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Book Review: The Byzantine Wars by John Haldon, History Press, 2008

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At times I receive emails with which my readers ask me to suggest to them some studies, treatises, sourcebooks etc for specific issues of history, military history and engineering/architecture. Due to the unfortunate fact that I do not have the time to answer to each one separately (which is why I also had to disable the comments on the posts), I decided to write some reviews on books that I’ve studied on such topics. The Greek readers know that I’ve written two historical novels on Antiquity, so some readers ask me which my favorite historical novels are; thereby from time to time I’ll also suggest some of these works for the English-speaking and German-speaking readers, especially recent ones and some older.
I will start this new section with a military study that is a work by the well known Byzantinologist John Haldon: The Byzantine Wars.          The Byzantine Empire during her very long history, faced a multitude of enemy states, peoples and nomadic hordes, thus developing the characteristic Byzantine warfare, one of the most advanced of its time concerning the entire planet. Her geographical position at the “crossroads of civilizations”, her weighty heritage from both the Roman and the ancient Greek armies and her confrontation with particularly dangerous enemies in all her borders, led her to always maintain a vigorous and well-organized army, an army of the real “imperial” kind.

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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: Architecture (part IΙ)

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

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Constantinople, Queen of cities: Architecture (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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