Saturday, December 4, 2010

Byzantine Armies AD 1118-1461

When talking about this book previously, I mentioned the high cost of mercenaries. The book, when speaking about the armies, further list out the nationalities of the soldiers that were often in these mercenary armies.

In using these forces, the empire found it easier to control them in small waves. It also made it easier to pay them. The soldiers were often paid once every three months, but that payment was also late in coming. For some forces, the promise of land and ownership was enough. For others, even though there was no pay, they were allowed to keep what they plundered. For some, there was no actual use by the Byzantine empire, but rather, much pillage in that time under those colors.

For example, in 1354, we have some 10-20 thousand soldiers sieze Gallipoli for their own plunder. Pretty good numbers and a sizable take for themselves.

I'm going to list out some of those that fought for the Byzantine here. It's surprising from where they come from. This is more interesting to me as a fan of the historical information simply because even in today's society of easy to get around places, people don't tend to move around a lot with notable exceptions. Anyway, onto the list;

Alans or Massagetoi: Christian Turks from the Caucasus, Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Burgundians,
Catalans, Cretans, Cumans, Englishmen, Georgians, Hungarians, Latains: Italians, Germans, Spaniards and the majoirty being Frenchmen., Mongols, Patzinaks or Turkic Pechenegs, Russians, Scandinavians, Serbs,
Turks, Uzes, Vlachs

Seriously, is there anyone there no covered? Of course the times nad terms of service for these different nationalities differed and some of these nationalities fought among themselves, further weakning the empire itself, but overall, this list represents an amazing reach and an amazing potential.

For role playing games that is. It is often wondered, how do adventurers meet? Well, if you're working for the Byzantine armies, apparently, it doesn't matter if you from England or from Russia, chances are you'll wind up working together or at least having the potential to work together. Having a large empire like this, even one in decline, like Byzantine is, allows the GM to have a very open and 'real' reason for characters of different races and professions to join together if only as a starting point.