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Byzantium and Its Army, 284-1081 Paperback – June 1, 1998
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The author traces the army’s impact on the Byzantine state and society from the army’s reorganization under Diocletian (284-305) until its disintegration in the aftermath of the battle of Manzikert (1071). He suggests solutions to some major unresolved questions of Byzantine military history: how big was the army, how was it organized, how much of it was cavalry, how much was it paid, how was it supplied, when and why did it receive land grants in the themes, and why, after surviving so many disasters, did it fail to survive the not particularly disastrous eleventh century?
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Top Customer Reviews
The first edition of this book came out in 1995, if I remember correctly, and created a bit of stir amoung some historians (for instance Mark Whittow with the Making of Orthodox Byzantium and John Haldon with Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World, among others), partly because of the author's tendancy to present things in a systematic and quantified way and partly because some of his conclusions were somewhat controversial, if not spurious.
If anything, and irrespective of its merits, by creating such a stir, it may also have promoted byzantine military history and studies in byzantine warfare. For that alone, the book can be commended. This relatively short book had a number of additional merits, including the following:
- it examines the development and changes of the armies of the Eastern part of the Roman Empire and of Byzantium over some 800 years, stopping in 1081
- it insists on the obvious but often overlooked link between the Empire's armed forces and the state of its finances- It emphasizes that the army was always the main post of expenditure, by far, absorbing up to 70% of the imperial "budget".Read more ›
Nonetheless, there are some good things to be found in the book. There is some excellent work done here in the structure of the army. Treadgold presents a very detailed analysis of the issues that the Notitia Dignitatum presents to scholars of the Late Antique army. There are also some useful tables regarding state expenditure. The problem ultimately stems from where these numbers come from and how accurate they are. Much of the work surrounding them is good, but the reliability of the figures is this book's downfall.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Byzantium and its Army is a book which does exactly what it says on the cover. It takes the scant evidence we have and makes a plausible conjecture from it. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Peter Deadman
As stated in the preface, this smallish book focuses on the Byzantine army's size, organization and pay. Tactics, and equipment are not discussed in any detail. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mark Hinds