RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: Byzantine Weapons and Warfare
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43
Yes, I under stand, but I am still thinking of the hoard of horsemen riding with the guy who has just snapped you good spear with his torso, and are looking to impale you Confusedhock: Sad lol:
I guess one of the only other ways to possibly conclude this discussion would be for some of us to actually make a menavlion and do some trials.

For me personally I don't fancy throwing a spear/javelin the size of a small sapling Confusedhock: exactly how far are you going through it anyway, probably not any great distance. Also what side arm were the Menavaloi equipped with? Any warrior using a one shot wonder weapon would need sufficient back up. The early Imp Romans were trained swordsmen, so what about the back up for these guys. Doesn't seem too bright throwing away your primary weapon.....As quoted from Mark Lesters film 'The Three Musketeers' ''Only Porthos could invent a new way of disarming himself''.

If they are 'Heavy Throwing Weapons' then surely the guys using them must be physically strong to such an extent that they would be deformed, take for example English longbowmen who trained so frequently that their upper right sides increased in mass.

As for Heavy throwing weapons shattering on impact...some do. Correct me if I am wrong as Early Imperial stuff isn't my strong point, but were some Roman Pila fitted with dowel connections between the soft iron head and the shaft so that they did break on impact?

Another type for consideration are the Fransisca thrwing axes. Ok more a cutting, smashing weapon, but having used those quite a lot after 'average' use the shafts do split and break on impact.
Regarding sidearms, the Taktika states

Quote:They [the infantry spearmen] must have .. . swords girded at the waist, axes or iron maces, so that one man fights with one weapon, the next with another according to the skill of each one. They should all have slings in their belts.

And

Quote:All the menavlatoi and javeliners ought to have shields more modest in size than he heavy infantrymen, but the rest of their equipment should be the same as theirs.

The corresponding passage from the Praecepta is almost identical.

So the menavlatoi wouldn't be disarming themselves if a menavlion is a missile weapon.

A point that hasn't yet been made in relation to the use of the pilum is that as far as I'm aware, it was intended for use against infantry - would a thrown menavlion be as effective against a charge of faster-moving cavalry, who would be upon you almost as soon as they were within (a relatively short) throwing range? I don't know the answer to this, but I think it should be raised. And how far can a normal person - or even a "courageous and strong" one - throw a 9-12 foot menavlion from a standing position? (No run-ups possible when you're in the front rank of an army)

Regarding the possibility of deforming the bodies of the menavlatoi, I think the Mary Rose examples really answer the question. Why would the Byzantines care any more about deforming their soldiers' bodies than the Tudors did?

Finally, I don't think I've made myself clear regarding the shattering thing. What I meant is that if weight was the primary requirement in a menavlion (so a thrown one could punch through cavalry armour), then the manual would stress that the shaft should be heavy. But it is hardness of the wood that the manuals stress, leading me to think that strength is the major consideration - more appropriate to a "fending off" weapon than to a missile.
Quote:But it is hardness of the wood that the manuals stress, leading me to think that strength is the major consideration - more appropriate to a "fending off" weapon than to a missile.
...not so, for the physics reasons I thought I had made clear above...just apply the formulae.
It should be pointed out that the early Imperial Romans used 'pila' against both cavalry and infantry impartially, although in Arrian's order of battle against the Alans he has the very front rank hang on to theirs for 'fending' purposes.....
Normally the ranks of legionaries advanced to contact in 'open' order(by ranks, i.e. alternate men step forward/ back so that one rank in close order becomes two in open order). Once in range, two open order ranks at a time, they ran forward, threw 'pila', drew swords, closed up into one rank close order and charged in close order into the foe.....

So far as throwing weapon versus long spear is concerned as an anti-cavalry weapon, a line of horses brought down at ten-twenty yards by heavy throwing weapons, will break a charge very effectively, and is more 'offensive' than merely keeping them at a distance with spears - hence Arrian's tactics against Sarmatian Alans.
Quote:Regarding sidearms, the Taktika states

Quote:They [the infantry spearmen] must have .. . swords girded at the waist, axes or iron maces, so that one man fights with one weapon, the next with another according to the skill of each one. They should all have slings in their belts.


So the menavlatoi wouldn't be disarming themselves if a menavlion is a missile weapon.

But were they competent, trained swordsmen like the earlier legionaires? You can give any recruit a sword etc but unless they have a high degree of training they would be pretty useless with it. The quoted reference states that each man fights with a variety of weapons and at different skill levels, that to me indicates irregular training, making the Menavlion a Primary weapon and effectively negating the troops competence if they use it as a missile weapon. True, Psiloi and other light troops had sidearms but then they also carried more than one missile weapon.

For arguments sake though, the later Ottoman Turkish Jannisaries were equipped on a personal level with side arms of their choice. However, they were elite troops, the Menavlatoi were probably just handed out sides arms at random, axe, mace, large knife, cheap sword, whatever came to hand.

Effectively, heavy throwing weapons due to their weight and lack of range are for me anyway, a melee weapon. True, they technically are a missile but the range they are discharged would not give you time to skirmish or evade, especially against horse. A point that should be mentioned though is that the armies throughout history that have used them were primarily infantry based and initially fighting infantry based foes, Early Imp Romans with Pila, Franks with Fransisca and angons, angons (or varients of) still being used by Baltic tribes well into the 13th century.
The Romans only discarded the Pila in favour of plumbata and other 'light' missile weapons because they later faced more mobile enemies on horseback and required lighter equipment and weapons with a greater range. Why would the Byzantines, who from the earliest period always faced cavalry based foes adopt such an antiquated form of missile weapon? Also, look at the way the Menavlion is made, massive head on a whole sapling which probably isn't that straight! You try throwing an even slightly bent javelin or spear, absolutely useless, it will go of course almost immediately. You would get better results tying a big stone to a stick!
Quote: You would get better results tying a big stone to a stick!

You are undoubtably correct, all extant references incorporate scribal error and the real name for the weapon was "menavlithos" :wink: :lol:
Quote:
kuura:1v2kgthq Wrote:You would get better results tying a big stone to a stick!

You are undoubtably correct, all extant references incorporate scribal error and the real name for the weapon was "menavlithos" :wink: :lol:

:lol: :lol:
Found the detail of Soldiers resting from an early-mid C13th frescoe interesting and thought I would share it with you.

The soldiers appear to be wearing short mail shirts with almost capped sleeves, mail coifs and two piece helmets secured with a central ridge and brow band, a type popular in Serbia well into the C14th.
Some form of padded Kabbadion style coat appears to be worn under the mail and all carry very large round/oval shields of an antiquated Byzantine form. This and the fact all the soldiers appear bare legged may be the artists attempt at creating an aspect of 'old Rome' but the rest of the equipment can certainly be identified I think with contemporary armour of the C13th in Serbia.

[Image: m_angel2.jpeg]
Actually, just noticed that the two soldiers in the foreground are wearing either the infamous 'Varangian Bra' or more likely sashes indicating rank.
Do you have a clearer (or bigger!) copy of that picture, Kuura?
Hi Egfroth, thought I had killed this thread for a moment!
Unfortunately not. I have tried enlarging the image without success.

The capped sleeves are probably a confused rendering of the plate shoulder cops, and the lorica may be lamellar as the lines on the armour run vertically rather than horizontally like the coif. A pretty poor assumption to make but then......

I feel the garment worn under the lorica is definately a Kabbadion due to the fact that the soldiers are sitting with splayed legs. If they were Pteruges then surely we would see gaps between the individual elements :?:
Actually, the problem was that the last three posts have been from you. I'd open the forum, see the most recent poster was still you, so I wouldn't look any further.

Interesting pics. Do you know where these pics come from? Is it a Serbian monastery or something? Maybe we could track it down. I have a contact on another forum who lives in either Bulgaria or Serbia, and might be able to get hold of a better copy, if we can work out where it is.
It's Serbian and from the C13th monastery at Mileseva, built by King Vladislav between 1234 and 1236.
The frescoe is titled 'The White Angel' or 'Holy Women at the Sepulchre'.

Right click on image to access properties and web details of pic.

There are more soldiers in 'The betrayal of Judas' although only their helmets can be seen along with the odd arm. They appear to be carrying horns, possible standards ot lanterns (difficult to see) and most interesting of all, at least three different types of long handled mace.









[Image: m_juda.jpeg]
Thanks. I love these Betrayal of Christ pictures - they often have such wonderful incidental details - particularly the kit worn and used by the soldiers.
Coming back to the menavlion/kontarion discussion, Robert Vermaat and I were having an interesting discussion about shafted weapons on the 'Spear or Pilum?' thread. Now my interests don't extend to everything, and my main focus in things Roman is from the beginning to early Imperial times. You'll recall I referred earlier to Arrian's "Order of battle against the Alans", but I didn't make the connection to the fact that Arrian translates 'pilum' as 'kontos' ( though Robert V. differs).Other writers in Greek follow suit.

This makes me wonder what clues there are in Byzantine writings to exactly what a 'kontos' is....could it be a 'pilum/spiculum' type weapon?
Could the usage of 'kontos' for 'pila' have survived that long, and if so, how does that affect how we view menavlion?
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43