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

By John Haldon | Go to book overview

APPENDIX 3

Daily rations

In the following tables, I present some calculations for field forces of different strengths and in different hypothetical circumstances, using as material the weights and measures arrived at in the preceding appendices, and taking as the standard weight of the ration of a soldier, excluding water, 1.3 kg per diem. For horses and mules, which require roughly the same weight as each other in hard feed (grains) and forage, I will take a low 2.2 kg as a field ration in grain, with a further 6.8 kg in forage—grass or hay, although in reality, working animals should receive a somewhat more generous ration than animals at rest. It is worth noting that the tenth-century text dealing with imperial military expeditions remarks that, while the animals of the imperial cortège are in Roman territory, the so-called imperial horses—higher quality animals—were to be fed a threefold ration per day and the rest a double ration. This suggests that a single ration (tage) was a fixed quantity, and that it was low: to feed the animals properly it needed to be administered in multiple units. It might also suggest that the single (i.e. the smallest practicable) ration was that which was normally used on campaigns, since otherwise there would have been no need to be so specific about the imperial animals. 1 It should be emphasized at the outset that in all cases slightly different figures could be employed. In this case, I have taken deliberately low estimates of the size of rations issued, to illustrate the nature of the logistical issues facing Byzantine commanders. Taking a higher weight for the load per animal would have the effect of decreasing very slightly (but not by much) the total number of transport animals required for the different-sized forces taken as examples; taking a larger ration would correspondingly increase the total weight needed to be transported, and thus the number of pack-animals. 2

The examples are all somewhat artificial illustrations, of course. In reality, armies—especially larger ones—would have to face all the conditions described in the process of a single extended campaign, so that the solution to a

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