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The Development of the Komnenian Army 1081-1180: 1081-1180 (History of Warfare, 5) Hardcover – January 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


"...unquestionably fills a major gap in the history of Byzantine military institutions..." Walter E. Kaegi, DeReMilitari, 2003.

About the Author

John W. Birkenmeier Ph.D. (1998) in History, The Catholic University of America, is a former Junior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Research Institute. Other publications include Military Medicine and Injury in Byzantium, in the U.S. Army's Textbook of Military Medicine (2000).

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Product Details

  • Series: History of Warfare, 5 (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Brill Academic Pub (January 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9004117105
  • ISBN-13: 978-9004117105
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,966,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have had this book for over 7 years now, and have read it and used it a number of times. This is a necessary book, if only because it seems to be the only book that deals specifically with the armies of the three Komnene Emperors of Byzantium. Together, grand-father (Alexios I), son (John II) and grandson (Manuel I) reigned from 1081 to 1180. Under their reigns, there was a recovery in the fortunes of the Byzantine Empire, and, for the last time, the Empire became again one of the great powers in the Mediterranean, although the recovery was only partial. One of the main tools of this recovery was the army, which had to be rebuilt and must have been fairly successful against the Empire's ennemies.

Also, most other books covering the Byzantine armies have little to say about this period. The general assumption used to be that the specifically Byzantine army was destroyed at Mantzikert by the Seljuk Turks in 1071 and whatever forces were raised afterwards by the Komnenes were rag-tag ad hoc collections of half-trained provincial levies or militias, bolstered by a few elite palace guard regiments (including the well-know Varangians) and as large a number of foreign mercenaries that the imperial treasury could pay for. This book largely refutes these simplifications. It presents the history of the period before covering in detail the campaigns of the three emperors in three separate chapters.

Another strongpoint is to demonstrate the importance of siege warfare under the Komnenian Emperors. The whole purpose of most campaigns across Europe and the Middle East at the time was generally to capture the ennemy's towns and cities, much more than it was to destroy ennemy armies in the field.
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