Byzantine army

Byzantine Army

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Byzantine army

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The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy. A direct descendant of the Roman army, the Byzantine army maintained a similar level of discipline, strategic prowess and organization. It was among the most effective armies of western Eurasia for much of the Middle Ages.

The early Byzantine army received a mixed diet of victory and defeat - consequently the cavalry arm became more prominent as the legion system disappeared in the early 7th century. Later reforms reflected some Germanic and Asian influences - with every encounter against a ferocious opponent the Byzantines would find a new source of excellent mercenaries with Huns, Cumans, Alans and (following the Battle of Manzikert) Turks meeting the Empire's appetite for light cavalry mercenaries. Since much of the Byzantine military focused on the strategy and skill of generals utilizing militia troops, heavy infantry were recruited from Frankish and later Varangian mercenaries.

From the seventh to the 12th centuries, the Byzantine army was among the most powerful and effective military forces - neither Dark Age Europe nor (following its early successes) the fracturing Caliphate could match the strategies and the efficiency of the Byzantine army. Restricted to a largely defensive role in the 7th to mid-9th centuries, the Byzantines developed the theme system to...
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