England

The River Tweed, or Tweed Water, is a river 97 miles (156 km) long that flows east across the Border region in Scotland and northern England. Tweed (cloth) derives its name from its association with the River Tweed. The Tweed is one of the great salmon rivers of Britain and the only river in England where an Environment Agency rod licence is not required for angling. Tweed is an Old Brythonic (Celtic) name meaning 'border'.

Noukios describes a confrontation between Thomas’ unit of about 550 men and a superior group of some 1,000 French during the Siege of Boulogne. He gives a description of the unorthodox tactics, typical of the stratioti light cavalry, against an numerically superior unit of heavy armoured cavalry. Before the battle Thomas boosted the courage of his men with this short speech:

“Comrades, as you see we are in the extreme parts of the world, under the service of a King and a nation in the farthest north. And nothing we brought here from our country other than our courage and bravery. Thus, bravely we stand against our enemies, because their numbers cannot match our virtue. We are children of the Greeks(*) and we are not afraid of the barbarian horde. …. Therefore, courageous and orderly let us march to the enemy, … and let us prove with our action the famous since olden times virtue of the Greeks(*) .“
(*) Έλληνες (Hellenes) in the original Greek text.

The stratioti ambushed the French coming from Boulogne in early dawn and with maneuvers caused them to retreat in disarray. The battle was carried out mainly with lances and swords leaving 35 Greeks and 360 French dead. Thomas was wounded during that battle. Henry VIII praised his bravery and granted him an annual salary. After the Boulogne expedition Thomas returned to England and Noukios departed to Italy.

Noukios mentions no other name for Thomas of Argos. However, some secondary sources assume that he is the same person as a Thomas Bouas (or Buas) who was arrested by the French and executed in Turin in 1546. [3]

Related Research Articles

Courage quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, or pain

Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.

Battle of the Spurs battle

The Battle of the Spurs or Battle of Guinegate took place on 16 August 1513. It formed a part of the War of the League of Cambrai, during the ongoing Italian Wars. Henry VIII and Maximilian I were besieging the town of Thérouanne in Artois. Henry's camp was at Guinegate, now called Enguinegatte. A large body of French heavy cavalry under Jacques de La Palice was covering an attempt by light cavalry to bring supplies to the besieged garrison. English and Imperial troops surprised and routed this force. The battle was characterised by the precipitate flight and extensive pursuit of the French. The name of the battle is commonly believed to be derived from the French spurring their horses to effect their escape but is actually from the nearby village of Spours. During the pursuit a number of notable French leaders and knights were captured. After the fall of Thérouanne, Henry VIII besieged and took Tournai.

Battle of Pinkie Cleugh Anglo-Scottish battle

The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, sometimes known as the Battle of Pinkie, took place on 10 September 1547 on the banks of the River Esk near Musselburgh, Scotland. The last pitched battle between Scottish and English armies, it was part of the conflict known as the Rough Wooing, and is considered to have been the first modern battle in the British Isles. It was a catastrophic defeat for Scotland, where it became known as Black Saturday. A highly detailed and illustrated English account of the battle and campaign authored by an eyewitness William Patten was published in London as propaganda four months after the battle.

Eustace is the rendition in English of two phonetically similar Greek given names:

The First Siege of Boulogne took place July and 18 September 1544 and the Second Siege of Boulogne in October 1544.

Philopoemen Ancient Greek general

Philopoemen was a skilled Greek general and statesman, who was Achaean strategos on eight occasions.

Battle of Verneuil Battle during the Hundred Years War

The Battle of Verneuil was a strategically important battle of the Hundred Years' War, fought on 17 August 1424 near Verneuil in Normandy and a significant English victory. It was a particularly bloody battle, described by the English as a second Agincourt.

The Laches is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. Participants in the discourse present competing definitions of the concept of courage.

Italian War of 1542–1546 war in Italy

The Italian War of 1542–1546 was a conflict late in the Italian Wars, pitting Francis I of France and Suleiman I of the Ottoman Empire against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Henry VIII of England. The course of the war saw extensive fighting in Italy, France, and the Low Countries, as well as attempted invasions of Spain and England. The conflict was inconclusive and ruinously expensive for the major participants.

The Greek community in the United Kingdom refers to British residents and citizens of full or partial Greek heritage, or Greeks who emigrated to and reside in the United Kingdom.

Heavy cavalry soldiers who engaged in direct combat on horseback

Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry defined by their combat role, they were primarily intended to deliver a charge on the battlefield and also to act as a tactical reserve, they are also often termed 'shock cavalry'. They were distinct from light cavalry, who were intended for use in scouting, patrolling, skirmishing, screening armies, harassing the enemy and in pursuit. The distinction was not always rigid, and occasions when heavy cavalry scouted or light cavalry performed battlefield charges are numerous. Although their equipment differed greatly depending on the region and historical period, heavy cavalry were generally mounted on large powerful horses, and were often equipped with some form of scale, plated, chainmail or lamellar armour as well as either swords, maces, lances, or battle axes. It is, however, erroneous to regard armour as being a defining characteristic of heavy cavalry in all periods.

Thomas Gordon (British Army officer) British army officer and historian

Major-General Thomas Gordon was a British army officer and historian. He is remembered for his role in the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s and 1830s and his History of the war published in 1833.

Hellenistic armies armies of the Hellenistic kingdoms

The Hellenistic armies is the term applied to the armies of the successor kingdoms of the Hellenistic period, which emerged after the death of Alexander the Great. After his death, Alexander's huge empire was torn between his successors, the Diadochi. During the Wars of the Diadochi, the Macedonian army, as developed by Alexander and Philip II, gradually adopted new units and tactics, further developing Macedonian warfare and improving on the tactics used in the Classical era. The armies of the Diadochi bear few differences from that of Alexander, but during the era of the Epigonoi, the differences were obvious, favoring numbers over quality and weight over maneuverability. The limited availability of Greek conscripts in the east led to an increasing dependence on mercenary forces, whereas in the west, Hellenistic armies were continuously involved in wars, which soon exhausted local manpower, paving the way for Roman supremacy. The major Hellenistic states were the Seleucid Empire, Ptolemaic Egypt and the Antigonid kingdom (Macedonia). Smaller states included: Attalid Pergamum, Pontus, Epirus, the Achaean League, the Aetolian League, Syracuse, and other states.

Battle of Bonchurch

The Battle of Bonchurch took place in late July 1545 at Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight. No source gives the precise date, although 21 July is possible from the sequence of events. The battle was a part of the wider Italian War of 1542–1546, and took place during the French invasion of the Isle of Wight. Several landings were made, including at Bonchurch. Most accounts suggest that England won the battle, and the French advance across the island was halted.

Events from the 1540s in England.

John Luttrell (soldier) English soldier, diplomat, and courtier

Sir John Luttrell feudal baron of Dunster in Somerset, of Dunster Castle, was an English soldier, diplomat, and courtier under Henry VIII and Edward VI. He served under Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford in Scotland and France. His service is commemorated in an allegorical portrait by Hans Eworth.

The Rough Wooing was a war between Scotland and England. Following its break with Rome, England decided to attack Scotland, partly to destroy the Auld Alliance and prevent Scotland being used as a springboard for future invasion by France, partly to weaken Scotland, and partly to force Scotland to agree to a marriage alliance between Mary, Queen of Scots and the English heir apparent Edward, son of King Henry VIII. An invasion of France was also contemplated. War was declared by Henry in an attempt to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between Edward, who was six years old at the start of the war, and the infant queen, thereby creating a new alliance between Scotland and England. Upon Edward's accession to the throne in 1547 at the age of nine, the war continued for a time under the direction of the Duke of Somerset before Somerset's removal from power in 1549 and replacement by the Duke of Northumberland, who wished for a less costly foreign policy than his predecessor. It was the last major conflict between Scotland and England before the Union of the Crowns in 1603, excepting perhaps the English intervention at the Siege of Leith in 1560, and was part of the Anglo-Scottish Wars of the 16th century.

Mercurio Bua Italian condottiero

Mercurio BuaCount of Aquino and Roccasecca was a famed condottiero and commander of the Venetian army.

Sir Ralph Ellerker of Risby, Yorkshire was an English soldier, knight and Member of Parliament.


  1. Nicander Nucius (1841). Rev. J.A. Cramer (ed.). The second book of the travels of Nicander Nucius of Corcyra. London. p. 90.
  2. Moustoxydes Andreas (1856) Nikandros Noukios, in the periodical Pandora, vol. 7, No. 154, 15 Augh. 1856, p. 222 In Greek language.