Thematic Byzantine and the Tactica of Leo VI

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davidharvey1
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Thematic Byzantine and the Tactica of Leo VI

Post by davidharvey1 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:16 pm

Few additional observations to the existing list from reading the new George T Dennis translation - the major ones are:

1) As noted in other discussions, troops equipped to the ideal standard described must have been fielded on occasions, thus the option to upgrade some skutatoi to armoured. The armies of the early C10th had an excellent track record giving performance support to this.

2) The author describes infantry armies, with smaller cavalry contingents for use in areas primarily of broken terrain. While the focus is primarily on cavalry armies, it is evident that largely infantry forces took the field on occasion thus the number of skutatoi and detached archers need to be increased to provide for this option; perhaps up to 24 skutatoi including 1/4 archers and 12 detached archers LI or MI; 8 of the skutatoi should be upgradable to armoured.

Not from Dennis but from a range of other sources; it is evident that there were elite units before the Tagmata were founded in 740, either the household troops or the "elite" Anatolikon and Armeniakon themes; thus before 740 the option for 4-6 bases of superior cavalry


David

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Re: Thematic Byzantine and the Tactica of Leo VI

Post by PaulByzan » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:16 pm

Yes absolutely agree for 1). There is far more liklihood that there were at least a few Byzantine foot units that approached the FoG requirement for armored than for, say select Fyrd or ordinary Daylami troops.

For 2) not only should there be option for more foot, but given the need to fight enemies in difficult terrain (slavs and bulgars, hold high ground against Arab raiders) (something that should continue onto the Nikephorian list,) the option to field them as MF should be permitted, as the Maurikian list allows. Why the list writers recognized that Byzantine foot could operate in loose formation for the Maurikians and denied this to their successors although the training would be nearly identical has always been a mystery to me.

Also agree, with the allowance for Superior cavalry prior to 740AD. First, it's not clear when the Optimates regiments went by the board. 2nd the creation of the Tagmata seems to be mostly a political move rather than a military one. Essentially taking already existing superior troops from the Themata and forming them into regiments responsible to the Emperor in Constantinople to maintain the Emperor's security as well as providing a hard core of superior shock troops.

Paul G.
davidharvey1 wrote:Few additional observations to the existing list from reading the new George T Dennis translation - the major ones are:

1) As noted in other discussions, troops equipped to the ideal standard described must have been fielded on occasions, thus the option to upgrade some skutatoi to armoured. The armies of the early C10th had an excellent track record giving performance support to this.

2) The author describes infantry armies, with smaller cavalry contingents for use in areas primarily of broken terrain. While the focus is primarily on cavalry armies, it is evident that largely infantry forces took the field on occasion thus the number of skutatoi and detached archers need to be increased to provide for this option; perhaps up to 24 skutatoi including 1/4 archers and 12 detached archers LI or MI; 8 of the skutatoi should be upgradable to armoured.

Not from Dennis but from a range of other sources; it is evident that there were elite units before the Tagmata were founded in 740, either the household troops or the "elite" Anatolikon and Armeniakon themes; thus before 740 the option for 4-6 bases of superior cavalry


David

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Re: Thematic Byzantine and the Tactica of Leo VI

Post by nikgaukroger » Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:12 pm

davidharvey1 wrote:Few additional observations to the existing list from reading the new George T Dennis translation - the major ones are:

1) As noted in other discussions, troops equipped to the ideal standard described must have been fielded on occasions, thus the option to upgrade some skutatoi to armoured. The armies of the early C10th had an excellent track record giving performance support to this.
Is that just a general comment based on their better performance overall as an army, or based on something specific for the infantry?


perhaps up to 24 skutatoi including 1/4 archers
I've lent my copy out, however, I'd ask why 1/4? I recall more than one place where infantry are described as 16 ranks of spearmen with 4 ranks of archers behind them - which would be 1/5.
Nik Gaukroger

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davidharvey1
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Thematic Byzantine

Post by davidharvey1 » Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:44 pm

Following Nik's comment

1) as usual performance for the poor bloody infancy is difficult to substantiate . Skylitzes gives limited battle reports but para 19 of the chapter of Romanus 1 focusses on the capture of many "fortreses, strongholds and cities of the barbarians" by John Kourakouas; this is not the job for dismounted cavalry who are far too valuable but, to fight the troops in the Hamdanid and abbassid lists in siege and urban warfare some reasonable foot are needed, suggesting at least some would have been up armoured to take on daylami and ghazis. I am digging some arab sources out of storage but this is no more unreassonable or scantily substantiated than the upgrading of volunteer Islamic foot and daylami to superior when other rules tend to regard volunteer foot as generally competent but average not automatic heroes. I'd suggest that the performance of later Turkish volunteer foot supports this view of average competance but Islamic volunteers in FOG get the benefit of the doubt, so downgrade the ghazi foot or give a few Byzantine for the mail coats and lamellar their economy evidently produced in large numbers!

2) Nik (thanks) is quite right on the 1/4 ratio of archers to skutatoi - Leo Tactica 435, however the current FOG lists give 1/4 and any less has no possible likelihood of any impact.

Best

David

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Post by philqw78 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:40 am

Surely a fifth, per file, would be 2 ranks of HF Def Sp, 1 rank MF bow, 1 Rank MF def Sp. 12 figs Def Sp, 3 Figs Bow. Perfect.
phil
putting the arg into argumentative

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Re: Thematic Byzantine

Post by nikgaukroger » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:51 am

davidharvey1 wrote: 1) as usual performance for the poor bloody infancy is difficult to substantiate . Skylitzes gives limited battle reports but para 19 of the chapter of Romanus 1 focusses on the capture of many "fortreses, strongholds and cities of the barbarians" by John Kourakouas; this is not the job for dismounted cavalry who are far too valuable
History shows that dismounted cavalry (or mounted in general) were often used for just that - there are examples from Assyrian charioteers to the TYW (to cover the period of history I actually know something about, after that it is murky for me <g>). As an argument, IMO this doesn't cut it I'm afraid.




but, to fight the troops in the Hamdanid and abbassid lists in siege and urban warfare some reasonable foot are needed, suggesting at least some would have been up armoured to take on daylami and ghazis. I am digging some arab sources out of storage but this is no more unreassonable or scantily substantiated than the upgrading of volunteer Islamic foot and daylami to superior when other rules tend to regard volunteer foot as generally competent but average not automatic heroes. I'd suggest that the performance of later Turkish volunteer foot supports this view of average competance but Islamic volunteers in FOG get the benefit of the doubt, so downgrade the ghazi foot
My inclination is indeed to downgrade the ghazi foot as being currently over-rated (although in practice they aren't as useful as they first appear in my experience).

or give a few Byzantine for the mail coats and lamellar their economy evidently produced in large numbers!
I'm quite happy with the view that the cavalry is where the armour ended up, as they are clearly the most important part of the army and the infantry are very much the supporting force - and lists should encourage this to happen.
Nik Gaukroger

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Post by nikgaukroger » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:52 am

philqw78 wrote:Surely a fifth, per file, would be 2 ranks of HF Def Sp, 1 rank MF bow, 1 Rank MF def Sp. 12 figs Def Sp, 3 Figs Bow. Perfect.

I'd be much more minded just to make them 2/3 spearmen 1/3 LF archers - the latter have a very limited effect in the game and so can be argued to be a suitable abstraction of a low number of archers. Would apply to earlier Byzantine lists as well.
Nik Gaukroger

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davidharvey1
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Post by davidharvey1 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:12 pm

responding to Nik's points above

History shows that dismounted cavalry (or mounted in general) were often used for just that - there are examples from Assyrian charioteers to the TYW (to cover the period of history I actually know something about, after that it is murky for me <g>). As an argument, IMO this doesn't cut it I'm afraid.

Somewhere there is a C12th reference to te PBI doing the siege work but unless I can find it, that's not much help. It:s all rather murky and the need for something more substantive is accepted !

Looking for relative performance, I'd live happily with Ghazi infantry being downgraded to average, enthusiasm doe not necessarily lead to superiority; how do Daylami fit into this? At least the option for mercenary contingents to be average as well as superior. Impact infantry are superior combat troops without always being upgraded and this might better reflect a balanced performance between Byzantine nd Arab armies in the C10th.

On armoured infantry, Ok more evidence required and i am not sure i am going to find anything that specific but will see what the Arab sources say.

David

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Skutatoi and archers

Post by davidharvey1 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:15 pm




Phil wrote:
Surely a fifth, per file, would be 2 ranks of HF Def Sp, 1 rank MF bow, 1 Rank MF def Sp. 12 figs Def Sp, 3 Figs Bow. Perfect.


Nik replied

I'd be much more minded just to make them 2/3 spearmen 1/3 LF archers - the latter have a very limited effect in the game and so can be argued to be a suitable abstraction of a low number of archers. Would apply to earlier Byzantine lists as well.


I think Nik is nearer the mark, the later C10th saw the introduction of mixed units (McGreer etc) before that the impact of supporting archery seems to have been minimal

david

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Post by nikgaukroger » Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:52 pm

davidharvey1 wrote: On armoured infantry, Ok more evidence required and i am not sure i am going to find anything that specific but will see what the Arab sources say.

Info, as ever, gratefully accepted.
Nik Gaukroger

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Post by bahdahbum » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:07 pm

To be able to know what kind of info, proff you need : what was the info that enables the dailamis to be all armored ? or so many anglo saxons ? I do not say some could not be armored, but nearly all ...

So what kind of evidence is needed to enable one byzantine regular infantry unit to be armored ?

Some years ago, the evidence was enough to have byzantine infantry classified super heavy infantry ( front rank ) , now the evidence says only protected ....not even armored . That's a big difference .

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Post by nikgaukroger » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:43 pm

bahdahbum wrote:To be able to know what kind of info, proff you need : what was the info that enables the dailamis to be all armored ? or so many anglo saxons ? I do not say some could not be armored, but nearly all ...

So what kind of evidence is needed to enable one byzantine regular infantry unit to be armored ?
Better than you have managed so far :twisted:
Some years ago, the evidence was enough to have byzantine infantry classified super heavy infantry ( front rank ) , now the evidence says only protected ....not even armored . That's a big difference .
The fact you even ask that question once again indicates that you have still not grasped how FoG armour classifications work :( Additionally you are assuming that the classifications of older rule sets were correct.

However, you'll be glad to hear that changes are likely to various Byzantine lists despite this :P
Nik Gaukroger

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