Byzantium Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The early Byzantine Empire still regarded itself as part of the Roman Empire, and its legions were formed in the Roman way.

Political Considerations

In 312 c.e. Constantine the Constantine the GreatConstantine the Great (Byzantine emperor)Great (c. 272 to 285-337) won a key battle at the Milvian Milvian Bridge, Battle of (312 c.e.)bridge outside Rome that ensured his domination over rivals in the Roman Empire. The victory relied on Roman divisions who counted numerous Christians among them, and Constantine announced that his victory had been blessed by heaven when he saw a cross in the sky with the words, “By this sign you shall conquer.” Constantine built a new eastern capital, in addition to the one in Rome. This city, Constantinople (modern Istanbul), was built on the old Greek colony of Byzantium, and historians regard its establishment as a capital in 324 as the beginning of the Byzantine Empire. At this time Constantine also legalized Christianity;ByzantineChristianity and ordered its organization, although the pagan religion was not outlawed until 385.Byzantine EmpireByzantine Empire

The early Byzantine Empire still regarded itself as part of the RomanRome;Byzantine EmpireEmpire, and its legions were formed in the Roman way. In its early centuries the Empire concerned itself with the increasing Germanic, Slavic, and Hunnic invasions into the Danubian region and the western portions of the Empire, where a co-emperor remained in Rome until 476. From the east the Byzantines also faced incursions of the Persian Empire. Unlike Rome, Constantinople was able to resist the German invasions mainly due to its fabulous defense system, created by its early emperors. In contrast to the modern city of Istanbul, which spans two continents, Europe and Asia, old Constantinople was confined to the southwestern tip of a peninsula on the European side of the Bosporus Strait linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Constantinople was bounded by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, and, to the north, the Golden Horn, an inlet on the Bosporus. In the fourth and fifth centuries Byzantine emperors constructed a series of impenetrable Walls;Constantinoplewalls, whose ruins can still be seen, across the land side from Marmara to the Golden Horn. An additional sea wall was built around the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus to the Golden Horn, and a large boom blocked the entrance to the latter. The Byzantines, with a majority Greek population, would in fact, after the seventh century, be considered Greeks. They were the best sailors in the Mediterranean. Just as their wall held off land armies until the Fourth Crusade of 1204 and the Ottoman Invasion of 1453, their navies protected the city from sea attack.

In addition to foreign wars, the Byzantines fought civil wars against pagan generals opposed to the new Christian order and against heretical Christianity;ByzantineChristians associated with the old Hellenistic centers, such as Antioch and Alexandria. By the time of Justinian Justinian IJustinian I (Byzantine emperor)[Justinian 01]I (483-565), the religious wars had died down, but the emperor himself had almost lost his throne in the Nika Uprising of Nika Uprising (532)532, which began after a fight between fans of competing chariot teams. The steadfastness of Justinian’s wife, TheodoraTheodora (Byzantine empress)Theodora (c. 497-548), a commoner, saved the throne. Justinian continued with a glorious career, building the magnificent church of Santa Sophia, definitively codifying Roman law, and waging war against the Germans and Persians. In the last, however, he ultimately failed. Although his commander-in-chief BelisariusBelisarius (Byzantine general)Belisarius (c. 505-565), one of the four great generals of antiquity, regained much land in North Africa and Spain and won significant battles against the Persians, he did not restore the old Roman Empire, and those lands gained were lost just a few years after Justinian was succeeded by his nephew, Justin II (r. 565-578).

Justinian changed the nature of the Empire from that of a constitutional to that of an absolute monarchy. The emperor now bore the title “autocrat.” In the early seventh century, under HeracliusHeraclius (Byzantine emperor)Heraclius (c. 575-641), the Byzantine Empire became Hellenized, with Greek replacing Latin as the official language. Although citizens of the Byzantine Empire still called themselves Romans, they were now really Greek. Heraclius also fought against the Persians in the field, winning victories that exhausted the empire’s resources. In the years from 632 to 670 the Muslim Islam;spread ofArabs, storming out of the Arabian desert and filled with religious zeal inspired by the recently deceased prophet MuḥammadMuḥammad (founder of Islam)[Muhammad]Muḥammad (c. 570-632), easily conquered the Near Eastern and North African lands even while they fought among themselves for leadership of the faithful. The resentment of the Christian dissidents who still lived in those regions and who were tolerated by the Muslims played an important part in these defeats.

From the north the Byzantine Empire contended with the Slavic Slavic invasions of Byzantiuminvasions of the sixth and seventh centuries that culminated in the creation of the first Bulgaria;Slavic foundationsBulgarian empire on both sides of the Danube. The next four centuries witnessed periods of peace and alliance alternating with wars between the Greeks and Bulgarians. During this period the Byzantine emperors established the “theme system” of Byzantine provinces ruled by military governors. During times of war the peasants of the theme manned the Byzantine army and navy. The themes of the sea embraced the islands and hence were the major contributor to the navy.

Beginning in 711 the Byzantine Empire went through its most critical internal struggle until its downfall–a period of civil war over Iconoclasm (Byzantine)Iconoclasm. Iconoclasts were religious dissidents who wanted to remove religious pictures and icons from the Christian service, and one of their proponents, Leo Leo IIILeo III (Byzantine emperor)[Leo 03 Byzantine]III (c. 680-741), became emperor. Even though he won important victories against the Arabs and Bulgarians, his Iconoclast views were unpopular. At the end of the century Byzantine ruler IreneIrene (Byzantine ruler and saint)Irene (c. 752-803) restored the veneration of icons and was later made a saint in the Christian church.

In 867 Basil Basil IBasil I (Byzantine emperor)[Basil 01]I (c. 812-886) established the 189-year MacedonianMacedonian EmpireDynasty (867-1056), which brought the Byzantine Empire to new heights. In the tenth century the dynasty repulsed an attempt of the Bulgarian king Simeon Simeon ISimeon I (Bulgarian king)[Simeon 01]I (died 927), claiming to be the Byzantine emperor, to seize the capital and the throne. In 1018 Basil Basil IIBasil II (Byzantine emperor)[Basil 02]II (c. 958-1025) defeated the Bulgarians and incorporated their empire into his own.

However, within forty years the Macedonian Dynasty had ended for lack of a male heir, and a series of intrigues and bloody rivalries among the noble families ensued, which gave the term “Byzantine” its pejorative connotation. The conflicts of this period led to the losses of southern Italy to Norman adventurers at the Capture of Bari Bari, Capture of (1071)(1071) and of Asia Minor to the Seljuk Seljuk TurksTurks (Battle of Manzikert, Manzikert, Battle of (1071)1071). Furthermore, in 1054 during the height of the struggles, the Christian Christianity;East-West split[East West]church had split into Eastern and Western branches. In response Emperor Alexius Alexius IAlexius I (Byzantine emperor)[Alexius 01]I (c. 1048-1118) of the Comnenus Comnenus Dynasty (Byzantine Empire)Dynasty (1081-1118) asked Pope Urban Urban IIUrban II (pope)[Urban 02]II (c. 1042-1099) to send some Western knights to Constantinople as military assistance to heal the breach by helping the Greeks reconquer Asia Minor. The pope embraced the enterprise, with a grander vision of expanding the Christian community, calling for the First Crusades;originsCrusade (1095-1099).

The Roman emperor Constantine, who in 312 b.c.e. established a new, eastern Roman capital at Constantinople, which became the seat of the Byzantine Empire.

(Library of Congress)

Alexius initially welcomed the Knights;Crusadesknights but was unhappy to see the throngs of peasants who also took up the cross and came on crusade. Furthermore, when the Crusaders conquered the Arab land, they would not agree to hold it as Alexius’s vassals but instead set up their own Feudalism;Byzantinefeudal hierarchy under Godfrey of Godfrey of BouillonGodfrey of BouillonBouillon (c. 1060-1100), the Crusade leader who became the king of Jerusalem. When the Muslims reconquered the Crusader states, and Western Christians launched the Crusades;Second (1145-1149)Second (1145-1149) and Crusades;Third (1187-1192)Third Crusades (1187-1192) led by kings, the Greeks became less hospitable. After the failure of the Third Crusade, the spirit declined even in the west. In the meantime there had been a family rupture in the Byzantine AngelusAngelus DynastyDynasty (1185-1204). AlexiusAlexius IIIAlexius III (Byzantine emperor)[Alexius 03]III(r. 1195-1203) had overthrown and blinded his brother Isaac Isaac IIIsaac II (Byzantine emperor)[Isaac 02]II (r. 1185-1195; 1203-1204) and had him imprisoned with his son, Alexius Alexius IVAlexius IV (Byzantine emperor)[Alexius 04]IV (r. 1203-1204). In 1202 a new group of Crusaders had gathered at Venice for another attempt to retake the Holy Land. However, the project did not have enough funds to begin. The Crusaders relied on the doge of Venice to give them the needed resources in exchange for the conquest of the merchant city-state of Zara (city-state)Zara, which had recently broken away from the Venetian empire. Because of the destruction of this Christian city, Pope Innocent Innocent IIIInnocent III (pope)[Innocent 03]III (1160 or 1161-1216) abandoned the enterprise. Isaac II’s son Alexius IV escaped from Constantinople and promised to finance the Crusaders further if they could help him reestablish his father’s claim to the Byzantine throne. The Crusaders agreed to the diversion, invaded Constantinople, expelled the blind emperor’s brother, and put Isaac back on the throne with his son as co-ruler. Alexius IV, however, was unableto honor his commitment to supplying the Crusaders. Furthermore, a popular uprising in the city turned against Isaac and Alexius in favor of another member of the family. After realizing that Constantinople was an even better and easier prize than Jerusalem, the Crusaders and their Venetian allies seized the city and established themselves as rulers of the empire. Baldwin of Baldwin IBaldwin I (Byzantine emperor)[Baldwin 02]Flanders (1172-1205), sponsored by the Venetian doge, became Baldwin I of Constantinople, and he distributed the themes among his followers as vassal fiefs.

Byzantine Empire at Justinian’s Death, 656 c.e.

This LatinLatin Empire (Byzantium)Empire (1204-1261) continued for only fifty-seven years, but the damage it did continued until the end of the Byzantine state in 1453. While Western rulers established a dozen new states in the themes of the empire, other rulers established independent realms as well. The great medieval Slavic Serbia;Byzantine ageempires–Serbia, Bulgaria, and Croatia–flourished in this age. There were several independent merchant cities, such as the Italian and Hungarian enclaves of Venice and Dubrovnik, as well as the Ottoman Empire;originsOttoman sultanate, which appeared in the thirteenth century and within two hundred years had steadily engulfed all of the Christian states, culminating in the conquest of Constantinople, Siege of (1453)[Constantinople, Siege of 1453]Constantinople in 1453.

Military Achievement

The key to Byzantine endurance was its magnificent defense system, beginning with the walls of Constantinople and the boom at the entrance of the Golden Horn. Added to this was the best navy in the region, which was used primarily as a defensive force. The Greeks also effectively employed both peasant infantry and noble cavalry. However, throughout its history the empire alternated between periods of military victory and defeat. It reached its heights during the reigns of Justinian and Heraclius and later during the Macedonian Dynasty, but constant civil and religious wars, popular uprisings, and internal rivalries and intrigues revealed its weaknesses and flaws. The Greeks suffered at various times major defeats at the hands of the Slavs, Arabs, Turks, Normans, Crusaders, pagan Patzinaks, and other adversaries.

Weapons, Uniforms, and Armor

The Armor;ByzantineUniforms;Byzantinemost spectacular and renowned weapon of the Byzantines was Greek Greek firefire, a paraffin mixture whose exact formula remains unknown. When set aflame it could not be doused by water. Greek fire was especially effective in naval warfare when the Greeks catapulted balls of the flaming wax onto enemy ships, spreading general panic. In the last years of the empire, it was shot through tubes using a form of gunpowder. Individual sailors and soldiers carried small amounts of Greek fire in a type of hand grenade that exploded on contact. Greek fire was also used in land warfare and dropped from the walls of besieged cities against soldiers trying to scale the defenses.

At the height of the Byzantine Empire, from the sixth to eleventh centuries, the Cavalry;Byzantinecavalry was the mainstay of the Byzantine land forces. The heavy cavalry, known as Cataphracts (cavalry)cataphracts, dressed in mail covering their bodies in the Persian fashion and wore steel helmets. Their weapons included swords, daggers, bows that were also borrowed from the Persians, and lances. They protected their horses with breast and frontal armor. Light cavalry and light infantry also used the bow, which was employed on long attacks. Some light infantry carried lances. Heavy infantry wore mail, as did their cavalry counterparts, and fought with swords, spears, battle-axes, and shields.

In the Navies;ByzantineShips and shipbuilding;Byzantinenavy there were several classes of warships, known as Dromon (ship)dromons. Battleships of different sizes had sails and several banks of oars with an average crew of two to three hundred men. Seventy of the crew were marines who fought both on land and ship-to-ship. The remainder were rowers and sailors. Cruiser-type ships, Pamphylus (ship) pamphyli, were lighter, swifter, and more maneuverable, having only two banks of oars. They also fought in set battles. A special pamphylus stood as the admiral’s flagship. Light ships with one bank of oars served for reconnaissance and carrying dispatches. Byzantine ships had ramming rods, which the lighter maneuverable vessels used very effectively.

Military Organization

The first Byzantine army was Constantine’s Roman army, which followed the organization of the late third and early fourth centuries. These were divided into the border divisions, or Limitanei (frontier troops)limitanei, composed of the peasants of the region; the mobile units, or Comitatensis (Byzantine army unit) comitatensis, who fought in the field; and the guards, or Palatini (Byzantine army unit) palatini, the best troops. Under the emperor the highest ranks were prefects and two commanders-in-chief, or magistri militum, the senior for the cavalry and the junior for the infantry. However, when on independent campaign, either commander led mixed cavalry and infantry. At the end of the fourth century Emperor Theodosius I the GreatTheodosius I the Great (Eastern Roman emperor) Theodosius the Great (346 or 347-395) settled the original commanders in Constantinople and added three more in the provinces. The commanders then operated independently, subject only to the emperor. Justinian added one more. The generals, or dux, of the provincial armies served under the commanders and had administrative and supervised judicial bureaus headed by chiefs, princips, from the imperial bureaucracy.

In principle the state subjected all Byzantine males to Drafts;Byzantineconscription. In practice landowners could pay to keep their peasants out of military service, and the draft affected mostly the urban population. The sons of soldiers were also regularly recruited. In fact most of the military was filled with volunteers, including foreigners and mercenaries called allies or Foederatifoederati. Generals also maintained, at their own expense, troops called Bucellarii (Roman private troops) bucellarii, who took an oath to their leaders as well as to the emperor, thus presenting a danger to the throne. Nevertheless by Justinian’s time the bucellarii had increased so much that they formed a major part of the army. The Roman army continued, with divisions composed of soldiers from regions such as Asia Minor, Thrace, and Armenia, and was held in special esteem. In the sixth century the cavalry replaced the infantry as the main force, and the financial difficulties caused by Justinian’s ambitious wars and projects, together with a threat from the Russian steppe in the form of the pagan Avars, reduced the mercenary forces and increased conscription.

Heraclius introduced the theme Theme systemsystem as a military measure to strengthen the provincial armies. Theme governors known as strategoi, literally generals, and division leaders, or comes, replaced the infantry and cavalry commanders-in-chief. Each theme provided an army thema, the equivalent of an army corps, divided into two or three division-strength turmai, about five thousand troops, commanded by turmachs serving both as army generals and civilian administrators in their provincial district. Smaller units included moirai (brigades), tagmata Tagmata (Byzantine regiments) (regiments), banda, pentarchies, pentakontarchies (companies of forty men), and dekarchies (platoons of about ten men). Banda contained five pentarchies and pentarchies contained five pentakontarchies. Banda officers included drungarii and kometes. Komes commanded pentarchies and pentakontarchos the pentakontarchies. In addition special troop kleisurai (literally “mountain passes”) commanded by kleisuriarchs guarded frontiers subject to invasion. If these districts became themes, the theme organization was applied. Akritai (Byzantine frontier warriors) Akritai, the legendary frontier warriors of the Byzantine folk epics, at times fought beside the kleisurai and at other times independently. Higher officers were usually of noble rank. Each bandon had its own baggage train and accompanying noncombatants, such as slaves, servants, and physicians. The train brought engineering equipment, for building bridges and field camps, as well as siege equipment.

Apart from the theme armies there were special corps assigned to the capital. They included four cavalry tagmata named scholarii, excubitores, hikanatai, and arithmos, sometimes called vigla. Domestici commanded the first three, and a drungarius led the latter, the imperial guard. However, the real protectors of the emperors were the hetairia, or retinue, which had a large number of mercenaries and was led by the hetairiarchos. There was also an infantry tagmata, the numeri commanded by a domesticus, and additional infantry troops. The Constantinople soldiers fought with the emperor except for a battalion under the domesticus of the walls that always remained to protect the city.

From the sixth century the highest army commander was the Strategoi (Byzantine generals)strategos of the Theme of the East, and the next in rank was the domesticus of the scholarii. In the tenth century, after the emperors no longer regularly led the army in battle and the number of themes had increased, the scholarii Scholarii domesticus (Byzantine commander)domesticus became the commander-in-chief of the entire army. The army strength of the Byzantine Empire varied over time, but at its maximum it was about 150,000. Although military pay was small, soldiers’ rights as peasants on theme land made up for the deficiency.

Byzantine Empire, c. 1250

After the eleventh century the losses in Asia Minor and the Balkans brought about the decline and finally the end of the theme system. Citizens could purchase exemptions from the conscription, and the number of Mercenaries;in Byzantine army[Byzantine]mercenaries increased to include Slavs, Arabs, Turks, Mongols, “Latins,” Germans, and Caucasians. The elite Varangian Varangian Guardcorps of the Comnenus Dynasty was composed of Anglo-Saxons. The fortunes of the empire became more precarious. In a 1204 battle with Crusaders, the mercenary army, which had not been paid, refused to fight. By the last years of the Byzantine Empire, under the Paleologus Paleologus Dynasty (Byzantine Empire)Dynasty (1261-1453), the regular organization had dissolved and the army was a patchwork of troops, mainly mercenary soldiers.

Although the Byzantine army had evolved from that of the Romans, the Byzantine navy was created afresh. The Roman fleet was hardly more than a coast guard, and even up until the time of Justinian, the Navies;Byzantinenavy had played only a supplementary role. However, during the height of the empire the navy was a key part of the Byzantine military, especially in the empire’s defense. The threat of the Arabs forced the Greeks to increase the size of the navy and to integrate it into the theme system. The fleet commander-in-chief was the strategos of the Carabisiani (Byzantine fleet commander)carabisiani, named after the carabos, a type of ship. Under him were one or two drungarii, with the responsibility of admirals although the equivalent rank in the army is similar to a modern colonel–a discrepancy stemming from the higher position of the army in the empire. Sailors came from the coastal regions and islands, the best being the Cibyhrrhaeots, from the Pamphylian city of Cibyra in southern Asia Minor. In the eighth century the Muslim caliphate moved inland to Persia and lessened the threat from the sea, after which the imperial navy declined. Because of a renewed Muslim threat in the Mediterranean in the following century, the Macedonian Dynasty paid more attention to the naval fleet. They added a third theme of the sea and established naval stations in the European themes. After the crisis of the eleventh century, the navy, as did the army, suffered a steady and eventually irreparable decline.

Doctrine, Strategy, and Tactics

Byzantine commanders paid detailed attention to military science. The Greeks, including emperors themselves, wrote manuals and commentary of military affairs, for example the Strategikon (Mauricius) Strategikon (before 630; Maurice’s Strategikon, 1984), attributed to Flavius Mauricius, Flavius TiberiusMauricius, Flavius Tiberius Tiberius Mauricius (c. 539-602), a Byzantine emperor who reigned from 582 to 602, which gives detailed information on the differences in strategies between the Persian and the Roman soldiers, as well as the intricacies and differences in their weapons and their uses. The Taktika (Leo VI) Taktika (compiled c. 905; tactics) of the emperor Leo Leo VILeo VI (Byzantine emperor)[Leo 06 Byzantine] VI (866-912) was another well-studied text. The commanders studied the character of the enemy and the nature of the region for battle and applied their findings in the preparation and execution of both offense and defense. Surprisingly, the Greeks, who throughout history had been renowned for their seamanship, did not pay as much attention to naval science.

Special emphasis was laid on defense, and the Greeks used attack as their main strategy only in siege operations. Byzantine defense followed the frontier tactics of the late Roman Empire; the Greeks built fortified camps and small forts and posted troops at strategic passes and areas from which the enemy might invade. They fortified interior towns and cities and erected a chain of warning signals throughout the empire. If enemy forces succeeded in invading past the border defenses, the infantry would fall in behind them and block their retreat, while light infantry harassed their troops until the theme commander could assemble support from neighboring provinces in sufficient number to attack. In battle heavy cavalry, the main force of the army, attacked in mass formation. Light cavalry fought in quick sorties, made harassing raids, and carried out reconnaissance.

Byzantine military manuals carefully laid down the rules of field operations, but the commanders were also expected to show innovation and independence. The guiding principle in battle was to minimize casualties. Among the stratagems used to gain victory with the least loss were intelligence and espionage, negotiation, delaying tactics, ambushes, moving troops for their protection, and feigning retreat. Training, discipline, and experience enabled the Greeks to use these doctrines effectively. The Greeks knew the value of esprit de corps, rewarding special service and recognizing valor. The emperor and commanders appointed orators to emphasize the glory of courage, arousing the spirit and enthusiasm of the troops for God, Christianity, the emperor, and the Empire. Religion and warfare;Byzantine EmpireReligion played a major part in the life and spirit of the troops. Greek wars were holy wars. Solemn masses were celebrated on the battlefield. Every day began with morning prayers, and the Greek battle cries were “God is with us” and “The cross is victorious.”

Medieval Sources

There exists a large body of primary sources for the Byzantine Empire, many of which have been translated into English and published. Among the best known are the sixth century Byzantine historian ProcopiusProcopius (Byzantine historian)Procopius’s Anekdota, e, Apokryphos Historia (c. 550; Secret History, 1674), an account of the reign of Justinian I and Theodora; Michael Psellus’s (1018-c. 1078) Chronographia (English translation, 1953) on the eleventh century; and princess Anna Comnena’s (1083-c. 1148) Alexiad (Anna Comnena) Alexiad (English translation, 1928), an account of reign of her father, Alexius I, which includes Comnena, AnnaComnena, Anna Comnena’s impressions of the Crusaders and the war with Patzinaks. Although these are general histories, they contain valuable information on the Byzantine military. Procopius, who was secretary to the general Belisarius, also wrote the official court histories of Justinian, which included accounts of his wars. Information about the military hierarchy of the early centuries is found in the Notitia Dignitatum of the fifth century and John of Lydia’s (fl. sixth century) De Magistratibus (after 554; On the Magistracies of the Roman Constitution, 1971) of the sixth. Descriptions of the wars of Heraclius are found in the poetry of George Pisides (fl. seventh century).

There are a number of seventh and eighth century chronicles of the Byzantine Empire. Those of the monk Theophanes the Confessor (c. 752-c. 818) and the patriarch Nicephorus are valuable. The tenth century historian Joseph Genisius wrote about the end of the Iconoclast struggle and the first years of the Macedonian dynasty. Leo Diaconus (fl. tenth century) recounted in his history the military achievements of the emperors Nicephoras II Phocas (r. 963-969) and John I Tzimisces (r. 969-976). The chronicle of Byzantine historian John Scylitzes (fl. eleventh century) covers the years 811 to 1057. Some non-Byzantine sources important to this period include Provest’ Vremennykh Let (twelfth century; Russian Primary Chronicle, 1930), partly attributed to Nestor (c. 1056-1113), and the Latin Antapodosis (tenth century; Antapodosis, 1930) of Liutprand of Cremona (c. 922-c. 972). The emperor Constantine VII (905-959) wrote on a number of subjects, including the themes. Two military manuals of this period are the Taktika of Leo VI and the Sylloge Tacticorum (compiled tenth century; Sylloge Tacticorum, 1938). For the eleventh century, in addition to Psellus and Comnena, there is also the Strategicon of Cacaumenus, a Byzantine general. John Cinnamus and Nicetas Choniates wrote on the twelfth century. For the crusades there are many Western works with tangential reference to Byzantine military affairs. Important historians of the last years of the Byzantine Empire include George Pachymeres (1242-c. 1310), Nicephorus II Phocas, and the emperor John VI Cantacuzenus (1292-1354), all of whom wrote before the fall of the empire in 1453. Those who wrote after the fall include Laonicus Chalcocondyles (c. 1423-c. 1490), Ducas (fl. mid-fifteenth century), Critobulos of Imbros (fl. fifteenth century), and George Sphrantes (fl. fifteenth century), whose description of the fall of Constantinople is a standard account.Byzantine Empire

Books and Articles
  • Bartusis, Mark C. The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society, 1204-1453. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997.
  • Bradbury, Jim. “The Byzantine Empire and Eastern Europe, 400-1453.” In The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare. New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Dawson, Timothy. Byzantine Cavalryman, c. 900-1204. Illustrated by Giuseppe Rava. Botley, Oxford, England: Osprey, 2009.
  • _______. Byzantine Infantryman: Eastern Roman Empire, c. 900-1204. Illustrated by Angus McBride. Botley, Oxford, England: Osprey, 2007.
  • Haldon, John F. The Byzantine Wars: Battles and Campaigns of the Byzantine Era. Charleston, S.C.: Tempus, 2001.
  • _______. Byzantium at War: A.D. 600-1453. Botley, Oxford, England: Osprey, 2002.
  • _______. Warfare, State, and Society in the Byzantine World, 565-1204. London: UCL Press, 1999.
  • _______, ed. Byzantine Warfare. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2007.
  • Heath, Ian. Byzantine Armies, 1118-1461. Illustrated by Angus McBride. Botley, Oxford, England: Osprey, 1995.
  • Hyland, Ann. The Medieval Warhorse from Byzantium to the Crusades. Conshohocken, Pa.: Combined Book, 1996.
  • McGeer, Eric. “Byzantine Siege Warfare in Theory and Practice.” In The Medieval City Under Siege, edited by Ivy A. Corfis and Michael Wolfe. Rochester, N.Y.: Boydell Press, 1995.
  • _______. Sowing the Dragon’s Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century. 1995. Reprint. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2008.
  • Nicolle, David. Romano-Byzantine Armies, Fourth-Ninth Centuries. Illustrated by Angus McBride. Botley, Oxford, England: Osprey, 1992.
  • Regan, Geoffrey. First Crusader: Byzantium’s Holy Wars. Stroud, Gloucestershire, England: Sutton, 2001.
  • Treadgold, Warren T. Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995.
Films and Other Media
  • Byzantium. Documentary. Discovery Channel, 1997.
  • Byzantium: The Lost Empire. Documentary. The Learning Channel, 1997.
  • Civilizations in Conflict: Byzantium, Islam, and the Crusades. Documentary. United Learning, 1998.
  • Fall of Byzantium: May 29, 1453. Docudrama. Zenger Video, 1989.
  • The Fall of Constantinople. Documentary. Time-Life, 1970.
  • Justinian: The Last of the Romans. Documentary. A&E Home Video, 1997.
  • The Siege of Constantinople. Documentary. Ambrose Video, 1995.

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