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Soldier Biographies and Family Chronicles: Uncovering Lost Sources of the Middle Byzantine Period

Soldier Biographies and Family Chronicles: Uncovering Lost Sources of the Middle Byzantine Period

By Kyle Sinclair

Rosetta, Issue 9: Suppl. (2011)

Introduction: As my research project concerns the depiction of warfare in Middle Byzantine literature, a detailed study of the historiographical works composed during this era (c.850-c.1200) is essential. In the Thucydidean tradition of Greek historiography, warfare is the dominant subject in these narratives, and modern Byzantine military historians have gleaned much from their detailed accounts of campaigns and battles. On occasions where the trustworthiness and accuracy of a particular account is called into question, scholars have typically satisfied doubts by cross-referencing with Byzantine military manuals, instructional handbooks listing authentic equipment, tactics and general army doctrine of the period. This comparative technique is useful in establishing the theory and practice of Byzantine warfare, but it actually tells us little about the working methods of historians, and how they went about describing warfare.

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