The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society, 1204-1453


Mark C. Bartusis opens an extraordinary window on the Byzantine Empire during its last centuries by providing the first comprehensive treatment of the dying empire's military.

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Mark C. Bartusis opens an extraordinary window on the Byzantine Empire during its last centuries by providing the first comprehensive treatment of the dying empire's military.

A History Book Club selection

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An essential tool for comparative historians, Byzantinists, Balkanologists, historians of the later Crusades, medieval Islamic, especially Ottoman, and western European medieval and Renaissance history. Its publication reinforces the reputation of Bartusis as a foremost authority on many dimensions of late Byzantine institutions and the related social and economic context."—Walter Kaegi, Journal of Military History
Examines in detail the use of the Byzantine army as an instrument of policy, and as an institution in itself, as a way of explaining why, though it was very visible, it could not halt the steady decline of the thousand-year-old Byzantine Empire between the capture of Constantinople by western crusaders in 1204, and its capture by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812216202
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Series: The Middle Ages Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 1,201,591
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.07 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables
A Note on Transliteration, Pronunciation, and Dates
Introduction: The Setting, the Questions, and the Sources 1
Pt. 1 The Army as Instrument of Policy 19
1 The Nicaean Period 1204-61 21
2 The Reign of Michael VIII Palaiologos 1259-82 43
3 The Reign of Andronikos II Palaiologos 1282-1328 67
4 The Era of the Civil Wars 1321-57 85
5 The Last Century 1357-1448 103
6 The Fall 1451-53 120
Pt. 2 The Army as Institution 137
7 Mercenaries and Their Financing 139
8 Smallholding and Pronoia Soldiers and Their Financing 157
9 Professional Soldiers, Military Units, Recruitment 191
10 Peasants, Retainers, Servants 213
11 The Campaign 235
12 Palace Guard, Garrisons, Borders 271
13 Guard Service: Kastron, Countryside 306
14 Weapons and Equipment 322
Conclusion: Soldiers, Army, Society 342
Appendix: A List of Soldiers 369
Glossary 381
Lists of Rulers 384
Bibliography of Works Cited 387
Index 411
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2003

    Warnning this book may not be for you

    I cannot give this book few stars simply because I did not find it of much use. So i will be fair and give it 4 stars. I am sure it can help someone else. I give 4 stars because I think the author though knowlegable, spends too much time and paper talking over and over and over and over the same thing without reaching any conclusion at the end. Even though the book's title includes 'Army','Arms' very little or no information is found about the subject. This book is really about making a point on the components of the late byzatine army. It goes into great lengths to show the difference between mercenaries and local soldiers. I found it of very little use, since no exlplanation of the weapons and formations is given. Besides this is LATE Byzantium and the Palaeologos rulers who did not rule over an empire anymore but a few islands and the city of Byzatium itself. With no resources the 'Emperors' could only hire a few mercenaries such as the Catalan Great Company, sometimes with disastrous results such as this time in particular. I was trying to compute in my mind how big of an army could the late emperors afford based on land holdings. Since the locals soldiers the Pronoiai earnings were based mainly on this but I gave up. I think they could have afford an army of 50,000 profesional local (Greek) soldiers. I based this on what the books says of the yearly income the emperors had at hand which was between 300,000 1,000,000 hyperpyra a year. I think they could have done without mercenaries but again it seems that the mercenaries were of a higher quality. Either way Byzatium was not even the shadow of the Roman Empire which Justine enjoyed. Maybe this is why I did not like the book. The Late Byzatines Emperors were not Great Generals but Great Politicians period. The incredible thing is that the average length of ruling time for the late emperors was over 20 years. Not bad for a bunch of politicians. Also until the invention of the Heavy Artillery the city of byzatium was very difficult to take. Micheal VIII took it because the citizens did not like the Latin rulers.

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