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Byzantine Weapons and Warfare
#16
My pleasure Robert. Stefanos, by the time the Menelogion of Basill II is written the word rhomphaia had come to mean a spear specifically but any instrument of God's authority and by extension the Byzantine Emperor's Divine authority - that of Christ on earth.

Many re-enactors came to this recreational pursuit from war gaming. Indeed there was a time when war gaming books provided the most convenient point of entry into those societies we seek to re-enact. However as the movement matured we did also, we went to the primary sources and archaeological reports ourselves and hopefully started using a bit of logic and some sound scholarship. In some cases applying a modicum of the scientific method itself has been noted. Lo and behold we found scholarship had evolved and we followed suit.

One major area of concern for the New Varagian Guard was what was known as The Great Rhomphaia Controversy in war gaming circles. This still bedevils those new to our period of re-enactment. The major popular articles in the controversy were published in Slingshot the journal of the Society of Ancients (probably the oldest pre-modern war gaming group in the UK) mainly between 1978 and 1979.

What most of the articles tend to rely on is etymological and literary evidence. For example in modern Greek the word preserved as rhomphaia means 'a big broad sword' Doh !!!

The major source for this confusion by re-enactors is found in Michael Psellus: Chronographia, translated into English by E.R.A Sewter. In Tim Dawson’s article “The ‘Varangian Rhomphaia’ - A Cautionary Taleâ€
Peter Raftos
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#17
Peter Raftos\\n[quote]So what does the “râ€
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#18
If this was an isolated example it would be tempting to dismiss it as a scribal error.

In support of my interpretation of this usage of the word rhomphaia is an 11th Century version of the Book of Kings . A miniature illumination (Cod. Vat. Gr. 463 Fig 52 fol 28v) of which shows a particular incident in the life of an earlier divinely appointed ruler, David. The priest Abimelech gives David food and the rhomphaia of Goliath. The Greek word used in the text is rhomphaia even though in English it is usually translated as sword. The manuscript illumination below says it all. (I apologise for the poor quality - if anyone has a better image please post it.)

What we have in these instances is contemporay illuminators using a word that meant something else at earlier periods of history and making a definite association with an image in their visual vocabulary.

I am certain other examples will no doubt follow. It all makes sense, Byzantine art fundamentally remains a Christian art form, the art produced by the state emphasizes the imperial aspect of the Christian religion. This iconographic message has a neat semiological formula. The Divine Ruler is blessed or touched by Christ and invested by the agency of incorporeal beings - the archangels and saints - with authority and power over the nations. The rhomphaia - in this case a spear – rather than a particular weapon, is an instrument of Imperial Power which is conferred by God.
Peter Raftos
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#19
The R word.
Rhomphaia made quite an impact and left memories of a devastating weapon.
The Revelation if we accept it was written by Ioannis late 1st A.D. might mean the romphaia of the Thracians Dacians.
Given the fact that it was used probably with both arms then lots of later period long 2-handed weapons could be described with this term.

In 11th century the safe bet is that romphaia means the axe of the Varrangians. But a single edged "Gjermbundu" longsword with indication of a long handle might also mean this weapon.

The term Rhomfaia tou Dimoou = Executioners sword ,that appears in some Medieval texts complicates things even more.

Also take into account that warrior/champions of any period/culture might curry an "unusual" weapon.

Kind regards
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#20
For those that want to pursue this further:

Tim's article appears on the rhomphaia appears here [url:1iw7gygx]http://web.missouri.edu/~tm104/other/rhomphaia[/url]

Now to muddy the warers further have alook at this 13th C Seal of the Pansebastos [Supreme Commander], Sebastos and Megalodiermeneutes [Grand Interpreter] of the Varangians, Michaelâ€
Peter Raftos
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#21
If you are looking for the earlier material on the r word uded in ancient times see The Rhomphaia Lives!, Duncan Head, Slingshot 77, May 1978, pp 4-11, Thracian Troop Types, Duncan Head, Slingshot, 1979, pp 13-22, The Rhomphaia Lives! Charles Grant and Phil Barker respond, Slingshot, September 1978, pp 16-17, A postscript from Duncan Head, Slingshot 80, November 1978, pp 22-23, Rhomphaia: Was it Bill or Was it Sword? (Slingshot 70, pp12-13, Russell King), Further Note on an Ancient Weapon, (Slingshot 78, p7 by A L Nickels), More on the Rhomphaia (Slingshot 117, p19, Roman Szwaba). Another article by Phil Barker appeared in Military Modelling, July of 1974.

Most of the articles are now available on - line at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/ ... ticles.htm
Peter Raftos
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#22
Thanks for those references Peter! Smile
Ioannis Georganas, PhD
Secretary and Newsletter Editor
The Society of Ancient Military Historians
http://www.ancientmilitaryhistorians.org/


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#23
In VI century context large part of lamellar cuirass was found in Viminacium, - M. Popovic, Starinar, 1986 or 1987. I will check today.
Stefan Pop-Lazic
by a stuff demand, and personal hesitation
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#24
No sweat Ioannis,
This may also be of some interest.

D’Amato, Raffaele Dott. A Prôtospatharios, Magistros, and Strategos Autokrator of 11th cent. : the equipment of Georgios Maniakes and his army according to the Skylitzes Matritensis miniatures and other artistic sources of the middle Byzantine period.

[url:2fwyiz3l]http://www.porphyra.it/Supplemento4.pdf[/url]

His references alone are worth the read. D’Amato has uncovered the use of donkey hide for military shields - which is attested, for the 11th century, by a letter of Maximos Planudes, who complains about the parchment sent to him made of donkey hide.

There are other gems you will no doubt uncover but the most panoramic survey of this period still remains:

Kolias, T.G., Byzantinische Waffen. Ein Beitrag zur byzantinischen Waffenkunde von den Anfängen bis zur lateinischen Eroberung (Byzantina Vindobonensia), Wien : Verlag der Osterraischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1988.
Peter Raftos
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#25
Quote:the most panoramic survey of this period still remains:
Kolias, T.G., Byzantinische Waffen. Ein Beitrag zur byzantinischen Waffenkunde von den Anfängen bis zur lateinischen Eroberung (Byzantina Vindobonensia), Wien : Verlag der Osterraischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1988.

That may be so but I violently disagree with Kolias' treatment of plumbatae, which he views as a proto-mace. The reconstrcution drawing is ludicrous! The current translator of Maurikios' Strategikon (Philip Rance) agrees that Kolias' translation of the text concerning plumbatae (Martzobarboulon) is incorrect.
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Robert Vermaat
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#26
Robert,
I agree that given the huge time period it covers, the amount of original source material he addressess and the advances in Byzantine archaeology a more accurate study could be written today. My copy is with a friend so I defer to your recent reading -remind me to chase it up when it returns home. Smile

Although I haven't read it I have been directed to Völling, Thomas (1991): 'Plumbata - Mattiobarbulus - Martzobarboulon? Bemerkungen zu einem Waffenfund aus Olympia', in: Archäologischer Anzeiger, pp.: 287-98. Is that a better work in your opinion?

There seems to be quite a lot of confusion around the mace terms Bardoukia and matzoukia and the plumbata (martzobarboulon / martibarbolos) . Maces/ clubs for striking have many names: korunh, rabdion/rabdos, ropalon, saliba e sidhrorabdion. Bardoukia and matzoukia are the names that apply to those that may be thrown also. Some lovely examples (Of poor provenance but likely some unattributed Bulgarian find) appear here:
[url:1bgtgn21]http://www.worldmuseumofman.org/byzantinemaces1.htm[/url]

It is a pity that Dr Kollias didn't have access to RAT and have our able assistance back in 1988. :lol:
Peter Raftos
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#27
Stefan,
That would be superb. Lamellar from a VI century context could add a great deal to our knowledge of the development of lamellar. From memory, neither Beatson [url:30f7ofni]http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/lamellar/lamellar.html[/url] or Dawson [url:30f7ofni]http://www.levantia.com.au/military/KKK.html[/url] cite this find.
Peter Raftos
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#28
I will probably agree with Robert on the plumbatae.
The mace was called by the Byzantines "mantzoukion". Term survives up to now under the name "matsouki".
A similar weapon was "apelatikion" which corespons to "morningstar".
The "Apelatae" are the villains of the "Akritic songs" of the period.

Kind regards
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#29
Quote:Although I haven't read it I have been directed to Völling, Thomas (1991): 'Plumbata - Mattiobarbulus - Martzobarboulon? Bemerkungen zu einem Waffenfund aus Olympia', in: Archäologischer Anzeiger, pp.: 287-98. Is that a better work in your opinion?
Very much so. The only drawback is that the author agrees with Kolias, apparently without really doing research. Völling has passed away (very young), I would have loved to discuss his article. Another very good one is:
Degen, R. (1992): Plumbatae: Wurfgeschosse der Spätantike, in: Helvetia Archaeologica, vol. 23, pp. 139-147.
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Robert Vermaat
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#30
Quote:I will probably agree with Robert on the plumbatae.
Thanks to the both of you. Big Grin
Kolias' mistake is based on his translation - he sees the 6th c. Martzobarboulon as a single weapon carried in a quiver. His reconstructions shows a weapon without a point, but with spiked ona a mace-like head. That's never a plumbata nor a Martzobarboulon. Kolias mistook the invention from De Rebus Bellicis of a plumbata with spikes on the lead weight for real (not one was ever found) and used his imagination about maces. the result was a very odd thing with no base in reality. A pity, because I understand his book is very well-received otherwise.
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Robert Vermaat
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FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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