Byzantine Military Manuals

Prescriptions, Practice and Pedagogy

Authored by: Denis F. Sullivan

The Byzantine World

Print publication date:  February  2010
Online publication date:  December  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415440103
eBook ISBN: 9780203817254
Adobe ISBN: 9781136727870


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Byzantium for most of its existence was heavily dependent on the military for its survival. Throughout its long history the empire was threatened by various enemies, from the Huns, Persians, Avars and Slavs to the Arabs and the Turks. But like its predecessor the Roman empire, Byzantium lacked any military academy. The skills of generalship were often learned within aristocratic families whose patriarchs were military men. Military manuals afforded a more formal supplement to such learning, following in the tradition of earlier manuals written in Greek. The manuals pose a number of questions: to what extent did they repeat outdated practice taken from the tradition? How did the authors position themselves in relation to that tradition? What is the nature of their pedagogical approach? How were they read and used? My intent here is to provide a general survey of recent research on a selection 1 of these manuals with a more specific focus on the issues noted above.

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