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My old wargames armies are full of Roman "Heavy Cavalry" with caparisons fastened in front of the horses chest. These representations seem to stem from Phil Barker's "Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" published by the Wargames Research Group. I have the 1979 and 1984 editions. The book gives an illustration of a Late Roman Heavy Cavalry Horse with a cloth barding or caparison, based on "surviving sketches by two separate artists of the destroyed Column of Theodosius". Sadly there are no detailed references.

Late Roman cavalry are taking up too much of my time at present. Does anybody have any information on these sketches of the lost column? It would be a help.
I think I know the answer to this. .... I recall conversations with Phil Barker circa 1970's.......the reconstructions were based on some rather unconvincing and imaginative Renaissance drawings, which I think he saw in a Uni library in Birmingham.

Bear with me a few days while I try to find some old notes, and I may be able to do better.

No there are really fragment to the Theodosius column... Cavalry and infantry too. We can see that in Istambul museum and so the fragment employed to modern huse in the city

To see any fragment to the théodosius column: ... cretes.htm ... cretes.htm
Thank you Paullus and Paulus, it's great to have someone answering my questions!

Thank you for the photos Paulus. I'm familiar with them. But sadly they don't answer the question over the two sets of mystery drawings of horse comparisons and their decoration.

But it sounds like Paullus may have the answer....
Yes, the fragments of the colums of Galerius and Theodosius are well known, but it is nice to see photos of these and other monuments - thank you very much.
Still trying to track down those notes !
Bad news, I'm afraid ! Floods and leaks in the basement, and mice and possums chewing their way into cardboard boxes in the attic,and making shredded nests of the contents, have taken their toll. All I have left are a couple of illustrations of some of the panels on one of the "lost" columns ( and I can't even determine which one! ).These were copies I made of some of Phil's references.
Fortunately, the sections in question include caparisoned horses.
I don't have the technology to post these, alas, and so shall have to confine myself to a description.
The drawings are Renaissance "cartoons", roughly similar in style to the drawings of Michelangelo or Raphael.
In one scene, the Emperor (holding sceptre), bare-headed and bearded, wearing a muscle cuirass with pteryges over the usual tunic, braccae,calf-length boots, and a large sagum/riding cloak rides a horse with scale caparison in the shape of #141 ( Armies and enemies, 1984,) fourth edition ). He is followed by an identical senior officer,also with scale caparison, except with scale 'muscle' corselet. A third senior officer, with scale 'muscle' corselet rides a caparisoned horse without scales, but a large shabraque, with semi circular scalloped cut- out dags ( c.f. modern Household cavalry shabraques).In aother scene, the Emperor ( again distinguished by his sceptre) is helmeted, and has a multi-layered set-up - criss-crossed caparison (quilted?) with a scalloped edge and tassels at the corners,on top of this a similar crenellated saddle-cloth, over this a scalloped plain saddle cover (sheepskin ?) over a mediaeval knight-type saddle!
The infantry wear muscled corselets with a semi-circular scalloped edge at hips and shoulders - some with ptreryges,some without. They wear braccae and tunics, but are bare-footed.They wear helmets of hellenistic/renaissance revival type with both erect and falling horsehair crests. They carry short spears, and oval shields - held with both horizontal and vertical straps,and short sword/daggers with circular pommels on the right hip.A few wear segmentata, similar in style to those on the Marcus Aurelius column. Many wear sagums ( but no paenulas ).Many, including the Emperor and officers, but not all, are bearded.
In another scene, cavalry equipped as for the infantry described above
ride caparisoned horses (with scalloped edges ), some have, in addition, scalloped shabraques ( sheepskin? ) with cutouts over the saddles.
#49 in Armies and enemies represents these cavalry, but with some interpretations. The Emperor's sceptre becomes a mace (not so!), the smooth 'muscled' corselet is interpreted as mail (quite likely - though in the case of the Emperor? ) and the short sword on the hip becomes a spatha on a baldric ( probable).
The only clues I have are that one scene is labelled "tav. 80" and all are captioned "disegno del Louvre", which should mean the original "cartoons"
are in the Louvre - requests to the Louvre regarding drawings/"cartoons" of the 'lost' columns of Theodosius, Galerius and Arcadius may lead you to a goldmine of information, despite the difficulties of interpreting Renaissance drawings of late Roman columns, which may themselves contain anachronisms from earlier columns ! !
A Paulus ; Je visite votre "website", et c'est tres impressionnant! Pardonnez - vous mon francais pauvre.
Thank you very much for your time and effort. It is humbling to think of you searching your basement to answer my question from York, where we don't have possums!

I have to admit my initial impressions are that there's a grain of truth somewhere amongst the Renaissance interpretation. I shall proceed with caution.

Thank you once again,
No problem !
My first post was from memory, and on looking again at the drawings, once you 'look through' the style, there is actually alot of detail that can only have come from the original, keenly observed.
I think, despite the pitfalls, much can be deduced from these drawings - not least the late existence of segmentata.....
Quote:I think, despite the pitfalls, much can be deduced from these drawings - not least the late existence of segmentata.....
That's why they are called pitfalls. As to the armour of the horses, the 'medieval saddle' makes me a bit wary - did the artist not draw medieval horse armour?

A complete set of (very well, considering) drawings of the (now lost) column of Arcadius in:
Liebeschütz, J.H.W.G. (1990): Barbarians and Bishops, Army, Church, and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom, (Clarendon Press, Oxford).

This shows very interesting details of a near-contemporary view (I think the column was dated to c. 405 AD) of the gainas rebellion.

I have not read it, but Liebeschütz wrote an article about it:
Liebeschuetz, J. H. W. G.: The Gainas crisis at Constantinople in 399. Cover up at Constantinople. The Gainas crisis and the Column of Arcadius, in: The Eastern Frontier of the Roman Empire, Bd. 1, hrsg. v. D. H. French u. Ch. S. Lightfoot, Oxford 1989, S. 277-284.
Of course we have to be careful. Using Renaissance drawings to base an impression upon would be like interpreters of the future basing their impressions on us!

Your complete set of drawings from a lost column of Arcadius sounds excellent. But my search for the mysterious Renaissance drawings from the destroyed column of Theodosius is directly linked to the Comitatus cavalry project. I really don't think late Roman interpreters have fully developed their cavalry impressions, both in terms of kit or skills. There is much further we can go.

I can cope with medieval style saddles, they may indicate the artists view of a steppe saddle. And I can cope with scale barding, mirroring the finds at Dura. I just need to try and empathize with the artist and try to find the truth in all this excellent information.
I can see this is going to be a frustrating subject - because you guys cannot see what we are talking about, and must rely on my less-than-perfect descriptive skills.
I may try to get these drawings professionally scanned, but I doubt they will come out too well - they are very fine line on a greyish background and have clearly been heavily reduced, plus are photographic copies of copies....
All the saddles have high pommels and cantles, usually covered by saddle cloths in the case of the ordinary troopers.The senior officers behind the Emperor have turned-over 'scroll' pommels - very contemporary style ( to the artist) , but this could be a very natural way for the artist to render/interpret the Roman four-horned saddle, and indeed looks also like this, especially when covered with a saddle cloth.
Robert, do you know of any on-line depictions of the column of Arcadius ?
What I have may well be from it, and it would be possible to tell immediately if they were the same. If you had the book and it has illustrations could you scan, say, one image (which should not break any copyright )
If these drawings are one and the same it will be very frustrating.
John, Paullus,

I have done some internet research. You may be referring to the scetches of Franco Giovanni Battista il Semolei (1498/1510-1580) in Relevé de la Colonne de Théodose à Constantinople.

Good quality images of the scetches are available at just us the search function to locate them.

I hope this helps.


Thank you very much Lens,

I suspect this is what I've being looking for. It matches the descriptions given by Paullus.

The drawings raise some interesting questions, and I need to sleep on the answers. For example I can't see any stirrups, which suggests correct period detail. So does that follow that the saddles are based on early steppe saddles?

But many thanks once again for finding them for me.
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