Warfare, State, and Society in the Byzantine World, 565-1204

By John Haldon | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FIVE

The army at war: campaigns

Logistics and field support

The outcome of armed conflict is rarely, if ever, determined by the quality of the soldiers and their leaders alone—aspects we will examine in the next chapter—but, crucially, by the degree and nature of the logistical support which makes fighting between relatively complex social-political organizations possible in the first place. In this respect, the East Roman empire up to the twelfth century was well served by an efficient—indeed, ruthless—fiscal and logistical system which, by maximizing the often limited resources at the state’s disposal, gave the imperial armies an advantage which on occasion meant the difference between success and failure, and certainly facilitated the survival of both the military and civil administration of the empire in times of adversity.


Arms, equipment and livestock: from the late Roman to the Byzantine system

Until the middle of the seventh century, clothing, mounts and weapons for the army were provided by a combination of taxation or levy in kind (for example, certain items of clothing and boots appear to have been raised in this way), and through state manufactories. Of the latter, the arms factories were among the most important. Weapons and clothing were, by the later sixth century, bought by the soldier, either directly or through the regimental actuary, with a cash allowance issued for the purpose. Maurice (582-602) tried to reform this by returning to the older system of issuing such materials in kind, but it is unclear if he was successful. Horses were provided partly by levy, partly through purchase at fixed prices. Imperial stud farms contributed a proportion of the mounts required, but again, cannot have provided for all mounted units. The so-called Strategikon of Maurice, composed at the end of

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