I must admit it always feels a little odd to discover that the most important part of the Byzantine army for most of its history was its heavy cavalry, when one is so used to the idea of the Roman army being led by the heavy infantry of the legions. However as this book demonstrates, the Byzantine empire had a strong cavalry arm for its entire history, still capable of attracting comment in the last decades before the Empire’s final destruction.
This is a very big topic – the heavy cavalry of the Byzantine Empire over the best part of 1,000 years! Unsurprisingly the nature of Byzantine heavy cavalry changed quite a bit over this period – the terminology changed, where the elite cavalry was used on the battlefield changed, much of their equipment changed and their armour changed. In most of these cases the changes appear to have been gradual enough to be dealt with in a single section of the text, but the armour requires three separate sections, reflecting more significant changes.
The book is splendidly illustrated, with the normal mix of Osprey’s own illustrations, photographs of surviving bits of Byzantine equipment, and a wide range of Byzantine art works. This includes a series of paintings from Byzantine churches, which remind us just how splendid the Imperial cavalry must have looked, even very late in the Empire’s existence.
Heavy Armoured Cavalry in the Eastern Roman army
Organisation and Units
Formations and Tactics
Weapons and Armour
Author: Andrey Negin and Raffaele D’Amato