Strategikon of Maurice
The Strategikon or Strategicon (Greek: Στρατηγικόν) is a manual of war traditionally regarded as written in the late 6th century and usually attributed to Byzantine Emperor Maurice. It is moreover a practical manual, "a rather modest elementary handbook" in the words of its introduction, "for those devoting themselves to generalship".
The Strategikon may have been written in an effort to codify the military reforms brought about by the soldier-emperor Maurice. There is debate in academic circles as to the true author of the Strategikon. Maurice may have only commissioned it; perhaps his brother Peter, or another general of his court, was the true author. The dating is also debated. If it was written in the 6th century, the Strategikon may have been produced to codify the experience of the Balkan and Persian campaigns, or the campaigns may have been carried out in compliance with the manual. However, starting in the late 19th century, some historians have argued for a later date in the eighth or ninth century, on philological or technological grounds. In any case, it is considered one of the most important military texts of the medieval years, along with the 10th century military treatises attributed to the Byzantine emperors Leo VI (Tactica) and Nicephorus Phocas (De velitatione and Praecepta Militaria); Leo's Tactica in particular drew heavily from the Strategikon.
The text consists of 12 chapters, or "books", on various aspects of the tactics employed by the Byzantine army of the 6th and 7th century A.D. It is primarily focused on cavalry tactics and formations, yet it also elaborates on matters of infantry, sieges, baggage trains, drilling and marching. Books VII and VIII contain practical advice to the General in the form of instructions and maxims. The eleventh book has ethnographic interest, with its portrayal of various Byzantine enemies (Franks, Lombards, Avars, Turks, and Slavs). The Strategikon also belongs to Byzantine legal literature, since it contains a list of military infractions and their suitable penalties.
- Book I – Introduction
- Book II – The Cavalry Battle Formation
- Book III – Formations of the Cavalry Tagma
- Book IV – Ambushes
- Book V – On Baggage Trains
- Book VI – Various Tactics and Drills
- Book VII – Strategy. The Points Which the General Must Consider
- Book VIII – [General Instructions and Maxims]
- Book IX – Surprise Attacks
- Book X – [Sieges]
- Book XI – Characteristics and Tactics of Various Peoples
- Book XII – [Mixed Formations, Infantry, Camps and Hunting]
Book V - On Baggage Trains
Baggage trains should be regarded with utmost care as they contain the ingredients to make a forward operating base function, including servants and children. Baggage trains should be kept away from areas of battle to avoid dispiriting soldier morale in the event of capture. Reserve horses should be kept with the baggage train at the onset of battle, their utility is not needed at the front line and will only add to the confusion in battle. The encampment area for the baggage train should be stationed in a defensible area with water and grass readily available at a distance of approximately 30 to 50 miles away from the location of the main battle and should be staffed with a force of two Banda; the encampment should forage for food and hay equivalent to four days of necessity. The defense force should select known and capable men to form a communication chain from the baggage train encampment to the front line. An intermediate encampment, closer to the front line, should be established between the battle area and the baggage train; the camp should be fortified and supplied with food for a day at the camp for each bandon. While in transit, the baggage train should be kept separate from the soldiers' marching lines; when enemies are present, the baggage train should be in the middle of the caravan to avoid harassment by enemies.
- Lynn White, Jr., Medieval Technology and Social Change, Oxford University Press, 1964, pp. 20-21, gives the argument for a later date on technological grounds; his notes on p. 144 list some of the works arguing for a later date on philological grounds.
- Petersen, Charles. "The Strategikon: A forgotten military classic". Air War College. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- Dennis, George (1984). Maurice's Strategikon: Handbook of Byzantine military strategy. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 58–63. ISBN 978-0812278996.