Levantia title


Military contents

Ceremonial uniforms

Rômaic armour

Rômaic weapons

Rômaic archery

Western Martial Arts


Equestrian activities

Other weapons

Other nations’ armour


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The Roman Empire

For more information about the following soldiers see my various articles and books listed on the publications page.

The tenth century onwards: the Taktika of Leo ‘the Wise’ and the Composition on Warfare (“Precepta Militaria”) of Nikêforos Fôkas

Emperor Leo IV, known somewhat debatably as ‘The Wise’, sat upon the Golden Throne from 886 to 913. It was under his rule that the literary renaissance of the tenth century was launched. A particular feature of this trend was a renewed attention to codifying and recording military practice and technology. Two manuals werecompiled during his reign, the Taktika attributed explicitly to him and the Syllogê Taktikôn (Latinised as Sylloge Tacticorum). These works contain amongst other things,the first recorded reference to lamellar armour as a staple of regular troops.

The Syllogê Taktikôn has recently been translated, and in 2010 George T. Dennis’ translation of the Taktika of Leo was published postumously by Dumbarton Oaks. That translation had been a work lasting many years, and completed during Denns’ final ailing years, and so it fails to take into account much of the scholarship that had arisen in the first decade of this millennium. Nevertheless a very useful reference and a fascinating read.

The Composition on Warfare (commonly known by the Latinised title Praecepta Militaria), a military manual written about 965 by Nikiphoros Phokas, goes into much detail about the optimal arms and armour for Roman troops of the time. When correctly read in the light of other source material and practical knowledge, it is an invaluable basis for reconstructing Roman arms and armour of the late tenth to twelfth centuries.
The most accessible edition is contained in Eric McGeer, Sowing the Dragon’s Teeth, Washington 1995, however the parallel English translation and notes are not to be relied upon too readily.

It was to take another two centuries or more before Western armour was to approach the quality of the best described in these sources. Some of the most basic forms, such as padded garments, were to become European staples in the wake of contact with Levantine cultures during the Crusades.

The twelfth century

Despite the dynastic wars of the later eleventh century and the depredations of the Crusaders, the eleventh and twelfth centuries were a period of economic growth for the empire. This allowed some development of some more heavily armoured troops, although they were not common, while the functional earlier styles continued through.

Later heavy infantry

A Byzantine infantryman.

Heavy Cavalry

A Byzantine heavy cavalryman.

Armour details

Scale armour



A close-up.


A Caucasian helm.