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Κωνσταντινούπολη, Βασιλίς πόλεων

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Η παρούσα ανάρτηση αφορά τις εντυπωσιακές αναπαραστάσεις της Κωνσταντινούπολης, της ‘Βασιλίδος πόλεων’, από τον σημαντικό Γάλλο καλλιτέχνη  Antoine Helbert. Εντυπωσιάσθηκα ιδιαίτερα από τις διατομές του και τις απόψεις από αέρος. Οι ακόλουθες αναπαραστάσεις περιλαμβάνουν πέντε απόψεις της Πόλης από αέρος (οι οποίες απεικονίζουν μεταξύ πολλών άλλων κτισμάτων, τον Ιππόδρομο, την Αγία Σοφία κ.α.), δύο διατομές της Αγίας Σοφίας (από τις οποίες η μία είναι λεπτομέρεια της άλλης), διατομές του Βουκολέοντος ήτοι του παράκτιου αυτοκρατορικού παλατίου, και του Περιστυλίου του Μεγάλου Παλατίου, τα τείχη της Πόλης το 1204 όταν οι Σταυροφόροι είχαν στρατοπεδεύσει μπροστά τους, και τέλος τη σκληρή μάχη εναντίον των Οθωμανών στην πύλη του Αγίου Ρωμανού το 1453.

© Τα πνευματικά δικαιώματα των ακολούθων αναπαραστάσεων ανήκουν στον Antoine Helbert.

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Constantinople, Queen of cities –part IΙ

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© Credit/copyright of the following representations belongs to Antoine Helbert.

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Constantinople, Queen of cities – part I

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Today I’ m posting the impressive representations of Constantinople, the Byzantine ‘Queen of cities’, by Antoine Helbert, a French artist. I was impressed mostly by his cross-sections and aerial views. The following representations include five aerial views of Constantinople (depicting among many other features the Hippodrome, the cathedral of Aghia Sophia and many others), two cross-sections of Aghia Sophia (the one being a detail of the other), cross-sections of Boukoleon being the royal palace by the sea, and the Peristylion of the central grand palace and its hall, the walls of the city in 1204 when the Crusaders camped in front of them, and finally the battle at the gate of St. Romanos in 1453 when the city was besieged and captured by the Ottomans.

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© Credit/copyright of the following representations belongs to Antoine Helbert.

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Crusader Military engineering: The Templar Fortress of Tartous

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Republication  from Militaryarchitecture.com

6546549Plan of Tartous citadel and fortified city.

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Although largely famous today for its role as a Templar fortress during the time of the Crusades, the site had been equally renowned in antiquity for its strategic and military importance. Tartous was originally founded by the Phoenicians to complement the more secure but the less accessible settlement on the island of Arwad. For a long time it served a secondary role to Arwad, itself a major centre in Seleucid and Roman times. As a matter fact its classical name of Ataradus (meaning ‘anti-Aradus’ or ‘the town facing Aradus’ or Arwad) reflected this secondary role.

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MIDDLE BYZANTINE FIGHTING TACTICS AGAINST MUSLIM ARMIES

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Byzantine armor(Dumbarton  oaks)

Eastern Roman/Byzantine  armour (Dumbarton Oaks – cuirasses made by  the  armourer  Dimitris  Katsikis)

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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The  military  action  of  the  Arabs,  Iranians  and  other  early  Muslims  against  the  Middle  Byzantine  Empire,  was  characterized  mainly  by  rapid  raids  in  Asia Minor,  which  were  carried  out  in  some  cases  by  numerous  troops.  The  scope  of  the  invaders  was  widespread,  reaching  sometimes  Propontis  (Sea of Marmara).  The  Muslim  attacks  were  ranging  from  simple  raids  of  several  hundred  fighters,  to  massive  invasions  of  tens  of  thousands.  However,  most  attacks  were  aimed  at  looting.  The  reported  large  numbers  (in  some  cases)  of  the  invaders,  their  increased  speed  while  advancing  and  their  large  radius  of  action,  although  these  strategic  elements  seem  incompatible  from  the  strategic  point  of  view,  they  were  consistent  without  problems  in  the  case  of  the  Muslims.  This  was  due  to  their  mostly  light  military  equipment,  to  the  presence  of  a  large  percentage  of  cavalry  among  them  (usually  the  majority  of  their  armies  in  this  period)  and  to  the  use  of  numerous  camels  and  horses.

The  camels  carried  supplies  and  people,  and  were  particularly  useful  in  long  campaigns.  The  Arab  horsemen  were  riding  them  in  the  process  of  a  campaign,  in  order  not  to  tire  the  horses.  They  rode  the  horses  almost  only  in  battles.  They  also  used  to  bring  together  large  numbers  of  horses,  in  order  to  change  them  and  thus  the  animals  would  be  rested.  The  camels  had  infinite  resistance  to  hunger  and  thirst  on  long  marches.  They  could  traverse  long  distances  without  stopping  frequently  to  rest  and  eat,  thus  providing  a  significant  strategic  advantage  to  the  Muslim  troops.

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MIDDLE BYZANTINE (EAST ROMAN) GENERIC TACTICS AND STRATEGY (Part II)

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Byzantine St-LucasByzantine fresco depicting Joshua (from the Hosios Loukas monastery, 12th century AD) bearing a lamellar ‘clibanion’  (‘klibanion’) cuirass, and armed with a “kontarion” (spear) and a “spathion” (sword). The figure is sometimes considered as a model of the appearance and equipment of the Byzantine “skoutatoi” heavy infantrymen.
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CONTINUED from PART I
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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In the order of battle in front of the front line, units of archers and some javeliners and slingers (and a few light horse-archers) were lined up. Those units were usually starting the imperial attack with their missiles against the enemy army in order to cause confusion on its ranks, in order for the attack of the armored cavalry of the first line to follow. The lightly armed Byzantines were usually engaged in skirmishes with their enemy counterparts before the main combat, but when threatened by heavy enemy units conducting a frontal assault on them, they were fleeing behind the line of their fellow horsemen.
Over the centuries, the native Byzantine archers and horse-archers were gradually replaced by Altaic and Alanic mercenary horse-archers (the so-called “Prokoursatores“, see below) who additionally used their favorite nomad tactics of “feigned retreat” at the start of the battle. According to those tactics, they were pretending to have been defeated in the initial skirmishes with the enemy forces so that they could lure them in their pursuit. The ultimate goal of this nomadic vanguard was to disband the ranks of the advancing enemies because of the speed of the ‘chase’, so that they would be unorganized enough when they would face the attack of the Byzantine frontline armored cavalry. In this case, the imperial horse-archers were galloping through the interstices of the front line to the safety of the rear, while the marching enemy who had considerably lost his compact order, confronted the “catapultic” attack of the Bucellarii, Kavallarii or Cataphract cavalry.

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Fighting Tactics and Strategy of the Middle Byzantine Armies against Slavs & Eurasian Steppe Peoples – PART II

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aaaaaaByzantine  iron  mail  cuirass  (Byzantine  Museum,  Athens,  Photo copyright: Giovanni  Dall’ Orto).

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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Continued from PART  I

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The  best  time  of   the  year  to  unleash  a  campaign  against  the  steppe  peoples  was  February  or  March,  when  the    nomad  horses  were  not  in  a  good  physical  condition,  due  to  their  stress  from  the  winter  weather.
When  a  Byzantine  army  defended  the  imperial  territory  against  the  nomad  onslaught,  it  was  better  for  its  commander  to  cover  its  rear  which  could  be  rapidly  overtaken  by  galloping  enemy  horse-archers,  having  in  the  back  of  the  imperial  army  an  impassable  for  horses  geophysical  obstacle  (rugged  terrain,  river,  marshes  etc.).  During  the  battle,  the  Byzantine  frontline  should  be  consisted  of  infantry  spearmen (a  sort  of  pikemen),  who  pointed  their  spearheads  against  the  enemy  horses.  Usually  the  Byzantine  infantrymen  could  confront  the  steppe  warriors  more  effectively  than  the  imperial  cavalrymen,  so  the  Byzantine  infantry  and  cavalry  should  not  in  any  way,  be  severed  during  the  battle  against  them.  The  steppe  horse-archers  usually  feared  of  the  Middle  Byzantine  infantry  archers,  because  their  bows  had  usually  a  greater  range  of  bowshot  than  their  own  nomadic.  Both  of  them  (Byzantines  and  nomads)  used  types  of  composite  bows (mostly  of  Hunnic  design)  but  the  Middle  Byzantine  bows  were  more  effective.  The  tactics  of  the  combined  military  action  of  the  imperial  frontline  (infantry  spearmen)  with  the  archers of  the  middle  lines  of  the  Byzantine  order  of  battle  (who  hurled  bowshots  over  the  heads  of  their  fellow  spearmen),  were  almost  impossible  to  be  encountered  by  the  nomad  horse-archers.  Generally,  the  nomads  could  hardly  break  a  defensive  formation  of  this  type,  even  if  they  unleashed  against  it their  cataphracts/heavy  cavalry  (which  would  be  confronted  immediately  by  the  enemy  heavy  cavalry – Byzantine  or  any  other  imperial).
From  the  6th  century and on, the  Byzantine  Empire  had  to  deal  with  the  Slavic  invasion  of  its  territories.  The  Slavs  were  led  initially  by  Altaic (mostly  Turkic),  Sarmatian  and  other  steppe  tribes  which  had  been  imposed  to  them  as  suzerains  (sometimes  without  any  Slavic  reaction  as  it  seems,  due  to  the  military  benefits  for  the  Slavs  from  their  cooperation  in  raids  with  the  powerful  nomad  cavalry).  This  is the  reason  why  the  Byzantine  tactics  against  them,  are  dealt  in  this  essay  along  with  the  imperial  tactics  against  the  Eurasian  nomads.

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Fighting Tactics and Strategy of the Middle Byzantine Armies against Slavs & Eurasian Steppe Peoples – PART I

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A  cataphract  cavalryman  of  the  Sassanian  army.  The  Byzantine  army  and  most  of  its  enemy  nomad  armies  included  this  type  of  extra-heavy  cavalrymen,  “ancestors”  of  the  Late  Medieval  European  Knights (artwork & copyright:  V. Vuksic).

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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Already  from  the  Early  Byzantine  Period  and  during  the  Middle  Period, the  Byzantines  faced  several  nomadic  peoples  of  the  Eurasian  steppes,  Altaic  and  some  Northern  Iranian. In  the  European  imperial  borders  they  faced  the  Black  Huns,  some  Late  Sarmatian  tribes  (Proto-Serbians  and  Proto-Croats  who  were  not  Slavic  yet,  Alanic  groups  etc.),  the  Avars,  some  Late  Hunnic  tribes  (Proto-Bulgarians,  Kutrigours,  Outigurs,  Saragurs, Onogurs  and  others),  the  Pecheneges  (“Patzinakes”  according  to  the  Byzantines),  the  Uzes (Uzoi),  the  Cumans  (“Kipchak”  in  their  own  Turkic/Turkish  language, and  “Polovtsy”  in  the  Eastern  Slavic  language)  and  others.  In  the  same  period,  the  Byzantines  faced  in  Asia  Minor  the  Seljuks  and  other  Turcoman (Turkmen/Oguz)  tribes.  On  the  other  hand,  the  Byzantine  army  consisted  partly  of  many  mercenaries,  mainly  horse-archers  from  almost  all  the  above  mentioned  peoples  with  the  addition  of  the  Magyars (proto-Hungarians),  the  Kavars (proto-Hungarians  also),  the  Khazars  and  the  Alans.

The  battle  tactics  of  the  nomadic  peoples  were  very  difficult  to  treat  by  the  Byzantine  or  any  other  imperial  army  that  attempted  to  confront  them.  The  Romans,  Byzantines,  Persians,  Chinese,  Indians,  Chorasmians  (Central  Asian  Iranians)  and  other  peoples  with  mainly  agricultural  economy,  suffered  devastating  defeats  by  these  demonic  horsemen  of  the  steppes.  The  superiority  of  the  nomad  fighting  tactics,  was  due  to  the  use  of  a  compination  of  very  fast  horsemen  (who  were  additionally  keen  archers)  and  heavily  armored  cavalry (sometimes  protected  by  full  body  armor  including  their  horses)  equipped  with  a  long  lance (“kontos”).  The  nomads,  while  generally  few  in  number,  were  excellent  archers  and  horsemen,  frugal  and  indomitable,  with  blazing  maneuvering  and  masters  of  surprise.  During  the  clashes  and  battles,  the  nomadic  horse-archers  “hammered”  the  enemy  soldiers  with  a  barrage  of  bowshots,  while  maintaining  a  safe  distance.  They  attacked  frontally  with  a  sword  (or  an  alpeen)  only  if  they  ascertained  that  the  opposing  army  had  been  disorganized  by  their  arrows.  The  nomads  were  masters  of  the  ancient  battle  tactic  of  the  steppe  peoples,  called  the  “feigned retreat”  which  they  usually  used  when  they  faced  a  superior  enemy.  When  applying  the  “feigned  retreat”, they  pretended  that  they  were  defeated  and  started  to  retreat  disorderly,  thus  dragging  the  enemy  army  in  a  rapid  march,  which  led  to  the  disruption  of  its  ranks.  So  the  disorganized  enemy  became  “easy  prey”  for  the  nomadic  horsemen  (horse-archers  and  cataphracts),  who  abruptly  interrupted  their  retreat  following  the  relevant  orders (sign)  of  their  commander,  they  made  “about-face”  with  their  horses  and  counterattacked, crashing  the  surprised  enemy.  The  nomad  feigned  retreat  could  last  for  some  minutes  or  continue  for  several  days.

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TWO UKRAINES: What you need to know on the ethno-historical causes of the ongoing crisis

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Ukrainian_parliamentary_election,_2007_(first_place_results)

The typical distribution of the pro-Western Euro-Ukrainians (Y.T. Block) and pro-Russian Russo-Ukrainians (Party of Regions) based on the election results of 2007.
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By Periklis Deligiannis

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You can also read this article of mine translated in Russian  by Helena Meteleva, here:  http://elramd.com/dve-ukrainy-vzglyad-grecheskogo-istorika/ Many thanks to Helena.

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For many months, we are watching a ongoing confrontation   in the large country of Ukraine, among the so-called Euro-Ukrainians and the Russo-Ukrainians, a confrontation which finally developed to a real war. I will attempt to fathom the ethnological factor of this confrontation, which I always believe to be one of the key factors of such encounters (and a factor always – and wrongly – downgraded by modern analysts). I will not deal with the other parameters of the situation in Ukraine, i.e. the geopolitics on the confrontation between Russia, the EU and the US for the geopolitical influence in Ukraine, the economic parameter about the pipelines of gas and the role of Gazprom, the religious on the effort of the Catholic Church and its “subsidiary” Uniate to expand to Ukraine and the reaction of the Orthodox Church, etc. These parameters have been analyzed in many articles and books worldwide, except maybe the religious one.

The statement of a Russian official in the 90s on the problem between the Western and South-Eastern Ukraine with which I shall deal in this article (a statement characteristic of the Russian troubleshoot on the problem at that time), is already well known: “Sooner or later East Ukraine will return to us. The Western country can go to hell.” But since then it’s been almost 20 years and then the now burgeoning gas issue was not as pressing, nor the influence of the EU in Ukraine so intense.

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ON THE SASSANID ARMY – Part II

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

sassanian  cavalry

sassanian cavalry 2
A reconstruction of a Sassanian medium cavalryman by Ardeshir Radpour. He bears a mail cuirass, a helmet of composite structure with mail visor adopted by the Romans as well, forearm-guard plates, light lance, a composite bow of the Sacian type (heritage from the Parthian predecessors of the Sassanids) and a cavalry sword (Image by  Ardeshir  Radpour).

CONTINUED FROM PART I

The infantry (and partly cavalry) of the Qadisini and the ‘Immortals’ are also mentioned in the medieval sources (mainly Byzantine) as parts of the Sassanid army. The Qadisini were the Arabo-Aramaic people of Qadisiya (in Arabic), a Semitic region subject to the Persians in modern Western Iraq. The ‘Immortals’ (Varhranigan khvaday in Iranian) were the elite corps of the Persian army, the palace guard of the Great King, corresponding to the homonymous personal guard of the ancient Achaemenid kings of Persia. Xerxes’ ‘Immortals’ had fought against the Greeks in 480-479 BC without success. The Sassanian Empire, claiming steadily the whole Achaemenid heritage had reestablished this unit. Another unit under the direct orders of the Sassanid monarch was called ‘self-sacrificing heroes’. One of the commanders of this unit was of Byzantine origin. This possibly indicates that they were mercenaries or foreign fugitives sheltered by the Persians.

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ON THE SASSANID ARMY – Part I

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

sassanian
A reenactment of a Sassanian horseman by Ardeshir Radpour. Note the common elements of his helmet with the Roman helmets of the Persian group in my article ON THE HELMET TYPES OF THE LATE ROMAN CAVALRY, mainly the strong backing in the eyebrow area and the composite construction. The Romans added cheek-protectors to the original Persian type. Note also the  mail visor of this  helmet (Image by Ardeshir  Radpour).

The Sassanids or Sassanians were a Persian priestly dynasty of Fars (Pars, Persis, the cradle of the Persians) who in 224-226 AD overthrew the Arsacid  royal dynasty of the Parthians and occupied the whole Parthian Kingdom thus turning it into Sassanid Kingdom. The Sassanid Empire was stronger than the Parthian, relying on a strong and large army. In this way, the Sassanians successfully dealt with a number of powerful enemies at their borders, mainly the Kushans (Tokharians), the Romans/Byzantines and the Hunnish tribes, especially the dangerous Ephthalites. The empire was maintained until the early 7th century, when a suicidal war of King Khosroes II against the Byzantines brought its exhaustion. Thereby when the armies of Islam appeared on the western border of the Sassanid Kingdom, its exhausted and dwindling army was almost unable to repel the invaders. By 649 AD, the whole Sassanid territory except the small Daylami country, was conquered by the Arabs and the last Sassanid prince took refuge in China of the Tang Dynasty. There the renowned Persian dynasty faded away from home. Later the Daylami people became Muslim as well.
Like their predecessors the Parthians, the Sassanid Persians relied heavily on cavalry. However they did not commit the same error as the first who ‘annihilated’ the role of the infantry. Generally, their army was more aggressive and more effective comparing to the Parthian.

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