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Byzantine Imperial Guards AD 925-1025 (Elite)
 
 

Byzantine Imperial Guards AD 925-1025 (Elite) [Kindle Edition]

Raffaele D'Amato
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Review

."..this book is an interesting look at colorful and exotic cavalrymen who helped keep Byzantine Emperors on the throne at home and served as their elite troops in the field. The gorgeous color illustrations by Giuseppe Rava are worth the price of admission to this book on their own."
- "Toy Soldier & Model Figure "(January 2013)

Product Description

The hundred-year period ending in 1025, from the reign of the Emperor Constantine VII to that of Basil II ‘the Bulgar-Slayer’, encompassed the last great era of Byzantine aggression and dominance in the Near East and Balkans. During that time, a succession of soldier-emperors hallenged and defeated an array of opponents on land and at sea and reconquered vast swathes of territory. At the heart of the Emperors’ forces were the professional, highly mobile Tagmata or Imperial Guard regiments, originally formed to guard the Emperor¹s person in the capital but invariably deployed as elite combat troops. Joining these heavy cavalry units, were a variety of exotic mercenary units recruited from foreigners, notably the legendary Varangians. Featuring specially commissioned full-colour artwork, this lively study sheds new light on the colourful regiments of the Byzantine Imperial Guard, the formidable warriors who provided the Byzantine emperors with an insurance policy in the capital, and the elite of their field armies when on campaign.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 22213 KB
  • Print Length: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (20 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008O5DZD2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #420,411 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problematic... 25 Aug 2012
By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was impatiently waiting for this book and prepared to love it. Instead, I was very disappointed. Arguably, Osprey's series often tend to be "hit or miss", largely because authors face severe space constraints - typically no more than 48 pages for Men-at-Arms and 64 for the Elite series - when covering their topic. This booklet faces these problems, but it also has others related to its structure, its contents and to its rather atrocious editing.

First, most of the book, that is the section title "The Regiments - Formation and Organization" (with the term Tagmata meaning "The Regiments") is in fact a summary of John Haldon book, "Byzantine Praetorians", published in 1984, out-of-print for years and rather hard to find. This in itself would not necessarily be a problem and could in fact give value to d'Amato and Rava's book if it wasn't for one fact. Haldon's book covers the period AD 580 (the reforms of Emperor Maurikios) to about AD 900 (roughly the end of the reign of Leo VI who reign 886 - 912). This book, however, covers the period 925-1025 but present the same material in a summarized form. The implicit assumption - which is not even presented in the book - here is that the organization and structure of the Tagmata that existed in 900 did not change for over a hundred years, something that is somewhat difficult to believe.

Second, there is some text on the Regiments formed after 900, in particular the Athanatoi (the Immortals) of John I Tzimiskes and the Varanguard of Basil II, but they get no more than a paragraph, respectively 26 lines and 12 lines for the Varanguard! Even knowing that the authors have published a similar booklet on the Varanguard a couple of years before does not justify such a cursory and superficial treatment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful 8 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
....and informative, as virtually all these titles tend to be. For anyone who puzzles over what happened to the Roman army after Rome...
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good addition to my collection 24 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While not as knowledgeable as some on this subject, and consequently cannot see the faults that have been highlighted on other reviews, I must say that this book is a good addition to my growing collection of Byzantine militaria. The text was brief and really something of a summary throughout, but then a book of this size can never hope to match the detail that exists in 'proper' books such as the History of Byzantium' by John Julius Norwich. The colour plates are simply magnificent and worth one big star by themselves. I think this illustrator is probably at the present moment the best that Osprey utilise.

I agree that I would like a little more on the military background and campaigns but maybe this will come in the future when, hopefully, Osprey release books about Basil or John Tzimisces or Nikephorus Phocas and their wars. At least I hope so.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Byzantine Guardsmen 22 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good interesting basic guide to the subject, though I feel a little more basic byzantine history on my behalf would be useful
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problematic... 25 Aug 2012
By JPS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was impatiently waiting for this book and prepared to love it. Instead, I was very disappointed. Arguable, Osprey's series often tend to be "hit or miss", largely because authors face severe space constraints - typically no more than 48 pages for Men-at-Arms and 64 for the Elite series - when covering their topic. This booklet faces these problems, but it also has others related to its structure, its contents and to its rather atrocious editing.

First, most of the book, that is the section title "The Regiments - Formation and Organization" (with the term Tagmata meaning "The Regiments") is in fact a summary of John Haldon book, "Byzantine Praetorians", published in 1984, out-of-print for years and rather hard to find. This in itself would not necessarily be a problem and could in fact give value to d'Amato and Rava's book if it wasn't for one fact. Haldon's book covers the period AD 580 (the reforms of Emperor Maurikios) to about AD 900 (roughly the end of the reign of Leo VI who reign 886 - 912). This book, however, covers the period 925-1025 but present the same material in a summarized form. The implicit assumption - which is not even presented in the book - here is that the organization and structure of the Tagmata that existed in 900 did not change for over a hundred years, something that is somewhat difficult to believe.

Second, there is some text on the Regiments formed after 900, in particular the Athanatoi (the Immortals) of John I Tzimiskes and the Varanguard of Basil II, but they get no more than a paragraph, respectively 26 lines and 12 lines for the Varanguard! Even knowing that the authors have published a similar booklet on the Varanguard a couple of years before does not justify such a cursory and superficial treatment.

A third - related - problem is the absence of any description of the battles in which the Tagmata and Guards took part in during what it sometimes called the "Byzantine Reconquista" and which is precisely the period that this book is intended to cover or of any of the members of these regiments (and of their careers and deeds) who fought in them. For me, this was a major disappointment. It also lead to wonder how much genuine research had gone into this book given that the sources for the 10th century do contain materials enough to come up with vignettes on some of the most prominent "guardsmen". Also strange was the bibliography. While it is incomplete, which is again explainable by the book's space constraints, NONE of the translations of the primary sources are mentioned, although most of them are currently available in English. If nothing else, this is hardly helpful for any "amateur" historian or wargamer who would want to learn more about the period. Also absent from the bibliography are some major works on the Byzantine military reconquest, such as Haldon's Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World or Whittow's the Making of Byzantium.

Another major problem is the editing, which is so appalling that I even wondered if there had been any. There are so many mistakes that I will not mention them all here. Some are obviously typos that could have easily been avoided, such as the mention of a Domestic of the Scholes being "elected", the mention of an expedition against Moslem Crete in 969 by which time the island was already back in Byzantine hands (it should obviously be 949) or a confusion in the dates of reign of Theophilus (829-842) and of his son (842-867). When discussing the number of the infantry Tagmata (Walls and Noumeroi), there is also a proof-reading/drafting issue: each of the regiments was about 2000 strong and composed of 8 units of 256 men given a total of 16 bandon and about 4000 (4096, if I still know how to count!). There are other examples where the drafting is rather shaky and imprecise.

So, although I understand that their previous book (which I have not yet read) on the Varangian Guard was a success, I cannot say the same of this one. The only pieces that I really liked were the plates, while the description of equipment and weapons were acceptable but neither original nor outstanding. For me at least, that was simply not enough...
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars D'Amato and Rava have done it again! 22 Aug 2012
By Red Kat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Raffele D'Amato and his work on Byzantium, and of course Giuseppe Rava's beautiful artwork! As always, D'Amato brings forth his faithful representations of the Byzantine Imperial Guard (which happens to take place during my0 favorite Byzantine era!). I also love what Osprey has done in terms of redesigning the book. Finally, the pictures other than the plates are in color! And the color plates themselves are scattered throughout the whole book with the commentary right next to the picture; this makes it a lot easier since you don't have to flip through the pages constantly to see what is being written about. Overall, this book is fantastic with absolutely wonderful paintings by Giuseppe Rava, and filled with useful information by the extremely informative Dr. Raffaele D'Amato. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Greek, Roman, or Byzantine warfare, or just medieval warfare in general. 5 out of 5! Thanks again D'Amato and Rava!!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative! 29 Dec 2012
By Alexios - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is invaluable for anyone interested in the Byzantine military. Incredibly informative with top-notch art to boot. The only thing that detracted from the work were the somewhat unconventional transliterations.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good as an introduction 19 Nov 2012
By infolotnicze - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Raffaele D'Amato is a well-known scholar specializing in Roman and Byzantine military history. He gained prominence after the publication of Arms and Armour of the Imperial Roman Soldier From Marius to Commodus, 112 BC-AD 192 , although we should also remember his excellent study of Byzantine weaponry seen in the works of Skylitzes , as well as his numerous academic articles. Byzantine Imperial Guardsmen 925-1025 The Tάghmata and Imperial Guard is a popular science piece published as part of the famous Osprey "Elite" series. The book fits in well with D'Amato's scientific achievements to date, as he is an expert in Byzantine military history of the period. Within its 64 pages the author sets out to describe elite Eastern Roman units that saw service during the period of the Empire's greatest military glory, i.e. in the 10th century. What seems surprising is the chronology, additionally highlighted in the title. The year 1025, marking the death of Basil II - the last male heir of the Macedonian dynasty, shouldn't raise any objections, despite the fact that the passing of this exceptional ruler changed nothing in the functioning of Byzantine troops, but it is rather puzzling that the author chose to begin his analysis with the year 925. It was the year that saw the death of patriarch Nicholas Mystikos . This event, however, was of little significance, if any at all, to the Roman army. Most probably the author intended to present an account of full 100 years of history of these elite formations, but such rigid adherence to the specified timeframe leads to certain misunderstandings . D'Amato could have chosen to start his account with the death of Emperor Leo VI (in 912) or even with the death of Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria (in 927), as both these dates have big symbolic importance.
The book is divided into four chapters (introduction, chronology, unit description and offensive and defensive weaponry) complemented with selected bibliography and a very useful index. Each chapter contains numerous photos and illustrations by G. Rava. The iconography is a significantly strong point of this work. Rava's reconstructed images must have been created in large part under the guidance of the author and on the basis of historical sources, because the level of detail is simply stunning. Photographs are equally good. Thanks to D'Amato's extensive network of academic contacts the book includes pictures from the collections of V. Sekulov, V. Yotov, Z. Kiziltan, J. Macnamara and others, in addition to those made by the author himself. There are about 50 photographs in all, and they do a great job at familiarizing the readers with the Roman material culture by appealing to their imagination. The core of the work consists of two large chapters, which take up 50 pages. The first of these deals with the Roman Tághmata - the author gives a short description of origins of respective units, describes their tasks and, wherever possible, structure. D'Amato did not fail to mention any of the formations of the Byzantine army that had a significant impact during the conflicts of the 10th century. It should also be recognized that the book includes footnotes referring the readers to historical sources, which is not at all that common in popular science works. The second big chapter focuses on the weapons of previously described units. In this section, apart from written sources, the author often makes use of archeological and iconographic sources, painting a comprehensive picture of Roman offensive and defensive weaponry of the studied period.
This work by Raffaele D'Amato is a very solid book; it is of high value to beginning historians, but also of some worth to established scholars (due to its excellent iconography!). The author should receive praise for drawing on most of the available sources dealing with Byzantine military history. However, some small mistakes with regard to the sources do appear. For example, on page 13 the author makes reference to the Tactica of Leo VI when describing heavy cavalry. Unfortunately, the fragment mentioned in the text (Tactica, VI. 31.) actually talks about light infantry, not the Kataphraktoi; the fragment that D'Amato meant is in fact Tactica, VI. 26. While the author does emphasize that he used the edition of Tactica published in the PG series, this choice seems surprising since Dennis' edition from 2010 is considered the new standard. With the exception of negligible errors such as the one mentioned above, the author has sufficient knowledge on the source material and is proficient in its use. It is worth mentioning that the abridged bibliography included at the end of the work lists the most important literary items dealing with the military history of the Eastern Roman Empire of the period.
In transcriptions, D'Amato elected to use the Demotic Greek instead of the classic Koine Greek. As koine is the predominant form among scholars of Byzantine history, some of the terminology used in the book may require a certain degree of flexibility even from experienced historians. D'Amato's choice to use the other form is rather questionable, especially since the authors of books listed as his sources used the Koine Greek . However, it should be pointed out that the author had every right to use the demotic language and he does it correctly and consistently throughout the book.
In conclusion, Byzantine Imperial Guardsmen 925-1025 The Tάghmata and Imperial Guard is a book that will be greatly appreciated by everyone interested in medieval military history. Having done a good job at analyzing written sources and iconography, the author was able to present a fascinating image of the elite units of the Byzantine army. It serves as an excellent introduction into one of the most interesting periods of Byzantine military history. Minor mistakes make the book no less valuable and one can, with clear conscience, recommended it to every history lover.

dr Łukasz Różycki
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to Rome's Last Ascendent Period 22 Aug 2012
By S. H. Wells - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
D'Amato introduces readers to the final period in which Byzantium (Eastern Roman Empire) would be a dominant force in Europe and the middle east. This Osprey Elite book focuses on the crack Taghmata troops who were recruited from Constantinople. The book is richly illustrated. Photographs of archaeological finds as well as of mosaics and art give historical evidence for the Byzantine uniforms and weapons. This Osprey book also contains full-color artistic drawings by Giuseppe Rava that bring the Byzanrine soldiers to life. These color plates are perfect for models and historical gamers (or really any one who wants to imagine what these troops may have looked like).

The book contains an introduction and chronology that situate the period. The first section elaborates on the various Imperial regiments and their organization. The second section details the many weapons and armor the Byzantines used. A small bibliography finally gives readers direction for further information.

These elite soldiers' uniforms have never been so life-like. Readers who are interested in Rome and the Byzantine Empire will enjoy this book.
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