Constans II and the Byzantine navy
By Salvatore Cosentino
Byzantinische Zeitschrift, Volume 100, Issue 2 (2008)
Introduction: At the beginning of the twentieth century John B. Bury saw in Constans II the creator of the Byzantine navy. Even if this assumption has been contradicted by some authoritative scholars, as H. Ahrweiler, other historians over the last century have agreed with it and this has been re-asserted in a very recent study. Long after Octavianus, Constans II was the sole Roman emperor who participated in a naval battle and he will remain as such in the whole Byzantine history.
Moreover, it is only starting from his reign that the navy began to play a more important role in the Roman/Byzantine military apparatus, or at least to be more visible in our evidence. It seems worth, therefore, to devote a closer analysis to this issue. But before doing that, a preliminary question has to be answered: what was the military fleet before Constans II composed of?