Full Version: When did the Skutatoi come around?
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I was reading some info on the Byzantine's and saw that their infantry was called Skutatoi. Wikipedia has this to say:


The bulk of the byzantine infantry were the skutatoi, named from the word skutos, for their large oval shield. These men were professional soldiers paid by the state. The skutatoi evolved from the Comitatenses of the later empire and were equipped much as the same as these legionaries. Their armor and weapons included:

* kresamata: A skirt hanging below a soldier's cuirass to protect his legs.
* κlibanion (κλιβάνιον): the characteristic Byzantine lamellar cuirass, usually sleeveless. In addition, pteruges (leather hanging strips) were worn to protect shoulders and hips.
* zaba (ζάβα) or lorikion (λωρίκιον): mail hauberks, usually reserved for the heavy cavalry cataphracts.
* bambakion (βαμβάκιον): A padded leather or cotton under-garment, worn under the cuirass.
* epilorikion (επιλωρίκιον): A padded leather or cotton over-garment, worn over the cuirass.
* spathion (σπαθίον): The typical Roman spatha, a longsword (about 90 cm), double-edged and very heavy.
* paramerion (παραμέριον): a one-edged scimitar-like sword, girded at the waist.
* kontarion (κοντάριον): a long spear (about 2 to 3 m), the kontarion was used by the first ranks of each chiliarchia (battalion) in order to fend off enemy cavalry.
* Helmet: the helmet varied by region and time but was generally a simple, conical-shaped piece of steel, often with extra neckguard.
* skutos (σκούτος): a large and oval (later kite-shaped) shield made of wood, covered by leather and reinforced with steel. Each unit had different shield decoration.

Unarmoured light infantrymen, often armed with javelins, were known as in classical times as peltastoi.
I don't know when the word arose, but I suspect this is a deliberate Classicism, much like the use of 'peltastes' for light missile troops. There are units identified specifically as 'scutati' in Late Antiwquity, but IIRC not many, so a direct continuation seems unlikely.
Scutati in fact occur in the early empire as well, e.g.:
Belegstelle: AE 1906, 00035
Provinz: Africa proconsularis Ort: Choud el Batel
[L]ongeio Q(uinti) Longei Festi f(ilio) Quirina Ka/[3]o equo publico adlecto praefecto co/[hort]is Scutatae civium Romanorum Alexandriae / [3]ea Q(uinti) Peducaei Spei f(ilia) Sextia mater eius flaminica perpe/[tua K]arthaginiensium pio optimo sanctissimo dignissimo / filio fecit
For the early empire scutata is a strange qualification, because, as far as we know scutum is the name of the shield used by most of the auxiliary troops.
I have noticed however, that many early cohortes scutatae have a Spanish origin. And especially in Spain there was an alternative. In the Civil War about half the cohortes raised were cohortes caetratae who used the small caetra. The other cohorts were armed with the scutum and therefore called cohortes scutatae.
As far as I know there were few to no cohertes caetratae during the empire, but it nevertheless seams logical that the Spanish cohorts were still called scutata.
When the reason for this name was forgotten, the name might of course have been adopted by other cohorts as well.
Were units armed and equipped with the stuff in my quote in the 4th and 5th century Byzantine army?
Quote:Were units armed and equipped with the stuff in my quote in the 4th and 5th century Byzantine army?
There was no 4th and 5th century Byzantine army, there was only a 4th and 5th century Roman army!! 8)
Yes, of course they were equipped with scuta, by then every shield was called a scutum, right? Scutati is nowadays translated with 'shieldbearers' (like in Vegetius), which is also odd, since infantry is usually bearing shields.

The Notitia Dignitatum has only two units of scutati: Scutati civii Romani, in Egypt, and the Scola scutatorium tertia.
More units are called scutarii though:
Mauri scutarii
Scola scutariorum prima
Scola scutariorum prima
Scola scutariorum secunda
Scola scutariorum secunda
Secundi iuniores scolae scutarii
Scola scutariorum clibanariorum
Scola scutariorum sagittariorum
Scutarii (mentioned 6 times)
Scutarii seniores
Primi scutarii
Secundi scutarii
Scutarii Aureliaci
Scutarii Illyriciani (mentioned 5 times)
Scutarii indigenae Pafenses
Primi scutarii Orientales
Leo VI, Emperor of EASTERN ROME( Byzantine Empire never existed! That is a Germanic propaganda term used originally only by the Germans, who claimed to be the next Roman empire) wrote in the Taktica on how these warriors were once called hoplites,but in his era are called "skutatoi". They seemed to be a hybrid between a classic Greek and Roman soldier.I think these guys were in fact the result of something you also saw in Ancient Rome among the Triarii, of whom Augustus did this reform of studying Aelian's works and that of other Greek tacticians. They were essentially Hellenize legionaries. You had both light and heavy hoplites/skutatoi.
Remember most significant Byzantine authors wrote in the Attic tradition, meaning they tried to use Classical Greek words, Grammar, and Syntax only but had to explain contemporary terms. They use the word hoplite even though what they mean is nothing like a hoplite.

Also yes we know that the "Byzantine" Empire was the Roman Empire. But this isn't the place to discuss that.

As for the term Skoutatoi I think it is first used by either Procopius or possibly the Strategikon of Pseudo-Maurikios.

BTW don't trust that Wikipedia list, some of the terminology is incorrectly described. E.g. Klivanion is a generic term for metal armor, much like Lorica.

EDIT: Geez, talk about a necropost... :dizzy:
In Komnenian period written sources, the Byzantine heavy infantryman is called the kontophoros or lonchephoros (i.e. spear-bearer).

The Byzantine-Greek use of the word skouta should be viewed in the same light as the Spanish/Portuguese use of the word escudo, as a generalised word meaning 'shield'.
The Byzantine armed forces retained many archaisms of nomenclature. The Byzantine skoutatoi used round - dished - shields or, after c. 900, kite-shields they did not employ the Roman scutum. Also Byzantine peltasts were not necessarily primarily skirmishers, the true Byzantine skirmish light infantry (archers, javelineers, slingers) were called psiloi.

I think that the use of the word klivanion, like cataphractos, was nuanced. Just like 'harness' in English can mean armour - a knight in complete harness - or any construct involving straps and buckles - such as horse harness. The Greek words could be used in various ways, klivanion could be used as a general term for armour, but was also used as a specific term for a cuirass of lamellar - there were specific terms for scale and mail armour also. After all contemporary English writers, some of whom were eyewitnesses, spoke of the Napoleonic French cuirassiers wearing "mail" - when describing plate armour. See: Dawson, Timothy: Kresmasmata, Kabbadion, Klibanion: Some Aspects of Middle Byzantine Military Equipment Reconsidered, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 22 (1998), pp. 38–50.
Urselius I edited the Wikipedia entry, but I'm sure you could improve it: