The Army

John F. Haldon

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 The Army

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The Byzantine armies of the fifth and sixth centuries were divided into two branches: stationary frontier units called limitanei and mobile forces known as comitatenses. The comitatenses were grouped into divisions led by regional commanders or magistri militum, under whose overall authority the limitanei were placed. The limitanei were placed under duces, and in the 560s there were some twenty-five such commands covering the frontiers and their hinterlands. Naval units for maritime and riverine operations were stationed at key Balkan and Syrian ports. Soldiers were supported by various means, including rations. In the last century of the Byzantine Empire's history, civil wars became frequent, draining government resources and making the empire almost entirely dependent upon foreign armies for its survival and for the authority of the emperors at Constantinople. The empire's naval forces were relatively limited in the later Roman period.

Keywords: armies; Byzantine Empire; naval forces; stationary frontier units; limitanei; mobile forces; comitatenses; soldiers; rations; civil wars

Article.  3595 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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