Talk:Komnenian Byzantine army

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Military history (Rated B-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
B This article has been rated as B-Class on the quality assessment scale.
WikiProject Greece (Rated B-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Greece, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Greece on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
Checklist icon
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Middle Ages / Crusades  (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Middle Ages, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the Middle Ages on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the Crusades task force.


The title looks like an original research to me. Is the term used in scholarly literature? Was the 12th-century Byzantine army so much different from that existing before or since? --Ghirla -трёп- 10:48, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes, the term is used in J. Birkenmeier's book "the development of the Komnenian army, 1081-1180". Certainly the 12th century Byzantine army was very different from that existing before and since. For example, Byzantine historian John Haldon says in his "Byzantine Wars" that the Komnenian army was "a very different type of army from that which had won the great victories of the later tenth and early eleventh centuries, and different yet again from the thematic forces which had defended the empire from the seventh century". I hope that answers your question, but if you have any other questions about the term or its use in the article, I'd be glad to answer them. Bigdaddy1204 11:10, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for your answers. --Ghirla -трёп- 11:25, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
Birkenmeier?!? Ha, I've had that guy for two classes -- he teaches at UMBC. The Birkenmeister is aweseome! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 18:41, 3 December 2006 (UTC).


Could someone explain me why does this article (and I just noticed that other articles changed since my last visits) use the form "Komnenian" instead of the usual and recognizable "Comnenian"? GhePeU 12:19, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

There was a lengthy discussion about this on Talk:Constantine XI. Basically, it was decided to change the spellings of Byzantine related names to the ODB standard, which is to use common english forms of first names (e.g. John), but to use a form of the surname which is closer to the original Greek (e.g. Komnenos instead of the Latin Comnenus). I hope that answers your question. Bigdaddy1204 12:21, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

1097 = 70,000 troops?[edit]

This seems quite impressive. As a Byzantine empire fan, I would wish it to be true, but - seriously - 70,000 troops? 1097? The restoration had not truly begun yet in 1097, though Nicaea was in Byzantine hands. With 70,000 troops, I can't see how Alexius could not even take back the whole of Asia minor. Tourskin

I'm not sure where the 70,000 number comes from. Without a citation, you are right not to trust it. I am the author of this article, but if I remember correctly the 70,000 figure was not part of my original text. I will look into Byzantine army sizes, and see if I can find a reliable estimate of imperial strength at the time. I do have a suspicion that the 70,000 figure may have come from the Men-at-arms book on 'Byzantine armies, 1118-1400s', but I'm not certain of this. Bigdaddy1204 14:20, 30 March 2007 (UTC)


Under John and Manuel a system of permanent army camps was organised (the names Lopadion and Rhyndacus spring to mind) one in Bythinia the other in Thrace. The army was concentrated at one or other of the camps, depending on the projected area of operations, and these seem to have been used to prepare the field army for campaign. This appears to have been an innovation and may have played a part in the increase in efficiency seen in the Byzantine army in the period.

The Vardariots were an important cavalry unit in the period, raised from Christian Turks settled in the Vardar valley in the Balkans.

The Archontupouloi was a guard regiment raised by Alexius from the sons of dead Byzantine officers.

It might be mentioned that Manuel allegedly Westernised his heavy cavalry, presumably introducing the couched-lance technique and close order charge. (from Kinnamos/Cinnamus - I think).

Urselius 13:37, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Those are some very good points. If you feel able, I encourage you to add them to the article as soon as possible - the more detail, the better. This article being rated as start class at the moment, I would be very happy for you to add the points you mentioned. :) Bigdaddy1204 14:13, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Happy to oblige. I also mentioned the semi-feudal pronoia system which was just beginning to become important at the end of the Komnenian period.

Urselius 21:37, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

New Section[edit]

I have added a section on the structure of the army and some footnotes.Urselius 08:03, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

I have added a section on arms and armour. Urselius (talk) 11:57, 13 April 2008 (UTC)


Can anybody refer me to a primary source that shows the continuing presence of cataphracts in the Komnenian army? As far as I know their last appearance was in 1001--before Alexios I had even risen to the throne--but I'm not closing my eyes to the possibility that the Komneni might have revived the cataphracts yet again.

Lay (talk) 13:04, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes try Kinnamos (John Cinnamus - The Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus) or Psellus (describing Isaac Komnenos' troops in the mid 11th century), and also Niketas Choniates.

Cataphract is a Greek term meaning 'covered-over' or 'fully-covered' and is used in a military context for both heavily armoured soldiers and warships with protection for the upper decks. Cataphract was a rather imprecise term, in a similar way that in English 'harness' could mean body armour or any construct which featured straps and buckles (eg horse-harness), so in Greek cataphractos could refer to anything which was notable for being covered. Any soldiers who were reasonably well armoured with metallic armour could be called cataphractoi, even infantrymen. Modern military histories, particularly populist ones, have given the impression that the term refers only to heavy cavalrymen armoured cap-a-pied and mounted on armoured horses, this was not the case.

In the 10th century the emperor Nikephoros Phokas is recorded as reviving the super-heavy cavalry found in Late Antiquity - soldiers fully armoured, with only the eyes visible, mounted on barded horses. However, these troops, whilst obviously "cataphract" in the general sense of the term had their own name which was 'klibanophoroi' (which might be translated in a mixture of Latin and Greek as 'oven-bearers'). These troops are not mentioned later than the reign of Basil II (died 1025).

It would be wrong to think, just because entire units of these super-heavy cavalry ceased to be recruited, that very complete armour for soldiers or horse armour disappeared completely from Byzantine armies after around 1050; it is merely likely that such expensive equipment became limited to the rich military aristocracy and possibly to some guard units. At least one illustration of Byzantine horse armour occurs in 14th century manuscripts, and the form of the armour appears to be identical to that described in earlier periods. Therefore the total disappearance of such armour in the intervening centuries is unlikely. Urselius (talk) 19:30, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Another source is Anna Comnena - The Alexiad - p. 42 "Alexius covered his face, drawing down the vizor fastened to the rim of his helmet..." This sounds very much like Alexios Komnenos was wearing the type of face-covering mail camail described as part of the protection of the Nikephorian klibanophoros. At the very least, with armour for the face, Alexios was undoubtendly very completely armoured. A later section (Battle of Dyrrachium) in the book describes how Alexios was being thrust at by lances from foes on either side, only retaining his seat on his horse because the pressure was equal, however, his armour must have been very effective because he suffered no injury.

File:Kremlin Armoury 015.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

Image-x-generic.svg An image used in this article, File:Kremlin Armoury 015.jpg, has been nominated for deletion at Wikimedia Commons in the following category: Deletion requests August 2011
What should I do?

Don't panic; a discussion will now take place over on Commons about whether to remove the file. This gives you an opportunity to contest the deletion, although please review Commons guidelines before doing so.

  • If the image is non-free then you may need to upload it to Wikipedia (Commons does not allow fair use)
  • If the image isn't freely licensed and there is no fair use rationale then it cannot be uploaded or used.

This notification is provided by a Bot --CommonsNotificationBot (talk) 11:18, 24 August 2011 (UTC)


There are two Treadgold books in the secondary sources, but the inline citations for this author do not indicate which of the two books are being referred to. I don't have the books so cannot correct this. Urselius (talk) 20:39, 3 June 2014 (UTC)