Byzantine military manuals

This article is part of the series on the military of the Byzantine Empire, 330–1453 AD
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Byzantine army: East Roman army, Middle Byzantine army (themes  tagmata  Hetaireia), Komnenian-era army (pronoia), Palaiologan-era army (allagia)  Varangian Guard  Generals (Magister militum  Domestic of the Schools  Grand Domestic  Protostrator)
Byzantine navy: Greek fire  Dromon  Admirals (Droungarios of the Fleet  Megas doux)
Campaign history
Lists of wars, revolts and civil wars, and battles
Strategy and tactics
Tactics  Siege warfare  Military manuals  Fortifications (Walls of Constantinople)

This article lists and briefly discusses the most important of a large number of treatises on military science produced in the Byzantine Empire.


The Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire was, for much of its history, one of the major powers of the medieval world. Continuing the traditions and institutions of the Roman Empire, throughout its history it was assailed on all sides by various numerically superior enemies. The empire therefore maintained its highly sophisticated military system from antiquity, which relied on discipline, training, knowledge of tactics and a well-organized support system. A crucial element in the maintenance and spreading of this military know-how, along with traditional histories, were the various treatises and practical manuals. These continued a tradition that stretched back to Xenophon and Aeneas the Tactician, and many Eastern Roman military manuals excerpt or adapt the works of ancient authors, especially Aelian[1] and Onasander.[2]

List of works

Byzantine hand-siphon for projecting Greek fire, llumination from the Poliorcetica of Hero of Byzantium

A large corpus of Byzantine military literature survives. Characteristically Byzantine manuals were first produced in the sixth century. They greatly proliferated in the tenth century, when the Byzantines embarked on their conquests in the East and the Balkans, but production abated after the early eleventh century. There is some evidence of similar works being written in the Palaiologan era, but with one exception, none survive.[3]


  1. A. Dain, L’Histoire du texte d’Élien le Tacticien des origines à la Fin du Moyen Âge (Paris 1946)
  2. A. Dain, Les manuscrits d’Onésandros (Paris 1930) 145–157
  3. Bartusis (1997), p. 10
  4. R. Förster (1877), ‘Studien zu den griechischen Taktikern’, Hermes 12:426–71 at 467–71
  5. G. Greatrex, H. Elton and R. Burgess (2005), ‘Urbicius’ Epitedeuma: an edition, translation and commentary’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 98:35–74
  6. P. Rance, The Etymologicum Magnum and the "Fragment of Urbicius", Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 47 (2007) 193–224
  7. G.T. Dennis (ed.), Das Strategikon des Maurikios, Ger. trans. E. Gamillscheg (CFHB 17] Vienna 1981); G.T. Dennis (Eng. trans.), Maurice’s Strategikon: Handbook of Byzantine Military Strategy (Philadelphia 1984)
  8. K. K. Müller 'Ein griechisches Fragment über Kriegswesen', Festschrift für Ludwig Urlichs (Würzburg 1880) 106–38
  9. P. Rance, 'The De Militari Scientia or Müller Fragment as a philological resource. Latin in the East Roman army and two new loanwords in Greek: palmarium and *recala', Glotta. Zeitschrift für griechische und lateinische Sprache 86 (2010) 63-92
  10. See most recently F. Lammert, 'Die älteste erhaltene Schrift über Seetaktik und ihre Beziehung zum Anonymus Byzantinus des 6. Jahrhunderts, zu Vegetius und zu Aineias’ Strategika, Klio 33 (1940) 271–788; C. Zuckerman, 'The Compendium of Syrianus Magister', Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 40 (1990) 209–224; S. Cosentino, "Syrianos’ Strategikon– a 9th-Century Source?", Bizantinistica 2 (2000) 243–80; P. Rance, The Date of the Military Compendium of Syrianus Magister (formerly the Sixth-Century Anonymus Byzantinus), Byzantinische Zeitschrift 100.2 (2007) 701-737
  11. G.T. Dennis (ed.), Three Byzantine Military Treatises (CFHB Series Washingtoniensis 25] Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., 1985) 10–135
  12. Ed. with Italian trans. by I. Eramo, Siriano. Discorsi di guerra. Testo, traduzione e commento (Bari 2010).
  13. Ed. with Eng. trans. by Pryor and Jeffreys (2006) 455–481
  14. C. Zuckerman, 'The Compendium of Syrianus Magister', Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 40 (1990) 209–224
  15. B. Baldwin, 'On the Date of the Anonymous ΠΕΡΙ ΣΤΡΑΤΗΓΙΚΗΣ', Byzantinische Zeitschrift 81 (1988) 290–3; A.D. Lee and J. Shepard, 'A Double Life: Placing the Peri Presbeon', Byzantinoslavica 52 (1991) 15–39 esp. 25–30; S. Cosentino, 'Syrianos’ Strategikon– a 9th-Century Source?', Bizantinistica 2 (2000) 243-80; P. Rance, 'The Date of the Military Compendium of Syrianus Magister (formerly the Sixth-Century Anonymus Byzantinus)', Byzantinische Zeitschrift 100.2 (2007) 701-737; L. Mecella, 'Die Überlieferung der Kestoi des Julius Africanus in den byzantinischen Textsammlungen zur Militärtechnik' in M. Wallraff and L. Mecella (edd.), Die Kestoi des Julius Africanus und ihre Überlieferung ([Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 165] Berlin/New York 2009) 85-144 at 96-8.
  16. Pryor and Jeffreys (2006) 180; McGeer (2008) 910; Sullivan (2010) 151-2.
  17. A. Dain (ed.), Leonis VI Sapientis Problemata (Paris 1935)
  18. 1 2 Antonopoulou, Theodora (1997). The Homilies of the Emperor Leo VI. BRILL. p. 10. ISBN 978-90-04-10814-1.
  19. G.T. Dennis (ed.), The Taktika of Leo VI. Text, Translation and Commentary ([CFHB 49] Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. 2010).
  20. Haldon (1999), pp. 109–110
  21. Kazhdan (1991), p. 2008
  22. 1 2 3 Kazhdan (1991), p. 1980
  23. Dennis (1985), pp. 139–140
  24. 1 2 Kazhdan (1991), p. 615
  25. 1 2 3 Kazhdan (1991), p. 1709
  26. Bartusis (1997), pp. 10–11
  27. Haldon (1999), pp. 5–6


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