Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 6: The Lombard Invasions: The Loss of Byzantine Italy

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 6: The Lombard Invasions: The Loss of Byzantine Italy

Medieval Warfare Vol IV Issue 6: The Lombard Invasions: The Loss of Byzantine Italy

This issue of Medieval Warfare magazine focuses on the Lombards, the 'barbarian' invaders who finally ended the Byzantine domination of Italy, and who gave their name to Lombardy.

The introduction gives a useful overview of the Lombard conquest of large parts of Italy, supported by an excellent summary map that would be more useful if the various campaign arrows weren't quite so similar in appearance.

The first article looks at the Strategikon of the Emperor Maurice, a work that reflected the state of the Byzantine army during this period. This became one of the most important works of Byzantine military theory, and included practical advice on how to deal with each of the Empire's enemies, suggesting that it was more than a theoretical manual.

Next comes a look at the series of failed Byzantine expeditions to Italy, some of which came quite close to defeating the Lombards. One interesting feature of this period is the Byzantine alliance with the Franks, another of the tribes that had overwhelmed the Western Empire.

Third is a look at the most successful of the Lombard kings, Rothari, the ruler who eliminated the last sizeable Byzantine enclaves in the north (apart from Ravenna) and greatly increased Lombard power in the south.

The fourth article looks at Constans II, the last Byzantine Emperor to campaign in Italy, and the last to visit Rome before John VIII in 1423. Constans is an interesting character who made a major effort to restore Roman authority in the west, but only managed to alienate the population and failed in his efforts to push back the Lombards.

The last article on the Lombards looks at the nature of their army – the way it was raised, equipped and fought, and the advantages that gave them against their opponents in Italy.

Away from the theme there is an examination of the 'hand-and-a-half' sword, a popular weapon in the later Middle Ages, the battle of Clontarf of 1014 (most famous for the death of Brian Boru) and the possible religious motivation behind Henry V's renewal of the Hundred Year's War. I found the Clontarf article expecially interesting.

Welcome Invaders: The Lombards claim Byzantine Italy
Maurice's Strategikon: The Byzantine 'Art of War'
Opportunity Lost: The Byzantine-Frankish counterattack
A true enemy: The military campaigns of King Rothari
'Long-bearded' warriors: Heavy infantry, mid-seventh century
The lure of the West: The Italian campaign of Constans II
A people in arms: The Lombard army on the battlefield
From cut to thrust: The hand-and-a-half sword
Ireland contested: The battle of Clontarf
God's Warrior? Philosophy and morality of just war

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