Full Version: Byzantine Empire: Greek Romans or Roman Greeks?
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2


The question is ‘Can we include Byzantine Empire in Greek Army Talk?’<br>
After all, they spoke Greek. Their statehood was more Hellenistic than classical Roman. In their Christian legends warriors looked like Hercules, and Alexander the Great was greater than Caesar for them. They didn’t like Italians too much.<br>
And the main point – their army was more similar to the armies of Alexander’s successors than to the Roman legions of classical period.<br>
What do you think about it?<br>
I think that the place for the so-called 'Byzantines' is on RAT and they would had liked it.<br>
Reasons? Well, they were the eastern half of the Roman Empire, they considered themselves 'Romans', they called themselves 'Romans' and their enemies called them 'Romans'.<br>
Their army was, in the beginning, as Roman as the Western army was (remember those command orders in Latin, still in the sixth century AD) but... it evolved until it disappeared in the Fourteenth century AD.<br>
That's a problem. If we'd talk of the Eastern army of the Fifth to Seventh centuries AD, I would not doubt to class it as totally 'Roman' but, what would we do later? I think that it would be rather absurd to include that later army on the RAT, maybe they would deserve a separate forum, in case there were enough interested members for it.<br>
All in all, I think that the 'Byzantines' are as out of place here (even if they were Greeks by language and to a great extent by race) as a Roman legionary would be.<br>
Aitor <p></p><i></i>


I agree with Aitor that it would be more appropriate for RAT. Also, the header of the <strong>Roundtable</strong> section of the Board says: <em>"Welcome to Greek Army Talk, the Web's newest forum for serious discussion of ancient Greek and Hellenistic military history and archaeology."</em> Based on that alone the Byzantines are not appropriate, fascinating as they are.<br>
Quote:</em></strong><hr>... it evolved until it disappeared in the Fourteenth century AD.<hr><br>
Ah. OK, the Late Byzantine army looked very like their enemies (to discuss that one, we should set up the TAT - Turkish Army Talk), but I think I vaguely recall that Constantinople and it's meagre posessions actually held out, army and all, till the mid-15th century..<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>
Take for granted that I was thinking of 'Fifteenth' when my fingers wrote 'Fourteenth' !<br>
Aitor <p></p><i></i>


Quote:</em></strong><hr>but I think I vaguely recall that Constantinople and it's meagre posessions actually held out, army and all, till the mid-15th century..<hr><br>
Contstantiople fell in 1453; the Empire of Trebizond, a Byzantine enclave farther east, lasted until 1461. But by the end the Byzantine army had little to distinguish it from other European armies, IIRC, because it was composed to a great degree by mercenaries. <p></p><i></i>

I kind of agree with warrior11. Byzantium should be included, as part of RAT or GAT, or even as a separate BAT.

The reason? Byzantium was the place where the military traditions which interest us all here, were preserved and where they evolved. True, a mostly mounted army with a large percentage of asiatic horse-archers is not reminiscent of Pydna or Zama, but one should remember that the Byzantines usually fought against nomadic or semi-nomadic (i.e. Bulgars) peoples, therefore infantry was rarely the principal arm.

Quoting Vortigern,
‘’OK, the Late Byzantine army looked very like their enemies’’

true, as long as this has to do with their mercenary troops. The native element is, however, another story. Even by the mid-fourteenth century, soldiers would wear a linen ‘’cuirass’ with pteruges, a distinctive byzantine military characteristic. I recently saw a miniature showing troops from the civil war of about 1345. The men were the same as 4 centuries before, but wearing french bascinet helmets! No such metal or plastic figure exists, to my knowledge.

The question whether during X century they gave orders in greek or in latin, is a secondary one. Most people were greek-speakers, military terminology AND the legal system were in latin untill the 7th century, when some more enlightened emperors found out that their subjects could not understand a word from a legal text... However, the army terminology conserved many latin words, which is normal: suppose you are a recruit, and one tells you that a sergeant will from now on be called a ‘lochias’, it isn’t that hard to keep this in mind. Same with some state official titles (quaestor became keistor etc.).

Greeks or Romans? Well put question. What is certain, is that they were not ‘byzantines’, nobody called them like that, nor did they use that name for themselves. Indeed they called themselves Romans, which was precise, as after Caracalla’s decree everyone was now a Roman. With Constantinople as a new capital, the Empire still stood, although it had lost all of its western european and african territories. It is therefore better, i think, to say that politically the were Romans, ethnically they were mostly Greeks. That the Greeks had –with the loss of the western part– become the ‘roman’ population of a Roman Empire, was certainly no bad news to them. In addition, after some violent christianisation measures, the word “Greekâ€ÂÂ
I Agree!!!
Lets have apoll on the matter!
Quote:Hey Aitor and Robert, dont insult my half byzantine bloodline
Eh? I can't think of anything we wrote would have insulted the Byzantines (or your bloodline)?
OK but waht about the poll. Should we have aByzantine forum or not?
Kind regards
Put them in. After all, they sprung from the Roman Empire, called themselves Romans, and even westerners referred to their empire as "Romania". Moreover, early Byzantine history is in many ways relevant to the study of the later "Roman" Empire.

I would, however, place an "upper" chronological boundary; let's face it, this forum is mostly about "warfare in the ancient world" (plus civilian things of the same era, of course). There's a clear overlap between ancient and medieval in the so-called "early" Middle Ages, but once you get past the Carolingians, things become decidedly un-ancient, as the old world gradually faded away and something clearly different had evolved out of it.

1071, the date of Manzikert and the fall of Bari, the last Byzantine outpost in Italy, is my suggestion for such an upper chronological boundary. That leaves the taktika, the Byzantine military manuals, of the 10th century (part of the same tradition as the Strategikon) and the De Administrando Imperio of Emperor Leo the Wise, with its information on late Roman / early medieval (coming of the Slavs etc.) events and migrations as part of the subject matter.

You knew so much about them that it is hardly a surprise to find out that you're really one of the Comneni! :wink:
Is your wife better?
About a Byzantine forum, well, it would seem to me as if we were setting a Late Roman forum but only devoted to the Eastern part of the Empire (I must make clear that, for me, the Late Empire starts with the Tetrarchs, at the end of Third century AD and no earlier...) :roll:

Pages: 1 2