The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) and the Western Way of War

The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) and the Western Way of War

By Gwen Perkins

Anistoriton Journal, vol. 11 (2008-2009)

Introduction: Byzantium. The word invokes to the modern imagination images of icons, palaces and peaceful Christianity rather than the militarism associated with its European counterparts during the age of the Byzantine Empire. Despite modern interpretations of the Empire, it was not without military dynamism throughout its 800-year hold on the East. During the “Second Golden Age” of Byzantium, this dominion experienced a level of strength and discipline in its army that was rarely countered before or after. This was largely due to the interest of the Komnenian emperors in creating a military culture and integrating foreign ideas into the Eastern Roman Empire.

The Byzantine Empire faced unique challenges not only because of the era in which they were a major world power but also for the geography of Byzantium. Like the Rome of earlier eras, the territory encompassed by Byzantium was broad in scope and encompassed a variety of peoples under one banner. There were two basic areas held by the empire – the Haemus and Anatolia, with outposts in Crete, the Crimea and southern Italy and Sicily. By the time of the Komnenos dynasty, most of Anatolia had been lost in the battle of Manzikert. Manuel I would attempt to remedy that loss, considered significant to the control of the empire.

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