The Changing Role of the Cataphract in the Byzantine Army

Scott, Elliott (2017) The Changing Role of the Cataphract in the Byzantine Army. The Student Researcher, 4 (1). pp. 19-30. ISSN 2047-3427

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Contact with the Sassanids as well as nomad tribes such as the Huns taught the Byzantines the importance of cavalry, and in adopting these kinds of tactics they implemented the cataphract into their forces. The aim of this work is to assess the significance of cataphracts and how this changed over nearly 500 years. I shall discuss how these units were employed in battle, whether they were physically or psychologically devastating to the enemy and how the historical context allowed or prevented them to be used. Scholars such as Haldon and Decker agree that cataphracts went out of use during the 6th century in favour of lighter horsemen whose main armament was the bow, and that Cataphracts only re-appear as an addition during the re-conquering of the east in the 10th century. My aim is to argue that while they were gradually displaced in favour of more mobile cavalry, they still were used mostly as foderati as this had been a common trend since the Notitia Dignitatum. They were simply unsustainable followed the loss of most of the rich eastern provinces following the Arab conquests in 7th century.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Byzantine army, Cavalry, Cataphracts
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
Divisions: The Student Researcher
Depositing User: Thomas Jansen
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2018 14:27
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2018 14:27

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