| Kataphraktoi |
|| SP Strat guide |
|Byzantine Army introduction
The battle of Manzikert in 1071 marked the beginning of the end for the Byzantine Empire. It managed to survive until 1453 and the onslaught of the turks, but it was an empire in decline.
The Byzantine army had declined by 1097. What had once been a powerful standing army organized along recognisably ancient Roman legionary lines, was now largely composed of mercenaries. At the height of its power in the sixth century AD, it was the most powerful military force in the med, and had even reconquered Italy. Byzantine warships ensured the stability of the sprawling empire.
The empire had relied on Anatolia for much of their revenue and military power. With the lose of this to the Turks, they were forced to rely on foreign troops to augment the army. The army was divided into heavy cavalry, light cavalry, light infantry and the imperial guard. The standing army no longer operated throughout the empire as it had once. Each province was expected to look after itself and conscript its own militia.
The mercenary composition of the army included, Turks, Russians, Norsemen, Anglo-Saxons, Danes, Franks and Normans. The Turks were the light cavalry, the Franks and the Normans the heavy. The elite force was the Varangian Guard, which was composed of Vikings and Normans. Vikings had served the empire since the mid-ninth century and by 1097, the Varangians were the best paid of all Byzantine soldiers.