Monday, November 29, 2010

Byzantine Armies AD 1118-1461

Written by Ian Heath and illustrated by Angus Mcbride, Byzantine Armies represents the downfall of an empire. While I haven't finished the whole book yet, considering my appreciation for mercenaries, I found the introduction to be somewhat ironic.

Believing that the army's weakness resulted from its heavy dependence on foreign mercenaries, he concentrated the best of the remaining native troops in Constantinople and reduced the pay and privileges of its foreign mercenaires, declaring his intention c 1255 'to build an army not of Turks, Italians or Serbs, but of Greeks.'

Of course right after Theodore II, Michael VIII, the former commander of the army's Latin mercenaries, goes right back to the employemenet of large numbers of foreign troops. This eventually leads to the economic collapse of Byzantine wealth and other associated bad things like the fall of Contantinople in 1453 by the Ottomans.

Here, the mercenaries are a damned if you do, damned if you don't. Pay them and well, the finances just weren't there. The need to spend on military has apparently crushed more than one super power. Don't pay them and well, they'll just find another employer who might use them again you.

Mercenaries... gotta love 'em.