Saturday, February 28, 2015

Late Byzantine Army

This army was one of the later ones added to my collection of Ancient/Medieval armies, but is also one of my favorites. They would of course have considered themselves "Romans". It was originally raised to the Army List I developed for Legio Quaternarius. It has since been expanded and saw some use with Band of Brothers 2nd edition as well, serving as troops of Late Byzantine successor states that persisted for a while after the fall of Byzantium to the Ottomans in 1453 (for example, Trebizond). Here's the Army List from LQ:




#9 Tagmatic/Basilian Byzantine  (800  - 1100 AD)


QTY
Unit Description
Unit Type
Cost
Subtotal
2
Klibanophori
SHC*LS,Sh*Elite
24
46
2
Kataphractoi
EHC*LS,Sh
18
36
2
Horse Archers
HC*B,Sh
11
22
1
Trapezetoi
LC*LS,B,Sh
10
10
1
Asiatic Merc LC
LC*J,B,Sh
10
10
4
Scutatoi
HI*LS,Sh
14
56
1
Varangian Guard
HI*2H,Sh*Elite
17
17
2
Support Archers
LHI*B
7
14
2
Psiloi Javelinmen
LI*J,Sh
4
8
2
Psiloi Crossbows
LI*CXB
2.5
5
1
Flamethrower
LHI*Flamethrower
2
2
2
Light Bolt Throwers
ENG
`12.5
25
1
General
General
25
25
23
TOTALS
278
Special Rules: Flamethrower unit is a single stand and takes only 2 hits. It has a range of only 2 squares (hexes), but has a fire factor of 80% against ALL targets. Target checks morale with a penalty of -10; -20 if Chariot, Cavalry, Camelry, or Elephant. The Flamethrower has no melee combat factor, and is destroyed if forced into melee. However, any unit attacking a flamethrower must undergo a flame attack (and morale check if it suffers a hit) once it reaches 2 squares range, unless it attacks from the flank or rear. The Flamethrower my use skirmish retreats also. Elephants are first degree Disorganized within 2 squares of a flamethrower.


Byzantine Scutatoi - Heavy Infantry with long spears and large shields.


While secondary to the cavalry, the Byzantine army retained  a core of well drilled, steady infantry until late in its history. 


A second unit of Scutatoi; they typically served more as a rallying point and base of operations for their cavalry rather than a direct offensive role. 


Like most of this army, these are 25mm Garrison figures.


Varangian Guardsmen - these  troops became part of the Byzantine army as early as 874, initially being composed of  Rus from Kiev.


They became official Guardsmen under Basil II in 988. In later years their members came chiefly from Scandinavia, and then , after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Anglo Saxons. 


Although the sword and bow were often used as well, the hallmark weapon of the Varangian guard was the long, two handed axe. Indeed, the Varangian Guard were often referred to as the "axe bearing Barbarians" by Byzantine writers.


These Byzantoine Psiloi are armed with an early form of Crossbow.


It is unclear how effective they were; in later years, after exposure to Western European troops armed with more modern crossbows, those were adopted in limited numbers..



These archers wear some mail armor, and were usually deployed with the Scutatoi to provide supporting missile fire, especially needed to combat enemy horse archers. 


Siege operations would be another typical employment for these troops.


Javelin armed Psiloi.


Such troops might come from the provinces of the empire, and/or hired as "barbarian" mercenaries.


The composition and generation of "Greek Fire" was a closely guarded state secret, and one that did not survive the fall of Byzantium. Al;though the details remain uncertain, it is now generally thought to have been composed chiefly of petroleum (naptha) and pine resins. Even enemies who captured the liquid and the brass tubes or "siphons" couldn't make it work


While primarily used at sea, and to a lesser effect at sieges, it was used in the field at times as well. it is such a unique weapon that I had to include it in my Byzantine army (and rules)! 


Byzantine Klibanophoroi; "Super Heavy Cavalry" in wargames terms.


Although slower than other cavalry, their effect upon enemy troops could be devastating. 


Both horse and rider were heavily armored, and the long lance was their primary weapon, although bows were also often carried.


Byzantine Katafarktoi were somewhat less heavily armored men on less heavily armored horses; I have depicted them as combined with Koursores, cavalry men with torso armor riding unarmored horses. 


These troops also had an excellent balance of shock and firepower, the later from the powerful composite bows that were carried. 


These troops were the chief strength of Byzantine armies for centuries.


Another unit of Katafraktopi/Koursores


I do still like these Garrison figures. 


These fellow are Byzantine Trapezetoi, an indigenous  ("Roman") form of Light Cavalry.


Armed with long lances and Javelins, it seems heir chief role was to chase off more lightly equipped enemy horse archers. 


Another unit of Byzantine cavalry - I think these fellows are Old Glory figures, and were added much later. 


I'd like to say that the "weathering" on the flag was intentional, but about 10 years ago heavy spring rains caused the first ever flooding of the basement of our home, where all my wargames stuff is - the water got about 6" deep before we could pump it out over several days. As most of my stuff is at least 4" off the floor, the damage was minimal. However, moths later I discovered that the flood water had entered the inverted lid of the clear plastic boxes these troops were stored in,. and the prolonged moisture had allowed mold to grow on the paper items, like the flags. I made this unhappy discovery the evening before I was to depart for Historicon as I was loading up the troops into my car. this lead to a very long night re-basing the sodden troops, and then flocking them in m,y hotel room in Lancaster the evening before the game. 


The Byzantine Emperor is by Garrison. When the Emperor was a military man or had interest in military affairs, the Empire usually did OK with maintaining or expanding it territories. When he wasn't. the results were usually not good for the long term integrity of the state.


There are a few a few odds and ends Cavalry here, which are Garrison.


The sub commanders are from Old Glory. 


Turkish Light cavalry, serving as mercenaries in the Byzantine army.


There are 50% Garrison and 50% Old Glory figures (the somewhat larger ones).


I decided the army needed some more light infantry Archers (psiloi) for other rules, so these were somewhat later additions to the army; 


Ready... arrows!  I think these are Garrison figures. 


A few more Psiloi, this time slingers, to bolster the Byzantine forces. The lack of flocking means they were flood survivors as well!


These are Garrison figures once again. I have one more unit of Old Glory Byzantine HC, but I still haven't gotten around to repairing the flood damage they suffered, so they don't appear here. When the flooding repeated itself the following year (after 15 preceding years of dry basement), a sump pump was installed - no more unplanned aquatic exercises down there now!


Basileus II, Byzantine Emperor  (976 - 1025).  Also known as Basil II, "the Bulgar Slayer".
"Basilios II" by from the Middle Ages, unknown - English Wikipedia, original upload 24 August 2005 by Brastite. Original source: http://www.culture.gr/4/42/421/42103/42103e/e42103e3.html (archive link). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - 


The Byzantine Empire at the death pf Basileus II, 1025
"Map Byzantine Empire 1025-en" by Nécropotame (French version); Cplakidas (English translation) - Translated and extensively modified from Image:Map_Byzantine_Empire_1025-de.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - 

14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! Most are "oldies but goodies!"

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  2. Quite an impressive array of troops for this fine army. Always had a soft spot for this army ever since seeing pictures of them in an old book.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dean. Evidently one of the challenges of doing Byzantine figures is that soldiers were not considered suitable subjects for Byzantine artwork, and thus much must be extrapolated from depictions of Warrior-Saints and the like.

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  3. Quite impressive! One of my all time favourites.

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  4. The traditions of the Empire live on to a considerable degree through the Greek Orthodox church. We have Greek friends, and a wedding ceremony in such a church is quite something!

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  5. Great looking units from an interesting period

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Garry; glad you enjoyed them.

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  6. Very nice Peter, and I love the colours you have used.

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    Replies
    1. Probably too bold, but it makes it easy to tell the units apart!

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks, Jake. They're very much *wargames* figures, but I still like the appearance they make on the tabletop, especially en mass!

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  8. How did I miss this posting? This is a very colorful collection, Peter. When was the last time this fine collection saw action on the table?

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    Replies
    1. Sometimes Blogger is weird about updating posts of blogs that you "follow"!

      The army (most of it, anyway) was on the table recently, back in Novem,ber in a practice game with Barry:

      http://blundersonthedanube.blogspot.com/2014/12/byzantium-vs-sassanid-persia-with-legio.html

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